I just came back from the "major" Barack Obama speech on Iraq and national security (ironically held at the Ronald Reagan Building here in DC). I plan a more thorough write-up for a column, so I'll mostly hold my fire for now. But what immediately struck me as odd was that he started off by citing the Truman administration as a model for his foreign policy and praised the Marshall Plan, yet neglected to mention the Korean War — a conflict that killed 13 times the number of Americans as the war in Iraq, which he devoted much of his speech to lambasting. Also, what's the point of giving this speech before traveling to Iraq? If he waited until after, at least he could say that after speaking to commanders on the ground, he decided to "refine" his strategy. But what is he going to do now? Come back from his trip and just say that he was right all along?
I thought John McCain was strong on the latter point in his speech in Albuquerque today:
"Senator Obama is departing soon on a trip abroad that will include a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan. And I note that he is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to General Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq, and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time. In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy."