Thursday, July 24, 2008
Obama's Election Poses Danger to the World
While Senator Barack Obama has been benefiting from his opposition to the unpopular war in Iraq and winning kudos for wanting to unconditionally talk with America's enemies, he has also been sounding more and more hawkish on Pakistan, a US ally. Governor Mitt Romney summarized it well last year when he said that Obama is essentially "saying he's going to sit down for tea with our enemies but then he's going to bomb our allies."
This aggressive stance by Mr. Obama raises some big questions: Is he going to end the war in Iraq and start a much bigger, far more dangerous and longer lasting war in Pakistan? Does he know that nuclear-armed Pakistan, a nation of 165 million people with about a million-man military, will be a far bigger challenge than Afghanistan, Iraq or Iran? Is he willing to radicalize moderate Muslims, destabilize Pakistan, and unwittingly aid the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in their quest to establish their extreme version of Islamic rule? Is Mr. Obama prepared for this local war in FATA to become a regional or global war? These questions are troubling many observers in the United States, South Asia and the rest of the world. Please read my post Is Obama's Recipe for Afghanistan Credible?
To put this in context, let us examine statements by US presidential hopefuls including Senator Obama, as reported in the press since last year:
Reuters Report, August 1, 2007: Obama said if elected in November 2008 he would be willing to attack inside Pakistan with or without approval from the Pakistani government, a move that would likely cause anxiety in the already troubled region.
Reuters Report, August 1, 2007: Clinton last week labeled Obama naive for saying he would be willing to meet the leaders of Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela without preconditions in his first year in office.
ABC News Report, August 1, 2007: In a strikingly bold speech about terrorism Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Sen. Barack Obama called not only for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but a redeployment of troops into Afghanistan and even Pakistan — with or without the permission of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
Sioux City Journal, August 7, 2007: Obama said there was "misreporting" of his comments, that "I never called for an invasion of Pakistan or Afghanistan." He said rather than a surge in the number of troops in Iraq, there needs to be a "diplomatic surge" and that U.S. troops should be withdrawn within a year.
L.A. Times, Feb 20, 2008: Sen. John McCain of Arizona, close to clinching the GOP nomination, called Sen. Barack Obama 'naive' today and...blasted him for advocating a bombing of Al Qaeda hide-outs in Pakistan.
AFP Report, July 15, 2008: White House hopeful Barack Obama Tuesday promised to shift the "single-minded" US focus on Iraq to a threatening "terrorist sanctuary" in tribal Pakistan, in a broad new blueprint for US foreign policy.
CBS News, July 24, 2008: Obama's decision to travel to two war zones while highlighting his relatively hawkish rhetoric on Afghanistan and Pakistan reflects an attempt to deal with a problem faced by every Democratic presidential candidate since the Vietnam era: The perception that he is not as strong as his Republican rival when it comes to national security.
It seems from these reports that Obama has a chip on his shoulder. He wants to show Americans that he will be "strong on national security". He is out to prove his critics wrong about perceptions of being "soft on terrorism" or "not ready to be commander-in-chief". Does Obama suffer from the same kind of complexes that George Bush (the wimp) and George W. Bush (the lightweight, lacking gravitas) did, leading to Gulf war I and the ongoing Iraq war? Is he likely to lash out at Pakistan, without fully comprehending the consequences, just to prove his detractors wrong about their characterization of him as "soft or terror" or "closet Muslim" or "weak on national security" or "not being commander-in-chief material"? These are some of the risks that America and the world face if Obama is elected US President based on his unusual success story or charismatic personality or his soaring rhetoric.
Until recently, I have been a strong supporter of Mr. Obama's campaign to be president. I have a strong desire to see a black man become president in my lifetime and open up opportunities for more people of color and women in these United States. My support has been based on his message of change after many years of war in Iraq and economic decline in the United States. However, as Mr. Obama begins to articulate his positions on issues, I am having second thoughts. I do not want to help elect another warmonger whose only change would be the change in the war venue. And this change in venue could be far more disastrous than the situation under current President George W. Bush or potential situation under a future President John McCain, who are both known entities with plenty of foreign policy and national security experience.