obama speechPresident Obama faced a major dilemma heading into Tuesday's prime-time address on Iraq: How do you mark the milestone of a campaign promise fulfilled when what has happened in Iraq isn't exactly "mission accomplished"? It was an obstacle that Obama never quite overcame in his 18-minute speech, which was remarkably disjointed for a president well known for his eloquence.
In only his second Oval Office address, Obama was careful not to use words like "victory" or "win" when announcing the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq. That's because Iraq, seven and a half years and thousands of lost American lives later, remains a largely dysfunctional democracy, heavily dependent on U.S. aid. While Obama met his political goal of withdrawing combat troops, 50,000 American personnel will remain on the ground there until at least next year, as the threat of violence in the region continues.
"Violence will not end with our combat mission," Obama warned. "Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife." But ultimately, the president insisted, "these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals."Read More »from A cautious Obama urges Americans to ‘turn the page’ on Iraq