Saturday, February 28, 2009

Six years after Iraq invasion, Obama sets out his exit plan.

He had called it, "A dumb war. A rash war."

In many ways it was his very opposition to this war which had enabled the young senator from Illinois to make his improbable journey all the way to the White House. When Clinton was forced to admit that she had been wrong, and McCain continued to insist that he had been right, Obama was able to take the high road and talk, not of experience, but of judgement. He was able to fend off Hillary's attacks, such as the three am phone call, by insisting that what mattered was whether or not one made the right decision when that call came in, and implying that Hillary and McCain would not.

Yesterday, he walked the tightrope between his campaign promises and respecting the troops. How could he be expected to stand before these young men and women and tell them that they had risked their lives for a lie? That their comrades had fallen for no great cause? He couldn't and so he didn't. He spoke of a mission to rid Iraq of Saddam, rather than of WMD, and congratulated them on achieving that task. He spoke of the mission to enable democracy and, again, patted them on the back.

But even they cheered loudly when he, at last, stated:

"Let me say this as plainly as I can - by August 31 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."
A further 50,000 will stay for a further year to aid the Iraqis, but by 2011 all Americans will have left Iraq. It's less swift than lefties like myself would have liked, but no-one can say that he is not fulfilling his promise to leave Iraq "carefully".

But the plan was welcomed by Republicans, including John McCain, who had opposed early withdrawal."Overall it is a reasonable plan and one that can work and I support it," he said.

He also won great applause from the troops by promising to look after them better than Bush has done should they return home requiring medical assistance.

All in all, I thought he handled a tricky task particularly well and made sure that the troops realised that he appreciated all that they had done, even if he was not enamoured by the task which they had been sent on.

He also promised never again to put them into harms way without good cause. And hanging over all that he said, unspoken, was the hint that this is exactly what President Bush had done.

But, for now, surveys show the US public has fiercely repudiated the war six years after it began, with 60 percent saying it was "not worth it," according to an ABC television poll released last week.

People may think that. Indeed, Obama himself has made it perfectly clear that he is of that mind, but he couldn't say it yesterday as he spoke to the brave young men and women who had risked their lives for Bush's rash war. So he didn't.

Instead he, rightly, concentrated on their bravery and told them that, in future, it would only be called upon when utterly necessary.

As I say, he walked a tightrope, but he walked it well. And, in doing so, he fulfilled one of his earliest campaign promises. He declared the war which should never have been fought to be over.

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2 comments:

Steel Phoenix said...

It is interesting that Republicans have been referring to this with titles like 'Obama declares defeat in Iraq'. So far, the only ones I've seen calling it a defeat are Republicans. Who declared defeat?

Kel said...

I think he walked the tightrope brilliantly, SP.