Tonight President Obama addressed the American people for only the second time from the Oval Office. His 18-minute speech primarily spoke to the support of U.S. service men and women who fought in Iraq as he announced the formal end of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While this was not his longest or most inspirational message, it was strategically broad and carefully delivered.
The president was able to accomplish a few important transitional tasks as he pushed through his message. He skillfully acknowledged former President George W. Bush and his support of U.S. troops without praising the reasoning and even the surge tactics that many believe were the reason the conflict turned around. But he then identified a temporary surge as a strategy for the ongoing fight in Afghanistan. The president did not take time using “war-like” rhetoric to inspire U.S. citizens to support the effort in Afghanistan, but he rather reassured the American people that we would begin an Afghan transition next year.
Obama’s message regarding the economic price to the country was offset as he celebrated the sacrifice of American soldiers and pledged support (with spending impacts) of all kinds to veterans of all wars, but of our post-9/11 troops specifically. The president spoke to the new role America will play in Iraq as a “friend and supporter,” but he failed to speak to the large loss of life of Iraqi citizens. If there were a headline for this speech it would be “Let’s come together and get out.” Not what the republicans want to hear, but what is?