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US Lowers Its Flag In Iraq Ahead Of Pullout

From a victorious Reuters:

U.S. military marks end of its war in Iraq

By Missy Ryan and Patrick Markey
December 15, 2011

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The U.S. military officially ended its war in Iraq on Thursday, packing up a military flag at a ceremony with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta nearly nine years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

The last 4,000 American troops will withdraw by the end of the year, leaving Iraq still tackling a weakened but stubborn insurgency, sectarian tensions and political uncertainty.

"After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real," Panetta said at the ceremony.

U.S. soldiers rolled up the flag for American forces in Iraq and slipped it into a camouflage-colored sleeve.

Nearly 4,500 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives in a war that began with a "Shock and Awe" campaign of missiles pounding Baghdad, but later descended into a bloody sectarian struggle between long-oppressed majority Shi’ites and their former Sunni masters…

And what will prevent another "sectarian struggle" now?

In Falluja, the former heartland of an al Qaeda insurgency and scene of some of the worst fighting in the war, several thousand Iraqis celebrated the withdrawal on Wednesday, some burning U.S. flags and waving pictures of dead relatives…

Iraq’s Shi’ite leadership presents the withdrawal as a new start for the country’s sovereignty, but many Iraqis question which direction the nation will take once U.S. troops leave.

Some fear more sectarian strife or an al Qaeda return to sow terror in the cities. A squabble between Kurds in their northern semi-autonomous enclave and the Iraqi Arab central government over disputed territories and oil is another flashpoint…

Iraqi security forces are generally seen as capable of containing the remaining Sunni Islamist insurgency and the rival Shi’ite militias U.S. officials say are backed by Iran…

Sectarian divisions leave Iraq vulnerable to meddling by neighbors trying to secure more influence, especially as Sunni-controlled Arab nations view Iranian involvement as an attempt to control Iraq’s Shi’ite parties at the cost of Sunnis.

Iraq’s Shi’ite leadership frets the crisis in neighboring Syria could eventually bring a hardline Sunni leadership to power in Damascus, worsening Iraq’s own sectarian tensions

You mean the ‘Arab Spring’ might hurt Iraq?

Well, if there was ever a more ungrateful people in the world than the Iraqis, we would not want to meet them.

But in any case our soldiers’ sacrifices have not been in vain. A lot of terrorists were killed. And our country was protected for nine years.

For which we should be eternally grateful.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, December 15th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

13 Responses to “US Lowers Its Flag In Iraq Ahead Of Pullout”

  1. artboyusa says:

    It’s not clear to me that the Iraqis have that much to be grateful for, frankly. Especially the ones who lost family, which is a lot of them. We killed a lot of terrorists – so what? Plenty more where they came from. Are we really any more safe after this? We’re certainly less free. The only way the Iraq adventure was in any way “worth it” that I can see will be if we are able to learn something from what happened. The main lesson is that we Americans are lousy at this sort of thing.

    The Iraq project was based on an unhappy mixture of aggression, cowardice, ignorance and wishful thinking. Tactically it was well planned, strategically it was not. We couldn’t sell it to the world, not because Bush was a lousy seller, though he was, but because what we were selling was a lousy product. “America here; we’d like you to help us to, or at least applaud us for, invading a sovereign country which is no direct threat to us because we want to kick somebody’s butt so that everyone will learn not to mess with us and we chose Iraq because we think we can take them”. That was what it boils down to, doesn’t it? Then we act all hurt and surprised when other people think our moral strength might be just a tiny bit eroded by our planned war of aggression –sorry, but that’s what we’d call it if the Russians or the Chinese did what we did.

    When we invaded, we were prepared for everything except what actually happened, which is why we have planning in the first place. Our troops were magnificent, their leadership was disgraceful. Remember Tommy Franks? He couldn’t get the invasion over fast enough so he could retire and get his “as told to” autobiography on the shelves before everyone forgot who he was. What about Rick Sanchez? Another failed general with a six figure contract for a book full of lies and excuses. Or Paul Bremer. Or George Casey. Or Cheney and Rumsfeld, with all their big, chesty tough talk? Does anyone really think these goofs were the best generals or the best diplomats we had? Iraq was a big deal, an enormous project, and I fault the Bush administration deeply for not treating it seriously and sending our best people until it was almost too late.

    Our senior commanders were slow, stupid and lacked imagination. They made bad events worse. Remember watching all those insurgent videos where one of our vehicles comes pelting down the road and disappears into an explosion? Remember how it felt to watch that again and again, knowing that the enemy was so confident and secure and our movements so predictable and obvious that they could hang around long enough to make a movie of what happened? What was Pentagon response? “The US doesn’t do counterinsurgency, we didn’t train for this, so it isn’t happening”, even as the whole place blew up in their faces. As I said, it was disgraceful.

    Do I sound angry? I am, and I’m angry with myself most of all. I backed this thing, this fucked up bloodbath. I defended it against my own better judgement and I trusted people who didn’t deserve that trust.

    In a VA hospital near Boston there’s young Marine whose vehicle was hit by an IED. He was 21 when it happened and he’ll be in that hospital until the day he dies. He’s alive, he’s fine except that most of his skull is gone. I mean sheered right off. He has a face and part of a head. A plug of what looks like black rubber keeps what’s left of his brains from leaking out. Every day his mother goes to see him; she washes him and shaves him and talks to him and lifts him up so he doesn’t get bedsores and he doesn’t even know who she is.

    The next time America decides to embark on some exciting foreign policy adventure – and we will, since we have a national memory that only goes back as far as the day before yesterday – let’s try to remember that young Marine. I know I will; it’s all I can do for him and all those like him now.

    • chainsaw says:

      I know many who have or are serving today. I can assure you that the fallen and wounded are never forgotten. I have not heard them speak so ill as you do of the country they were sent to fight in. In fact, what I have heard is more of the opposite. That their actions, their duty, their sacrifices made a significantly positive change for the weak among us. They met many Iraqis who are grateful of their actions.

      I am not saying that this war (and it is a war, not an adventure, project or game) can be justified by the comments of retuning vets. No one has the ability to turn back the clock and see what would’ve transpired had a different course of action been implemented. But let us all keep in mind this source and how our press is quick to judge and report on the Hiditha’s and Abu Ghraib’s. The reporting ratio of new schools, power plants, successful missions etc to unfortunate, criminal and down right living hell is abysmal. The truth of the matter is not so easily descerned.

    • proreason says:

      It’s always easier to be smart in retrospect.

      One of the key reasons I supported the invasion, which is one of the least discussed reasons, was because the entire ME was governed by medieval Thug Tyrants and Theocrats, and I thought there was a chance to establish a governing model that could become a seed that could create the modern world in other countries besides Iraq. By itself, that was not sufficient justification for a war, but given the facts that the ME had been a huge problem for the world for decades, that Sadaam was particularly dangerous thug who regularly threatened stability and western interests, that Iraq was a very strategic location in a troubled region, that everybody believed Sadaam was actively developing wmd, and that he was supporting terrorists, I thought the bonus of getting a different governing model was sufficient reason to take Sadaam out.

      Whether that was worth the mayhem that resulted is still an open question, but withdrawing now, imho, makes it virtually certain that Iraq will revert to barbarism.

      And many errors in managing Iraq’s recovery still don’t make the war wrong, for the same reasons that becoming a drunk after graduating from med school and quitting medicine doesn’t make going to med school in the first place a mistake.

      The 3-week war was successful, but the aftermath was a mess, and the Bush administration deserves most of the blame for that. But as of yesterday, it wasn’t a complete failure, by any means. In a month or a year, it will certainly become a failure, not because of Bush’s errors, but because the vile marxist in the white house wants more chaos in the world, not less. We should have stayed, just like we stayed in Europe and Japan until those countries were fully functional again.

    • Reality Bytes says:

      Amen Pro. Remember Rumsfeld & Cheney admonishing the establishment that an effective solution would be decades; not years in the making. To speak the two most terrible things together, “President Obama” makes me sick for what’s coming.

  2. artboyusa says:

    Chain, I am NOT speaking ill of the country or of the troops, no way. I am speaking very ill indeed about lousy political and military leadership, since I believe we were very badly served by certain people. These are people get paid the big money, get the big offices and the big salaries and they get to fly in helicopters and everybody kisses their ass and all we ask of them is “don’t screw it up”. Well, they screwed it up big time and I’m not going to let them off the hook, any more than I’ll let myself of the hook for going along for too long with something I knew in my conservative heart was wrong.

    It makes me feel sick when these arrogant, dangerous goofballs, most of whom never even tried on a uniform, go on TV and sit there talking solemnly of the tough choices they made and the big decisions they took while trying to get us to cough up money for their ghost written memoirs, full of lies and excuses and evasions. That Marine I mentioned (and he is a real person, believe me) is paying for their tough choices and if there was any justice in this world Rick Sanchez and Jerry Bremer and Doug Feith and Cheney and Bush and the whole useles pack of them would be mopping floors and emptying bedpans on his ward and then maybe, just maybe, they’d learn a little wisdom and a little humility and that bad actions have human consequences. I’d throw in Obama too; there he was the other day, declaring victory in a war he opposed in front of troops he does not respect or care about. Don’t even get me started on him…

    • chainsaw says:

      Artboy, I understand you, you support the troops but hate this war. You place blame from politicians to upper military leaders. Then you rightfully question if the costs justify the ends. I did not suggest that you were speaking ill of country or troops, I know you think highly of both.

      I will rephrase, what you wrote is the same oped idealoge found in Time, NYT, Newsweek and many other national media outlets. It’s on nearly every mainstream media channel. My beef (lightly termed) is that not enough reporting occurs on the successes of those who carry out the missions. When that unbalance occurs, it makes hard buying & selling at your local barber shop.

    • Petronius says:

      “it makes hard buying & selling at your local barber shop.”

      That reminds me. Does anyone know who is Janet Incompetano’s barber?

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      In many respects it’s a repeat of the Vietnam defeat. The left went about it (governmentally) in pretty much the same way. Money “wasted”, “obscure, not-clearly-defined enemy”, then there was the rabble about an unclear mission, to say nothing of the ridiculously restrictive ROE the troops had to put up with. It’s Vietnam 2.0. If you want a good book, read “Thud Ridge” about an F-105 pilot who summed up the gerrymandering of the Vietnam war and prevented targets from being attacked for political reasons.


      Most assuredly there will be similar accounts from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      Then, there are the poofed up stories about military personnel behaving badly with prisoners at Gitmo and the alleged poor behavior by a group of Marines who are said to have raped so many women. Honestly….when you’re in the military, the one thing every troop knows is that they are held accountable. When someone strays off the code of conduct, alarm bells and whistles go off loudly and clearly. But, it all fits in the left’s version of what a soldier is and while they praise the military, I’ll quote the line from “A Few Good Men” by Jack Nicholson.

      We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

      The “You” he’s referring to is the leftwing establishment who think that protecting a nation and a way of life happen by magic and that if everyone understood each other, there would be no anger, no reason for hostilities. This is, of course, a fool’s errand; One of many the left embarks upon along with AGW, dying polar bears, killing the planet with SUV’s and incandescent light bulbs, etc etc.

      To me, the left is a frustrated and angry bunch of people who are looking for something that fills that void they have. Actors do it by pretending to be different people, as do politicians. But largely, as has always been the case, there are many people who are dissatisfied with their lives but nowadays, more than ever, they have all kinds of vehicles to attack what they think is the source of their frustration. They are largely selfish, ignorant and willfully blind. To me, I think they are just mentally ill.

    • Mithrandir says:

      We should have never been in those Desert Vietnams, Iraq – Afghanistan. I feel sorry for all the troops inhaling fine sand into their lungs, the bot flies, the sweat and sunburns, their buddies killed, their legs blown off. For what? To bring Democracy to these people? Their minds aren’t capable of thinking outside of the Qur’an, how can they formulate philosophic ideas needed for democracy and debate when they don’t have any?

      We have thousands of laser-guided bombs. All we needed to do is blow up the latest dictator, and wait until the next scumbag dictator takes over, then blow him up. Or do nothing, and say, “Hey, we are paying 22% of the U.N. budget, let’s end the debate if the U.N. is competent or not”, then stop funding them once and for all if they are found to be incompetent to punish our enemies.”

      As far as Vietnam, this book will take your breath away: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Risers-Airborne-Soldiers-Thirty-five/dp/0804105626

    • proreason says:

      It’s always easy to attack any war, if for no other reason that the fog of war (and I would add, the aftermath of the war) is so thick that there will inevitably be huge mistakes that can be picked apart by any critic. As one example among thousands, one can easily argue that WWII was a failure because the Allies allowed the USSR to capture Eastern Europe.

      That’s why the only way to wage a war is to win overwhelmingly and than force the conquered people to abandon the actions that were egrigious enough to go to war in the first place. And that is the way most wars throughout hisotry have been fought. In many cases, the losers were wiped off the face of the earth. In the case of a democracy, it’s now clear, to me at least, that the vicrory must be extremely swift and the aftermath as well. Because if it isn’t, the corrupt and mentally-ill left will always use it for political gain, no matter the cost in lives, wealth and honor.

      I disagree with Mith that we should never have gone to war, but agree with him that we should have chosen a path that was swift and sure, even if though it would have been more brutal. If the reasons are good enough to use the military, we shouldn’t do it unless we finish the job.

  3. Reality Bytes says:

    Seems like as good a place as any; my first post on S&L.

    The Failure of Freedom

    The consequences of Our Greatest Collective Sin, our turning blind eyes away from the oppression of any peoples’ God given unalienable right of freedom, liberty & the pursuit of happiness is coming home; your home & to mine.

    Like water, power seeks its own level. Power has two poles, one is Good & the other is Evil. Love is the greatest of these and there is no limit to the height that mutual care, respect and understanding will take us. Conversely, Evil knows no lowest level of thought and effect. Its depth is as infinite in misery as great are the highlights of Goodness.

    Though not perfect, the fruits of freedom are everywhere where those free to pursue for their own and their neighbor; not always with fame, or fortune, but at least with opportunity. Goodness, therefore, is naturally more powerful than the fear of evil. We only need to apply it; most times selflessly.

    Unfortunately, due to our inaction to stand up for those who remain under the grip of threats, death and worse – from demons, Hussein and Ahmadinejad, we are now living under the terror they have outsourced to our shores and the lands of our neighbors. How often has murder of innocents been accepted as “collateral damage”, so long as we didn’t rock the boat for the sake of life as usual. Some among us even claim that it is our own doing. How perverted! How delusional!

    Should we hate our enemy? Like a snake with a poisonous bite, they only do what is natural for them. Some ask, is it even a sin? Aren’t they somehow justified? I’ll leave others to argue this; except to declare that the Greatest Evil is doing nothing to stop them. Stopping evil need not be out of hate, nor for vengeance but for Goodness Sake.

    We cannot change pasts filled with holocausts that were the result of “minding our own business” while others suffered. Those days are past. But they are back & more sinister and deadly than ever.

    If this appeasement of evil continues, it will be our values, our thriving culture that will slip into history, not those of viper terrorists. And, perhaps the saddest part of all is that that history will be written by the likes of Ahmadinejad.

    This failure of freedom will not be the fault of Presidents or Prime Ministers. It will not lay with our military leaders, men & women. Rather, the blood, the sin will be our own stain to bear; the civilians, the rank & file who failed to support leaders & warriors in their sworn duty to protect us from all powers, foreign and domestic.

    If Goodness is truly greater than Evil then the final resolution of peace is inevitable. But how long will the torture, the terror, the loss of loved ones be allowed before the final outcome is realized? This is The Question for Our Time & The Time is Now. Who Will Go First? May God be with those who will go & God help those of us who won’t.

    • chainsaw says:

      Hear, hear. Well said RB. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mithrandir says:

      The greatest threat to our freedoms, is from those in our own country who can take them from us with a stoke of the pen. And have done it for the past 50 years.

      People have freedom to commit crime, any crime. So, naturally, if we eliminate freedom we can eliminate crime. That is always the end-game for politicians, their own self-interest, so they will limit your freedoms to trumpet the notion that crime decreased on their watch.

      Why, just look at our state and federal prison systems? No guns, no drugs, no freedoms…..and they are the safest places in America aren’t they?

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