I'm really glad that most all U.S. military forces are leaving Iraq this month; this is long past due.
Most of the media coverage this week seems to be glossing over the significant detail that the U.S. investment in Iraq, in terms of personnel and dollars, will continue. Instead of uniformed troops from the military, we'll have 15,000-16,000 people there in the form of other government employees and private contractors. We'll be spending almost $4 billion there in 2012. These numbers are lower than what we've been investing, but they are not small numbers, and they still represent a significant commitment on the part of U.S. taxpayers, let alone on the part of the soldiers still on the ground. We can't afford to start thinking or talking as though our involvement in Iraq is through.
It also seems appropriate that when we talk about the human life lost in the course of the U.S. presence in Iraq, we avoid artificial exclusions based on nationality. The story and cost of war is incomplete if you only recognize the count of killed and wounded on one "side" of any conflict. As we consider this particular milestone, let us reflect on the totality of what has been sacrificed, taken or destroyed along the way.