Early Sunday morning, the last remaining US soldiers at Camp Adder climbed into their MRAPs and Humvees on the base, outside Iraq's southern city of Nasiriya. Slowly, their convoy of 110 vehicles ambled across the sand, through a gate at the Kuwait border. The last truck passed through just after 4:30 a.m. As the sun began to break over the horizon, a handful of troops pushed the gate closed.
Just like that, it was over:
That's a video of the last trucks entering Kuwait, and the gate closing behind them, courtesy of an Air Force Predator drone. Not exactly shock and awe, or an embassy airlift. The New York Times reports:
As an indication of the country the United States is leaving behind, for security reasons the last soldiers made no time for goodbyes to Iraqis with whom they had become acquainted. To keep details of the final trip secret from insurgents—or Iraqi security officers aligned with militias—interpreters for the last unit to leave the base called local tribal sheiks and government leaders on Saturday morning and conveyed that business would go on as usual, not letting on that all the Americans would soon be gone.
Last week, MoJo looked back at a decade's worth of reporting on Iraq—wars and rumors of wars. Add it all up, and you get something like this Sunday tweet by military analyst Andrew Exum—a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns:
US combat is over, but the war's after-effects will be keeping reporters busy for years to come. As the Washington Post's veteran Iraq correspondent, Liz Sly, reported Sunday morning, a sectarian struggle between minority Sunnis and the Shiite-led government has already broken out in Baghdad's Parliament. Even after the fighting calmed down in 2008, US soldiers and diplomats kept an uneasy modus vivendi between those groups; if Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki doesn't show some restraint (and start to root out corruption in his government), Mesopotamia may see another cycle of tyranny and insurgency.
As for America's way forward? Hard to say, but I couldn't help wondering about it as I waited to watch this Post video of the last Louisiana National Guardsmen returning home from Iraq. Before it loaded, I had to watch a 15-second pop-out commercial…for Chevron Oil.