Then-President George W. Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, and then proceeded to keep the war going for the remaining five and a half years of his presidency. In a speech today at Camp Lajeune, North Carolina took a page out of his predecessor’s book when he declared that “by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end,” even as his administration prepares to keep the combat going until at least the end of 2011.
His administration has been touting a military surge in Afghanistan which would bring the overall American force to roughly 50,000 troops. That is taking a war to the next level. Bringing the level of troops in Iraq to roughly the same level, somehow, is being sold to the public as the end of that war. Will anyone buy it?
It doesn’t appear to be the case, as many Congressmen from Obama’s own party are condemning the move. The only ones who seem satisfied with the plan and the 50,000 “residual” troops that will be engaging in combat operations after the administration’s official end of combat are hawks who weren’t exactly thrilled with the notion of ending combat in the first place.
But even the conclusion one would get from Obama’s speech, that the August 2010 “end” is really a December 2011 end, as mandated by the Status of Forces Agreement the Bush Administration agreed to last year with the Iraqi government, might not be the end of the matter. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is already talking about what a good idea he thinks it is to keep a “modest US presence” in Iraq after 2012.