Barack Obama’s address, announcing the “end of our combat mission in Iraq”, was certainly more measured than George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission accomplished” speech from 2003. Bush’s speech was, mildly put, premature. Obama was much closer to the truth, but even he resorted to semantic sleights-of-hand to appear wholly convincing.
For one thing, it’s only the final “combat brigade” that has departed from Iraq; the last troops will leave “by the end of next year”, and they’re sure to see violence before then. Obama also claimed to have “met our responsibility”, but Iraq doesn’t yet possess its own reliable government and well-prepared army to control insurgencies.
As with Afghanistan, Obama seems too wedded to his own deadlines for bringing troops home. History may remember the president who was too hasty in pulling out of Iraq as vividly as his predecessor who was too hasty in charging in.