Thursday, August 02, 2007

Making It Up As He Goes Along

One of the main contenders for the Democrat nomination for the US presidential election, Barack Obama, has some pretty tough things to say about Pakistan. As President Obama, he says he'd be willing to strike Al Qaeda targets within Pakistan, with or without the approval of that country's government.

What he means here is that he'd be prepared to authorise a strike aimed directly at Osama bin Laden himself. Pakistan insists bin Laden's not in their country, and although most people in western intelligence services seem to think differently, it's not really considered good form for a presidential candidate to start criticising an ally, so Mr Obama won't be so explicit as to name the likely target of such a strike.

Mr Obama's real mission though is to try to prove to Americans he's got just as much hard-headed foreign policy nous as his main rival, Hillary Clinton. In the recent YouTube debate, he rather naively said he'd be happy to meet the leaders of various US bogey countries (Venezuela, Iran, etc) within a year of taking office, and was rightly criticised for it by Mrs Clinton. She's luckier than her rival, in that she's got some of her dad's old mates, such as Richard Holbrooke, around to steer her through the murky world of foreign affairs. This rather rash language on Pakistan shows Mr Obama could do with some help, too.

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