September 1, 2010

POOR GUY, HAD NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER:

A Note to My Fellow Hawks (William Kristol, August 31, 2010, Weekly Standard)

[H]e portrayed the fact that we sustained the combat mission for over seven years as a "message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century." That was good. He credited our men and women in uniform rather than the civilian leadership of the country for the accomplishments of the mission—but that was both understandable and even, in a way, appropriate. He did—probably as much as an anti-Iraq war president could—nod both to the justice and the achievement of the war, saying that our men and women in uniform had "defeated a regime that had terrorized its people," and that, "Together with Iraqis and coalition partners who made huge sacrifices of their own, our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future.... Because of our troops and civilians—and because of the resilience of the Iraqi people—Iraq has the opportunity to embrace a new destiny, even though many challenges remain."

The president praised Iraq's elections, and said that the new Iraqi government "will have a strong partner in the United States. Our combat mission is ending, but our commitment to Iraq’s future is not." This was worthwhile. It's true the president unfortunately felt he had to restate that, "Consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year." But the "Consistent..." phrase leaves open the possibility that the Iraqi government will ask us to reach a new agreement. And the president did emphasize "our long-term partnership with Iraq—one based upon mutual interests, and mutual respect.... What America can do, and will do, is provide support for the Iraqi people as both a friend and a partner."

In sum, the president seemed to me to go about as far as an anti-Iraq war president could go in praising the war effort: "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."

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Posted by Orrin Judd at September 1, 2010 6:26 PM
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