By years’ end, the US war and occupation of Iraq will be over.
Opposing the war from the start, Peace Action participated in the February 2003 protest where tens of millions around the world voiced their opposition. Peace Action continued its opposition even when political and public support for ending the war was almost non-existent, helping organize all the large demonstrations and playing an important role in building opposition in Congress.
The deadline for US troop withdrawal was established in 2008’s Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) forced on the Bush administration which had steadfastly stated its opposition to a ‘timetable’ for withdrawal. The Pentagon wanted to maintain a military presence, but was unwilling to be held accountable for future civilian casualties, a condition Iraq would not accept.
So now, Iraq’s future is in the hands of the Iraqi people which is as it should be. Whether they can settle their sectarian divisions or become victim to them remains to be seen, but as US military leaders observed repeatedly, a political settlement is the only way to end the bloodshed.
The US should provide all the diplomatic assistance and financial aid for reconstruction that was promised, and turn our attention to honoring our commitments to our veterans. The total cost of the war, including interest of the debt incurred to pay for it, will likely exceed $3 trillion.
The same holds true for Afghanistan. There is a startling disconnect between statements by military leaders that our economic crisis is the greatest threat to our security and their insistence we remain in Afghanistan indefinitely. Despite the announced withdrawal date of 2014, discussions with Afghanistan on a US military presence there are ongoing.
Over one million troops served in Iraq over the course of the war. It should be remembered the war was based on a string of falsehoods fed to the American people that an existential threat existed there. The war continued long after the truth was known.
The same holds true for Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaeda is no longer a significant presence there. It’s time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan as well.