FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

WATCH, READ: In 2008, McCain Mocked Obama For Promising To Go Into Pakistan Without Approval To Capture/Kill Bin Laden

(Note: Previous posts have highlighted a McCain interview yesterday and his Sunday night statement.)

In at least one of the presidential debates in 2008 between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, Obama prophesied a time when the President might have to pursue Usama (aka Osama) Bin Laden into Pakistan, and promised that he would go in to capture or kill the terrorist leader with or without Pakistani help.  McCain tried to morph that statement into "threatening to attack Pakistan," and noted that he would be the more successful at building up a good relationship with Pakistan.  (Pakistan's government has since changed.)

Certainly, a fascinating exchange to revisit with today's hindsight.  The transcript of this portion of the October 7, 2008 debate is after the jump. Before the portion selected - and I certainly urge you to watch or read more - is the viewer's question about whether we should respect Pakistan's sovereignty and part of Obama's answer placing some of the blame for the Pakistan relationship on going into Iraq and letting bin Laden off the hook; after is McCain's promise to get bin Laden and that "I know how to get him."


Obama:  But I do believe that we have to change our policies with Pakistan. We can't coddle, as we did, a dictator, give him billions of dollars and then he's making peace treaties with the Taliban and militants.


...What I've said is we're going to encourage democracy in Pakistan, expand our nonmilitary aid to Pakistan so that they have more of a stake in working with us, but insisting that they go after these militants.


And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.

Brokaw: Sen. McCain?

McCain: Well, Katie (ph), thank you.

You know, my hero is a guy named Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt used to say walk softly -- talk softly, but carry a big stick. Sen. Obama likes to talk loudly.

In fact, he said he wants to announce that he's going to attack Pakistan. Remarkable.

You know, if you are a country and you're trying to gain the support of another country, then you want to do everything you can that they would act in a cooperative fashion.

When you announce that you're going to launch an attack into another country, it's pretty obvious that you have the effect that it had in Pakistan: It turns public opinion against us.

Now, let me just go back with you very briefly. We drove the Russians out with -- the Afghan freedom fighters drove the Russians out of Afghanistan, and then we made a most serious mistake. We washed our hands of Afghanistan. The Taliban came back in, Al Qaeda, we then had the situation that required us to conduct the Afghan war.

Now, our relations with Pakistan are critical, because the border areas are being used as safe havens by the Taliban and Al Qaeda and other extremist organizations, and we have to get their support.

Now, General Petraeus had a strategy, the same strategy -- very, very different, because of the conditions and the situation -- but the same fundamental strategy that succeeded in Iraq. And that is to get the support of the people.

We need to help the Pakistani government go into Waziristan, where I visited, a very rough country, and -- and get the support of the people, and get them to work with us and turn against the cruel Taliban and others.

And by working and coordinating our efforts together, not threatening to attack them, but working with them, and where necessary use force, but talk softly, but carry a big stick.

Obama: Tom, just a...
Brokaw: Sen. McCain...
Obama: ... just a quick follow-up on this. I think...
McCain: If we're going to have follow-ups, then I will want follow-ups, as well.
Brokaw: No, I know. So but I think we get at it...
McCain: It'd be fine with me. It'd be fine with me.
Brokaw: ... if I can, with this question.
Obama: Then let's have one.
Brokaw: All right, let's have a follow-up.
McCain: It'd be fine with me.
Obama: Just -- just -- just a quick follow-up, because I think -- I think this is important.
Brokaw: I'm just the hired help here, so, I mean...
Obama: You're doing a great job, Tom.

Obama: Look, I -- I want to be very clear about what I said. Nobody called for the invasion of Pakistan. Sen. McCain continues to repeat this.

What I said was the same thing that the audience here today heard me say, which is, if Pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down bin Laden and take him out, then we should.

Now, that I think has to be our policy, because they are threatening to kill more Americans.

Now, Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I'm green behind the ears and, you know, I'm just spouting off, and he's somber and responsible.

McCain: Thank you very much.

Obama: Sen. McCain, this is the guy who sang, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don't think is an example of "speaking softly."

This is the person who, after we had -- we hadn't even finished Afghanistan, where he said, "Next up, Baghdad."

So I agree that we have to speak responsibly and we have to act responsibly. And the reason Pakistan -- the popular opinion of America had diminished in Pakistan was because we were supporting a dictator, Musharraf, had given him $10 billion over seven years, and he had suspended civil liberties. We were not promoting democracy.

This is the kind of policies that ultimately end up undermining our ability to fight the war on terrorism, and it will change when I'm president.

McCain: And, Tom, if -- if we're going to go back and forth, I then -- I'd like to have equal time to go -- to respond to...

Brokaw: Yes, you get the...
McCain: ... to -- to -- to...
Brokaw: ... last word here, and then we have to move on.

McCain: Not true. Not true. I have, obviously, supported those efforts that the United States had to go in militarily and I have opposed that I didn't think so.

I understand what it's like to send young American's in harm's way. I say -- I was joking with a veteran -- I hate to even go into this. I was joking with an old veteran friend, who joked with me, about Iran.

But the point is that I know how to handle these crises. And Sen. Obama, by saying that he would attack Pakistan, look at the context of his words. I'll get Osama bin Laden, my friends. I'll get him. I know how to get him.

I'll get him no matter what and I know how to do it. But I'm not going to telegraph my punches, which is what Sen. Obama did. And I'm going to act responsibly, as I have acted responsibly throughout my military career and throughout my career in the United States Senate.

And we have fundamental disagreements about the use of military power and how you do it, and you just saw it in response to previous questions.






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