Sunday, December 18, 2011

Well, that’s that… Stick a fork in the Iraq war

From 2011-12 (Dec)

Well, not that it was a “war.”  We haven’t fought a “war” since WWII. 

But yeah, it was a war.  It always seemed silly to me when I was a kid that a lot of people made a big deal about Vietnam not being a war.  Sure looked like a war to me.

And the Iraq conflict, apparently, for now, has entered a new phase where we have no boots on the ground except for those tied to the embassy in Baghdad.  Does that mean it is over?  God knows.  I suspect it is not over for the Iraqis but we can all hope for the best.

I wonder how this will go down in the win/loss/tie column?  The Ba’ath Regime definitely lost.  However, when you hear American military personnel talking about the logistical nightmare of pulling out the forces while still under fire from enemy combatants, it seems problematic to call it one in the win column for the United States.

Obama mail in my inbox this A.M…

Friend --

Early this morning, the last of our troops left Iraq.

As we honor and reflect on the sacrifices that millions of men and women made for this war, I wanted to make sure you heard the news.

Bringing this war to a responsible end was a cause that sparked many Americans to get involved in the political process for the first time. Today's outcome is a reminder that we all have a stake in our country's future, and a say in the direction we choose.

Thank you.

Barack

Nine years, nearly a trillion dollars later, with perhaps an additional trillion to go over the next 30 years when it comes to taking care of the veterans (figures from NPR), and, well, I just do not know….

It all just leaves me feeling pretty hollow at this point. 

Last U.S. Troops Make Quiet Exit Out Of Iraq : NPR:

Gen. Lloyd Austin, who commanded all U.S. troops in Iraq, says he was also worried about roadside attacks as the troops pulled out. He flew down to COB Adder for the last casing of the colors, when the army division's flag is put into its case and sent back home to the U.S.

This war is not like other wars that have ended with the signing of treaties or an exit from friendly territory, Austin says. One American base not far from COB Adder recently had 47 rocket attacks in a single day. Pulling tens of thousands of troops out in this kind of environment is a logistical marvel, he says.

"You're reposturing while people are still trying to cause you harm," Austin says. "That means that every element that moves has to be protected. It is the most difficult undertaking in our lifetime, in our military career."

Deadly Iraq war ends with exit of last U.S. troops - CNN.com:

Early Sunday, as the sun ascended to the winter sky, the very last American convoy made its way down the main highway that connects Iraq and Kuwait.

The military called it its final "tactical road march." A series of 110 heavily armored, hulking trucks and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles carrying about 500 soldiers streamed slowly but steadily out of the combat zone.

A few minutes before 8 a.m., the metal gate behind the last MRAP closed. With it came to an end a deadly and divisive war that lasted almost nine years, its enormous cost calculated in blood and billions.


Iraq, lost in the fog of war - Opinion - Al Jazeera English:


War draws combatants, their societies and politics, into its vortex and forever changes them. It does so not just once, but over and over again, until people forget who they were before the guns started firing.

War has a tendency to generate uncertainties and ambiguities of the most fundamental kind, about who is winning, about what has happened, and about just who we are.

At a moment of supreme - if relative - world power, the US invaded Iraq in March 2003 to prevent Saddam Hussein from rising from the ashes of the sanctions regime of the 1990s. The US sought also to supplant a hostile Iraq with a friendly American client. Iraq would be a base from which to exercise US influence and a replacement for the pliant Gulf monarchies, whose stability in the face of al-Qaeda was then far from assured.

For political consumption, and for gullible idealists, these goals were packaged as the threat of WMD and the spread of democracy.

A mere three years later, the most powerful armed forces in human history were facing defeat at the hands of a many-sided ragtag insurgency. Each pinprick attack in Iraq bled popular support from the war in the US, and made the dream of a stable, democratic Iraq seem fantastical. Meanwhile, around the world, US legitimacy lay in tatters: stained with the WMD that never were, the chains of Abu Ghraib and the blood of Fallujah.

Most of all, the US' reputation as the unquestioned superpower was destroyed. The war in Iraq brought an end to the American century.

The goals shifted. Now the problem was to find some way for the US to exit Iraq "with honour". This was the same problem that the US faced in Vietnam after the Tet Offensive of 1968.

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