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Obama announces Iraq pullout
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Obama announces Iraq pullout

One of longest wars in U.S. history nears end

President Barack Obama announced Friday that the U.S. will withdraw all of its troops from Iraq by the end of the year, and said that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in “full agreement” with the plan.

"After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over," he said in a statement to reporters.  “Our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays.”

Obama pledged a commitment to a stable Iraq, and said the U.S. will continue discussions with the country on how to best train Iraqi security and forces. By Jan. 1, 2012, the U.S. will have a “normal relationship” between two sovereign countries based on “mutual respect.”

More than one million Americans have served in Iraq since the beginning of the war in 2003 and nearly 4,500 U.S. troops have died in the fight, he said.

The withdrawal in Iraq coincides with a drawdown of forces in Afghanistan, as well. At the beginning of Obama’s presidency, around 180,000 troops were stationed in the country. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, Obama said.

The president also used the opportunity to make a brief statement on the death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s death on Thursday. He said the U.S. military had played an important role in shaping the situation on the ground that ultimately led to Gaddafi’s fall.

Share your thoughts

Share your thoughts as one of the longest wars in American history winds down. Did the U.S. accomplish what it set out to do in Iraq? Was the war worth it, or should it never have been fought? Have you say in the comments, below.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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McCain's statement

U.S. Sen. John McCain blasted the decision to withdraw troops from Iraq:

Today marks a harmful and sad setback for the United States in the world. I respectfully disagree with the President: this decision will be viewed as a strategic victory for our enemies in the Middle East, especially the Iranian regime, which has worked relentlessly to ensure a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It is a consequential failure of both the Obama Administration -- which has been more focused on withdrawing from Iraq than succeeding in Iraq since it came into office -- as well as the Iraqi government.

I share the desire for all of our troops to come home as quickly as possible. But all of our military commanders with whom I have spoken on my repeated visits to Iraq have told me that U.S. national security interests and the enduring needs of Iraq’s military required a continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond 2011 to safeguard the gains that we and our Iraqi partners have made. I am confident that no U.S. commander of any stature who has served in Iraq recommended the course of action that has now been taken.

Nearly 4,500 Americans have given their lives for our mission in Iraq. Countless more have been wounded. Through their service and sacrifice, the possibility of a democratic state in the heart of the Middle East has been opened to millions of Iraqis. I fear that all of the gains made possible by these brave Americans in Iraq, at such grave cost, are now at risk.

Grijalva's statement

U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, hailed the president's announcement:

President Obama’s announcement is a victory for America and another monumental step toward the end of the disastrous foreign policy of the Bush era. We thank the president for fulfilling his promise to the American people to end this misguided war quickly and responsibly. For nearly a decade, Americans across the country spoke out against this war, and now we can turn the page on a troubled period in American history. This is a long overdue victory for not just the people of Iraq, but the progressive movement that consistently opposed this costly and unjustified war.

As the president honors his commitment to America’s voters, we must also honor our commitment to our veterans by ensuring that they and their families receive the full benefits they have earned. We owe them nothing less.

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