In the Arena

Obama on Foreign Policy

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This was a very good speech for several reasons:

1. It transcended the usual Bush-bashing–though there was plenty of that–and was a reminder that foreign policy is about more than Iraq and the region.

2. It was courageous, calling for more money for foreign aid, which is quite unpopular in the country and easily exploitable by Republicans.

3. It was beautifully written, simple and eloquent. I especially liked this part, not because it was startling in any way, but because of the elegance of the language and the essential truth of the sentiment:

The disappointment that so many around the world feel toward America right now is only a testament to the high expectations they hold for us. We must meet those expectations again, not because being respected is an end in itself, but because the security of America and the wider world demands it. This will require a new spirit – not of bluster and bombast, but of quiet confidence and sober intelligence, a spirit of care and renewed competence.

Updates: Ezra may have not read the entire speech yet, but he’s absolutely right about this.

Swampland reader Florida accurately points out that Fareed Zakaria has an excellent column on the Chinese attitude about foreign aid and how it differs from the Bush Administration’s.

Finally, I’ve been traveling with John Edwards the past few days–I’ll have more about that in my column this week (policy not haircuts, by the way)–and he makes much the same point as Obama about the importance of staying involved in the world and increasing foreign aid. Good for them both.