The 15th of December marked the official end of the Iraq War. We spent 9 years in Iraq, starting March 20, 2003 under the name Operation Iraqi Freedom. Former President George Bush Jr., with the help of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, launched the attack with the intention of finding weapons of mass destruction. They did not find any WMD in 2003, with an American survey group concluding that Iraq ended their nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons production in 1991 but warned that President Saddam Hussein planned to resume production immediately after sanctions against such lifted.
Saddam was captured December 13, 2003 and executed November 5, 2006.
The UK pulled their troops April 30, 2009.
The United States has cased the colors and the flag (along with most of the soldiers) is on its way home. According to this article, about 4,000 soldiers remain in Iraq, though President Obama has said multiple times that all soldiers will be recalled by the end of the year.
We lost some 4,500 soldiers. The UK lost the next highest amount, but only about 4% of what we lost: 179. Iraq lost near 100,000 soldiers and civilians.
Yes, Saddam was gone, and I don't think many can argue that he was not a bad guy. Even without proof that he supported al-Qaeda, evidence shows he participated heavily in the genocide of Kurds between 1986 and 1989, resulting in the death of over 200,000 civilians. He invaded Kuwait. He tortured and imprisoned his own people and killed as many as a million during his rule. Yeah, he was a bad guy.
But regardless of how many pictures they show of little kids celebrating the arrival of US troops, women crying as they receive water and rice, and old men playing checkers with allied soldiers, I still go back to this and articles like it. These people didn't want us there and they are very glad we are gone. Maybe some benefited from our occupation of Iraq. But I can't help but think that 4,500 families will be without their loved ones this holiday season because Bush Jr. wanted to have a pissing contest with his daddy's rival Saddam. And it makes me very sad.
That being said, I am very happy the troops are coming home. I hope the 4,000 still in Iraq will make it before the holidays are over. Today is a great day to thank a veteran for their service if you know any. Give them a call, swing by with a plate of cookies. Visit the veteran's home and say thank you for their service, their sacrifices, and their dedication.
Love is love, no matter the back story. <3 DS