This is one of the major league one’s he given. The transcript of his speech is here.
He isn’t saying anything new in this speech that he hasn’t already but it puts it all together and lays out the whole vision in one speech. Built around five pillars: getting out of Iraq; going harder in Afghanistan, particularly to destroy AQ; work to lock down loose nukes; wean off oil; and re-build alliances for the 21st century.
The first and second (and last I suppose) of which are built around a premise of not relying solely on military efforts nor on simplistic notions of elections as the panacea to all ills (what Richard Haas calls ballotocracy).
He hits McBush exactly where he should: they have lacked strategic vision. They have isolated the US relied solely on the military for what are non-military issues (diplomacy, nation-building, etc.) and have bunkered a mobile fighting force into one country unrelated to the attacks of September 11th and continue to let fester the actual enemy.
Now, as I theorized a few days ago, I thought Obama might start to get questioning of his Afghanistan policy for his left. A kind of Baker-Hamilton call for Afghanistan, with Obama calling for a surge in Afghanistan. Right on cue, Juan Cole makes that point here. Cole makes some salient points (a la Michael Scheuer). The Taliban or Taliban-like elements have not it would seem (at least yet) overshot the mark and turned their own against them a la al-Qaeda in Iraq.
I’m not sure what leverage Obama would have against AQ if he doesn’t in some way get into Afghanistan. Cole has a critique of Obama’s residual force in Iraq along these lines: how would they be effective? I guess have the same question in Afghanistan minus US involvement. No one is going to be paid off it seems to take on the Taliban and al-Qaeda. That is how the US got in this problem in the first place, relying on the Northern Alliance instead of their own.