Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Diminished

Barack Obama gave a major speech on Iraq and foreign policy, and though obviously this will come as no surprise to my readers, I think he spelled out very eloquently and decisively exactly what needs to be done and why.

An excerpt:
Our men and women in uniform have accomplished every mission we have given them. What’s missing in our debate about Iraq – what has been missing since before the war began – is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq and its dominance of our foreign policy. This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize. This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century. By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe.

Obama then goes on to spell out a five-point plan for helping to secure our nation, and he really hits the nail on the head: "ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century."  I agree with just about everything he said, from the notion that McCain has no plan for success in Iraq to the need to rebuild our standing in the world and develop a sane energy policy.  Obama's discussion of the troop surge is quite well done. Obama also speaks a great deal about Afghanistan, and I think that he really comes across well.

The speech is a long one, but it is worth a read (or you can watch the video, on the same link).

Immediately after Obama's speech, McCain delivered his own speech, in which he said, "I know how to win a war."  I say this with an immense amount of respect for his service in Vietnam, but what experience does he have with winning a war?

McCain also said, "Senator Obama will tell you we can't win in Afghanistan without losing in Iraq."  I guess this shows that McCain can listen to a speech about as well as he can deliver one.  And it shows that he is as afraid of nuance as Bush is, or at least knows his audience is.

9 Comments:

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

i think i like the idea of a guy in office who doesn't worry about nuances. and i don't mean in the bush way. but more like the teddy roosevelt way. i feel like inspiration and hope and that kind of thing are important, and its great that people like jfk and obama create that, but i think history shows that the real world is less like drama films and more like. the real world. john mccain, while not a choice candidate, has proven that he doesn't share at least most of the flaws of sterotypical politicians, an i believe that he won't be controlled by party insiders. i actually trust him. this country needs to get over eloquence and get real.

 
At 2:29 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

Tom, I agree with you when you say that politicians needs to get real. I just don't think McCain is it. I believe the John McCain of 2000 was a good candidate, but the McCain of 2008 is not the same person.
So though my jab at McCain's eloquence may have been uncalled for, my point was that he speaks in deliberately misguiding sound bytes. Like his comment about losing the war in Iraq--Obama gave a well thought-out,multi-tiered discussion about Iraq, and John McCain says, "Obama wants to lose." No, the point is that the idea of "winning" and "losing" are not the same in this war, but McCain does not care about that.
So if THAT is the kind of nuance you think we should do without, then fine. I just wanted to be clear about what I meant by nuance.

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:35 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

i definitely know what you mean about mccain version 2.000 and mccain version 2.008. As oblivious as i was then, i feel like he had a greater air of dignity about him then.

mainly i feel like. well. obama's campain slogan is "change". and i know that he, himself, has gone into some pretty impressive detail regarding what exactly he means by change. but i feel like a lot of his support comes from the blind, non-discriminating desire for change. i guess the more i think about it, the more i realize i've stumbled upon the crux of this election's underlying theme, where to others it has probably been obvious. it's like, years from now, people will look in the history texts, and whether or not he is elected, people will see him in front of his gigantic "change" banners and think "wow, how cliche that was...". i guess what i am trying to say is, yeah the guy is a legitimate charmer and obviously intelligent, and by all account seems to be a decent human being, but to the outside observer, its pretty clear that a lot of americans are just very caught up in the moment. the problem is that war and the economy are not romantic comedies. change can be good or bad or neutral. i have more to say on this topic.

 
At 4:46 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

wow that was jumbled. im at work, not much time for proofreading.

I think what i'm mainly afraid of regarding this election is that a lot of normally upbeat, productive members of society are going to be horribly disappointed and discouraged and depressed for a while afterward. I am pretty convinced that there isn't much chance of Obama winning this election. I really feel like there is a significant number of people out there who will emerge from their shanties and go to the polls this year to keep a black man out of office. People who wouldn't normally vote, people whose existence makes polls pretty much useless. People who make this sense of possibility felt by the democrats a false one.

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

i'd like to add that yes, it is pretty embarrassing that these are the people who are gonna save the republicans this year.

 
At 12:03 AM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

Obama then goes on to spell out a five-point plan for helping to secure our nation, and he really hits the nail on the head: "ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

To me this reads like a checklist. I guess in the general sense of the word, these are objectives and thus make up a plan, but what else is there? Obama listed five things that are positive and beneficial and worthwhile and full of light and teddy bears, which is nice. What I take issue with, as usual, is the methodology for getting these things done.

a) Ending the war in Iraq responsibly. As long as he doesn't pick up and leave the space of a week, which he can't and won't, everyone is in favor of this. Question is, what defines responsibly? At what point can we let Iraq take care of itself? That is the answer I'm interested in hearing, from both guys. I think everyone but the contractor companies are in favor of ending the war. What I'm not in favor of is pulling up stakes and wasting the gains that have been made.

b) Points two and three are hand-in-hand. Of course, if Obama thinks these (especially #3) can be accomplished through a diplomatic envoy and a few nice dinners, then I grieve for this country. Anyone who thinks negotiating with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is worth the oxygen wasted is delusional. Similarly, the US has leveled economic sanctions against Iran since the early 1980s (I even wrote a term paper for this last semester) and the end result was a big fat who cares. They derailed Iran for a few years at most, but had no lasting effects. This stuff has already been tried, and has failed.

c) The fourth point is also more of a laundry list than a plan. What is "energy security?" Would it, for instance, include an increase in short-term domestic oil production to allow a time-bridge towards the development of the infrastructure needed to really utilize other fuel sources? In the short term, more readily available oil seems like it would enhance energy security, but I'm sure Obama wouldn't go for this. The caribou in ANWR would be angry.

d) Ah yes, the fact that everybody hates us. Damn it. If only I coudl swear at foreigners in their own language while on vacation. Alas, I can't.

Okay, the last point was a bit over the top sarcastic, but I digress.

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I'm aware Obama may well have outlined his ideas in a bit more detail in the full version, but unless he said anything drastically different, then it's business as usual.

Finally, as far as McCain goes...well, hm. He wasn't my first choice. But he's become so now, and that's about all I can say about that.

 
At 12:20 PM, Blogger Pelk posited...

"sane energy policy"

I actually listened to the speech, and he went into a lot of depth about his perspective of the problems in the status quo, but very little detail about how his $15 billion a year fund will solve the problem. Do you know if he has gone into more detail before? His website didn't have much. I'm curious as to what his explanation is.

 
At 4:42 PM, Blogger Jason posited...

Parker, I've learned some pretty good Polish insults, if you have time/interest.

 

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