As combat operations wind down, the American troops who remain in Iraq must come to terms with a new reality: What was once, in some minds at least, a war of liberation, is now a mostly a training and diplomatic mission. “It’s almost not worth the trip,” one soldier tells the New York Times. "It’s more politics now.” The shift is leading many soldiers to reflect on a war that for some had purpose, that for others did not. In a lengthy piece, the Times collects the thoughts of many, who it calls veterans of not one but four wars: the shock and awe invasion, the sectarian conflict, the 2007 surge, Obama's "denouement."
“A lot of people at home are tired of this,” one soldier tells the Times. “The way I look at it, it’s my job.” Explains another: “Do I think the kids running around here have a better future? To be honest, I don’t really care. In the end of the day, when I look back on it, I haven’t lost a soldier in my squad. That’s what’s important to me.” Another says, simply and matter-of-factly, "I missed the birth of my kid.”