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No victory in Iraq

Written By: - Date published: 10:02 am, September 2nd, 2010 - 6 comments
Categories: iraq, us politics, war - Tags:

A milestone in America’s disengagement from Iraq was passed recently:

Obama: No Iraq victory lap as combat mission ends

President Barack Obama declared the U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially over on Tuesday but said he would not take a “victory lap” because a lot more work remained to be done inside the country. Obama, thanking troops in Texas before delivering an evening address to the nation, said Iraq now had the opportunity to create a better future for itself, and the United States, as a result, was more secure. …

“I’m going to make a speech to the nation tonight,” Obama said. “It’s not going to be a victory lap. It’s not going to be self-congratulatory. There’s still a lot of work that we’ve got to do to make sure that Iraq is an effective partner with us.”

The White House says the removal of all but 50,000 U.S. troops and the declaration of the end to the combat phase shows Obama is fulfilling a campaign promise he made in 2008 to pull out of Iraq.

This milestone, however, is much more symbolic than substantive:

Obama, who opposed the Iraq war, rode a wave of anti-war sentiment that boosted his support within his Democratic Party during the 2008 campaign. When he took office in January 2009, the U.S. military presence in Iraq was 140,000 troops and it reached a high of around 170,000 under the surge ordered by Bush. The roughly 50,000 U.S. soldiers still in Iraq are moving into an advisory role in which they will train and support Iraq’s army and police. The effective change on the ground will not be huge because the U.S. military has already been switching the focus toward training and support over the past year. Obama has promised to pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

Obama wants to “turn the page” on Iraq. And no wonder. It was a war started by America on the basis of lies and false pretences. There are serious accusations of war crimes. America disgraced itself with the use of torture and the abomination of Abu Ghraib. Large areas of Iraq are now poisoned with radiation from depleted uranium munitions. The infrastructure destroyed by war has not been rebuilt, and billions in reconstruction funding have “disappeared”. Iraq is shattered, politically unstable, riven by violence, with up to a million dead. And for what? “Victory” was always impossible. What a waste.

6 comments on “No victory in Iraq ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    “And for what?”
    For access and opening up of Iraq’s oil supplies, which are the last significant easy-to-reach oil deposits left in the world.

    The oil will kick the Peak Oil can down the road for a couple of years, and significantly ameliorate the first few years after peak. This lets the whole western party carry on a bit longer, especially the yanks that hoover up 20% of the world’s energy supply with 5% of the world’s population.

    • Bored 1.1

      Did you see the German military report this morning on oil reserves? Challenges my scratchy German but its a real give away.
      Pretty much sums up the issue that drove the US into Iraq, as you say OIL.

      And RoB, nice to see your note on Obama “turning the page”. I dont think the Americans have any sense of historic resonance, that the past echos loudly into the future and that the sins of the father will visit the sons. The form in which the Iraqis reconcile their sense of loss, the lasting cost to their country etc is something only time will tell, but as 9/11 proved “turning the page” without the necessary circumspection of likely consequences is fraught with danger.

      • Vicky32 1.1.1

        They are still in denial about the wars they fomented in Korea and Vietnam… definitely they have no sense of historic resonance! They say “you reap what you sow” but they don’t really know what that means…

  2. Pascal's bookie 2

    We don’t yet know where the current balance between blood and mental wounds lies. Between 2002 and 2009, there were about 33,000 wounded in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. During that same period, about 4,700 troops were evacuated for mental-health reasons — just over 14 percent of all troops serving in theater. But this figure only counts those cases so dramatic that the soldiers were sent home from the war. Doctors always prefer to get soldiers back to their units rather than out of theater, and not everyone who is treated appears on the record. My doctor kept my treatment quiet to keep from tarnishing my record and to protect my Top Secret security clearance. In short, that 14 percent is just a fraction of the actual number of soldiers suffering….

    …Today, there is no such hero’s welcome for returning troops. In fact, ask a soldier who has served in these wars what surprises him most about returning home, and he will likely tell you he’s shocked that America isn’t at war. “Look around you,” he will continue. “Does this look like war?” And he’d be right: It does not. We’ve been in Afghanistan for nine years. We’ve had no draft, no mobilization of industry, no substantive change in our behavior here at home. At the same time that the U.S. military was first entering Afghanistan, our president told us to go shopping, and we did. Most won’t even notice when the soldiers come home.

    Nor are jobs eagerly awaiting soldiers when they return. The law requires that a soldier mobilized for war can get his old job back when returns. But what if the company has gone under, as so many have in this recession? What if he or she is gone for more than the five years that Congress mandates employers must hold a job for a mobilized reservist? After that point, there is little the government can do. Programs to help veterans make the transition back to the civilian marketplace help, but with the jobless rate for young veterans at over 21 percent, lots of soldiers stay in military service for the steady paycheck.

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