Nahrain Al-Mousawi in Muftah:
Iraq’s recent re-entry into American public discourse was marked by the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country as well as hagiographies marking the death of the Iraq war’s foremost advocate, Christopher Hitchens. This renewed interest in Iraq serves as a reminder not only of the country’s displacement from public consciousness, but also the likelihood that U.S. military withdrawal signals Iraq’s final dismissal from the American narrative.
Although it is easy to now scoff at Bush’s misplaced Mission Accomplished banner and boasts in 2003, for most Americans the gap between rhetoric and reality on Iraq has by no means narrowed. This is evident in the widespread assumption that the withdrawal of American forces means that the war in Iraq is over. This conclusion erroneously assumes that the imprint of America’s material legacy in Iraq can be magically erased, and is as misplaced as Bush’s confidence in the immediate success of the Iraq campaign.
The enduring nature of the Iraq war is reflected by recent developments on the ground. U.S. announcement of the war’s end was met with a coordinated bombing in Baghdad on December 22, 2011, consisting of 16 explosions that involved 9 car bombs, 6 roadside bombs, and 1 mortar. Within two hours, 63 people were killed and 185 wounded. Amidst these bombings, the tributes to Christopher Hitches, who had succumbed to cancer on December 15, 2011, were a particularly fitting reminder of the American disconnect between reality and rhetoric on Iraq.