Saturday, February 28, 2009

Some light enters the long Iraq tunnel

What a difference a political upheaval can make! U.S. President Barak Obama's announcement Friday that the United States would withdraw most of its troops from Iraq by August of next year is yet another indication of how dramatically the change of administrations in Washington is impacting world politics. In a speech at a U.S. Marine Corps base in North Carolina, Bush told an audience of uniformed soldiers that around 100,000 troops will be withdrawn from Iraq in the next 17 months, according to Cable News Network (CNN). "Let me say this as plainly as I can: By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," Obama said. Obama said U.S. troops had accomplished their mission of removing Saddam Hussein from power and had nearly completed the task of stabilizing the once-troubled Middle East country. "Iraq is not yet secure and there will be difficult days ahead," he said, but the Iraqi people now have a "hard-earned opportunity ... for a better life." The trip to Camp Lejeune was the president's first to a military installation since taking office last month. The United States has more than 140,000 troops in Iraq, and the remaining forces will advise Iraq's military and possibility conduct operations themselves, Obama said. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama promised to withdraw U.S. forces within 16 months. The current plan is for withdrawal within 19 months, CNN said. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican who ran against Obama in the last election, reflected just how much the political climate has changed in the United States. McCain, a vocal backer of former President George W. Bush's conduct of the war, called Obama's plans "reasonable." "We are finally on a path to success," McCain said. "Let us have no crisis of confidence now." There is no reason to doubt Obama's sincerity on this point, and he has the power to pull the troops out, even if members of Congress do object. Of course, McCain attributed his view to the "dramatic success of the surge strategy," even though we know that the so-called surge only was needed because of the previous administration's dramatic failure to plan adequately for the Iraq conflict in the first place.

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