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WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would possibly send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists, 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 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”
Would this be before or after those unconditional meetings he would have with the world’s most despotic ‘leaders’?
In many ways, the speech is counterintuitive; Obama, one of the more liberal candidates in the race, is proposing a geopolitical posture that is more aggressive than that of President Bush. It comes at a time in Obama’s campaign when the freshman senator is drawing more financial support from more voters than any other candidate, though he has yet to vault from his second-place position in the polls. One of the reasons for that is that the Democratic front-runner, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, is seen as more experienced and in some ways stronger, a perspective Obama wishes to change.
The speech, to be delivered at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., seems an attempt by Obama to ramp up his campaign to the next phase, where he hopes to seem not only a youthful idealist, but a president who would pursue a muscular foreign policy and protect the United States from terrorist attack.
Will be interesting to see how this plays with the hardcore anti-war base. Will cries of “chickenhawk” soon follow Senator Obama wherever he goes?
It’s August. I give it another month or two before the mediots start to turn on the O-man – just like they did with Howard Dean. Obama’s seeming invincibility armor is starting to crack.