Great Iraq speech by Obama, just concluded. Instead of 16 months to withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq (as per campaign timetable) 18 months, with transition complete by Aug. 31, 2010. This was stated with a firm “I will end” U.S. combat mission in Iraq.
True, 35,000-50,000 U.S. troops will remain after that date for training, embassy protection and those nervous-making “targeted anti-terrorism missions.” I’ve always been very uneasy about this loophole.
But the main reason for that concern was that it seemed a possible way to keep the occupation going, indefinitely, under another name. That’s why I was mostly, and greatly reassured by Obama’s commitment to honor the Status of Forces Agreement that calls for all U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. This was stated as less of a firm guarantee, but as an intention: “I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.”
N.Y. Times has the full text of the speech, as prepared for delivery.
I have to go to an appointment and will update this post this afternoon. But for now, my bottom line, I am greatly reassured about the concerns I expressed yesterday. It was a great speech, better than the Tuesday address to Congress. I didn’t hear a false note in it.