So in the end, President Obama gave President Bush a sort of half-hearted shout-out in his speech on Iraq tonight. It wasn’t enthusiastic or graceful, and it lacked the class of a truly mature and distinguished character. It more or less amounted to: “Yo, Bush: Wassup?”
But at least he said SOMETHING about Bush. That made even more obvious what he DIDN’T say, either directly or indirectly: that the United States is engaged in these fights (Iraq, Afghanistan, the broader war on terror) for the long-haul and will not abandon the forces of good (or of “just ok”—this is the Middle East after all; everything is relative) to the forces of evil, darkness, terror, and tyranny. He also did not use this speech to lay out his vision for an American grand strategy and how he will use the American tools of power. The drawdown in Iraq: Bush’s policy. The Afghan surge: his policy, with an expiration date (which he reiterated tonight). His foreign “policy” is not a coherent policy at all, but instead a confused patchwork of reactive tactics. He could have used tonight to announce a carefully-crafted vision for American power and influence in the world. He did not. Missed opportunity, indeed.
He did mention Bush—barely—and I didn’t think he would, so I stand corrected. But it was what he didn’t say that is the cause for deep and profound worry.
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