Barak Obama is a leading candidate from the Democratic Party for the Presidential elections in the United States. He is young, charismatic, and has a pedigree that could resonate with the anti-establishment sections of the society who are simply sick and tired of typical Washington politics. He is black, his step-father was Muslim, and since early days in his candidacy, he has been teased for his middle name, Hussain, and that his last name sounds like Osama.
So generally speaking, he sounds like the kind of candidate that I tend to like – the underdog – who is struggling to raise a voice of sanity among those who are still arguing if their decision to go to war in 2003 was a good or bad one.
But what he recently said in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars last week may have shown not just his political naivety regarding international relations, but also his inability to stand his ground when put to test by his political opponents. This is what he had to say regarding foreign policy and the war on terror:
“Let me make this clear,” said Mr Obama. “There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.” (source)
So basically he has said that if he were president, he will pull US military forces out of Iraq, a qaugmire they are currently embattled in, and put them to work against Pakistan, with or without the support of the Pakistani government. i.e. he will invade Pakistan if he thinks he has to.
What a silly idea. No, what a terribly dangerous idea. It frightens me to think that despite all the freaking mess that a sitting US President has already made in that part of the world, and consequently for all humanity, another Presidential candidate would still have the galls to say something like this. Even mentioning such a thing, let alone making it an important part of his national security and foreign policy position, shows how corrupted his mind has become during this political campaign. Does he not have any perspective? … on sovereignty of nations? and on lessons learned from the results of a sword-buckling, Texas-style, debauchery of the past 2 presidential terms?
Of course he is now going to be poo-pooed by all his rivals for being inexperienced, flaming the muslim world, risking a nuclear war, and for succumbing into saying things that can only be seen as political gimickry to put on (or avoid) a negative label – i.e. that of being weak on security.
OK. Now that I have voiced my anger at his statement, and taken it out of my system, here are some other things that come to mind:
I think Obama’s sharp comments should not come as a surprise. For the longest time, the international community has been trying to impress upon the US administration and politicians that the real terrorists are not in Iraq, but somewhere between Pakistan and Afghanistan. That has gained much more momentum in the past few months. Obama is simply trying to shun the label of being a peace-nik by going one step further. We should notice how his opponents accuse him otherwise of being seen discussing the stunning levels of mercury in the fish!
Obama is not alone in his free-willy attitude towards war and especially when spoken in context of a muslim country like Pakistan. They feel it is easy for them to get away with hard-ball tactics when discussing how to deal with a muslim country. Israel is probably among the worst violaters of human rights law in the world on a continuing basis – its political and military occupation of Palestine is a leading cause of unrest and terrorist activity around the world – but just ask your local favorite politician when do they plan to invade Israel to force it to withdraw from its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and people?
So, when it comes down to it, most, if not all, US politicians have rather similar attitudes towards Pakistan. And Pakistan is not without blame either. Despite having a foot in almost every major international security problem, we (Pakistanis) have shown little ability to lead or manage crises (both internal and external). We provide enough opportunity to US politicians to make us sound like a failed state that spells nothing but trouble for their national and international security concerns. As long as we continue to demonstrate that inability to manage our business well, other peoples’ leaders will see fit to manage our business.