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.