“Saying it is ‘time to turn the page’ on one of the most divisive chapters in American history, President Obama declared the U.S. war in Iraq over Tuesday night, telling the nation that he was fulfilling his campaign pledge to stop a war he had opposed from the start,” the Washington Post writes.
USA Today: “President George W. Bush announced the beginning of combat operations in Iraq in an unyielding four-minute speech to the nation in March 2003, declaring, ‘We will accept no outcome but victory,’ and promising that the U.S.-led invasion would ‘bring freedom to others.’ Seven years later, sitting behind the same historic desk, President Obama announced the end of combat operations by U.S. forces with a restrained 19-minute address that didn't claim the war had been ‘won’ and offered only measured predictions of what lies ahead in Iraq.”
The Los Angeles Times adds, “Addressing the nation for only the second time from the Oval Office, the president appealed for support from a country impatient for progress on unemployment and other economic woes and increasingly weary of wars, including the one in Afghanistan, which Obama has chosen to escalate.”
The Wall Street Journal: “The Oval Office address and a quick trip to the Army's Fort Bliss, outside El Paso, Texas, culminated a two-day commemoration of the end of combat operations in Iraq. Vice President Joe Biden touched down in Baghdad on Monday and declared Tuesday morning that "not withstanding what the national press says," the nation of Iraq is "much safer" than understood.”
Per NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, senior officials say "it was a slip" when the president said "next August, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility." The officials emphasize it is NOT a change in the Afghanistan withdrawal policy, which states the conditions-based drawdown will begin in July 2011. The prepared remarks the White House distributed just prior to the speech read: "next July, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure." So the president changed the month on the fly.