It was a war fought under false pretenses and a conflict that the administration of President George W. Bush used for ulterior purposes. After the loss of thousands of American troops and innocent Iraqi civilians, the United States military is making a withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year. The departure from Iraq fulfills a commitment made by President Obama when he campaigned and he is deserving credit for ending the active engagement of U.S. troops in the country. It took this President to redefine “Mission Accomplished.”
Today the U.S. military presence at Victory Base Camp Complex in Baghdad, or “Camp Victory,” as it came to be known, ended. The facility was formally handed over to the Iraqi government. "The base is no longer under U.S. control and is under the full authority of the government of Iraq," said U.S. military spokesman Col. Barry Johnson. It is a welcome ending to an occupation that soiled this nation’s reputation in the Arab world and did little to secure the region from terrorism. In hindsight, the invasion of Iraq fueled the anger of law abiding Muslims and gave al Qaeda the opportunity to grow a presence in the absence of a leader, Hassam Hussein, who had kept them beyond the country’s borders.
If there is one lesson to be learned from the debacle in Iraq is that American citizens must hold their government accountable and not fall prey to patriotic hysteria. We must also hold media more accountable as the historical record will show most of the nation’s media outlets buying the Bush administration’s “weapons of mass destruction” propaganda hook, line and sinker. We take pride in our early opposition to the invasion of Iraq and our repeated calls for the Bush and Obama administration’s to exit the country. Our only regret is that so many lives were lost over this folly, and that this war leaves behind a trail of injured soldiers and broken families that no medals can bring comfort.
The trillions of dollars that were spent on this folly could have been used to keep our nation out of debt, repair our tattered transportation infrastructure, or keep our cities from teetering on the brink of financial default. When we hear politicians on Capitol Hill carry on about the deficit we need to hand them the bill for the Iraq War. It was their irresponsibility that drove our nation into debt and the failure of their leadership to hold a presidential administration accountable. Now, years later, many in Congress who did nothing to stop this war or end the military spending spree act as if they have no idea why the nation is in such dire financial straits. It is no wonder public approval of Congress is at a historic low. The “people’s representatives” failed miserably in their oversight responsibility and forfeited their constitutional obligations to an administration that repeatedly lied to the American public.
One thing our nation does not do well is admit when it is wrong. So, let us offer that mea culpa. The United States was wrong for invading Iraq and through our actions we cost innocent people, including children, their lives and damaged future relations with the Arab world. Now, the hard work must begin to convince the Middle East that our intentions are honorable and that we are open to respectful and reciprocal relations built upon trust. It is an area that the Obama administration now has a tremendous opportunity upon which to build a lasting legacy.