President Obama was right to give his speech punctuating the end of US combat operations in Iraq from the Oval Office as opposed to one of the military academies.
In his speech tonight, the President said:
Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country. This was my pledge to the American people as a candidate for this office. Last February, I announced a plan that would bring our combat brigades out of Iraq, while redoubling our efforts to strengthen Iraq's Security Forces and support its government and people. That is what we have done. We have removed nearly 100,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. We have closed or transferred hundreds of bases to the Iraqis. And we have moved millions of pieces of equipment out of Iraq.
But now the President has said we have to turn our attentions to other matters -- an economy whose wobbliness is increasingly worse. We have been running these wars without paying for them -- and the price tag has been huge.
Today, our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy. We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs. This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as President.
But the President needs to realize that the 50,000 residual forces left behind in Iraq will still cost about $50 billion a year -- without even considering the ongoing health and after-field deployment costs for these forces in the long term.
And of course, we are now spending more than $100 billion per year in Afghanistan in a country whose GDP is $14 billion.
The US cannot restore its health with a hemorrhaging of resources and money that large.
-- Steve Clemons