US President Barack Obama has marked the end of the nearly nine-year Iraq war that strained America’s armed forces and damaged to its status worldwide.
“It is harder to end a war than to begin one,” Obama said in his speech to about 3,000 soldiers gathered at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
Obama also said that the final work for United States military to leave Iraq has been done, and the last troops will leave the country in the next few days.
“Of course, Iraq is not a perfect place. But we are leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people,” he added.
Obama did not declare victory in Iraq but called the winding down of the conflict “an extraordinary achievement.”
This was Obama’s first visit of the Fort Bragg army base, which has seen more than 200 deaths in the nearly decade-long war in Iraq. .
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, one of the leading Republican presidential candidates, sent an open letter to Obama criticizing the unemployment rate of war veterans.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment for veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan is higher than the national average. Their rate of unemployment is rated at about 12 percent as opposed to the 9 percent nationwide average.
“It is time for a fundamental change of direction. If you won’t or can’t lead our country out of the economic morass you’ve deepened, then I would suggest that it’s time for you to go”, Romney wrote.
Currently there are about 5,500 US troops left in Iraq, down from more than 170,000 at the height of the war that Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush started in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
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