Home / Blog / US war in Iraq comes to an official conclusion

US war in Iraq comes to an official conclusion

The US war in Iraq started in 2003, following the attacks of September 11, 2011 and persisted for eight years, eight months and 26 days. The war came to an official conclusion on Thursday December 15, 2011 with a flag lowering ceremony.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta marked the occasion with a speech looking back on the war and the future to come: “We salute the fact that Iraq is now fully responsible for directing its own path to future security and future prosperity. To be sure, the cost was high. The blood and treasure of the United States and also for the Iraqi people…Let me be clear: Iraq will be tested in the days ahead – by terrorism, and by those who would seek to divide, by economic and social issues, by the demands of democracy itself…Challenges remain, but the U.S will be there to stand by the Iraqi people as they navigate those challenges to build a stronger and more prosperous nation.”

According to a report by Foreign Policy, the U.S war in Iraq cost approximately 800 billion taxpayer dollars, 4,500 American soldiers, and 100,000 Iraqi lives, not to mention the millions of displaced Iraqis.

Although this past Thursday’s ceremony marked the official end of the war, the military will still maintain two bases in Iraq and around 4,000 troops (to compare, at the height of the war in 2007, there were 505 bases and more than 170,000 troops.

These last two bases will close and the remaining American combat troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq by December 31, 2011. However, a few hundred military personnel and pentagon civilians will remain in Iraq, working within the American Embassy as part of the Office of Security Cooperation, to work in their capacity to aid and support in arms sales and training Iraqis.

It is imperative to note that negotiations could potentially resume next year on whether additional American military personnel can return to assist their Iraqi counterparts, considering that Iraq’s military has significant weaknesses in areas like air defense, logistics, and engineering.

General Lloyd J. Austin III the departing American commander in Iraq, explained that “From a standpoint of being able to defend against an external threat, they have very limited to little capability, quite frankly.”

What do you think about the end of the war in Iraq? Is it politically feasible for America to enter in negotiations to provide support for Iraq next year? What does the end of the war in Iraq mean domestically?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Sources: Foreign Policy, The New York Times, BBC, Euronews, The Washington Post

About Ernie

Ernie is a recent graduate of Lawrence University, where he majored in Government with a focus on international relations and Latin America. He recently concluded his senior independent study on the principle of self-determination in international law. He is interested in international law, and international relations as they relate to Latin America. His interest in Latin America stems from growing up in Lima, Peru. Ernie is excited to join AIDemocracy to be a part of discussions on US foreign policy and global peace issues.

Check Also


A Beginner’s Guide to Wheatpasting- Your New Favorite Street Art Method

Want to spread a message? Whether it is flyers advertising an upcoming march or a …


  1. Aritra Gupta, India

    Tell me what’s the true reason for your Govt. to invade(or liberate) Iraq. I find it rather curious for a nation to spend so much of tax payers money to take up a project, which, as your govt. would like us to believe, would bring home no or very little return( in terms of both economic or political leverage).

    • Aritra, what do you mean by “true reason?” I am always weary of construing a single “true” reason to government or organizational actions considering that decisions that happen on a state/organizational level are hard to pinpoint to a single and specific reason.

      In other words, while I generally do ascribe to the notion that decisions get made on a rational basis, via the calculation of expected benefits and costs – I find it hard to believe that it is possible to ascertain a particular “true” reason to any given political/governmental action – given that the decision-making process at an state/organizational level has a lot of different factors that affect the outcomes of decisions.

      For more information, please see the governmental processes model, organizational processes model, and the audience costs model of state-level decision making processes.

      Some of this is covered in:
      The Essence of Decision: explaining the cuban missile crisis by Graham T. Allison and Phillip Zelikow.