It has been a week and a half since the American public was told in no uncertain terms that the “last brigade” had left Iraq, and President Obama took time out of his vacation yesterday to declare his campaign pledge to end the war “a promise kept.”
Pointing out that the war hasn’t really ended is of considerable interest to some Americans, notably the families of the 50,000 US troops still fighting it, but nowhere is the reality of the situation more sobering than on the streets of Baghdad where, after seven and a half years of American occupation, the rising violence and the prospect of several more years of occupation and fighting make this supposed “end” a tough line to swallow.
Not that Iraqi media outlets aren’t desperately trying to go along with the “end” terminology, reporting that a sniper shot what would have been, in any other time, called a US combat soldier. But now he is a “US reconstruction team servicemen entrusted with protecting the US reconstruction,” and his being shot must come with two paragraphs about how the US has withdrawn all combat forces.
That the withdrawal was a complete fiction, however, is not a closely guarded secret, and in the run-up US officials readily admitted that their plan was to simply rename all their combat troops to something else so they could announce there weren’t any left. This has left the post-announcement reporting centered primarily around stating the obvious or towing the official line.