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-- first though it started with an explosive -- -- what they then called shock and all -- today the American war in Iraq.
With somber silence.
Troops in Baghdad folding the official flag of US operations in Iraq.
And symbolically -- wrapping up nearly nine years of war.
No celebrations at today's ceremony no banners declaring victory or anything else.
Instead the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta it's.
Solemnly condemned or I should say solemnly commended our service members sacrifice.
We're told just to US bases remain open in Iraq down from the hundreds of installations during the height of the war.
And the roughly 4000 troops still there are preparing to leave meeting the president's promise to bring them home.
For the holidays.
Since the US led invasion began way back in 2001.
Close to 4500.
Americans have died in the fighting and more than 32000.
Then there's the financial cost some 800 billion dollars by government estimation -- And our Jennifer Griffin went one on one -- that Defense Secretary in Baghdad today and asked him the big question.
Here you go.
You know it's funny when we came into this war.
-- -- Wireless why we've gotten.
-- -- Hope of a democracy.
Possible in part to the downfall of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime but.
-- bloody bombings and gun battles still commonplace in Iraq.
Most critics question if the nation is ready to face its future on its own.
Or -- if it ever would have been The Fox Report chief correspondent is with -- Jonathan Hunt is here they spent a lot of time -- trying to put a good face on this but.
I eat -- your hard pressed to find anybody who thinks there's an easy future ahead.
Absolutely and the two main reasons -- first pulled the threat of sectarian violence.
Kurds Sunnis and -- all have their issues in Iraq or what capable of kind of resorting to the kind of violence we've seen so often in the country.
Then there's the act outside influences take a look at this map look way Iraq sits right between Turkey Syria and Iran all three of those nations -- regional ambitions all will try to exert.
Influence inside Iraq and that's why the defense or get -- -- to acknowledge today that tough road ahead listen.
Iraq will be tested it in the days -- that.
-- -- Terrorism.
-- -- Those who would -- to divide.
By economic and social issues.
By the demands of democracy itself.
I'll just remain.
With the United States.
We'll be there to stand by the Iraqi People.
No doubt that Iraq will need US help in the coming months and years without -- -- no help.
No long in coming in this form of boots on the ground to you the president and the Defense Secretary today trying to make the case that we've left that country better than we found.
Yet a Defense Secretary said as much today the president to remember -- -- speech in full -- said the -- yesterday that Iraqis now more stable but it -- Fox News contributor and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Judy Miller has spent more time than most.
In Iraq over the past few years and I asked her today whether she believes it's about a country on the fifteenth of December 2011.
The new balls on the twentieth of march 2003 when the war began listen to -- Better in terms of infrastructure probably not better in terms of the potential.
For a brighter future absolutely.
Mean Saddam Hussein is gone thirty years of tyranny.
Are over his sons who were even crazier than he was will never ruled that country.
Iraq stands a shot just a shot now at a decent.
Stable future that's more than they had before.
A shot at a better future but much will now depend on the strength of Iraq's security forces and -- the strength of its collective political will you know the government.
Jonathan thank you -- congress.
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