This seems classy:
Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq War is well-known and need not be repeated here. It is enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq War drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention — and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.
Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end. We will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011. That we are doing so is a testament to the character of our men and women in uniform. Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance, we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people.
But while we have achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq...
Obama has used crude language in the past, calling Iraq "rash" and "dumb." Hopefully he's grown out of that for good. Of course, he later says:
I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions.
But of course we did "exercise restraint in the use of military force" and "consider the long-term consequences of our actions" in the run-up to and throughout the Iraq war. We waited over a year between Bush's first signals of possible war and the decision to invade, as we cultivated international support. During the occupation our military adhered, with some minor lapses such as Abu Ghraib, to civilized norms of conduct. And the Bush administration had a very clear and publicly proclaimed vision for what it hoped the "long-term consequences of our actions" would be, a vision which has since been vindicated by events.
This is an unfortunate line:
It is easy to forget that when this war began, we were united — bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again.
"I refuse to accept the notion..." Too bad, because the evidence points that way. That is, points to the country not uniting behind Obama's plan. Obama should probably not refuse to accept "notions" that are obvious truths. But also-- and this is important-- the post-9/11 unity was not a good thing. Democracies are disputatious, full of debate and disagreement; we should not wish that away. A sinister political correctness set in after 9/11, when Le Monde was writing "we are all Americans," which made it socially hazardous, for example, to admit that while the 9/11 hijackers were misguided, they probably deserve to be described as "brave." We don't want that shell-shocked, self-defensive, censorious unity back. And President Obama shouldn't feel the need for it, either. He should do what he thinks is right, and not mind too much it provokes some fierce opposition. I'm not convinced that he is right, but I'm willing to root for his Afghan strategy to work. Just don't try to "summon" me to any "unity."