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Today, Jim Webb delivered a major address on national security policy at the Knights of Columbus in Arlington.  It was a very strong speech, very well received (two standing ovations).  Here are some highlights (quotes as accurate as possible; official transcript pending):

*"National security policy under the Bush-Cheney Administration is in total disarray."

*"Al Qaeda is stronger today than 5 years ago," in large part "as a result of our occupation of Iraq."

*"Those who are leading us lack strategic vision."

*"The war in Lebanon today is a direct result of the Bush Administration's complete failure of policy in the Middle East."  Meanwhile, China has been strengthening its ties "with the exact Middle Eastern countries that pose challenges to the US."

*"The invasion of Iraq was a double strategic blunder" - a "diversion from...the war against international terrorism" and a quagmire that "has tied down our military in a costly occupation."

*"We should say clearly to the people of Iraq...that we have no plans for a long-term presence in that country."

*"Congress should make sure" that we don't build permanent bases in Iraq "by banning any expenditure" for that purpose.

*We need to conduct direct discussions with Syria, in part to "break Syria apart from its unnatural alliance with Iran."

*We need the Senate to fulfill its function as a check on the Presidency.  When Senators take their oath of office, "it is to the Constitution, not to the Presidency."  Unfortunately, Webb noted, he "can't say that about George Allen."

*The Administration "planned from the very beginning to make war in Iraq."  They cynically used "fear and anger after 9/11" in order to achieve that objective.

*Our policy towards Russia has failed as well.  "Looking into Putin's eyes and seeing his soul" is not a policy.

*We need a "sensible, fair, enforceable policy on immigration."  We also need to make sure that Latin America doesn't "backslide towards authoritarianism and illiberal economies."

*We need to "wean ourselves off our dependence on foreign oil."

*America needs a "coherent grand strategy" that relates to where America is coming from and where it's going.  Right now, "we don't have that." Instead, we get "propagandistic statements" from this Administration and from George Allen like "cut and run."

*Our presence in Iraq has fueled a home-grown insurgency" and "created conditions where international terrorism might flourish."  Webb added, "Iraq will be calmer when American forces leave."

*In response to a question about the slogan "Born Fighting" and how it relates to partisanship in Washington, Webb noted that this was the title of his book on the Scots-Irish, and also the "Scottish national slogan."  Webb also noted that George Allen, in the Homestead debate, sneeringly referred to Webb as R2D2 for working with both parties.  Webb pointed out that working with both parties used to be known as "bipartisanship."  Webb also pointed out that "there was only one robot on the stage at the time, the guy who voted with Bush 97% of the time."

*Webb noted that he hasn't been a life-long politician, and also that he had "many, many friends on both sides of the aisle," people like Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE).

*Webb said that he's "not looking at focus groups" and not just "going to implement talking points" sent down to him, like George Allen.

*Webb stated strongly that the people pushing the notion of Democracy in Iraq vastly underestimated the diffciculty of creating a Democracy there.  Webb pointed out that it "took us hundreds of years" to get there ourselves.  Webb compared what the necons in this Administration have tried to do in foreign policy is essentially "exporting ideology at the point of a gun."

*With regards to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, Webb said, "if a country can not or will not control terrorism in its borders, the threatened country has a right to defend itself." However, "the issue is proportionality."  Webb added, "you're not going to take out Hezbollah militarily."

*Webb said that the level of "fraud and abuse in Iraq is astounding," and that "this is an American problem" due in large part to "one party government" in the United States.  Webb endorsed Tammy Duckworth's call for a bipartisan, "modern day Truman Commission" to "bring accountability to how contracts are let" in Iraq and elsewhere.

Lowell Feld is Netroots Coordinator for the Jim Webb for US Senate Campaign.  The ideas expressed here belong to Lowell Feld alone, and do not necessarily represent those of Jim Webb, his advisors, staff, or supporters.

[UPDATE: Video of Jim Webb talking about George Allen, from yesterday's volunteer party at Webb for Senate HQ. Great stuff; check it out!]

Originally posted to lowkell on Wed Aug 16, 2006 at 05:20 PM PDT.

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