GOPers Hit Obama for Iraq Withdrawal

| Fri Oct. 21, 2011 4:19 PM EDT
Spc. Austin Davenport passes out Iraqi flags to children in Baghdad, Aug. 11, 2007.

The shock and awe didn't last long. On Friday afternoon, just minutes after Barack Obama announced that America's war in Iraq would be finally, truly over at year's end, critics of the president punctured what could have been a national moment of solemn reflection and relief.

"As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end," Obama—the president whose administration has ended the lives of Osama bin Laden, Anwar Awlaki, and just yesterday, Moammar Qaddafi—said in his announcement Friday. "The rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year." Obama added that US-Iraq relations would change dramatically on January 1, 2012, to "a normal relationship between sovereign nations"—a recognition of the past nine years' weirdness that, although perfectly obvious, still seemed poignant when spoken aloud.

Nonetheless, the end of US military operations in Iraq—100,000 troops have already left the country, and the final 39,000 will be gone by late December—is already being spun by some Republican critics as an admission of defeat, part of a larger attempt to paint Obama and his party as soft on national security. That narrative is increasingly divorced from reality.

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