I have only forty pages to go in The Audacity of Hope. The chapter I read tonight, titled "The World Beyond Our Borders," didn't detail a plan for troop withdrawal in Iraq, or any other specific policy measure. Rather, it spoke in general terms (much like the rest of the book) about a whole load of things related to foreign policy and our place in the world. The parts I found most interesting were those about the difference between the ways Democrats and Republicans view the War in Iraq, and how neither viewpoints, in their purest and most loyal (to their respective party) forms, are reasonable. On one hand, some Democrats--especially those caught up in pre-World War I nostalgia, long for a future United States that deals only in isolation. On the other hand, some Republicans view the War in Iraq as just the starting position at say, a track meet in a Cold War era, and that we have a long way to go in policing the world and spreading our policies to countries who "have lost their way."
Anyway, the chapter made me really evaluate my position on the Iraq War. What do I really think is a reasonable plan for withdrawal? Where should we focus our military and diplomatic attention in the coming years, as we slowly distance our resources from Iraq? Is there any really clear solution? Or am I simply too young and naive to think that we can "solve" our foreign policy issues?
On an unrelated and less intense note, I gave a tour today to a nice high school senior and her dad. She said her biggest concern was finding the right school for her; and, since she has no concrete ideas about what she wants to major in, it's incredibly hard for her to even decide which schools to narrow down and apply to. I gave her some un-biased advice, telling her that if she really wants to manage her stress, while still feeling good about the application process and her prospects, she should apply to no more than five schools. And then, once she's accepted, she should designate a full evening with her family to really pound out the details of each school--in terms of atmosphere, financial aid package, academics, extra curriculars, opportunity--and make an informed decision.
Just in case all all y'all prospective students haven't caught on yet, this advice applies to you as well.