Happy X-mas. War Is Over: The End of Operation Iraqi Freedom

What if you won a war and nobody came? The Iraq War, after seven years and 4,000+ heroic dead, is winding down, leaving behind 50,000 "advisors" and a parliamentary democracy in the heart of the Middle East.
Lt. Col. Mark Bieger huddled his infantrymen in a darkened parking lot minutes before they were to depart Baghdad for the last time.

This is a historic mission!" he bellowed, struggling to be heard over the zoom of fighter jets and unmanned drones deployed to watch over the brigade's convoy to Kuwait. "A truly historic end to seven years of war."

The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which left Iraq this week, was the final U.S. combat brigade to be pulled out of the country, fulfilling the Obama administration's pledge to end the U.S. combat mission by the end of August. About 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq, mainly as a training force.

"Operation Iraqi Freedom ends on your watch!" exclaimed Col. John Norris, the head of the brigade.

"Hooah!" the soldiers roared, using an Army battle cry.

Shortly before midnight Saturday, a group of infantrymen boarded Stryker fighting vehicles, left an increasingly sparse base behind and began scanning the sides of a desolate highway for bombs. For many veterans, including some who made the same trip in the opposite direction years ago under fire, it was a fitting way to exit.

"They're leaving as heroes," Norris said of his soldiers. "I want them to walk home with pride in their hearts."

This being the Age of Obama, victory is marked not by a parade down the Avenue of the Americas, but by a midnight convoy across the Kuwait border. Which is appropriate in a way. The Iraq War may have been "approved" by wide bi-partisan congressional majorities, but it was obvious at the time - and became clear within less than a year - that the Democrat "support" for the war was little more than craven opportunism to get through the 2002 mid-terms. The Iraq War was fought and won by President Bush, the US military, and the 30% of the country that never lost faith in the mission. The idea of an anti-war politician like President Obama "marking" the occasion with a teleprompted speech is frankly more nauseating than his studied silence.


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