Yesterday was, of course, the fourth anniversary of the President's "Mission Accomplished" speech, now much beloved of the anti-warriors. It is useful to read the speech today and see what was said and what was not said. It was not triumphalist, it did not celebrate the new oil fields we had added to the Empire, nor did it assume that all the hard work was done.
But there is another point about that day that I never see being made: the White House's reluctance to give that speech and that, in giving it, they were accommodating the UN. The point of the speech was not (merely) to celebrate a great feat of allied arms. The main point of the speech was to declare the end of major combat operations. The White House was reluctant to make this declaration, the UN was insistent: it would not go into Iraq and take up some of the burden of reconstruction until major combat operations had been declared over.
The legal effect of the President's declaration was to change the United States military in Iraq from an invader into an occupier. The main difference is that an occupier is responsible for the governance of the country as a whole and the welfare of the population. An invader is not. The US felt it was too early to make that shift, but the UN and certain of our "friends and allies" who had sat out the war held out the promise that they would participate in reconstruction but not during the invasion. Of course, at the end of the day the UN and its ilk didn't do much anyway because, in fact, the situation on the ground was not sufficiently stable.
(This is our 350th post. We note that so that you will understand how humbly we congratulate the Ducks on their 500th post.)