President Barack Obama has announced that "the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year," though, as CNN notes, that might not be entirely accurate:
Of the 39,000 troops in Iraq, only about 150, a negligible force, will remain to assist in arms sales.
Still, the winding down of a conflict that cost the lives of nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and likely more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians is a welcome development to many Americans. Polling has shown a steady decrease in enthusiasm for all of the Middle East wars, with a 2010 Gallup poll finding that 55 percent of Americans think sending troops to Iraq was a mistake and only 41 percent saying it wasn't. Additionally, a CNN poll found in 2010 that 69 percent of Americans are opposed to the Iraq War.
So, the question is this: What took Obama so long? And why is he keeping troops in Afghanistan, in a war that is nearly as unpopular with the American people as Iraq is? One explanation comes from Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, who says that "born-again neocon" Obama just learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Another theory was explored by Reason.tv when we posited that the near-disappearance of the antiwar movement meant that the American left just doesn't care all that much about foreign policy unless a Republican is in office.
While the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement has given a new home to some of the antiwar protesters, Obama's forays into Libya and Uganda have been either tacitly accepted or even applauded by mainstream liberals.
Obama also says he plans to bring troop levels in Afghanistan down by the end of this year… to the same levels they were when he first took office. The reduction of troops in Iraq is a landmark moment, and will likely regain Obama some of his antiwar cred with certain voters. But it's still not clear that the Nobel Peace Prize-winning POTUS has done all that much to distinguish himself from his predecessor on matters of foreign policy.