President Obama recently declared an end to combat operations in Iraq. So ends a chapter of our nation’s history which lasted longer than World War II (although WW II lasted a bit longer for our allies, as this conflict lasted a bit longer for us). Iraq’s future is unsure and the hoped for goal of creating a stable democracy in the middle of the middle east remains problematic. We will all have to wait and see the long-term results and remember that “the end of combat operations” does not equal the end of having deployed troops in Iraq (although they are there in smaller numbers).
A key lesson we can take with us from this conflict is that we are not readily conversant with the lives or situations in many areas of the world and yet we need to be. When we are deploying troops to a country that many of our citizens can’t even find on a map, we’ve got a problem. When we do not understand the social, religious, and historic challenges of a region we are trying to help, we’ve got a problem. When we do not have the solid support of our major allies, we’ve got a problem.
There are many families that lost loved ones or have loved ones with physical and mental challenges due to our operations in Iraq. This is true in our nation, in our allies’ nations, and even among those who fought us or were close by. I pray the loss of life and body will prove worth the while in the end. But I hope in the future we are more deliberate as a nation and as a community of nations before we commit lives to a region.
History only serves a purpose if we learn from it.
All the best,