While we slept peacefully last night in our cribs of freedom and prosperity, the last of the combat troops in Iraq cruised over the border into Kuwait; with papers of course, and unarmed. Much unlike our borders.
As I learned of this event by email tonight, I cannot help but think how odd it is that I was in the living room in California of my Sergeant from Vietnam, in March of 2003, as we witnessed the invasion of Baghdad with the 3rd Infantry Division and the 7th Marines with whom we served. Neither one of us ever thought we would see a pre-emptive war again in our lifetime. Particularly one based on questionable data. And here I am back in California with my pal, 7 1/2 years later watching the withdrawal of troops, leaving the people of Iraq with questionable data. No question that Saddam had to go, but 13 Centuries of Suni domination morphed into a Shiite democracy, is assuredly questionable. The 50,000 troops that are remaining coupled with some handsomely paid private contractors,(men with guns), will now fuel are 24/7 cable news for the next 7 years.
Officially, 440 troops of the Stryker Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division will be calling themselves the exit crew. An exit that has a great deal more honor and record of accomplishment than is reported. There are no helicopters being tossed overboard and no one fleeing Embassy compounds for safety. This is an ordered exit. Is it a surprise? Well of course. Is it part of a grander plan? Well of course.
I think I now see why the National Security Advisor and former Commandant of the Marine Corps; General James Jones, got the job. This is a clear handing off of the baton from the Rumsfeld Department of Defense to the currently finely tuned State Department who will now be charged with stabilizing this nation that is ruled by the Tower of Babel.
Community policing, and guiding a judicial system is not the role of an Army. The very reason the Marine Corps balked at their continued use in Iraq and were shortly thereafter deployed to Afghanistan.
We stopped a civil war, maybe, we toppled a dictator, ooorah, and we have spent more training their cops than the entire nations GDP. I do believe it is time to turn over the show to the locals. Pray that the locals will stay, and that some of the millions of middle class, highly educated Iraqi’s will return. If they can get visas. How is that for an American irony? Visas to get back in the county to be with their own families! Let’s also hope that the thousands of interpreters, and third party contractor grunt labor; Phillipinos, Pakistanis, Indians, can safely be escorted out. Or? Remember the Vietnamese refugee boats?
We created the space and the opportunity for them to recreate their homeland. I do believe that was done by us. But can the coalition governing body hold off Iran? The other irony, Saddam did that for us. Now they are flying solo.
In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was more than prepared to govern and had no one to hold at abeyance once we were gone.
For now, the grim news of successes, that were like cotton candy, the cascade downward of American tolerance for war, ( not being attacked on our own turf is not a very enduring motive), and the domino effect of public opinion, can now take a rest as we focus on the “other” war in Afghanistan. And we wonder why there is no money to create jobs!
Will the Iraq people feel that we are abandoning them? No more than the unemployed American plumber.
Welcome home men and women of faith and freedom. I hope we are ready for you.