Obama is set to address the nation in a few minutes about the “end of combat operations” in Iraq. I have no expectations for this speech but the neocons certainly do. They and the Republicans want to hear Obama praise Bush for the surge, but ignore the fact that the war should not have been fought in the first place. My guess, which is not a stretch, is that the Republicans will not be pleased no matter Obama says tonight.
Now that I think about it, I hope he at least strikes a positive tone and does his best to help Americans feel like no matter what our problems (both foreign and domestic), there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He especially needs to do this regarding the economy, which I assume he will also mention during the speech, which is starting now.
7:01 – Obama starts about the end of the war and the difficulties faced during this last decade, but that the future is “ours to shape”.
7:03 – Talks about how the war escalated and how the military served bravely and did everything that was asked of them. Because of them and others, Iraq has a chance at a brighter future.
7:04 – Announces end of combat operations and security control to be taken over by Iraqis. Touts this as a promise he made in campaign (Republicans will love that).
7:05 – Iraqi forces taking it to Al-Qaeda and urges Iraqis to form an inclusive government soon.
7:06 – As per agreement, all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by end of next year.
7:07 – Warns that violence will not end, but terrorists will not take control of Iraq.
7:08 – Ending war in our interest too because of the huge price we have paid, but it is time to turn the page.
7:09 – Time to turn the page here at home, too. He spoke to G.W. Bush earlier today and acknowledges their disagreement, but says that there were Patriots who supported the war and Patriots who opposed it. Still must continue our fight against Al-Qaeda.
7:10 – Though questions remain about our presence in Afghanistan, we must remain to wipe out Al-Qaeda and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.
7:11 – Surge in Afghanistan meant to be temporary and to give them space to establish security on all fronts. Troop withdrawals will begin next August because Afghanistan must take the lead in helping themselves.
7:12 – Limitless possibilities of out time: adversaries at peace, global marketplace, emerging democracies as allies, push to end poverty, and a desire to expand freedom and opportunity to all people. But it starts at home.
7:13 – Our influence abroad depends on strength at home, which starts with a prosperous middle class. Spent trillions on war borrowed from overseas and for too long have put off tough decisions, resulting in middle class families working harder for less.
7:14 – Must tackle our domestic issues with same urgency seen as those who fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
7:15 – Start with economy through education and new technologies and markets. Must take care of our veterans with health care and education (new post-911 GI Bill).
7:17 – Ends with story about the last brigade to leave Iraq and the sacrifices made by them and their families.
7:19 – “Our troops are the steel in our ship of state.” They give us hope and reassurance that better days lie ahead.
My first thoughts are that the speech was more of a downer than I was expecting, and I am not sure if the uplifting nature of his last story hit as intended. Substantively, it seems clear that Obama is eager to get both of these wars behind him, but was careful to assure Iraq, Afghanistan and supporters of our presence there that we are still committed to those two countries’ struggle for peace and prosperity. I thought his patriotism line regarding the Iraq war was good. I’ll leave it at that.