I have been playing this song for close to 40 years, but it has never been more appropriate than it is today.
The last troops left Iraq last night, days before the deadline said they had to go. They left quickly and quietly under cover of night in a successful effort to prevent any last-minute attacks.
I can’t tell you how glad I am that the worst strategic blunder in foreign policy in, well, forever, is over.
That’s one war down and one to go.
There is a lot of bitching and moaning among some republican candidates and sitting Senators about the end of the war in Iraq, because our exit doesn’t look enough like what they feel victory ought to, but they are on the wrong side. John McCain, who said we could stay in Iraq for a hundred years, was especially apoplectic about the pull-out. He’s a man who knows about being wrong — crashing five planes, getting involved with Charles Keating, picking Palin == the man knows how to be wrong! But he has never been more wrong than he consistently was about Iraq. Any accurate record of the last decade needs to note that fact, as well as the fact that he doubled-down on his wrong position until the bitter end, and beyond.
Before it started, I said if they insisted on doing this stupid, stupid thing, Iran would be the eventual winner, because Iraq was the counterbalance to them in the region.
As soon as it turned into a military occupation in 2003, I started pointing out that you don’t win an occupation. Occupiers simply…leave. Eventually. No decisive battle, no dramatic peace negotiations, no victory parades. Just a final bug-out for the Kuwait border, in time to make it home for Christmas.
The last American troops crossed the border from Iraq into Kuwait early Sunday, ending the U.S. military presence there after nearly nine years.
As the last convoy left Iraq at daybreak Sunday, soldiers whooped, bumped fists and embraced each other in a burst of joy and relief, The Associated Press reported.
NBC News’ Richard Engel tweeted from the border: “The gate to #iraq is closed. Soldier just told me, ‘that’s it, the war is over.'”
The final column of around 100 mostly MRAP armored vehicles carrying 500 U.S. troops trundled through the night along an empty highway, across the southern Iraq desert to the Kuwaiti border.
Pentagon Press Secretary George Little tweeted Sunday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “approved the order officially ending the Iraq war” at 6:59 a.m. ET.
The Iraq war began on March 20, 2003, at a time when national defense was a top priority for Americans still shocked by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It continued with the invasion and ouster of Saddam Hussein, then ground through years of war against an insurgency that left tens of thousands dead.
Among those dead were nearly 4,500 Americans, and the war cost $800 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The question of whether it was worth it all is yet unanswered.
“It’s good to see this thing coming to a close. I was here when it started,” Staff Sgt. Christian Schultz said just before leaving Contingency Operating Base Adder, 185 miles south of Baghdad, for the border. “I saw a lot of good changes, a lot of progress, and a lot of bad things too.”
I listened to the clueless civilians at NPR this morning, and the tone of their reporting on the State Department presence that remains behind was off-putting.
Yes, there is a large State Department contingent — about 16,000 employees attached to the largest US embassy anywhere in the world — and their security is being provided by Blackwater.
Yes, that fact makes me furious, in and of itself. But the part that makes me smile is the fact that Hillary Clinton is in charge of the State Department. The massacre in Nisoor Square was on Condi’s watch. I don’t like mercenaries, and far be it from me to even appear to defend them, but there are a few things that are just understood about them; and one of those things about mercenaries that is just understood is this: they pretty much behave the way they are paid to behave.
And now that there is no US air support if they start some shit they can’t finish, and they have no immunity if they break Iraqi laws — I have a feeling that those two realities will encourage a level of behavior that is far better than the behavior they exhibited back in 2007.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s a legitimate campaign issue. Who do you want in charge of the diplomatic corps and the tens of thousands of mercenary soldiers protecting them? Hillary Clinton, or John Bolton?
I’m not just working and voting for Obama’s re-election. I’m working and voting to retain Hillary as Secretary of State, too.
He kept his promise and ended the war. Now it’s time for the really hard part. It’s up to the Secretary of State to keep the peace.