Obama's Overseas Test

His trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East was designed to prove that he could be Commander in Chief. In an interview with TIME, the candidate details what he saw and what he heard

Salah Malkawi / Getty

Jack Reed, Barack Obama and Chuck Hagel leave a news conference at the Amman Citadel, in Amman, Jordan on July 22, 2008.

If it was difficult to see much difference between Barack Obama's first trip abroad since capturing the Democratic nomination and a genuine state visit by a sitting President, well, that was sort of the point of the whole exercise. Obama stopped in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank before heading to Germany, France and England. There was the extraordinary security at every stop: police in Baghdad set up new roadblocks and checkpoints to secure the Iraqi capital while he was in town. There was the picture-perfect stagecraft: speaking at a police station in Sderot, Israel, Obama was flanked by...

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