U.S. War in Iraq Declared Officially Over
[NY Times] The United States military officially declared an end to its mission in Iraq on Thursday even as violence continues to plague the country and the Muslim world remains distrustful of American power.
In a fortified concrete courtyard at the airport in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta thanked the more than one million American service members who have served in Iraq for "the remarkable progress" made over the past nine years but acknowledged the severe challenges that face the struggling democracy.
"Let me be clear: Iraq will be tested in the days ahead -- by terrorism, and by those who would seek to divide, by economic and social issues, by the demands of democracy itself," Mr. Panetta said. "Challenges remain, but the U.S. will be there to stand by the Iraqi people as they navigate those challenges to build a stronger and more prosperous nation."
The muted ceremony stood in contrast to the start of the war in 2003 when an America both frightened and emboldened by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sent columns of tanks north from Kuwait to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
As of last Friday, the war in Iraq had claimed 4,487 American lives, with another 32,226 Americans wounded in action, according to Pentagon statistics.
Posted by: Fred 2011-12-15