The names of the towns tug me back a decade to when we were on the road to liberating them. Fallujah. Mosul. Tikrit. We learned how to pronounce them as our nation learned what was necessary to rescue them from the hands of terrorists.
Iraq was not the source of 9/11, but under the leadership of President Bush, we had chosen to take the war to the most hostile regime in the part of the world that wanted to kill us. Saddam Hussein had slaughtered his own people in addition to launching attacks on U.S. forces in violation of the U.N. agreements following his ejection from Kuwait at our hands. It was a thoroughly appropriate first theater for what would become known as The War on Terror.
Well, write its epitaph. War on Terror, 2003-2014. We are done. We have lost. Iraq is falling before our eyes this week as al Qaeda monsters snatch the cities we shed blood to help. Next door in Afghanistan, the Taliban dances in celebration of America’s retreat. Deserter Bowe Bergdahl will not come home a hero, but his kindred spirits will, the five blood-soaked terrorists we released to garner his freedom.
This is what it feels like to lose. This is what it looks like. This is what it smells like. Its stench should repel every American.
Even among our war-weary citizens, who eventually became the majority, this must be sickening. Even among those who opposed the war from its start, surely their pacifism or Bush hatred or military ambivalence does not stand in the way of a natural human instinct of disillusionment as our nation slinks away from the war zone as our enemies cheer.
President Obama, who fooled some for a while with head fakes like the Afghan surge and a grudging willingness to keep Guantanamo open during his first term, has shown us his soul. He is withdrawing our troops from a war where real progress was under way, in terms of a glimmer of hope for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan— a future guided by stability, honest elections and self-determination for the people.
It would have taken a long time. We needed a President to exert leadership in its purest form— leading a hesitant nation to do the right thing by supporting the war that kept us free from further 9/11s for more than a decade.
Instead, we have a commander-in-chief driven to end the war, but not to win it. And as if that’s not bad enough, he believes his wily charms can snow a nation into thinking he has been a wartime hero:
The day before 9/11’s tenth anniversary, Obama told us: “There should be no doubt— today, America is stronger, and al Qaeda is on the path to defeat.”
In January 2012: “We’ve decimated al Qaeda’s leadership.”