Earlier this week, President Barack Obama stood with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the South Court Auditorium of the White House to announce that “a war is ending.” Two days later, the president visited Fort Bragg to offer an encomium to post-9/11 veterans. “Your service belongs to the ages,” he told the assembled troops.
By the end of the year, all U.S. combat troops in Iraq will have slipped across the border into Kuwait, and America’s war in Iraq will be over.
This evening, President Barack Obama is set to announce his plan for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. The speech comes just weeks before the July 2011 deadline for beginning the drawdown of American forces, which the president set when he announced the 30,000-troop "surge" in December 2009.
With Osama bin Laden out of the picture, both conservatives and liberals -- including Prospect contributor Matthew Yglesias -- have pressured the president to expedite the pullout. Others, including outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and, reportedly, General David Petraeus, have argued for a slower reduction. But as Americans debate the speed of the drawdown, other important questions have been put on the backburner.