Obama’s Unsteady Hand

Update III: David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register has an article worth reading. Yepsen thinks the latest Iowa poll is good for Hillary. Yepsen also thinks Obama made a mistake with his O-bomb-a answer. Here are some Yepsen excerpts (cleaned of typos):

Barack Obama flubbed and answer on when he’d use nukes. A new poll shows a dead heat for first place in the state. All of which is good news to Hillary Clinton’s campaign… Obama’s stumbling answer as to when, or if, he’d use nuclear weapons to hunt down terrorists just underscored his inexperience in foreign policy and defense questions… Obama was roundly denounced by the other Democratic candidates and, once again, has said something that makes him look not ready for the White House. He’s been battling that image problem since the beginning of the race and this comment does nothing to instill confidence. While pacifist Democrats might like it, it’s doubtful it would play to a larger general election electorate that expects an American president to use all tools in the toolbox to defend the country… But now he’s created a cloud and he’ll have to spend time assuring Americans that he really would be a good defender of the country and diligent in hunting down our adversaries… (The poll came out of the field before Obama’s comment and so wouldnn’t account for any effect of the remark.)… Still, the survey is good news for Clinton and bad news for Edwards.

—————–
Update II: Edwards finally speaks: “Senator Edwards believes a candidate for president should, in general, avoid talking about the potential use of nuclear weapons. Getting into hypotheticals about the use of force—particularly in the case of nuclear weapons—decreases a president’s options and weakens his authority, and Edwards will not do that.”

—————
Update:  The Obama campaign has just issued a desperate Bush-like memo defending Obama’s foreign policy views.   Just like Bush, Obama is advertised as “bold” in his foreign policy views.  Just like Bush, the Obama campaign declares it is time to gut even more of the international consensus and alliance structure – particularly in Pakistan.  Obama’s embrace of more international instability is naive. 

Calling Pakistan President Musharraf an “unreliable dictator” might or might not be true – But if these sustained attack by Obama weaken Musharraf and turn the already precarious political situation in Pakistan into a triumph for Islamic hardline fundamentalists –  Obama, and his entire campaign organization, will have crossed the line from irresponsible to dangerous. 

As we have written before, the problem for the last 7 years is the rejection by Bush of diplomacy.  Obama wants to continue the Bush type leadership.  Obama and his campaign are not bold, they are reckless. 

———————-

Long ago, back in mid-May we wrote an article called Barack O bomb a. Barack Obama (D-Rezko) had just appeared on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC.

Stephanopoulos: But you’ve never served in the military, never been an executive. What’s the most difficult crisis you’ve ever had to manage in your public life?

Obama: Well the truth is, in my public life, as a legislator, most of the difficult tasks have been to build consensus around hard problems. And, what I think the country needs more than anything right now is somebody who has the capacity to identify areas of common interest, common good, build a consensus around it and get things done.

Stephanopoulos: That is part of the job, there is no question about it, but you know a big part of the job for president is what you would do in a crisis, the crisis you didn’t expect. And you never ever really had to deal with something like that, right?

Obama: Well, what I think is absolutely legitimate is that my political career has been on the legislative side and not on the executive branch. Now, that is true for a lot of my colleagues, who aren’t governors, and one of the things that I hope, over the course of this campaign I show, is the capacity to manage this pretty unwieldy process, um, of a political race and one of the great things about the press is they’re going to be watching very carefully…

Stephanopoulos: Every move you make.

Obama: Every move you make and to make sure that people have a sense of how I deal with adversity, how I deal with mistakes. Who do I have around me to make sure we are executing on the things that need to get done.

We wrote then about this exchange and Obama’s answer (remember, this is back in May):

Obama’s answer then is that as we witness his campaign fall apart, into crisis, we will at long last see his crisis management abilities demonstrated. Is this an unfair interpretation? We don’t know how else to make sense of this senseless, unprepared answer. Obama’s answer seems to be “I have the ability to be president because I’m running for president”. This is an eyebrow raising, eye popping answer. We, like Stephanopoulos, expected to hear some remarkable example of biography. Instead we got the equivalent of “my campaign will provide crisis after crisis from which I will then extricate myself and you will be duly impressed with me.” We were not.

[SideNote: Don’t miss the rest of “O bomb a” for Obama’s answers to this question: Stephanopoulos: Let’s talk about Iraq. President Clinton says “It’s ludicrous to characterize Hillary and Obama’s positions on the war as polar opposites.” Is he right? and this question too: Stephanopoulos: But, but, but, back in 2003 you were against supplemental funding for the war. You gave a speech where you said “I would vote against the 87 billion dollars.” and also to this question: Stephanopoulos: But you said then, that you have to say no to George Bush because we can’t get steamrolled. Yet you go in the senate, your critics say, and you vote for the funding every single time. And don’t miss Reverend Al Sharpton’s retort to Obama on the Iraq War.]

So, using Obama’s own metric, his measurement for leadership skills, his measurement for crisis management – How is Obama Doing?

Well, we have this latest blunder to follow up on the previous blunder.

Pakistan criticized U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday for saying that, if elected, he might order unilateral military strikes against terrorists hiding in this Islamic country. Top Pakistan officials said Obama’s comment was irresponsible and likely made for political gain in the race for the Democratic nomination. “It’s a very irresponsible statement, that’s all I can say,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khusheed Kasuri told AP Television News. “As the election campaign in America is heating up we would not like American candidates to fight their elections and contest elections at our expense.” [snip]

Obama said in a speech Wednesday that as president he would order military action against terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal region bordering Afghanistan if intelligence warranted it. The comment provoked anger in Pakistan, a key ally of the United States in its war on terror. [snip]

The Associated Press of Pakistan reported Friday that Musharraf was asked at a dinner at Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s house on Thursday about the potential of U.S. military operations in Pakistan. Musharraf told guests that Pakistan was “fully capable” of tackling terrorists in the country and did not need foreign assistance.

Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim said no foreign forces would be allowed to enter Pakistan, and called Obama irresponsible.

As to Obama’s remarkable claim that he understands the world better because he lived abroad as a 6 year old:

It was a matter of “grave concern that U.S. presidential candidates are using unethical and immoral tactics against Islam and Pakistan to win their election,” Afghan said.

The Pakistan reaction echoed in the United States:

For the second straight day and third time in recent weeks, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made news for his controversial foreign policy pronouncements. And his Democratic rivals continued to denounce him for it.

Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) strongly criticized their Senate colleague and presidential primary opponent Thursday after Obama suggested nuclear weapons were off the table for use against Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the Associated Press, Obama answered a question about nuclear force against those two countries thusly:

“I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,” Obama said, pausing before adding, “involving civilians.” He then tried to correct his statement: “Let me scratch that. There’s been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That’s not on the table.”

Great crisis management Axelrod/Obama:

Dodd was joined by several other candidates in shunning Obama’s Pakistan remarks. Obama initially was criticized by Clinton for saying in a recent debate that he would meet with dictators without preconditions.

Dodd pounced again Thursday, suggesting Obama is unprepared to be commander in chief.

“Over the past several days, Sen. Obama’s assertions about foreign and military affairs have been, frankly, confusing and confused,” Dodd said. “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.”

Clinton, who largely sat out of the Pakistan kafuffle on Wednesday, chided Obama again Thursday. She told the Associated Press: “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.”

The crisis managment adlibs and blunders by Obama were noted everywhere as were the question about what Obama meant. For a proud writer, words appear to be his enemy.

Yet for Obama, who opposed the Iraq invasion, the episode offered an opportunity for him to present his approach as entirely different from those of his colleagues. In a letter to supporters titled “The war we need to win,” he called for the country to “stop fighting the wrong war” and to focus on the al-Qaeda threat, which he said became a lower priority after the Iraq war began. [snip]

We do not know if Obama is proposing to use troops extracted from Iraq to invade Pakistan in some of its most geographically complex regions where Osama bin Laden is supposed to be hiding.

The Obama campaign was still responding to the uproar late in the afternoon. “If we had actionable intelligence about the existence of high-level al-Qaeda targets like Osama bin Laden, Senator Obama would act and is confident that conventional means would be sufficient to take the target down,” said Bill Burton, a campaign spokesman. “Frankly we’re surprised that others would disagree.”

The New York Times weighed in highlighting the continued confusion from the International Relations college major:

Senator Barack Obama found himself on the defensive again yesterday about his views on foreign policy, this time over a comment he made about the use of nuclear weapons in Afghanistan or Pakistan. [snip]

His remarks about removing nuclear weapons as an option in the region drew fresh attacks from Democratic rivals who had already questioned his foreign policy experience.

American officials have generally been deliberately ambiguous about their nuclear strike policies. [snip]

Mr. Obama, who is seeking to buttress his credibility on foreign policy, delivered a hawkish address this week in which he said he would dispatch American troops to destroy terrorist camps in Pakistan if the country failed to act.

The speech came after a weeklong back and forth with Mrs. Clinton over whether they would agree to meet with the leaders of rogue nations without preconditions. Mr. Obama said he would, while Mrs. Clinton said she would not, causing ivals to question his readiness to become commander in chief.

The L.A. Times took note of Obama’s Unsteady Hand too:

Illinois Sen. Obama, who has been emphasizing his toughness on foreign policy in recent days, was caught off-guard when a reporter wanted to know whether he would use the ultimate weapon against Al Qaeda.

“I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance … involving civilians,” he said, appearing uncomfortable with the query.

A moment later, he seemed to retract the entire response, saying: “Let me scratch that. There’s been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That’s not on the table.” [snip]

New York Sen. Clinton smiled Thursday when she was read Obama’s comments during a Capitol Hill news conference.

“I think that presidents should be very careful at all times in discussing the use or non-use of nuclear weapons,” she said.

“And I don’t believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons. But I think we’ll leave it at that, because I don’t know the circumstances in which he was responding.”

On Wednesday, Obama endorsed the idea of dispatching U.S. soldiers to Pakistan if there was “actionable” intelligence of an imminent terrorist strike, even if the country’s rulers objected.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., a presidential candidate who is chairman of the foreign relations committee, called the approach “very naive,” echoing Clinton’s criticism of Obama last week.

Clinton also said she was uncomfortable with Obama’s decision to publicly discuss operational details of fighting Al Qaeda, suggesting it could compromise efforts to kill terrorists.

“I am concerned about talking about it,” she said. “I think everyone agrees that our goal should be to capture or kill [Osama] bin Laden and his lieutenants.

“How we do it should not be telegraphed and discussed, for obvious reasons,” Clinton said.

She went on to give Obama a bit of campaign advice, counseling against answering “hypothetical” questions.

The New York Daily News too note of the latest stumbles and blunders of the International Relations college major:

Barack Obama stumbled on another foreign policy issue when he tried – and then tried again – to answer a question on whether he would ever use nuclear weapons against terror targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,” Obama said at first.

After a pause, he added, “involving civilians.”

And then, “Let me scratch that. There’s been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That’s not on the table.”

Obama boasted last month his foreign policy judgment is superior to that of the other candidates and often notes he opposed the the war in Iraq long before Hillary Clinton became a critic.

His struggle with the nuclear question gave Clinton another opening to portray her rival for the Democrats’ White House nod as inexperienced and naive on world affairs. The freshman Illinois senator’s views on nuclear weapons surfaced in response to a question from The Associated Press yesterday, one day after he delivered a major policy speech vowing to order strikes on terrorists in Pakistan if Gen. Pervez Musharraf failed to crack down.

His answers – especially the first version – flew in the face of longstanding U.S. policy, under both Democratic and Republican Presidents, to never say never when it comes to nuclear weapons.

“Presidents should be very careful at all times in discussing the use or nonuse of nuclear weapons,” Clinton said on Capitol Hill when asked about Obama’s comments. “Presidents since the Cold War have used nuclear deterrence to keep the peace.”

She added, “Everyone agrees that our goal should be to capture or kill [Osama] Bin Laden and his lieutenants, but how we do it should not be telegraphed and discussed for obvious reasons.”

Clinton spokesman Blake Zeff said she believes it’s wrong for Presidents to brandish the nuclear option, or forgo the option, because it’s a “critical part of this nation’s defense and protection of this country and of our allies.”

Obama’s campaign said he meant what he said.

How is Obama doing? What kind of leadership and crisis management has he exhibited? How is Obama doing, according to his own standards? — Every day Obama demonstrates an Unsteady Hand.

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26 thoughts on “Obama’s Unsteady Hand

  1. A newsweek poll is just coming out, Hillary is surging…

    Clinton 44
    Obama 23
    Edwards 14

    The NEWSWEEK Poll was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on Aug. 1 & 2. Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,002 adults, age 18 and older; the overall margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points

  2. Now comes this juicy piece of self-justifying nonsense from the Obama camp (Samantha Power):

    “Nuclear Attacks on Terrorist Targets: For years, Washington’s conventional wisdom has held that candidates for President are judged not by their wisdom, but rather by their adherence to hackneyed rhetoric that make little sense beyond the Beltway. When asked whether he would use nuclear weapons to take out terrorist targets in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Barack Obama gave the sensible answer that nuclear force was not necessary, and would kill too many civilians. Conventional wisdom held this up as a sign of inexperience. But if experience leads you to make gratuitous threats about nuclear use – inflaming fears at home and abroad, and signaling nuclear powers and nuclear aspirants that using nuclear weapons is acceptable behavior, it is experience that should not be relied upon.”

    Tell me. When, just when, has conventional wisdom in Washington been that we should nuke terrorist camps? These people are out to lunch.

  3. What is there more to say. Since last
    tuesday, in these pages, we have been
    saying he is not ready for prime time. He
    ill prepared for the major issues of our
    time. No amount of on-the-job training
    will be sufficient to repair the blunders he
    has made thus far.

    Foreign leaders need to trust the judgement
    of the American president. Bush has so
    screwed up foreign affairs that even Rice and
    Gates fair poorly on foreign missions. With
    BO’s blunders these last 10 days or so will
    just make matters worse.

    Target 51%, lets get Hillary of the hump.
    president

  4. DCDemocrat, Obama’s campaign is built around a message of “change” so his advisers have to simplify everything into a “Beltway vs. fresh outsider” meme, even if what they say makes no sense, lol.

    It’s the only way he can pretend experience doesn’t matter.

  5. kostner, Where did you get the Newsweek numbers? I can’t find them anywhere.

    But I did find two state polls from ARG (on pollster.com) that show HRC leading by 13 in Calif. and 19 in Ala.

  6. Update: Very odd that the Obama campaign released the ‘splain memo very late on a Friday afternoon in August. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this memo got approved and released. Something is very odd here. This is the most desperate of damage control.

    ———-

    2 updates posted. One is reaction to the Obama campaign memo. The other is a belated Edwards campaign comment on the latest Obama blunder (the one from yesterday not today’s memo blunder).

  7. Thanks, Kegs. That was one place I didn’t check (duh), lol. I guess the head-to-head numbers will be released tomorrow.

  8. “Obama’s campaign said he meant what he said.”

    Their problem is…what did he say? First he seemed to rule out the use of nuclear weapons. A moral stance that most Americans can admire, even if it costs him some votes. Then he qualified his statement by referring to civilians. So now he is not quite as moral because he is implying he would use nuclear weapons but he is showing consideration of the terrible consequences of war on non-combatants. Then he said to scratch his answer because (he claimed) the issue of nuclear weapons was not on the table.

    So after all of that verbal fumbling around, what do we know about BO’s position on using nuclear weapons on terrorists? Nothing! In addition to his indecision on how to appropriately handle a delicate question being on full display, observers are left confused as to his position. I wish the inevitable would happen and his campaign would collapse sooner rather than later. I am actually getting tired of all of his mistakes!

    Kostner, I signed up on MyDD so I can speak up in support of Hillary. It is the least I can do for The Next President of the United States!

  9. SactoDem: Obama has become wholly incoherent. TPM has this on the latest blunder cover memo:

    http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/electioncentral/2007/aug/03/obama_memo_hes_the_real_change_agent

    It is wrong to propose that we would drop nuclear bombs on terrorist training camps in Pakistan, potentially killing tens of thousands of people and sending America’s prestige in the world to a level that not even George Bush could take it.”

    The implication here, of course, is that either you agree with Obama, or you’re proposing that said bombs be dropped on Pakistan. That seems like a stretch at best — in my reading, Hillary was making a more general point about nuclear deterrence theory, not advocating in favor of such bombing. Whichever side you take here, this seems obvious.

  10. Hey y’all, Maybe O Bomb A should rent a few billboards to get his foreign policy across. There are a few isolated regions of Siberia that haven”t heard a potential US President state his feelings about invading Pakistan as well as nuclear weapons.

    OF all the quotes from him in the last 48 hours these are my personal favorites:

    “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance…involving civilians. There’s been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That’s not on the table.”

    Like I said, it’s time for the man to go back to school. Lord help us. –mollyj

  11. Absolutely, ADMIN, it’s really clear that Hillary was talking nuclear deterrence theory. You don’t go around saying, hey, folks we got all these bombs but we’d NEVER use them, so do whatever the hell ya want whereever you want. –mollyj.

  12. mollyj, check out the latest update with excerpts from David Yepsen of the Iowa based, Des Moines Register.

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  14. ‘AP is reporting Obama and Tancredo’s recent comments are stirring up unrest in Pakistan…’

    Pakistani officials called Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama irresponsible for saying that, if elected, he might order unilateral military strikes in Pakistan against al-Qaida.

    Hundreds chanted anti-U.S. slogans and burned an American flag in the street to protest the remark.

    Obama’s comment turned up the heat on already simmering anger among Pakistanis about the issue, after senior Bush administration officials said last week they too would consider such strikes if intelligence warranted them.

    Further inflaming the situation was a comment by Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican whose bid for the White House is considered unlikely to succeed, that the best way he could think of to deter a nuclear terrorist attack on America would be to threaten to retaliate by bombing the holiest of Islamic sites, Mecca and Medina.

    U.S. officials quickly distanced themselves from Tancredo’s remarks.

    In Miran Shah, a major town in the lawless region that borders Afghanistan, about 1,000 tribesmen condemned recent Pakistani military operations in the area and vowed to repel any U.S. attack.

    “We are able to defend ourselves. We will teach a lesson to America if it attacks us,” local cleric Maulvi Mohammed Roman told the rally.

    In Karachi, Pakistani’s largest city, about 150 people chanted slogans against the United States, Obama and Tancredo at a demonstration organized by Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of six hard-line religious parties. Protesters set fire to a U.S. flag.

    “Those who are talking about attacking our holiest places are committing blasphemy. The punishment for this offense is death, and death only,” said coalition lawmaker Mohammed Hussain Mahanti.

    In a major policy speech Wednesday, Obama said as president he might order strikes in Pakistan’s tribal zone to get terrorists, including those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

    “There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again,” Obama said. “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.”

    Instead of calming the situation, his advisors have just ‘tossed out a political memo to DC pundits’… to spin how ‘right’, how ‘inconventional’ and how ‘revolutionary’ Obama’s ‘invading Pakistan idea’ is… NICE.

    Let’s also take a look at another presidential candidate ‘Tancredo’s brilliant foreign policy ideas …’

    GOP Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo’s campaign today clarified his recent assertion that retaliating against terrorism with attacks on Muslim holy sites would be an effective deterrent to further terror. The campaign said that Tancredo’s not committed to pursuing this strategy as President — proving that he’s “open-minded.”

    “He is open-minded and willing to embrace other options,” senior Tancredo adviser Bay Buchanan told CNN today.

    That is indeed reassuring. Still, it would be premature to get too relieved, however. Tancredo still thinks it’s a good idea and has no intention of ruling it out, either.

    “This shows that we mean business,” Buchanan said. “There’s no more effective deterrent than that.”

    Fun postcript: A State Department spokesperson told CNN that Tancredo’s comments were “reprehensible” and “absolutely crazy.”

    Looks like both Obama and Tancredo are the ‘CHANGE’ candidates. Both have some ‘revolutionary’, ‘anti-establishment’ original ideas on foreign policies and national security.

    Let’s just wait and see how Obama and Tancredo’s ‘revolutionary’ diplomacy is going to pan out in these dangerous countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arab etc….

    Body


    In Miran Shah, a major town in the lawless region that borders Afghanistan, about 1,000 tribesmen condemned recent Pakistani military operations in the area and vowed to repel any U.S. attack.

    “We are able to defend ourselves. We will teach a lesson to America if it attacks us,” local cleric Maulvi Mohammed Roman told the rally.

    In Karachi, Pakistani’s largest city, about 150 people chanted slogans against the United States, Obama and Tancredo at a demonstration organized by Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of six hard-line religious parties. Protesters set fire to a U.S. flag.

    “Those who are talking about attacking our holiest places are committing blasphemy. The punishment for this offense is death, and death only,” said coalition lawmaker Mohammed Hussain Mahanti.

    In a major policy speech Wednesday, Obama said as president he might order strikes in Pakistan’s tribal zone to get terrorists, including those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

    “There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again,” Obama said. “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.”

    Instead of calming the situation, his advisors have just [http://electioncentral.tpmcafe.com/blog/electioncentral/2007/aug/03/obama_memo_hes_the_real_change_agent’, ‘tossed out a political memo to DC pundits’…] to spin how ‘right’, how ‘inconventional’ and how ‘revolutionary’ Obama’s ‘invading Pakistan idea’ is… NICE.

    Let’s also take a look at another presidential candidate [http://electioncentral.tpmcafe.com/blog/electioncentral/2007/aug/03/tancredo_campaign_clarifies_remarks_about_attacking_muslim_holy_sites, ‘Tancredo’s brilliant foreign policy ideas …’]


    GOP Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo’s campaign today clarified his recent assertion that retaliating against terrorism with attacks on Muslim holy sites would be an effective deterrent to further terror. The campaign said that Tancredo’s not committed to pursuing this strategy as President — proving that he’s “open-minded.”

    “He is open-minded and willing to embrace other options,” senior Tancredo adviser Bay Buchanan told CNN today.

    That is indeed reassuring. Still, it would be premature to get too relieved, however. Tancredo still thinks it’s a good idea and has no intention of ruling it out, either.

    “This shows that we mean business,” Buchanan said. “There’s no more effective deterrent than that.”

    Fun postcript: A State Department spokesperson told CNN that Tancredo’s comments were “reprehensible” and “absolutely crazy.”

    Looks like both Obama and Tancredo are the ‘CHANGE’ candidates. Both have some ‘revolutionary’, ‘anti-establishment’ original ideas on foreign policies and national security.

    Let’s just wait and see how Obama and Tancredo’s ‘revolutionary’ diplomacy is going to pan out in these dangerous countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arab etc….

  15. ‘AP is reporting Obama and Tancredo’s recent comments are stirring up unrest in Pakistan…’

    Pakistani officials called Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama irresponsible for saying that, if elected, he might order unilateral military strikes in Pakistan against al-Qaida.

    Hundreds chanted anti-U.S. slogans and burned an American flag in the street to protest the remark.

    Obama’s comment turned up the heat on already simmering anger among Pakistanis about the issue, after senior Bush administration officials said last week they too would consider such strikes if intelligence warranted them.

    Further inflaming the situation was a comment by Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican whose bid for the White House is considered unlikely to succeed, that the best way he could think of to deter a nuclear terrorist attack on America would be to threaten to retaliate by bombing the holiest of Islamic sites, Mecca and Medina.

    U.S. officials quickly distanced themselves from Tancredo’s remarks.

  16. In Miran Shah, a major town in the lawless region that borders Afghanistan, about 1,000 tribesmen condemned recent Pakistani military operations in the area and vowed to repel any U.S. attack.

    “We are able to defend ourselves. We will teach a lesson to America if it attacks us,” local cleric Maulvi Mohammed Roman told the rally.

    In Karachi, Pakistani’s largest city, about 150 people chanted slogans against the United States, Obama and Tancredo at a demonstration organized by Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of six hard-line religious parties. Protesters set fire to a U.S. flag.

    “Those who are talking about attacking our holiest places are committing blasphemy. The punishment for this offense is death, and death only,” said coalition lawmaker Mohammed Hussain Mahanti.

    In a major policy speech Wednesday, Obama said as president he might order strikes in Pakistan’s tribal zone to get terrorists, including those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

    “There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again,” Obama said. “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.”

  17. Instead of calming the situation, his advisors have just ‘tossed out a political memo to DC pundits’… to spin how ‘right’, how ‘inconventional’ and how ‘revolutionary’ Obama’s ‘invading Pakistan idea’ is… NICE.

    Let’s also take a look at another presidential candidate ‘Tancredo’s brilliant foreign policy ideas …’

    GOP Presidential candidate Tom Tancredo’s campaign today clarified his recent assertion that retaliating against terrorism with attacks on Muslim holy sites would be an effective deterrent to further terror. The campaign said that Tancredo’s not committed to pursuing this strategy as President — proving that he’s “open-minded.”

    “He is open-minded and willing to embrace other options,” senior Tancredo adviser Bay Buchanan told CNN today.

    That is indeed reassuring. Still, it would be premature to get too relieved, however. Tancredo still thinks it’s a good idea and has no intention of ruling it out, either.

    “This shows that we mean business,” Buchanan said. “There’s no more effective deterrent than that.”

    Fun postcript: A State Department spokesperson told CNN that Tancredo’s comments were “reprehensible” and “absolutely crazy.”

  18. Looks like both Obama and Tancredo are the ‘CHANGE’ candidates. Both have some ‘revolutionary’, ‘anti-establishment’ original ideas on foreign policies and national security.

    Let’s just wait and see how Obama and Tancredo’s ‘revolutionary’ diplomacy is going to pan out in these dangerous countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arab etc….

  19. well since they’re both for revolutionary change maybe they’d like to run on a 3rd party ticket together. just jokin’ –mollyj.

  20. Kos folks keep trying to explain what O Bomb A said or what he meant. That’s pretty pathetic, and obvious that their candidate’s message is muddy at best.

  21. David Yepsen:

    DesMoinesRegister Blog:

    Fri 8.3.2007 11:53 AM

    There are two important developments in the Democratic presidential campaign in Iowa:

    1. Barack Obama flubbed an answer on when he’d use nukes.

    2. A new poll shows a dead heat for first place in the state.

    All of which is good news to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

    When asked about terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Obama told the Associated Press on Thursday: “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance.” He then added: “Involving civilians.”

    He paused, then said “Let me scratch that. There’s been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That’s not on the table.”

    Obama’s stumbling answer as to when, or if, he’d use nuclear weapons to hunt down terrorists just underscored his inexperience in foreign policy and defense questions. Since the Cold War, American presidents haven’t been too specific about that question since answering removes some of the deterrent effect of the weapons.

    The correct answer to a question about use of nuclear weapons is not to answer so as to keep U.S. adversaries guessing. In 1972, then Iowa Senator Harold Hughes dropped out of the race for president after he announced he couldn’t morally use nuclear weapons.

    Obama was roundly denounced by the other Democratic candidates and, once again, has said something that makes him look not ready for the White House. He’s been battling that image problem since the beginning of the race and this comment does nothing to instill confidence. While pacifist Democrats might like it, it’s doubtful it would play to a larger general election electorate that expects an American president to use all tools in the toolbox to defend the country.

    But now he’s created a cloud and he’ll have to spend time assuring Americans that he really would be a good defender of the country and diligent in hunting down our adversaries.

    The new ABC/Washington Post poll of the Democratic race taken July 26-31 shows Barack Obama with 27 percent, John Edwards with 26 percent and Hillary Clinton with 26 percent among likely Democratic caucus-goers. That’s a statistical tie in a poll with a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Bill Richardson was at 11 percent.

    (The poll came out of the field before Obama’s comment and so wouldn’t account for any effect of the remark.)

    Still, the survey is good news for Clinton and bad news for Edwards. He’s held the lead in earlier surveys of the Iowa contest while Obama and Clinton have been in second or third. Now, they’re all in a tie. That’s not bad for a campaign that a few weeks ago had people in it talking of bypassing Iowa – and it’s leading supporter, former Gov. Tom Vilsack – telling East Coast audiences the campaign wasn’t winning in Iowa.

    The most obvious conclusion is that Iowa Democrats are having a hard time making up their minds but four contenders seem to have caught their eye.

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