I thought it was excellent. He was very specific, and hit all the right notes especially in framing our role vis a vis the Iraqis, at least in the context of the reality that we are there, like it or not.
Obviously the Iraqis have suffered greatly. But in the last analysis it is also true that an immense amount of American blood and treasure was expended for what ultimately is giving Iraq the opportunity to secure for itself a stable lasting constitutional democracy. Whether one supported or opposed the war, this fact is immutable.
Ironically, a war opponent like Obama has far more credibility making firm note of this to the Iraqis than would any of the warmongering interventionists who initiated the Iraq invasion and prolonged our occupation.
I hope the President sticks to his specifics and doesn't get swept into any transient dilatory mire as the deadlines approach. (Dana Garrett echoes this and other sentiments in his own well-balanced review of Obama's address).
Since I am for complete withdrawal from all middle east quagmires, especially Afghanistan (retired Army officer Ralph Peters has interesting comments on this), I can't say I am thrilled with the prospect of esclation of our forces anywhere in the middle east...or in truth, anywhere on Earth. Nonetheless I will take progress on this front wherever we can get it.
This is especially true since the war drums are already beating in Tel Aviv and in neocon bunkers across the U.S. for a showdown with the big enchilada this bunch has always had in their sights : Iran.
Given the (at least historically-) strong influence of these war-happy forces (Pat Buchanan calls them "The War Party" in an excellent column today) Obama is wise to quickly put to rest the question of where we are headed in Iraq and to brightly turn on the light at the end of the tunnel.
He has gone a long way to clearing the air and delineating our policies such that we can at least begin acting with far more discrimination and some level of predictability in our middle east adventurism and its ongoing vestiges.
Now, given that I have found so much Obama rhetoric often totally to contradict his actions, I intend to remain cautious in my optimism. A speech is a speech is a speech. Obama is great at giving them.
Follow-through is a lot tougher, and this will certainly not be as simple a task as steam-rolling the minority party in Congress, for example.
But overall, good show Mr. President.