Monday, December 19, 2011

War’s over! Where’s all the celebration? Or do we see Part Three forthcoming?

He is going to be restrained by the economy (the federal government can’t afford to do many of the things Obama dreams of) and an ongoing war in Iraq (whether we like it or not, we’re stuck in it. I wouldn’t be surprised if U.S. troops remained there on Inauguration Day in January 2013).

Chicago Argus, Nov. 5, 2008


Part 3 someday? Image from Indymedia Ireland
Perhaps it goes to show you just how little I know at times.

Because it seems this prediction that I published in this weblog on the “Day After” Election Day in 2008 when Barack Obama woke up realizing he had managed to beat John McCain and become president-elect turned out to be inaccurate.

FOR THIS WEEKEND, the Iraq War that began back in the presidency of George W. Bush officially came to an end. History will record that the last U.S. troops left the country on Sunday, although because of the time difference it was actually late Saturday in Chicago at the moment those troops crossed over the border into Kuwait – the nation whose invasion back in the early 1990s by Saddam Hussein triggered the whole notion that we were “at war” in Iraq.

And just out of a sense of disclosure, I have a cousin, Carlos, who was in the Army back in the late 1980s and early 1990s and wound up spending a year of his service fighting to “liberate” Kuwait.

But back to the present. Weekend news broadcasts were filled with lots of feature stories showing us soldiers in their tan fatigues (the famed “chocolate chips”) saying how pleased they were to know that they survived the war and that it truly is over.
OBAMA: Ended this Iraq war. Who begins the next?

These men likely will tell stories for the rest of their lives about how they were the absolute last U.S. troops to leave the Middle Eastern nation – for now.

BECAUSE I WON’T be surprised if conditions arise in future years that cause our military to think that U.S. troops will have to return. In fact, it may well turn out that what we’re calling the second Iraq War is really just the latest chapter of tensions that have been ongoing in that part of the world for centuries, and will continue for long after this weekend.

It makes me think that the idea of considering this war “over” is a little bit short-sighted. That very mentality was running through my mind back when Obama got elected president in large part by appealing to the people who always despised the notion that U.S. troops were located anywhere in the Middle East.

But for now, I will give Obama some credit (even though I’m sure the ideologues of our society will not want to do so). He brought this military conflict to an end. For now, the body count ceases to rise.

The point I tried to make all those years ago was that anybody who voted for Obama expecting there to be an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops truly was being naïve. I knew all those years ago that a withdrawal from Iraq would take years to complete – and even then only if absolutely nothing went wrong.

THAT IS WHY I implied that the process might still be taking place in January 2013 as Obama either prepares to take a second oath to serve a four-year term as president – or tries to hold back a look of anguish as one of the GOP dreamers actually manages to take that oath while Obama looks on – just before getting the final plane ride on Air Force One that brings him back home to Chicago.

Instead, it seems to be over. All combat troops left Iraq by this weekend, and all U.S. troops are supposed to be out of the country by Dec. 31. The soldiers will be returning home in streams – and we’re likely to see countless accounts of soldiers in fatigues being mobbed by family and friends, along with some cute wife or child at the center of the mix for them.

Yet for the life of me, I’m not sure what was really accomplished by this military action of the past few years. The reports already are cropping up of political “crisis” and tensions arising. I literally won’t be surprised if Iraq War Three crops up in the next decade.

The only real question is whether it will be a “President Obama” who has to start it in a second term, or if it will be some future chief executive who gets the credit/blame for the military mess.

YES, YOU PROBABLY out early from the tone of this commentary that I was never a proponent of this particular “war,” which as far as I was concerned was declared because of the feeling by the most recent President Bush to take on “unfinished business” from the administration of George Bush, the elder.

When George W. Bush got elected president in that mess of political maneuvering that passed for an election cycle in 2000, I knew that circumstances would arise that would be used to justify an Iraq War. Even if no such airplanes had ever struck the World Trade Center or Pentagon some 10 years ago, I believe the end result would have been similar in terms of military involvement in Iraq.

So because I “expected” it, I wasn’t shocked or offended when it occurred. And as far as getting out, it always struck me that the “war” was the equivalent of a “break it and buy it” policy.

We “broke” it by getting involved with military force. I want to believe (in fact, I desperately hope) that we have fixed it well enough to justify calling this military conflict over.

BUT SOMEHOW, I suspect (and fear) that the quickie glue job that we did to repair this symbolic artifact will soon some undone.

Is somebody bound to pick this “artifact” up off the shelf and notice that it is all chipped on the side that we turned toward the wall and face away from the potential customer?


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