A U.S. naval fighter jet on May 1, 2003, landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, which was returning to the port of San Diego. When then U.S. President George W. Bush, who was dressed in pilot attire, got off the plane, soldiers cheered. He declared on the deck that major combat operations in Iraq had ended. A banner reading Mission Accomplished was hung on the deck. Bushs declaration was interpreted as the end of the 43-day Iraq War.
On March 20, 2003, the U.S. attacked Iraq under the codename Operation Iraqi Freedom citing Iraqs possession of weapons of mass destruction. Washingtons premise for going to war was to disarm Baghdad and remove Saddam Hussein as Iraqi president. Twenty days into the war, the Iraqi capital fell to American forces and the U.S. military soon began searching for Saddam, who was eventually found. No weapons of mass destruction were found, however, and criticism of the U.S. invasion grew. Washington has spent 744 billion U.S. dollars in Iraq over seven years and five months and lost 4,400 soldiers. The number of Iraqi deaths has exceeded 100,000 over the same period.
U.S. President Barak Obama declared Tuesday that U.S. combat missions in Iraq were over. He failed to mention victory or defeat, however. The remaining American combat troops stationed in Iraq pulled out Aug. 19 but 50,000 non-combat troops will remain to train the Iraqi military and police through the end of next year. Iraq remains unstable. Though six months have passed since its general elections in March, the country has failed to establish a coalition government. Terrorism is rampant as well.
Former U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz warned against a complete U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq in a contribution to The New York Times titled, In Korea, a Model for Iraq. He reminded that the Korean War broke out after the U.S. pulled its troops from the Korean Peninsula. Though Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president on the pledge to end the Korean War and 55 percent of Americans at the time opposed the conflict, Korea was able to achieve economic prosperity and democracy because the U.S. never gave up on Korea, Wolfowitz said. Iraq can follow in the footsteps of either Vietnam or Korea. Which path it will take is up to the Iraqi people.
Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-taek (firstname.lastname@example.org)