I'd love to read everyone's summary of their personal take on the Iraq war. Here's my narrative: September 11 happened. We invaded Afghanistan in response and routed bin Laden and the Taliban. It was an appropriate response. Toppling a corrupt regime was easy, but nation building was hard, and we probably shouldn't have tried. George Bush and **** Cheney cynically exploited the opportunity of September 11 to fold the pre-existing neoconservative plank of taking out Saddam Hussein into a broader War on Terror. Toppling a corrupt regime was easy, but nation building was hard. Initial plans for sweeping in, privatizing state assets and selling them off to multinational corporations failed, reconstruction efforts became mired in widening circles of corruption, greed, plagued by basic failures of security and increasing insurgency. DeBaathification failed and fed the insurgency. Iran saw an opportunity and fed the insurgency, and the internal demographics of the country erupted into chaos. Our troops were forced to stand back and watch while Iraq devolved into a mutual ethnic cleansing spree. armed rebellion and regional refugee crisis. The Bush administration acknowledged its failures as soon as the reelection campaign ended, canned Rumsfeld, and poured more troops into the region. Reconstruction funds quietly ran out, with much of the money simply lost, but at least American soldiers stopped dying in large numbers, so Americans quickly forgot about the war, although it became a theme of the 2008 presidential election campaign. Since then, the Iraq war has been largely ignored in the U.S. by the people not actively involved in waging it. The exit strategy, in the end, was simply to exit. Obama failed to negotiate a continuation of armed occupation, but this is wonderful news. He gets credit for acknowledging Iraqi sovereignty, finally. All we're leaving behind as we evacuate the country is the largest and most comprehensive "diplomatic" mission on the face of the earth, something approaching 20,000 employees and private contractors. We will not have to wait long until this happens in Afghanistan. All we can do is abandon the mission eventually. There is no victory in sight, soon or ever. And I doubt when we finally exit we will leave behind the kind of massive fortified presence we will try to keep in Iraq.