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I can change my name to Buick and sit in the garage—it doesn’t make me a car. Likewise, whether it’s called “combat operations” or “stability operations” in Iraq—it’s still a war. And leaving 50,000 troops there isn’t a “withdrawal.”

“President Obama has set an August deadline for the end of the combat mission in Iraq…The August deadline might be seen back home as a milestone in the fulfillment of President Obama’s promise to end the war in Iraq, but here it is more complex. American soldiers still find and kill enemy fighters, on their own and in partnership with Iraqi security forces, and will continue to do so after the official end of combat operations.

[…]

What soldiers today would call combat operations — hunting insurgents, joint raids between Iraqi security forces and United States Special Forces to kill or arrest militants — will be called “stability operations.” Post-reduction, the United States military says the focus will be on advising and training Iraqi soldiers, providing security for civilian reconstruction teams and joint counterterrorism missions.

“In practical terms, nothing will change,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, the top American military spokesman in Iraq. “We are already doing stability operations.”

[…]

“I like to say that in Iraq, the only thing Americans know for certain, is that we know nothing for certain,” said Brett H. McGurk, a former National Security Council official in Iraq and current fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

This much IS certain. The end is not in sight for the practice of perpetual war. In Iraq or Afghanistan.

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