Obama On The War We Need To Win

I believe I told you all that Obama can get fierce at a moment’s notice.

Coming off of a week of debate with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton over the role of diplomacy in the next administration, and whether the president should be willing to meet without precondition with foreign dictators… a debate that politically Obama has essentially won… It appears that the freshman senator has sought to bolster his victory with an aggressive foreign policy speech.

After releasing excerpts to the AP, Obama delivered a powerful speech to the Wilson Center in DC, the most controversial words of which here:

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

“Let me make this clear,” Obama said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “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-Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

You can read the whole thing here.

Right. So he wants to actually use the military to go after real terrorists, and not the invisible make believe terrorists the sitting president went after in Iraq. Sounds good, and in fact would sound somewhat reminiscent of our military action in Afghanistan, efforts I should remind you that were largely supported by the public.

Going even further to back up the validity of Obama’s aggressive policy is the fact that we know that al Qaeda have established a stronghold in Pakistan. Of course we couldn’t expect Bush to act on that because… um… Iraq. But one thing seems certain is that Obama has just made it clear he won’t let such issues change his course.

Still, politically one wanders how this will play out in the great game of horse race. My biggest worry is perhaps the isolation of large swaths of the Democratic base as a result of what could be construed as simply more warmongering. However on an unscientific online poll for Ed Schwartz, we see approval for Obama’s proposal to be in the high sixties. While this is by no means definitive or reliable, I have come to look at these online polls as being something of early indicators in public opinion. Also, as Mike just informed me, Ed Schwartz himself is apparently approving of the Senator’s words.

Likewise, it’s important to see what the right is saying. I think one thing that largely undercut Hillary in last week’s battle was the fact that the people who stood up in her defense were… um… conservatives. From Rudy Giuliani to Charles Krauthammer, these are the last people you want defending your policy initiatives and stances in a Democratic primary, especially after their president spent the past six yeas proving them oh so woefully wrong.

So a quick hop on over to Michelle Malkin shows us that, yup, she’s ridiculing Obama, and she even conveniently links up a handful of prominent conservative bloggers who have taken it in their turn to heap the trash talk on Obama.

And the right leaning Politico even wasted a full page on remarking that Obama didn’t use the exact phrase “War On Terror.”


In truth, this has been an astounding and clever political maneauver on behalf of the number 2 in the Democratic primary race. In one fell swoop he has directly stood up to criticisms that he’s soft on foreign policy, drawn a new line in the sand and created an area of debate in which he, being the pioneer, is likely to excel, has shown that he can not only stand up to Hillary Clinton in a political fight but actually beat her and then some, and he has done all of this with nearly impeccable timing.

Trailing Hillary by double digits in national polls, Obama needed to make a move and make it fast in order for that move to translate in a positive direction in the polls. Likewise, should this have proven to be a bad move, which it doesn’t look like it will be, at least it’s early enough for him to bury it and move on to something else.

But what’s really at the heart of all this is that the man who has weathered criticisms not only of inexperience and being soft on national security, but also weak on substance has managed to, over the last week and a half, show that he has an aggressive, hands-on, approach to managing our role in the world, but even this is tempered with a combination of prudence and boldness.

Apparently, he’s not just a pretty face and a nice speech.

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