Commentary: Ending war in Iraq is easier said than done

"Sept. 1 means I won't have to go back."— U.S. combat soldier interviewed Wednesday on CNN

Maybe if that young soldier says it as often as President Barack Obama says the combat mission in Iraq is over, it will be true.

But the 50,000 U.S. troops remaining in-country until at least the end of 2011 likely will know it's not.

Obama announced Tuesday that Operation Iraqi Freedom is over.

"Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it's time to turn the page," the president said.

"Ending this war is not only in Iraq's interest -- it is in our own," the president said in his second Oval Office address. "The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people."

Unfortunately, the United States isn't finished paying. Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops died fighting Operation Iraqi Freedom, and 34,000 others were wounded. And a nearly trillion-dollar price tag hangs before a U.S. economy that can't afford it.

If peace and stability break out -- and that's a big "if" -- it shouldn't be credited solely as "one of the great achievements of this administration," as Vice President Joe Biden is so fond of saying. Having first uttered that hope in February during a Larry King Live interview, Biden repeated it last week at the command handover ceremonies in Baghdad.

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