February 21, 2008

According to the decider-commander, the people of Pakistan welcome CIA attacks on their country without permission or notification.

Using bold rhetoric that often makes his followers rapturous, Barack Obama has declared over and over that he will be the president of “change.” But is Obama brave enough to bring about a really radical change? Will he end the permanent “war” George W. Bush has left us with? Will a candidate or a President Obama be willing to go so far as to question whether “the war on terror”—the framework for nearly every discussion of U.S. foreign policy today—is truly the pre-eminent challenge of our time?

Obama has come close. He has repeatedly called the war in Iraq a needless distraction, and he has accused Bush of “lumping” all sorts of enemies together. “It is time to turn the page,” Obama declared last August in a defining speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. “When I am president, we will wage the war that has to be won.” But Obama’s rhetoric still suggests that he too will be spending his term as a war president. And his “comprehensive strategy” for that war, while it calls for “getting out of Iraq and onto the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” still implies that the Illinois senator believes the war on terror should be the overarching framework for his foreign policy.

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