OBAMA TO END IRAQ WAR, BRING TROOPS HOME BY END YEAR’S END
U.S. President Barack Obama announced today that nearly all American troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year, effectively ending the long, bloody and divisive war there.
“After nearly 9 years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” he declared.
U.S. troops will leave the country by January 1, 2012 “with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops.”
Obama said that the troops “will definitely be home for the holidays.”
And not a moment too soon. The invasion of Iraq and the ouster of longtime dictator Saddam Hussein, which had been planned by neoconservative elements within the Bush administration even before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, was sold to the American public on dubious grounds. The U.S.-led war, which was opposed by more than 90% of the world, wrought immeasurable death and destruction upon the once-prosperous nation. More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians and 4,797 coalition troops have died; more than $800,000,000,000 in U.S. taxpayer money has been spent (even during one of the worst economic periods in living memory), and much of the world– especially the Muslim world– has lost trust of and respect for the United States.
Perhaps now that “the tide of war is receding,” as President Obama declared, the U.S. can begin to regain some of that trust and respect. It won’t be an easy undertaking, though.
The announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq follows months of debate between American and Iraqi officials over the status of thousands of military “trainers” Washington wanted to remain in the country even after the December 31 exit deadline established in 2008. The Americans insisted on diplomatic immunity for U.S. forces, Iraq wisely refused to grant it. Why should they? With U.S. troops responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, the wrongful arrest, imprisonment and torture of often innocent Iraqis and widespread corruption involving reconstruction funds, it would be foolish indeed for Baghdad to accept such terms.
CBS reports that 100,000 U.S. troops have already left Iraq, with 40,000 “non-combat” forces remaining.
“Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their country’s security,” President Obama stated. He said that relations between Iraq and the United States will be “an equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” a “strong and enduring partnership.”
“As I told Prime Minister Maliki, we will continue discussions on how we might help Iraq train and equip its forces, again, just as we offer training and assistance to countries around the world,” Obama said. “After all, there will be some difficult days ahead for Iraq and the United States will continue to have an interest in an Iraq that is stable, secure and self-reliant.”
The President also saluted the men and women in uniform who fought the long war in Iraq. “I’ll join the American people in paying tribute to the more than 1 million Americans who have served in Iraq,” he said. “We’ll honor our many wounded warriors and the nearly 4,500 American patriots and their Iraqi and coalition partners who gave their lives to this effort.”
Obama asserted that the United States is “moving forward from a position of strength” and that the end of the war in Iraq marked “a time to reflect on all that we’ve been through in this war.”
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