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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Looking Back on the War in Iraq

Unless your postal address is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it would seem pretty obvious at this point that the United States and our allies in the Coalition of the Willing have lost the Iraq war. The only real question at this point would seem to be this: When historians have adequate time to review all of the facts about the war, which date will they use as the official end of the war? Which date best signifies when the magnitude of the disaster should have been clear?

For starters, October 18, 2006 would be a pretty logical date as a milestone. On one day, all of the following stories appeared about the war:


U.S. October Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 70 -- From the story, October 2006 is on track to become the deadliest month for US forces in two years and Iraqi civilians are being killed at the rate of 43 per day.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061018/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_061016170382

3 Marines Referred to Courts-Martial in Iraqi Murder Case -- Three of seven members of the 101st Airborne will be tried in the case of a kidnapping and murder a 52-year old man in April 2006.

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/
california/northern_california/15790602.htm

Iraq's Premier in Talks with Key Shi'ite -- Our (current) man in Baghdad has resorted to pleading for help from the leading militant Shi'ite militia leader, Muqtada al-Sadr to help quell the violence within Iraq. For those of you confused about who the bad guys are in Iraq, this can be really complicated to follow. al-Sadr was a BAD guy when US troops were fighting to clear Shi'a insurgents from Sadr City, a district in northern Baghdad that is home to 2 million Shi'as . Sadr City is named after al-Sadr but used to be named Saddam City, another bad guy who is still a bad guy. Al-Sadr is still not a good guy but he's apparently not a bad enough bad guy to ignore when Iraqi and American forces can't keep the streets clear of exploding cars and dead civilians.

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/special_packages/
iraq/15790576.htm

Rumsfeld OKs Plan to Recall Battalions -- From the story, WASHINGTON Oct 18, 2006 (AP)— The Marines plan to send back to Iraq at least some reserve combat battalions that have already served one tour there, officials said Wednesday the first time such units would be returned to the war.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=2582907&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312


Of course, not everyone prefers milestones based on cold hard facts. Some prefer more visual, symbolic mileposts. For those like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Kissinger and others who get misty eyed thinking back to the victory that could have been in Vietnam, maybe a better date might be June 28, 2004. No, that's not the date we were scheduled to hand over "sovereignty" to a grateful, prosperous and peaceful Iraqi people. No, that was June 30, 2004.

June 28 was the date Paul Bremer secretely flew out of Baghdad, two days ahead of the scheduled date, to avoid getting bombed out of the sky by insurgents. If only the Pentagon had planned the war as carefully as Bremer's stately, dignified exit. No limousine motorcade from the CPA headquarters out of the Green Zone through streets lined with smiling, waving, thankful Iraqis to Baghdad airport onto a big shiny US government plane. Instead, Bremer made a final speech in front of the press in front of a C-130 transport plane, boarded the plane, let the press trickle away, then snuck off the C-130, shuttled to another corner of the airport then boarded a transport helicopter that flew him out of the country.

Kinda makes you nostalgic for that footage of the last helicopter leaving the embassy in South Vietnam, doesn't it?

Of course, my personal preference for the official date of the end of the Iraq war would be the date on which the body of the last American killed in action in Iraq is flown from Iraq, brought to Dover AFB, then brought to its final resting place. I know exactly who I want in the honor guard escorting that last honorable soldier of the conflict every inch of the way from the battlefield to Arlington.

George Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Fieth, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleeza Rice and George Tenet.

They have worked so long, so tirelessly and so devotedly to this cause, I just know that they, more than any other Americans, would see the need to "stay the course" and participate in this "victory" until the very end.

The very bitter end.