Aug. 31, 2010. This date was supposed to signify the ending of what has become one of the most grueling and long-lasting conflicts this nation has seen since Vietnam and, more recently, Afghanistan.
One would think the American people would be overwhelmed with the true joy and happiness that is felt when such a horror of a war has announced its end. But instead of seeing signs of rejoice and relief, people on all sides of the world, especially in the U.S., remain discontented, knowing that it’s one thing to declare “Mission Accomplished”, and another to declare victory.
It may be hard to fathom, but March 20, 2003, seven years and five months ago, Operation Iraqi Freedom began. That was the day President George W. Bush addressed the public, stating that we would be invading a country with a volatile regime, whose ties to Al-Qaeda were as concrete as Sadaam’s “weapons of mass destruction.”
What was originally to be an operation of disarmament, soon evolved into an operation to save a country from an eruption of sectarian violence, which some argue is a result of American occupation.
With all the time that has passed, it should be a relief for us to be done, right? The true cost of this war is starting to be actualized by scholars and military personnel alike, and the numbers are nowhere near what was projected by the Bush Administration back in 2003. Our $50-60 billion estimate has been re-adjusted to now a minimum projection of three trillion dollars!
More staggering than our monetary loss, however, is the loss of the 4,417 American soldiers that have died since the beginning of the war. Yet, the most shocking of all these statistics, is the lack of an accurate number as to how many Iraqi casualties there have been, with statistics ranging from 95,888 (Iraq Body Count Project) to 1,033,000 (Opinion Research Business survey.)
The question we as Americans have to ask ourselves is— was it worth it? Even though we cannot answer this question with the certainty we all wish we could, at least this is all over. Or so we would be lead to believe.
As 50,000 troops stay behind as “trainers” of the Iraqi troops, in hope that they may soon be able to defend their country themselves, Operation Iraqi Freedom now becomes Operation New Dawn. A new name, yes, but is it essentially the same war? As we have been told countless times, all combat forces have been taken out of Iraq.
Yet, it is inevitable that these 50,000 soldiers will be involved in combat before the official withdrawal, a little under one year away.
In fact, just days after the U.S. officially ended combat operations, American troops were found under heavy fi re, and assaulting an Iraqi military headquarters in the center of Baghdad, killing twelve and wounding dozens more.
In the end, with all these caveats, semantics, and sheer run-around given to us every day by members of our media, armed forces, and even our own government, can we really say, in good conscious, that the war in Iraq is over? I say the answer is no.
A war is not over until all forces are drawn out and when one is completely disengaged from said country it went to war with. We did not declare an end to World War II, and then stick around for another year in Germany to help rebuild its infrastructure and government.
Yet, the lines of war and peace can get blurry near the end of any conflict. Maybe our history books will be able to give us more insight into these last 7 years, and they may even explain as to what really was the cause of us going into a nation of no harm to us.
But what I can say for certain is this: when people look back on the Iraq war, they will never say it ended on August 31, 2010.
The ability for us to claim a specific date for certain as the ending of the Iraq War, and not just another “Operation,” may still be out of our grasp, but I think I can feel it right on my fingertips. As they say, it is only a matter of time.