I saw it as pointing things in the right direction possibly, but no more than that.
Seem harsh? Well, 4 years on and gitmo still exists, drone attacks are continuing and probably increasing around the world. The list is extensive and depressing. I went into greater length about it here.
I imagine the speech, much like Obama’s presidency, will annoy the right-wingers without actually bringing about any real substantive change in how society over there works.
I know this has been stated a billion times but it is still important to repeat it – most of the policies carry on as normal whether it is the democrats or the republicans. There is some tinkering around the edges and a marked difference in presentation, but the basic neoliberal package and American Empire deal stays the same.
I have annotated a bit of what he said below to finish…
A decade of war is now ending (is it?). An economic recovery has begun (maybe).
We will defend our people and uphold (and export, even to those who don’t want them) our values through strength of arms and rule of law (it really depends on how you want to take this one). We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad (I hope this means renewing them in a way that means that the US doesn’t have complete control over them any more), for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.
If Obama really wants to do some of the things he hinted at, then good luck to him and I hope it works.
Still have my doubts though, sorry.