Lesbian politics: Obama Foreign Policy Speech - June 18, 2008

I want you to watch this video so bad. I looked all over the internet for a transcript yesterday and couldn't find one, so I lovingly typed up a transcript for y'all [below]. Sheesh!

The next time some conservative tells you that liberals don't have a clue about foreign policy, please, for me, kindly shove this all up in their faces. Say it with me now: "that’s the result of the Bush/McCain approach to the war on terrorism!"

Barack Obama:
We had a productive discussion on the challenges facing our nation. I’m grateful to these distinguished men and women who will be advising me in the months to come. As we discussed in the meeting, we face serious challenges to our security. Our nation is fighting two wars. There are terrorists who are determined to kill as many Americans as they can. The world’s most dangerous weapons risk falling into the hands of our enemies. That’s why the single greatest priority of my presidency will be doing anything and everything that is needed to keep the American people safe.

In the face of these real threats we can’t afford another campaign in which national security issues and the truth are distorted and manipulated. So let me take this opportunity to just talk about some of the attacks that the McCain campaign has made in the last few days. For all his talk about civil debate and bipartisanship, Senator McCain has shown that he is going to use predictable, petty, and divisive attacks to try to score a few political points on national security--and if these attacks seem familiar, it’s because they are. They come from the same tired political playbook that George Bush and Karl Rove have used for eight years. It is a political strategy that has been used to prop up policies that have completely failed.

First, let me say a few words about Guantanamo. By any measure, our system of trying detainees has been a failure. Over the course of nearly seven years there has not been a single conviction for a terrorist act at Guantanamo. There has just been one conviction for material support of terrorism; meanwhile, this legal black hole has substantially set back America’s ability to lead the world against the threat of terrorism and undermined our most basic values. So make no mistake, we are less safe because of the way George Bush has handled this issue.

My approach is guided by a simple premise. I have confidence that our system of justice and that our traditions of rule of law are strong enough to deal with terrorists; Senator McCain does not. That is not the same as suggesting that we should give detainees the full privileges that are afforded American citizens. I never said that, the Supreme Court never said that, and I would never do that as President of the United States. So either Senator McCain’s campaign doesn’t understand what the Court decided, or they are distorting my position.

I’ve made the same arguments as Republicans like Arlen Specter, countless generals and national security experts, and the largely Republican-appointed Supreme Court of the United States of America--which is that we need not throw away 200 years of American jurisprudence while we fight terrorism. We need not choose between our most deeply held values and keeping this nation safe; that is a false choice, and I completely reject it.

In their attempt to distort my position Senator McCain’s campaign has said I want to pursue a “law enforcement approach” when it comes to terrorism. This is demonstrably false since I have laid out a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy that includes military force, intelligence operations, financial sanctions, and diplomatic action, but the fact that I want to abide by the United States’ Constitution, they say, shows that I am “trapped in a pre-9/11 mindset.”

Well, I refuse to be lectured on national security by the people who are responsible for the most disastrous set of foreign policy decisions in the recent history of the United States. The other side likes to use 9/11 as a political bludgeon; let’s talk about 9/11.

The people who are responsible for murdering 3,000 Americans on 9/11 have not been brought to justice; they are Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and their sponsors, the Taleban. They were in Afghanistan, and yet George Bush, with the support of John McCain, decided in 2002 that they should take their eye off the ball—off Afghanistan—so that we could invade and occupy a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.

The case for war in Iraq was so thin that George Bush, again with the support of John McCain, had to hype up the threat of Saddam Hussein and make false promises that we would be greeted as liberators. They misled the American people and took us into a misguided war, and here are the results of their policy. Osama bin Laden and his top leadership--the people who murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11--have a safe haven in northwest Pakistan where they operate with such freedom of action that they can still put out hate-filled audiotapes to the outside world; that’s the result of the Bush/McCain approach to the war on terrorism.

We had Al Qaeda and Taleban on the run back in 2002, but then we diverted military, intelligence, financial, and diplomatic resources to Iraq. And yet Senator McCain has said as recently as this April that,

“Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq.”

I think that just shows a dangerous misjudgment of the facts and a stubborn determination to ignore the need to finish the fight in Afghanistan.

Our military is badly overstretched as a consequence of Iraq. We have nearly 150,000 troops in Iraq. We may have no more than one or two brigades that can function outside of Iraq as a consequence of our current position. Many of the troops there are on their second, third, or fourth tours of duty; meanwhile, Afghanistan is sliding towards chaos and risks turning into a narcoterrorist state. The Taleban is on the offensive in the South. A recent Taleban prison outbreak in Qandahār freed hundreds of militants and underscored the volatile situation on the ground. The coalition’s casualties in Afghanistan last month were actually higher than they were in Iraq; that’s the result of the Bush/McCain approach to the war on terrorism.

We need to take more resources and put them into Afghanistan. I’ve been arguing for this since 2002 when I said that we should finish the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taleban instead of going into Iraq. I’ve called for at least two additional combat brigades to support our efforts there. I’ve also called for at least $1b in nonmilitary assistance each year, and I’ve repeatedly challenged George Bush and John McCain’s refusal to hold the Pakistani government accountable for the inability to crack down on Al Qaeda and the Taleban operating within their borders--because we are not going to get Afghanistan right until we get our Pakistan policy right.

So I am happy to talk about 9/11, and I am happy to talk about the choice that we have in this election. We can: listen to the other side and make the same false arguments about why we need to violate our Constitution; not explain to the American people what exactly we’re doing; stay in Iraq indefinitely; build permanent bases in a country that doesn’t want them; not disclose exactly what’s in the negotiations so we end up learning about them from the Iraqi foreign minister because our own President doesn’t explain it to the American people; and keep short-changing our efforts in Afghanistan and our ability to deal with nearly every other national security challenge that we face. That’s one option. We can do that.

Or, we can finally end this disastrous approach to national security because the record shows that George Bush and John McCain have been weak on terrorism. Their approach has failed. Because of their policies we are less safe, less respected, less able to lead the world.

That’s why I believe it’s time to turn the page. It’s time to end the war in Iraq responsibly. It’s time to stop wasting time and start putting away terrorists. It’s time to finally take out Al Qaeda’s top leadership and to finish the fight in Afghanistan. It’s time to restore our standing in the world so we can once again lead.

That’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.

No comments: