Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Obama's Pakistan whacky-stand

Barack Obama's foreign policy speech today threatening to attack Pakistan after we pull out of Iraq can only be viewed through one lens—politics.

It made no sense if you follow any of Obama's previous statements, it made no sense logically, it made no sense geopolitically, it made no sense militarily. It only made sense if Obama correctly counted on the dutiful news media to report the tough talk as "evoking JFK" (liberal blogger Andrew Sullivan), or an attempt to burnish his anti-terrorism "credentials" after a campaign so far of foreign policy rookie mistakes from a foreign policy novice.

So politics it was from the candidate who continues to audaciously insist he is above politics.

First, we can easily dispense with Sullivan's flimsy JFK comparison. JFK would never retreat from our enemy in Iraq as Obama is proposing.

The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are. … The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.
The tactics of surrender in Iraq? Absolutely devastating, according to Pulitizer Prize war correspondent John Burns of the New York Times, in this recent interview with Hugh Hewitt.
…And so if American troops were withdrawn, I think that there would be a very serious risk that large parts of this country will fall under the sway of al Qaeda linked groups. Now we could debate what that exactly means. Al Qaeda's a holding company. Does that mean that Mr. bin Laden would be able to direct affairs in Afghanistan? No, I don't think he would. I don't think he does now. But it would mean that Islamic extremists who bear the worst intent towards the United States would have a base similar to the base they had in Afghanistan before 9/11 from which to operate, and I think it's very likely that they would then begin to want to expatriate their hatred of the United States in some way or another. In fact, it's already the case, that there are parts of Iraq which are under the sway of groups that swear allegiance to al Qaeda. And just to speak of one of them, the city of Sumarra, where I was yesterday, it's about sixty miles north of Baghdad, is definitely under the sway of al Qaeda right now. And that would likely get very much worse in the event of an accelerated withdrawal. So I don't think it's purely propaganda, political propaganda on the part of the Bush administration to say that there would be a major al Qaeda problem here. It seems to me it's absolutely self-evident that there would be.
Contrast this with what Obama said in July 2006, in an interview with Jeff Berkowitz:

I think that it is important for us to stabilize Iraq. I think the measure of success should be that there is not an all-out civil war. That there are not terrorist bases inside Iraq. That there has not been a melt-down of Iraq that draws its neighbors into escalating conflict. That should be our criteria. And, I think that can still be accomplished, although...
Then, there's the problem of invading Pakistan, our friend, a nuclear power. Our invasion could turn the population against its moderate leadership and invite an extremist revolt. The left, including Obama, went into a tizzy a few months when it sensed that President Bush might invade Iran, our sworn enemy. Now, Obama is talking about invading Pakistan, our friend. I'd like to know where the left's outrage is now. Nonetheless, everybody knows that going into the isolated and hostile mountains of Pakistan is unlikely to happen. Writes John Podhoretz:

This country is never — never — going to stage a major military action against Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation of 170 million people that has nuclear weapons and whose admittedly problematic and troublesome regime has, to some extent, cooperated with the United States in the war against Al Qaeda both in ways we know and ways we have no idea about. The concern that this strategically vital county might become an Islamic fundamentalist state is, should be, and will be paramount in every and all discussions about how to conduct the fight against Al Qaeda.

What's more, every serious person knows the United States won't invade Pakistan, even with Special Forces — since the reason we cancelled the proposed action against Al Qaeda in 2005 is that it was going to take many hundreds of American troops to do it. This isn't 15 people dropping like ninjas in the darkness. It's an invasion, with helicopters and supply lines and routes of ingress and escape. It would have had unforseen and unforeseeable consequences, but it would have been reasonable to assume the Pakistanis would have turned violently against the United States and hurtled toward Islamic fundamentalist control.
I'm wondering when the fair and balanced news media is going to ask Obama for his "plan" for attacking Pakistan and his "exit strategy."

Barack Obama appears unable to comprehend that al Qaeda exists in many countries, not just in a cave in Pakistan. He only wants to fight the "politically correct" al Qaeda. He wants to withdraw from a battlefield where we are defeating al Qaeda in order to engage in another one where we have far less chance for success and will incur many more casualties. Obama's politics of hope is that Americans will suspend logic and military common sense for his raw political posturing. Let's hope he's wrong.

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