Commentary: Pullback in Iraq is a cause for celebration

Here's hoping Tuesday can be recalled as the day the Iraq war truly ended, in addition to when U.S. troops formally withdrew from the cities and Iraq took responsibility for its own security.

Though it's hard to remember now, the U.S. occupation officially concluded five years ago, in a handover of sovereignty that had to be kept quiet to avoid insurgent attacks.

And the U.S. military presence in Iraq actually will continue through 2011, with combat troops out by September 2010 – as per the two countries' security agreement.

But the images out of Iraq Tuesday looked more like a victory party than any since those statue-toppling days right after the invasion in 2003, when it seemed the Bush administration might have been accurate in predicting limited resistance and a short conflict.

Back then, 70 percent of Americans supported the war.

The forecast of an effort that would last "weeks, not months," soon gave way to President Bush's contention that the timeline was "however long it takes."

In the process of taking six years, the conflict would take the lives of 4,300 U.S. men and women, along with those of many thousands of Iraqis. It would cost Americans $700 billion and drive the partisan divide in the United States deeper.

By this week, only 34 percent of Americans approved of the war.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Wichita Eagle.