Obama’s Convention Acceptance Speech: An Advance Copy

Michael Blim

I am printing here an advance copy of one half of Barak Obama’s upcoming convention acceptance speech.

For the record, I obtained it through a family friend who labors in the bowels of Chicago’s Daley Democratic Machine. I am calling him Billy here so that his gift to me doesn’t bring down the wrath of Richie Daley on his head. Billy has a no-show job at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. I don’t ask him what he does there, because I am pretty sure he doesn’t do anything.

The only time you can be sure of finding Billy is at his apartment in the 42nd ward two weeks before every Election Day. He’s a precinct captain. And now I guess you understand why he has a no-show job. I heard via a mutual friend that he spends most of his time in Las Vegas running a strip club.

Billy sent me the speech in a PDF. He had gotten it from his sister-in-law who does clerical work inside the Obama inner sanctum in Chicago. She had given Billy the PDF because she figured that he wouldn’t be watching the convention, with the Sox and Cubs in tight pennant races and all. Billy wrote me that she sent it on to the whole clan in Bridgeport. He thought a scoop like this might generate interest in my column, given that he thinks nobody reads it, and he is a loyal friend and wants to see me make out as a writer.

Given that the whole Bridgeport clan has this part of the speech, and most of them are connected, I decided to put this out, and see if I can pick up a reader or two.

The following is the part of Obama’s acceptance speech that concerns foreign policy:

“The Republicans say that I talk a lot about change, but I don’t say what I want to do.

Not true, but just so there is no mistaking what I intend to do as president, let me lay out my new direction for American foreign policy.

I am going to make big changes.

First, the Iraq war was the biggest mistake America has made since the Vietnam War, and it has cost over 4000 men and women their lives. Tens of thousands will carry grievous wounds around for the rest of our lives. Countless tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives, suffered terrible injuries, or are worse off than they were under Saddam Hussein.

I intend to pull out our troops by the end of the first year of my term. There is already a consensus in the country that this is the best thing to do. There is no guarantee that a McCain administration, once they get in, will do it.

I will. And I will not leave garrisons of American troops on Iraqi soil after the combat pullout. They would be a provocation for Iraqis and their neighbors who wish to govern themselves without American interference. Their resentment would put our troops constantly in harm’s way.

Everybody is coming home. You can count on it.

Second, I favor engagement – not war or isolation — with Iran. Only war could possibly stop them from building nuclear weapons if they choose to. This would be a disastrous course of action. Even a cold war with Iran would fail. We couldn’t stop friends like Pakistan and India, so what gives us the confidence that our hostility will change their minds?

My administration is not going to war with Iran. It is better to establish a relationship with them. It would be even more important if they develop nuclear weapons.

Some argue that we must use force and eliminate Iran’s growing nuclear capabilities to support and protect Israel. I ask you: Since when has Israel ever needed defending? The certain knowledge that Israel would use its A bomb against Iran is deterrent enough. Deterrence worked between the former Soviet Union and us during the Cold War, and it seems to be working between Pakistan and India. Let’s leave Iran to decide its own fate.

Third, we should leave the Israelis and Palestinians to sort out their destinies. Our involvement doesn’t help. Instead, it hurts the chances for peace. Because the United States has given Israel our unconditional support, Palestinians believe they cannot trust us to be even-handed, and they are right. Our constant pressure drives them further away from making peace. Israel too, given our total support, has no real incentive to make peace. We provide each of an excuse. In the long run, they are locked in a deadly and ruinous embrace.

The Palestinians and the Israelis must make their own peace, and their chances of success increase if we get out of the way.

Fourth, we had better acknowledge that we face a new cold war if we do not find better ways of coexisting with Russia. We can blame former President Putin and his governments for making it more likely. But it takes two to make a cold war.

We never stop to consider Russia’s position. We told them to make an American economy out of the shambles of the failed Soviet system. After years of trying and failing, they went back to their old ways of doing things. At least for the time being, their new arrangement works.

When they were down, we lorded it over them. Our plan didn’t work, and the Russian people suffered terribly.

So the state once more controls Russia’s massive corporations, and Russian citizens enjoy what we consider a limited set of civil liberties.

This is their affair. Just as we would resent former President Putin lecturing us about how we eliminated many of our civil liberties after September 11, they find it irritating too to be told how they should run their society.

We also don’t seem to get it about why they are becoming more aggressive. How would we feel if Canada became a close ally with Russia – a second Cuba in other words? We are expanding NATO, the historic bulwark against Soviet ambitions, to their very borders. We would never stand for it, and they won’t either.

How would we feel if Russia put missiles of any sort in Canada or in Cuba again? John Kennedy wouldn’t stand for it, and once more today, neither would we.

We would risk war, and that is the point. If we want to work with Russia, we need to understand its motives – not prattle on about how the Old Russian bear is returning. We need to help find a new détente that will strengthen the treaty obligations that we, the Europeans, and the Russians agreed to when we ended the Cold War. We need to find ways among all of us to make peace and cooperation more desirable.

The bottom line: Nobody needs a new cold war, least of all our friends in central and Eastern Europe. For their sake, we need to support mutual respect and understanding on the part of all the nations of Europe, including the Soviet Union, and avoid unwittingly encouraging Russian aggression.

Fifth, we need to become again, as Franklin Roosevelt put it, a good neighbor to countries near us and to nations around the globe. We consider America great humanitarian, and we are. But we are also quick to tell others what to do, and to back it up with force.

We have military bases in 153 countries. We have half a million soldiers and their dependents stationed permanently abroad. We have an array of weapons and the ability to project deadly force on the ground within 48 hours anywhere in the world.

We need to turn this around. We need to pull back, and give up the bases. They are only an incentive to our meddling in the affairs of others. If nations need our help, we can provide it quickly and efficiently. And we have much to do at home. Our neighbors need the freedom to pursue their own paths to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Sixth, the threat of terrorism. I believe we have accomplished more to defeat terrorism with intelligence, with vigilance, and with stealth than with our military operations. Terrorists do not form armies. They are not even revolutionary guerillas wanting to take over nations. They are persons who want to make the world suffer for what they believe are its sins. They seek vengeance and believe wrongly that violence converts people to their cause.

Let us continue to treat them for what they are: international criminals whom we must pursue relentlessly until they are ours. No war can successfully destroy a small group or a network of the angry and unappeased. Smart police work and counter-terrorist initiatives can — and will under my administration.

Finally, we should support the United Nations, and help it have greater impact on the world’s many crises. Let us recall that the United Nations was America’s idea. Franklin Roosevelt made its creation part of the post-World War II settlement. We need to reaffirm his noble vision by helping to make a stronger United Nations.

Mankind’s success as a species depends upon the existence of a grand arbiter such as the United Nations that protects the concerns of all in the management of our world.

To get America moving in a new direction, it must start with us. Let us help the United Nations grow. Let it discover a new role as the arena where peace is made, and agreements undertaken observed.

Let us grow too. Let us find a new way of being a great power. Let us use our power for good rather than our power for war. Let us work together with all peoples and nations of good will, and make the world a better place.

This, my fellow Americans, is change you can believe in. Americans young and old have heard the call. They hunger for changes that will be more than promises. They want changes that revolutionize our ways of life and that of citizens of the world wherever they find themselves.

More of the same will not do. Look at our performance over the past eight years. Does anyone want four more years like the last eight?

John Kennedy once quoted an ancient Chinese proverb that said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

If I become your president, I will help us take this new step together. Let us work to build a world of peace and prosperity for us – and for our global neighbors. “

Wow, helluva speech! Change I believe in.

Glad too that I could reproduce it here, as I know that outside the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, many of you have teams in pennant races and such.

So I say thanks to Billy’s sister in law for the sneak peak and the scoop. I have pennants on the mind too, so go Cubs – and Barak too!