When Will the Iraq War Really End?

Although the war in Iraq has already ended twice, the United States still has troops stationed there, fighting there – and dying there. Wars sometimes don’t end when they should have or could have. The Treaty of Ghent that ended the war of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain was signed on December 24, 1814. Yet, the last battle of the war – the Battle of New Orleans – was fought on January 8, 1815. It seems that news traveled a lot slower back then. The result, of course, was unnecessary deaths on both sides. The armistice that ended World War I was signed at 5:00 a.m. in a rail car in France, but did not take effect until 11:00 a.m. Conservative estimates put the casualty count during the six hours between the signing of the armistice and its becoming effective at “10,944 casualties, of which 2,738 were deaths” (Joseph Persico, Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax [Random House, 2004]). Again, we have unnecessary deaths, not that the other deaths during World War I were somehow necessary. As of March 20, the war in Iraq has lasted for eight years – more than twice as long as the U.S. war against Nazi Germany in World War II. I first wrote about the Iraq war on its third anniversary (“Weapons of Mass Distraction“) when 2,317 American soldiers had already died for a lie. When I wrote about the war on its fourth anniversary (“Four Years, Four Plans“), that number had risen to 3,218. On the fifth, (“Five Years and Counting“), the number was up to 3,992. On the sixth (“What Happened to the War?”), it was up to 4,259. Last year, on the war’s seventh anniversary (“The Forgotten War“), that number had risen to 4,385. Now, on the eighth anniversary of this immoral war, the number of U.S. soldiers who have died in vain is up to 4,439, with 211 of those senseless deaths occurring since Obama took over as the chief war criminal. Yes, the death count per day, week, month, year, or however you want to figure it keeps getting lower. But since there are now more U.S. troops in Afghanistan than Iraq, guess what is happening to the number of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan who are coming home in flag-draped coffins? That number is up to 1,505. But even if no more U.S. soldiers needlessly die in Iraq and the number remains at 4,439, that is still 4,439 soldiers too many. Even if only one American soldier had died since the beginning of the war, and even if the war had only cost 1 dollar, that is still one soldier and 1 dollar too many. I mentioned that the war in Iraq has already ended twice. The first time was on May 1, 2003, when President Bush announced – in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner – that “the United States and our allies have prevailed” and “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” This was followed by the deaths of 4,300 more U.S. soldiers. The second ending of the Iraq war was on August 31, 2010, when President Obama proclaimed that “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.” Yet, since the transition to “Operation New Dawn” took place on September 1, twenty-one more American soldiers have died. And just what have our troops died for? It certainly wasn’t to keep us safe from terrorism. It was acknowledged by the U.S. government in the National Intelligence Estimate as far back as 2006 that the war in Iraq increased the threat of terrorism rather than diminished it. When will the Iraq War really end? How many more American soldiers, Iraqi “insurgents,” and Iraqi civilians must die before it does? How many more billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars must be wasted before that time comes?