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What President Obama would do


The article behind the cut is from today's New York Times.  Read it and weep.

Obama Calls for Military Shift in U.S. Focus on Terrorism 

Published: August 2, 2007

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 — Senator Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States should shift its military focus away from the Iraq war to a broader fight against Islamic extremism, vowing to dispatch American forces to eradicate terrorist camps in Pakistan if that nation failed to take such action.

Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat who is seeking his party’s presidential nomination, said he would order strikes on Al Qaeda targets and withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid if the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, did not blunt a resurging Taliban presence in the country’s tribal areas. This, he said, is the “right battlefield” to make the United States safer.

“If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act,” Mr. Obama said, “we will.”

In the second major foreign policy address of his campaign, Mr. Obama outlined a series of proposals to fight global terrorism, including a plan to send at least 7,000 soldiers and special forces troops to Afghanistan, in addition to the roughly 22,000 troops there now. At the same time, he said, he would also increase nonmilitary aid to the country by $1 billion to improve economic opportunities there.

Mr. Obama is seeking to establish his foreign policy credentials after Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and other rivals have questioned whether he has the military and diplomatic experience to lead the nation in wartime. He delivered a strong rebuke of the administration’s Iraq strategy but said the blame went far beyond President Bush.

“Congress rubber-stamped the rush to war, giving the president the broad and open-ended authority he uses to this day,” Mr. Obama said. “With that vote, Congress became co-author of a catastrophic war. And we went off to fight on the wrong battlefield, with no appreciation of how many enemies we would create and no plan for how to get out.”

Mr. Obama, who was not in Congress at the time of the war authorization vote in 2002, is working to persuade Democratic voters that he would not hesitate to use military force to protect the United States.

“The terrorists are at war with us,” he said. “The threat is from violent extremists who are a small minority of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims, but the threat is real.”

The speech offered a broader glimpse into Mr. Obama’s world view. If elected, he said, he would seek out an Islamic audience in the first 100 days of his administration to “redefine our struggle” and open “America Houses” across the Islamic world to improve a tarnished image of the United States.

While Mr. Obama often emphasizes his biography — he is the only candidate who spent part of his childhood living abroad — he did not dwell on his background during his 35-minute speech, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He presented himself as a figure who could restore the country’s credibility in the world, which he said had eroded since an initial outpouring of good will after terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001.

“What could have been a call to a generation has become an excuse for unchecked presidential power,” Mr. Obama said. “A tragedy that united us was turned into a political wedge issue used to divide us.”

Mr. Obama has tapped into a broad network of support from the grass roots and the Democratic establishment to raise more money than any other candidate in either party, but he has struggled to compete with Mrs. Clinton in national polls and with former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina in Iowa, which holds the first nominating contest.

Both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Edwards, as well as others in the Democratic field, have questioned his experience.

Last week, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama engaged in a dispute over whether they would agree to meet with hostile rulers without preconditions. Mr. Obama said he would, while Mrs. Clinton said she would not, a distinction that Mr. Obama seized upon again Wednesday in an effort to show that he is a candidate of change.

“It’s time to turn the page on the diplomacy of tough talk and no action,” he said. “It’s time to turn the page on Washington’s conventional wisdom — that agreement must be reached before you meet, that talking to other countries is some kind of reward, and that presidents can only meet with people who will tell them what they want to hear.”

Phil Singer, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said the campaign had no response to Mr. Obama’s speech.

In his address, Mr. Obama also renewed his call to double the amount of foreign aid to $50 billion by 2012 and to provide $2 billion to fight the influence of Islamic religious schools, or madrasas, which he said “have filled young minds with messages of hate.”

“We know we are not who they say we are,” Mr. Obama said. “America is at war with terrorists who killed people on our soil. We are not at war with Islam.”


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2007 11:53 pm (UTC)
Basically "fuck" is the only response I can coherently form at the moment.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC)
I know. It's Bush and his arrogance all over again. I'm sure the Pakistanis loved hearing that their country is the "right battlefield" to keep the U.S. safe. And isn't "actionable intelligence" what sent us on that wild goose chase after Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? Then, while our "actionable intelligence" has us bombing Pakistan and helping argue the madrasa teachers' case for them, the "America Houses" will be out there trying to prove that the rest of the world has us all wrong, and we're really warm and fuzzy and peace-loving (just as long as everyone behaves the way we want them to). Frankly, the article turned my stomach when I read it. I was never an Obama groupie to begin with, and now that he seems to be morphing into Baby Bush, I'm even less inclined to want him anywhere near the Oval Office.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
I'll take it you'll be voting for Mrs. Clinton?

We need more female players in WA anyway.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:50 pm (UTC)
I'll take it you'll be voting for Mrs. Clinton?

Did you have any doubt?
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)
We-ell... since you play a certain short, angry president... ;)
Aug. 3rd, 2007 05:07 pm (UTC)
Let's see. I assume the "short" means you're talking about Nicolas, and not George....

Btw, I saw in the paper that Vanity Fair has named Nico to its list of the 10 Best-Dressed Men list. Clearly they haven't been paying proper attention to a certain elegant ex-PM. Of course, maybe they're already picturing him in a prison jumpsuit.... :-((
Aug. 3rd, 2007 05:32 pm (UTC)
*absolute horror* Oh, mon dieu. I did not consider zat ze jumpsuits would be orange. How would zat go with my beautiful skin and hair?! Zat's even worse zan ze bodysearches.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 09:25 pm (UTC)
*snorts* Hi! How's Madrid?
Aug. 3rd, 2007 09:35 pm (UTC)
Hace mucho calor...
Aug. 3rd, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
Que lastima....

Tell Domi not to worry. I'm sure if he has to go to prison no one will actually make him wear a jumpsuit. But I expect with his sense of style he'd even be able to make orange look good.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
Make that 'Qué lastima'.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
You know you don't have to worry about the accents with me!

Dominique is already considering that, in the event he does not receive a fair trial, he could preserve his honour and style by dramatically committing suicide in the courtroom.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
Isn't that a little ... excessive?
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC)
Dominique has his honour. His dignity. And his sense for theatrics.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC)
*makes note to pass this information on to Kat*

But just think of the book he'd miss out on writing. A nice juicy exposé of the French penal system and the brutal treatment of the suffering masses unjustly condemned to life in tiny, windowless cells with only the prison rats for company. Besides, if he killed himself, Nico wouldn't be able to arrange clandestine visits with him. And of course Silvio is probably already planning to bribe the guards on Domi's behalf.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
*coldly* And what would he require the clandestine visits for, exactly? More to the point, why would he expect I would even want to bear the ordeal of being in the same room as his foul presence?
Aug. 3rd, 2007 11:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, I can think of how it might play out. Domi is sentenced to five years in prison. Nico, horrified at what he's done (for various reasons involving judo) decides to show clemency, and offers Dominique a full pardon. Dominique, on principle (and because he wants to torture Nico with the thought of five judo-less years), strikes a noble pose and refuses to leave his prison cell. He will become one with the suffering masses (ignoring the little matter of all the delicacies Silvio will be supplying (silk sheets, monogrammed towels, a Persian rug for the floor of the cell, etc.)). Nico will hold out as long as he can, but eventually he'll either go to Domi secretly or he'll arrange for Domi to released into his charge periodically for vague reasons of national interest. (The having Domi released idea probably comes from Nico's many viewings of the Sean Connery - Nicolas Cage film "The Rock".) Will there be judo? Will Nico prove to be as expert a seducer as Silvio? Only time will tell. Tune in for next week's episode and find out what happens to our silver-haired, silver-tongued hero. *fade to black*
Aug. 4th, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC)
I very much doubt that Nicolas will receive any...satisfaction. Dominique will not want judo with him. He might feel disgust because it would seem that Nicolas was demanding judo in exchange for a pardon/temporary release. Or because of how Nicolas has betrayed him. Either way, he won't want judo with Nico.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
I didn't actually think of George. Do tell fratboydoesgood that it's because I'm too much of a navel-gazer, and most decidedly not because I forgot about him.

Btw, I saw in the paper that Vanity Fair has named Nico to its list of the 10 Best-Dressed Men list.

marie_sego is disappointed in Vanity Fair. She asks me to tell you that Sarko looks (and acts) like a filthy little nouveau riche and most certainly does not deserve that rank.
Aug. 28th, 2007 06:27 am (UTC)
Ok, so I went LJAWOL for a bit... sorry! Don't think I have to read more than the first two lines. Don't know if I want to. But let's not forget that Hillary also said that no option should be taken off the table when talking about Iran... which was a definite _non_ opposition to nuclear. Basically, you're all screwed. Sorry. I'd say move to Canada, but for some stupid reason, Harper's minority government seems to be going strong. -_-

p.s. Do you remember where the water snake and water dragon post is?
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:47 am (UTC)
Oy veh. I read the first paragraph and could proceed no further. So now we've basically got a larger version of the Israel/Palestine deadlock, only it can't be justified as a religious war. Yippee. Maybe they'll find a solution in 4,000 years' time. Oh wait... I/P hasn't.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:55 pm (UTC)
Oh, the article gets even better as it goes along. If the quotes are accurate and not taken out of context, I've never seen such a blatant display of someone talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. Now I want to see if I can track down a copy of the full speech.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
Actually, it's not really a particularly controversial new idea. Back during the run up to the Iraq war, certain circles thought that if you were going after states who were in bed with terrorists, it would make much more sense to go after Pakistan than Iraq. Some saw the ISI as synonymous with Al Qaeda and were quite vociferous in their condemnation of Musharraf. I believe our favourite celebrity philosopher/envoy to Afghanistan was one of them.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, but where do you draw the line? "Mr. President, we have actionable intelligence that [insert name of country here] is harbouring terrorists and turning a blind eye to the training camps being established there. We'd better send troops right away! Better to fight the terrorists in Chechnya than here in the good old U.S. of A."
Aug. 3rd, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC)
Oh dear, let's not get started on Chechnya; we don't want vlad_impaler to start eying up his vat of polonium again.

When it comes to war, there really has been no line drawn . That's the problem. There's no line in the moral dimension of war for when interventionism becomes imperialism, and in the pragmatic dimension, the invasion of Iraq seriously discredited the idea that pre-emptive attack can be self-defence. Like Domi said in his speeches, the invasion would do more damage than just ruining Iraq: it would create a precedent of low standards of justification for future invasions. Which is the problem here, really. There was no case for the Iraq war concerning self-defence (and even if a moral argument was made, the practicalities of the invasion always made it seem more moral to choose a different state that could actually benefit from a regime change, and there's plenty states in areas which are less unstable than the Middle East and with worse leaders than Saddam), but as it was allowed to happen and indeed supported by many, one would think that by the standard set there, it would be very logical to attack Pakistan, a state that does (or at least did) indeed have strong links to terrorism and Al Qaeda. If you don't count Langley, it's probably the best target.

So unfortunately, a precedent has been set in which justification for a war seems pretty much irrelevant. But even before that, America's right to carpetbomb a nation it accused of having links to terrorists was demonstrated in Afghanistan. Few protested at that, but really, the justification offered there wasn't that much more impressive than for Iraq. Especially as America had threatened the Taliban government with mass bombing a year before September 11th when they haggled over plans for a pipeline.
Aug. 3rd, 2007 11:02 pm (UTC)
Teddy Roosevelt said "Speak softly and carry a big stick". Unfortunately, America now speaks loudly, and not only carries a big stick, but has no hesitation in using it. And then we wonder why people hate us.

Dominique was quite right in what he said in his speeches.
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( 27 comments — Leave a comment )