Today is the first day since March 2003 that the U.S. has not been actively at war in Iraq. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama marked the end of combat in Iraq with an Oval Office speech thanking troops for their sacrifice.
It was never clear why we were there in the first place -- President Bush's rationale for the war shifted from links to 9-11, to weapons of mass destruction, to creating a new democracy, to Saddam Hussein being a bad man. But there were no links to 9-11 or weapons of mass destruction. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a bad man, but as Richard Engel told us last night, there is still no real democracy in Iraq and the country has become a "basket case."
On the occasion of President Obama's speech, the Republican leadership decided they and President Bush should get more credit, especially for the surge in troops that was supposed to lead to an Iraqi government and hasn't.
In the opening segment of last night's show, Rachel Maddow made this assessment of the war in Iraq:
Two American things have been accomplished in Iraq. Tens of thousands, more than a million Americans served their country in a horrible war for seven and a half years under horrible circumstances and under political leadership that was not honest about why they had been sent there. Those Americans are to be honored for what they did and what they gave and they are to be taken care of as veterans now that they're home.
The other accomplishment in Iraq is that we have finally found a way to leave, to get combat troops out, now.
Those two accomplishments belong to this president, who's overseeing the withdrawal from Iraq, and to the people who served -- the people who served honorably for these seven and a half long years.
Credit for all the rest of it, for the made-up reasons for going in, for going in in the first place, for letting Afghanistan spill out of control in favor of this war, for the constant revisions for the justifications for war to obfuscate the craven petty radicalism that really started -- Republicans, you guys can go right ahead and take that credit. Go right ahead. Credit where credit is due.
Republicans, this one's yours. It's got your name on it.