Tales from the Trail

Obama ends Iraq war where it began — the Oval Office

The Iraq war ended where it began — at the president’s desk in the White House Oval Office.

President Barack Obama declared the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq with his hands folded on the desk where 7-1/2 years earlier President George W. Bush announced the beginning of military operations. IRAQ/OBAMA-SPEECH

“Much has changed since that night,” Obama said in the second Oval Office prime-time televised address of his presidency.

Obama  in his 19-minute speech praised the former president’s patriotism. But he did not do what Republicans had wanted –  credit Bush’s troop surge, which Obama had opposed, with leading to the end of combat operations.

Instead, Obama spoke about the ”rough waters” endured during one of America’s longest wars that divided the country and turned increasingly unpopular.

Washington Extra – No victory lap

President Barack Obama will not be running a “victory lap” when he addresses the nation on Iraq this evening. Quite rightly, he points out that there is still a lot of work to be done to make sure Iraq “is an effective partner for us.” OBAMA/

There are several other reasons why tonight’s speech cannot be a victory lap. The first, Republicans argue, is that Obama is trying to take credit for the achievements of his predecessor George W. Bush, and specifically the “surge” in troop numbers (a policy Obama opposed at the time). The second, as the White House well knows, is that a victory lap might seem inappropriate in light of the nation’s economic woes. Indeed, Obama will be talking about the economy tonight, and the need to refocus resources back home.

 A third reason, perhaps, is that it could sound disingenuous to triumphantly declare the end of combat operations in Iraq while 50,000 armed American troops remain in the country. Not all of them will be working as trainers or instructors, and it is obvious that the troops will still be ready for combat if that should prove necessary.