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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Senator Obama's "terrorism" speech

Just read, quickly, through Sen. Obama's speech today, outlining his approaches to the issue of terrorism. I think it is pretty good, and certainly worth reading-- nice to get something of substance from the campaign trail.

A couple comments:
  • I'm not so sure that he says much that his Democratic rivals would not say-- it will be interesting to see if there are any responses.
  • Obama seems to be trying to pick up the mantle of JFK-- a good and logical move for him.
  • Perhaps most striking are several comments about Pakistan-- (a) "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will"; and (b) "And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair – our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally."

Best language, I think is here--

. . . America must be about more than taking out terrorists and locking up weapons, or else new terrorists will rise up to take the place of every one we capture or kill. That is why the third step in my strategy will be drying up the rising well of support for extremism.

When you travel to the world’s trouble spots as a United States Senator, much of what you see is from a helicopter. So you look out, with the buzz of the rotor in your ear, maybe a door gunner nearby, and you see the refugee camp in Darfur, the flood near Djibouti, the bombed out block in Baghdad. You see thousands of desperate faces.

Al Qaeda’s new recruits come from Africa and Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Many come from disaffected communities and disconnected corners of our interconnected world. And it makes you stop and wonder: when those faces look up at an American helicopter, do they feel hope, or do they feel hate?

[snip] And we know what the extremists say about us. America is just an occupying Army in Muslim lands, the shadow of a shrouded figure standing on a box at Abu Ghraib, the power behind the throne of a repressive leader. They say we are at war with Islam. That is the whispered line of the extremist who has nothing to offer in this battle of ideas but blame – blame America, blame progress, blame Jews. . . .

We know we are not who they say we are. America is at war with terrorists who killed on our soil. We are not at war with Islam. America is a compassionate nation that wants a better future for all people. The vast majority of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims have no use for bin Ladin or his bankrupt ideas. But too often since 9/11, the extremists have defined us, not the other way around.

When I am President, that will change. We will author our own story.

We do need to stand for democracy. And I will. But democracy is about more than a ballot box. America must show – through deeds as well as words – that we stand with those who seek a better life. That child looking up at the helicopter must see America and feel hope.

As President, I will make it a focus of my foreign policy to roll back the tide of hopelessness that gives rise to hate. Freedom must mean freedom from fear, not the freedom of anarchy. I will never shrug my shoulders and say – as Secretary Rumsfeld did – “Freedom is untidy.” I will focus our support on helping nations build independent judicial systems, honest police forces, and financial systems that are transparent and accountable. . . .

I am not sure that even this gets at every aspect of the draw of terrorism, as I have seen it described by some sociologists and other scholars. But it sure beats the recent threat pronounced by Rep. Tom Tancredo (our very own al Qaeda-in-Colorado) to retaliate against (Muslim, I presume) terrorism by destroying Mecca and Medina.


Blogger KISSWeb said...

It does ring, though. It shows why he's going to be one tough dude as a candidate when people really turn their attention to the campaign.

1:11 PM  
Blogger ChiTom said...

Agreed. It is a great speech.

1:23 PM  

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