Iraq: Is it the end, or is it just the beginning?

One is tempted to say: “Mission accomplished!” Or President Gerald Ford’s line upon taking office after Nixon’s resignation: “Our long national nightmare is over.”

Except I am talking about Iraq here. The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division left Iraq this week. It is the last “combat force” to leave where the U.S. fought during the past seven years. There are U.S. soldiers left behind. They are combat soldiers but they’re not.  About 50,000 American troops will stay behind to teach and assist the Iraqi forces including about 4,500 special operations soldiers.

Like it’s predecessor in 1990-91, this Gulf War was hardly a surprise. The first war seemed ill-advised and reeked of oil. The second war just reeked. We were already fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We still are. I wrote almost five years ago that I thought that the nation and its military had found itself boxed in by the Iraq War. It didn’t seem possible that we could get out of that country without somehow losing face among World powers. But somehow, at least for the moment, it seems we have “won.” At least in some artful use of spin and sleight of hand. Have we won though?

I fear we will be back to Iraq, and that region in particular, in spades sooner or later. I fear sooner.

However our military posture appears to our World partners and enemies now due to our “combat troops” leaving Iraq, I’m glad more of our U.S. troops — Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, both men and women — are gone from that place that I feel we should never have been. I doubt the war is over for many of them because of Afghanistan. But maybe some will never have to live their young lives in what I feel was a war that, under different circumstances, might have caused the  president to be removed from office.

A lot of folks don’t see it that way. A lot of folks also want Islamic mosques wherever they feel they should be located rather than members of that religion. Go figure. Welcome home GIs.