That’s pretty much all that President Obama is left with when it comes to Iraq:
President Obama declared Friday that the United States has now “begun the work of ending this war” in Iraq as he announced the withdrawal of most American forces by the summer of next year while leaving behind as many as 50,000 troops for more limited missions.
Nearly six years after American troops crossed the border into Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein, Mr. Obama said “renewed cause for hope” produced by improved security would allow Americans to begin disentangling militarily and turn the country over to the Iraqis themselves.
“Let me say this as plainly as I can,” the president told thousands of Marines stationed here. “By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”
Sound a bit like “major combat operations have ended?”. Of course it does. He’s imposing a semantic marker here in an effort to declare he is fulfilling his campaign promise.
Of course, he’s not. In fact, it’s not even close.
Very carefully he’s declared “combat operations” to be complete by that date. In fact they’ve been complete for a while. But he’s not declaring our presence in Iraq is over, which was the crux of his campaign promise.
His word salad hasn’t fooled Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid:
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, who complained Thursday that a 50,000-member residual force was too big, put out a more tempered statement Friday, calling Mr. Obama’s plan “sound and measured,” while adding that he still wants to keep “only those forces necessary for the security of our remaining troops and the Iraqi people.”
A person briefed on the closed-door White House briefing for Congressional leaders said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House speaker, was particularly upset about the residual force. She kicked off the public criticism on Wednesday by saying she did not understand “the justification” for 50,000 troops staying.
The justification, of course, is “reality”, a concept the “reality based community” has difficulty with at times. As with many of the decisions Obama has made, it was an attempt to please everyone all while spinning it as something it isn’t . In this case I’m fine with that.
But let’s call it what it is.
In fact, with the residual force in Iraq through 2011, Mr. Obama has agreed to Mr. Bush’s withdrawal plan while pretending he hasn’t.