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First sight of Obama Iraq speech

Mark Mardell | 23:31 UK time, Tuesday, 31 August 2010

That's enough about Iraq, let's talk about jobs.

You could argue that is at least part of President Barack Obama's message tonight to an audience that may be proud of the troops but is rather fed up with foreign wars and is very worried about the still-floundering economy.

It is difficult to judge whether that will be the overall impression at the end of the speech from the few extracts that have been seen so far, but I expect it is at least one of the messages.

When the president speaks tonight he will say he has kept his campaign promise, but he will be ambivalent about whether the war he was against was in the end worth it.

Ending this war is not only in Iraq's interest - it is in our own. The US has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people - a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilisation. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.

The war may have dented the US's ability to lead in the world, but Mr Obama will make it clear that the country should still lead.

This milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that our future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment. It should also serve as a message to the world that the United States of America intends to sustain and strengthen our leadership in this young century.

One of the main extracts the White House has chosen to release in advance stresses the president's overriding concerns, like those of the voters, are domestic and economic.

Today, our most urgent task is to restore our economy, and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work. To strengthen our middle class, we must give all our children the education they deserve, and all our workers the skills that they need to compete in a global economy.  We must jumpstart industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil. We must unleash the innovation that allows new products to roll off our assembly lines, and nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs.  This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people, and my central responsibility as president.

He will be hoping it doesn't take seven and a half years to declare the war on the home front over. If it does it will be too late for him.


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