NR: "Today is a day America should pause...to consider that sacrifice that was given."
June 30, 2009
A look at the "mixed bag" of results after more than six years of war.
TONY HARRIS: We begin this morning in Iraq, where it is a day of celebration. U.S. combat troops have completed their pullback from Iraq's cities, the first step on the road to full withdrawal in 2011. For the first time in six years, Iraqis are in charge of security.
Last hour, the U.S. commander in Iraq declined to say how many U.S. troops would stay in Iraq cities as advisers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. RAY ODIERNO, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: The U.S. is committed to full, transparent and continued implementation of the security agreement in a spirit of partnership with the sovereign nation of Iraq. The Iraqi people should be very proud of the dedication, progress and sacrifice of the Iraqi security forces and the government of Iraq. Their accomplishments in preparing for this day are commendable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: CNN's Michael Ware joins me now from Baghdad.
And Michael, what does this day, dubbed Sovereignty Day, mean for Iraqis?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony, it's hard to describe. It means jubilation. It means celebration. It means relief. Now, no matter how well-intended was the U.S. presence here, no matter what the reasons were to come in to oust the regime of Saddam Hussein, to the Iraqis, who had to live this all these years, it's been a foreign occupation. For them, this is the end of a foreign occupation -- foreign tanks on the end of their streets, foreign troops rousting families from their beds at night, foreign troops dragging their menfolk away at nighttime, putting them in foreign-run prisons.
This is Iraq for Iraqis, I keep hearing. That's what this is about.
Now, there's still a war going on here. Indeed, we have just received reports now of another car bombing. This time in the northern city of Kirkuk.
Local police say that a parked car detonated. We haven't got any more details, we don't know if there is any dead, we don't know about the wounded. There's already been a double roadside bomb explosion here in the capital, Baghdad.
So, the Iraqis are celebrating, but they know the risks. They've been living them -- Tony.
HARRIS: Hey, Michael, if an American asked you what has really been accomplished in Iraq, keeping in mind no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were ever found, no ties between Saddam Hussein and the people responsible for 9/11 were found and established, how would you answer that question?
WARE: Well, that's a tough one. That's a tough one.
Look, under no circumstances should someone take away from the honor of the sacrifice of the 4,324 American servicemen and service personnel who have laid down their lives here on Iraqi soil. And indeed, while the Iraqis are celebrating, I think today is a day America should pause as a nation and have a moment of silence to consider that sacrifice that was given, because it's a really odd bag about what's being achieved.
Okay, you removed the regime of Saddam Hussein, but he wasn't posing a threat to the United States or really to the region. No, there was no WMD. Al Qaeda and Saddam never liked each other. Even if they chatted occasionally, even America chats to its enemies.
There is a democracy of sorts here. It's not the shining beacon that the planners of this war intended it to be for the region. In fact, surrounding countries are going, what? You want us to have that? So, it hasn't done that.
You've increased Iranian power and influence within the region. This government here in Iraq is much more closely aligned to Tehran than it is to Washington.
It's a mixed bag. It's not a question that's easy for me to answer -- Tony.
HARRIS: CNN's Michael Ware for us in Baghdad.
Thanks for taking a shot at it, Michael. We appreciate it.