It took U.S. President Barack Obama 15 minutes to "turn the page" on the Iraq war, which lasted seven years and five months, and announce Iraq's sovereignty and the withdrawal of nearly all U.S. troops from Iraq.
In his second State of the Union address delivered on August 31, the U.S. President said Operation Iraqi Freedom was over, although this is not quite equivalent to winning a war.
Obama also said he has fulfilled his "pledge to the American people" which he made as a presidential candidate to return U.S. troops home. Indeed, 90,000 troops have been removed from Iraq and the remaining 50,000 troops deployed at 94 bases can be easily turned from combat units into groups of advisers teaching Iraqi army, the police, security services, and so on.
The U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq has become essential as the Iraqi war is the most unpopular military operation in the United States since Vietnam, even though fewer Americans have died there (4,500) than in Vietnam (more than 50,000).
Obama has ended the combat mission in Iraq because he had to do it. Republicans have spoiled his summer and promised him a bad autumn. The president's rating plunged below 50% ahead of November 2, when the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate are to be elected.
Americans are dissatisfied with Obama's economic policy, social cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, they are looking at the president with a degree of distrust, thanks to the Republican and radical rightwing election campaign currently under way in the United States. "Is he a Christian at all?" they wonder.
Obama is facing a double challenge: nobody cares that he is still working to resolve the problems he inherited from George W. Bush such as the economic and financial crises and the Afghan and Iraqi wars. Americans are an impatient people in life and politics, and double so when the problem concerns their welfare and prosperity. One could feel sorry for "friend Barack." Democrats may lose many seats at the November elections or even become a minority in Congress.
All Obama can offer them so far is a solution to the Iraqi problem, and then not a final solution. He promised to remove U.S. troops from Iraq but has fulfilled his promise only partially by September 1. However, the situation in Iraq has not been settled or stabilized and the interim Iraqi government is depressed over the rapid withdrawal of foreign troops. Six months after the spring elections, the country still does not have an "inclusive" government and nearly all analysts forecast an aggravation of internal quarrels and a growth of fighting in Iraq.
The White House has started elaborating a strategy for the future presidential elections to be held in November 2012. This is nothing unexpected as the presidential race usually begins in the United States 18 months before the elections.
There are many indications of the Obama team's concern over inadequate results of the president's two years in office, although he was unlikely to score any great successes because of the difficult inheritance such as the two wars and the economic and financial crises. Evidence of their desperation is Obama's decision to address the problem of the Middle East conflict.
On September 1 he is to meet in Washington with President of the Palestinian National Authority and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are to be resumed on September 2. Many U.S. presidents tried to resolve that problem, but none as much as advanced it to the desired end.
The U.S.-Russian New START treaty, which U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev promised to ratify without delay, could fall victim to the Republican offensive.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is to vote on the treaty in mid September, which means that the debates will begin only in October shortly before the congressional elections. Republicans have formulated 700 questions on the treaty to the administration with the apparent goal to delay it.
The treaty must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate, which means that Democrats (59 seats) need to convince another 8 Republicans to support it. Currently they have only one guaranteed Republican vote and little, if any, hope that ratification is going to happen before November.
RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.