Mr. Obama had vowed to end the war in Iraq as a presidential candidate. He spoke out passionately against the war in 2002, though later said the United States had an "absolute obligation" to stay in the country as long as it took to achieve success. Mr. Obama said the United States will be "moving forward from a position of strength" and that the troop departure "will be a time to reflect on all that we've been through in this war." "I'll join the American people in paying tribute to the more than 1 million Americans who have served in Iraq," he said. "We'll honor our many wounded warriors and the nearly 4,500 American patriots and their Iraqi and coalition partners who gave their lives to this effort."
Our men and women in uniform have accomplished every mission we have given them. What's missing in our debate about Iraq - what has been missing since before the war began - is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq and its dominance of our foreign policy. This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize. This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century. By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe.
"We knew this day would come. We've known it for some time. But still there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long," said Obama. "It's harder to end a war than begin one. Everything that American troops have done in Iraq - all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding and the building and the training and the partnering, all of it has landed to this moment of success."
In fact, true success in Iraq - victory in Iraq - will not take place in a surrender ceremony where an enemy lays down their arms. True success will take place when we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future - a government that prevents sectarian conflict, and ensures that the al Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge. That is an achievable goal if we pursue a comprehensive plan to press the Iraqis stand up.
It is much easier for us to have the argument, when we have a nominee who says, I always thought this was a bad idea, this was a bad strategy. It was not just a problem of execution. They screwed up the execution of it in all sorts of ways. Even McCain has acknowledged that. Can we make an argument that this was a conceptually flawed mission, from the start? We need better judgment when we decide to send our young men and women into war, that we are making absolutely certain that it is because there is an imminent threat, that American interests are going to be protected, that we have a plan to succeed and to exit, that we are going to train our troops properly and equip them properly and put them on proper rotations and treat them properly when they come home. That is an argument we are going to have an easier time making if they can’t turn around and say: But hold on a second; you supported this. That’s part of the reason why I would be the strongest nominee on this argument of national security.
Opposed invasion from the beginning; opposed troop increase; ended military operations in Iraq(on previously negotiated Bush timeline). Made no effort to keep promise to exit in 2009. Troops moved to Afghanistan and Iranian border.
In Oct. 2002, as the debate over Iraq intensified in Washington, Hillary Clinton, McCain, Kerry and many others were preparing to support a congressional resolution giving Bush a blank check to go to war in Iraq. Before an anti-Iraq war rally in Chicago, Obama decided to speak out against the war, though he was warned to choose his words carefully. Whatever he said could affect his political future. For that reason, he used a prepared speech: "I don't oppose all wars. After Sept. 11, I supported this administration's pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance. I don't oppose all wars. All I know is that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by arm-chair warriors to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne."
On President Obama’s first full day in office, he directed his national security team to undertake a comprehensive review of our strategy in Iraq to determine the best way to strengthen that foundation, while strengthening America's national security.
During the campaign, he promised to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.“We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people.”
President Obama has fulfilled his promise to responsibly and safely bring our soldiers home. When the President took office in January 2009, there were 142,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Today, the war in Iraq has ended and the Iraqi people have taken responsibility for the security of their country.