What they’re saying about the Iraq withdrawal

President Obama has announced that all U.S. troops except about 150 will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year; the few remaining troops will protect the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and serve as trainers.

From Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney:

“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“I applaud President Obama for a promise kept. Today is a day to honor our troops and our military families who have sacrificed so much over the last nine years to give the Iraqi people a chance at a better future. It is now up to the Iraqis to secure their country and provide opportunity for all their people.”

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“The continued drawdown of American troops that began under the previous administration wouldn’t be possible if not for the hard work and sacrifice of our service members, diplomats and their families. While on a congressional visit to Iraq this year, several lawmakers and I saw firsthand the progress our men and women in uniform had made. American forces not only freed Iraq from a vicious tyrant, but – under the strategy developed and implemented by our generals, and the leadership of both President Bush and President Obama – ended a violent terrorist insurgency that threatened the Iraqi people, and provided an opportunity for the Iraqi government to build the capacity needed to effectively meet the needs of the country.

“We must never forget the sacrifice of those who’ve served and all who will soon be making the journey home. And we owe it to them to continue engaging with the Iraqi government in a way that ensures our hard-fought gains translate into long-term success. While I’m concerned that a full withdrawal could jeopardize those gains, I’m hopeful that both countries will work together to guarantee that a free and democratic Iraq remains a strong and stable partner for the United States in the Middle East.

“We must also keep working to ensure our veterans have our full support as they return home to a tough economy. That’s why the House recently passed a bipartisan veterans hiring bill that provides training and assistance to unemployed veterans, and breaks down barriers preventing them from finding work.”

From Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont:

“I am happy to hear President Obama’s announcement that our troops will be completely withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year. This is significant progress in the right direction. However, I am still concerned about the thousands of contractors who will continue to work in Iraq, and whether their continued presence constitutes a real withdrawal from the nation. While I hope the transition to a self-governing Iraq is a smooth one, I also hope for a true withdrawal of U.S. involvement.”

More, after the jump…

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“This is a huge victory for those of us who have been pushing for an end to the war in Iraq. I look forward to welcoming our brave men and women back home for the holidays. We will never forget the enormous sacrifices made by so many of our brave men and women and their families. We must honor our commitment to our veterans.

“This move fulfills the call of a letter to the President that I spearheaded in July, along with 92 members of Congress, urging the Administration hold to our nation’s Status of Forces Agreement with the government of Iraq that commits our nation to bringing all of our troops and military contractors home at the end of this calendar year. It also fulfills the objective of legislation I introduced, H.R. 2757, The Iraq Withdrawal Accountability Act of 2011, which limited military funds to solely supporting the swift and safe withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq.

“Again, I am extremely pleased with the decision by President Obama to follow through on his commitment to execute a safe, responsible, and complete withdrawal of the troops in Iraq. This move will save tens of billions of dollars, reduce regional instability, and enhance our standing throughout the world.”

From Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough:

“I applaud the President for fulfilling his promise to end the war in Iraq and bring home all of our troops. As our brave men and women come home, we must make sure they receive the services and help they deserve to reintegrate into civilian life. It is time for us to wind down America’s wars abroad and focus on creating jobs here at home and investing in our country.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove:

“President Obama has put America’s national security and the wellbeing of our brave men and women in uniform first by committing to bring our troops home from Iraq by the end of the year. I want to congratulate President Obama for definitively ending this misguided war. Airmen at Travis Air Force Base will play a critical role in bringing our service members home, and I look forward to thanking many of them in person soon.

“Every American willing to risk everything for our country is a hero and deserves a hero’s welcome. I recently visited Walter Reed hospital, where I met with wounded warriors and saw first-hand the devastating effects of war – sometimes visible but often psychological. My staff is prepared to help every returning combat veteran in our district gain access to the resources they need to live long and fulfilling lives.

“It is the job of the military to defend America. It is the job of Congress to make sure that we never put our troops needlessly in harm’s way, and I would be negligent in my duties if I didn’t examine what the Iraq War means for the security of America. I was opposed to the Iraq War from Day One, because I thought it was a war of choice that distracted our country from the very real threat of al Qaeda.

“As we’ve seen in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, people-powered movements, sometimes with international assistance, offer a far more effective and affordable opportunity to rid the world of tyrannical regimes.

“Iraq’s future is now in the hands of Iraqis, and I wish them all the best. America still has a role in helping the people of Iraq transition to a freer, fairer, more democratic, and more prosperous country that respects human rights. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I know that an American hand extended in friendship can transform lives and even reshape the hearts and minds of people who have been traumatized by the specter of war. With America’s military involvement in Iraq now over, I hope our country remains committed to being a productive voice in the peace building process.”

From Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma:

“In 2005, I called for the first vote to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. With the President’s announcement today, I am grateful that goal, even if it’s long overdue, will finally be reached.

“It’s heartbreaking that our nation has lost more than 4,400 service members, spent more than $799 billion, and left emotional and mental scars throughout our country and Iraq in this unjustifiable war.

“Today’s announcement again highlights the need for President Obama to end our occupation of Afghanistan immediately. It is time to move toward a Smart Security plan that emphasizes a diplomatic surge and a focus on development in place of warfare. Our nation cannot afford the senseless loss of blood and treasure. I honor the sacrifice of every American who has served in Iraq over the last eight and a half years. I look forward to their safe arrival back home and a happy reunion with their families.”

UPDATE @ 2:51 P.M.: From Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto:

“I voted against the Iraq war resolution in 2002, and since then I have fought to end this war. It has cost us dearly. There have been over 4,400 U.S. lives lost and more than 30,000 U.S. soldiers wounded. Our country has spent trillions of dollars in Iraq during a profound economic downturn, and our international reputation has been needlessly tarnished by a war that should never have taken place. I’ve waited a long time to hear the news that our troops will finally come home.

“I pay tribute to the men and women of our armed services who have served our country with honor. As they return, we should reward them with economic and educational opportunities.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.