Should Obama Give Bush Credit?

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President Obama very appropriately and correctly thanked U.S. Marnines for precipitating the turnabout in Iraq.  But if there is a chance of success in Iraq now as defined by Barack Obama, shouldn't there be some mention of the change in strategy, and the former Commander in Chief, the guy who hung in there?  I think the American people will be more persuaded by the arguments for the counter; we don't know if Iraq is a success yet; we won't know for years; the problems solved by American troops were created by American politicians; the troops did their duty and did what was asked of them, but the asking was illegitimate and wrong. In any event, please ponder these words from Obama. He seems to be saying: the debate about the origins of the war is over, and he won't participate in it in anymore.

As a nation, we have had our share of debates about the war in Iraq. It has, at times, divided us as a people. To this very day, there are some Americans who want to stay in Iraq longer, and some who want to leave faster. But there should be no disagreement on what the men and women of our military have achieved.  And so I want to be very clear: We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein's regime - and you got the job done. We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government - and you got the job done. And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life - that is your achievement; that is the prospect that you have made possible.

There are many lessons to be learned from what we've experienced. We have learned that America must go to war with clearly defined goals, which is why I've ordered a review of our policy in Afghanistan. We have learned that we must always weigh the costs of action, and communicate those costs candidly to the American people, which is why I've put Iraq and Afghanistan into my budget. We have learned that in the 21st century, we must use all elements of American power to achieve our objectives, which is why I am committed to building our civilian national security capacity so that the burden is not continually pushed on to our military. We have learned that our political leaders must pursue the broad and bipartisan support that our national security policies depend upon, which is why I will consult with Congress and in carrying out my plans. And we have learned the importance of working closely with friends and allies, which is why we are launching a new era of engagement in the world.
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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