The New York Times is reporting President Obama has announced that the last American soldier would leave Iraq by the end of the year, bringing to an end the nearly nine-year Bush/Cheney pre-emptive war which has cost the country 4,479 dead, 32,200 wounded and approximately $1 trillion. The presumptive cause for invading nearly a decade ago was the threat Iraq was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) – no evidence was ever found to support the claim.
The President said as of 1 Jan 12, the United States and Iraq would begin “a normal relationship between two sovereign nations, and equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
During a videoconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the President told him of the administration’s decision, which grows out of an inability of the United States and Iraq to come to an agreement on leaving a few thousand military trainers in the country.
Reportedly, the United States had earlier agreed to exit Iraq by the end of the year and leave 3,000 to 5,000 troops in Iraq as trainers, with some members of Congress advocating for retaining a reduced fighting force as well. But after Iraq’s Parliament refused an American demand to give soldiers immunity from legal prosecution, the Pentagon changed its plans in recent weeks, scaling back even that meager number.
President Obama said, “As I told Prime Minister Maliki, we will continue discussions on how we might help Iraq train and equip its forces — again, just as we offer training and assistance to countries around the world. After all, there will be some difficult days ahead for Iraq, and the United States will continue to have an interest in an Iraq that is stable, secure and self-reliant.”
The President’s announcement fulfills a pledge he made during the 2008 campaign to wind down the war.
“After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” he declared in the White House briefing room. “Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of them, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home.” They will be joining approximately 100,000 others, he added, who have already been withdrawn from the country.
“The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success and knowing that the American people stand united in their support for our troops,” the President said. “That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”
“Here at home, the coming months will be another season of homecoming,” Mr. Obama said. “Across America, our servicemen and women will be reunited with their families. Today, I can say our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”
Following such a long anticipated announcement there’s really nothing else to say, except, “Thank you Mr. President”.