U.S. Army helicopters begin moving troops and equipment from Saddam Hussein’s former Baghdad palace.
By Jude Shinbin
Published: July 4th, 2009
WASHINGTON — Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were brought to an unceremonious close today with a quiet announcement by the Department of Defense that troops would be home within weeks.
“This is the best face we can put on the most unfortunate adventure in modern American history,” Defense spokesman Kevin Sites said at a special joint session of Congress. “Today, we can finally enjoy peace — not the peace of the brave, perhaps, but at least peace.”
As U.S. and coalition troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, the United Nations will move in to perform peacekeeping duties and aid in rebuilding. The U.N. will be responsible for keeping the two countries stable; coordinating the rebuilding of hospitals, schools, highways, and other infrastructure; and overseeing upcoming elections.
The Department of the Treasury confirmed that all U.N. dues owed by the U.S. were paid as of this morning, and that moneys previously earmarked for the war would be sent directly to the U.N.’s Iraq Oversight Body.
The president noted that the Iraq War had resulted in the burning of many bridges. “Yet our history with our allies runs deep,” he said, “and we all know that friends forgive friends for anything. Or nearly.” A spokesperson for the French Ministry of Defense confirmed that France would assist the U.S. withdrawal. “The U.S. helped the Soviet Union defeat Hitler. We do recognize that.”
In conflict zones worldwide, leaders and rebels pledged peace. (See ”In Conflict Zones Worldwide, Peace Moves,” on Page A4.)
On Wall Street, reactions were mixed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 84 points, to close at 4,212. While KBR stock was quickly downgraded to a “junk” rating of BBB-, defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grummon started up.
“Now that the war’s over, we’re going to get to go back to developing exciting new weapon systems, instead of just trotting out the ones that are proven to work,” said a visibly excited Robert Stevens, Lockheed C.E.O., before a reporter informed him of the Senate moratorium on new weapons systems development.
“Oh,” said Stevens, looking flushed, and quickly excused himself.
General David Petraeus had a distinctly ashen look as he attempted to put a good face on the situation. “I’ve been trying to make sense of all this, and I have to say that in perspective, we did pretty well,” Petraeus told reporters.
“It turns out that in 1917, the British made exactly the same mistakes we did,” Petraeus noted. “They told the Iraqis they had come ‘not as conquerors but as liberators, to free you from generations of tyranny.’ Like us, they were surprised the Iraqis didn’t feel quite the same. The insurgency against the British started in Fallujah too, and like us, the British Prime Minister warned against leaving Iraq on the grounds that there would be civil war.”
Petraeus smiled wearily. “I guess it’s never too late to learn.”