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Friday, February 27, 2009


"Major combat operations have ended"

George Bush took a lot of flack when he said, on May 1, 2003, "major combat operations in Iraq have ended." It wasn't actually true, but most of the flack Bush took wasn't because of that statement, but because he said it in front of the infamous "Mission Accomplished" sign. In truth, "major" combat operations continued at least through the second battle of Fallujah at the end of 2004, and, depending on your definition of "major," sometime after that. But "major" combat operations in Iraq certainly have ended.

Today, Barack Obama went one step further, asserting (or is it "predicting"?) that "by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end." And what will the 35-50,000 troops who remain (or who it is claimed will remain at that time, if there are no "tactical adjustments" as Obama puts it before then) be doing, troops who, if our "combat mission" is ended, must by definition be "non-combat" troops?

"We will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq."
So now we come to the pop quiz part of this post. Aside from those three missions, and, oh yes, handing out candy and soccer balls to small children, can anyone tell us what else the troops have been doing for the last four years or so? And, for extra credit, please explain why "conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions" doesn't qualify as "combat." Indeed, since the fall of Baghdad and the Iraqi army in April, 2003, every operation the U.S. has conducted has been a "targeted counter-terrorism mission," hasn't it? For sure every person the U.S. has been killed has been labeled a "terrorist" (or the occasional "collateral damage" which was really the fault of the terrorists who were hiding behind those civilians who became the "collateral damage").

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