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July 15, 2008--In the past couple of days, the campaign's focus has shifted from the economy to international affairs.  Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) delivered a major address on Iraq and American national security at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center ("A New Strategy for a New World").  Obama set out five goals: "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."  On Iraq Obama stated, "I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war."  "We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months," he said.  Obama said he would send at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan.  "As President, I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be," he said.  "This is a war that we have to win."
Obama previewed the speech in an Op-Ed in the New York Times on Monday ("My Plan for Iraq").  Spokeswoman Linda Douglass said Obama's speech laid out an approach to foreign policy that is "tough, smart and pragmatic" in contrast to "stubborn adherence to old, failed  policies."  Obama is planning a trip to Europe and the Middle East next week.  Presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and other Republicans criticized Obama on a number of points.  McCain, in prepared remarks delivered at a town hall meeting today in New Mexico, stated,  "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.  According to a counter on the Republican National Committee website, Obama has not visited Iraq in 919 days.  Further criticisms were presented in a McCain campaign conference call.   (more photos)

Copyright © 2008  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action