The American war in Iraq came to an unspectacular end Thursday at a simple ceremony held on the edge of Baghdad’s international airport, not far from the highway along which U.S. troops first fought their way into the capital more than eight years ago.
There were speeches paying tribute to the fallen, promises that the United States would not abandon Iraq, vague declarations of “success” and warnings of challenges ahead. A brass band played, and the flag that had flown over the headquarters of the U.S. mission here was lowered for the last time and folded away.
And that was it. No pronouncements of victory, no cheers or jubilation — only a profound sense that the war’s real reckoning is yet to come, even as the American part in it draws to a close.
No senior Iraqi government officials showed up for the event, though the name tags attached to two chairs in the front row indicated American hopes that they might. One was labeled for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the other for President Jalal Talabani.
No ceremonial unconditional surrender by a vanquished enemy. No parades in the streets with elated sailors kissing nurses in Times Square. No special news bulletins. Less pomp than when President Bush (the Dumber), declared it over from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier with the “Mission Accomplished” banner years ago.
U.S. Senator Grumpy McLoser (R-Ariz.: aka John McCain) says “we risk losing everything that we gained,” by leaving a war that nobody wants to talk about and everybody wants to ignore. And what’s the bottom line?
Saddam Hussein and his sons are dead. So are a lot of other people. We lost 4,500 American troops. And we’re $800 billion in debt for a war that we now know was fought under false pretenses.
Are we safer now than we were nine years ago? That’s something you have to ask yourself.
- ‘A new chapter’: US shuts down Iraq war (worldnews.msnbc.msn.com)
- Mission accomplished, really: US war in Iraq officially ends (csmonitor.com)
- Timeline: US troops in Iraq (bbc.co.uk)
- Barack Obama marks end of Iraq War with tribute to troops (telegraph.co.uk)