Yesterday, President Obama gave a speech commemorating the end of the Iraq War to a crowd of troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“As your commander in chief, and on behalf of a grateful nation, I’m proud to finally say these two words: Welcome home.”
He reflected on the nine long years the war lasted.
“We remember the early days — the American units that streaked across the sands and skies of Iraq,” President Obama said. “In battles from Nasiriya to Karbala to Baghdad, American troops broke the back of a brutal dictator in less than a month.”
And yet, Mr. Obama said, “we know too well the heavy costs” of the Iraq War: “Nearly 4,500 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice, including 202 fallen heroes from here at Fort Bragg. 202.”
Additionally, more that 30,000 troops were wounded in the war effort.
“There have been missed birthday parties and graduations,” Obama said. “There are bills to pay and jobs that have to be juggled with picking up the kids. For every soldier that goes on patrol, there are the husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters praying that they come back.”
“For all of the challenges that our nation faces, you remind us that there’s nothing that we Americans can’t do when we stick together,” Obama continued. “It’s why the United States military is the most respected institution in our land. It’s why you, the 9/11 generation, have earned your place in history.”
He concluded with “I am proud of you.”
One can’t help but to notice the political agenda behind this speech. And it’s shame that a day meant to honor the fallen and those who’ve served our country with dignity and honor has to be marred by politics, but as the New York Times pointed out (of all Newspapers) the speech had a palpable political bent to it that belied the sincerity of Obama’s words.
Quotes from the Times:
The speech was the latest in a series of public appearances orchestrated by the White House to signal the end of the conflict and to drive home the point that Mr. Obama fulfilled one of his 2008 presidential campaign promises.”
He brought along his wife, Michelle, who has been working with veterans’ families since Mr. Obama took office. At times, the visit seemed like a campaign swing.
Mr. Obama’s campaign advisers see North Carolina, a traditionally red state that Mr. Obama unexpectedly won in 2008, as a potential key to the president’s re-election path. But Fort Bragg and neighboring Fayetteville, with its large African-American population full of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, will need to join urban areas like Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham in turning out for Mr. Obama if the president is to have a chance of repeating that unlikely victory next year.
But should one really be surprised with the way the Iraq War has been politicized?
After all, the reality is that the Iraq War has ended not because President Obama felt it was the right thing to do, but because the old Bush occupation agreement was expiring and Iraqi officials refused to create a new agreement that offered the same indemnification for American troops stationed there, i.e. troops would be held accountable to Iraqi law, not U.S. law if they stayed passed 2011.
In the end, a largely political war was ended for political reasons. Perhaps this goes to prove the old maxim that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Obama has used the War as political grist.