Daily Nonpareil - Obama: OK to Talk to Adversaries
By Tim Rohwer
As he has said in the past, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Thursday he believes it's important to talk with our adversaries, which is a change from the conventional thinking now reigning in Washington.
"We need to turn the page of the Bush/Cheney administration of not talking to leaders we don't like," Obama said during a visit at Kirn Junior High School.
Two countries he mentioned were Syria and Iran.
"We've tried not talking to those countries, and it didn't work," said Obama. "I'm not afraid of losing a propaganda battle to a bunch of dictators."
The U.S. senator from Illinois laid out a five-point approach to improve the U.S.'s foreign policy, which now costs $275 million per day for the war in Iraq.
The first point would be to end the war and focus on the terrorists along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
"There can be no safe haven for Osama bin Laden," he said.
The other points in his foreign policy agenda involve the strengthening of the military and its intelligence ability; changing the attitude that many have of America to dry up support for extremism; restoring the country's humanitarian values, which would include closing Guantanamo Bay; and protecting our homeland.
Obama praised the "magnificent" effort of the military men and women serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan, but added these troops have to stay months longer on their tour of duty, which has become four or five tours for many.
"One of the tragedies in Iraq is the enormous burden on our military," he said. "We need to increase active duty in the Army and Marines."
Obama, however, did not call for a return to the military draft.
More highly trained civilians, like agriculture specialists, are also needed in places like Afghanistan to help farmers grow crops other than poppies, he added.
On immigration, Obama said it would be unrealistic and take all the resources of law enforcement to round up the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants here and deport them. What's more, many have children born in the United States, making them legal citizens. His policy would require all illegal immigrants to learn English, pay fines and "go to the back of the line" for legal immigration.
He added that many immigrants came here legally with approved visas, but have overstayed their time limit.
"We need a better mechanism for tracking those who have overstayed their visas," he said.
Obama also said that every American should enjoy the same health coverage benefits that those in Congress have and that coverage should not discriminate against pre-existing conditions.
About 500 people came to see Obama. His wife, Michelle, introduced him to the crowd.
"There is something special about this man," she said. "We need leadership, people with common sense, people with strong family values."