Barack Obama, you’ll recall, campaigned as the antiwar candidate, at least insofar as Iraq was concerned. Iraq was a “war of choice,” according to him, one that should not have been fought, and he defeated Hillary Clinton in the primaries precisely because of her support for Bush’s war.
Not that there was anything principled about his stand: His reason for opposing the invasion was that it detracted from the war in Afghanistan, which, he claimed, was the theater we really needed to be operating in.
In spite of this, he was portrayed in the media, and by his other supporters, as the President who would repudiate the Bush foreign policy, especially where it concerns Iraq. This, at least, is what Obama’s base expected to hear when he announced the withdrawal of the last of our combat troops. What they didn’t expect to hear was what sounded like a retrospective endorsement of that war.
But that is precisely what they got.
According to the President, the invasion, far from being a mistake, was “a war to disarm a state” that “became a fight against an insurgency.” Yet there was little, if anything, to disarm: Those “weapons of mass destruction” we heard so much about in the run-up to war were nowhere to be found.
Framing his speech in the form of a thank-you letter to the troops, Obama declared,