Moral Outrage
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The bittersweet end of the Iraq War

The Iraq War has come to an official end, ending a chapter in U.S. history. In a small ceremony in Baghdad, the U.S. military formally ended its mission in Iraq after nearly nine years of war, 4,487 lives lost and more than 32,000 wounded.

For many Americans who served in the war, as well as their families, the feeling is bittersweet.

“I am glad they are finally pulling the troops out of there,” said veteran Robert Miltenberger, who served as a staff sergeant in Sadr City in 2004. “As soon as we pull out, they are going to have a civil war. That’s what I believe,” he said.

Iraq veteran Luke Fournier also has mixed feelings about the war, thankful the troops are coming home, but not sure it was all worth it. “When I first went, I thought we were going for the right reasons, but looking back on it, I don’t know what the right reason was. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Were we really over there for the right reasons? I don’t know,” he said.

Troy Denomy, still in the army and now a major, worries about what happens next. “With us leaving Iraq, are we going to lose a lot of the focus on the soldiers that are here now and are coming back, and have grave injuries and are going to require the country’s support for years?” he asked.

“It was definitely a big price to pay, but I’m glad that they’re coming home,” says his wife Gina. “The military family is small in the grand scheme of the nation and I hope that everyone else takes a moment to realize the prices that they do pay because it is pretty significant.”



2 Responses to “The bittersweet end of the Iraq War”

  1. Ragtag groups of men wearing jeans and carrying rifles at dusty checkpoints throughout western Iraq are a loose end left by the United States. These units, known broadly as the Sunni Awakening, remain outside the new Iraqi police force and army.

    Some Awakening members are former insurgents and members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, a matter of grave concern to the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. In October there was a roundup by police officers of 600 suspected Baath Party sympathizers accused of planning a coup.

    Meanwhile, in Fallujah on Wednesday, hundreds of Iraqis had set alight US and Israeli flags as they celebrated the impending pullout of American forces from the country.

    Most observers expect American troops will not go far from Iraq — they will be re-deployed to next door Kuwait.

  2. Some thoughts from Spencer Ackerman, who covers the issue closely for Wired’s Danger Room:

    Despite the fanfare, the U.S. is not leaving Iraq, since thousands of armed, U.S. private contractors will remain based in the country. The Obama administration is also leaving behind a huge contingent from the State Department, along with thousands of armed private contractors.

    There’s going to be something called the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq that’s going to be under the auspices of the U.S. embassy. This includes a 150-person office that will do training — things like helping the Iraqi air force understand how to operate the F-16s we’re selling them. That’s a pretty typical relationship for countries who have bought American military hardware.

    The State Department is going to leave behind the largest embassy that the U.S. has on the planet. All told, there are going to be 18,000 people who work for this embassy. Very few of those will be diplomats.

    As for the mercenary-type “private contractors”, Triple Canopy is a big security company that’s been in Iraq since 2005. Another is called Global. Another is SOC Inc. Interestingly, Blackwater — now renamed Academi — has indicated that they’re going to get their license back; they lost it after the Nisour Square massacre.

    The State Department is also contracting for Medevac or close air support.

    So just because we don’t have a U.S. troop presence anymore or a formal U.S. chain of command anymore, does not mean that the war is over. The possibility for violence between Americans and Iraqis is very real.

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