Obama and Biden strategy for Iraq faces big turning point
There's been so much focus on Afghanistan lately, it's been easy to forget about the war in Iraq -- but big things are about to happen there as well.
Sponsor:Click2.infoVice President Joe Biden's surprise trip to Baghdad this week was designed in part to brace the Iraqis for the end of the U.S. combat mission in their country, currently set for Aug. 31.
Biden also reminded the Iraqis that the U.S. will continue to provide assistance for the foreseeable future.
On "August 31st, we will change our military mission by drawing closer to all of you, not further apart," Biden said at an Independence Day reception with Iraqi guests. "Out commitment to you will not disappear on August 31st; it will grow stronger. As you continue to stand up and build your democracy, we'll be there with you economically, politically, socially, science, education."
Even with the end of combat operations, some 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq to train and advise the Iraqi military, and assist with counter-terrorism operations.
Biden, who has become Obama's point person on Iraq, has also been speaking with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and election challenger Iyad Allawi about forming a new Iraqi government.
During the reception, Biden told Iraqi leaders: "The concept of subordinating your individual interest is fundamental to the success of any nation ... So my plea to you is, finish what you started -- a truly legitimate and representative government that meets the needs and aspirations of all Iraqi people."
Biden also reminded the Iraqis that the United States had a fractious start 234 years ago.
"When our Founders did it, when they signed that Declaration (of Independence), many of them did not even like one another," Biden said. "You think I'm joking; I'm not -- I'm absolutely confident you will do it."
(Posted by David Jackson)