President Obama promised that Afghanistan is “not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again” during a Christmas meeting with service members, an echo of the pledge he made regarding Iraq before U.S. troops withdrew and the Islamic State took over major cities in the country.
“Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country,” Obama said. “It’s not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again.” The president added that “the world is better, it’s safer, it’s more peaceful, it’s more prosperous and our homeland is protected because of you and the sacrifices each and every day.”
It’s a bold pledge, given how his assessment of the world at the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq was overtaken by events.
“The tide of war is receding,” the president said in 2011. “The drawdown in Iraq allowed us to refocus our fight against al-Qaeda and achieve major victories against its leadership — including Osama bin Laden. Now, even as we remove our last troops from Iraq, we’re beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan, where we’ve begun a transition to Afghan security and leadership.”
The U.S. killed the Islamic State-installed governor of Mosul, a major Iraqi city ruled by the terrorist group, in an air strike this week.
Here are Obama’s remarks, as transcribed in the pool report:
Because of the extraordinary service of the men and women in the Armed Forces. Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country. We are safer. It’s not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again. And we still have some very difficult missions around the world, including in Iraq. We still have folks in Afghanistan helping the Afghan security forces. We have people helping to deal with Ebola in Africa and obviously we have folks stationed all around the world. But the world is better, it’s safer, it’s more peaceful, It’s more prosperous and our homeland is protected because of you and the sacrifices each and every day. So on a day when we celebrate the Prince of Peace and many of us count or blessings one of the greatest blessings we have is the extraordinary dedication and sacrifices you all make. We could not be more thankful. I know I speak for everyone in the entire country when I say, we salute you.