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home : opinions : commentary June 28, 2016

12/20/2011 1:11:00 PM
Commentary: Measuring what the Iraq War leaves behind

Raquel Hendrickson
Bugle Managing Editor

With war’s end, Iraq’s future will be as shaky as its recent past. While American armed forces are leaving and an official end of mission has been declared by the U.S. Defense Department, only a novice would expect smooth sailing.

Building a peacetime existence is never smooth. It often brings out the ugliest in human nature. We’ve seen that at the end of every war. We’ve already watched it for years in Iraq.

In David Lean’s epic film Lawrence of Arabia, Robert Bolt’s always-relevant screenplay credits Prince Feisal (future king of Iraq) with saying, “Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men. Courage and hope for the future. Then old men make the peace. And the vices of peace are the vices of old men. Mistrust and caution. It must be so.”

Old men, clinging to old ideas, old feuds, old prejudices and old alliances, have been trying to cobble together something that is better than the Saddam Hussein days. But it is exactly those clinging, treacherous vices that have kept American troops in Iraq so long after Saddam’s inglorious death.

An Iraq without Saddam, a world without Saddam, is certainly an improvement. Whatever the elusive reasons for Congress declaring war on Iraq, the U.S. military worked to take down, rebuild and improve relations where they could. Many paid a high price for that work.

In nearly nine years of war in Iraq, 4,500 U.S. military personnel were killed. Another 32,000 were injured. The United States has spent nearly $1 trillion in this war.

Dozens of young men and women from the Verde Valley signed up during the past eight-plus years for their own personal reasons. Many of them were what the military defines as “high-quality recruits,” or high-scoring high school graduates. Some ended up in Iraq.

That experience shapes them into the people they are when they come back. While folks on the homefront could actually forget we were at war, the restrained influence of the conflict is here to stay. The cultural, political and financial impact on our future is still being measured.

What impact U.S. personnel have had on the Iraqi future is equally incalculable at this point. The situation is still ugly and dangerous, and will be for a long time. The debate over the value of the war will last just as long.

For us, at least, the experience has an “official” end.

Of course, there is still Afghanistan ...

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, December 26, 2011
Article comment by: John McMillian

Congress did not declare war on Iraq. It was another industrial military complex backed big spending spree to fund cronies using lies and drivel to push forth the cause.

Posted: Sunday, December 25, 2011
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Imagine War not fun anymore.Who would have
thunk it.

Posted: Saturday, December 24, 2011
Article comment by: nutso fasst

Dear Peter of Yavapai,

Congress did not declare war in Iraq. Congress has only declared war 5 times:
* War of 1812
* Mexican-American War
* Spanish-American War
* World War I
* World War II

If - as stated in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution - only Congress can declare war, how can the Korean 'police action', the Vietnam 'conflict', and the Iraqi 'liberation' be referred to as wars if they were never declared by Congress?

Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Article comment by: Phil Falbo

Republican't policies are conceived and enacted with one purpose: to so bankrupt the United State's that no expenditures are possible without tax increases.

The republican'ts do not care one bit about the welfare of the US except as it pertains to corporate profits and/or their personal banlk accounts.

All one need do is listen.


And, think.

Sad. Most people today, cannot and choose not to do that.

Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2011
Article comment by: Peter, Yavapai County

Raquel acknowledges the facts that, "In nearly nine years of war in Iraq, 4,500 U.S. military personnel were killed. Another 32,000 were injured. The United States has spent nearly $1 trillion in this war."

Then she writes, "While folks on the homefront could actually forget we were at war,..."

In the past, when the U.S. declared war, everyone either participated in the war effort or supported the war effort or protested the war. People didn't just forget.

When Congress declared war in Iraq, they should have automatically declared a tax increase to pay for it. Instead, our Commander and Chief declared $trillions in tax cuts! And then Congress "paid" for the war with borrowing. The cost of the war and the continuing cost of caring for the injured is simply piled onto the national debt. If Congress was required to declare tax increases to pay for declared wars, we just might think twice about declaring them in the first place.

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