President Obama’s speech today announcing the future withdrawal of US forces from Iraq was outstanding.
The president struck exactly the right tone – congratulating the assembled Marines on their success while recognizing that we haven’t quite put a ribbon on the whole project just yet.
While Democrats (I’m looking at you, Harry Reid) have too often projected an image of America limping toward the finish in Iraq, President Obama emphasized that what US service members have accomplished should be considered a victory – a realization of goals:
“[T]here should be no disagreement on what the men and women of our military have achieved…. We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime – and you got the job done. We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government – and you got the job done. And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life – that is your achievement; that is the prospect that you have made possible.
It was refreshing to hear someone from the left describe the project in Iraq as one that was not aimless, hopeless, or ignoble, but one that will benefit Iraqis in tangible ways.
The president also displayed a gut-level sense of what men and women in uniform, and their families, have endured over the last six years. And he recognized what many Democratic politicians fail to see: that for most of these families, it is an honor to carry the burden, and they wouldn’t want it to fall to anyone else.
I thought the president was off base when he suggested that the Bush Administration viewed Iraq “in isolation,” separately from broader national goals. But this is a simple difference of perspective.
Also, while I think the president set himself a bit of a trap by saying, “Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end” – I also think his plan to leave 35,000 to 50,000 troops in the country in support of Iraqi forces through 2011 will provide him the flexibility he’ll need to deal with any security issues that might arise.
All in all, today’s speech – because of its tone, its thoughtfulness, its ability to analyze and describe a complex situation from multiple angles – is on par with last year’s speech on race. I was proud of the president today, and I think his remarks should assure all Americans that the Commander in Chief is ready for duty.