Moments ago, Barack Obama reinforced his plan for Iraq. In the major policy speech Obama said:
As president, I will pursue a tough, smart, and principled national security strategy. . . . 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. . . 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.
McCain is set to answer the speech at a New Mexico town hall meeting at noon EDT.
The speech echoed Obama's op-ed in the New York Times yesterday. There, he repeated his belief that "we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in." In case you missed the piece, for some of the highlights,
- Obama would redeploy and remove combat brigades in 16 months (by summer 2010). Remaining forces would target remnants of al Qaeda, protect American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, train Iraqi forces.
- Obama would pursue a diplomatic offensive with every nation in the region on behalf of Iraq’s stability, and commit $2 billion to a new international effort to support Iraq’s refugees. He would also add at least two combat brigades to Afghanistan, and would not pursue a "misguided desire" to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.
- Factors that still exist today led Obama to oppose the surge, including: the strain on the military, the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the $200 billion more than budgeted spent on Iraq, and the lack of Iraqi political advancements.
- Obama contrasted himself to President Bush and rival John McCain, by maintaining: "They call any timetable for the removal of American troops 'surrender' even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government."
Here's how Obama contrasts himself to McCain and Bush:
Regarding travel plans, Barack Obama will visit Iraq with Republican Senator and Iraq war critic Chuck Hagel. Hagel, the Republican incarnation of Joe Leiberman, voted against the invasion of Iraq and has refused to endorse John McCain. Perhaps the conservative Hagel is auditioning for Obama's Team of Rivals.