Hoping to Prove His Mettle, Candidate Obama Pledged Willigness to Conduct Precisely This Kind of Military Action

By Kristina

May 2, 2011 8:57am

On August 1, 2007, a young Democratic presidential candidate — criticized by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, for being "irresponsible and frankly naïve" on foreign policy matters — surprised many of his supporters by pledging to conduct military operations in Pakistan with or without that country's permission.

"I understand that President (Pervez)Musharraf has his own challenges," Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said of the man who was then president of Pakistan, "but let me make this clear: 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 Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

Clinton, then leading in the polls, was at the time attacking Obama for having said he'd be willing to meet with the leaders of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela without preconditions in his first year in office.

She wasn't the only one. Then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said "the way to deal with it is not to announce it, but to do it. The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are about to violate their sovereignty.”

At the time, Obama's speech, delivered at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., seemed an attempt by the young senator to ramp up his campaign to the next phase, where he hoped to be seen as a president who would pursue a muscular foreign policy and protect the United States from terrorist attack.

‪He proposed in his speech a more aggressive stance with that nuclear nation, making the "hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan."

-Jake Tapper

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