Obama says he might, as POTUS, sent troops into Pakistan without Musharraf's leave

Story here. Interesting on many levels:

  1. Why is Obama saying this? Is he just trying to appear tough on terror?

  2. Would he stick with it if elected? (I’m recalling how Clinton, on the campaign trail, reviled Bush I’s pandering to China in the aftermath of Tienanmen Square – and then, as president, reaffirmed China’s most-favored-nation status.)

  3. Would it be a good idea? Could we get at some actual terrorists in that way?

  4. If so, would it be worth it? Considering that it would be a slap in the face of a nominal ally; and would make an already unstable government appear weaker; and might land our troops in the middle of a multi-sided civil war, again.

Recent threads on the Pakistan situation.

Yes. National security weakness is probably the biggest problem the Democrats have going into the election. That’s why Kerry kept talking about four months in Vietnam instead of almost three decades in the Senate, for example.

No. The situation is more complicated than a pandering sound-bite. But he may do it if another 9/11 scale attack happens. If he is POTUS, he won’t have a choice.

Yes. But, again, it will take another 9/11 scale attack before it happens.

Not if we make it clear that we are going into the tribal areas to take care of business. Essentially, “stay out of the way and you won’t get hurt”. It would be effective in the short to mid-term, but the war against radial Islam will be generational. The Western world may not think it’s a religious war, but a whole lot of Muslims think it is. Until the factors that create the conflict change, the status quo will continue.

  1. Contemptible pandering and cheap point scoring.
  2. No - the idea is too batshit crazy.
  3. No and Yes. Except that we’d create another 20 for each one we killed.
  4. Yes - if you consider a nuclear armed fundamentalist Islamic state a great idea.

What pandering soundbite are you talking about?

I know, I know, it’s the New York Post, but this columnist makes some valid points under all the ranting.

The gist of it is that it’s not worth the serious risk of alienating the Pakistani military, creating yet another native insurgency with some damn tough tribesmen, cutting off vital supply lines, and risking replacing a chief ally with an Islamic state that owes its existance to nationwide resentment of America’s actions. With nukes.

Obama saying “I’ll go into Pakistan to get the terrorists” when he either

(a) realizes that he actually can’t and he’s intentionally trying to appeal to shallow voters with a lie

or (b) is naive enough to think he can actually do that without all the negative consequences.

If that’s where Osama is, we should go get him. If Bush hadn’t totally botched the Afghan war in his rush to get Iraq’s oil, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

Good idea or bad, I think it’s silly to call it pandering. He surely is not pandering to Democrats. At best he’s pandering to independents or Republicans. Given that he is behind Hillary by double-digits, why on earth would he give a speech pandering for votes he might get in the general election when he’s on course to lose the primary? That analysis just doesn’t make any sense. The much more sane analysis is that this extended speech at the Woodrow Wilson Institute (which ya’ll should probably read) is indeed his sincere vision of a comprehensive strategy to fight terrorism.

As to whether it’s a good idea, I’d like to hear from those of you think that this will lead to Musharraf’s overthrow. Why didn’t it lead to his overthrow the last time the US struck inside Pakistan w/o his permission?

So to sum up - it’s a lunatic idea. Good, glad that’s solved. So on to the next question. When will Bush unleash the hounds?

Actually, I’m not surprised that Osama would say that. I think any American president would send troops - at least on a small scale, in Special Ops missions - into Pakistan if there was actionable intelligence. We may already be doing it. Hell, we probably are! But both Washington and Islamabad would probably deny it, to preserve the figleaf of Pakistani sovereignty and avoid giving Musharraf’s opponents another stick with which to beat him.

We’re not talking about some surgical air strikes or special operations, we’re talking about invading Pakistan with several thousand or tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers and presumably occupying Waziristan for however long it takes us to take care of business.

And Musarraf is quite lucky to be alive. There has been several failed assassination attempts – whether it has anything to do with his relationship with us or not is arguable.

Exactly! He’s a total amateur! He didn’t use any folksy, Western cowboy phrases like “smoke 'em out” or “wanted: dead or alive” or “we will hunt the evil-doer down and bring him to justice.”

Reading the article, Obama talks a lot about economic and diplomatic carrots but if he doesn’t like the progress Pakistan takes against al-Qaeda then he’ll send the military in to take care of 'em.

Well, if one really believe this “war on terror” stuff then you should be overjoyed, since that’s where al-Qaeda’s heart is located. Using the military to take care of de-centralized organizations like this is notoriously troublesome, but if you were to do it at all it seems this would be the only place that actually makes any sense and could work.

We’d need to clear this with Musharraf and craft some really yummy propaganda for the locals. Those nuclear missile thingies are supposed to protect your country from being invaded by conventional armies, so this could provide problematic for domestic consumption if he didn’t just nuke us.

I really don’t know much about this place. But hey, if we invaded it could further our education. But from wiki (bolding mine):

Sounds great! Where do we sign up?

Where are you getting this from? I don’t see anything about invasion in the speech, except the part where he criticizes invasion and occupation as being counter-productive.

Not sure if it makes a difference to anyone or not, but FWIW,

If you read the transcript, he doesn’t actually say he would do it w/o Pakistans’ permission.

Just in case anyone is interested, here’s what was said:

The War We Need to Win
August 1, 2007 Washington, DC

As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.

I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. 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 Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. **If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.**

And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America’s commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists’ program of hate is met with one of hope. And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair – our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally.

AFAIK, saying he would act if Musharaf would not is not the same as saying that he would act w/o Musharraf’s permission. YMMV

Eh? When was that?

I believe there were a series of attacks on the Pakistan side of the border in late 2006/early 2007 which were condemned by the Pakistani parliament as being launched without consent. I will admit that my memory might be inaccurate.

I know there are forward operating bases along the Afghan/Pakistani border all w/in a few miles of Pakistan.

They have to be going out on missions where they think the bad guys are.

How stable is Pakistan? I think Musharraf is a heartbeat away from being on the next flight to Switzerland. As for Pakistan controlling the border area-forget it. Musharraf has made token attempts to control waziristan, but its always been a tribal area. Sending the US Army into pakistan would be a disaster-we would lose any credibility we have left (with the Muslim world). It would also be a fight we could never win-unless we resorted to “scorched earth” tactics.

His statement is a little broader than “we’ll invade Pakistan if we have to,” but I think that’s still implied. He is saying we will go in if Musharraf says he can’t do it on his own, but we may also go in if he says he won’t do it himself. Sounds good, but if that didn’t get Musharraf overthrown I don’t know what will.

I’ve heard a number of people over the years say we should go into Pakistan, since almost everybody agrees that’s where Bin Laden, Omar and others are staying. In my experience, those comments come mostly from Democrats, and you could say Obama is pandering to them.

I still think Bin Laden is in a condo in Austin, sitting by the pool with a drink and flipping between CNN and Fox News.

The mere presence of American troops would be destabilizing – especially in Pakistan, and especially if they went in without Musharraf’s permission. Do you know nothing of the situation there?! Factions include:

  1. Musharraf’s government, which up to now has been based on a “military-mosque alliance,” which now appears to be unraveling (see here).

  2. The Pakistani Taliban, which is the most important force on the ground in the North-West Frontier Province (see here). Their agenda appears to be simultaneously religious and ethnic – the Pashtun people have been divided between southern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan ever since the borders were drawn up after WWII, and many want a united Pashtunistan or an explanded Afghanistan that would include all Pashtun regions. Pakistan is now also a haven for 2.5 million Afghan refugees, mostly Pashtun, displaced by the war.

  3. Democratic reformers, most notably represented by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, whose dismissal by Musharraf sparked off months of public demonstrations (mainly by lawyers!), and who recently was reinstated to the Supreme Court, and who is adamantly opposed to letting Musharraf run for another five-year term.

  4. Separatists in the southwestern province of Balochistan, WRT U.S. policy will inevitably be complicated by the fact that we have been covertly supporting their raids into the neighboring Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchistan.

But, what the heck, let’s stick our collective national penis into this nice, lively hornet’s nest, just to see what happens! What could go wrong?!