Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” speech

From President Obama’s speech announcing the end of the Iraq War:

“Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done. We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.”

—–

“Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest – it is in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people – a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.”

via 44 – Live Tonight: Obama’s Oval Office address on Iraq.

So where are the ticker tape parades?  The kisses in Times Square?  Or are we more likely to relive the helicopters on the embassy roof in Saigon?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Winston Smith

    The Korean Conflict might be a better analogy than either World War II or Vietnam. That war ended with …. um, technically, it’s still on. The ceasefire from 1953 is still in effect. Americans are still stationed in South Korea, nervously looking northward over the 38th Parallel.

    The key word in the first sentence quoted is “combat.” The combat mission may have officially ended, but there are still American troops in Iraq, along with our gigantic embassy compound, and they will be there indefinitely. Notice that the Iraqis have “lead” but not full responsibility for the security of their country.

  • Winston Smith

    The Korean Conflict might be a better analogy than either World War II or Vietnam. That war ended with …. um, technically, it’s still on. The ceasefire from 1953 is still in effect. Americans are still stationed in South Korea, nervously looking northward over the 38th Parallel.

    The key word in the first sentence quoted is “combat.” The combat mission may have officially ended, but there are still American troops in Iraq, along with our gigantic embassy compound, and they will be there indefinitely. Notice that the Iraqis have “lead” but not full responsibility for the security of their country.

  • Daniel Gorman

    There are no celebrations because it’s a Pyrrhic victory at best. Thousands of Americans were killed; thousand permanently maimed; and trillions have been and will be spent. All to install a fragile democracy which may soon revert back to dictatorship.

    Geopolitically, the war has been a disaster for the U.S. interests. A counterweight to Iran has been removed; Turkey is threatened; Israel’s ability to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities has been inhibited; and the whole region has been destabilized and made a breeding ground for terrorists. The U.S. was much better off with Saddam. Another “mission accomplished” like this one and the U.S. is finished in the Middle East.

  • Daniel Gorman

    There are no celebrations because it’s a Pyrrhic victory at best. Thousands of Americans were killed; thousand permanently maimed; and trillions have been and will be spent. All to install a fragile democracy which may soon revert back to dictatorship.

    Geopolitically, the war has been a disaster for the U.S. interests. A counterweight to Iran has been removed; Turkey is threatened; Israel’s ability to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities has been inhibited; and the whole region has been destabilized and made a breeding ground for terrorists. The U.S. was much better off with Saddam. Another “mission accomplished” like this one and the U.S. is finished in the Middle East.

  • S Bauer

    And its pretty uncharitable to equate Obama’s speech with the hubris of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech.

  • S Bauer

    And its pretty uncharitable to equate Obama’s speech with the hubris of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Winston,
    Picked up on that “lead responsibility” too. As a matter of fact that means we aren’t handing responsibility over to them at all, not yet. They have to go around the block a few times with two training wheels, then one, and then we’ll see…
    And the page might turn, but it is book marked.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Winston,
    Picked up on that “lead responsibility” too. As a matter of fact that means we aren’t handing responsibility over to them at all, not yet. They have to go around the block a few times with two training wheels, then one, and then we’ll see…
    And the page might turn, but it is book marked.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ carol-Christian Soldier

    …So where are the ticker tape parades? The kisses in Times Square? Or are we more likely to relive the helicopters on the embassy roof in Saigon?…
    YES!
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ carol-Christian Soldier

    …So where are the ticker tape parades? The kisses in Times Square? Or are we more likely to relive the helicopters on the embassy roof in Saigon?…
    YES!
    C-CS

  • Porcell

    The reason Obama can withdraw the troops with honor at this point is that Bush fought in late 2007 for a surge and change of military strategy that defeated alQuaeda and the Sunni and Shiite insurgencies.

    Obama is arguing that his policy ended the war in Iraq. Actually, Pres. Bush negotiated the end of the war including the drawdown of combat troops in 2010 and a final pullout in 2011, if that’s what the Iraq government wants. Obama made a half-hearted attempt to thank Bush, though he lacks the sort of class to give him the deserved credit. Obama well knows that he opposed the surge and voted against providing funds for it. If Obama’s views had succeeded, we would have end up with another ignominious defeat such as that of Vietnam.

    As to the future of Iraq, we shall see. If Obama pays attention to the realities and supports the considerable democratic and economic forces in the country, it is quite possible that Iraq will become a very important Muslim democracy in the region that will influence other governments. Bernard Lewis and others advised Bush that Iraq, with its long history of civilization, had a decent chance of developing an Arab form of democracy.

    I’m thankful that Bush fought this war through and that he could end up in the perspective of history as the liberator of Iraq. Bush, like Truman, who was vilified for fighting the Korean War, might well be redeemed by future dispassionate historians.

  • Porcell

    The reason Obama can withdraw the troops with honor at this point is that Bush fought in late 2007 for a surge and change of military strategy that defeated alQuaeda and the Sunni and Shiite insurgencies.

    Obama is arguing that his policy ended the war in Iraq. Actually, Pres. Bush negotiated the end of the war including the drawdown of combat troops in 2010 and a final pullout in 2011, if that’s what the Iraq government wants. Obama made a half-hearted attempt to thank Bush, though he lacks the sort of class to give him the deserved credit. Obama well knows that he opposed the surge and voted against providing funds for it. If Obama’s views had succeeded, we would have end up with another ignominious defeat such as that of Vietnam.

    As to the future of Iraq, we shall see. If Obama pays attention to the realities and supports the considerable democratic and economic forces in the country, it is quite possible that Iraq will become a very important Muslim democracy in the region that will influence other governments. Bernard Lewis and others advised Bush that Iraq, with its long history of civilization, had a decent chance of developing an Arab form of democracy.

    I’m thankful that Bush fought this war through and that he could end up in the perspective of history as the liberator of Iraq. Bush, like Truman, who was vilified for fighting the Korean War, might well be redeemed by future dispassionate historians.

  • Porcell

    Bob, counterinsurgency strategy under General Abrams worked in Vietnam from ’68 through’72. Prior to ’68 Westmoreland’s large unit strategy failed. The Vietnam War was lost in the end by the inability of the American people to see a difficult war through that resulted in shoddy Washington politics. Fortunately in the case of Iraq, Bush ignored the isolationists and pacifists of both the left and right,

    As to Petraeus and COIN, he rewrote the manual for it after two tours of Iraq duty and then implemented the policy well in 2007-9.

    Also, the U’S. Invasion didn’t destroy Iraq anything close to the destruction of Germany in WWII. Countries in the long run are about the spirit and determination of their people. Iraq, after suffering an exceedingly brutal dictatorship followed by a bloody insurgency is presently in the process of development, including a substantial inflow of investment capital from the West. The better of Iraqi businessmen know how to employ capital.

  • Porcell

    Bob, counterinsurgency strategy under General Abrams worked in Vietnam from ’68 through’72. Prior to ’68 Westmoreland’s large unit strategy failed. The Vietnam War was lost in the end by the inability of the American people to see a difficult war through that resulted in shoddy Washington politics. Fortunately in the case of Iraq, Bush ignored the isolationists and pacifists of both the left and right,

    As to Petraeus and COIN, he rewrote the manual for it after two tours of Iraq duty and then implemented the policy well in 2007-9.

    Also, the U’S. Invasion didn’t destroy Iraq anything close to the destruction of Germany in WWII. Countries in the long run are about the spirit and determination of their people. Iraq, after suffering an exceedingly brutal dictatorship followed by a bloody insurgency is presently in the process of development, including a substantial inflow of investment capital from the West. The better of Iraqi businessmen know how to employ capital.


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