The End of a Mistake and a Tragedy: Obama Announces American troops will Leave Iraq by End of 2011

Excerpts from Obama’s Statement:

“As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.  After nearly 9 years, America’s war in Iraq will be over. Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq – tens of thousands of them – will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”

“The United States is moving forward, from a position of strength. The long war in Iraq will come to an end by the end of this year. The transition in Afghanistan is moving forward, and our troops are finally coming home. As they do, fewer deployments and more time training will help keep our military the very best in the world. And as we welcome home our newest veterans, we’ll never stop working to give them and their families the care, the benefits, and the opportunities that they have earned.”

President Obama, October 21, 2011

The NSC Deputy for Strategic Communications said: “But this moment represents more than an accomplishment for the President. It marks a monumental change of focus for our military and a fundamental shift in the way that the our nation will engage in the world.”

First, the situation in Iraq remains difficult and there will be some bad days ahead but we are at last moving on and trying to develop a regional strategic approach rather than adding thoughtlessly to military conflict and neglect of political solutions.

All along we have seen significant shifts in our macro international engagement from that of the past administration. Despite claims of some that Obama’s policies are simply the same as those of Bush, the fundamental truth is that they are of a different magnitude and perspective as well as in implementation.  From the start Obama made it clear that changes were at work, from reaching out to the Islamic world in his Turkey speech which set the stage for our actions in the Arab Spring and in Libya, to his Prague speech outlining our strategic policies, to readjusting our balance of use of military and covert force to instruments that were more of a discreet and focused nature such as eliminating Bin Laden and many of his henchmen, or even our drone action against Gaddafi.

A key factor is President Obama’s preference to act multilaterally and bring a diversity of allies to assist which attests to a new and better approach. This more deliberate strategy, has, on balance, served American security, resources, and peace than the mindless, belligerent and ignorant decisions of the Bush administration. We should be grateful but it seems that emotion is largely lacking in our corrosive politics.

By Harry C. Blaney III.