With the news of the imminent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq comes mixed reactions; relief among both military families and anti-war Democrats; a collective weary breath among millions of Americans who’ve tired of the longest war; and fury among most of the madcap politicians running for the Republican presidential nomination, who want to placate religious conservatives on the far right who’ve wanted to view the Iraq War as a titanic spiritual struggle between Christianity and Islam–a kind of new Crusades, if you will. (I said ‘most’ GOP candidates because Rep. Ron Paul (R.-TX.), a noted libertarian, is opposed to Imperialist wars from the right).
In many ways, the draw-down is occasioned by the twin pressures of politics (as in upcoming elections), and the economy–a mood in Washington to pinch every penny. Lost in most American reporting, however, is the obscene costs borne by Iraqis during this hard decade of war. The nation has been shattered, with millions fleeing into exile, untold numbers have died in the war, and the thin veneer of national unity was broken by inter-communal violence between Sunni and Shi’a that left some parts of Iraq (especially Baghdad) a charnel house of death.
The present U.S.-backed government is remarkable mostly for its corruption, and any rap about democracy in Iraq is mere empty rhetoric. What the war has done is strengthened Iran and endangered every regional dictator (also ‘ally’), for they supported the U.S. invasion–against great domestic opposition. But the real reason the U.S. pulled the plug is the Iraqi government could not bring itself to sign a Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) between the two governments that would have granted immunity to U.S. soldiers. Faced with the possibility of U.S. troops in Iraqi courts, the Americans blinked. That said, the U.S. still has an embassy there that is the biggest on earth, and more a fortress than a diplomatic site.
Also, thousands and thousands of U.S. so-called contractors will stay in Iraq; men who hall mostly from specialized military background who are, in essence, corporate mercenaries. So, in truth, it ain’t over–by a long shot.