U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta arrived in Baghdad Thursday to host a ceremony marking the official end of the Iraq war. The conflict lasted nearly nine years, costing 4,500 American lives (plus the lives of more than 100,000 Iraqis) and perhaps trillions of taxpayer dollars. The war, started under the Bush administration, was controversial from its 2003 inception. Ending the Iraq War was a key element of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign platform. However, some argue that Obama is pulling out too soon, and there is work still to be done to stabilize the region.
In a ceremony to salute the troops Wednesday, Obama said that
we are leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We are building a new partnership between our nations.
However he also acknowledged the controversy that continues to surround the war, "with patriots on both sides of the debate."
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