Obama's Hard Power/Soft Power Home Run
Barack Obama gave a stellar speech today at the Wilson Center in Washington, one that laid out his alternate view of a war against terrorists. The most noteworthy elements of this speech have been splashed across the media already today, because Obama calls for redeploying troops out of Iraq and back into Afghanistan to finally do what Bush wouldn't do at Tora Bora. Obama goes further, trying to get to Bush's right by calling for attacks inside Pakistan if necessary to go after Al Qaeda's safe haven. This rankles the foreign policy pros, who rightly argue that such talk undermines Pervez Musharraf and is only a continutation of Bush's "shoot first, think never" world view. But he's aiming to look tougher here than Bush, and to go farther than Hillary would. In the context of a moving campaign and changing narrative, this makes sense regardless of whether or not a President Obama would ever do this.
Coming a week after his dust-up with Hillary over his willingness to meet with less-than-friendly regimes, Obama said the right things today about preparation before any such meetings. Most importantly however, Obama laid out an excellent hard power/soft power balance in his address, and it reflects not only his intellect but also that of Richard Clarke, who is one of his advisors.
It is a good speech, one that touches on many things I have said here. Notwithstanding my endorsement of Hillary, this was a great balance between the concerns of the anti-Bush base in the party and the concerns amongst the counter-terrorism experts in the Beltway about the many ways Bush has blown the war against terrorists. While Hillary seemingly is stuck on last week's dust-up with Obama and polling on it, Obama has already moved on to write a better narrative for himself.
Hat tip: Iowa Independent