At what time he speaks from the Oval Office on Tuesday nighttime, Barack Obama will transport one of the hardest addresses of his government. All right, he's had hard ones previous to - on Afghanistan, health care and the BP oil spill. Other than Tuesday's language marking the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq confronts Obama with a topic that defies easy clarification, a policy that allows little self-congratulation and a following climate in which Iraq's place is not clear.
Present are three reasons for that lack of clearness. The first is that Iraq itself is in an open to doubt place. The Obama direction had hoped that by now a third democratically designated government would be performance in Baghdad, but five months after national elections in March, a following stalemate drags on.
Iraq may yet emerge as a comparatively American-friendly exemplar of Middle East democracy. But it's still possible that more chaos and civil war - perhaps leading to something far more sinister - lie around the corner. Obama simply can't claim closure.