The speech Obama should have given about Iraq
By Michael Goodwin
June 15, 2014 | 12:33am
President Obama gave a brief, forgettable speech at the White House Friday about Iraq, where marauding jihadists are threatening to capture Baghdad. Here’s the speech he should have given instead.
“My fellow Americans, I come to you today from the Oval Office with a heavy heart and sober humility. Events around the world, including but not limited to the shocking terrorist surge in Iraq, lead me to make a painful admission.
“I confess to making serious mistakes on foreign policy. My decisions, centered in the Mideast but also extending to Europe, Russia, Latin America and Asia, were based on flawed assumptions about how others would react to my being president and to a lighter American footprint.
“As we see now, my repeated apologies for America’s past and promises we would be more respectful have not had the desired result. I believed we could usher in an age of peace and cooperation that did not require the United States to be the world’s policeman.
“And so I pulled our military from Iraq and moved toward an early exit from Afghanistan. I recalibrated our relationship with Israel and the Palestinians to force Israel to make concessions that, I hoped, would lead to a resolution of their ancient feud.
“My ‘reset’ with Russia reflected my view that we had needlessly antagonized that great nation, and that a new flexibility would induce the Russians to become our ally at the United Nations.
“For similar reasons, my administration has accommodated China on a host of controversial issues and even taken its side or remained neutral as it threatened our allies.
“I bent over backward to assure the Iranians they need no longer fear America. By giving perfunctory support to the popular uprising there in 2009, I made it clear we would not contest the government’s suppression of its people. I offered to let the ruling mullahs continue their nuclear program, as long as they did not move to weaponize it immediately.
“I turned the other cheek to insults from the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and other Marxist dictators in our own back yard. My hope was that they, too, would moderate their hostility.
“To show my commitment to this path, I slashed our military, and it will soon be smaller than it was before World War II.
“There is no way to sugarcoat the results, so let me be clear: I was wrong. My policies have not yielded the benefits I promised.
“On the contrary, they have proven to be major contributors to the chaos, violence and repression we see in the headlines.
“My trust in the good will of our adversaries has been misplaced. Our hand of friendship and respect has been slapped away with ridicule and aggression.
“As such, the world is a more dangerous place now than before I took office. Additionally, our allies are nervous and interpret my presidency as meaning we will not help them in a crisis.
“That was not my intent, but good intentions are not enough. Voters elected me twice because they believed my vision would bring a more peaceful and prosperous world.
“To them, I offer my deepest apologies. Your president failed you.
“Let me add that my Republican opponents, John McCain and Mitt Romney, were right to doubt the wisdom of my approach. As for President Bush, I now have far greater respect for his efforts to combat the scourge of Islamic terrorism.
“I have personally conveyed my apologies to these three dedicated patriots and invited them to the White House to seek their advice.
“I also offer my apologies to our allies who feel abandoned. I especially extend my hand to the people of Israel, whose survival ultimately depends on American friendship. I am sorry I caused you to doubt that bond.
“Finally, I want to assure friend and foe alike that today marks the start of a new American approach to the world. My eyes have been opened to the error of my ways, and I pledge a forceful stand based on the realization that America truly is exceptional.
“I pledge to work night and day to right the ship of state. The changes will be obvious in coming days and weeks.
“To our adversaries, I offer this simple warning: Beware, the sleeping giant is awake again. America is back.”