President Obama made two phone calls this morning on his way to the speech, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said this afternoon.
Having previously tried and failed to connect with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to tell him about his decision, the president phoned Mr. Maliki from Air Force One on the way down to North Carolina this morning “and briefed the prime minister on the plan he would announce. He also “sought and received” from the prime minister an agreement to receive Christopher Hill as the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
Then, in the hold at Camp Lejeune, before the speech, President Obama called former President George W. Bush to brief him about his troop withdrawal plan.
He made the call “as a courtesy,” Gibbs said.
The language in President Obama’s speech is sober. No "Mission Accomplished" in this speech.
"Let there be no doubt: Iraq is not yet secure, and there will be difficult days ahead. Violence will continue to be a part of life in Iraq. Too many fundamental political questions about Iraq’s future remain unresolved. Too many Iraqis are still displaced or destitute. Declining oil revenues will put an added strain on a government that has had difficulty delivering basic services. Not all of Iraq’s neighbors are contributing to its security. Some are working at times to undermine it. And even as Iraq’s government is on a surer footing, it is not yet a full partner –- politically and economically –- in the region, or with the international community. In short, today there is a renewed cause for hope in Iraq, but that hope rests upon an emerging foundation."
The president said: "Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."
This was followed by an unsure smattering of applause from the Marine audience, building into something a bit more enthusiastic.
A more assertive clapping followed this presidential declaration: "Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments. And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011."