In a statement/press conference at the White House today, President Obama made it clear that Republicans are not going to get their way. American combat troops won’t be returning to Iraq.
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During his statement the president said that his administration is working to secure embassy personnel. He added that the US is increasing their intelligence and security forces, and working with Congress to provide additional security equipment, and additional advisers. Obama added, “American combat forces will not be returning to Iraq.” The president also announced that his administration is moving resources closer to Iraq, and they will take action to target terrorists. He said that he will will work with Congress and the Iraqi government on this. Lastly, he announced a new diplomatic effort. The president said, “Above all the Iraqis must rise above their political differences.” President Obama added, “There is no military solution inside Iraq certainly one that is not led by the United States.”
The president said, “The most important question we have to be asking the question that I keep front in center is what is in the best national security interests of the United States.”
Obama was asked about confidence in Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, and the president repeated that Iraqis have to solve their own problems through the political process.
CNN asked about mission creep and this being the start of more combat troops in Iraq, and the president said, “American combat troops will not be fighting in Iraq again.” The president made it clear that he didn’t want to send troops back into Iraq, and that the Iraqis have to solve their own problems. Obama listed interests from humanitarian to combating terrorism as good investments, but he added, “that does not foreshadow a larger commitment of forces fighting in Iraq.”
The president was asked if he wishes that he would have left a larger residual force in Iraq. He answered that the decision wasn’t his. The Iraqi government made the decision. The president added that the US government has provided the Iraqi government vigorous assistance over the last five years.
Obama’s announcement today was a byproduct of both his meeting with congressional leaders yesterday and an answer to the resurfacing of the Bush administration neo-cons who are calling for a return of combat troops to Iraq. The drumbeat for a return to war is being ignored by this president. A poll released two days ago found that the American people are siding with President Obama on Iraq by a nearly two to one margin.
The majority of Americans are tired of war and they have no taste for spilling more blood in Iraq. It was important for President Obama to lay out his plan today, because the resurfacing of Dick Cheney and the other architects of the invasion of Iraq is certain to make some people nervous.
The message from this White House was clear. The warmongers can stomp their feet all they want, but for as long as Barack Obama is president, combat troops won’t be returning to Iraq.