Barack Obama marked the occasion of the end of the war in Iraq this Wednesday with a salute to the country’s returning troops. Contrary to the opinions of a growing number of opponents across the world, Obama offered his reassurance that the outcome of the US-led invasion of Iraq was an honorable one, culminating “not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home.”
While paying a visit to a key military base which has in excess of 200 war-related deaths alone, Mr. Obama steered clear of making any declaration of victory. The Iraq war was neither started nor approved by Barack Obama, but rather inherited from his predecessor and made his responsibility to draw to a close.
While a close may indeed have been accomplished, Obama and the US military leaves behind a country with a long and uncertain road to recovery ahead.
However, he was clear to call attention to the way in which the conclusion of the US Military’s involvement was a noble one – drawing a partial line under a campaign that has cost the lives of over 100,000 Iraqis and close to 4,500 Americans.
“The war in Iraq will soon belong to history, and your service belongs to the ages,” Obama said while addressing the troops, praising their “extraordinary achievement.”
All American forces are scheduled to be out of Iraq before the end of the year, though Mr. Obama has promised his continued support and extensive assistance for the country’s domestic security forces as the real battle for stability in the region begins. While the vast majority of government officials and US citizens have responded favorably to the end of American involvement, Republicans have publically condemned President Obama for leaving Iraq in a state of instability and increased vulnerability to Iran.
John McCain in particular made his thoughts known, harshly stating that “I believe that history will judge this president’s leadership with the scorn and disdain it deserves.”
With Michelle Obama at his side, the President draw attention to the human side of the Iraq campaign, stating that when military action in the region first began he was still a senator for the state of Illinoi, while dozens of the troops in attendance were yet to complete grade school.
“We knew this day would come. We have known it for some time now. But still, there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long,” he said during his address.
“It is harder to end a war, than to begin one.”
Having originally won favor with millions of American voters because of his anti-war views, Obama went on to state that while the war in Iraq had twisted and shifted dangerously, the one dependable constant was the bravery and commitment of America’s armed forces.
“Your will proved stronger than the terror of those who tried to break it,” he told those in attendance.