Andy Rooney, who we'll all admit became kind of a pain in the neck at the end, passed away earlier this month. Before he passed, he wrote something interesting:
Having gotten into the war, all America wanted to consider itself a winner was to get out. Unable to make things the way it wanted, but unwilling to accept defeat, it merely changed what it wanted and got out.
Andy wrote that about America and the war in Vietnam some 40 years ago.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, a Sunday morning nearly the day Andy died was greeted by a triple bombing in central Baghdad. At least 10 people were killed and 26 wounded when three bomb blasts rocked a busy market in Iraq's capital where people were shopping for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. The blasts occurred in Shurja, an important commercial district in central Baghdad where shop owners and vendors sell clothes, electronics, textiles, food and other goods.
"I can see fire and black smoke rising and a large number of fire engines, ambulances and police patrols rushing to the market," a witness close to Shurja market said.
The market isn't all that far from the World's Largest Embassy, the U.S. State Department palace snug inside the Green Zone. Sunday mornings there start late with free made-to-order omelets at the cafeteria before work. For security's sake, most of the Embassy office windows look into the Embassy compound, not out onto Baghdad, so they may not have seen the smoke column from the market blast. The blasts would have been heard, a few heads rising at the waffle station, but those sounds were out there and the waffling was in here.
A few days earlier in Iraq, 25-year-old 1st Lt. Dustin Vincent was killed when whoever the hell are the "enemy forces" attacked his unit in northern Iraq. He was killed by small arms fire while dismounted from his vehicle in northern Iraq's Kirkuk Province during a patrol. Vincent joined the Army in June 2009 as an artillery officer. There being not much use for arty in Iraq, Dustin was on foot patrol. This was his first deployment. His platoon spent 12 hours a day roaming the streets of Kirkuk, "gathering information about possible threats and providing a visible presence in an effort to deter violence against U.S. forces and the people of Kirkuk province" some eight years after the U.S. invasion ended Saddam's reign.
1st Lieutenant Dustin Vincent might end up the last American soldier to die in Iraq, but more than likely will just by the eighth from the last one, or something similarly irrelevant to everyone in America but the people who knew him in Kansas when he was just plain Dustin. We remember the first a bit heroically, and mourn the last bitterly, but 4485 Americans died in between in Iraq.
Wonder what Andy Rooney would have had to say about all this.
Peter Van Buren is a former U.S. diplomat. He is the author of We Meant Well, a chronicle of his service.