03/26/2014 02:49 pm ET

Obama's Iraq War Defense Met With Surprise

SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

President Obama's surprisingly warm words about the Iraq War on Wednesday caused the equivalent of a double take all over Twitter.

Many have said that the US condemnation of the Russian invasion of Crimea is somewhat hampered by America's past in Iraq.

But, in a speech on Wednesday, Obama gave a staunch defense of the way America had handled the war:

“It is true that the Iraq War was a subject of vigorous debate – not just around the world, but in the United States as well. I happened to oppose our military intervention there. But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory, nor did we grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state could make decisions about its own future.”

Many journalists and commentators pronounced their faint astonishment about Obama's comments: