Politics

Obama Promises Afghan Pullout, Despite Iraq Lesson

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama reiterated his intention to pull nearly all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan Tuesday, despite the disasters that afflicted Iraq after his rapid withdrawal in 2011.

“America’s longest war will come to a responsible end,” he told the annual meeting of the American Legion, held in North Carolina.

He repeated the same message twice more, underlining his determination to withdraw U.S. forces despite the risk of an offensive by the Taliban jihadi movement.

Obama did, however, offer a vague promise of future aid for Afghanistan. After the withdrawal, “we’ll partner with Afghans so their country can never again be used to launch an attack against the United States,” he said.

“Even as our war in Afghanistan comes to an end, we will stay vigilant,” he said.

He also acknowledged the post-withdrawal problems in Iraq as he promised continued support for Iraq.

In the last few months, a jihadi army has emerged from war-torn Syria and recently attacked cities and regions occupied by non-Muslims in northern Iraq. Those populations have largely fled, partly because the jihadis — dubbed the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant — have murdered and enslaved non-Muslims.

The ISIL force also recently murdered an American journalist to deter renewed U.S. intervention. “America does not forget, our reach is long, we are patient. Justice will be done,” he said about the murder.

“Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won’t be easy, won’t be quick,” he said, and must be done with allies and a rejuvenated Iraqi government.

Most of his speech, however, was given over to list of government benefits for veterans, and promises of reform at the Veterans Administration’s badly managed hospitals.

The lists of new and existing benefits for veterans include cheaper mortgages, quicker professional certifications and cheaper education loans.

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