Obama on Pakistan

Today Senator Barack Obama gave a speech outlining his strategy on terrorism if he were to be elected President. obama.jpgThe speech has three solid paragraphs relating to Pakistan:

As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.

I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.

And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America’s commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists’ program of hate is met with one of hope. And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair – our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally. (link)

The AP article on the speech interprets this as a threat: if Musharraf doesn’t do the job, we’ll invade.

Actually I think the lines in question could be interpreted differently — I think Obama is merely suggesting that U.S. troops could be deployed to take out selected targets in the border provinces, and then removed. “Targeted strikes” isn’t quite the same as “invasion,” though it’s close: it does sound like Obama is saying such operations could be conducted even without Musharraf’s express permission.

On a separate note, it’s good to see Obama emphasizing the value of inculcating secular education and a culture of democracy in Pakistan. It’s now become increasingly clear that there are millions of Pakistanis who want another try at democracy; the demand that Musharraf relinquish some of his power can no longer be shrugged off.

142 thoughts on “Obama on Pakistan

  1. Muralimannered I think you are confused It was not the Sha that cut of heads it is the Islamists. Your argument does not wash because the Shah was a true ally unlike Mushraf. I am not a globalist but a nationalist. America first, American interests first.

  2. Rajesh, you are right. The Shah, unlike the Ayatollahs, never cut off heads – he had SAVAK to his dirty work of torturing and silencing dissidents, and clamping down on freedom of speech.

    SAVAK’s torture methods included electric shock, whipping, beating, inserting broken glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth and nails. Many of these activities were carried out without any institutional checks. In 1978 the deepening opposition to the Shah errupted in widespread demonstrations and rioting. SAVAK and the military responded with widespread repression that killed thousands of people.
    The United States reinforced its position as the Shah’s protector and supporter, sowing the seeds of the anti-Americanism that later manifested itself in the revolution against the monarchy.

    All democratic countries should have an ally like the Shah – after all, it’s in their best national interests.

  3. America first, American interests first.

    It’s exactly this attitude which has made us so hated in the world. And also, the people we’ve entrusted to guard our interests, are idiots who just make bad situations worse. Their stupid actions end up harming our interests. I’m talking specifically about Iran and Afghanistan.

  4. SAVAK dod not cut off heads and they did keep the dissidents (Islanists) in check.

  5. When America is loved by the rest of the world is when America is weak or we have a scumbag like Clinton helping the Islamists as in Albania and Kosovo, and killing or friends the Serbs. The world will allways hate us while America is strong. This is OK as long as they fear us.

  6. Obama trying to use the same ‘get tough’ tactics the republicans use.

    Well Musharraff is the best possible candidate for Pakistan right now. If you think he isn’t doing enough to fight terrorism, trying putting in a democratically elected leader and see what he/she can do. If Musharraf isn’t able to hit the terrorists hard enough Benazir Bhutto or Imran Khan or whoever certainly WILL NOT do a better job. Musharraf is a moderate army general, he is trying to reverse the 20 years or so of radicalization. To harp on about democracy is just plain naive.

    Faraz (From Abbottabad, Pakistan)

  7. When America is loved by the rest of the world is when America is weak or we have a scumbag like Clinton helping the Islamists as in Albania and Kosovo, and killing or friends the Serbs. The world will allways hate us while America is strong. This is OK as long as they fear us.

    Speaking for the world at large, as you seem to have decided to interpret the rest of the globe’s attitudes, let me clarify a few things. No one “loves” or “hates” or “fears” America. The people whose countries have been occupied may feel some variations on those themes, but quite frankly, the rest of us would prefer not to think of the US at all. It’s not about love or hate, or about strength or weakness. It’s about living up to the ideals that are claimed as mission/founding statements, and about actually behaving in some sort of rational manner. I think that the US is a fantastic country, it’s just the current President and his cabinet who I think are morons of a most singular sort.

  8. Muralimannered I think you are confused It was not the Sha that cut of heads it is the Islamists. Your argument does not wash because the Shah was a true ally unlike Mushraf. I am not a globalist but a nationalist. America first, American interests first

    Once again, it is you who is confused. If you actually followed the link, you would find it was about an SL girl who had been ‘prosecuted’ for a crime she says she did not committ–by the Saudi ‘legal system’ Sound Iranian to you? I’ll take a wild guess and assume that you wouldn’t know the difference between a Djallili or a Hashemite.

    How exactly did the Shah prove himself to be an asset? By losing control of his country and getting tossed out, leaving a nation with huge human and natural resources to be run by wild-eyed religious zealots? Bravo, Shah! Well done!

  9. I’m guessing he meant neither troops or airstrikes, but special forces in hot pursuit, or at least i hope that s all he meant.

  10. The Shah did not loose controll of his country, he was betrayed by Jimmy Carter Who let the Ayatollah return from exile in India and forced the Shah to step dowm. The Sha did not go along with the Arab oil embargo and continued to supply The United States. Iran was also important strategecaly for US duriing the Cold War. We had bases there, many American companies, and oil interests.

    What does Hashimite have to do with this issue as what does this have to do with the price of tea in China???

  11. When America is loved by the rest of the world is when America is weak or we have a scumbag like Clinton helping the Islamists as in Albania and Kosovo, and killing or friends the Serbs. The world will allways hate us while America is strong. This is OK as long as they fear us.

    Rajesh: That’s just plain nutty. Balkan Muslims were never fundamentalist types, if Europe had reached out and helped them there wouldn’t have been an opportunity for the Wahabis to get engaged and radicalize the local population. I agree that the Serbs suffered horribly in WWII, but we just can’t allow genocidal score settling

  12. Rajesh, simple question…apart from politics, and as you say, America First, do you actually care at all for people in other parts of the world? Their well-being? Their health, their education, their standard of living? Do you care for principles (espoused by our great nation) like democracy and liberty? Or is it all hard-core realpolitik for you? I’m not saying we’re dealing with saints (most of these other countries are run by jerks and in many cases populated by jerks) or that we can fix their internal problems, but there’s a certain heartlessness in your comments that makes me think you just don’t care about anyone or anything outside of this country…except insofar as it touches upon our interests. To me that’s a narrow and cold view.

  13. Amitabh I was not born here and I have also travelled some. Wherever I go even in South Korea I try to fit in. I love exploring other cultures. There are some Americans who won’t even eat the local food but make inquires about the nearest Mc Donalds. I give them hell for this.

    I do care about other countries. I just believe we have to put our home first.

  14. The Shah did not loose controll of his country, he was betrayed by Jimmy Carter Who let the Ayatollah return from exile in India and forced the Shah to step dowm.

    Rajesh, you mean France, right? His grandfather lived in India for a while, but Ayatollah Khomeini lived in France during his exile. I could be wrong, but haven’t read anywhere that he was living in India. :)

  15. Rajesh, simple question…apart from politics, and as you say, America First, do you actually care at all for people in other parts of the world?

    Can we have a conversation without questioning the motives of the debater? This particular example isn’t so bad but it’s precariously close to one of those classic rhetorical errors.

  16. Amit, I could be wrong on this. Someone else reported it about the Ayatollah Khomeni living in India

  17. Rajesh, no biggie. I’m just mentioning what I read on wikipedia and BBC. Actually, my research did make me learn something that I didn’t know before – of his grandfather living in India. So, all good. :)

  18. Sin Just because I call myself Republican does not mean I support Bush and his policies. Between him, Al Gore, and Kerry he was the lesser of three evils.

  19. Um, NEW FLASH everybody!

    It doesn’t matter who the president may be in 2009. If any one of them were given the chance to take out Bin Laden, ANY ONE OF THEM would take it. Whether they have the dictator-in-question’s permission or not.

    Do you seriously believe Hilary Clinton would let Musharraf tell her what to do? Let’s get serious…

    And yes, there is a difference between “targeted strikes” and “invasion”. Bill Clinton launched missiles into the Sudan and Afghanistan in the late ’90s. Those weren’t “invasions”, and they weren’t called that at the time.

  20. Just because I call myself Republican does not mean I support Bush and his policies. Between him, Al Gore, and Kerry he was the lesser of three evils.

    In case you did not realize, you don’t seem to be helping the republicans in being loved more with your blanket statements.

  21. This is OK as long as they fear us.

    Really, why would anyone ready to die in the name of fanaticism be afraid of us??????

    Just because I call myself Republican does not mean I support Bush and his policies. Between him, Al Gore, and Kerry he was the lesser of three evils.

    Let;s see how Bush fared: 1) So called military supporter hires idiots like Feith to fuck up military plans in Iraq, which in itself was an unnecesasry war robbing the country of funds that could be used to rebuild infrastructure over here. 2) Bush thinks evolution is a myth. He believes in Adam and Eve and probably interprets the bible as literally as a backwoods preacher and has instituted funding to help out organizations related to some faith based shit. COntributes to the ignorance of the country. Which are the only other countries that believe in this nonsense? – repressive Islamic regimes. 3) Bush hires Gonzales who makes Janet Reno seem almost decent. THe guy has been caught lying REPEATEDLY and the Repubs made a stink hijacking half of Clinton’s tenure over a lie about sex while BUsh, Cheney and GOznales have lied or fudged facts on important issues more than a few times. Never expressed serious outrage over Halliburton stealing money from the country. 4) Bush gave us Cheney as VP. A guy who has made a fortune on blood money. But he will say a few celever things about how he admires the military and suckers like you fall for it. I think th4e Cheney factor alone is good enough to qualify BUsh as one of the worst Presidents ever. 5) Bush has repeatedly pressured his own appointees in fields like environment, finance and science when they didn’t act as ignorant about the facts as he does.

    I think I will take Al Gore over this loser any day even if I didn’t vote in 2000 because I was fed up wth both parties.

    6) And worst of all , electing Bush only reinforced this third world mentality of electing unqualified people based on being related to another President. Hillary, while not as dumb as Bush, is on my shitlist for this very reason. THe only thing Bush has more talent than his dad is how to joke around with buddies and he knew how to strategically exploit the Christian fundamentalist vote .

  22. Ardy Republicans are never liked anyway except by the military. Frankly I am not happy with the current Republican (leadership) bunch. I am an ultra right wing nut before I am a Republican. I realy have little patience with people that describe themselves as liberals or ‘progressives’ I dislike Bush because he is too liberal and the current Republican reps spend too much.

    And Sanjay You can thank God (figure of speech) that people had the good sense not to elect algore because If he was pres during 9/11 you would be in a burkha by now and praying five times a day with your a** pointed to the sky and speaking Arabic. Character and good judgement does matter and klintngore have none.

  23. Actually, if the people did elect Al Gore, 9/11 would never have happened. He would have taken the intelligence seriously rather than get lost in the sauce at his ranch on a month long vacation, as the dry-drunk we currently have as president did. And in any case, there would be no need to attack with Gore in office.

    And the people did elect Al Gore. Gore had more votes than Bush. Try to get a fact straight before posting, although I understand it’s very difficult for someone like you.

  24. cc, I have the facts. did you ever hear of The Electoral College. We do not count votes that way. Al Gore is the only canidate I can think of that lost his own state. He lost and lost bad and was a sore looser to boot. He is still a looser and an angry bitter man.

    Bush is a Democrat with R after his name. It is because of KlintnGore we got 9/11 and all the previoust attacks against America during their term were ignored and Islamists smelt weakness.

    The prime job of the president is national security. You can make adhomin attacks on Bush all you want. He has a higher IQ as well as higher college grades than both Kerry and Al Gore. This was published in 2005 but naturaly got little coverage with our leftist anti-American media. America is safer because of him and for that I give credit, on everything else he is just another Dem.

  25. cc, I have the facts. did you ever hear of The Electoral College. We do not count votes that way.

    Oh, so the people DIDN’T elect Bush. The SYSTEM elected him.

    Jeez, you can’t even get that simple fact straight? Did you just move here or something? Your lack of knowledge on such basic matters is appallingly lacking.

    And of course you are aware that in 2001 a huge media consortium counted all the votes statewide in Florida and found more people voted for Gore than for Bush, but these votes were left uncounted. So, essentially, the people AND the system voted for Gore. But you’ll deny it.

  26. CC, You are the one who does not get it I have been living here since 1976. Look up Electoral College it is neither a system or a College. This is how votes are counted in this country.

    Some Dems like the moveon.org dimwits are the ones in denial. They were still counting the Fla votes when Bush was in the White House. While the Democrats were still hangin chad Bush again came out on top by an even higher margin.

    CC,I refuse to answer any further posts from you because it is becoming realy a waste of time. Your ignorance of 7th grade civics or how the US system functions is astounding.

  27. You can thank God (figure of speech) that people had the good sense not to elect algore because If he was pres during 9/11 you would be in a burkha by now and praying five times a day with your a** pointed to the sky and speaking Arabic. Character and good judgement does matter and klintngore have none.

    Really? Why don’t you elaborate. GIve us a sequence of events that would sound credible and jibe with that assunmption of yours. Let’s say Al Gore is President. Let us just assume 9-11 wa inevitable and he ignored Gary HArt’s warnings and other briefings. OK what now. We still go after Afghanistan. What then? We do not waste money and resources in Iraq. What does Saddam do that will have us in a burqua? Remember Bush didn’t accomplish anything spectacular in Afhganistan at this point. Maybe, just maybe Europe remains AlQ’s main focus because Gore is not stupid enough to make us the #1 target. Give us a hypothetical sequence of events that would sound credible to the readers here. We know this. The EPA won’t be emasculated under Gore. Even if he can sound overzealous with respect to global warming, at least his error in judgement on that isssue and there is no one who thinks GOre would have done a worse job than Bush in other environemental issues which impact many lives each year like clean water and air. All that money wasted in Iraq could have been used for better intelligence.

    I see you ignore every single point in the comment you were responding to. Instead you just go back to your simplistic “Gore is the devil” talking point. Another thing I am curious about – why is your patriotic self so mad at half of America? You never saw Clinton badmouth red states voters in his speeches. You did hear the Bush types make snide references to Massachuesset liberals. When did Clinton or his cabinet members ever say that? SO who hates America more? Don’t paint me as a CLintonite, by the way. I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton next year even if the DEmocrats somehow end up caught in the middle of a close campaign. You guys were mad when Clinton was the President. MOst of the last 8 years, liberals became angry because of all the attacks on them. BUt I noticed something else. Why are you guys still so angry??? You got the power now. Stop the whining about liberals.

  28. Pravin, I don’t like the current crop of Republican canidates either.

  29. Funny. I looked up both “Electoral College” and “United States Electoral College” on Wikipedia, and throughout both articles the word “system” is used multiple times in describing it.

    Do you even know what the word “system” means? It’s a very basic word. Which must be why you don’t know it.

    Nope, moveon.org didn’t participate in the vote counting. But the right-wing Wall Street Journal did. They were one of eight major news organizations who formed the National Opinion Research Center, and found that there were more votes cast for Gore statewide than there were for Bush.

    So, the people did vote for Gore. Both the American people and the Floridians. Sorry. Deny all you want, but that only makes you a liar.

    I can understand why you won’t answer me, though. You can’t lose an argument you don’t participate in. And wow, did you LOSE! It’s wise of you not to expose your galaxy-wise gaps of knowledge any further.

  30. cc, You expose your lack of knowlege of how the American ‘system’ of government works. We do not elect presidents by numbers alone as that would be mob-rule. We do not live in a Democracy but a Republic. Check it out.

    I do not have the patience to tutor you, nor is this the place for that. Might I suggest you take a very basic college course Pol.101 American National Government.

    A canidate who can not carry his own state will not win an election.

    If you spend any time on moveon.org or the daily kos you will continue to live in darkness.

  31. Pravin, The EPA, D0Edu, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, should all be eliminated. Even Reagan cout not do it because the Congress would not defund them.

    Anyone who listens to the likes of Gary Hart or is against the war in Iraq cannot be taken seriously.

  32. Pravin, The EPA, D0Edu, PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, should all be eliminated. Even Reagan cout not do it because the Congress would not defund them.

    I am indifferent to the NEA. Even if I do not care for it, it does not really suck up that much money for me to even discuss it. There is a lot of waste in government. And yes. that includes the defense sector. Yet all I hear from conservatives is the usual targets. If one is concerned about waste, you must be willing to cut pork everywhere.

    The EPA: Do you think private companies have an incentive to follow good environmental policies? And do you think if everything is left upto the states, you won’t have one state that doesn’t give a shit about the environment luring industries away from other states? Yet the water is shared between states. Air is not localized. Do you really want a Delhi type situation in the US? If you have problems with the EPA, the problem is not to scrap it, but to reform it. I think one clever thing Reaganites do is make all agencies so bad that the public will clamor to get rid of them. EPA is not a one issue agency.

    I do think the Democrats pander to government employees. There should be a middle ground somewhere. And Gore, who you think is evil, had making government agencies more efficient as one of his goals when he was VP. From what I read, he did not get all the cooperation he needed at the time from the administration. I am not 100% sure about this though.

  33. I think SM should have a generic politics blog entry which is open all the time so people like Rajesh and I can have indepth discussions without going off topic.

  34. Oh, learn to read, you silly ass. I never once said presidents were put into office through the popular vote. I said the people elected Gore, but the system (electoral college) did not. How many posts do you need to read until this obviously made point sinks in?

    You, on the other hand, started by saying “You can thank God (figure of speech) that PEOPLE had the good sense not to elect algore.” PEOPLE. As if presidents WERE elected only through the popular will. And then you go on and natter about the Electoral College and completely contradict what you first said. I was responding to your original statement which had NOT A THING to do with the Electoral College, genius (figure of speech). So I argued you on those terms, that YOU established. I mean, if you had any nuance in that cavity that’s supposed to hold a brain, you would have noticed this contradiction of your own making.

    May I suggest “Dick and Jane at the Seashore?” Your reading comprehension ability is atrocious.

    How many more times are you going to reply, and then say “NOW, I’m ignoring you. NOW, I’m ignoring you.”

  35. I agree there is government waste in all agencies including the DOD. I have seen it myself while I was in the Navy. I do not believe there is any Democrat interested since it is not in their interest because of being indebted to the unions. In the past ten years the Republicans were no better.

    This what happens toward the end of every fiscal year. If there is money left over in the budget for a unit or department there is a rush to spend what is left over. There is no incentive to save or carry over to the next fiscal year. I was told they have to this because they would not be able to justify more funds or the same from the congress if they do not use all.

  36. Ha! NOW you stops. CC wins again. Woo-hoo!

    I won twice, actually. First, I provoked you to answer me after you promised not to, and then when I made you see how asinine your ridiculous arguing tactics were, you realized you lost the battle and dropped out. First it’s “good thing the PEOPLE didn’t elect him”, and then “don’t you say the people decide who wins elections! It’s the Electoral College! How could anyone say otherwise.” Did you honestly believe you wouldn’t be found out? Giving up when you’re behind is very wise, uncharacteristically for you.

  37. looks like Edwards has joined the bandwagon on Pakistan..

    ….

    While most of the speech, given at Pace University this afternoon, focused on the increased use of soft power to improve America’s standing in the world, he specifically said “I want to be clear about one thing: if we have actionable intelligence about imminent activity and the Pakistan government refuses to act, we will.”