- He will be running a different kind of foreign policy to George W Bush in some key areas. He highlighted 100% opposition to inhumane treatment of detainees, closure of Guantanamo and support for action against climate change including "a successor to the Kyoto Treaty [and] a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically responsible manner".
- More emphasis on working with democracies. He wants Russia excluded from the 'G8' and Brazil and India brought inside it. He reannounced his idea of a League of Democracies to rival the UN.
- Horrendous violence would follow premature exit from Iraq. After highlighting the gains made since the start of the surge he warned of the consequences of speedy withdrawal: "We have incurred a moral responsibility in Iraq. It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing, and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible, and premature withdrawal."
- War is detestable. The Vietnam war veteran began his speech with a very personal section about the horror of war:
"When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house in New London, Connecticut, and a Navy officer rolled down the window, and shouted at my father that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. My father immediately left for the submarine base where he was stationed. I rarely saw him again for four years. My grandfather, who commanded the fast carrier task force under Admiral Halsey, came home from the war exhausted from the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home to the country they loved so well. I detest war. It might not be the worst thing to befall human beings, but it is wretched beyond all description. When nations seek to resolve their differences by force of arms, a million tragedies ensue. The lives of a nation's finest patriots are sacrificed. Innocent people suffer and die. Commerce is disrupted; economies are damaged; strategic interests shielded by years of patient statecraft are endangered as the exigencies of war and diplomacy conflict. Not the valor with which it is fought nor the nobility of the cause it serves, can glorify war. Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war. However heady the appeal of a call to arms, however just the cause, we should still shed a tear for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us."
McCain also showed that he understood that anti-Americanism won't be tackled by retreat. These two key sentences summarise his approach: "Our critics say America needs to repair its image in the world. How can they argue at the same time for the morally reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities in Iraq?"
Another person who understands that anti-Americanism won't be tackled by surrendering to the fashions of world opinion is former Bush speechwriter Mike Gerson. He wrote this in one of his recent columns for the Washington Post:
"Few American presidents have been more reviled in Europe than Ronald Reagan, who responded to the Soviet deployment of SS-20 nuclear missiles by deploying Pershing II nuclear missiles. In West Germany, millions of people marched in protest. American soldiers were surrounded by hostile demonstrators shouting, "We don't want you in our country." But Reagan's unpopular "cowboy" determination helped end the Cold War and lift the nuclear threat from Europe. And we have seen a good example in our time. The January 2007 decision to surge American troops in Iraq was clearly at odds with world opinion. But retreating from Iraq in failure would have earned global contempt for American weakness instead of global popularity. And the turnaround in Iraq has restored at least some of our standing and leverage in the Middle East. The real lesson in the years since Sept. 11 is different from what the Democratic candidates imagine: It is easy to be loved when you are a victim. It is harder to be popular when you act decisively to protect yourself and others."