Wednesday, 1 September 2010
President Obama declares end to Iraq war, pledging it's 'time to turn the page' and focus on economy. [VIDEO]
WASHINGTON - A somber President Obama declared an end to the long and costly Iraq war Tuesday night, pledging he now intends to "turn the page" to America's economic revival.
"The American combat mission in Iraq has ended," Obama told the nation in an 18-minute address, only his second from the Oval Office. "Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
The U.S. will help Iraq develop a stable government and keep up the increasingly difficult fight in Afghanistan, he pledged. But Obama asserted that "our central mission as a people and my central responsibility as President" is reinvigorating the limping economy at home.
"Today, our most urgent task is to restore our economy and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work," he said.
The leader speaking from the Oval Office on Tuesday night was not the anti-war candidate of 2008.
Thank goodness for that.
President Obama praised the fact that "the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country," even though he opposed the troop surge that made it possible to turn the tide against the insurgency.
He hailed "a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization," even though he opposed the conflict from the start.
He commended the troops for defeating "a regime that had terrorized its people," when the fact is Saddam Hussein would probably still be in power today if not for the war.
Many will seize on the awkwardness of Obama giving credit to George W. Bush and the "dumb war" (Obama's words) he started. But when a President gets handed the keys to the country, he has to adjust to national security realities.
Obama didn't want to invade Iraq, as he delicately acknowledged Tuesday night. But the responsibility to make the best of it, and wind down the war, fell to him. He sucked it up, followed through with the surge and did what he promised, ending U.S. combat operations there.
In other words, he behaved like a responsible commander in chief. Let that be a lesson to those, especially on the far right, who seek to delegitimize all Obama says and does.
TOKIO MYERS / MOONRUNNERS