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27 February 2009


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Not careers in finance!!!11!! Cleaning restrooms in airports after extensive training.All joking aside I'm pretty satisfied with the President.Quite a healthy transformation in the direction of the country.Now it's time for Congress and DoJ to start cleaning up the crimes of the last regime.


Since I have only a citizen's opinion on these matters, and no military experience, I'm very reassured that Col. Lang approves of this.


- ALL forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011 (no bases)

You go on to say that this is unequivocal.

I take that to mean that there will be no military outside the traditional embassy presence (DATT/SDO/SAO) by the end of 2011. I have my doubts.

In politics, NOTHING is unequivocal.


Kudos to President Obama!

Closing the Iraq chapter after 6 years of division and sacrifice will hopefully turn the page to a better and more sensible foreign policy that focuses on US national interests.

Patrick Lang


This was not political. It was the CinC making an announcement to the troops.

IMO it would take something like a siege of our embassy by insurgents to delay the 2011 date. pl

William R. Cumming

Of course we will still have the biggest and baddest EMBASSY ever built in the world by the US. How is STATE doing by the way getting volunteers to go to Iraq?

Nancy K

Col Lang, why are the news sources stating that President Obama was met with stony silence by the Marines and they did not support him.
I read his speech and I saw nothing in it they should object to and he seemed to be very supportive of and thankful towards them.
You write that the speech was a bravuara performance, why the descripancy?
Is it just a matter of typically the military prefers Republicans, because supposedly this same camp applauded enthusiastcally for Bush, and I cannot imagine his speech was all that spectacular.


Before the president spoke, the same crew claimed that "the generals" would insist on a renegotiation (repudiation) of the recent US/Iraqi agreement on withdrawal.

I'm continually astonished at the cluelessness of the people who appear on these shows. When Barry McCaffrey is the sane one in the crowd, you know that insanity is endemic there.

Reading things like this make me glad I'm not wasting my money on cable.

feocito - While things can always change, I think you can take Obama at his word on this. There is every reason to do as he says is going to do now. It's also a principle he's been very consistent on since he started his Presidential run. I say this as someone who takes his Obama with a giant lick of salt. I'd be shocked if we're not so far out of Iraq by 2012 that Iraqis will start to forget what we looked like.


I am more impressed with Obama by the day. He is both a thinker and communicator while being remarkably open to assimilating new information. These are now especially critical.

Patrick Lang




Patrick Lang

nancy K

The "news sources" are troublemaking fools. As I said in my post, they did not applaud him when he appeared, but they were with him once they heard what he had to say. pl

The beaver

- ALL forces out of Iraq by the end of 2011 (no bases)

Is it because of Israel that non-combat forces are staying till 2011? Since Iraq does not presently have an air force, will the US protect its air space against the Israeli air force on their way towards Iran in the mean time - by this I mean if Bibi and his right-wing partners decide to "obliterate" Iran nuclear sites.

Cloned Poster

and on to afghanistan


I thought the speech was outstanding. I am very puzzled that I have heard no particular commendation for the several minutes the president devoted specifically to addressing the people of the world. Surely a master stroke.


This was refreshing:
"...as long as I am your Commander-in-Chief, I promise you that I will only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary, and provide you with the equipment and support you need to get the job done. That is the most important lesson of all - for the consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable."

Glad to see the military will get a pay raise, I can't imagine strating or raising a family on an E6 salary today; though I'm sure our $5,000 an hour reporters will raise a stink.


Dear Col

I wonder if President Obama is bring his tropps from Iraq or is he preparing himself for another adventure. We just don't know.

After all America is over stretched and if it is planning to do "something" in Iran or even Pakistan, it needs some extra hands.

Too early to tell but let's pray for wisdom to prevail.


This perhaps "caveat" from SecDef Gates:

Hours before the president met with congressional leaders, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates also defended the plan, saying that the residual forces would have a targeted mission and that "the thinking all along had been that any force left after we stopped combat operations would be focused on the counterterrorism mission, on training, advising, assistance."

"So it's a very different mission than we have now," Gates said. Referring to the existing status-of-forces agreement, Gates added: "Whatever number the president approves as of the date he approves is a way station, because if there is no new agreement, under the SOFA, that number has to be zero at the end of 2011.".

As noted previously, there is a lot of elasticity in the SOFA, including the right of either party to alter the terms of withdrawal (Art. 24):
The United States admits to the sovereign right of the Iraqi government to demand the departure of the U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime. The Iraqi government admits to the sovereign right of the United States to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq at anytime.
And Art. 30 allows revising terms of the Agreement... "by formal written approval of both parties and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in both countries. ".
Both parties are at the mercy of events, which - in a highly fluid and changing political milieu such as we have in Iraq - there are more "unknown unknowns" that "known unknowns", as Rumsfeld would have it. And what Obama avers on 27Feb, 2009, based on the current state of affairs within Iraq, may - of course - not obtain a year or two out.
Unless, bien sur, he's made up his mind that it's all over, whatever the "conditions on the ground" are at each milestone date.


I was impressed by Obama's speech and reassured by his determination to honour the SOFA previously reached with the Iraqi government: sounds like America's new leader is a sensible, reasonable and honourable man.


Thank you for the pointer to the speech which I read and then watched online late this afternoon. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment though I still have concerns about the roughness of the road between now and August 2010 and then on to January 1, 2012...

... but my reservations were tempered even more by the incisive interview that just occurred on PBS between the President and Jim Lehrer (to the degree that Lehrer seemed to run out of things to ask...). The contrast with the past eight years is obvious, but I would suggest that President Obama is demonstrating such reflective confidence and intelligence when "up close and personal" that it's a bit daunting.

I don't want to exaggerate in saying this and the truth of this statement will not be known for a long time...

... but we don't know how lucky we are.


Col. Lang:

You're right on in your comment to Nancy when she notes the "discrepancy" between the reporting and the event.

This kind of discrepancy is not casual but driven by stereotyped points of view that continue, mostly for political reasons, to insist - even when, like today, they are patently wrong - that Obama and the military do not get along.

I think McCaffery used the term 'beautiful' to describe Obama's tribute to the military's service in Iraq and elsewhere. 'Beautiful' is just the beginning of a string of adjectives I would have used.

One can attribute these kinds of errors by the press to malevolence, stupidity, sloppiness, or laziness but it doesn't really matter. Everything is in the eye of the beholder. And, if you're paid or told to have a point of view then that's what you see. Thank God for C-Span where you get the whole thing unfiltered warts and all.

Today I watched the MSNBC feed on TPM that started about five minutes before Obama's speech and ended five minutes or so after he finished.

The Marines may have started out cool but at the end President Obama had a hard time getting out of there.

R Whitman

I watched the Obama interview with Jim Lehrer this evening. I was impressed by his realistic thinking on Afganistan. Its almost as if he has been reading William Pfaff's blogs on the subject. He set a minimum goal of "not allowing any attacks launched on the US or NATO from there". No messianic mention of democracy, nation building and all that other political crap.

On Iraq and the US military. I felt he was speaking to the enlisted personnel and not the higher ranking officers. Did anyone else get that impression?


"No." ?
I wasn't asking a question. Where is my comment in error? I value your opinion.


I was not all that impressed with Obama's speech before Congress the other day. It seemed he tried to be all things to all people. Especially dissappointed is that he is going to keep feeding the feral bankers who got us into this meltdown.

But his Camp Lejeune speech is magnifco, just what America and Iraq need. He's right that the military has done the jobs they were asked to do and it's time, in a timely manner, to give Iraqui's back their sovereignty.

I wonder if this will influence Iran's coming elections?

Patrick Lang


Ever read "A Canticle for Leibowitz?" We'll talk then. pl

anna missed

Let the short time calender commence.

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