Obama: Let’s Pull Out Of Iraq And Invade Pakistan (Update: Obama’s Website Emphasizes Punitive Invasion)

Democrats have been demanding a withdrawal from Iraq for the past two years, and Barack Obama knows exactly what he’ll do with the troops once they withdraw. He’ll send them on an invasion of Pakistan:

In a strikingly bold speech about terrorism scheduled for this morning, Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will call not only for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but a redeployment of troops into Afghanistan and even Pakistan — with or without the permission of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
“I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges,” Obama will say, according to speech excerpts provided to ABC News by his campaign, “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.” …
In many ways, the speech is counterintuitive; Obama, one of the more liberal candidates in the race, is proposing a geopolitical posture that is more aggressive than that of President Bush. It comes at a time in Obama’s campaign when the freshman senator is drawing more financial support from more voters than any other candidate, though he has yet to vault from his second-place position in the polls. One of the reasons for that is that the Democratic front-runner, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, is seen as more experienced and in some ways stronger, a perspective Obama wishes to change.

One would hope that this would mark the end of Barack Obama’s credibility as a presidential candidate. Given the other options available in the campaign, it probably won’t. Too bad — because of all the war plans floated by the Democrats in this primary campaign, this is easily the stupidest of all, and that includes Joe Biden’s “Three Iraqs” policy.
One of the reasons that Democrats insist that the war in Iraq was a mistake was because it unnecessarily radicalized Iraqis into jihadists. What does Obama think an invasion of Pakistan will do to its population? And if the former was a mistake, consider that Pakistan has a population of over 160 million people. How does Obama think they will react to a military invasion by a putative ally?
Those are just the political considerations. If we march across the border of a sovereign nation without their permission, that’s an act of overt war. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and would be likely to use them in a last extreme. They could certainly shoot tactical nukes at our Navy ships that would have to support an invasion force. They may also be inclined to use them against our new ally, India, in the case of an invasion.
Not to demean Obama’s vast military expertise, either, but has he looked at a map of Pakistan? It’s shaped like a wedge, with the base on the Arabian Sea and the Waziristan region almost the farthest point from the water. How does Obama propose to create lines of communication for an invasion? Right now we rely on Pakistan for overflight to Afghanistan to supply our troops for the fight against the Taliban there. General Obama would eliminate those lines of communication overnight, leaving the invasion force critically isolated — unless he thinks we can start resupplying Afghanistan through Iran.
Only an idiot would invade Pakistan from the north, if at all. Any war against Pakistan would have to seize the Arabian Sea ports first, and then roll through the center of Pakistan — where all of the formerly moderate Pakistanis would have lived — to get to a mountainous region that Pakistan itself has hesitated to engage.
And did we mention that Pakistan has a potential mobilization of 39 million troops?
Frankly, the only idea worse than invading Iran is invading Pakistan. One might expect a serious presidential candidate to avoid looking like an idiot while provoking an ally that still helps more than he hurts in that region. Obama seems determined to prove himself unserious.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has some reaction to Obama’s saber-rattling.
UPDATE II and BUMP: To those insisting that this is nothing different than what Bush and Rumsfeld proposed — using covert teams to infiltrate across the border — let me quote directly from the news report that the Obama campaign chose to highlight on its website:

The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that he must do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters under an Obama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a U.S. troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid.

That’s definitely not the same as what Rumsfeld considered and rejected in 2005. It’s a declaration of war, pure and simple.

Happy Anniversary, Rush

The man who helped create the market for conservative talk radio celebrates 19 years in the business today. Rush Limbaugh has changed broadcast radio history and continues to produce the most popular political talk show in America after all these years. He’s opened up doors for conservatives that had been shut tight before he appeared on the scene and transformed talk radio.
Besides that, he’s a good friend and a great guy. Thanks again, Rush, for all you do. Happy anniversary, and many more ahead, we hope. (via The Corner)

McConnell To Force Consideration Of Southwick

A source on Capitol Hill tells me that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to force consideration of Judge Leslie Southwick’s nomination to the appellate court in the next few minutes. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: It looks like the debate on this has already started. Pat Leahy is arguing that the Republicans have not asked him to put Southwick’s nomination on the agenda, but that he has done so for tomorrow anyway. He says Republicans “pocket vetoed” 61 Clinton administration appointees, and used one of them — unnamed — to accuse them of racism.
UPDATE II: McConnell introduced an amendment asking for the sense of the Senate on Southwick’s nomination. McConnell apparently wants to show that Southwick would gain a majority for his confirmation on the Senate floor.

Now They Tell Us

Last year at this time, the world watched as Israel tried to drive Hezbollah out of the sub-Litani region in a large but tentative invasion of Lebanon. Leaders from the UN and the West worked tirelessly to restrain Israel, finally brokering a truce to end the fighting. According to a Hezbollah officer, it came just in time to save the Iranian-backed terrorists from a complete collapse:

“The cease-fire acted as a life jacket for the organization [at the end of the Second Lebanon War],” a Hizbullah officer said in an interview aired by Channel 10 on Tuesday.
In the interview, the unnamed officer said Hizbullah gunmen would have surrendered if the fighting last summer had continued for another 10 days. …
The officer shown on Channel 10 said the organization’s gunmen had been running low on food and water and facing rapidly diminishing arms supplies.

It turns out that Hezbollah miscalculated the ability of the Israeli military to react to rocket fire. The act of launching a rocket almost always resulted in the destruction of the launchers — which prompted Hezbollah to relocate to civilian areas. In that way, the Hezbollah officer said, they knew that the Israelis would hesitate to return fire for fear of the civilian casualties it would create.
This shows the folly of both the IDF’s initial limited incursions and the global meddling that followed. Had the Israelis hit the sub-Litani region with everything it had once the decision to make war had been made, Hezbollah would not have had those ten extra days at the end. The vacillation apparent through most of the operation would have given way to lightning-fast gains and the elimination of vast swaths of Hezbollah operations in the south — and likely to their destruction as a political force in Lebanon.
Once the Israelis finally let loose, however, the world should have allowed them to finish the job. Only the most dense refuse to recognize that Hezbollah acts as a proxy for Iran and Syria. Their destruction would have stripped both regimes of a crucial tool in their efforts to dominate the region and provoke war with Israel, as happened in this instance. Instead, the kibbitzing let Hezbollah off of the ground and gave Iran and Syria an important strategic victory from a tactical disaster.
The next time they provoke a war on the Lebanon border — and it will likely come soon — neither Hezbollah nor its sponsors will make the same mistakes again. This was an opportunity lost.

Sudan Vs Iraq?

Earlier, I pointed out the folly of the new UN mission to Sudan. The force is too small, the mission too narrow, and the rules of engagement too restrictive to accomplish anything other than provide a sideshow for the genocide. Also, the history of UN peacekeeping forces in that region more than suggests that the troops themselves will perpetuate some of the unsavory practices on the victims that the UN wants to end.
Putting those issues to one side for a moment, the UN and the advocates of this intervention have for the most part railed against the American presence in Iraq. At Heading Right, I look at the prevailing arguments for the futility of our mission in Iraq and for complete withdrawal there, and compare it to the situation in Darfur. Which mission has the best chance for success?

Will Democrats Move On FISA Changes?

Democrats have decided that they have to support changes requested by the White House to the FISA law in order to protect vital national-security programs, the New York Times reports. They fear leaving themselves open to charges of being weak on terrorism as well as impeding vital signal intelligence efforts to keep the nation safe from another attack (via Memeorandum):

Under pressure from President Bush, Democratic leaders in Congress are scrambling to pass legislation this week to expand the government’s electronic wiretapping powers.
Democratic leaders have expressed a new willingness to work with the White House to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to make it easier for the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on some purely foreign telephone calls and e-mail. Such a step now requires court approval. …
In the past few days, Mr. Bush and Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence, have publicly called on Congress to make the change before its August recess, which could begin this weekend. Democrats appear to be worried that if they block such legislation, the White House will depict them as being weak on terrorism.

The Bush administration didn’t just start calling for movement in the last few days. They agreed to place these efforts back under the supervision of the FISA court in January on the promise that the Democratic-controlled Congress would take action on these requests months ago. Instead, the Democratic leadership put them on the back burner while taking 108 days to authorize funding for the troops in Iraq and spending hundreds of hours on oversight hearings.
Now that the August recess approaches, the White House and the Directorate of National Intelligence wants some action. They have pressed Congress hard to take care of the nation’s business sometime in between hysterical committee hearings and strategizing for surrender in Iraq. Given that this has been sitting on their desks for seven months with no action at all, the impatience seems particularly justified, especially considering the recent news of a serious uptick in terrorist communications.
The ACLU and other groups oppose the change in FISA, but all it does is rectify a technical problem that keeps the NSA from its core mission of monitoring foreign communications. Thanks to globalization and the power of American technology, carriers in the US now handle traffic that neither originates or destinates in the US. Unfortunately, current law requires the NSA to get a search warrant for traffic that passes through American switches regardless of origin or destination — legislation crafted when American switches handled only American traffic. It will allow the NSA to operate more quickly to find and decode foreign traffic that passes through our systems, but not change the requirements for American traffic at all.
That seems like a very reasonable request, and one that should not take seven months to understand and process, especially in a time of war. It’s hard to connect dots when Congress won’t let the NSA find them.

Spectators At The Genocide

The UN will finally intervene in Darfur, thanks to a unanimous Security Council vote last night, but it will have a restricted mandate that will essentially do nothing. Up to 26,000 troops, primarily African, will deploy to Sudan over the next several months under the command of the UN, but will only have authority to use force while not “usurping” the Sudanese government:

The full force, the largest authorized by the U.N., will take about a year to muster and could cost $2 billion, said peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno. He added that a substantial number of troops will arrive before year’s end.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the resolution “historic and unprecedented” and said it would help “improve the lives of the people of the region and close this tragic chapter in Sudan’s history.”
The resolution is the culmination of a 9-month-long fight with the Khartoum government over sending troops to Darfur, where Arab militias known as janjaweed have systematically attacked civilians and rival tribes since a rebel uprising began there in 2003. The government is accused of arming the militias, but it denies any links to the groups. ….
The final resolution narrowed the circumstances under which the troops can use force: to protect themselves, aid workers and civilians. It also pledged that the force would not usurp the responsibilities of the Sudanese government.
In addition, there was no mention of sanctions in the event Sudan did not comply, and the resolution said that the force could monitor illegal weapons present in Darfur, but not disarm rebels or pro-government militias, as originally drafted.

The problems in this agreement should be readily apparent to anyone who has paid attention to UN deployments in the past. They have suffered from an unwillingness to take action even when not restricted by these kinds of engagement limitations. Leaving the rebels and the militias armed and unmolested means that the UN forces will get dropped into a hot zone, where they have traditionally done more damage than good, as the remaining residents of Srebrenica can attest.
And let’s not forget the track record of using African troops as peacekeepers under the UN banner. Almost every deployment has resulted in allegations of rape and molestation, with troops turning local women into prostitutes in exchange for protection and basic food and water. The UN has promised action to end this disgraceful performance for over three years. Will they keep the troops in line in Darfur? Or will this turn into another Congo, or for that matter, Burundi, Haiti, Liberia, and a host of other perverted debacles?
The new force will replace the current deployment by the African Union of 7,000 soldiers, who have gone unpaid for months. They have done little to slow down the genocide, but considering the lack of support, that may not be terribly surprising. The rules of engagement for the AU were even more restrictive than the UN’s mission now. Neither mission looks terribly well suited for stopping a genocidal civil war, and given the Janjaweed’s affiliation with the Sudanese government and their jihadist nature, the UN force will almost certainly be no more effective.
This agreement is a Band-Aid for Western sensibilities. It allows us to think that we’re doing something significant, providing cover for the Sudanese government to continue their policies of genocide. We’ve just become spectators at the gruesome event. Some may argue that this is a first step, but it looks a lot like a meaningless gesture.

Democrats To Wait Until September For Surrender Bill

Apparently the Democrats have resolved to wait until September to offer a withdrawal bill — and John Murtha stomped off the floor when he learned about their plans. He had planned to offer a bill which would have required withdrawal to start within 60 days but not demand an end date, and the anti-war faction balked:

A proposal by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for the House to vote on withdrawal from Iraq without a timetable has been nixed, several lawmakers and aides said.
The opposition of the Progressive Caucus also apparently doomed a proposal by Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and John Tanner (D-Tenn.) demanding a redeployment plan from President Bush. The measure will not get a vote this week.
Progressive Caucus lawmakers met Tuesday morning and agreed they would not support any Iraq measure that does not include a firm timetable for withdrawal. …
“We don’t want to see any retreat,” a Progressive Caucus member, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), said.
That kicks the withdrawal debate ahead to September, when Gen. David Petraeus is to issue a report on the success of President Bush’s “surge” plan. Many Republican lawmakers have said they will re-evaluate their support of Bush’s strategy based on the report.

They don’t want to see any retreat? Oh, the irony. They want no surrender on their plans for a full and unconditional surrender on the battlefield. Does the Progressive Caucus take lessons in cluelessness?
The Democrats simply don’t have the votes to proceed with the full-surrender plan, not even to get a majority in the House. They certainly don’t have the votes in the Senate to get past a cloture test, and that means neither chamber could override a veto. It would only be another in a series of wasted efforts that keep Congress from accomplishing anything else, which the Democratic leadership has belatedly recognized as a problem in the 110th.
Moreover, their support for a complete bug-out has lessened, as the New York Times poll showed last week. Disapproval for the war dropped 10 points over the last two months. A majority still says we should have left Iraq alone, but it’s down to 51% now — and if the change in tactics and improvement in Iraq continues, those numbers may drop lower still.
The split in the Democratic caucus appears to have left them with little choice but to wait for the report from David Petraeus and the Iraqi command in September as first planned. If Petraeus shows real progress in securing Iraq and building a ground-up unity in Baghdad and the western provinces, they may have little choice but to give him even more time than that.

The Only Test Should Be Citizenship

Jonah Goldberg has a good sense of humor, and it comes across in his posts at The Corner, which tend to display his wry wit. That’s why, when I read his column for yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, I suspected he may have been kidding about competency tests for voting. If not, then Jonah has forgotten some painful civil-rights history:

Can you name all three branches of government? Can you name even one? Do you know who your congressman is? Your senators? Do you even know how many senators each state gets? If you know the answers to these questions (and you probably do because you’re a newspaper reader), you’re in the minority.
In fact, the data have long been settled. A very high percentage of the U.S. electorate isn’t very well qualified to vote, if by “qualified” you mean having a basic understanding of our government, its functions and its challenges. Almost half of the American public doesn’t know that each state gets two senators. More than two-thirds can’t explain the gist of what the Food and Drug Administration does.

Well, so far, so good. Jonah’s point isn’t that Americans are stupid, but that they are ignorant by choice about politics. Despite having instilled a love of democracy as a secular religious belief, the truth is that Americans don’t go to the Church of Democracy as often as they could. They find politics boring, especially what the FDA does with its time — until a medicine starts killing people, of course — and consider politicians all alike.
Jonah also does a good job of skewering the notion that everyone should vote. In the first place, it wouldn’t make that much difference. If one samples 50% of a population in a survey, the chances are that the other 50% will produce similar results — and if that weren’t true, then pollsters would be out of a job. Everyone should take more of an interest in self-government, inform themselves, and then vote, but as Jonah points out, they should follow that process in that order.
However, nothing should stop them from being able to cast that vote if they want, and this is where Jonah goes wrong. He suggests that states set up a comprehension test for the right to the franchise:

Instead of making it easier to vote, maybe we should be making it harder. Why not test people about the basic functions of government? Immigrants have to pass a test to vote; why not all citizens?
A voting test would point the arrow of civic engagement up, instead of down, sending the signal that becoming an informed citizen is a valued accomplishment. And if that’s not a good enough reason, maybe this is: If you threaten to take the vote away from the certifiably uninformed, voter turnout will almost certainly get a boost.

The answer to that is that we’ve done that in the past. In the wake of Reconstruction, several Southern states, with at least the acquiescence of the North, imposed “educational” requirements along with poll taxes to disenfranchise free blacks. Advocates of these policies argued that citizens should have to demonstrate literacy and a clear comprehension of the state constitution and government. In reality, both were used to deny blacks access to the ballot box, thanks to very flexible standards of what constituted a clear comprehension of the issues.
That doesn’t mean that Jonah wants that used for the same purpose now. However, when government has the power to license the vote, it ceases being a right for citizens. When those in power decide to do evil, they can manipulate that licensing authority to strengthen their grip on power, and the citizens no longer have any means to purge them from office.
It’s an idea that sounds good on the surface, but has terrible consequences. Even if Jonah wrote this with tongue in cheek, others have offered it seriously. It’s an idea that shouldn’t be lightly tossed aside — it should be thrown out with great force (apologies to Dorothy Parker).