Obama's Terror Strategy

Friday, August 03, 2007

This week, in the second major foreign policy address of his campaign, Senator Barack Obama outlined his proposals for fighting terrorism. Jessica Stern, Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, gives her analysis.


Jessica Stern

Comments [22]

bob from brooklyn

Senator Obama,first needs a reality check. The U.S.will never attack a country who can defend itself & inflict serious loses on the U.S. military. Yes,a Grenada,Panama,Dominican Rebublic and Iraq in 1991 after Iraq had an 8 year war with Iran is the U.S.willing to flex its muscle. Pakistan is a different kettle of fish. If the senator thinks the attack on Iraq was a huge mistake any attack on Pakistan would be a thousand times worse.

This cowboy rhetoric,"If we have actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act,we will". This the kind of statement is something this nation doesn't need especially from a person who may potentially lead it. The nation couldn't stand another cowboy in the White House.

Aug. 03 2007 11:51 PM
RC from queens

Here is the kind of perspective I am talking about:

Obama As The New Kennedy
And not in a good way …
Justin Raimondo

>>>>>Is the US mainland really in physical danger because the Taliban and the remnants of al-Qaeda are holed up in mountains thousands of miles away? Must we control every cave, every mountaintop in Waziristan before American mothers can feel safe in walking their prams down the street?

It's the old "domino theory" that we used to hear about during the Vietnam era. Only now it isn't just Burma, or India, that we have to worry about: it's the homeland that's in danger, this time. If we don't fight them in Iraq – or Afghanistan, or even Pakistan, according to some – they'll soon be suicide-bombing our malls and setting off nuclear devices in American cities. The politics of fear, while mainly utilized by the Republicans up to now, is a bipartisan phenomenon, and Obama has lately taken the rhetorical threat-level to an orangey shade of red.<<<<<<

And here is profile of the 7 tribal areas....
Profiles of Pakistan's Seven Tribal Agencies

By Hassan Abbas

Aug. 03 2007 09:53 PM
RC from queens


Have you ever thought of bringing on the Govenor of FATA?

Here is the official website of the Pakistan tribal areas.

There is a long complicated history here. We speak of Pakistan like its a monolith, there are a lot of ethnic divisions in the country. An attack on Pakistan will make Iraq look like a success!

Since we talk about it so much, shouldn't we take the time to actually learn something about the area, its history etc? I don't believe either you or Lenny have done anything on it.

And why can't we get a weekly visit from the antiwar right? You have tons of great analysis on and we never here them on your show.

I don't understand why a physicist like Gordon Prather who worked for a U.S. Senator and really nails the Iran nuclear issue properly by putting it in context of the IAEA protocols has never been on your show.

The IAEA protocols are essential in understanding Iran's arguments.

Aug. 03 2007 09:31 PM
Disappointed Listener from NYC


I took the time to re listen to this clip on the web. I agree with the commenters above. The clips you present from Obama do NOT support your commentary. You used the term "invade Pakistan" twice in talking to Dr. Stern. It's clearly not what Obama said and to prove the point that you know better, you changed your description when talking to the first caller, to describe this as something other than "invasion."

Brian, this is beneath your usual standards. Isn't research better than snarky comments that reveal more about you than about your subject?

Aug. 03 2007 02:07 PM
rmk from New York, NY

I am not an Obama supporter, but I applaud him for being brave enough to speak the truth about the situation in Pakistan. While I do not support any further military action, if the agenda is to get ObL, then the obvious answer is to go into Pakistan.

I also agree that Brian has been doing a poor job of fact checking and presenting the whole story. It's also quite disappointing that he's only focusing on the "big three" candidates, namely Clinton, Obama and Edwards. What about the others? I tune in to NPR for more a more nuanced analysis of current events. If I wanted this simplified nonsense, I'd watch MSNBC. I'm beginning to regret my donation...

Aug. 03 2007 12:37 PM
Tim Jones from Brooklyn

How about getting into a time machine, Going to Sept 12 and nuking Tora Bora. Case closed.

Aug. 03 2007 12:34 PM

Part Two:
Perhaps this isn't so much as Bush's naivete as it is his inexperience in dealing with the real world and its manifold complexities.

I would contrast "Bush inexperience" with Obama's "inexperience". Bush's inexperience is the sort that is happy to rely on easy dualisms and dogmatic positions. Obama's is the sort that acknowledges its limits and seeks to broaden the horizonal framework to better respond to the circumstances of the world. Bush doesn't see his limits. Obama does and thus, as we have seen, he is making efforts to explore alternative possibilities. He is expressing a willingness to discover possible solutions which means (for him) taking seriously listening to our counter-parts around the world (diplomacy), proposing possible military interventions (Pakistan), ect.

One point further: it is precisely Obama's "freedom" to explore these possibilities that Hillary resents and feels challenged by. She is locked into her own legacy. If she admits she was wrong on Iraq she is a "flip-flopper" (to repeat that horrid phrase). If she denies her own mistake, which seems to be her current tact, then she must displace responsibility onto the Bush admin, while not appearing to be "soft" on terrorism. Her attacks on Obama's supposed "naivete" stems from her own inability to be free of her (self-made) legacy. In effect, she is trying to make a virtue out of her own bondage, disguising it at "experience".

If this is the case, which I think it is, I would gladly chose the "vice" of inexperience over the "virtue" of experience.

PS. Wasn't the major charge against Kennedy that he was "inexperienced"? Not that he was a perfect president, but he certainly effected important paradigm shifts in American foreign policy, domestic (race) policy, and revived a sense of American "can-do" mentality that was neither hubristic nor overly weighed down by past mistakes.

Aug. 03 2007 12:22 PM

Part One:
There seems to be a false dualism between "experience" and "naivete". Let's look at this for a moment. Hillary's "experience" prompted her to vote for the Iraq war. Brian, why aren't we hearing more about her pandering on this issue? The New York Times Magazine did a very good job of exposing her attempts at covering her tracks on this issue. (Namely, voting against the Bird amendment which would have limited the President's power to wage war. She claims to have voted, even co-authored a similar such bill, but the details of "her" bill reveal a very different picture than the spin she tries to put on it.)

On the side of naivete, look at the President! Never before has their been an American leader who so violently attempts to fit the world into an over-simplistic framework. (I am not only talking about his "us v. them" rhetoric, but also his inability to deploy different strategies at different times in response to different situations. I am thinking here of his insistance on multi-lateral talks with N. Korea when N. Korea was requesting bi-lateral talks. He pouted to the press corps: "you want multi-lateral diplomacy on Iraq but yet change your mind about this approach with N. Korea! ect, ect..."

Aug. 03 2007 12:22 PM
Alfred Ott from Jamaica, NY

The word "invade" with regard to Obama's recent comments on al-Qaeda and the phrase "without preconditions" with regard to Obama's offer to meet with all the world's tyrants, are both characterizations that originated with right-wing radio before being picked up by the main stream media.

He did not say that he would invade Pakistan, he said (from the Washington Post article):

"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."

This sounds to me like a far more nuanced position that implies a pinpoint strike on a group of leaders - not an invasion.

His position from the You-tube debates has been similarly distorted - he never said that he would meet "without preconditions." Those words were put into his mouth by right-wing media and then Hillary.

Brian - it seems to me that you sometimes are to quick to pick up on right-wing radio spin.

Aug. 03 2007 11:57 AM
jordan from nyc

For shame. Your lead into the Obama segment completely misrepresented Obama’s speech,
totally taking his comments out of context. Your lead was no different than The Drudge Report.

I normally expect better from your show – please do a fact check and report if the statements you quoted Obama as making were taken in context, or simply exploited by his opponentsand detractors for their own purposes.

You swiftboated him. Cokie Roberts couldn't have done it better.

And in my mind, calling him naïve is the political equivalent of calling him “boy.”
There's going to be a racial backlash against an African American candidate - you don't have to participate in it.

Aug. 03 2007 11:36 AM
Frederica from Manhattan

I understand the "objectivity" of Public Radio's discussions, but with all this "impartial criticism" you/American journalism (the good guys: i.e., NYTimes, NPR, etc.) have poo-pooed John Kerry in the last elections, and now it seems you are starting again by pointing at alleged flaws in perfectly intelligent, capable, dignified, likable D. candidates... How can we be critical of Obama's statement (which is not even that weird or contradictory, from what we heard from the clip) when this gov. is doing a clownish dangerous inhumane job on all possible counts on all fronts... Please, criticize and poo-poo those who TRULY deserve to be ridiculed and shamed by us and history. And let us defend and stand up for those we believe in, who share our vision, who can protect us and who will/do politics in good faith. Thank you for your attention.

Aug. 03 2007 11:33 AM
Dustin Olson from Astoria

Though I would say Mr.Obama should have left the nuclear weapons issue alone, the severity of these so-called gaffes seems to have been a touch overblown. It amazes me that certain media outlets as well as other democratic candidates have felt justified in turning this mole-hill into a mountain. None of Mr.Obama's recent comments as a candidate offended me.

You know what foreign policy comment really offended me?

"If I knew then what I know now..."

Aug. 03 2007 11:33 AM
Robert from NYC

Sigh, well George W IS, after all, an idiot plain and simple. Obama is just inexperienced and most assuredly not an idiot.

Aug. 03 2007 11:25 AM
Jay from Greenwich. CT

" order to bridge the gap that divides our countries..." is the precondition that it seems that the media has an inability to comprehend. Why don't you pay attention to the entire question? Brian, why don't you stop pretending to be impartial and just endorse Hilary? This is getting embarrassing.

Aug. 03 2007 11:25 AM
tomdick vijayali from usa

the biggest boost al quaeda ever got was the polarization of world opinion resulting from the invasion of iraq and occupation of same by the usa.

all the potential presidential candidates are running around like chickens with their heads cut off; bemused as to the politically correct stance to take. none of them deserve my vote. we need a true stesman to straighten out this mess.

i think the messed up iraq situation is keeping al gore out of the race.

obama seems to be in over his head. hilary blew her vote.

Aug. 03 2007 11:24 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Prof. Stern laid out the political factors that are keeping Gen. Musharraf from acting against the al-Qaeda members in his country's border areas. Is there anything the US could do (openly or not, possibly through a 3rd party?) to give him more breathing room in regard to this?

Amy from Manhattan

Aug. 03 2007 11:22 AM
chris from manhattan

As far as using Obama's approach toward foreign policy meetings for propaganda...c'mon: it's not like the current boilerplate method recommended by Hilary isn't already being used pretty effectively for propaganda.

Aug. 03 2007 11:21 AM
a from NYC

Total search for another Dean scream...interesting how the media scrutinizes the Dems so much yet the war-mongering Repubs aren't looked at nearly as closely....ridiculous and the whole Hillary Vs. Barak thing is frankly a lot to do about nothing. More irresponsible media coverage.

And yet...NO coverage of
Something MUCH more important. I wonder why????

Aug. 03 2007 11:19 AM
Nick Depalma from Austin, TX

I must admit, I'm a bit Obama supporter, so I'm a bit partisan. I completely agree with Obama. I really don't think Obama meant he was going to attack Pakistan, I really believe Obama meant more that he would go in and help Musharraf fend off the rebellion. I love this plan, maybe someone should explain to me why this is naive.

Aug. 03 2007 11:17 AM
Robert from NYC

It may be me--and that ALWAYS a possibility--but Obama has been confusing me lately. He does come off, at least to me, as a bit amateurish and grabbing here a there, in his own way playing the Hillary card. I'm confused. I guess as a Kucinich supporter I find the rest of them somewhat unreal.

Aug. 03 2007 11:17 AM

Do Obama's statements call into question his experience with respect to foreign policy? Or do talking heads just find another way to undermine a Democratic candidate in the name of idiotic mainstream narrative?

Obama's a *candidate*, not the president (yet), for pete's sake. How many American's WOULDN'T want to go into Pakistan to get ObL? Why wouldn't an American leader just *meet* with world bad-guys instead of Bush's childish "you-first" policy? And what kind of psychopath would casually talk about dropping nukes on a city to get one/a small group of enemies?

What's actually problematic about what he said? What's the "stumble?" Looking for the next Dean Scream, are we, Brian?

Aug. 03 2007 11:13 AM
a from NYC

Why no story covering the Executive Order which is about to be put into effect??????????

Aug. 03 2007 11:05 AM

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