Thursday, August 02, 2007

B. Hussein - Not ready for prime time

August 2, 2007 -- IN an "I am too tougher than Hillary" speech, Sen. Barack Obama warned Pakistan yesterday that as commander-in-chief he might act unilaterally if Islamabad didn't do more against the terrorists there.

"Let me make this clear . . . If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, I will," the Democratic presidential candidate told a Washington audience in his first comprehensive speech on terrorism.

Click here to read about Obama's plan for Pakistan.

Click here to read the Post's editorial on "Obama's Bomb."

There's nothing wrong with Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) talking tough on terrorism - though he's seemingly coming to it a little bit late in the campaign. But there are a couple of things in his proposal that should be addressed.

First, there was little new in Obama's proposition for fighting al Qaeda. In fact, he might be alarmed to learn that he's basically taken a long-standing page from the Bush administration's playbook in the War on Terror.

President Bush has already made it clear on numerous occasions that he'd do what whatever was necessary to kill or capture al Qaeda operatives - especially the likes of Osama bin Laden - if we had actionable intelligence to do so.

But an attack on Pakistan's terrority that isn't unauthorized by that nation's government - which is what Obama seemed to be suggesting - is a pretty risky proposition, especially if it involved a large number of U.S. troops pouring over the Afghan border into Pakistan.

Taking this sort of large-scale action - or any other unilateral action - without prior consultation with Islamabad could easily lead to the downfall of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's government.

Musharraf is already on shaky ground. His government has faced a number of crises in recent months - including the seizure of the Red Mosque, terror attacks and the (now overturned) firing of a the country's top justice - leading to a serious slide in his popularity.

The fall of Musharraf's government might well lead to a takeover by pro-U.S. elements of the Pakistani military - but other possible outcomes are extremely unpleasant, including the ascendance of Islamist factions.

The last thing we need is for Islamabad to fall to the extremists. That would exacerbate the problem of those terrorist safe havens that Obama apparently thinks he could invade.

And it would also put Pakistan's nuclear arsenal into the wrong hands.

That could lead to a number of nightmarish scenarios - a nuclear war with India over Kashmir, say, or the use of nuclear weapons by a terrorist group against any number of targets, including the United States.

Obama is clearly a lightweight. So much so that he is actually succeeding in doing something I would have not thought possible. He is making Mrs. Bill Clinton look grown up and sensible.

Of course she will articulate her own plan and the illusion will fade, but in a debate against B. Hussein and the Breck Girl she can't help but to look, if not good then at least best.