Obama's "Right War"

As President, Barack Obama would order attacks on terrorist camps in Pakistan even if its president, Gen. Pervais Musharraf, refused to give permission and would link American aid on Pakistan's progress in rooting out its terrorist havens.

That stance, one part of the multifacted counterrorrism strategy Obama unveils this morning, is tougher than the more considered approach of the Bush Administration, which has generally avoided antagonizing its ally in public.

“I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. 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,"

Obama will say say, according to excerpts his speech released by the campaign.

“As President, I would make 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. “

The speech has goodies for all parts of the political spectrum. In endorsing pre-emptive, non-authorized terror raids in Pakistan, Obama is answering a threshold question about his willingness to risk international criticism in order to defend U.S. security interests. He also does not hesitate to pinpoint the source of the U.S.'s major existential threat: Islamic radicals. Closer to home, Obama promises to end "torture" and extraorindary renditions, to strengthen partnerships between federal agencies and launch a new public diplomacy effort to improve the American image aboard.

Left unstated in the excerpts provided by the campaign is an idea Obama promotes on the campaign trail: that electing Obama would itself be a major blow against anti-American propoganda.

Obama also:

-- Says his anti-terrorism strategy is predicated on a withdrawal from Iraq
-- Calls for two additional combat brigades to be sent to Afghanistan
-- Says the war in Iraq has made the U.S. more susceptible to terrorist attacks
-- Defines the major threat to U.S. security as "violent extemists" who pervert the Muslim faith
-- Proposes a $5B "shared security partnership" to "forge an international intelligence and law enforcement infrastructure to take down terrorist networks from the remote islands of Indonesia, to the sprawling cities of Africa."

The Republican National Committee pre-sponded to Obama this morning by claiming that he has a "weak" record on national security.

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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