The good happened Thursday morning, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta presided over the end of the U.S. military mission in Iraq, from a concrete courtyard at the Baghdad International Airport:
The cost was high — in blood and treasure of the United States, and also for the Iraqi people. But those lives have not been lost in vain — they gave birth to an independent, free and sovereign Iraq.
The bad remains even after the U.S. leaves: more than half of Iraqis recently surveyed believe their nation is headed in the wrong direction (but, at 52%, it’s a lot better than the 73% of Americans who believe their country is on the wrong track). More distressingly, the percentage of Iraqis who say security is getting better has fallen from 73% in June, 2010, to 65% in October, 2010, to 59% in April, 2011.
And the ugly?
Secret documents recently surfaced from a U.S. investigation – triggered by Time’s reporting – into the 2005 Haditha killings. Twenty-four Iraqis – including a wheelchair-bound 76-year old man, and women and children – were killed by U.S. Marines there after a fellow Marine was killed by a roadside bomb. Charges have been dropped against six Marines accused in the case, one was acquitted, and the final case is slated for trial next year. Hundreds of pages of classified testimony from the investigation were found fueling a fire, readying a smoked-carp dinner, at a junkyard on the outskirts of Baghdad.