Video: Obama’s line on Pakistan turns from insane to dishonest

posted at 12:51 pm on December 31, 2007 by Bryan

Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday, Barack Obama tried to undo the spin that his campaign trotted out in response to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Host Tim Russert cited a Washington Post editorial that accused Obama of committing “an ugly foul” in trying to connect Pakistan’s instability to Hillary Clinton’s vote on the Iraq war.

Then Mr. Obama committed his foul — a far-fetched attempt to connect the killing of Ms. Bhutto with Ms. Clinton’s vote on the war in Iraq. After the candidate made the debatable assertion that the Iraq invasion strengthened al-Qaeda in Pakistan, his spokesman, David Axelrod, said Ms. Clinton “was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, which we would submit was one of the reasons why we were diverted from Afghanistan, Pakistan and al-Qaeda, who may have been players in the event today.”

Obama cites the NIE in his defense, so it’s worth pointing out that past NIEs have said Iraq was pursuing WMDs and that Iran was and then wasn’t actively pursuing nuclear weapons. If you’re going to appeal to an authority to back your case, you’re leaving yourself open to criticism that your appeals are entirely opportunistic if you don’t also take into account times when the authority hasn’t agreed with you. And past NIEs often haven’t agreed with Obama’s take on the world, or even with each other.

But more broadly, Obama denies that his campaign’s Pakistan line wasn’t an attempt to draw a causal line between Iraq and Pakistan. That just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny at all.

“Those who made the judgment that we ought to divert our attention from Afghanistan to invade Iraq and allow al-Qaeda to reconstitute and strengthen are now having to assess the wisdom of that judgment as we may be seeing yet another manifestation of al-Qaeda’s potency,” said Susan Rice, a top Obama foreign policy advisor who was an assistant secretary of State in the Clinton administration, in an interview with Politico.

She said Pakistan illustrates a difference between Obama and Clinton’s approaches to foreign policy. Clinton, in Rice’s view, is willing to tolerate authoritarian regimes – in this case the government of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf – who might be useful to short-term U.S. goals. Obama, on the other hand, seeks a diplomacy that sees values and human rights than traditional realpolitik.

“Senator Clinton’s view has been closer to Bush’s, which is to see Musharraf as the linchpin but democracy as something that is desirable, but not necessarily essential to our security interests,” said Rice, “Whereas Obama feels that democracy and human rights in the context of Pakistan are essential to our security.”

Not only did Obama’s campaign draw a causal line between Iraq and Pakistan, they also misread the source of Pakistan’s present instability. It’s not solely the lack of democracy that’s feeding Pakistan’s internal problems, it’s the growing jihadist movement that demanded and won space in Waziristan, ramped up Islamist opposition from its HQ at the Red Mosque until Musharraf ordered troops to drive them out, and fuels the war in Afghanistan to this day. The fact is, since the 1990s Pakistan has exported Islamist terrorism to Afghanistan and Chechnya and nearly anyplace else jihad was pursued, and Pakistan’s democratically elected Prime Ministers Bhutto and Sharif were worse about this than Musharraf has been. That particular chicken has come home to roost.

Pakistan’s problems are complex and long predate the war in Iraq. Obama dishonestly oversimplifies them to make an unconvincing point about the war he didn’t support that ousted a non-democratic tyrant he would have left in place.

More: As weird as this is, with Obama’s nonsensical linkage to Iraq and Hillary’s flubbing major details of her “dear friend” Bhutto’s life, John Edwards comes out of this so far looking like the most presidential of the big three on the Democrat side. He wins by not saying anything terribly stupid, and unless his phone call to Mushy turns out not to have happened (or if it turns out he was just talking to Musharraf’s answering machine or something like that), he comes out not having said anything obviously idiotic or obviously dishonest. He didn’t do any particular good, but he also didn’t do any particular harm, which is about all we can reasonably expect from the Dems these days.

More: A great book on the subject, tangentially, of Pakistan’s exporting of jihad far and wide is Youssef Bodansky’s Chechen Jihad. I’m reading it now and it’s nightmarish.


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Pakistan requires stability before more democracy, and Obama is wrong to suggest otherwise. However, the dedication of military resources in Iraq has strained the military globally, and specifically in Afghanistan. Don’t know that a greater U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would have a tremendous effect on Waziristan or Pakistan, though.

dedalus on December 31, 2007 at 1:05 PM

Blames in hindsight, yet offers no viable solutions. A true Democratic politician.

infidel on December 31, 2007 at 1:11 PM

dedalus – don’t be silly. The Palestinians did a great job with democracy before stability. The Hamas government is proof positive that democracy produces great results in unstable Islamic regimes… Right? :-)

Outlander on December 31, 2007 at 1:12 PM

Obama doesn’t differ much from the other Dem candidates; full of platitudes, lack of experience, completely void of common sense when it comes to our nation’s security.

They all come from the same cookie cutter.

fogw on December 31, 2007 at 1:15 PM

dedalus,

how very RonPaulian of you to suggest.

Jaibones on December 31, 2007 at 1:15 PM

How about security before democracy? I don’t think we care if they’re unstable as Jello as long as they can build towards democracy eventually, and those nukes are under some form of trusted control.

Chap on December 31, 2007 at 1:16 PM

how very RonPaulian of you to suggest.

To suggest that we should have had a more sustained military effort in Afghanistan and possible incursions into Waziristan w/o a declaration of war? Not very Paulian.

I’m not eager to spread democracy but am eager to use military and intelligence assets to improve national security.

dedalus on December 31, 2007 at 1:22 PM

It doesn’t matter, he’s going to lose anyway. Hillary is going to win the D nomination. He’s just media fodder to make better ratings off of it. Elections are boondoggles for the MSM. . . but only if it’s close.

ThackerAgency on December 31, 2007 at 1:26 PM

I’m not completely sure I’ve ever heard a truthful statement from the man. O’BamBam is an expert liar as well as a denier and twister of historical facts. We’ll pray he gets the nomination.

Griz on December 31, 2007 at 1:29 PM

It doesn’t matter, he’s going to lose anyway.

Is it just me, or are most of his enthusiastic supporters around 16 years old and too young to vote anyway? He seems to have the high-school girl demo locked up.

saint kansas on December 31, 2007 at 1:57 PM

That screencap is chilling…

MadisonConservative on December 31, 2007 at 2:05 PM

This is your ar$e, this is your elbow.

BL@KBIRD on December 31, 2007 at 2:32 PM

More: A great book on the subject, tangentially, of Pakistan’s exporting of jihad far and wide is Youssef Bodansky’s Chechen Jihad. I’m reading it now and it’s nightmarish.

I would like a book review from you, in that case, interested to hear your comments.

CrimsonFisted on December 31, 2007 at 2:40 PM

The Obama remark shows how dangerous it would be to elect any of these lightweights. Obama is a McGovern Democrat and would never use force to protect American interests anywhere. He would not have the respect of the troops and after he orders the troops home from Iraq, America would not credibility. He thinks a unilateral apology from America would be the best way to conduct foreign policy. Hillary Clinton’s policies are well known. She would bring back the entire Bill Clinton team, Maddie Albright, Jamie (Mr. Christine Amanpour) Rubin, Warren (“may I apologize to you, President Assad, on behalf of the United States?”) Christopher and last but not least Janet Reno. Recall that after the first WTC attacks, Reno said that we would “file indictments if we know precisely who committed this crime”. With the Reno doctrine, which said terrorism is to be treated as a law enforcement matter and as nothing else, the US was already defeated. Ben Laden took Clinton’s measure and sensed Bill’s inherent weakness. 9/11/ 2001 was all but inevitable. As for Edwards, foreign policy does not interest him, although he is observing Hugo Chavez’s rhetoric about private businesses in Venezuela and adopting that rhetoric. Edwards would probably like to see the Chavez economic policies adopted here although Hugo may be too conservative for Edwards. All of these lightweights are dangerous to the security of the USA. Sadly, Hillary is by now all but assured of being the next president.

Larraby on December 31, 2007 at 2:48 PM

I see Obama is catching on to the Clintonian, opportunistic, turn a blind eye way of campaigning. He sends a pawn out to spout off, them fires him. When confronted with it, he just denies knowledge, shows everyone his disdain by firing the pawn, then of course plays both sides to his advantage.

oakpack on December 31, 2007 at 3:04 PM

Obama has gained in the polls by keeping his mouth shut. When he opens it it’s just to change feet. The guy is a lightweight, plain and simple, on every issue. The sad thing is that he’s still a better choice than Hillary or the Silk Pony.

Frank Nitti on December 31, 2007 at 4:47 PM

once again, The Oprah’s main man opens his mouth and inserts both feet.

Why does anyone take him seriuos at all? Ron Paul sounds lucid when compared.

jdsmith0021 on December 31, 2007 at 5:03 PM

dedalus on December 31, 2007 at 1:22 PM

Actually, I was referring to the very moonbat notion that we sacrificed the effort in Afghanistan to go to Iraq, which would seem to be untrue.

Jaibones on January 1, 2008 at 1:26 AM

I knew it.

I knew Hitlary was responsible for Bhutto’s death.

First it’s Vince Foster, now Bhutto.

drjohn on January 1, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Jaibones on January 1, 2008 at 1:26 AM

I’m less concerned about what Paul would say on principle about the two wars than what the CIA, Pentagon, or military personal have said about the logistics of opening the second front.

Paul would probably argue that we have no business being in Iraq, and the way we went about it was unconstitutional. I don’t take that position. I think Iraq was a strategic error and it took resources away from Afghanistan and Waziristan.

dedalus on January 1, 2008 at 12:17 PM