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A Breath Of Fresh Policy

(Speech text posted here…will link the YouTube when it goes up.) 

Sen. Barack Obama is giving, as we speak, a major address on foreign policy and strategy that is a refreshing change from the "Yee Haw!" idiocy of the Bush/Cheney regime and the "me too!" policies of John McCain.

You may not have known about it, because the Bush Administration hastily scheduled a presser to promote the psychological boost of non-useful oil drilling, which the press dutifully covered despite its non-policy value. Ahhh, nice to have some press sheeple auto-coverage in your pocket, eh, Bushie?

Heaven forbid we should have a real discussion about a matter of the utmost importance which deserves some serious and thorough public debate. To wit, here are excerpts from Obama’s speech as prepared for delivery today:

As President, I will pursue a tough, smart and principled national security strategy – one that recognizes that we have interests not just in Baghdad, but in Kandahar and Karachi, in Tokyo and London, in Beijing and Berlin. I will focus this strategy on five goals essential to making America safer: 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….

In fact – as should have been apparent to President Bush and Senator McCain – the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was. That’s why the second goal of my new strategy will be taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It is unacceptable that almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahari are recording messages to their followers and plotting more terror. The Taliban controls parts of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has an expanding base in Pakistan that is probably no farther from their old Afghan sanctuary than a train ride from Washington to Philadelphia.

 If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned. And yet today, we have five times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan.

Senator McCain said – just months ago – that ‘Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq.’ I could not disagree more. Our troops and our NATO allies are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but I have argued for years that we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq. That’s what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said earlier this month. And that’s why, as President, I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. This is a war that we have to win.

Make no mistake: we can’t succeed in Afghanistan or secure our homeland unless we change our Pakistan policy. We must expect more of the Pakistani government, but we must offer more than a blank check to a General who has lost the confidence of his people. It’s time to strengthen stability by standing up for the aspirations of the Pakistani people. That’s why I’m cosponsoring a bill with Joe Biden and Richard Lugar to triple non-military aid to the Pakistani people and to sustain it for a decade, while ensuring that the military assistance we do provide is used to take the fight to the Taliban and al Qaeda. We must move beyond a purely military alliance built on convenience, or face mounting popular opposition in a nuclear-armed nation at the nexus of terror and radical Islam.

Nice to see some recognition that diplomacy and something other than flexing military muscle and making petulant demands of obeisance might be under consideration, isn’t it?

On Saturday, for the book salon on Richard Clarke’s book Your Government Failed You, AJ Rossmiller made this very clear point on the interrelationship with Afghanistan and Pakistan and our incoherent American policy at the moment:

…The new government isn’t running very well, and it seems like the country has, in many ways (with regard to foreign relations), ground to a halt. With our election heating up and their government struggling to operate, there’s a window of opportunity for bad guys to exploit the power vacuum.

Our continued problems in Afghanistan are directly related to this, of course.

As dday clearly lays out here, there are long-term consequences to our inchoate policy non-choices, VetVoice adds a sobering note, and Juan Cole adds some excellent critique on the Obama foreign policy possibilities to the mix. I have to say, it’s awfully nice to see some discussion early on instead of after the fiat is issued as the Bush/Cheney folks have tended to do. Here’s hoping that holds.

The shame of it is that we all — Americans, Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis…you name it, we all pay the price for the piss poor policies of the Bush/Cheney Administration. And if we elect John McCain in November? There are a number of reasons he’s been dubbed McSame…

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com