Iraq War Ends With a Whimper, Not a Bang
The Atlantic Home, senior correspondent for military affairs and national security, National Journal)
The Iraq War began with Pentagon officials boasting about an initial offensive that would "shock and awe" the enemy, then-President George W. Bush flying a military plane to an aircraft carrier for a high-profile address to thousands of cheering troops, and round-the-clock coverage on the nation's TV networks. Eight and a half grueling years later, the deeply unpopular conflict is set to end with a whimper, not a bang.
[Notice the graph does not flatten out to zero troops but reveals a permanent presence as part of the US military-industrial empire, with its largest base in Mesopotamia. So the war will "end," but we will leave behind ~50,000 troops.]
Washington and Baghdad's failure to agree on a troop-extension deal means that virtually all of the 43,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq will stream out of the country over the next six weeks, bringing a quiet end to a conflict that began with so much bombast.
Radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for public rallies on Jan. 1 to celebrate the U.S. withdrawal, but the idea hasn't gained much traction with other Iraqi political leaders. For now, there are no formal ceremonies planned in Iraq to mark the end of the U.S.-led mission there or to commemorate the thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed in the conflict.
Iraqi officials have also rebuffed the U.S. officers at many individual bases who have proposed low-key events in which the American flag would be lowered and the Iraqi one raised to mark each facility's passage into Iraqi control. More