If nothing else Barack Obama excels at speechifying. Since that was effectively his only notable qualification for the presidency, he ought at least to be good at that.
Unfortunately, the disconnect between the president’s eloquent rhetoric and facts on the ground grows wider by the day.
As we ponder the fall of Ramadi, as we watch ISIS advance throughout the Middle East and North Africa and as we cringe at the Obama administration efforts to spin it into victory we recall the beautiful words that Barack Obama pronounced at Fort Bragg on December 14, 2011.
There, before an audience of soldiers Obama declared victory in the war in Iraq.
Here are a few of his words:
Today, I’ve come to speak to you about the end of the war in Iraq. Over the last few months, the final work of leaving Iraq has been done. Dozens of bases with American names that housed thousands of American troops have been closed down or turned over to the Iraqis. Thousands of tons of equipment have been packed up and shipped out. Tomorrow, the colors of United States Forces-Iraq -- the colors you fought under -- will be formally cased in a ceremony in Baghdad. Then they’ll begin their journey across an ocean, back home.
Over the last three years, nearly 150,000 U.S. troops have left Iraq. And over the next few days, a small group of American soldiers will begin the final march out of that country. Some of them are on their way back to Fort Bragg. As General Helmick said, “They know that the last tactical road march out of Iraq will be a symbol, and they’re going to be a part of history.”
As your Commander-in-Chief, I can tell you that it will indeed be a part of history. Those last American troops will move south on desert sands, and then they will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high. One of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military will come to an end. Iraq’s future will be in the hands of its people. America’s war in Iraq will be over.
Obama’s policy, in a few words, was to declare victory and come home. He saw it as a great success. In fact, George Bush was primarily responsible for the state of Iraq in December, 2011. Bush’s policy, vigorously opposed by then Senator Obama had produced a positive outcome.
Obama thought it was very hard to end a war. In fact, it was not. Surrender is not hard. Giving up and walking away is not hard.
Ensuring the peace is hard, but Obama was not up to the task.
It’s harder to end a war than begin one. Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq -– all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering -– all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home.
This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making. And today, we remember everything that you did to make it possible.
If Iraq 2011 was an extraordinary achievement, it has been completely squandered by Barack Obama.
As darkness continues to descend on Iraq, we recall Obama’s vision of a new dawn.
And we remember the end of our combat mission and the emergence of a new dawn -– the precision of our efforts against al Qaeda in Iraq, the professionalism of the training of Iraqi security forces, and the steady drawdown of our forces. In handing over responsibility to the Iraqis, you preserved the gains of the last four years and made this day possible.
Just last month, some of you -- members of the Falcon Brigade --turned over the Anbar Operations Center to the Iraqis in the type of ceremony that has become commonplace over these last several months. In an area that was once the heart of the insurgency, a combination of fighting and training, politics and partnership brought the promise of peace. And here’s what the local Iraqi deputy governor said: “This is all because of the U.S. forces’ hard work and sacrifice.”
And, of course, what could be more soul-stirring that Obama’s confidence in the professionalism and training of the Iraqi security forces.
Obama might have the gift of eloquence; he surely has a gift of dissimulation and obfuscation. One thing is sure, he does not have the gift of prophecy.