Sunday, December 18, 2011

And So It Ends

The war in Iraq has officially come to a close, as the last convoy of American troops crosses the border into Kuwait.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The last convoy of U.S. soldiers pulled out of Iraq on Sunday, ending nearly nine years of war that cost almost 4,500 American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and left a country grappling with political uncertainty.

The war launched in March 2003 with missiles striking Baghdad to oust President Saddam Hussein closes with a fragile democracy still facing insurgents, sectarian tensions and the challenge of defining its place in an Arab region in turmoil.

The final column of around 100 mostly U.S. military MRAP armored vehicles carrying 500 U.S. troops trundled across the southern Iraq desert from their last base through the night and daybreak along an empty highway to the Kuwaiti border.

After Obama announced in October that troops would come home by the end of the year as scheduled, the number of U.S. military bases was whittled down quickly as hundreds of troops and trucks carrying equipment headed south to Kuwait.

Only around 150 U.S. troops will remain in the country attached to a training and cooperation mission at the huge U.S. embassy on the banks of the Tigris river.

At the height of the war, more than 170,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq at more than 500 bases. By Saturday, there were fewer than 3,000 troops, and one base - Contingency Operating Base Adder, 300 km (185 miles) south of Baghdad.

Well, I guess we should all be glad that it's over, and that Obama kept his promise on Iraq.

Such a stupid and tragic waste. A war begun on lies, whose toll in blood and treasure has yet to be fully paid. The carnage inflicted upon the Iraqi people will linger for decades. And for what? To remove one brutal but impotent dictator from a world with dozens of other brutal dictators, and inflict chaos as a result.

There were never any 'weapons of mass destruction', despite all the right wing media hype. Saddam was never a 'threat' to the United States; only a minor inconvenience with a lot of oil.

We spent (at least) 4,474 American soldiers lives, and well over a trillion dollars destroying Iraq. When it comes to 'weapons of mass destruction', we're by far the world leaders. Meanwhile, we're letting our own country fall into disrepair and decay, citing austerity and budget deficits. Demolishing Iraq's infrastructure took priority over repairing our own. As someone who has worked jobs in both demolition and construction, I know that demolishing things is more fun than building them. But the results are no where near as satisfying.

Have we learned a lesson from our arrogance and hubris? Sadly, I think not. All the republican presidential candidates except Ron Paul are advocating for military action against Iran. The neocons and the military industrial complex continue, their bloodlust unsated. And Dick "the dick" Cheney is still alive, so the world still isn't safe from madmen bent on destruction.

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