IRAQ: The (Not So) Long Goodbye
This Way Out
The war in Iraq is over — for now.
U.S. troops held the formal ceremonies today (Dec. 15) ending their presence in Iraq after almost nine years of battle, ambush, raid and roadside bombs.
“This is not the end,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in Baghdad Dec. 15, “This is truly the beginning,” he added, reminding Iraqi leaders they have a “committed friend and committed partner.”
“Over the next few days, a small group of American soldiers will begin the final march out of Iraq,” said President Barack Obama, who made ending the war a campaign promise.
But there are plenty of critics in Iraq and the U.S. who think civil war could break out after all the U.S. troops leave because of sectarian/political violence.
“It is the end for Americans only,” a Iraqi newspaper columnist said recently, according to the New York Times. “Nobody know if the war will end for Iraqis, too,” he added.
By the numbers: more than 4,500 U.S. service members killed, another 30,000 were wounded. In all, the U.S. spend nearly $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000) on the Iraq war.
Coalition forces lost more than 300 troops from countries like Britain, Italy, Poland, Spain, Ukraine and Denmark, . One can only guesstimate how many Iraqis died in the 2003 invasion and the subsequent orgy of sectarian violence and insurgency that swept the country to near-chaos in the mid 2000s. . Most sources place it at 100,000 or more.
The U.S. is packing up the last of its equipment — like the mine-protected vehicles pictured below. Scores of bases have been evacuated and turned over to the Iraqis.
In this picture, soldiers with the 68th Transportation Company perform maintenance checks on heavy equipment transportation trucks at a motor pool on Contingency Operating Base Adder. The unit loaded the trucks up with military equipment bound for Kuwait.
While some Americans — and certainly plenty of Iraqis — think its taken too long for Obama to unwind the Iraq operation, others like Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) think the total withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of the month is premature. McCain, who ran against Obama for the presidency and lost in 2008, thinks the U.S. departure opens the door for growing Iranian influence — especially among Iraq’s Shia Muslim minority.