Obama about-face in war policy

SOURCE: Jon Letman (jonletman@hawaiian.net) SUBHEAD: Announcement a welcome change from continuation of Bush policy. By Sam Izdat on 1 April 2009 in the London Daily News LONDON (AP) In a major policy shift and surprise announcement, President Barack Obama has turned the G20 summit in London as a forum to announce the United States will accelerate its withdrawal from Iraq and the closure of all U.S. military bases in that country. A total withdrawal has been moved up from August 2011 to July 31, 2009. More startling, however, was today's unexpected announcement that the U.S. is going to begin withdrawing all military personnel and advisors from Afghanistan starting this summer. Fresh from a meeting with British prime minister Gordon Brown and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Obama said, "I want to be clear about this - in this time of global financial crisis, America simply cannot afford to police the world or chase terrorists without a time limit. To continue the same policies of the previous administration would utterly irresponsible." In the wake of a deadly attack on a police academy in the Pakistani city of Lahore that killed eight policemen and injured nearly 100 on Monday, Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud claimed responsibility and threatened to attack the White House in retaliation for continued U.S. missile strikes. Although Obama officials deny a direct link, the U.S. president today announced, "It's over. We are wrapping up this so-called War on Terror and bringing all our military home now. All of them. To continue our occupation - and let us make no mistake, that's what this has been - of both Afghanistan and Iraq, is wrong. Very wrong." Obama went on to say that the U.S. would immediately cease unmanned predator drone attacks along the Pakistan-Afghan border which have reportedly killed nearly 300 civilians since 2008. The U.S. military's use of unmanned drones has gone from a handful to over 5,000 since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. "For the U.S. to have men and women sitting in bunkers safely in the United States operating drones that bomb foreign countries and kill innocent civilians is indefensible and the U.S. is terminating this policy starting today. If Americans wanted the War on Terror to continue, they could have voted for a third Bush term." Obama said. He added that U.S. citizens who believe America will stop waging war as described above must really be April Fools. .

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