Obama and his aides clearly know the administration will be judged by voters and historians alike for its handling of post-war Iraq.
Historians will decide whether invading Iraq was a strategic success or stumble, Blinken said. But he noted Iraq is "less violent" and "more democratic," as well as "more prosperous," than it has been in decades.
And, as Blinken's appearance at a public event dedicated to a situation many Americans have forgotten, the administration clearly is gearing up for campaign-trail attacks from the president's Republican foes about any incident in Iraq.
In an op-ed published this month, GOP operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie hit Obama for a "lack of regular close contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which has destroyed relationships with America's erstwhile allies." The GOP duo wrote this "is simply the most jarring, inexplicable example of this president's hands-off approach."
Blinken and other White House officials, however, describe a president who is involved in every major administration discussion and decision on Iraq, and say Obama personally reaches out to Iraqi leaders as situations warrant.