Archive for the ‘war in iraq’ tag
After the War in Iraq began in 2003 under the false pretenses of WMDs and then subsequently continued on claims that Al-Queda had strongholds in the nation under Suddam Hussein’s rule, the war is finally coming to an end. The U.S.’s presence in the nation has gone from 505 bases to two, and the plan is to eventually have no permanent military bases in Iraq. This is obviously good news for the troops, or at least the ones that can return home healthy and able to find steady work. Others, as we know, have suffered from PTSD and troubles getting reconditioned to civilian life. And then there are the 35,000 wounded or killed.
Here are tables outlines the casualties for the three main operations that the U.S. has been engaged in since March 2003 in the Middle East. See here for more details.
Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 2003-August 2011)
|Total Deaths||Killed In Action||Non-hostile||Wounded In Action|
|OIF U. S. Military Casualties||4,408||3,408||928||31,921|
|OIF U.S. DoD Civilian Casualties||13||9||4|
Operation New Dawn (After Sept. 1, 2010)
|Total Deaths||Killed In Action||Non-hostile||Wounded In Action|
|OND U. S. Military Casualties||66||38||28||305|
|OND U.S. DoD Civilian Casualties||0||0||0|
Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
|OEF U.S. Military Casualties||Total Deaths||Killed In Action||Non-hostile||Wounded In Action|
|OEF U.S. DoD Civilian Casualties||3||1||2|
The question is: how will the Iraqi people, the military and the government respond now that their country is back in their hands? That’s a giant question mark, but I think pulling out will go along way in repairing the rather strained relationship the U.S. has had with some in the Middle East who have viewed us as an occupying force rather than a force for good. The success of the Iraqi government to defend its country, of course, will rely on how well the Iraqi security forces have been trained and how effective they can be in defending the nation’s borders against insurgents. This article doesn’t paint a positive picture, suggesting that even after years of training, the Iraqi forces are still ill-prepared, with about 10,000 having been killed since the force was formed, compared to the above 4,408 U.S. deaths.
U.S. Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, commander of the NATO training mission, was more upbeat about their chances for success:
They can kick a door in and knock out a network’s leadership as good as anybody I’ve seen. I would say that they have the discipline and the tenacity to fight as well as anybody I’ve ever seen.
Of course, it would be in Caslen’s best interest to say such a thing, since it makes Caslen, as the commander of the training mission, look like he performed his job effectively. Nonetheless, these will be some critical next few months for a people that have for years and years either choked by dictatorial rein, government corruption, looming terroristic threats and crumbling infrastructure.
In light of President Obama’s announcement tonight that, at last, combat operations in Iraq are over, it will be interesting going forward to see what, if any, insurgent uprisings or attacks will occur against Iraqi security forces now that the U.S. presence inside the nation have been severely pared back. Some have already occurred after the much ballyhooed drawback from a couple weeks ago.
Here’s a snippet from Obama’s speech tonight:
Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest – it is in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people – a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.
A New York Times editorial tonight framed the moment thusly:
Mr. Obama graciously said it was time to put disagreements over Iraq behind us, but it is important not to forget how much damage Mr. Bush caused by misleading Americans about exotic weapons, about American troops being greeted with open arms, about creating a model democracy in Baghdad.
That is why it was so important that Mr. Obama candidly said the United States is not free of this conflict; American troops will see more bloodshed. We hope he follows through on his vow to work with Iraq’s government after the withdrawal of combat troops.
There was no victory to declare last night, and Mr. Obama was right not to try. If victory was ever possible in this war, it has not been won, and America still faces the daunting challenges of the other war, in Afghanistan.
Any declaration of victory was fleeting because terms for what that might look like were never established. In some respects, I am with Christopher Hitchens in believing that we had the right to invade because of Saddam Hussein’s gross negligence for human life and solidarity. He was a monster; we can’t escape that point. But I think the false pretext (the presence of WMDs) under which we were led to believe that the war was a valuable endeavor is the gravest point on this issue. And however bat-crazy insane a national leader may be, I don’t believe it’s America’s job to police and/or jettison every one of them. For, there are many. Thankfully, less than in prior generations, but still many.
We can still count this as a historic day. Any time we can break free of one less entanglement as a nation is a good day in my view. Now, I would hope focus continues to hone sharply onto where it should have lied all along. That is, on Afghanistan or Pakistan or wherever bin Laden may be hidin’.
[Caption: Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press; Steve Baskis, 24, who lost his sight as a United States Army specialist serving in Iraq, listened to Mr. Obama's address at his home in Glen Ellyn, Ill.]
Bush greets 2 Marines, gives them kisses
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush stopped on the White House South Lawn to pose for a photograph with two Marines who served in Iraq — and planted a kiss on the head of each.
After climbing down from his Marine One helicopter, Bush walked toward the White House, then stopped and approached the Marines, one of whom was in a wheelchair. The president greeted Lance Cpl. Patrick Pittman Jr., of Savannah, Ga., and Lance Cpl. Marc Olson, of Coal City, Ill.
Bush directed aides to turn Pittman’s wheelchair around. Instead, Pittman stood next to the president for the photograph. They were joined by Olson’s mother, Pinky Kloski.
Bush had a few words for the two Marines as they stood on either side, then kissed each on the top of the head.
Kloski said the two were injured while serving in Ramadi.
Earlier in the day, the president had traveled to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to speak about the military and strategy during his tenure as commander in chief. — The Associated Press
Democratic pundits and WordPressers may have a field day with this picture, but I think it’s quite extraordinary. When was the last time an American president actually kissed a soldier, or anyone, as a sign of deep gratitude and compassion? Say what you will: Bush is trying to salve his bruised legacy of sending thousands into harm’s way and death to fight a war that shouldn’t have been waged or authorized. He, by a level of dishonesty, got us into the current mess in the Middle East and will leave it to the next president to lick the wounds and repair our tattered PR with the rest of the world. He’s simply making a last push, a final claim to his legacy.
But discard the conjecture for a second. What male in American society kisses another male, unless, perhaps they are related, as in a father to son, or homosexual? I may hug my closest, lifelong male friend, but kissing them goes a step too far, and we both know it. While it may be commonplace in other European or Asian societies, it is not commonplace here, and to take it a step further would be taboo. For Bush to kiss a veteran as in this picture speaks to something else.
Many would disagree with me (Many, in fact, think he’s one of those most heartless presidents we have ever had.), but I think, a) he is aware that he has made mistakes, b) that he is human (and this pretty well assumes that he will make mistakes) and c) that he is sincere on many levels. I think he sincerely loves his country, loves freedom and is truly grateful for the service of the men and women he has sent into battle. I think he mourns (and probably holds a level of guilt) for those who have suffered death or physical maladies on his watch. And this kiss finds its impetus here. Again, believe what you will, that he isn’t the smartest cracker in the cabinet, that he is actually a terrorist himself or even that’s he’s calculatingly headstrong on policies that have proved to be errant, but at the core, for all his miscomings, I think he’s sincere, and I think that is evident in this photo.