The End of Iraq

Well, at least officially:

America’s contentious and costly war in Iraq officially ended Thursday with an understated ceremony in Baghdad that contrasted sharply with its thundering start almost nine years ago.

U.S. troops lowered the flag of command that flew over the Iraqi capital, carefully rolled it and cased it in camouflage in accordance with Army tradition.

This is right on the timeline set by Bush and on the baseline set by the Iraqi government. We will still have a presence of about 4000 troops there. But we are out, as far as the media is concerned.

Was it worth it? The costs are easy to tabulate. 100,000 dead Iraqis at least and God knows how many wounded. 4,000 dead and 30,000 wounded Americans. $800 billion, not including interest.

And the benefits? Some of those are apparent as well. Ghadaffi gave up his WMD’s soon after, which was not a coincidence. Hussein was unable to continue financing suicide bombers in Israel.

But ultimately, most of the costs and benefits are still murky. The neocons are desperately trying to credit Arab Spring to the Iraq War (unless Arab Spring goes bad, in which case it’s all Obama’s fault). I’m not sure I see that. Liberals are saying we’ve empowered Iran and radical in Iraq. Well, we don’t know what the future will bring to either country. It’s telling that surveys of our veterans show some ambiguity about whether it was worth it.

At this point, I’m just glad we’re out. Hussein is dead. His WMD’s, if they ever existed, are gone. We’ve left the country about as good as it could be left. Time to come home. Welcome back, boys.

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  1. Thrill

    I’ll go ahead and weigh in before this thread turns into a shitstorm of refighting the old, tired “Bush Lied” arguments.

    The only thing of value to have come out of the Iraq War is that al-Qaeda came in in-force after we invaded, made it their central front against us, and then were beaten by our forces and the Iraqis themselves. A lot of them died, they wasted a lot of money, and they lost a lot of prestige in the Muslim world. This was good for us in the long run as far as the eventual complete, final defeat of AQ goes.

    Everything else is up for grabs. For my part, I don’t care what happens to Iraq. We gave them the best possible shot they could have at forming a democratic government that respects the rights of its people. If they blow it, too bad.

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  2. richtaylor365

    Was it worth it?

    To even attempt an educated guess, you will have to wait about 10 years.

    The idea, whether you think it valid or not was to a) remove an anti American dictator who was sooner or later going to cause this nation great pain by providing the terrorists of the world some means to hurt us, and b) to plant the seed of democracy in a field altogether fallow, with the hopes that it would spread to other ME nations and provide some stability in an otherwise unstable region.

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  3. blameme

    Thrill, you said it as well as it can be said.

    Many wars have been lost in Russia, or Afghanistan due to it being a never ending war and the invading army leaving defeated. Ironically, this is what ultimately defeated Al Qaeda.

    Iraq became their central front against the US. Luckily, the US had the nerve to stick it out and Iraq became a quagmire for al-qaeda. They ultimately ran out of fighters and money.

    It is up to the Iraqis now to fight for their freedom. Right now is about as good a shot as they are ever going to get.

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  4. West Virginia Rebel

    As they say, history will judge. In the long run, I think what we learned from Iraq is what our limitations and strengths really are as a superpower. As for Al Qaeda, I think they lost partly because they turned out to be far more incompetent than they wanted us to believe.

    At any rate, our troops performed magnificently and with honor under incredibly difficult circumstances. And a great deal of the credit also has to go to David Petraeus.

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  5. Thrill

    I think they lost partly because they turned out to be far more incompetent than they wanted us to believe.

    The word you were looking for was “inhumane.” It’s not what they did or didn’t do in Iraq that doomed their cause, WVR. It’s what they are: Cruel, scary, and crazy. The ends were the problem, not so much the means. It says a lot that their inhumanity was too much even for the post-Saddam Iraqis.

    Once they showed the Iraqis what they were really about and what their vision was, it was only a matter of us sticking around and showing the Iraqis that they had a choice and it was a no-brainer. It was almost a reverse guerilla war for us in that they had little local support by 2007 and all we had to do to “win” was “not lose” (by leaving).

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  6. Hal_10000 *

    Thrill, I still have to disagree with the flypaper theory. Most of the members of AQI were Iraqis were not affiliated with them before we invaded, although al-Zarkawi and the leadership were long-time affiliates.

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  7. Thrill

    You’re not really disagreeing with me, Hal. Read what I said:

    al-Qaeda came in in-force after we invaded

    And I’m not saying that the flypaper strategy was deliberate on the Bush Administration’s part. It certainly was not. However, AQ came and the US stayed.

    AQI was predominately comprised of foreign fighters allied with local Sunnis. It’s when the Sunnis saw how awful their new friends were and were convinced that we would hang around to get rid of them that the tide turned.

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  8. Thrill

    Harley, I hate to go off-topic but the draft of the bill that passed specifically excludes American citizens, legal resident aliens, and almost everybody else on US soil. Obama won that one and rightly so.


    (e) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be
    11 construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to
    12 the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident
    13 aliens of the United States or any other persons who are
    14 captured or arrested in the United States.

    (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS.—The require11
    ment to detain a person in military custody under
    12 this section does not extend to citizens of the United
    13 States.
    14 (2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS.—The require15
    ment to detain a person in military custody under
    16 this section does not extend to a lawful resident
    17 alien of the United States on the basis of conduct
    18 taking place within the United States, except to the
    19 extent permitted by the Constitution of the United
    20 States.

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    I dont have it in front of me, Thrill but there were 2 sections, on that gave the impression that US citizens were excluded, the other that gave the impression that us citizens were included., was the bill amended in the last few days?

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  10. Hal_10000 *

    Thrill, it was my understanding that the section you quote meant that that DOJ was not required to turn citizens over to indefinite detention. However, it did not forbid it either.

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  11. Thrill

    See it again:

    (e) AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities, relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.

    At the bare minimum the law changes nothing, Hal.

    “Requirement” doesn’t mean what you say there. If you read the whole thing in context, it makes more sense. Basically, it means that where military authorities can take a terrorist into custody, they are required to. However, US citizens and other US persons are specifically not covered in the requirement. The two paragraphs I excerpted make it clear that this is NOT the “Death to Habeas Corpus Act of 2011″.

    In other news: President Obama is still allowed to blast you with a fucking Hellfire missile without due process.

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  12. Thrill

    Oh, I missed Harley’s question.

    They put it in there so guys like the Underwear Bomber can be detained by the military instead of the feds. That’s virtually the only thing I can see changing with the law.

    I think this is the most interesting thing in the law:

    Sec. 1034. Prohibition on use of funds to construct or modify facilities in the
    United States to house detainees transferred from United
    States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    With this signature, Obama nearly guarantees that GTMO will not be closed. Most under-reported part of the bill. I almost wonder if the noise about the detainee provision was just a distraction from this.

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  13. Hal_10000 *

    I’m still not 100% convinced. They voted down an amendment that would been explicit on the point. And Durbin has said that SCOTUS will decide whether they can detain citizens. Graham still says citizens can be detained.

    In other news: President Obama is still allowed to blast you with a fucking Hellfire missile without due process.

    What, you’re not OK with that? :)

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  14. Thrill

    Sorry, I don’t know what else to tell you. The bill clearly says that nothing in it changes anything with regard to due process rights for US citizens, legal resident aliens, and anyone on US soil. Now there is quite a bit of disagreement in Congress over whether or not the military can detain citizens indefinitely with or without this bill. That’s another debate.

    What, you’re not OK with that? :)

    Convict them of treason in absentia and THEN blow them up, I say. I like due process and explosions.

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  15. Thrill

    His interpretation is wrong. I also note in the same article that he still doesn’t understand how the domestic surveillance wiretap program worked after all these years, so this isn’t a surprise.

    The bill doesn’t change anything. Greenwald is making the case that the 2001 AUMF vested the President with this power to detain indefinitely. Somehow, he seems to think that this bill is the first time anyone ever bothered to write it down and therefore it’s a big deal. It isn’t really major.

    The sneaky thing about this bill is that it REFUSES to answer the question of whether or not the military can hold a citizen without trial. As I said above, it’s a whole ‘nother debate. Members of Congress on either side of the aisle don’t even agree on whether the AUMF allows this. The bill, as written, effectively leaves the status quo in place.

    Understand though that there have been limitations against the President’s authority since the AUMF. The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and Military Commissions Act in particular. These were in response to Hamdi v Rumsfeld which stated that citizens have the right to have their status as enemy combatants challenged before a federal judge. So Obama can still declare you to be an enemy combatant and have you locked up BUT you can challenge that status and the government has to present evidence that you are one in front of an impartial judge.

    The real issue is the reach of the AUMF and that’s the only thing Greenwald has right. Indeed, you and me and Lee and lots of others spent a huge chunk of the Bush years arguing about the President’s authority under that law.

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