Friday, August 20, 2010

Out of Iraq

Ssh … don’t tell the anti-war media … but one of our two Middle East wars seems to be drawing to a successful conclusion.
While much angst has been expressed at the worsening of the Afghan War, the news from Iraq is better. The last American combat unit has left Iraq seven years after the US invaded the Mideast nation.
“Troops from the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Division, drove through the night and arrived in Kuwait just before 4 a.m. local time,” the New York Post reported on Thursday.
I’m happy that the troops’ mission is completed, happy for the loved ones who I hope will see them home soon, and happy that a war that, pre-surge, seemed as out of control as Afghanistan looks today now appears headed toward a satisfactory resolution. (If only the media shared this good news along with all the bad news from Afghanistan. Even the pro-military Post buried the story with a mere four paragraphs on Page 16, although there is a longer AP story online.)
Fifty thousand US troops remain in Iraq. The military faced an Aug. 31 deadline -- a week from next Tuesday -- to decrease its presence there. It looks like mission accomplished, although “a senior administration official” told the Post that “the combat mission is not over.” Yet it may be reaching what Churchill would have called “the beginning of the end.”
I am, frankly, surprised that the Iraq War is winding up before the Afghan War. We entered Iraq under far murkier reasons and with far less international support than we did Afghanistan … and in the wake of the atrocities committed against Americans in Fallujah and the resentment Americans created with the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, it seemed like the war would never end. However, the US then adopted countermoves like the surge and pacifying locals … and they seem to have paid off. Gen. David Petraeus and Presidents Bush and Obama all deserve credit for this … some more than others.
We can’t bring back our military dead or the Iraqi civilian dead. Yet we can leave Iraq in a hopeful shape for the future. May its democracy last and its citizens know domestic tranquility.
Iraq still faces problems, but it’s good to know that the country appears to be in stable enough hands that the US can diminish its presence there so that now, we can focus on the remaining mess in Afghanistan.

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