View Full Version : End of War Lacks Punch of Its Beginning

04-30-03, 02:27 PM
End of War Lacks Punch of Its Beginning

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's decision to surrender his troops at Appomattox Court House effectively brought the Civil War to a close. The Japanese conceded in World War II a week after Americans dropped atomic bombs on two of their cities.

There's no single rule for deciding when a war is over. As for the Iraq war, a formal end is not yet in sight.

President Bush plans to say major combat in Iraq has ended in an address to the nation Thursday night from the deck of an aircraft carrier en route to San Diego. The president is not expected to declare victory or an end to the war itself.

Pockets of resistance that remain in Iraq continue to pose a challenge to U.S. forces there, and some unspecified missions have yet to be completed, U.S. officials say.

In the Civil War, Lee and his battered troops surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Va. But it was not until May 26 that the last of the Southern soldiers surrendered

Japan gave up in World War II on Aug. 14, 1945, after the atomic bombing of two of its cities, though the official end didn't come until Sept. 2 in a ceremony aboard the USS Missouri.

The Korean War has never ended officially even though the fighting is done.

The 1991 Persian Gulf War was never formally finished, either. President George H.W. Bush announced Feb. 27, 1991, that allied forces had liberated Kuwait and would suspend military operations against Iraq. Iraq agreed to a cease-fire on allied terms.

Last year, the United States and its rebel allies defeated Afghanistan's Taliban government, scattered terrorists there and installed friendly leadership, but that war - and the broader campaign against terrorism - goes on.

"As often as not, wars just sort of trail off rather than coming to a formal and well-defined end," said Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has characterized the Afghanistan operation as being in a "stabilization security mode" with some combat remaining along the border with Pakistan.

Asked if the Iraq war is over, Rumsfeld says, in various ways, no, not really. Will an end be declared? "I would guess so," he mused. "Can I tell you for sure? No. But I would guess there will be an end.

"This isn't World War I or World War II that starts and then ends," he said.

When Bush described the anti-terror campaign during a speech to a joint session of Congress just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he cautioned that "Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen."

Ralph Beebe, who teaches history at George Fox University, said wars generally have ended with a concession, though not always formal, by the loser. He cited the Civil War, when Lee decided to surrender after realizing the high cost, in lives lost, of continuing to fight.

The situation in Iraq is different. Saddam Hussein and many leaders of his toppled government are missing. Some Iraqi troops seemed to disappear while thousands more are in U.S. custody.

"I'm guessing that there won't be anything that formal because it will be months and months and probably years before the mess is straightened out," Beebe said.

Even so, aircraft carriers are leaving the region, U.S. and British troops are making the long journey home and the planning for an interim Iraqi government is under way.

Bush's address Thursday is to be delivered from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln as the aircraft carrier steams toward southern California after nine months at sea.

Gregory Urwin, a military historian at Temple University, said the United States usually has ended wars with treaties, as happened in World War I and World War II.

But such an agreement with Iraq is very unlikely. For one thing, Saddam could be dead.

Urwin said the administration may want to consider other factors before declaring the war over.

"In this case, as in so many others, politics will have a say," he said. "Maybe they want to wait until closer to the elections or until they determine the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein.

"That would give a nice sense of finality," he said.