Surging Toward the Withdrawal Speech

Bloggers are airing their thoughts on President Obama’s Iraq speech tonight. Marc Ambinder says the president will underline the point that drawing down in Iraq will allow the United States “to refocus attention on the threat from al-Qaeda worldwide.” Ambinder is left to wonder, though, whether Obama will give any credit to his predecessor.

Meanwhile, The Swamp reports that there won’t be any “Mission Accomplished” moments. That’s fine, says Politics Daily’s Jill Lawrence, but what she really wants to hear are the words “never again.” And we may not get beat over our heads with a big banner, but TNI’s Bruce Hoffman warns that Americans shouldn’t get lulled into thinking the violence in Iraq is over, either.

Spencer Ackerman agrees that the war is “no less real after tonight,” and Kori Schake argues that Obama needs to explain the why State Department “will be performing inherently military tasks” from here on out. Peter Feaver hopes the president will give a “candid, reality-based speech,” but was disappointed by the “gimmicks” in his Iraq-focused radio address last weekend. And he thinks “rigid adherence to the artificial September 2010 deadline” failed miserably because Iraq's government remains gridlocked.

But Marc Lynch writes that despite “skeptics on all sides” downplaying the moment (either George W. Bush isn’t getting enough credit, or there are too many troops still there, or violence is still too high, or the political situation is unresolved), meeting Obama’s “self-imposed deadline” for withdrawal “really does matter” because “it took Obama's determination to actually draw down to actually make it happen.” Steve Benen is also keen to credit Obama, taking on GOP critics trying to either shift praise toward the Bush administration or expressing doubt over bringing troops home.