The AP asserts that, in spite of the declaration of combat operations being over, combat certainly lies ahead. Obama did say, “Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission,” but he didn’t outline where real dangers lie.
Peril remains for the tens of thousands of U.S. troops still in Iraq, who are likely if not certain to engage violent foes. Counterterrorism is chief among their continuing missions, pitting them against a lethal enemy. Several thousand special operations forces, including Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, will continue to hunt and attempt to kill al-Qaida and other terrorist fighters – working closely with Iraqi forces.
From other parts of Obama’s speech:
- OBAMA: “We have met our responsibility.”
But just what is that responsibility?
It was the U.S. that invaded Iraq, overthrew its government, disbanded its security forces and failed in the early phases of the conflict to understand the depth of Iraq’s sectarian and ethnic divisions and its political paralysis. The U.S. in some minds is responsible for putting Iraq back together again, yet today Iraq has no permanent government and its security forces arguably are not fully prepared to defend the country’s skies and borders.
- OBAMA: “Within Afghanistan, I have ordered the deployment of additional troops who – under the command of General David Petraeus – are fighting to break the Taliban’s momentum. As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future.”
This sounds much like the Bush rationale for the troop surge in Iraq.
Obama seems to be embracing the troop surge logic now, even though it’s clear that the Iraqis have yet to achieve the necessary level of reconciliation to form an enduring government.