Obama: The Hawk and the Dove
By Jerome Grossman
Barack Obama is the phenomenon of this presidential race, with the power to draw huge crowds and raise millions of dollars. I first met Barack Obama in 2003 when he was the outsider in the crowded field for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Illinois. After his stunning speech at the Democratic National Convention, I discussed issues with him at a private meeting. I was impressed with his acumen and progressive insights. That is why I was so surprised by his flawed proposal for a military attack in Pakistan.
On August 1, Barack Obama delivered a bold speech calling for the partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from a Iraq but leaving a substantial residual force there and the redeployment of troops into Afghanistan, and even Pakistan.
“I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges, but let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in these mountains who murdered 3000 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.”
This Pakistan policy is counterintuitive for a liberal Democratic candidate, proposing a geopolitical posture that is more aggressive than the failed policies of President Bush. Moreover, it makes no sense militarily, diplomatically, legally and politically. It will not increase the safety of Americans, but will put them at greater risk, as did the Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq. Let me count the flaws.
1. Obama proposes a military action that would require troops we do not have.
2. Obama proposes publicly a military action that requires complete surprise, thus alerting those to be attacked.
3. Obama proposes an invasion based on pre-emption, an illegal policy under international law and the United Nations Charter that will frighten every nation and make them more anti-American.
4. Obama proposes an invasion of a nation allied with the U. S.
5. Obama’s proposal attacks the sovereignty of Pakistan and could trigger the overthrow of President Musharraf, an ally and a subsidized friend.
6. Obama’s proposal could result in Islamic religious parties coming to power putting them in control of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
7. Obama’s proposal would have the U.S. fighting in three Muslim countries simultaneously, proving to many of the 1.3 billion Muslims that there is indeed a crusade against them.
8. Obama's proposal is likely to encounter serious tribal resistance of the kind that has prevented President Musharraf and his large army from establishing control.
9. Obama's proposal needlessly and publicly provokes a nuclear-armed power.
10. Obama’s proposal weakens the non-proliferation treaty by suggesting to all nations that nuclear weapons may be necessary to discourage US military preemption.
11. Obama’s proposal may encourage Bush to invade Pakistan himself under the political cover that the original idea had been proposed by a leading Democrat. Public resistance to a Bush invasion would be dramatically weakened.
12. Obama’s proposal weakens the political prospects of the Democratic Party in the 2008 election by alienating the liberal base.
Obama can do better and he should start by changing his foreign-policy advisers who obviously think first of military solutions to problems. Iraq has proven that the political and diplomatic initiatives are the only workable policies in the Middle East. It is no secret: General David Petraes says it repeatedly.
And for those who worry about the U.S. Presidential election, and who doesn't, I have not endorsed a candidate and have no plans to do so. Hopefully, the Democrats will nominate an authentic liberal in the tradition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to nourish the soul of the party; peace, equality and social responsibility