1. The speech seemed little more than a rehash of old news. Did he really tell us anything new? In some ways it seemed like a public announcement of the checking-off of a campaign promise.
2. Where was the vision for Iraq? For America’s role in the region?
3. He strikingly referred to Iraq as a “partner,” but never as an “ally.” Is that what we want from Baghdad? Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to have a tight relationship with Iraq, especially considering Iran’s destabilizing rise in the region?
4. Unless I missed it, the president never talked of victory — peace crossed his lips, but never victory — not even as an objective of either war. Isn’t peace from victory usually best?
5. His interlude on the economy was a major distraction from what should have been a national-security speech, especially in light of the dearth of Oval Office talks since he took over the White House. 6. How come he never mentions the Taliban when he talks about the enemy in Afghanistan? It’s always al-Qaeda. Not that anyone is disputing al-Qaeda’s status, but he surely knows — and he should tell the American people — that the biggest challenge in Afghanistan (and Pakistan) is the Taliban. Since he regularly fails to mention the “T” word, you have to wonder what his goal is: pursuing peace with the Taliban, or victory over the Taliban?
7. He had some nice words about the troops — we’re blessed to have such fine, brave, young men and women willing to go in harm’s way in our defense. And he’s absolutely right on making sure our veterans — and their families — get the care and support they need.
8. He’s also right that we have the world’s finest fighting force in our service personnel. But they won’t stay that way for long if we don’t give them the equipment they need to fight by modernizing our armed forces.
– Peter Brookes is senior fellow for national-security affairs and Chung Ju-Yung fellow for policy studies at the Heritage Foundation.