December was “first month since the beginning of the Iraq war in which there were no U.S. combat deaths, the U.S. military reported.” Three Americans died of non-combat causes.
As I highlighted earlier, counterinsurgencies rarely end cleanly and clearly, with a single moment identified as the day of victory. But they do end, and Iraq is ending now. That’s not to say the victory is one to be particularly happy with, that Iraq is a fully-functioning democracy without corruption, or that the potential for unraveling doesn’t exist. But it is to say that the United States has likely done as much as it could politically and militarily, given all the circumstances. Despite the result, I suspect that the memorials to Iraq, when they come, will be closer to the muted mourning of the Vietnam Wall than they will to the triumphalism of the World War II memorial. It seems unlikely that Iraq will ever be remembered as a “good war.”