The Iraq war, we are told, is over.
That is actually code for the fact that US combat troops have left although a garrison force remains as well as private US military contractors.
The invasion of that country in 2003 was an illegal adventure, based on a false prospectus of the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) being deployed on the order so of Dictator Saddam Hussein.
English tabloid newspapers screamed about a 45 minutes warning.
There was no time to lose.
The war plans were in place and thousands of tanks and troops were on the border with Iraq.
The original Pentagon memo for the invasion of Iraq was Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL).
It was quickly changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Much better…
The fabrications to convince the world of the clear and present danger from Iraqi WMD were Orwellian.
Saddam’s ramshackle army of terrified conscripts were no match for the “coalition of the willing.”
It was, of course, the Americans with the Brits lending more political cover than military might.
The invasion was almost unopposed.
The occupation was not.
The world learned a new abbreviation of war: “IED.”
The Improvised Explosive Device took a terrible toll on then US military in their light “Humvee” vehicles.
Often IED really stood for Iraqi Enemy Detonating.
The most sophisticated military in the world faced the ultimate smart munitions-the suicide bomber.
Despite the lies to justify the war and the unfortunate “collateral damage” from coalition bombardments the US and the British claimed a moral superiority over the dictator that they had deposed.
The photographs of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib in Baghdad went around the planet.
It is ironic that in a war where over one million US service personnel took part Private Lyndie England is the most famous. The photograph of her with an Iraqi man on a dog lead rally didn’t need a caption.
In the “Sunni triangle” two wars raged simultaneously. An anti-occupation insurgency and a sectarian civil war of between Shias and Sunnis.
The US military on the ground were being outfought and outthought.
They had no answer to suicide bombers and the roadside IED.
There were more than a few signs that they were losing their discipline.
In November 2005 after losing a comrade to an IED attack a group of US Marines went on a revenge mission in Haditha in Al Anbar province. It was massacre of the innocents and an echo of My Lai.
The cover up started almost immediately, but video footage shot by an Iraqi journalism student proved that the Americans had murder innocent civilians, some of them children.
By late 2006 many in the USA though defeat the only outcome.
That year ended with the execution of Saddam Hussein by the Iraqi “government”.
The video footage of the dictator on the scaffold was redolent of an Al Qaeda execution on You Tube. His hangman subjected him to a volley of sectarian abuse as the rope was placed around his neck.
At this stage on every level Iraq was a disaster for George W Bush and his British ally Tony Blair.
Then Bush actually did something that was smart.
General David Petraeus (now director of the CIA) is the US military hero of the Iraq war.
As in the last days of the Roman Empire when the Caesar, without enough Legions bought off local warlords on the Danube the commander of the 101st Airborne put the Sunni Insurgents on the payroll. He gave them control of their neighbourhoods and asked them to give up Al Qaeda in return. As part of the deal the US would block the Shia death squads coming into those neighbourhoods.
This was tried at first in Al Anbar province.
While the Americans were toiling in Bagdad the British, initially, were strolling through souks in Basra in their berets. There was more than a little smugness among the UK elite that the Brits were smarter than the Yanks who didn’t know how to do this counter insurgency lark. Britain, after all, had defeated the provisional IRA and won in Northern Ireland.
In the end it was the British who were defeated. The Shia Mehdi army, a ragtag street militia with ties to Iran, evicted the Brits from Basra palace. The deal was that the Queen’s boys leave and that they would not be attacked en route to the airbase outside the town and that they would stay there for the time they had left in the country.
If the British kept to their deal they would not, they were told, come under mortar attack at the base.
The British agreed effectively handing over control of Iraq’s second city to an Islamist terror group with links to Iran.
During the time from the British leaving to the US marine corps intervening and restoring order around forty women were murdered, some of them publicly for being insufficiently Islamic.
While this Shia version of the Taliban ruled Iraq’s second city the British cowered in Basra airbase.
A Pentagon official in an unguarded moment said to a reporter in Washington that the British “had been defeated in the field.”
One of the baffling things about this war was that Blair, who had lied to get the war, then didn’t seem to care much about the outcome.
The British forces, by modern standards, were woefully ill-equipped. The American soldiers nicknamed them “the borrowers.”
The sad truth is that some British soldiers died because of a lack of adequate equipment.
There wasn’t enough body armour to go around and in one incident six young military policemen were killed by an angry mob because they ran out of ammunition.
The US military realised that their Humvee vehicles needed to be replaced. They quickly were supplied with huge “MRAP” vehicles. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected the US Marine Corps didn’t lose a single man in Iraq to a roadside bomb after these beasts were on the road.
The British continued in their “snatch Land Rovers” and continued to die.
Although we know how many coalition troops died and were wounded in the war the Iraqi death toll can only be guessed at.
Academics squabbled over their respective methodologies is trying to assess the accurate death toll among the natives.
The disputed figures were in the hundreds of thousands.
Not all of the war dead were equal.
When he was a mere Senator Obama called Bush’s invasion of Iraq “a dumb war.”
This opposition to the Iraq war was his trump card over Hilary Clinton in the race for the democratic nomination.
The consummate politician he is he was able to stand in Fort Bragg earlier this week, home of the US Special Forces, and announce a victory.
It is really only a victory for the regime in Tehran because almost all of the Iranian regime’s strategic objectives in the region where they involved Iraq were delivered to them on a plate.
With its Shia majority the post Saddam Iraq is an Iranian client state while also being a US colony pumping the oil.
Something in that conundrum will have to give.
The structural integrity of this Churchillian confection may also come under strain. The same people who partitioned Ireland set up the new state of Iraq.
Today the Kurdish north is virtually independent.
This is ironic give that the main objective of the British after the First World War was to set up a state that prevented an independent Kurdistan. At the time the existence of oil in the Shia south was not known and only the oil fields of Kirkuk had been explored.
British troops remained as a garrison force until 1958.
A Yugoslavia type disaggregation of Iraq at some point in the future isn’t so fanciful.
As a result of the 2003 and the ensuing sectarian chaos has been that uncounted thousands of innocent Iraqis have lost their lives and a crucial region of the world has been further de-stabilised.
The US combat troops are home from Iraq for now, but the long term consequences for that blighted country and the entire region are only starting.