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Tag: Iraq war


From start to finish, conflicted feelings about war in Iraq

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Even as the U.S. formally ends the Iraq war and combat troops prepare to exit by Dec. 31, it’s safe to say that many Americans remain conflicted about the nine-year war waged in that country.

They’re proud of the job done by our military – often under tremendously dangerous and uncomfortable conditions. Despite the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found, few were sad to see the demise of Saddam Hussein and his thuggish dictatorship. And it’s possible to trace the stirrings of the Arab Spring to the fledgling democracy in Iraq.

Yet many can’t help but wonder if it was all worth the high price paid in blood and treasure.
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For U.S. troops in Iraq, mission accomplished

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

So that’s that. As of the end of the year, the Obama administration will have withdrawn all U.S. troops from Iraq, with the exception of a small contingent of presumably nervous embassy guards.

Obama’s recent announcement that the war was over was mere formality. For America, the serious fighting in Iraq ended a couple years ago, when Iraqi security forces took full responsibility for Iraqi security.

What’s driving the final withdrawal – a legal dispute – seems ridiculously anticlimactic. Some Iraqi leaders would as soon have U.S. forces on hand to keep training their troops, and the Obama administration would as soon keep them there.

The deal-breaker was the U.S. insistence on criminal immunity for American troops in the face of the Iraqi parliament’s refusal to grant that immunity. No triumphal parades, no helicopters fleeing from rooftops, just a breakdown in back-room negotiations. A whimper, not a bang.

The whimper, though, says much about the achievements of American troops in Iraq.
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A clear success for America’s Iraq veterans

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Mission accomplished. Finally.

There’ll be no “Victory in Iraq” day. The legacy of America’s military intervention in Iraq is far too disputed, complicated and unsettled. Still, this month’s withdrawal of the last U.S. combat forces – Stryker units from Joint Base Lewis-McChord – deserves more celebration than it’s gotten.

Roughly 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq until the end of next year; they will largely serve the Iraqi army in a support and training role. The sight of American soldiers on patrol in the streets of Baghdad and elsewhere is history.

Iraqis, and the occasional American, are still getting killed in Iraq, but this looks less like war than the hostile peace that prevailed in Korea after the large-scale hostilities there ended in 1953. Despite a recent spate of insurgent attacks, the level of violence is a small fraction of what it was a few years ago.

Here’s hoping that the passage of years brings more parallels to Korea. That very unpopular war ended in a murky stalemate, but ultimately produced a thriving and democratic South Korea. U.S. troops remain in South Korea, more than a half century later, helping keep North Korea at bay.

A bleaker potential parallel is Vietnam, where the United States left a hopelessly corrupt and weak ally that collapsed in the face of a renewed communist offensive.

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Mission accomplished?

Now that U.S. combat troops have left Iraq, this might be the perfect moment for our favorite Texas Air National Guard alumnus to dig out that flight suit and get his Top Gun groove back on.

President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, may have been seven years too soon, but how was he to know that the arms of Iraqis wouldn’t be welcoming? And what part of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” didn’t those ungrateful people understand? Did they really think we charged into their country looking for weapons of mass destruction?

As our combat forces leave Iraq, I’d like to give credit where credit is due – not for getting us out of Iraq, but for getting us into Iraq.

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