Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) issued the following statement in response to President Obama's announcement that all American troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Rep. Engel is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"I applaud President Obama for this decision to bring our troops home and I hope in the not-so-distant future he can do the same in Afghanistan. After nearly nine years, the war in Iraq is finally coming to a close. The President fulfilled his campaign promise to end the war, which has lasted twice as long as World War II, cost our nation billions of dollars and sadly we have lost approximately 4,500 American lives. I have been calling for the end of the war since 2007, and at long last it is coming true. While the mission was often muddled, the bravery and dedication of our men and women in uniform was never in question. They can return home for the holidays, to the loved ones they left behind, knowing that they served their country honorably, and that they have the gratitude of the entire nation.
"This action is long overdue, and has my full support. Unfortunately, the lasting legacy of this war is the emboldening of Iran, the loss of American lives, and the sacrifices we must now demand in order to pay the bills and take care of America's veterans. I fully believe the war in Afghanistan could have ended long ago, if we didn't divert attention and resources to Iraq.
"Iraq once again belongs to the Iraqi people. Between this, the deaths of Moamar Qadaffi and Osama bin Laden, the systematic elimination of al Qaeda leaders, and the continued withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, perhaps this long chapter in our history will come to a close. We must remain vigilant, as our enemies still lurk and remain committed to attacking us at home and abroad. However, today is a great day for the families of our service men and women, for the Iraqi people and for the American people. I commend the President for his actions, and look forward to the day where the last American boot finally leaves Iraqi soil."