August 31, 2010

U.S. combat mission in Iraq nears end

Posted: 03:21 PM ET

By Alan Silverleib, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Almost seven and a half years ago, President George W. Bush launched a blistering "shock and awe" invasion of Iraq.

The goal: eliminate a perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction while replacing a hostile, tyrannical regime with a friendly democracy in the heart of the Middle East.

On Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET - at a cost of more than 4,400 U.S. military personnel killed and 30,000 wounded - America's combat mission in Iraq will officially draw to a close.

The quick removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ushered in years of grinding sectarian violence, war, terrorist attacks and, according to some observers, increased Iranian influence in the region. But it also paved the way for nationwide elections and increasing economic development.

Whether the war was worth the price remains a subject of fierce debate both at home and abroad.

President Barack Obama, who based much of his campaign for the White House on growing public exhaustion with the conflict, will announce the conclusion of the combat mission in a speech to be delivered from the Oval Office at 8 p.m. ET. He spent the day meeting with troops at Fort Bliss, Texas - a base which has supplied soldiers at all stages of the conflict.

Obama called Bush for a "few minutes" from Air Force One while en route to Texas, according to White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton. The White House has not said if Obama will give Bush any credit during his speech for the controversial 2007-08 military "surge," believed by some observers to have helped curtail Iraqi violence.

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Filed under: Iraq • Larry King Live • Politics • President Obama

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Joe G. (Illinois)   August 31st, 2010 3:39 pm ET

At the end of it all and before we leave..
Are we really sure that they have received the best military training and infrastructure possible? Or are we to come back in anytime soon?!

Admittedly it's a great idea to leave 50,000 troop behind..
But again.. Is all that enough?
Why not give them an atomic bomb to be safe..!
So that they can govern themselves and have democracy in their Iraqi homeland!!!

Smith in Oregon   August 31st, 2010 5:21 pm ET

Thank-you CNN for bringing on the retired US Military Col. who spoke out against the ever expanding US Military complex and the resulting war's around the world.

A very real danger that I have repeatedly commented on is that members of the massive branch of America's democracy known as it's fourth branch of government DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security), America's Shadow Government and the equally massive U.S. Military complex will not allow peace in the world which would result in massive cut-backs and layoff's among their millions of DHS employees. Rather they would CREATE wars in the same way corrupt Fire and Police purposely create fires and burglary's to justify their continued existence, employment and taxpayer exhausting excessive funding.

The allegedly depraved and utterly corrupt Republican administration of Bush-Cheney set a very dangerous precedence after the 9/11 attack. They created the gigantic shadow government 4th. branch known collectively as DHS, and they poured hundreds of Billions of dollars in extra funding into the CIA, NSA and FBI who had dropped the ball and failed to stop the 9/11 attack from taking place. YES, those security agency's were greatly REWARDED for their absolute and utter failure which resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 civilians working in the twin trade towers complex.

Greatly rewarding America's secret and security agency's for abysmal FAILURES sets a dangerous precedence which effectively tells the managers in those agency's if you fail you'll be hugely financially rewarded, if you succeed the most you can expect is a private pat on the back followed by a potential lay-off.

The Republican potty'ticians funneled 6 Trillion dollars into massive American taxpayer cash giveaway's in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle East nations, war lords, drug lords and even the Taliban along the convoy routes as bribes to stop their ambushes. NONE of those Trillions of dollars went into America's domestic spending, NONE to rebuild or replace aging Schools, Dams, Bridges, Levee's, Harbors, the National Electrical Grid and Library's. If you don't like what you see now in America, vote Democratic across the board, return Federal spending back to America and it's Domestic spending to our States.

Smith in Oregon   August 31st, 2010 6:15 pm ET

After American soldiers gave over 4,000 of their lives along with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and their family's gave their blood, sweat and tears along with over 1 Trillion American taxpayer dollars with Billions of it in cash totally unaccounted for, the Republican administration gave CHINA the Iraqi Oil Field leases worth multi-Trillions of dollars for mere pennies.

Perhaps that is what the GOP is claiming as 'success' in Iraq?

Handing Iran their most hated enemy (Saddam) on a silver platter for death, is that what the GOP is claiming as 'success' in Iraq?

Iran's ability to pour it's hard-line Iranian supporters into the Iraqi Government, greatly increasing Iran's influence thru-out Iraq is that what the GOP is claiming as 'success' in Iraq?

Placing the world's most expensive U.S. Embassy in Iraq while America suffers thru one of the greatest recessions in America's history with States teetering on bankruptcy is that what the GOP is claiming as 'success' in Iraq?

IKHAN   August 31st, 2010 7:05 pm ET

Hi Larry,
Hi folks.

That our brave troops are heading home to be in their country & with their families is a big relief. Our hearts go out again to those families who lost their loved ones in a war which should never have been, we salute them & those returning home.

A war costing thousands of precious American lives, thousands maimed & scarred for life, a trillion dollar plus of tax payers money spent, tens of thousands of Iraqis dead.
As Robert Fisk said. America leaving a "mark of torture, corruption, civil war"

A perfectly viable country destroyed & left wide open for extremism & terrorists to take hold , the entire region gone sour on America. Countries like Iran & China at the vantage point.
And those who say we brought Saddam down or we brought democracy to Iraq seem so detached from reality of it all.
Those responsible for this , one of the costliest disasters of our history go unpunished.

Ben   August 31st, 2010 8:59 pm ET

I am currently a soldier in the U.S. Army and have served 3 tours in Iraq. The first being in May 2003 and the last being just last fall. I have 2 brothers that have also served in Iraq. The war in Iraq has had a major impact on my life as well as that of those around me. I feel that the speach the President gave did not give my praise to soldiers that have given SO much to their life to. This has been a war that I believed in from day one. Soldiers give over 7 years of their lives there, the President gives an 18 minutes speach. Just not right.

Ben   August 31st, 2010 9:18 pm ET

The President should have given more praise to the soldiers that have given so much of their time in the past 7 years to the fight in Iraq. I have lost a cousin in Iraq and have 2 brothers that have served in Iraq as well. I do not believe that the Presidents speach gave enough praise to U.S. soldiers and servicemen.

Dianne   August 31st, 2010 9:29 pm ET

@Ben The President promised to take care of vets medically and educationally which were all cut when Daddy Bush was in office. I lost family and school friends in Vietnam. Those soldiers were the worst treated by American people. They were drafted and if not wealthy went to war. Soldiers today have a choice.
The Vietnam vet did not get the health care or mental care needed. I was a candy stripper dueing this time at the VA. Their were many killed and wounded. I say a great big THANK YOU to the Vietnam Vet. and the soldiers of today. Maybe the USA will take care of home and invest in our young people here. Let us get out of Afghanistan soon and not drum up anymore wars.

Steve   August 31st, 2010 9:31 pm ET

I adamantly disagree with your guest Pete. President Bush deserves no credit for any aspect of this war. It was ill-fated from the beginning. We went there under false pretense largely the fault of President Bush. It seems ridiculous to congratulate Bush for any of this. CNN should screen it's guest more carefully to prevent seemingly non- partisans from furthering a political agenda.


Paul   August 31st, 2010 9:32 pm ET

I thought the president's speech was very good. Of course it wasn't perfect and many of his detractors will say it lacked certain elements. But I think he did his best to reunite the country by putting much of the Iraq war behind us. It's also clear that there is much more work, both political and military, to be done in Iraq (and Afghanistan.)

Dianne   August 31st, 2010 9:34 pm ET

Al Queda would

Al Qeda would like for us to stay in Iraq with divided attention. The President was correct that concentration on one war now. Two wars were finacially and morally draining. The Iraqi soldiers would never accept total responsibility but they must now.

Michael   August 31st, 2010 9:37 pm ET

The president missed thanking the support of our allies who were in combat with us. They too lost men and women, lost money and had tremendous pressur among their own people. It is a mistake.

CindyM   August 31st, 2010 9:46 pm ET

I did not think it was a great speech. It lacked vision. Also, the economy is certainly now the country's number one priority, but I think President Obama's Congress who pushed him to add something on the economy did him a disservice. It came across like a last minute add-on piece. It wasn't intended as a speech to cover everything; the economy could have been and no doubt will be addressed many times in the future. This just wasn't the right forum.

Teresa   August 31st, 2010 9:50 pm ET

I can't thank our troops and their families enough for their bravery, passion and dedication to serving our country. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

I can't laugh hard enough at the republicans tossing rhetoric and wanting credit for the 2007 surge in troops...for real? If you do your homework former President Bush stated that the surge was specifically designed to give Iraq the breathing room they needed to formulate a stable government. It is 2010 and they have failed to accomplish that. The decision to go to war in Iraq was wrong and misguided at that point in time. Following 9/11 we wanted and I think it's safe to say we still want today to find and destroy Osama Bin Laden and his extremist following – Al Qeda. The Iraq conflict could have waited. The fact is that our troops took their orders and did their job. It is time for the Iraq people to take care of themselves.

We can't stay forever the costs spent to-date are astronomical and we have NO idea what the ongoing costs will be due to long-term mental and physical burdens to our troops.

In 2008 one of the top issues the American people voted on was to end the Iraq War. Here we are today based on the promise President Obama made during his campaign and thank you President Obama for keeping your promise. It is time to turn the page.

Joe   August 31st, 2010 9:55 pm ET

Ithink it is a disgrace that this country can spend a trillion dollars on a war we should have never been involved in and we can not help our own people. Our education system is deplorable,we can not even offer health care for people who need it.our cities are controlled by gangs. Kids getting killed. Its sad.

Chris Serna   September 1st, 2010 12:22 am ET

What needs to be talked about is the war in Afghanistan. OIF has been over for I dont know how long already!!! In case no one has noticed we are now in OEF!!! The Marine Corps is the ones that need to be talked about and thanked!!!!

Smith in Oregon   September 1st, 2010 12:42 am ET

The Billionares banking the Republican Tea-Party and pulling the strings on the Republican lawmakers agenda's have been recently exposed in The New Yorker. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch of the Faux Network. The other two, the Big Oil petrol-chemical brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans.

David Koch ran to the right of Reagan as vice president on the 1980 Libertarian ticket (he polled a mere 1 percent), his campaign called for the abolition of Social Security, federal regulatory agencies, welfare and foodstamp programs,the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and public schools — in other words, any government enterprise that would either inhibit his business profits or increase his taxes.

The Koch brothers’ father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society’s top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech, Fred Koch can be heard ranting and fear mongering of “a takeover” of America in which Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.” That insane rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today and sounds familiar to the daily rants on Murdock's Faux network's Glenn Beck entertainment bible show.

Many Republican party members do not realize their puppet masters pulling the Republican party's strings entirely tilts completely toward big business, whether on Wall Street or in the Gulf of Mexico, while actively working to dismantle fundamental government safety nets designed to protect the unemployed, public health, workplace safety and the subsistence of the elderly.

The Republican lawmakers public face say's they oppose a federal deficit, Their program opposes a federal deficit, but Republican lawmakers have repeatedly shown they ahve no objection to running up Trillions in red ink in tax cuts to corporations and the superrich. The Republican lawmakers apologizes to corporate malefactors like BP and derides money put in escrow for oil spill victims as a “slush fund”. The Republican lawmakers opposes the extension of unemployment benefits; and calls for a freeze on federal regulations in an era when abuses in the oil, financial, mining, pharmaceutical and even egg industries (among others) have been totally outrageous.

With John Birch members, and White Supremist leaders prominately marching lock step with Republican and Tea Party members with their crys of bad Black and Brown Americans, brown terrorist baby's and abolishing Social Security the question of having any intelligence whatsoever comes up.

The likely major contributer to the planned Islamic community center some two blocks from the former location of the twin towers is Walid bin Talal. Walid bin Talal is also the biggest non-Murdoch shareholder in Fox network's parent company, News Corporation and the recipient of Murdoch's huge investments in Saudi Arabia. The very Republican and Tea Party members wanting to cut off funding to what Faux Entertainment calls a 'terror mosque' and 'ground zero mosque' are in fact aiding the funding of that Islamic community center by watching the Fox network. Not very intelligent are they.

Ted   September 1st, 2010 8:00 am ET

I keep hearing that "the job is done", "we won" and we are going home.

My friends, those of you who think we did a great job in Iraq just doesn´t have an idea what we did!
We opened Pandora´s Box in that region and let out problems that will haunt us for the next hundred years. Those 50,000 soldiers still there will not be coming home soon.

Iraq was a peaceful country, by their standard, and if you kept your mouth shut you could have security and a decent life. No democracy, but there is no democracy in arab lands.
Then our CIA had the great idea to arm Saddam Hussein to the teeth and force him to attack Iran, because we did not like what the ayatollahs were doing there. That war ended with a draw, killing well over a million people on the two sides.

Later we removed Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11 and hated the ayatollahs, destroyed the land of Iraq and left it in shambles, disorganized and without a government and real future. The extremists will take over, civil war is most likely, and our remaining troops will be in great danger. An all out war in the ME ist very likely, we removed all safety devices.
We did the same great jobs as in Dresden and Hiroshima 65 years ago.

Gerald Jolly   September 1st, 2010 11:31 am ET

Biggest LIE and JOKE of the century!!!

IKHAN   September 1st, 2010 1:12 pm ET

Hi Larry,
@Smith in Oregon
right on the mark. Fellow bloggers, this piece is worth reading.

Evelynn Adelle   October 7th, 2010 12:22 am ET

Hide the Idol

We ran to the same altar and fell upon our knees
Praise to this god, god is love we said
Then stood and all drew swords, drew guns
Held the weapons to each others head
As the foreigner said nothing
But smiled upon us though our god was strange
Naturally we slew him dead
We could not afford to change
We had yet another god, one more god to please

White wings circled, circled endlessly
Mortar fire kept them from the ground
The birds of prey, praised god today
The white birds one by two by three
Went prayerless down, down, down

Bitterly defended, the fanatics and the fine
Patriots and princes all left their fluid on this sand
Three tongues, three names, last words to same
As the guns fell silent from their hands
Wantonly, they wasted, wickedness and valor in their turn
What do you take back from this dust
Whose sons and daughters do you burn
What god do you bow before, here only the idol stands
Teach your children words to pray, an idol never learns

White wings circled, circled endlessly
Mortar fire kept them from the ground
The birds of prey, praised god today
The white birds one by two by three
Went prayerless down, down, down

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