Obama Announces End to Iraq Combat Mission in Oval Office Address

The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people,” the president said in his Oval Office speech Tuesday night, only the second time he has addressed the nation from the (newly redecorated) Oval Office. Obama formally announced the end of the U.S. combat role in the country, declaring that Operation Iraqi Freedom is “over” and it is time to ”turn the page.” About 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq, but the president said in the address that all U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year.Considering many of Obama’s previous speeches have been praised as passionate and stirring, this one was noticeably subdued, the president providing a status report in an almost professorial manner. Chatter before the speech focused on how Obama would refer to his predecessor’s role in beginning the war. While he did not specifically mention former president George W. Bush’s 2007 surge in troops, Obama avoided any criticism of how Bush launched the war and he actually lauded him.

“It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. 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.”

The president briefly mentioned the conflict in Afghanistan, noting that Al Qaeda “continues to plot against us.” He said the removal of troops in Iraq will mean additional resources for the effort in Afghanistan, though he pledged that those troops, too, will be removed from Afghanistan by the end of next year. The final act of the speech somewhat awkwardly transitioned into a discussion of the economy, as Obama claimed the country’s “most urgent task is to restore our economy” and add jobs.

Read the rest of the story, here.

An End to Combat Missions In Iraq

See Obama Declares an End to Combat Mission in Iraq, The New York Times, August 31, 2010, by Helene Cooper and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, excerpt quoted verbatim:

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. .

Turn the page on Mister Bush? Never

See Turn the page on Mister Bush? Never, Daily Kos, August 31, 2010, by Meteor Blades, excerpt quoted verbatim:

Im a big believer in mercy and forgiveness. And second chances. Had people in my life failed to forgive, chosen to be merciless, rejected the idea that those whove gone astray can improve themselves and make amends, theres every likelihood Id have spent several decades in the slam or died there. Luckily, some people reached out to me, gave me a second chance, helped me rescue myself. Ive tried to follow their lead for a lot of years.

So I understand why President Obama underscored his call to turn the page regarding Iraq tonight by revealing that he had phoned President Bush. Its well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset, Obama said. Yet no one could doubt President Bushs support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.

Id like to be able to agree. Really, I would.

However, unlike President Obama, I could and did and do doubt Bushs support for the troops, love of country and commitment to our security. And I can wrest no mercy from the bitterness and rage that I feel every time I remember what he and the pack of thugs around him accomplished for the troops, the country and our security.

I cannot and will not turn the page until George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the others in that cabal of scorpions are brought to justice and make amends for Iraq. Which means never. No apology, much less time in the slam. Ill go to my grave knowing Bush and the rest got away with it. In a couple of months, Bush hopes hundreds of thousands of Americans will be turning the pages of his memoir (called Decision Points Amazon purchase page, to be released November 9, 2010, available for preorder, hardcover, $18.), a book certain to add to the plethora of lies and pathetic, murderous rationalizations with which we became so familiar during the last seven years of his presidency.

Obama Address: War in Iraq is Over

“Obama: The End of the Combat Mission in Iraq:” President Obama, speaking from a newly redecorated Oval Office, announces an end to combat operations in Iraq and speaks of the need to honor our servicemen and also improve the economy. Watch the video of the speech, here 17:56