The Washington Post front-pages the risks for Obama regarding Iraq. “President Obama is promoting the decision to end the U.S. combat mission in Iraq on Tuesday as a fulfillment of his campaign promise to draw the war to a close. But some of the president's detractors are using the same moment to question the wisdom of doing so - noting that Iraq is still afflicted with violence and has yet to form a government.”
USA Today: “President Obama heads to Fort Bliss in Texas today to thank troops for their service before addressing the nation from the Oval Office tonight about the end of combat operations in Iraq… Today's task: trying to convince a skeptical public that a war he didn't start and didn't support ended as well as it could have on his watch. A recent USA TODAY Poll found that 60% of Americans do not believe the situation in Iraq warranted sending troops into battle.”
More: “In marking the transition from combat to a role supporting the Iraqis, Obama will not make the ‘mission accomplished’ declaration that was on a banner hanging near President George W. Bush when Bush declared that major combat operations were over in Iraq as he spoke aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003. ‘You won't hear those words coming from us,’ White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday. Instead, in the second Oval Office address of his presidency — the first was June 15 on the BP oil spill — Obama will discuss ‘what does this drawdown now mean for our national security.’”
The New York Times says that Obama “will still strike a promises-kept theme, aides said, even as he seeks to reconcile his opposition to the Iraq war — and his opposition to the so-called troop surge, which Republicans and many military officials credit for the decrease in violence in Iraq — with his role as a wartime commander in chief seeking to credit his troops with carrying out a difficult mission. The president, his aides said, will seek to honor the American soldiers who served in Iraq.”
The BBC: “Iraq's prime minister has said the country is ‘independent’ as the US formally ends combat operations. Nouri Maliki said the country's security forces would now deal with all threats, domestic or other… ‘Iraq today is sovereign and independent,’ Mr Maliki told Iraqis in a televised address.”
“We’re going to be just fine. They’re going to be just fine,’’ Vice President Biden said in Iraq yesterday, per the Washington Post.
In Afghanistan, meanwhile: “Five U.S. troops were killed by roadside bombs and insurgent fire in southern and eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, the latest casualties in a particularly bloody spell that has left 12 service members dead in two days, and 19 since Saturday.”
Per NBC’s Athena Jones, Obama will host a series of bilateral meetings on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Abbas, Egyptian President Mubarak, and Jordan's King Abdullah. Obama will likely deliver a statement on the Middle East peace process some time late on Wednesday afternoon.
The New York Times writes up Obama’s remarks on the economy yesterday. “He chided Senate Republicans for engaging in ‘pure partisan politics’ by holding up a jobs bill that would offer tax breaks to small businesses and ease credit with a $30 billion initiative to channel loans through community banks. ‘I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade,’ Mr. Obama said. The president also said he and his team were ‘hard at work in identifying additional measures,’ including extending tax cuts for the middle class that are scheduled to expire this year, increasing government investment in clean energy and rebuilding more infrastructure.”