Less than an hour ago, President Obama announced we will abide by the agreement the Bush administration struck in fall 2008 to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
Oh, wait — that’s not what he said?
As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end…. After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by the end of 2011. … So, today, I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.
That’s what the president said (video here and below). He made no mention of the Status of Forces Agreement from October 2008, ratified by Iraqi lawmakers in November 2008, that stated, in pertinent part:
All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.
Surely, that part of “as promised” matters at least as much as Obama’s campaign promise.
It’s news that the agreement will be upheld, and it is unquestionably good news for the soldiers and their families that they’ll be leaving a combat zone and returning to their families.
Whether it’s ultimately good news for Iraqis, and whether they’ll be able to secure the gains won by precious American blood and treasure, remains to be seen. The Iraqi military has had several years to prepare for this day, and it had to come sometime. This is probably as good a time as any.
Good for Obama for standing by the agreement he inherited. But it is telling about his weak political position that he offered no credit to the people who set this withdrawal in motion.
– By Kyle Wingfield