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Thursday 22 Feb 2018 | 05:01 | SYDNEY
Thursday 22 Feb 2018 | 05:01 | SYDNEY

Obama's foreign policy speech



16 July 2008 17:44

It's typical for policy wonks to dissect speeches like this one, given overnight by Senator Obama, for references to their pet interests. Let me give in to that temptation entirely by noting that the speech mentions China and the Asian region only once. The US foreign policy debate remains dominated by Iraq and Afghanistan, which makes eminent political sense, though it's probably not a good thing for Australia.

One point of confusion about Obama's Iraq policy: he says his administration would want no permanent bases in Iraq, but when describing his withdrawal plan, Obama refers to a 'residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq.' So how long would they stay for?

Another notable omission from the speech, particularly given headlines in the US at the moment, was economic, trade and finance issues. Indeed, this was almost solely a security-themed speech, with even global warming presented as a security  threat (admittedly that's not too unconventional).

The global warming and energy security section of the speech was the lowlight for me. Obama buys into the flaky notion that America's security is 'held hostage' by its dependence on Middle Eastern oil. As countless bloggers and columnists have pointed out, the theory that the US can break the back of terror-supporting regimes by ending its oil 'addiction' is flawed on a number of levels.

That's a fairly negative review, though I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of space Obama devoted to nuclear non-proliferation. Perhaps we are seeing 'the return of arms control'.

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