Today, in addressing the troops at Fort Bliss, Obama properly gave our military hearty praise. He added this:
There’s still a lot of work that we’ve got to do to make sure that Iraq is an effective partner with us. But the fact of the matter is that because of the extraordinary service that all of you have done, and so many people here at Fort Bliss have done, Iraq has an opportunity to create a better future for itself, and America is more secure.
Well, that’s a very positive sign: he is heeding the advice of many conservatives to abstain from the “you’re on your own” language and to stress our ongoing commitment. But the second part is extraordinary. For the first time I can recall, Obama said that the Iraq war has made America more secure. I would point out that as candidate, he not only opposed the war but did so on grounds that it would make us less safe. It is quite a concession, as one of my colleagues pointed out.
This will no doubt infuriate the president’s leftist base. But maybe Obama has written it and the 2010 elections off (forget pumping up the enthusiasm among Democrats, because it is hopeless). If so, this is a positive development and we should encourage more of the same — a full-throated endorsement of our commitment to Afghanistan, a renunciation of the deadline for troop withdrawal, a robust statement that military force remains an option in Iran, and a stinging denunciation of the murders in Israel today. After 18 months, maybe the president has decided to step up into the role of commander in chief. Time will tell.