Today Barack Obama delivered an Iraq policy speech at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., relaying the new strategy that he began unveiling yesterday. “This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century,” he explained. “By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe.” His ideas included sticking to his much-touted sixteen-month redeployment of troops in Iraq, sending at least two more combat brigades to Afghanistan, and holding the Pakistani government more accountable for sheltering terrorists. In the opening and closing of his speech, he invoked the Marshall Plan.
Shortly after, John McCain partly rebutted Obama’s ideas in a New Mexico speech, pointing out (again) that he was right on the Iraq troop surge, which Obama opposed. He also points out that Obama is putting the cart before the horse — laying out his extensive plan before having visited Iraq in person, as he plans to do in the near future. Since a lot of this has already been on the table, the online response has been tepid — but we’ve gathered some of the prevailing opinions after the jump.
• Senator Jack Reed (Democrat-Connecticut) says Obama doesn’t need to go to Iraq, because his vision is “sound,” but he will get a better “sense of what’s going on.” [Page/Time]
• Greg Sargent points out that the two candidates are fighting to turn the Iraq dialogue in opposite directions. “McCain needs to narrow the discussion about who has had better judgment on the war into an argument about the surge, rather than one about the broader intellectual failures — which McCain shared — that got us into this mess in the first place,” he writes. “Obama, by contrast, is insisting on a broader discussion and wants McCain to own his misjudgments about the bigger question of whether to invade at all.” [Talking Points Memo]
• Meanwhile, a Times/CBS poll says most Americans still think we should have never gone into Iraq at all. Score one for Barack. [Caucus/NYT]
• Ben Smith points out that all of this, to some degree, is moot. “There’s a strikingly backward-looking element to the politics of this,” he writes. “Obama is attacking McCain for his judgment in supporting the war, McCain is attacking Obama for his judgment in opposing the surge.” [Politico]
• And Bill O’Reilly predicted that when it comes to handling Pakistan, neither of the candidates “knows what to do.” [National Review]