Judgment Matters

 Update II:  Chris Dodd on Obama and his lack of judgment:

“Over the past several days, Sen. Obama’s assertions about foreign and military affairs have been, frankly, confusing and confused. He has made threats he should not make and made unwise categorical statements about military options.

“We are facing a dangerous and complicated world. The next president will require a level of understanding and judgment unprecedented in American history to address these challenges.


Update: Obama is now talking irresponsibly and off the cuff about use or non-use of nuclear weapons.  

 The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a major foreign policy speech Wednesday that he would use U.S. military force in Pakistan even without Musharraf’s permission if necessary to root out terrorists.

Asked about Obama’s speech and his comments about nuclear weapons, Clinton chided her fellow senator about addressing hypotheticals.

“Presidents should be very careful at all times in discussing the use or non-use of nuclear weapons. … I don’t believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons,” Clinton said.

Asked about the notion of unilateral U.S. military action in Pakistan to get al-Qaida leadership: “How we do it should not be telegraphed or discussed for obvious reasons.”

Pakistan has nuclear weapons and is politically unstable, raising concerns that the current military leadership could be replaced by religious fanatics who would be less cautious in using the weapons.


Hillary Clinton was correct when she labeled Obama’s answer to a foreign policy question at the last debate “naive” and “irresponsible”.

In a speech today,

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama issued a pointed warning yesterday to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying that as president he would be prepared to order U.S. troops into that country unilaterally if it failed to act on its own against Islamic extremists. [snip]

“It is dangerous and irresponsible to leave even the impression the United States would needlessly and publicly provoke a nuclear power,” Connecticut Sen. Christopher J. Dodd said in a statement.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, in a telephone interview, said that Obama’s threat, if acted upon, could inflame the entire Muslim world. “My international experience tells me that we should address this issue with tough diplomacy first with Musharraf and then leave the military option as a last resort,” he said.

Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) said in a statement that he would first apply “maximum diplomatic and economic pressure on states like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia” to do their utmost to combat the spread of terrorism. He also challenged both Obama and Clinton to block a proposed U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) called Obama’s threat misguided. “The way to deal with it is not to announce it, but to do it,” Biden said at the National Press Club. “The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are about to violate their sovereignty.”

Where was all the wisdom about the world Obama claims he acquired as a 6 year old in Indonesia? Where were the insights into world public opinion Obama claims to have due to having a family with overseas relatives? Whatever happened to the notion, as an Obama internet ad claims, that “It’s time to project strength through diplomacy again…”

As usual, Hillary had cogent thoughts on the U.S. – Pakistan relationship which she expressed on July 26, 2007.

US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said if America sends its troops to the tribal region, they should go with Pakistani troops and not on their own.

At a fund-raising dinner arranged for her by the National Association of Pakistani-Americans, she rejected the suggestion by some US officials and lawmakers that the United States should conduct unilateral military operations in the tribal region to destroy alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens.

Such a move, she said, would not produce the desired results and would create new problems. Only a combined effort by the Pakistani and US troops could destroy militant hideouts in the area, she added.

Ms Clinton said that in January she visited Pakistan and discussed the US-led war against terrorism with President Gen Pervez Musharraf. She said she agreed with the Pakistani leader that the two countries needed to work together to defeat extremists because this war could not be won without such cooperation.

She also emphasised the need for combining military tactics with an economic strategy to address the root causes that bred extremist ideologies.

Ms Clinton said Pakistan not only faced a threat from Al Qaeda and Taliban elements hiding in the tribal territory, but also from extremists living inside the country. To defeat terrorism, she said, it was as important to win the battle for hearts and minds as to win military battles.

Talking about issues confronting the Islamic world, Ms Clinton recalled that when her husband was the president he had invited the leaders of the Middle East to the Camp David presidential resort to forge a peace deal.

The meeting did not produce positive results but later the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called Mr Clinton to tell him that he was willing to accept all the proposals discussed at Camp David.

“By then, it was too late and Mr Clinton’s term was already coming to an end,” she said.

Ms Clinton said the Pakistani-American community was one of the most successful and talented communities in the US and many of them had achieved their ‘American dreams’ of prosperity.

We know what this Obama speech, larded as usual with flowery sentiments and thrilling adjectives, was all about,

Obama’s endorsement of a more muscular foreign policy — more aggressive even than that of the Bush administration, at least when it comes to Pakistan — is an attempt to shake up a remarkably static Democratic field. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s advantage is built on perceptions that Clinton is more experienced and tougher on foreign policy — perceptions she strengthened in her spat with Obama last week over meeting with leaders of rogue nations. The speech “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 U.S. from terrorist attack,” Tapper reports.

Kevin Drum quoting right winger John Podhoretz got to the heart of Obama’s nonsense speechifying:

I know I’m going to regret saying this, but I think John Podhoretz hits pretty close to the mark here:

This country is never — never — going to stage a major military action against Pakistan…..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.

Obama’s naive speech today will not salvage his sunken campaign. The speech wasn’t tough, it was irresponsible. It lacked judgment.