At a speech at the national convention of Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta today, President Obama will address the progress being made in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, giving special attention to the deadline for withdrawing all combat troops from Iraq by the end of the month.
Five months after its scheduled parliamentary elections, Iraq is still at a political impasse in negotiations for a governing coalition. Some assume this means the U.S. must scale back its withdrawal, or at least simply reclassify combat troops as military support troops in order to meet the deadline, but Obama is expected to signal a continued commitment to the administration’s goals:
“Make no mistake: Our commitment in Iraq is changing, from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats,” Obama said in excerpts released ahead of the speech.
Obama will also have to address goals for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, about which the Administration and House leadership voiced different expectations on the Sunday shows. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, following the administration’s recent line, downplayed the significance of the July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing troops, saying that it “will be of fairly limited numbers. … [I]t will depend on the conditions on the ground.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who’s had to contend with an increasingly discontented Democratic caucus — 102 House Democrats voted against the most recent war funding bill last week — said Americans would not be satisfied with a mere symbolic show. ”Well, I hope it is more than that,” she told ABC’s “This Week.” “I know it’s not going to be, ‘Turn out the lights and let’s all go home on one day.’ But I do think the American people expect it to be somewhere between that and a few thousand troops.”
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