Four years ago last week, then-Senator Barack Obama delivered what is known in campaign parlance as the "big foreign policy speech." It's the sort of address that is a rite of passage for a presidential contender -- an opportunity to demonstrate to voters (and even more so reporters) that the candidate is fully prepared for the awesome responsibilities of U.S. global leadership.
Given at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., Obama used the address as an opportunity to lay out his major foreign policy and national security strategy while also differentiating himself from both his opponent Sen. John McCain and the President George W. Bush's deeply unpopular foreign policy.
Like any major campaign speech, Obama's remarks were more than just a vision of the future, they also represented a promise of what his presidency would bring to the country. So, four years later, it's worth asking the question: Has Obama upheld his foreign policy and national security promises?
While every candidate makes a host of pledges, declarations, and assurances on the campaign trail, for the purpose of simplicity and brevity, the Reagan Building speech provides a good template of Obama's campaign 2008 message and what he said he would do as president. For example, while Politifact has helpfully pointed out that Obama broke his promise to "seek to negotiate a political agreement on Cyprus," we here at Foreign Policy are not going to make this into a federal issue (of course Cypriot-American voters may have a different perspective on this). Let's focus on the big stuff.
Here's what Obama said in his Reagan Building speech: "I will focus this [national security] strategy on five goals essential to making America safer: ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century."
These five goals formed the outline of his foreign policy pitch to voters. So how has he done?