Obama's Iraq Speech: Expect It to Be Sober and Low Key
You won't hear "Mission Accomplished" or see any swagger over the troop pullout. Iraq is still a dangerous place.
And just this morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned of "premature victory parades," acknowledging that al-Qaida in Iraq and surrounding countries has been weakened but not defeated. "I am not saying that all is, or necessarily will be, well in Iraq," Gates told a crowd at the American Legion in Milwaukee. He also said that a military victory in Afghanistan is merely "possible," not certain.
Gone is the cowboy-ish hubris of the Bush years that got us into this mess; welcome to the realistic, sober assessments of an administration coming to grips with its own shortcomings. And lest you should think this is some sort of internal secret, take a look at the story emblazoned on this week's Economist: "After Iraq: The Limits of American Power."
After his speech tonight, during which it's likely the president will have all the bursting optimism of Secretary Gates this morning, Obama will, within hours, begin trying to massage peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Wednesday. Not only are these talks coming on the heels of a recalcitrant Israel moving forward -- to the U.S.'s chagrin -- with plans for settlements on Palestinian land, but they're coming as America is realizing that, just maybe, the turmoil in the Middle East may be beyond its historically lengthy and powerful reach.
It's frightening to think, especially with Osama bin Laden and many of his cronies still on the loose, but perhaps the Obama administration will never be able to utter "mission accomplished," though not for lack of trying. Sometimes you just have to follow the wisdom of Alabama: "Little, little can I give."
Cord Jefferson is The Root's Washington correspondent.