Is the War on Iraq Far From Over?
February 17, 2009
Just in case you needed something to make your day even worse:
President Obama campaigned on withdrawing from Iraq, but even he has talked about a post-occupation force. The widespread expectation inside the U.S. military is that we will have tens of thousands of troops there for years to come. Indeed, in his last interview with me last November, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told me that he would like to see about 30,000 troops still there in 2014 or 2015.
Yet many Americans seem to think that the war, or at least our part in it, is close to being wrapped up. When I hear that, I worry. I think of a phrase that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz often used in the winter of 2003, before the invasion: "Hard to imagine." It was hard to imagine, he would tell members of Congress, the media and other skeptics, that the war would last as long as they feared, or that it could cost as much as all that, or that it might require so many troops. I worry now that we are once again failing to imagine what we have gotten ourselves into and how much more we will have to pay in blood, treasure, prestige and credibility.
I don't think the Iraq war is over, and I worry that there is more to come than any of us suspect.