It was, at least, a semi-gaffe.
Asked about India’s response to the terror attacks, Obama had this to say:
“Sovereign nations obviously have a right to protect themselves…. Beyond that I do not want to comment on the specific situation that has taken place in South Asia right now. It is important for us to let the investigators do their job to make determination as to who is responsible for carrying out this heinous act. My administration will remain steadfast in support to India’s efforts to catch the perpetrators of this terrible act and bring them to justice and I expect that the world community will feel the same way.”
Let’s parse that.
Obama’s comment about nations’ “right to protect themselves” is obvious, but it leaves out the critical point that even in protecting themselves they shouldn’t go crashing across other nations’ borders. Israel does that all the time, and the United States almost always goes along. Were India to do the same, well, World War III could begin. Obama might have urged restraint — even though, in so doing, he’d have to condemn (implicitly) the Bush administration’s post-9/11 belief that the United States can strike any bad guys, anywhere, anytime. As long as they aren’t in the London suburbs, that is.
Worse, and here’s the gaffe, was Obama’s offhand remark that he supports “India’s efforts to catch the perpetrators.” By that he can only mean, the ones still in Pakistan, since the ten of so perpetrators who actually did the deed are dead or caught. Does he realize how dangerous that comment might be? Apparently not. There hasn’t been any retraction.