Outside Editorial: Terror and foreign policy rattle normally sure-footed Obama

Posted: Monday, August 06, 2007

Sen. Barack Obama remarkably out-Bushed and out-Cheneyed Sen. Hillary Clinton when he veered from willingness to picnic with despots to declaring he would launch a strike in Pakistan - should he have intelligence regarding Osama bin Laden's hideout, and should Pakistan's Gen. Pervez Musharraf balk at action.

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It would not be unreasonable, under the right circumstances, to bombard an al-Qaida aerie in Pakistan. But saying so outright is not a display of presidential wisdom. Pakistan is, after all, a nuclear-capable ally under intense pressure from Muslim hard-liners.

Thursday, Obama was less than surefooted when asked if he could ever see going nuclear in that region to defeat terrorism. He replied: "I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance." And then he said: "Involving civilians." And then he said: "That's not a hypothetical that I'm going to discuss." He'll need a minute to work it out.

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