Friday, February 27, 2009

The War Is Over [?]

"Let me say this as plainly as I can: By Aug. 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end," President Obama announced today at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. "The United States will pursue a new strategy to end the war in Iraq through a transition to full Iraqi responsibility."

Obama promised that he would withdraw the approximately 142,000 combat forces now in Iraq by August 2010 and 35,000 to 50,000 remaining troops by December 2011, beginning the end of one of the longest and most divisive wars in American history.

[At least 50,000 residual troops will remain in Iraq until December 2011.]

"America's men and women in uniform have fought block by block, province by province, year after year, to give the Iraqis this chance to choose a better future. Now, we must ask the Iraqi people to seize it," he said, triggering applause from the Marines. The president called Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and former president George W. Bush from Air Force 1 enroute to the speech to brief them on what he would say.

[U.S. Predators attack a Pakistani Taliban compound in South Waziristan.]

Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. Ray Odierno, the top commander in Baghdad, believed the plan presented moderate risk, but still supported the 50,000 residual troops figure.

[A build-up of 17,000 troops have been ordered to Afghanistan.]

Obama has also won crucial backing for his Iraq military withdrawal plan from leading Congressional Republicans, including Senator John McCain. Republicans emerged from a meeting Thursday evening more supportive than several leading Democrats, who complained earlier in the day that the president was still leaving behind too many American forces.

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