President Obama went to Iraq on Tuesday, at the end of his trip overseas. Good for him! Love the picture of him in the Times article. Looks like the troops support him! Earlier, in Istanbul, he answered a question about why he is taking longer than he promised during the campaign to get out of Iraq.
“I have a responsibility to make sure that as we bring troops out, that we do so in a careful enough way that we don’t see a complete collapse into violence,” Mr. Obama said. “So some people might say, wait, I thought you were opposed to the war, why don’t you just get them all out right away? Well, just because I was opposed at the outset, it doesn’t’ mean that I don’t have now responsibilities to make sure that we do things in a responsible fashion.”
Obama said during the campaign that he would try to get troops out at a rate of one brigade a month, which he estimated would take 16 months. But he also made it clear that he might change his mind, and articulated this principle: we will be more careful getting out than we were going in.
One thing that many people do not appreciate about Obama is that he is doing many things that will reinforce each other, but which are now separate and disparate. He gave a great speech in Turkey that was very well received. He has made noises about working closely with the Russians and the Iranians. All of those things are interconnected. Turkey is a majority-Muslim country, but it's also part of Europe. Turkey is in a great position to help out with the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which it has done in the past. Iran borders both Iraq and Afghanistan - working with Iran at all will hopefully have a positive impact on both wars.
Right now, the best that Obama can do is start laying groundwork for all these initiatives. None of them will bear fruit immediately. But as good things start to happen in small doses, they will accumulate. Obama is taking many small steps. But there are many, many more steps to take.