Indeed, you can argue that over the past month, Obama has been shaping the foreign policy debate for the Democrats -- and getting the best of the arguments. By last Sunday's televised debate in Iowa, nobody else seemed eager to challenge Obama's postulate that "strong countries and strong presidents meet and talk with our adversaries." And there was little repetition, either, of the tut-tutting that greeted his statement that he would be prepared to go after al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, with or without President Pervez Musharraf's blessing.
Sen. Hillary Clinton's stance has been more cautious, seeking to convey a general but vaguely defined sense that her toughness and experience would make her a strong president. Obama is taking the opposite tack.
Obama added some new (and potentially controversial) foreign policy details in an interview Tuesday afternoon, before he hopped a plane for his next stop, in New Hampshire. He said he expects there will still be U.S. troops in Iraq when the next president takes office, and he is discussing with his advisers how this residual force should be used. "For getting out in an orderly way, withdrawing one to two brigades a month is realistic," he said. With 20 combat brigades in Iraq, that would imply a withdrawal schedule of at least a year.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Obama -- the Pragmatic Foreign Policy Guy
I've not said much recently about my guy Barack Obama. Although he's let a fairly large gap develop between himself and Hillary, I still think that this gap will narrow considerably before the Primary season gets up and running. He's still the best candidate to take on the GOP and he's learning how to lay out his message.
I did find interesting a Washington Post op-ed piece that suggests that Obama is setting the foreign policy debate and getting the better of his critics. David Ignatius writes:
His mix of idealism and pragmatism seems to be a good one -- if only the current leader had such a mix then we wouldn't be in such a mess. He's been opposed to the war from the beginning, but recognizes that we can't just "pull out" over night. It must be done "decently and in order" (to quote those Presbyterians).
If he continues to set the agenda for the conversation then he'll make the necessary inroads as people actually make up their minds!