War's end in Iraq met with some criticism

Dec. 15, 2011 at 12:02 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- The White House should focus on ending its military operations in Afghanistan now that U.S. forces are leaving Iraq, a peace advocate said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta joined military leaders in Iraq during a flag-casing ceremony, marking an end to a war that started in March 2003.

"Your dream of an independent and sovereign Iraq is now a reality," Panetta said to Iraqis during the ceremony.

Paul Kawika Martin, political director of advocacy group Peace Action, said that even though the United States is leaving behind a large footprint in the country, U.S. President Barack Obama deserves praise for ending the war as promised.

"Now that the Iraq war is ending, President Obama must end the other war that the majority of Americans oppose: Afghanistan," Martin said. "The Obama administration needs to end the Afghanistan (war) within a year, which is American voters want."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, in a statement, said he looked forward to a brighter future for a post-war Iraq.

"We will continue to work with the government and people of Iraq to that end, supporting all Iraqis in the political, social and economic development of their country," he said.

But Daniel Serwer, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, issued a reminder on his blog, peacefare.net, that the war in Iraq had more to do with geopolitics and weapons of mass destruction than building an economically and democratically vibrant country.

"No, Iraq has not been worth it," he writes.

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