The UK's Guardian newspaper has an op-ed tomorrow by Barack Obama which is a preview of a longer article to be published in the next issue of Foreign Affairs magazine by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Here's the bulletpoint version:
I'm singularly unimpressed, to be honest. It seems to me to be a copperplate hawkish-progressive overview which could have been cut'n'pasted from any number of online sources. There's no indication that Obama really has anything new or refreshing to say or that he's willing to take tough and realistic stances - like saying any idea of attacking Iran is insane so we might as well take the "force" option off the table, that there's considerable doubt over whether Iran in fact has a nuclear weapons program in the first place, or that Israeli intransigence and arrogance is at least half of the problem in the Middle East. He doesn't even have the guts to mention the Saudis as he talks about supporting reform of hardline Islamic regimes.
- "To renew American leadership in the world, we must first bring the Iraq war to a responsible end and refocus our attention on the broader Middle East. Iraq was a diversion from the fight against the terrorists who struck us on 9/11, and incompetent prosecution of the war by America's civilian leaders compounded the strategic blunder of choosing to wage it in the first place."
- "The best chance we have to leave Iraq a better place is to pressure these warring parties to find a lasting political solution. And the only effective way to apply this pressure is to begin a phased withdrawal of US forces, with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31 2008."
- "Changing the dynamic in Iraq will allow us to focus our attention and influence on resolving the festering conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians - a task that the Bush administration neglected for years. Our starting point must always be a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy."
- "Although we must not rule out military force, we should not hesitate to talk directly to Iran. Our diplomacy should aim to raise the cost for Iran of continuing its nuclear programme by applying tougher sanctions and increasing pressure from its key trading partners. The world must work to stop Iran's uranium-enrichment programme and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."
- "Diplomacy combined with pressure could also reorient Syria from its radical agenda to a more moderate stance - which could, in turn, help stabilise Iraq, isolate Iran, free Lebanon from the grip of Damascus, and better secure Israel."
- "A crucial debate is occurring within Islam. Some believe in a future of peace, tolerance, development and democratisation. Others embrace a rigid and violent intolerance of personal liberty and the world at large. To empower forces of moderation, America must make every effort to export opportunity - access to education and healthcare, trade and investment - and provide the steady support for political reformers and civil society that enabled our victory in the cold war."
Let's hope there is more substance and less regurgitation to the full article, eh?