War Is Over (If Obama Wants It) or, Mission Accomplished Redux


As President Barack Obama helpfully explained last night on the TV, the Iraq War is over. "Time to turn the page" and end "the American combat mission in Iraq." Except for the 50,000 or so troops still there, who will no longer be "combat troops" but advisors, traffic cops, social workers, and bake-sale overseers. Who will stay there until the end of 2011 (or longer, if you believe folks such as Washington Times' national security correspondent Eli Lake, or the thousands of U.S. troops sending emails from the Korean peninsula).

Iraq was not just an elective war, a non sequitur in what used to be called the "global war on terror," it's been a war filled with obfuscations, misdirections, and bogus claims that have never been fully accounted for. Obama's speech last night simply continues that sorry tradition, thus extending not simply the fog of war generally but disrespecting the more than 4,000 American soldiers whose blood has been spilled in a misbegotten adventure in hubris straight out of the Shelley poem, Ozymandias:

And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Iraq, you're on your own now. U.S. soldiers (sorry, coalition soldiers; another obfuscation), you're on your own, too. Keep your heads down until the actual withdrawal of troops, whenever that might be. "We have met our responsibility," says Obama, whose eyes are already on another "mission accomplished" speech, the one he'll give in Afghanistan whenever it becomes politically expedient to do so. "As was the case in Iraq, we cannot do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves." The evacuation of Afghanistan will famously depend on "conditions on the ground," but will start next August. Write it down in your calendar.

And, by the way, the real problem facing the U.S., says Obama, his "most urgent task," is attending to the sick American economy, which, like Iraq, he avers, was broke when he got it. That may pass for leadership in Washington, but it is not hope, change, or anything worth celebrating or getting behind.

We shouldn't have gone into Iraq and we shouldn't still be waddling around in Afghanistan; the original mission there—to find bin Laden and bring him and his comrades in terror—to justice, has long gone as missing its quarry. We shouldn't have poured more money into stimulus spending and not simply immoral but ineffective bailouts (of Wall Street, mortgage holders, car companies, you name it).

The lesson from last night's speech was clear, though different than what Obama intended: Do not expect politicians to do the right thing under the worst of circumstances or under the best. Politics is a marathon game of blaming the guy before you and kicking the can down the road until the next guy comes along, the Le Mans of abdicating responsibility while mouthing its language.

The only thing we can do is hold politicians—Democrats and Republicans who voted for war, stimulus, national security overkill, and so much more – accountable when their time for approval comes due. And the next time and the next time after that.

Full text of Obama's speech is here.

NEXT: Simpson and the Sacred Cow

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  1. Iraq is the litmus test I use on candidates (and journalists). If you were dumb enough to support that war (and too proud to rescind your support once you saw what was going on) then you should be stuck pumping gas for the rest of your life.

    1. Right. Because that’s what politicians do when they lose an election. They pump gas.

      1. I believe that was a “perfect world” scenario.

    2. Pumping gas? Sure, but in a truly perfect world they’d being pumping the gas to fuel up the generator that will power their electric chairs!

      1. Pumping gas? Ha! In case you haven’t noticed most(if not all) gas stations are not unlike pols in that they are self-service.

        I blame the boomers for this too. You gotta love cleaning your own windows, checking your oil or pumping your own gas in the freezing cold. Bastards!

        1. Why should I tip some nobody when I can do it myself? or something…

  2. the Obama administration was doomed from day one. he thinks his legacy will be healthcare legistlsation. If we are lucky, it will be that he bit the bullet and got us out of the black hole that is the middle east.

  3. So, they found the WMD? Transformed the Greater Middle East into a paradise of democracy? Or any of that other high-sounding shit they were running at us back when this started?

    Nah. We don’t have jack shit to show for it. And I don’t believe it’s really over, either.

    1. “”Or any of that other high-sounding shit they were running at us back when this started?””

      Removing Saddam from power?

      1. And what the fuck good is that to us?

        1. But he hates America!

    2. We weren’t there to find the WMD, we were there to prevent Saddam from using WMD.

      Saddam did have WMD, you know. Ask the Kurds. What happened to them? Who the fuck knows. But playing three-card WMD monte indefinitely was not a great option.

  4. No way! Iraq was totally worth it!

    We won, so that means that only traitors will ever tally the costs or ask what the benefits were!

  5. The lesson from last night’s speech was clear, though different than what Obama intended: Do not expect politicians to do the right thing under the worst of circumstances or under the best. Politics is a marathon game of blaming the guy before you and kicking the can down the road until the next guy comes along, the Le Mans of abdicating responsibility while mouthing its language.

    The only thing we can do is hold politicians – Democrats and Republicans who voted for war, stimulus, national security overkill, and so much more – accountable when their time for approval comes due. And the next time and the next time after that.

    That’s beautiful.

    1. And a bit depressing.

      Vote the bums out. Wait 2 years. Repeat.

  6. Please explain how swapping between Team Blue and Team Red leads to accountability. They like that. Keeps the base all riled up and ready to give money.

    1. I don’t think he was advocating swapping Team Blue for Team Red, but for replacing both with Team Purple (or Pink? What should the color of the LP be? Maybe stick with primary colors and go with yellow?)

      1. [howls of derisive laughter]

        It’s always amusing to see the young and hopeful thinking that the LP could ever get elected to anything beside dog catcher.

        And just a tip: calling yourself “Team Yellow” probably isn’t good marketing.

        1. I thought it was Team Gold.

      2. Orange, dude. Get with the program.

      3. Team Purple is already in the WH see SEIU workers unite etc…

        Team White is apropos for libertarians since you’re all a bunch of racist surrender monkeys for opposing our historic President and his vision for the U.S. and Iraq. :p

    2. Team Black. It matches the color of libertarians’ top hats.

  7. I’m a Navy vet going back to school after 13 years and yesterday was the first day of my public speaking class. Naturally, we had to stand in front of everyone and do the stupid “Hi, I’m some dumb asshole whose name you’ll probably forget since I don’t have D Cups” introduction thing like some half-ass AA meeting. One girl, who had to be right out of high school, stood up, introduced herself and then told us how she was going to school to get her PolSci degree so she could get into politics.

    She seemed like a sweet girl and she didn’t say what her political affiliation was but I’ll admit that it took every last bit of my military discipline to not jump up and curb stomp the potential politician right out of her!

    I’ve got to stop reading Reason, as I’ve come to view politicians with nearly the same level of distilled fucking hatred that I view terrorists and commies with and I think it’s going to lead me straight into trouble or worse…like a Glenn Beck rally!

    1. Hey hang around, it sounds like you could provide some interesting color to this place.

    2. I wonder if running for (federal) office should have as a pre-requisite at least 5 years employment in a for profit organization?

      Would anyone run? Would anyone vote?

      1. George W. Bush? I don’t think this is going where you want.

        1. well, you are probably right…it’s an imperfect filter, like most filters.

      2. Didn’t Obama work for a law firm for a few years?

        Maybe we should narrow it to for-profit companies that don’t benefit by big government (as law firms do). That would exclude Bush too.

      3. I think they should be required to pass a series of trials in an ancient dungeon filled with deadly traps and devious puzzles and riddles.

        1. Angelina Jolie’s bedroom?

          1. If so, my respect for Brad Pitt just increased considerably.

  8. So, let’s see:

    Are there still American troops there?


    Are American troops there still in danger?

    Yes, Iraq is still a deadly place to go about your daily life, much less form part of an occupying army.

    Is Obama a lying sack of shit?


    1. But…but…but…BUSH’S WAR!!

  9. Except for the 50,000 or so troops still there, who will no longer be “combat troops” but advisors, traffic cops, social workers, and bake-sale overseers.

    “Sir, we’re being attacked by insurgents.”

    “Throw down your weapons spatulas and run away!”

    I’m so glad you can watch this stuff for us Nick; truly. I really like my new TV and don’t want to shoot it just yet.

    1. I watched the speech and liked it. Obama is dreamy when reading off a teleprompter as long as he doesn’t say “folks”.

      1. One of the big things that makes me scream at my radio when I hear it (I don’t watch TV much) is when Obama or that total fucking nutsack hair Gibbs start off answering a question by saying, “Listen, …” or “Look, …”.

        I just want to say, “I AM LISTENING, you fucking ASSHOLE!” It’s just so goddamn condescending – they clearly mean, “You’re just so stupid and ignorant, clearly you are unable to detect the brilliance in my every word, so here, let me dumb it down enough to explain it to a person of your obviously depressed intellect. So LISTEN, LOOK, pay attention now, as I amaze you with the sheer genius, magic and beauty of my every thought and word. Try not to get distracted as I know you so easily do, because once you start to understand my brilliance – if it is within your pathetic ability to do so – you surely will recognize the inherent rightness of my every thought, word and deed.”

        1. I agree, the telemprompted stuff doesn’t have LISTEN or LOOK. It’s all symbolically flowing gobbledy feel goodifying stuff. His prewritten addresses feel so diconnected with reality that it’s more prose than leadership.

          When he answers questions I don’t sense any awe-inspiring rightness, intelligence, or confidence. Just seems like the administration is just barely hanging on and getting exasperated at doing so.

        2. Gibbs is a snide, condescending prick. Can’t stand the dude.

          1. I like that Gibbs can’t hide that he’s a snide, condescending prick.

          2. Brad Pitt muttering on the couch in “True Romance” as the mob hit man leaves:

            “…don’t condescend me!”

  10. We won’t be able to bring the troops home until after Mecca and Medina are nuclear wastelands.

    1. Fallout 3 anyone?

  11. “War Is Over”

    This just reminds me of why I am so happy that John Murtha is dead, dead, dead.

    1. Wait… John Murtha died?

  12. Funny, when I think of Iraq, I think of a character created by Shelley’s wife.

    1. The creature was created by Dr. Frankenstein, not some chick.

      1. Maybe Colin is thinking of Lionel Verney.

        1. Oh, that might fit. We need a ruling.

      2. I think he meant “created or saved”.

      3. And just like the monster the Iraq war was created by the Jews.

        1. That was ironic right?

          Please tell me we’re not becoming the anti-Semitic libertarians.

  13. Your Draconian thought for the day: stop just talking about the 4,400 dead as those who have “spilled blood.” The dead are the lucky ones. The ones who are far less lucky are the ones who’ve had their faces hideously disfigured, their limbs blown off, their manhood smashed, and their bodies paralyzed.

    This wouldn’t have happened if I were your President, I guarantee you that. But Saddam Hussein would still be dead.

    1. Shut it, faggot.

  14. It’s absolutely staggering, the gap between Obama’s rhetoric as an “anti-war” senator and his rhetoric today. I darn near almost fell out of the chair laughing when I actually heard him thank George W. Bush.

    And it’s particularly galling when you consider that he only won the nomination over Hillary because he duped the democratic party base into believing that he was going to close down Guantanamo Bay, end the Iraq War and bring all of the troops home, and all of that crap.

    I don’t know how anyone could possibly believe a single word the man says about anything at this point.

  15. So, are our NONCOMBAT troops unarmed or, at least, not conducting any combat actions? Because, you know, if that’s not the case, then calling the occupation over is a total and absolute lie.

    Also, I thought the surge was bad. Since it at least calmed things down enough for us to begin to withdraw, does that mean that Obama and other Democrats were wrong to oppose it? Did he mention that in his speech?

    Stupid war was a waste of time. Unless by some miracle Iraq becomes a liberal (in the international sense) paradise and a leading light in the Middle East, I have a feeling that it will revert to form before too much longer.

    1. No. They are still armed, they still conduct combat operations – just they have an Iraqi face (Army or Police) on it. An “Advisory” brigade is just a “Combat” brigade with extra officers and renamed. From what I can tell, the same rules apply this year as last year when I was over there.

      1. So it’s a lie? My president lied to me? Does that mean he has to resign in shame now?

        1. No, silly. He gets another term for that.

          1. When did I walk through the portal to Bizarro World?

    2. “”So, are our NONCOMBAT troops unarmed or, at least, not conducting any combat actions? Because, you know, if that’s not the case, then calling the occupation over is a total and absolute lie.””

      I’m not sure if it’s really black and white. How many armed troops did we keep in Korea after the Korean war, or in Europe after WWII. We kept dominance over Iraq with fighter aircraft after the 1991 war.

      Compared to history, it’s good enough to call it over.

  16. I wonder how long it will be before the Neocons start saying that what Iraq needs is a secular Sunni strongman…

    1. And that they have just the man for the job.

    2. 3 years, tops.

    3. Yeah, I’m sure Natan Sharanksy will be on that any day now. Moron.

  17. How about holding pundits who supported the war accountable? There goes half of Reason’s staff.

  18. Honestly, the surge was a battle for improving a War, not winning it (Cheney never wanted to win, what he wanted was to have US in a Perpetual War). Thank God we are getting out, what a waste of our Youth and Treasury set on a bed of lies.

    1. Right…he told you that personally, did he?

  19. “Iraq was not just an elective war”

    What war that the United States has fought wasn’t elective?

  20. “What war that the United States has fought wasn’t elective?”

    The Civil War…at least for one side.

    1. How do you figure? The Confederacy didn’t have to secede; the Union could have let the Confederacy go once those states elected to secede.

    2. But that side wasn’t the United States.

      The War of Independence is a definite yes, since there would be no U.S. without it. Probably 1812 too.

      1. Actually, the War of Independence was kind of whitewashed by us later on. The whole “taxation without representation” was actually the British demanding that the Colonists help pay for the French and Indian War that us Colonies instigated.

        The people who these taxes fell upon the hardest were the land owning gentry (most of our founding fathers were quite well off financially) and they didn’t like the fact that they didn’t have enough political clout to have a say in it. The whole liberty and democracy thing was largely brought about by the wealthy Protestants instigating the poor Irish who fucking hated that the English had followed them across the pond to keep up the oppression.

        It all kind of snowed balled from there into the whole “give me liberty or give me death” but like most wars, it all started over money and resources.

  21. WWII…at least I certainly wouldn’t consider it an elective war.

    1. “”WWII…at least I certainly wouldn’t consider it an elective war.””

      And you would be half right. We made a decision to enter the European theater, the Pacific theater wasn’t really elective.

      1. Actually Germany declared war on the US first.

        1. If Iran declared war against the United States today, would that make the decision to bomb Tehran any less “elective”?

      2. How was retaliation after Pearl Harbor not elective?

        1. As soon as WW II comes up, everyone just forgets the concept of “negotiation” exists.

          We didn’t have to INVADE Germany. Hitler was contained! So we’d be missing a few Jews, so what they were probably neocons anyways.

  22. Have any of you pussies ever looked at a globe? We knew Iran in spite of their denials were developing nuke technology because dissidents gave us the locations. We put them in the Axis of Evil speech to let them know we knew. Now put your right handed thumb over your pinky finger and hold those three fingers in front of your face. Pull down your pointed and place it under your thumb -that is Afghanistan. Now pull down your ring finger and place it under your thumb – that is Iraq. Do you see what you have left? Yeah that’s right the all American fuck you bird! You see? Fuck you Iran you will not build a nuke you crazy 12th Imam believing suicidal nutcases.

    Do you stupid fucks think that the Jihadist won’t come when a non-Muslim country invades a Muslim one? Do you stupid fucks understand why the Soviets had their asses handed to them in their Afghan adventures. Do you stupid fucks think its easier to kill Jihadist in the sand or mountainous terrain of Afghanistan -see the bring it on speech. More troops in Afghanistan means more supply lines etc… Read about the Soviets incursion there dumbasses!

    What us neocons miscalculated was the democrats Viet Nam era strategy of supporting the war only to oppose it for political gain and hope and change mantra. How you liking your hope and change assholes?

    Why the fuck else would democrats call Bush a liar day in/day out knowing full well the senior Bush lied to the Shi’ites in Iraq. Do you stupid fucks realize Ayatollah Sistani had the vast majority of Shia holding back in the face of Sunni insurgents and al Qaeda onslaught. There was no civil war yet when the democrats had been speaking of for a year, not until al Qaedablew Golden Dome Mosque and then the democrats and Iraq got their civil war and we got Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

    Our mistake was not locking those fucking borderline treasonous fucks up like Wilson or FDR would have and we’d have been the fuck out of there long ago and Iran wouldn’t be a year away from building nukes.

    1. Go shoot yourself in the face, fattie.

      1. Fattie light about one ting. Democlat parly is stupid. They think I big plobrem but I just sabel lattrer. My peopre wolship me as god, I rike tat. I not piss off to extent America brow me up, I like being god to my peopre.

        Murrahs who lun Ilan clazy though. They reregious zearots who believe worrd wal bling about allivar of 12th Imam. They fight Sunni Muslim 100s years ovel dis berief.

        Ayatorrah berieve he can bling 12th Imam then proof to othel Sunni Musrim that Shi’te are collect and Sunni wlong and 12th Imam rule worrd wif Israhm.

        “We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.” -Ayatollah Khomeini

  23. Nick,

    You and most of the liberal congnoscenti continue to ignore the clear and concise reasons we went to war in Iraq in order to polish off your anti-war credentials. It’s disgusting and dishonorable to the troops who fought and died for success in the war itself.

    Fortunately, you did post a link to the reason we went to in the Iraq Resolution. Let’s review.

    Iraq’s noncompliance with the conditions of the 1991 cease fire, including interference with weapons inspectors. Undeniably true, and Iraq is no longer noncompliant.

    Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, and programs to develop such weapons, posed a “threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region.”We did not find stockpiles of weapons, but there is extensive evidence of various WMD programs that Saddam had every intention of continuing despite the sanctions. Indeed, Hans Blix himself stated that there were massive discrepancies between what weapons were declared by Saddam and was they knew was made by Saddam. This can be a wash.

    Iraq’s “brutal repression of its civilian population.” Saddam isn’t doing that anymore.

    Iraq’s “capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people”. This either.

    Iraq’s hostility towards the United States as demonstrated by the alleged 1993 assassination attempt of former President George H. W. Bush, and firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones following the 1991 Gulf War.Of this

    Members of al-Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, ARE (present tense) known to be in Iraq.This was undeniably true as well. And now those same Al-qaeda members are either dead or on permanent defense in Iraq. Al-qaeda said Iraq would be the big battleground for the war with the US. They lost BADLY.

    Iraq’s “continu[ing] to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations,” including anti-United States terrorist organizations. They are now harboring less of these organizations in Iraq, and the ones that are there are no longer protected by Saddam.

    The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight terrorists, including the September 11th, 2001 terrorists and those who aided or harbored them.Members of Al-qaeda fled directly from Afghanistan to Iraq in Saddams arms after we attacked the Taliban. most of them are now dead.

    The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism.
    Citing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the resolution reiterated that it should be the policy of the United States to remove the Saddam Hussein regime and promote a democratic replacement.Done and Done.

    I don’t expect libertarians to support war at all since most are isolationists, but Nick you have to stop lying about this war and the reason for it.

    1. People tend to forget the mood of the country at the time.
      Bush could have said: We’re taking out Saddam just because we fucking can and we like to blow shit up! and he would have had overwhelming support from the American people hence the democrats giving him the authority too.

      1. You’re probably right, but that’s not what he did. Both he and Congress outlined the specific reason why he needed to go and they were just and reasonable. What pisses me off is that people like Nick love to sound all high and mighty by saying this was a “PHONY WAR!!!” when it clearly wasn’t. Not only that, but it minimizes what we actually did accomplish, which is remove a fanatical Dictator who was responsible for horrible atrocities and replace him with a superior form of government than what they had previously.

        And this is all phony?

        Fuck these people.

  24. Very well put together, Tman.

    I opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, but I understood that I was in the minority. The country and more importantly, congress was very strongly behind it. I understood the reasons for going, and still find most of them valid. I have defended that decision many times since then, I just lean pretty heavily towards non-intervention, and isolation. Despite my initial position, I get sick of hearing about how wrong the decision to take out Saddam was, and further how we should have been out long before now. Once we made the decision to go, there were obligations that had to been seen through. We can’t just abandon Iraq, like we did Vietnam. New ideas and governments need time. We need to give that to the Iraqi’s.

  25. Bin Laden has been dead for 9 years.

    1. I figure five or six, but that’s a quibble.

      1. I agree. I’ve always thought that the biggest “fuck you” Osama could give to the west would be to post a picture of himself holding a current daily newspaper from somewhere. The fact that there hasn’t been anything like this at all for the last nine years is extremely suspicious.

  26. “The only thing we can do is hold politicians – Democrats and Republicans who voted for war, stimulus, national security overkill, and so much more – accountable when their time for approval comes due. And the next time and the next time after that.”

    Questions: should we read “hold accountable” to mean not re-elect? if so, who does this leave behind, after we’ve put Congress through this great purge? If these are the criteria for extraction from office, we should just prepare for a Congress with a perpetual rookie population of >90%?

    excommunicating experience because of a political agenda seems pretty irrational to me.

  27. Ozymandias? What?

    So, you didn’t like the Iraqi project, or you don’t think it was worth it. Fine. But at least acknowledge reality: we accomplished every goal we had in Iraq (as duly listed in the AUMF), and whatever problems they still have, liberty and prosperity has been vastly expanded for 25 million people.

    Liberty? Remember that? It isn’t just for Americans. Even if you disagree with the method, celebrate the liberty.

    And the prosperityu=. GDP has tripled since 2002 and 10% growth is expected this year. Hundreds of free media — paper, radio, TV. Elections. Judges. Basic services like electricity, sewage, trash, etc doubled.

    The Ozymandias poem is better addressed to Saddam.

    1. Honestly, I think you’re just pissy because you’re disappointed you supported Obama and he turned out to be an adult on foreign policy.

  28. In Iraq war, there was no victory! This was a war against the weapons of mass destruction which were never found. And apparently it was to distract people from a lot of policies that gw bush was making and wanting to hide, and as a consequence, us is at the virge of disaster today. Obama, is a good man to end this war. I hope there is more peace in the incoming days! A’meen!


  29. While the Obama administration has dramatically reduced the number of troops and rebranded the mission, the operation in Hawija was a reminder that U.S. forces are still engaged in hunting down and killing al-Qaida militants ? and could still have to defend themselves against attacks.

    That reality was front and center at a change-of-command ceremony in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces outside Baghdad that the American military now uses as its headquarters. Officials warned of a tough road ahead as the U.S. moves into the final phase of the 7 1/2-year war.

  30. Do you stupid cougar town dvdfucks think its easier to kill Jihadist in the sand or mountainous terrain of Afghanistan -see the bring it on speech. Moreman vs wild dvd troops in Afghanistan means more supply lines etc… Read about the Soviets incursion there dumbasses!

  31. The fact that there hasn’t been anything like this at all for the last nine years is extremely suspicious gazeteler sohbet

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