ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Scuttle and Run

The US military formally leaves Iraq, leaving it in economic, social and political ruins.

Acts of idiocy by the powerful come rather frequently these days, but few in recent times have matched the vulgarity of the flight-suited swagger down the deck of the aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, by a smirking George W Bush on 1 May 2003. Few indeed can remotely approach the foolhardiness of the banner that provided the backdrop to his announcement that day, of a “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.

If that was farce, Bush’s successor in the job, once regarded as the most powerful in the world, was condemned to re-enact it as tragedy. Seven years and four months from “Mission Accomplished”, Barack Obama announced in a nationwide address that the US military was pulling out of Iraq, after “fulfilling its responsibilities”. Apart from announcing the end of the combat mission in Iraq, Obama was also seeking to mobilise his bitterly riven nation to cope with “ongoing security challenges” and “the need to rebuild at home”. And though at pains to avoid deprecatory references to the misadventures of his predecessor, Obama spelt out the consequences of Iraq with a certain, though selective, attention to detail: “Thousands of Americans gave their lives; tens of thousands have been wounded. Our relations abroad were strained. Our unity at home was tested.”

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