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