Part I: Obama Versus McCain on National Security, Obama’s Position

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It is time to turn the page. When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world’s most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland.

And again, you are an expert military strategist?

The first step must be getting off the wrong battlefield in Iraq, and taking the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Words are so cheap Senator. We see absolutely no plan from you on how to do that. Just a randomly selected time table.

I introduced a plan in January that would have already started bringing our troops out of Iraq, with a goal of removing all combat brigades by March 31, 2008. If the President continues to veto this plan, then ending this war will be my first priority when I take office.

There is no military solution in Iraq. Only Iraq’s leaders can settle the grievances at the heart of Iraq’s civil war. We must apply pressure on them to act, and our best leverage is reducing our troop presence. And we must also do the hard and sustained diplomatic work in the region on behalf of peace and stability.

The Surge worked huge Senator. Lying to the American public about that makes you sound disingenuous. If we reduce our presence before Iraq is ready, what will keep Iran and radical factions from rising again? Don’t you think you might want to ask General Petreus or some experts within Iran before you go off half cocked?

In ending the war, we must act with more wisdom than we started it. That is why my plan would maintain sufficient forces in the region to target al Qaeda within Iraq. But we must recognize that al Qaeda is not the primary source of violence in Iraq, and has little support – not from Shia and Kurds who al Qaeda has targeted, or Sunni tribes hostile to foreigners. On the contrary, al Qaeda’s appeal within Iraq is enhanced by our troop presence.

What would that number be Senator? Before the surge, we were getting our butts kicked. We realize our troops should stop wearing those “al Qauda” T Shirts though. They were being handed out free at the last Obama rally.

Ending the war will help isolate al Qaeda and give Iraqis the incentive and opportunity to take them out. It will also allow us to direct badly needed resources to Afghanistan. Our troops have fought valiantly there, but Iraq has deprived them of the support they need—and deserve. As a result, parts of Afghanistan are falling into the hands of the Taliban, and a mix of terrorism, drugs, and corruption threatens to overwhelm the country.

Or will it bring on Civil War as the Shiites attempt to wipe out the Sunnis and Kurds with the support of Iran? It is one thing to say you will fight for stronger support of Iran and for more financial and military support from the country, it is another to desert them in one of the most violent parts of the world.

As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counter-terrorism operations and support NATO’s efforts against the Taliban. As we step up our commitment, our European friends must do the same, and without the burdensome restrictions that have hampered NATO’s efforts. We must also put more of an Afghan face on security by improving the training and equipping of the Afghan Army and Police, and including Afghan soldiers in U.S. and NATO operations.

Sounds like a “Surge” Senator. Good idea. Maybe you should consult General Petreas to see how to do it properly.

We must not, however, repeat the mistakes of Iraq. The solution in Afghanistan is not just military – it is political and economic.

So you are talking about sending in brigades of politicians? Send Barney Frank to the front line, we certainly don’t need him anymore. Or brigades of economists. The pen, after all, is mightier than the sword! Or do they use pencils?

Above all, I will send a clear message: we will not repeat the mistake of the past, when we turned our back on Afghanistan following Soviet withdrawal. As 9/11 showed us, the security of Afghanistan and America is shared. And today, that security is most threatened by the al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuary in the tribal regions of northwest Pakistan.

Al Qaeda terrorists train, travel, and maintain global communications in this safe-haven. The Taliban pursues a hit and run strategy, striking in Afghanistan, then skulking across the border to safety.

Anything we didn’t already know Senator? Haven’t we tried numerous times to strike them in Pakistan and instead killed civilians and angered the Pakistani people? Are you suggesting violating Pakistani borders without permission?

This is the wild frontier of our globalized world. There are wind-swept deserts and cave-dotted mountains. There are tribes that see borders as nothing more than lines on a map, and governments as forces that come and go. There are blood ties deeper than alliances of convenience, and pockets of extremism that follow religion to violence. It’s a tough place.

It seems you don’t see Pakistan’s border as much more than lines on a map.

But that is no excuse. There must be no safe-haven for terrorists who threaten America. We cannot fail to act because action is hard.

It isn’t that the action is hard Senator, it is on foreign soil we do not have permission to invade.

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.

And how will you measure that success?

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