The Collective
Wednesday, August 1, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the AP: Obama might send troops into Pakistan

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists even without local permission if warranted — an attempt to show strength when his chief rival has described his foreign policy skills as naive.

The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that he must do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters under an Obama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a U.S. troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid.

“Let me make this clear,” Obama said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “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-Qaida leadership meeting in 2024. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

I dunno–is threatening to invade yet another country really the way to appeal to the Democratic base? This sounds more like what the Weekly Standard crowd wants to hear…

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10 Responses to “Obama Doubles Down on Foreign Policy, Threatens to Invade Pakistan”

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    1. Steven L. Says:

      So . . . is this is a response to being called naive, or the proof of it?

    2. Strike = Invasion…? Says:

      Obama never said he would invade the country. He said he would have let go foward the targeted strike of Al-Qaeda that Bush aborted and let bin Laden go free. There is a world of difference between a targeted strike and an invasion. Furthermore, you really are being uncreative and knee-jerk in your response. This is obviously an implicit attack on the Clintons, as the Clintons refused to take out Osama by missile when they had him in their crosshairs because Sandy Berger suspected they lacked proper authorization. Playing up the invasion spin just misses the point.

    3. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

      The only way to effectively ousted AQ from Pakistan would be troops in Waziristan. The Paks won’t let us go in. Unless the Paks change their minds, we would have to invade to pursue AQ in Pakistan.

      This is not an issue of missile strikes–which would create their own complications with the Pakistanis.

    4. Talmadge East Says:

      We would have to invade Pakistan, but I do think this is an obvious attack on Senator Clinton due to sagging numbers.

    5. MSS Says:

      This statement by Obama is clearly not aimed at the Democratic base.

      Regarding comment #2:

      “There is a world of difference between a targeted strike and an invasion.”

      Indeed there is. The first would have even less chance of being effective. However, either would accomplish the same objective in at least two senses–a boost to Al Qaeda’s recruitment campaign and dangerous political instability in Pakistan.

      Also on the semantics, note that one must invade a sovereign country’s airspace in order to attack target within it. “Invade” does not only mean with ground forces. And an air strike practically guarantees civilian casualties.

    6. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

      #2 is some kind of politico-spammer, as he/she left the identical comment at OTB, which is ironic given the accusation of my post being “uncreative.”

    7. Obama dangles the idea of sending Troops to Pakistan | BitsBlog Says:

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    8. RandyB Says:

      I think the optimum time for that sort of cross border pursuit has probably passed.

      There’s a counter-factual I’ve been contemplating for sometime:

      Suppose instead of assuming after Tora Bora that Al qaeda and Osama were contained, and there were bigger fish to fry - the US had forcefully pursued Osama and his entourage where ever the path led us.

      Recall at the time, there was near unlimited support domestically for action in retribution for the attacks of 9/11; And also the unprecedented support we received internationally until we started threatening Iraq with war.

      My questions are these: had we invaded Pakistan in hot pursuit of Al qeada - even if under protest from its govt

      1) what is the likelihood that we would received some support or at worst a relatively mild rebuke from the international community including Muslim states

      2) had we succeeded in tracking down and killing Osama and then abruptly withdrawn to Afghanistan, wouldn’t we have immensely raised our stature in the world and also diminished the trends towards Islamic radicalism.

    9. Captain D. Says:

      All of the talk from Obama and others about “targeted strikes” displays a lack of tactical thinking. I’ve directed many air and missile strikes and know from said experience that you can’t just push a button from miles away and expect to hit a target.

      If we wanted to hit said target with an airstrike, and know for sure that the target was destroyed, we would need to put an air controller on the ground in a position to direct the attack, observe the effects, and verify the damage. The perception that we can simply view the entire world at the push of a button regardless of weather conditions from some mysterious super-satellite is wrong. Even mild cloud cover renders satellites imagery all but useless, and it is generally not available in real-time; there is no real-time satellite video feed outside of hollywood. You need people on the ground designating the target.

      Always be suspicious when someone claims that “we” (and usually when people say “we” in that context they mean US military forces) “could have taken out ______ and it would have been easy, but so-and-so said no”, and we don’t have an actual, honest-to-god ground presence in that country. Without a friendly ground presence you’re relying primarily on what the spooks, spies, and locals tell you to know a target is somewhere, be it Bin Laden or someone else. The US is notoriously bad at gathering HUMINT (human intelligence). When we get it at all it’s usually old and of limited tactical value (though they often get stuff of immense strategic value). The tactical reality is that it’s a lot harder to find people in big, lawless, wild places like Pakistan and Afghanistan and Sudan than the pundits make it out to be in hindsight, and equally hard once you know they’re there to put a weapon on target before they move into the building next door or the bunker downstairs. When these hindsight statements are made it is usually to cast someone in a bad light and nothing more.

      I am quite skeptical that the criticisms of either Clinton (who has been accused of not getting Bin Laden in Sudan in the 90’s) or Bush (with this more recent supposed Pakistan OBL sighting) hold any tactical, real-world water at all. Even if said Presidents didn’t stand to gain enormously (and both would have) from getting Bin Laden in some definitive way, the idea that at any time someone could have just pressed a “vaporize UBL” button and the only reason the guy’s still breathing is that no one pressed it goes against all of my tactical training and experience in Afghanistan. There’s no such button. Believe me.

      This is political language. Obama is trying to convince people that he is not a wimp, something that is hard to do when you are running as an anti-war candidate (not just in this race, but historically).

    10. Captain D. Says:

      Should have put it in there with my post. . . amateur video is dangerous stuff as a litmus test, but still. . .

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