Heather Hurlburt is the executive director of the National Security Network in Washington, D.C. Heather previously served in the Clinton administration as speechwriter to the president, and as speechwriter and policy planning staff for Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher. Follow her on Twitter at @NatSecHeather.
The speech President Obama just finished giving laid out principles and concerns against which a series of hard policy choices ahead must be measured. It did not lay out specific pathways; but it set out more comprehensively than any president or other official has a case for what the U.S. government is trying to do in combating terrorism and why specific tactical choices have been made.
What did we learn?
This last point is why this speech must be the beginning, not the end, of an aggressive effort to help different stakeholders see where the actual impacts of their preferred policies are different from what they anticipated, and adjust accordingly. That kind of flexibility is what led President Bush to favor closing Guantanamo, which opened on his watch; and seems to have led President Obama to move toward a more limited pace and more transparency around the targeted killing program.