Toward a New Partnership with Iraq

Remarks by Antony Blinken, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President, Center for American Progress, Washington, DC, March 16, 2012:

Thank you, Rudy. It is great to be here at the Center for American Progress with you and with John Podesta, a great leader at the White House during the Clinton administration and the founder of this remarkable institution.

Like many in the Administration—including, I suspect, the dozens of your alumni among my colleagues—I look to CAP for sound policy ideas and analysis.

So it is pleasure to have the opportunity to try to return the favor and share some of our thinking with you.

Sunday will mark nine years since the start of the Iraq war, and three months since the last American troops crossed the border into Kuwait, ending one of our nation’s longest, and most divisive, conflicts.

The wisdom of going to war in Iraq will continue to be debated for years —I’ll leave that to the historians.

But what is beyond debate—and what news coverage of Iraq too often fails to acknowledge—is that Iraq today is less violent, more democratic and more prosperous—and the United States more deeply engaged there—than at any time in recent history.

Those of us who have been working on Iraq for a long time—including Brian Katulis, Larry Korb and others from CAP—know that this progress, while far from complete, also was far from inevitable.

It was the result of the extraordinary, awe-inspiring success and sacrifice of our troops; the resolve and resilience of the Iraqi government and people; and the steady, intense engagement of our diplomats and civilians, which continues to this day.

I appreciate the opportunity to take stock of how far Iraq has come; the profound challenges that remain; and where we hope to go in building a new, more normal relationship between Iraq and the United States.

President Obama and Vice President Biden came to office with this commitment: to end the Iraq war responsibly.

Both parts of that sentence are critical.

“End the war.”

“Responsibly.”

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