Five Takeaways From Obama’s CCGA Foreign Policy Address

(Re-posted from ObamaMedia

I took an early lunch today in order to attend Obama’s (delayed) address to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on his foreign policy objectives. He gave “five ways America will begin to lead again when I’m President;” here are five points I heard.

  • Love for Dick Lugar: Obama name-checked his senior colleague to the east twice. The two have worked together on issues of nuclear weapons proliferation and on energy policy.
  • Generational pride: He twice referred to the passing of the generational torch: The war in Iraq “was based on old ideologies and outdated strategies – a determination to fight a 21st century struggle with a 20th century mindset,” and “Now it’s our moment to lead – our generation’s time.”
  • India and China should be treated as developed countries for purposes of carbon emissions: “We should push for binding and enforceable commitments to reduce emissions by the nations which pollute the most – the United States, the European Union, Russia, China, and India together account for nearly two-thirds of current emissions.”
  • Wars other than self-defense are OK: “No President should ever hesitate to use force – unilaterally if necessary – to protect ourselves and our vital interests when we are attacked or imminently threatened.”
  • We need fewer “high-alert” nukes: “The United States and Russia must lead by example. President Bush once said, “The United States should remove as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status – another unnecessary vestige of Cold War confrontation.” Six years later, President Bush has not acted on this promise. I will. We cannot and should not accept the threat of accidental or unauthorized nuclear launch. We can maintain a strong nuclear deterrent to protect our security without rushing to produce a new generation of warheads.” He doesn’t address how many nukes should be retired, or “removed from high-alert status?”

Scott Paul and Matt Stoller shared their thoughts earlier today. I agree with Matt’s suggestion: I heard echoes of Gary Hart this morning. Here’s Paul:

Even in a speech as broad as this one, when discussing appropriate circumstances for the use of force, Obama needs to define what “our vital interests” are. Something so important cannot be left to the imagination.

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