Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced the official end to the United States’ mission in Iraq on December 15th – nine years after US forces stepped foot on the foreign ground. US troops initially staged a war to rid Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction that they were thought to possess, but after almost a decade in the hostile country, no such weapons were found. Instead, the nine-year invasion revamped American politics and provided Muslims with a solid foundation for their hatred towards Americans. With American troops absent from the country, Iraq has a long and arduous road ahead of rebuilding (Shanker).
“Let me be clear: Iraq will be tested in the days ahead – by terrorism, and by those who seek to divide, by economic and social issues, by the demands of democracy itself. Challenges remain, but the US will be there to stand by the Iraqi people as they navigate those challenges to build a stronger and more prosperous nation,” said Panetta (Shanker).
“After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real,” he continued. “To be sure, the cost was high, in blood and treasure for the United States, and for the Iraqi people. Those lives were not lost in vain. No words, no ceremony can provide full tribute to the sacrifices which have brought this day to pass. I’m reminded of what President Lincoln said in Gettysburg, about a different war, in a different time. His words echo through the years as we pay tribute to the fallen in this war:
Rees, Jennifer. “Leon E. Panetta announces formal end of Iraq war.” All Voices. 15 December 2011. Web. 7 January 2011. http://allvoices.com/contributed-news/11100992-leon-e-panetta-announces-formal-end-of-iraq-war.
Shanker, Thom. “In Baghdad, Panetta Leads Uneasy Moment of Closure.” The New York Times. 15 December 2011. Web. 7 January 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/world/middleeast/panetta-in-baghdad-for-iraq-military-handover-ceremony.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2.