December 15, 2011

United States–Iraq War Ends

Although all American fighters will not be out of the country until the end of the month, a ceremony was held in Iraq today formally ending the Iraq War.

Perhaps now is a good time to be clear about what will be written in our history books and what we will tell our children and grandchildren.

Who were we fighting?

Did we win?

I cannot answer those questions. Can you?


  1. We fought the Iraqi Army for 10 weeks and insurgents for 10 years. As far as victory, this doesn't feel like Appomattox. I fear it’s more like Versailles.

    Geoff Hurd

  2. Don Rumsfeld spoke about the "known unknowns and the unknown unknowns," and I suspect we'll always be dwelling in that territory. In the current environment simple clarity about what winning or losing might look like is going to be elusive. The costs, human and economic, direct and indirect, have been breathtaking and tragic in many ways. Jury still out on beneficial results. If we had decided instead to treat Saddam and Iraq with the kinds of sanctions we've used with Iran and North Korea, things would have been different, no question. Whether different nightmares would have emerged will remain among the "unknown unknowns."

    Several of St. Andrew's Highland Park and quite a number of our extended family served in OIF with honor and distinction. They and all our military did a great job, even as our civilian diplomatic and governmental leadership seemed quite lost at time. The effective development of counter-insurgency programs and the lessons of the successful surge of troops in Iraq at the end of President Bush's term will I think stand us in good stead in Afghanistan and future conflicts in the region.

    And of course the specifics of even this large military venture are only a part of what is a continuing transformation of the region around the Near East, Gulf, and Northern Africa. The southern tier of the old Ottoman Empire. Probably will take a couple of decades anyway to see just how all that will trend.

    Bruce Robison


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