From the New York Times….
President Obama declared an end on Tuesday to the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq, saying that the United States has met its responsibility to that country and that it is now time to turn to pressing problems at home.
In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama balanced praise for the troops who fought and died in Iraq with his conviction that getting into the conflict had been a mistake in the first place. But he also used the moment to emphasize that he sees his primary job as addressing the weak economy and other domestic issues — and to make clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer.
“We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home,” Mr. Obama said. “Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page.”
Seeking to temper partisan feelings over the war on a day when Republicans pointed out that Mr. Obama had opposed the troop surge generally credited with helping to bring Iraq a measure of stability, the president offered some praise for his predecessor,George W. Bush. Mr. Obama acknowledged their disagreement over Iraq but said that no one could doubt Mr. Bush’s “support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.”
Mr. Obama spoke for about 18 minutes, saying that violence would continue in Iraq and that the United States would continue to play a key role in nurturing a stable democracy there…….More
From the LA Times…..
President Obama marked the end of America’s combat mission in Iraq with an Oval Office speech Tuesday night, acknowledging the “huge price” paid and ushering in a new era in which a reduced U.S. military force will let Iraqis take the lead role in building a democratic society.
In a noteworthy concession to his political predicament on the domestic front, Obama devoted part of the prime-time speech to the ailing economy. He said the “central responsibility” of his presidency is reviving the economy, and he blamed massive spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — citing a figure of more than $1 trillion — for contributing to rising U.S. deficits.
“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.
Obama praised the 1 million American troops who served in a seven-year war that he opposed as a U.S. senator from Illinois. As of this moment, he said, the military mission has fundamentally changed.
“So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country,” he said.
Obama added that the U.S. “has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home.”……More….
President Obama praised President Bush’s commitment to U.S. troops Tuesday as he announced a close to combat operations in Iraq that he said cost America a “huge price.”
Speaking from the same desk where Bush launched the war, Obama cast the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom — demonstrated by the departure of 95,000 U.S. combat troops to a remaining force below 50,000 — as an opportunity for America to “turn the page,” both on American involvement in Iraq and American priorities at home, where the economy is still struggling to regain its footing.
“Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country,” the president said in a newly remodeled Oval Office. “Only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets. Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders. What America can do, and will do, is provide support for the Iraqi people as both a friend and a partner.”
While not explicitly crediting Bush for shepherding the 2007 troop surge — planned by Gen. David Petraeus, now the top commander in Afghanistan — to save the flagging war effort in Iraq, Obama highlighted Bush’s commitment to U.S. security.
“It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset,” Obama said. “Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.”…….More.…..