President Obama is set to address the nation on what he will call the end of combat operations in Iraq. The address will be made against a background of profound embarrassment and peril for the President, who opposed the very policy that led us to this point.
President Obama will declare victory in Iraq (though he may not use that term) and will try to ignore what Senator Obama said about the surge campaign that led to that very victory. According to Fox News:
“In January 2007, the night the surge was announced, Obama said ‘I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq are going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.’ And just a few weeks later, after the January 23 State of the Union by President Bush, Obama said, ‘I don’t think the president’s strategy is going to work. We went through two weeks of hearings on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; experts from across the spectrum–military and civilian, conservative and liberal–expressed great skepticism about it. My suggestion to the president has been that the only way we’re going to change the dynamic in Iraq and start seeing political commendation is actually if we create a system of phased redeployment. And, frankly, the president, I think, has not been willing to consider that option, not because it’s not militarily sound but because he continues to cling to the belief that somehow military solutions are going to lead to victory in Iraq.'”
Over three years later, a military victory has, in fact, been achieved in Iraq. President Obama is thus obliged to try to take credit for a situation that would never have arisen had his policy proposals as a senator been undertaken. It will be difficult for Obama to credit President Bush, though he will call the former President before the nationwide address. President Obama’s entire political spin is based on the notion that there is no disaster of the 21st Century that was not caused by Bush in some form or another.
The President’s Iraq speech will also take place in a time of peril. While the war has been won, the peace can still be lost. Five months after general elections, the Iraqis have yet to establish a governing coalition. This may be a feature of the messiness of democracy in a country that has not much experience in having one.
Fifty-thousand troops remain in Iraq in a “non combat role,” largely to train and support Iraqi security forces. The President has made a perhaps ill-considered promise to withdraw those troops as well by the end of 2011. Obama may be compelled to renege on that promise as Iraq still has security threats, both internal from various insurgent and ethnic factions, and external, from Iran primarily.
As with Germany and South Korea, the successful conclusion of the War in Iraq will likely oblige a permanent American garrison to secure the peace so dearly won by American blood and treasure.
Source: President Obama Calls President Bush Before Address to the Nation on Iraq, Eve Zibel, Fox News, August 31st, 2010