Saturday, August 4, 2007

Will Obama vaporize Osama?

There has been much commotion in the Indian media about the US presidential candidate Barrack Obama's remarks about Pakistan. The impression we get is almost as if finally there could be an American president who would take on Pakistan, even invade it if necessary. Believe me there are many people who think invading Pakistan would be a good thing -the khaki-nicker*(BJP-RSS) crowd was hankering for it after the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament in December,2001. While I don't agree with their agenda, this sentiment (to go after Pakistan) is at least understandable, given that that land to our west has been the source of much pain and trouble. India's impression of Pakistan is that it is a land of a people who can't live with each other or with their neighbors peacefully. Na hum chain se jeeyenge na sale tumhe jeene deenge.*

Indians also have the impression that America is not doing enough about terrorism emanating from Pakistan, something many Indian security experts have been wailing about. So will Obama be the one to get to the mothership of the jihadis-the hiding and breeding grounds in the north-west of Pakistan- and blow it up? Will Obama vaporize Osama?

Let's hear some skeptics weighing in-

Paul Mirengoff:
Barack Obama on "the war we need to win."As is almost always the case with Democrats, it's a war other than the one we're fighting and (to the extent that Obama is really talking about war) it would involve taking military action in a country --Pakistan -- that has been our ally in the fight against terrorism, at least to some degree.

It's also a war that no one can reasonably believe Obama would initiate. Note that, while he has sponsored a resolution to give up in Iraq thus handing al Qaeda victory there, he has sponsored no resolution to send troops into Pakistan . In fact, even his speech is ambiguous on whether he would send a substantial force there. The deployment of significant troop levels is what folks ordinarily mean by "war," but perhaps Obama means war in the Bill Clinton sense -- lob a few missiles at a suspected hide-out.

In sum, this is your standard Democratic attempt to sound tough while effectively advocating defeat in Iraq and ignoring the mounting threat posed by Iran. Obama is smart enough to know that his speech is nonsense. But the fact that he would indulge in this sort of posturing should disqualify him from the presidency.

JOHN adds: Obama's statements remind me very much of John Kerry in the 2004 campaign, when he kept saying that Iraq was the "wrong war, in the wrong place at the wrong time." This implied, of course, that there was some other war--the right one--that Kerry would support fighting. But no one believed that; Kerry's willingness to fight any war anywhere, like Obama's, was entirely theoretical. At the time, I thought that if Kerry had been serious, and if he meant to say that we should be fighting Iran rather than Iraq, he may have had a point. But of course that wouldn't have been the "right" war either.

John Podhoretz:
Obama is full of it. This country is never — never — going to stage a major military action against Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation of 170 million people that has nuclear weapons and whose admittedly problematic and troublesome regime has, to some extent, cooperated with the United States in the war against Al Qaeda both in ways we know and ways we have no idea about. The concern that this strategically vital county might become an Islamic fundamentalist state is, should be, and will be paramount in every and all discussions about how to conduct the fight against Al Qaeda.

What's more, every serious person knows the United States won't invade Pakistan, even with Special Forces — since the reason we cancelled the proposed action against Al Qaeda in 2005 is that it was going to take many hundreds of American troops to do it. This isn't 15 people dropping like ninjas in the darkness. It's an invasion, with helicopters and supply lines and routes of ingress and escape. It would have had unforseen and unforeseeable consequences, but it would have been reasonable to assume the Pakistanis would have turned violently against the United States and hurtled toward Islamic fundamentalist control.

If the evil Bushitler Cheney Rumsfeld Monster wouldn't do it, nobody will do it. And you can bet there isn't a single person in line to run a Democratic State Department or Democratic Defense Department who would give the idea three seconds of thought. Obama is using Pakistan to talk tough, in the full knowledge that he will never actually pull the trigger.

ABC News:
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.

Victor Hanson David:
Obama has criticized Sen. Clinton for her approval of that Iraqi authorization, but the sort of action he is envisioning involves crossing into a nuclear Islamic country, one bullet away from an Islamic republic, and surely should be a question for Congressional approval.

Others have pointed out that his criticism of Musharref is contrasted by his willingness to parley with far worse in North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran. And what were his reactions to our prior Predator strike on al Qaeda notables inside Pakistan-approval, criticism, or mere silence?

Ed Morissey:
One of the reasons that Democrats insist that the war in Iraq was a mistake was because it unnecessarily radicalized Iraqis into jihadists. What does Obama think an invasion of Pakistan will do to its population? And if the former was a mistake, consider that Pakistan has a population of over 160 million people. How does Obama think they will react to a military invasion by a putative ally?

For those who think that Obama's remarks do not imply an invasion but some other action, Ed points out-
To those insisting that this is nothing different than what Bush and Rumsfeld proposed -- using covert teams to infiltrate across the border -- let me quote directly from the news report that theObama campaign chose to highlight on its website:

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 anObama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a U.S. troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid.

That's definitely not the same as what Rumsfeld considered and rejected in 2005. It's a declaration of war, pure and simple.
(emphasis in the original)

*The colorful Indian language translator-

the khaki-nicker crowd- refers contemptuously to the followers of the RSS, who can been seen doing P.T. in the morning, training to save the country in their khaki nickers(shorts) and spindly legs. Pictures here and here .

Na hum chain se jeeyenge na sale tumhe jeene deenge -neither shall we live in peace nor bugger will we let you.

(emphasis mine unless stated otherwise)

Update- Colby Cash also weighs in: Obama goes to war

Update 2- nicker, of course, means knickers(half-pants). I haven't used the latter spelling because while in India knicker(almost always pronounced without a 's') means shorts, in many other places it most often means ladies panties or such! Can't have our nationalistic manhood marching in those!