Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

My quick read of Obama's speech showed me largely nothing remarkable in it. It seemed a boilerplate Democratic speech on foreign policy. In general, I side with Kevin Drum's reaction as well as Matt Yglesias' reaction. Matt Stoller's vitriolic reaction against the speech seems out of left field to me:

What's striking about the speech was no so much what he said, but the reaction. There wasn't one. This was supposed to be a grand pronouncement with a new vision for foreign policy, and yet, the speech could have been ripped out of John Kerry's camapign, Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, or for that matter, Jimmy Carter's.

And this is bad why? Stoller says:

Here's the most annoying line, though there are so many:
I believe that the single most important job of any President is to protect the American people.

Um, Matt Stoller, you don't believe that? Sounds like Kucinich is your man then. What is funny to me is that of all the things in the speech Stoller's criticizes, the one thing he SHOULD have panned was this:

There are five ways America will begin to lead again when I’m President. . . . The first way America will lead is by bringing a responsible end to this war in Iraq . . .

We have to wait until Obama is President to end the Iraq Debacle? Senator Obama won't do anything that will ACTUALLY end the Debacle sooner than that? That is the problem with this speech and with Senator Obama. And it should surprise me that Stoller did not notice it. But sadly, ending the Iraq Debacle has become a secondary issue for some in the Left Blogs.

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    Erm (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 07:49:17 PM EST
    Um, Matt Stoller, you don't believe that? Sounds like Kucinich is your man then.

    Well, now that came out of right field.

    I take issue with Obama's statement as well. It's exactly the kind of thing George Bush would say. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've heard him say "My number one job is to protect the American people" at least twenty times. (On the other hand, as Jon Stewart brilliantly noted, he's declared "his job" to be at least 50 things over the years.) George Bush is also a man who conscientiously appears in the presence of soldiers to the extent that if you went solely by his press conferences, you'd conclude that we live in a military dictatorship. I do not consider these two phenomena to be unrelated.

    But aside from that. Really, I assume you're referring to his Constitutional role as commander in chief of the Army and the Navy. I don't like this for a variety of reasons. It's obviously militaristic; we should be kept safe through positive international relations and sheer indispensability. And if that screws up, Congress declares war; they are the ones who keep us safe. Turning the President into the National Defender is an attitude that enables military adventurism, as Abraham Lincoln so eloquently explained:

    Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure... Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after you have given him so much as you propose. If, to-day, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, "I see no probability of the British invading us" but he will say to you "be silent; I see it, if you don't."

        The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.

    I agree. I think if you told the Founders that they ought to go easy on King George because while he may not have respected the "English Constitution" he protected them from invasion, they'd have poured hot tea down your throat. Of course, here we're talking about the Presidency in an abstract sense, so Bush's actions aren't necessarily relevant, but Bush isn't the first President to start a stupid war for reasons having little (if anything) to do with "protecting" his fellow Americans.

    Our leading Presidential candidates (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Demi Moaned on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 07:55:56 PM EST
    ... are hugely disappointing on this issue. I can't accept their pretensions to lead if they won't lead now.

    I'm pretty much with you on Dodd.

    War? What war? (4.00 / 1) (#5)
    by lightning on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 08:29:21 PM EST
    Another problem with this speech is the talk of the "war in Iraq". The war's been over for a couple of years now.  Remember "Mission Accomplished"?  That's as good a place as any to declare victory.

    What we have now is an occupation, not a war. I think of an occupation as a form of heavily- armed babysitting.  It ends when the adults come home, not when somebody "wins" or "loses".

    It's a difference in framing.  We can't "win" or "lose" an occupation, because the ideas of "winning" or "losing" simply doesn't apply.  

    By talking about "war" instead of "occupation", Obama's sticking his own tail in a crack.

    If Kucinich didn't exist (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 04:37:05 PM EST
    the Republicans would have to give more money to Ralph Nader.

    Obama versus Hillary (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 07:39:23 PM EST
    Well, Hillary has been quoted in the NY Times as saying that she would keep troops in Iraq for years if she were elected, so I guess there's some difference between the two.  The speech tells us that much.  

    Obama will also keep troops in there for years (none / 0) (#6)
    by fairleft on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 09:40:46 PM EST
    60-70,000 for the various 'training, fighting terrorists, force protection, yada yada' purposes described by him, Hillary, the Iraq supplemental bill, and basically all the frontline Democratic candidates.

    If you want us to get completely out, and I sure do, right now you gotta look to Kucinich or Gravel.