The United States won the war. It’s up to Iraq to win the peace.
At much cost to both parties, the U.S. has given the people of Iraq the best chance they’ve had in modern times to enjoy both peace and freedom. But as they no doubt are already learning, the cost of both is immense.
No one knows that cost better than the men and women of our volunteer Armed Forces – the most capable, most honorable fighting force in human history. As the U.S. mission is solemnly brought to a close, Americans should remember them in their prayers as Iraqis should remember them for their sacrifice.
It’s been a difficult slog, and among the most controversial military engagements and political calculations in America’s lifetime. History will be the final arbiter, but from here – again, at great cost and with maddening imperfections – we see a very troubled, very problematic country that has been pulled out from the thumb of one of the planet’s worst tyrants. In its place we see cracks on the egg of a peaceful republic. What will hatch is anyone’s guess.
But if it’s more violence and a breakdown in civil society, history must know that it won’t be because of the United States. What the Iraqis do with their newfound freedom is their choice.
Nor should posterity let go unchallenged the manipulative canard that the justification for the Iraq War was a lie. That political refrain, chanted enough that it seemed to ring of truth, is debunked easily enough with the historical record: American and foreign politicians of every political stripe were convinced Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction – he’d already used them, in fact, against the Kurdish people – and needed to be removed. The list of Democrats who supported action against Saddam, and who were convinced he was a grave danger, is a veritable Who’s Who of the party.
“Saddam Hussein,” Democrat Nancy Pelosi once said, “has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”
The list goes on.
It is interesting that President Obama, one of the war’s chief opponents, now presides over its end. The situation gives rise to a fear among some that the pullout is more political than strategic.
We would simply pray that the time is right, and that our troops’ sacrifices, many forever to be untold, will have done them the honor they’ve done us.