Aug 23, 2010 7:53am
As US combat troops prepare to leave Iraq and the mission in Iraq changes, President Obama is preparing a speech to give to the nation. The tentative date for the speech is August 31, the withdrawal deadline for US combat troops.
The speech is being written by National Security Staff official Ben Rhodes and the president.
According to a senior White House official the speech will try to make these three points:
1) Expressing gratitude to US forces — military and civilian — who worked so hard and sacrificed so much;
2) Pointing out that the president is keeping a promise he made on the campaign trail for the respoinsible withdrawal of US troops (all troops are scheduled to leave by the end of 2011, per the Status Of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government);
3) Putting the war in Iraq in the larger context of US national security challenges and the need to focus on larger threats — such as al Qaeda.
This final message, along with the president underlining that the US commitment to Iraq remains in place, will be part of an overall message that hard work remains on national security issues — that mission is not "accomplished."
President Obama is not expected to address the fact that he opposed the surge of troops in Iraq in 2007. Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen told me last year that the surge created the conditions allowing the US to withdraw combat troops today.
- Jake Tapper