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Today the last convoy of troops and equipment rolled out of Iraq into Kuwait. So we see a flurry of reports that say the Iraq War is over. It's not.

It's not over for the more than 32,200 American troops that were wounded or for the families of the 4,484 troops killed in action, or for families of the 318 coalition troops killed.

It's not over for the families of the 10,125 dead Iraqi troops and the estimated (approx.) 113,000 dead civilians. These are conservative estimates. A combined Bloomberg/Johns Hopkins/Al Mustansiriya University, Baghdad study put the figure at 654,965 “excess deaths”—fatalities above the pre-invasion death rate, with more than 601,000 of those classified as violent deaths.

It's not over for the 86,000 Iraqi war widows or the estimated 4.5-5 million Iraqi orphans (loss of a father or both parents constitutes orphanhood in Iraq).

It's not over for the 467,565 Iraqi displaced persons.

It's not over for every living Iraqi today.

It's not over because we don't know what the future holds for the Iraqi people. Only time will tell if the Sunni, Shia, and Kurds can live in peace. There are few reasons for high expectations, but there's no harm in hoping for the best. It's not unreasonable, though, to anticipate civil war.

Only time will tell. I remember during the war blogger Atrios pointed out that Tom Friedman of the New York Times would often declare that "the next six months are crucial." He did this so often that Atrios referred to this as a Friedman Unit, or an FU.

I'm sure someone in the media has at some point in the last few days declared that for Iraq the next six months will be crucial for avoiding a civil war. There may never be an end to FUs in Iraq.

There are a ever-receding number of American WWII veterans, as we're reminded each year on Veteran's Day. We can expect almost all of the rest to die off in the next decade. Having talked to quite a number of them, I know that the war never ended for them, as it most certainly hasn't for thousands of Vietnam vets.

Wars are never "over," they just enter a different phase. Hell, the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 still sticks in the craw of many a Serb today.

The only part of the Iraq War I can claim is the shame of having lived through it as an American citizen, knowing that I helped pay for it and knowing that it was as useless as any war can be: it was unnecessary, and we'll be paying for it beyond the memories of those alive today.

I have never forgotten meeting my great aunt Betsy Gibb Wallace, who lived in a one-room brick house in the tiny hamlet of Luthermuir, an hour or so north of Edinburgh in Scotland. She had lived there seemingly forever -- I had met her there as a "wee lad" in 1954 and then again in 1972.

In '72 when we showed up unexpectedly, she welcomed me and my girlfriend Suzanne in for tea. Betsy was in her eighties then. While she was brewing the tea, I looked around the room and spied a portrait above her bed. It was a photograph of Charles Wallace, a handsome, young soldier, who married young Betsy, and got her pregnant with Charles Jr. before going off to war in 1914, never to return.

She had slept in that bed alone under that portrait for more than sixty years.

Betsy Gibb Wallace had her son Charlie ("Aye, Chairlie, he bides doon the roodie in a wee hoosie, ya ken," she told me) and that was a blessing.

But for her, World War I was not over. For her, it was never over.

Just as, for countless human beings, the Iraq War is not over and may never be.

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Comment Preferences

  •  (Typo in the title). No fat lady singing that I (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bnasley, ColoTim, truong son traveler

    can tell.  Not only the current and future impacts of those directly affected, but those of us not directly affected will be paying for a long time.  And who really knows what is over when it comes to the Middle East today.  As you said, civil war could break out.  Iraq's neighbor Iran could find itself attacked and more war could break out in Iraq and throughout the region.  This was a criminal FUBAR and there is nothing to celebrate.

  •  I have a friend 94 years old (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bnasley

    who has told me she has all the letters her son Tommy sent from Viet Nam - before he was killed - in a little box in her bedroom. "I want to read them again", she told me, "but I'm just not ready."

    Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

    by Clem Yeobright on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 10:57:14 AM PST

  •  Are you the kind of person who, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    IndyReader, Lestatdelc

    when a thunderstorm ends, and the sun comes out and shines bright and beautiful, and everyone wants to go outside and enjoy the day, you feel the need to remind people that another storm might be brewing?

    •  Actually, no I'm not and... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WisePiper, truong son traveler

      ...the sun has not come out and nothing is beautiful about the Iraq War ending. That, in fact, is my point, that beauty and sunshine might be somewhat of a reality for the soldiers that survived and drove the final trucks and Humvees out of Iraq, but it isn't for those who were damaged. And those, my friend, are legion.

      Calvin

      •  So it's not a great thing that the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lestatdelc, boophus

        actual war in Iraq is over? I know you are trying to make a point by saying "it is not over", but it is, indeed, over.

        •  No more deaths or injuries added to the list (0+ / 0-)

          of the costs of that war is good news. Now we have to pay the price of our error in ever going there by supporting those who have paid the highest price. BUT the republicans are already trying to figure a way to weasel out of meeting thier obligations to those they used for corporate purposes.

          Fear is the Mind Killer

          by boophus on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 12:59:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  We're talking about two different things (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ColoTim, truong son traveler

          I grant you, the actual war is over. What I'm talking about is the effects of the war and the cost of the war, both in blood and treasure, as well the enduring pain we have -- as all wars have -- caused. The war is not over for the parents of those who lost their lives or their limbs. The war is not over for the half a million Iraqis that have been displaced and, because their homes and neighborhoods have been taken over by another Islamic sect, can never go home again. War has consequences. My point is that we have to recognize those consequences for what they are and be prepared to live with them. Some wounds never heal; some memories never fade.

  •  For those who caught glimpses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt

    of the war on their TV screens and read it in the newspapers or by way of the Internet in the comfort of their homes the war is over. They needn't let it interfere with their lives now.

    For those directly involved, those who fought on all sides, for the several million people who fled their country, Iraq, to seek refuge in places like Syria and Jordan, for those who had the misfortune to have been exposed to depleted uranium, the direct effects of the war linger indefinitely. We don't like to spend much time examining the human costs of our wars. It is not pleasant to dwell on.

    UXO is still killing people in Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam and total cleanup is not likely in our lifetimes.

    But some are smiling. The major oil companies are back in Iraq and entering into billion dollar contracts and the MIC will sell the Iraqi Government billions in military hardware.

    War is a Racket.

    “Humankind can not bear very much reality.” - T.S. Eliot

    by truong son traveler on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 06:22:33 PM PST

  •  December, 16 2011 10:27:23 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BigAlinWashSt

    From Viet Nam News (National English Language Daily)

    Unexploded 250kg bomb found in field

    QUANG NGAI — A 250kg bomb which was found in a field in Ba Vinh Commune, Quang Ngai Province has been removed and transferred to a safe place for storage, according to Nguyen Ngoc Han, commander of the provincial military headquarters on Wednesday.

    Local residents discovered the 1.65m bomb close to a residential area while they were working in the field.

    The bomb was manufactured in 1967 and dropped on the commune by the US army during the war.

    Last month, 64 mortar shells were also found buried at the construction site of the Son Ha District Committee’s office. The shells have all been stored safely. – VNS

    "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

    by ehrenfeucht games on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 06:43:05 PM PST

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