I love military names for war operations. They are so colorful. Who cannot get energized with Desert Storm or Desert Shield or Operation Overlord the code name for the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by the Allied forces. Or even the less known but actual operations in Iraq such as “Operation Beastmaster” (cleared 3 neighborhoods in Baghdad) or “Operation Elfin Cove” (counter-insurgency operation in Iraq) and “Operation Punisher III” (counter surge in Al Anbar province in Iraq). Now Operation Iraqi Freedom as given way to the quieter, gentler “New Dawn” as combat troops leave Iraq after 7 years, 6 months, 30 days and the blood of 4419 Americans later. You will hear that the world is better off not having Saddam around any more. You will hear it is good to have a government that is friendly to the United States and the West in Baghdad. All well and good. Was it worth 4419 lives and countless wounded soldiers and innumerable civilians caught in the middle? Time will tell. The Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal lied us into a war that should never have been waged. (There was ample evidence to the contrary before the “war” started that should have given us pause to take a breath and think twice. Given that extra time, perhaps we would have made sure our fighting force was better prepared and equipped.) One wonders what would have happened to this draw down under a President McCain.
Yesterday the last of the active combat troops under cover of darkness for safety left Iraq crossing the border into American-liberated Kuwait. They leave behind a representative government a tenuous peace between Sunni and Shi’a. Leaving 50,000 soldiers behind is not uncommon, we have as many soldiers still in Germany 65 years after the end of WWII. I wonder if they will need to go out on patrol missions? Will they support a government that 6 months after recent elections still have yet to form a viable government.
Richard Engel interviewed a soldier who, along with his group was on his way back to Fort Lewis, Washington after duty in Iraq. What made his interview timely was the mention of his recollections of the beginning of the war. He told the reporter that he watched the “shock and awe” bombing of Baghdad as we all did. The night time light show marked the start of the Iraq invasion. He was a junior in high school.
The Iraq enterprise is now under the guidance of the State Department. We shall see what we shall see. I tip my hat and give thanks to our soldiers for their service and welcome home! Stay safe.
…and so it goes