We need to question the world around us. When we have a debate about experience, we can't just debate who has the most experience scoring political points. When we have a debate about experience, we can't just talk about who fought yesterday's battles " we have to focus on who can face the challenges and seize the opportunities of tomorrow. Because no matter what we think about George Bush, he's going to be gone in January 2009. He's not on the ballot. This election is about ending the Iraq War, but even more it's about moving beyond it. And we're not going be safe in a world of unconventional threats with the same old conventional thinking that got us into Iraq. We're not going to unify a divided America to confront these threats with the same old conventional politics of just trying to beat the other side.
In 2009, we will have a window of opportunity to renew our global leadership and bring our nation together. If we don't seize that moment, we may not get another. This election is a turning point. The American people get to decide: are we going to turn back the clock, or turn the page?
I want to be straight with you. If you want conventional Washington thinking, I'm not your man. If you want rigid ideology, I'm not your man. If you think that fundamental change can wait, I'm definitely not your man. But if you want to bring this country together, if you want experience that's broader than just learning the ways of Washington, if you think that the global challenges we face are too urgent to wait, and if you think that America must offer the world a new and hopeful face, then I offer a different choice in this race and a different vision for our future.
The first thing we have to do is end this war. And the right person to end it is someone who had the judgment to oppose it from the beginning. There is no military solution in Iraq, and there never was. I will begin to remove our troops from Iraq immediately. I will remove one or two brigades a month, and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months. The only troops I will keep in Iraq will perform the limited missions of protecting our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on al Qaeda. And I will launch the diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives that are so badly needed. Let there be no doubt: I will end this war.
In the 21st century, we cannot stand up before the world and say that there's one set of rules for America and another for everyone else. To lead the world, we must lead by example. We must be willing to acknowledge our failings, not just trumpet our victories. And when I'm President, we'll reject torture - without exception or equivocation; we'll close Guantanamo; we'll be the country that credibly tells the dissidents in the prison camps around the world that America is your voice, America is your dream, America is your light of justice.
We cannot - we must not - let the promotion of our values be a casualty of the Iraq War. But we cannot secure America and show our best face to the world unless we change how we do business in Washington.
I will always tell the American people the truth. I will always tell you where I stand. It's what I'm doing in this campaign. It's what I'll do as President. I'll lead a new era of openness. I'll give an annual "State of the World" address to the American people in which I lay out our national security policy. I'll draw on the legacy of one our greatest Presidents - Franklin Roosevelt and give regular "fireside webcasts," and I'll have members of my national security team do the same.
I'll turn the page on a growing empire of classified information, and restore the balance we've lost between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in a democratic society by creating a new National Declassification Center. We'll protect sources and methods, but we won't use sources and methods as pretexts to hide the truth. Our history doesn't belong to Washington, it belongs to America.
I'll use the intelligence that I do receive to make good policy - I won't manipulate it to sell a bad policy. We don't need any more officials who tell the President what they want to hear. I will make the Director of National Intelligence an official with a fixed term, like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve - not someone who can be fired by the President. We need consistency and integrity at the top of our intelligence agencies. We don't need politics. My test won't be loyalty - it will be the truth.
And I'll turn the page on the imperial presidency that treats national security as a partisan issue - not an American issue. I will call for a standing, bipartisan Consultative Group of congressional leaders on national security. I will meet with this Consultative Group every month, and consult with them before taking major military action. The buck will stop with me. But these discussions have to take place on a bipartisan basis, and support for these decisions will be stronger if they draw on bipartisan counsel. We're not going to secure this country unless we turn the page on the conventional thinking that says politics is just about beating the other side.
It's time to unite America, because we are at an urgent and pivotal moment.
The entire speech can be read here.
Whether or not you agree, he's finally bringing his ' A' game.