2008 Prescient on Pakistan, Too
posted by September 11 at 11:15 AMon
Remember this supposed gaffe from a year ago?
During a major foreign policy speech on Wednesday Senator Barack Obama promised that as president he would consider military strikes against terrorists in Pakistan if the country refused to root them out. Those comments drew a sharp response from Pakistani officials as well as the Bush administration today.
President Bush, who telephoned Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf today said that “the United States fully respected Pakistan’s sovereignty and appreciated Pakistan’s resolve in fighting Al-Qaeda and other terrorist elements,” according to a statement issued by the Pakistani foreign ministry. It added that Mr. Bush said statements regarding future United States military action inside Pakistan “were unsavory and often prompted by political considerations in an environment of electioneering. He agreed that such statements did not serve the interests of either country.”
Yeah, well, dissembling about U.S. foreign policy is kind of unsavory. (And Bush’s intervention in a primary foreign policy debate had a whiff of electioneering about it too.) Today’s headline news:
President Bush secretly approved orders in July that for the first time allow American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government, according to senior American officials.
The classified orders signal a watershed for the Bush administration after nearly seven years of trying to work with Pakistan to combat the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and after months of high-level stalemate about how to challenge the militants’ increasingly secure base in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
American officials say that they will notify Pakistan when they conduct limited ground attacks like the Special Operations raid last Wednesday in a Pakistani village near the Afghanistan border, but that they will not ask for its permission.
“The situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable,” said a senior American official who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the missions. “We have to be more assertive. Orders have been issued.”
See also the NYT magazine article from last weekend on how Pakistan deals with—or rather, politely ignores—its tribal areas.
UPDATE: McCain’s response to Obama’s original statements on Pakistan were even more contemptuous:
McCAIN: A self-important bully in Venezuela threatens to cut off oil shipments to our country at a time of skyrocketing gas prices. Each event poses a challenge and an opportunity. Will the next president have the experience, the judgment experience informs, and the strength of purpose to respond to each of these developments in ways that strengthen our security and advance the global progress of our ideals?
Or will we risk the confused leadership of an inexperienced candidate who once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan, and suggested sitting down without preconditions or clear purpose with enemies who support terrorists and are intent on destabilizing the world by acquiring nuclear weapons?
I think you know the answer to that question.
Yes, the answer is: McCain has been lying about Obama’s statements and ridiculing his most forward-thinking policies since the beginning of this campaign.