December 21, 2011 by Gina
On Sunday, December 18th, something big quietly happened within our military and our foreign policy – the last U.S. troops left Iraq and crossed into Kuwait. The war that began in March of 2003 has cost almost 4500 American military lives and roughly 100,000 Iraqi lives (the numbers are less clear for Iraqi lives lost and are likely under-reported). I remember exactly where I was in March 2003 when the U.S. began bombing Iraq and I felt my heart sink as I watched on television in my hotel room. We all have our own opinion about this war – whether it was pre-emptive or not, whether it was about oil or not, whether we should be there or not. But…I think we can all agree, that going to war is a grave endeavor and protracted conflict takes it toll on everyone.
What does all of this mean with our soldiers pulling out of Iraq? That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? We may not have military personnel in Iraq anymore, but the U.S. will continue to be involved in their political development and have contractors, security personnel, journalists and diplomats in country working to rebuild. Iraqi citizens, under decades of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, have a lot of political work ahead to maintain peace between Sunnis and Shi’ites. They have an entire country to rebuild – infrastructure, jobs, schools, daily life, security – it won’t be easy.
I wish I knew more and could shed more light on this for everyone. I am happy we no longer have soldiers in Iraq and I hope we will not be back in the future. I hope that Iraq, a country rich with history and abundant in resources, can get back on its proverbial feet and continue to take steps toward peace. The world will be watching closely, particularly neighboring Iran, Turkey and the rest of the Gulf nations. I’ll be watching with them.