Maybe I just don't get it. But here's the question I'm asking myself in preparation for President Obama's war speech tonight (8 ET), in which he's slated to boast about an end to combat operations in Iraq:
What's the point in boasting withdrawal if we're staying there?
We're not leaving completely. We're only reducing troops. About 50,000 are supposed to stay. Violence is on the rise and the Iraqi foreign minister said today it was an "embarrassment" for the US to withdraw without an Iraqi government in place. So then what's the point of the speech?
I asked Dr. David Corbin, associate professor of politics at The King's College in New York City, who served as my foreign policy professor and who sat under Angelo Codevilla. "The announcement is not part of satisfying the war objective," he said. "It's part of satisfying a political one."
Remember those '08 presidential campaign promises to bring our troops home from Iraq?
The New York Times confirms Corbin's thesis: "Mr. Obama’s address tonight is meant to convey that he has kept one of the central promises of his campaign: withdrawing American combat troops from Iraq." Obama also cautions not to get too excited, as we still have "a lot of work" to do in Iraq.
Now it's starting to make sense. This is meant to be an I-promised-and-delivered-but-we-still-shouldn't-think-we-accomplished-anything-or-get-excited speech. Got it. No wonder I was confused.