Saturday, February 28, 2009

Officially In: Chris Hill to Baghdad

I have not seen an official announcement at State but it can't get more official than this. President Obama was at Camp Leujune yesterday and gave a speech on responsibly ending the war in Iraq. Towards the second half of his speech when he talked about how the drawdown of our military should send a clear signal that Iraq’s future is now its own responsibility, he also said this:

"This effort will be led by our new Ambassador to Iraq – Chris Hill. From his time in the Peace Corps, to his work in Kosovo and Korea, Ambassador Hill has been tested, and he has shown the pragmatism and skill that we need right now. He will be supported by the courageous and capable work of so many American diplomats and aid workers who are serving in Iraq."

A few more excerpts below. Read the full text of the speech as prepared for delivery here.

[...] I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Ryan Crocker, who recently completed his service as our Ambassador to Iraq. Throughout his career, Ryan always took on the toughest assignments. He is an example of the very best that this nation has to offer, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude. He carried on his work with an extraordinary degree of cooperation with two of our finest Generals – General David Petraeus, and General Ray Odierno – who will be critical in carrying forward the strategy that I will outline today.


What we will not do is let the pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of achievable goals. We cannot rid Iraq of all who oppose America or sympathize with our adversaries. We cannot police Iraq’s streets until they are completely safe, nor stay until Iraq’s union is perfected. We cannot sustain indefinitely a commitment that has put a strain on our military, and will cost the American people nearly a trillion dollars. America’s men and women in uniform have fought block by block, province by province, year after year, to give the Iraqis this chance to choose a better future. Now, we must ask the Iraqi people to seize it.


Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.


The drawdown of our military should send a clear signal that Iraq’s future is now its own responsibility. The long-term success of the Iraqi nation will depend upon decisions made by Iraq’s leaders and the fortitude of the Iraqi people. Iraq is a sovereign country with legitimate institutions; America cannot – and should not – take their place. However, a strong political, diplomatic, and civilian effort on our part can advance progress and help lay a foundation for lasting peace and security.


So to the Iraqi people, let me be clear about America’s intentions. The United States pursues no claim on your territory or your resources. We respect your sovereignty and the tremendous sacrifices you have made for your country. We seek a full transition to Iraqi responsibility for the security of your country. And going forward, we can build a lasting relationship founded upon mutual interests and mutual respect as Iraq takes its rightful place in the community of nations.

The President has always been an effective public speaker, but here he has demonstrated his gift in Aristotelian oratory with a strong emphasis on message content and an appeal to common sense.

If you have ambitions of becoming an ambassador, best study this and all the rest. For as Torquato Tasso says in 1582, “No one can be a perfect ambassador who is not at the same time a good orator.”

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