Friday, Mar. 19, 2010

February 2009
Exit Strategy

"What we will not do is let the pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of achievable goals. We cannot rid Iraq of all who oppose America or sympathize with our adversaries. We cannot police Iraq's streets until they are completely safe, nor stay until Iraq's union is perfected..."

President Barack Obama, speaking at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina as he announces his Iraq troop withdrawal plan.

On Feb. 27, President Obama fulfills his central campaign promise by announcing his plan to pull out most combat troops from Iraq by August 2010 and all troops by the end of 2011. Speaking with a sea of Marines standing in the background, the young President leaves the beltway for the major announcement. While some in his own party express their frustration with the number of residual troops his plan leaves behind until 2011 — about 35,000 to 50,000 initially — Obama also gets some backing from his former election opponent, John McCain, who expresses a cautious endorsement of the plan. The President acknowledges in his remarks that he's not going to please everyone; later that day he addresses Democratic critics on PBS' "The NewsHour," saying those who are complaining "maybe weren't paying attention" during the campaign because his plan is pretty much exactly what he promised — though, in truth, Obama's withdrawal is spread out over 19 months, instead of the 16 he touted during the election. He also notably avoids saying whether the U.S. has won the war in Iraq, stressing that he doesn't want to look backwards. But, while U.S. troops may be coming home from Iraq, they might not all actually remain home for long — the President has also vowed to significantly boost troop levels in Afghanistan.