- Ada, Oklahoma

December 14, 2011

Is it really over over there?

Gene Lehmann Managing Editor
The Ada News

Ada —  

President Barack Obama declared the Iraq war ended Tuesday.

I wonder how he could tell?

Perhaps it is because hundreds of American troops are leaving the country daily. U.S. military camps are deserted. Equipment not yet removed sits idle.

Declaring victory in the modern era does not have the same gusto it did when America was victorious over Japan and the Axis powers of Europe. One would hope for a celebratory kiss from a beautiful stranger and throngs of people lining a ticker tape-littered street. Smiles would be on every face.

It hasn’t been that way in America since 1945.

Oh, we have fought our share of wars since 1945 but — unlike the war won by the greatest generation — no one seems to celebrate victories any longer.

It may be Americans became aware in 1954 the Korean conflict was more a “tie” than a victory. It could be argued Vietnam was America’s first “loss” on the battlefield. There was some celebratory fanfare after America fought — and soundly defeated — all 24 crack military troops in Granada in the 1980s.

As much as we tried to celebrate the first war in Iraq, the negotiated peace settlement in 1991 left a dictator in charge and American troops miles short of the target in Baghdad. It was clear America’s allies in that conflict were prepared to become non-allies if the juggernaut that is the U.S. military continued to pursue the war. I mean, honestly ... Iraq’s elite fighting force we were warned about took to surrendering to CNN news reporters.

The end of the present-day Iraq war does not feel like a victory, hence no kissing or street parties.

Indeed, one feels as if a shower is needed to cleanse away the ugly truths about this particular conflict that was neither necessary nor beneficial for America.

Now, America may turn its attention to the conflict in Afghanistan as we attempt to find a way to declare victory and get the heck out of Dodge. There are disconcerting photographs of U.S. soldiers marching peacefully past poppy fields — whose harvested nectar is destined to deliver the scourge of opium addiction to our shores. The picture is wrong and America knows it.

Indeed, modern era warfare is not for the faint of heart. So many unholy alliances have been forged we have lost count of them.

Nothing was asked of Americans. There were no ration coupons for gas, or bacon, or meat, or rubber, or sugar. There was no sacrifice asked at all except on those Americans called to duty and the loved ones left behind.

That is why there are no celebrations, no smiling faces, no ticker tape parades, and no lasting victory smooch to linger fondly in our collective national memory.