President Obama’s approach to foreign policy has been better than many on the right expected, and has improved in several areas since he made those remarks. Great leaders recognize their own errors as they come, and respond to them by learning and adapting, not fighting the battles of the past. Obama had been a senator for barely 12 months when he spoke out so forcefully against the surge – in his role now, and going forward, Americans need to be confident he has learned from the experiences of the recent past, and takes that knowledge with him as he faces challenging decisions. They need to know he approaches policy with a clear vision about what he wants to achieve — that he is not just, as Greg put it, hedging his bets.
It is one thing to be wrong about a strategic policy when you are just one senator out of a hundred. It is another when you are the one man who matters, and the lives of a great many American soldiers hang in the balance.
For another view, see Fred Kaplan at Slate:
None of this is wrong. All the pieces of what he said are worth saying. But what was he saying overall? Which pieces did he mean to emphasize most? What made the message worth the high profile of a prime-time address to the nation? … Clearly, everyone wants to turn the page on Iraq, and I suspect that no matter what eruptions take place there in the coming months, you’ll have to do just that to read much about the place. Iraq is off the front burners of national policy, and it will be off the front pages of every American newspaper.
It shouldn’t be. It’s not over.
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