Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, delivers a speech about terrorism on Wednesday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Obama warned Wednesday that as president, he would order US forces to strike Al-Qaeda inside Pakistan, if President Pervez Musharraf failed to act first.
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama, delivers a speech about terrorism on Wednesday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. Obama warned Wednesday that as president, he would order US forces to strike Al-Qaeda inside Pakistan, if President Pervez Musharraf failed to act first. Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty Images
In an attempt to show the strength of his foreign policy skills, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday he would send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists.
The Illinois senator warned Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that, under an Obama presidency, he would have to do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters. If not, Pakistan would risk a U.S. troop invasion – even without permission, if warranted – and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid, Obama said.
"Let me make this clear," Obama said in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. "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-Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."
Obama's speech comes the week after his rivalry with New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton erupted into a public fight over their diplomatic intentions.
Obama said he would be willing to meet leaders of rogue states like Cuba, North Korea and Iran without conditions, an idea that Clinton criticized as irresponsible and naive. Obama responded by using the same words to describe Clinton's vote to authorize the Iraq war and called her "Bush-Cheney lite."
A military invasion could be risky, given Pakistan's hostile terrain and the suspicion of its warrior-minded tribesmen against uninvited outsiders.
Thousands of Taliban fighters are based in Pakistan's vast and jagged mountains, where they can pass into Afghanistan, train for suicide operations and find refuge from local tribesmen.
Musharraf has been a key ally of Washington in fighting terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but has faced accusations from some quarters in Pakistan of being too closely tied to America.
The Bush administration has supported Musharraf and stressed the need to cooperate with Pakistan, but lately administration officials have suggested the possibility of military strikes to deal with al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden.
Analysts say an invasion could risk destabilizing Pakistan, breeding more militancy and undermining Musharraf. The Pakistani Foreign Office, protective of its national sovereignty, has warned that U.S. military action would violate international law and be deeply resented.
Obama said that as commander in chief he would remove troops from Iraq and putting them "on the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan." He said he would send at least two more brigades to Afghanistan and increase nonmilitary aid to the country by $1 billion.
From NPR and The Associated Press.