That’s it: “This war is ending.” But it’s ending in a certain way — with success. It could have ended with failure. Success rather than failure in Iraq has made a big difference elsewhere in the Middle East — including in Iran. Of course Obama didn’t allude to the possibility — let alone embrace the prospect — of regime change in Iran. But that possibility exists, and it exists in part because of the relative success of freedom and democracy in Shia-governed Iraq next door.

Yet Obama can’t bring himself to say that we prevailed in Iraq. He did say that “tonight, all of our men and women in uniform — in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world must know that they have our respect, our gratitude, and our full support.” But he won’t say that we are grateful for their victory in a war where defeat would have been disastrous.