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Obamas plan for Iraq, Afghanistan on target

President Barack Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night for the second time in his nearly two- year presidency.

He used the opportunity to announce the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom combat operations and to unveil future plans for America’s role at home and abroad.

While many may disagree with the president on ideological grounds, his plans for future U.S. operations in the Middle East is on target, working to preserve U.S. security without the continual loss of U.S. resources and lives.

Obama’s plan calls for the remaining 50,000 troops in Iraq to withdraw by the end of the year, joining about 100,000 that have already done so and paving the way for the eventual use of civilian diplomats and advisers instead of troops.

With this, an increased effort at maintaining security will be put back on Afghanistan, where plans for the 9/11 terrorist attacks originated. However, this involvement will only be temporary, as Obama recognizes the futility of an “open-ended war.”

“But, as was the case in Iraq, we cannot do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves. That’s why we are training Afghan security forces and supporting a political resolution to Afghanistan’s problems,” Obama said in his address.

“And, next July, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure,” he said. But make no mistake: this transition will begin – because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.”

The U.S. cannot ultimately decide the fate of two nations. They’re both places comprised of peoples whose loyalties are divided along ethnic, tribal, religious, cultural and political lines, which only they can overcome.

The American military will be unable to use bullets and bombs as effective tools of diplomacy, which Obama understands and explained in his speech.

“We must use all elements of our power – including our diplomacy, our economic strength and the power of America’s example – to secure our interests and stand by our allies,” he said.

He emphasized improving the U.S. economy by sustaining the middle class, as well as a foreign policy that’s “based upon mutual interests and mutual respect.”

All of these qualities will present a U.S. that’s bent on peace and prosperity – not war.

There is no reason to persist in Iraq, where America’s image has been tarnished in the world’s eyes and cost the country more than $1 trillion during a brutal economic recession.

Obama rightly believes the nation’s path to restoring a good quality of life for its citizens revolves around ending its military endeavor in Afghanistan and rebuilding a U.S. economy that finds many Americans struggling to afford basic necessities.