DECEMBER 20, 2011 2:29PM

Merry Christmas. War is Over.

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It is, is it?

So let me get this straight. The Iraq war is officially over.

Just like that.

Did someone simply walk around one last time to make sure the oven was turned off and the iron was unplugged, tilted the blinds, turned on the porch light, slammed the door and cranked the dead bolt?

I guess so.

Apparently, it was that easy. At a cost of nine years, nearly 4,500 American and 100,000 Iraqi lives and a trillion dollars, the world's largest and most expensive fork exposed its tines and on Friday signaled that this thing is done, done and done.

Make no mistake, however—we're leaving a lot of parting gifts to this fragile mishmash of tribal alliances, including an embassy larger than anything this side of the Dugger's house.

Still unaccounted for are $6.6 billion earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction projects and one billion dollars in missing tractor trailers, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades provided to local security forces.

Such a comforting statistic.

For all of the soldiers and families who've finally gotten an opportunity to put this nightmare behind them, Friday was a landmark day, and wouldn't you have thought our print media would concur? I definitely believed as much.

But here's the front page of the Detroit Free Press (end of war article framed in green):

And one of my local papers, The Tacoma News Tribune:

When the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II, it received this treatment in the New York Times:

And another of my neighborhood publications, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Judging from the prominence of first two headlines, the end of hostilities in Iraq barely justified the front page.

How do you feel about that?

Granted, Iraq wasn't a popular undertaking from the get-go. America was more polarized over the decision to engage in these actions than any era since Vietnam, and after having two anti-war signs stolen out of my front yard in liberal West Seattle, I experienced little difficulty in drawing such a conclusion.

Many of us believed that our President and his cronies were selling us a bill of goods, fabricating evidence to associate Saddam Hussein with the organization responsible for September 11. Heeding the warning of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a lot of us felt that America's current military industrial complex was fabricating evidence in order to profit from a nation's patriotism, paranoia...and ignorance.

So many American lives were wagered to safeguard and install Pizza Huts and Baskin Robbins, Subways and Burger Kings. KBR, a former Halliburton division, supplied $20 billion dollars in food, fuel and housing.

I wonder what KBR's gross margin was on a Double Whopper or foot long Meatball with pepper jack and no onions.

Here's what sticks in my craw, and I'll try to be concise, here:

Our troops, at minimum, deserved a headline with the day's largest typeface, preferably thirty-six point Futura Bold. Many participated in two, three or even four tours over there, and by God, they warrant a large freaking announcement in the freaking newspaper.

America needs to care, but it seems like nobody really does. This war has been predominantly fought on the backs of working class and poor kids who are looking for a way out of their situations. People took to the streets during Vietnam because they or their child risked being drafted into a hellish situation, and now it just doesn't hit home for a lot of us since we don't have many dogs in the this fight.

I know we're all busy right now with holiday preparations, but please, do me a favor.

Wherever you are, take five minutes. I'm not asking you to stand up or look around or do anything. Just take five minutes and think about what a lot of people have been doing for the past ten years, and what many are still doing in distant, hostile lands.

Then think about what we can do to bring more of them home.

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Nobody cared that the war ended because, as you say, nobody really cared that it was going on in the first place. Glenn Greenwald quoted Andrew Bacevitch yesterday, and I think this sums up our new reality quite well:

"With all remaining prudential, normative, and constitutional barriers to the use of force having now been set aside, war has become a normal condition, something that the great majority of Americans accept without complaint. War is U.S."

Well-written piece. Love the contrasting newspaper front pages.
Color me skeptical. We still have untold numbers of "contractors" (aka mercenary soldiers... let's call them what they are) in Iraq. I've seen an estimate of 16,000. This worries me more than the official war because it's in the shadows. The numbers are unknown, because it's probably classified.

If they get killed or injured, the press won't know. No one will report on it.

The people are not U.S. government employees, so they have crap for benefits. If they get an arm or leg blown off, they probably get an air ticket home. No disability, no VA benefits, no nothing other than what they can cobble together on their own. So they'll be home, unable to work, going to the emergency room in our local hospitals when they can't stand the pain any more. All paid for via contractors like Blackwater with taxpayer money.

And Guantanamo is still open, full of sorry souls incarcerated forever, with no trial and no day in court.

In my book, this is a PR stunt, an elaborate shell game where the government moved the pea while we weren't looking. The war is still there. It's just a lot harder to see.
If you were going to throw a war wouldn't you set up an economic crisis, decimate the inner cities and eliminate most jobs too? The disadvantaged were needed to pave the way for the mercenary armies. I can't think of a more effective way to have set up the "post-war" Iraq.

"And so this is Christmas and what have we done?"