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The Iraq War, Which One?

US forces train their Iraqi counterparts

US forces train their Iraqi counterparts on counter-insurgency tactics in the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk on November 12, 2010. US Troops will likely be in the country for years to come. MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images/Getty hide caption

itoggle caption MARWAN IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images/Getty

Travelling in and out of Iraq for years, there was always one constant presence, Larry Kaplow. You'd run into him waiting to get your press card, you'd see him at the Hamra hotel, or at a Green Zone checkpoint. You'd strike up a conversation and realize while you'd been out of the country for a month or two, Larry simply never left. That's the way it felt anyway, he'd been covering the place since 1998 for one news agency or another. So when Larry talks about Iraq, I pay attention. He has a great sitrep on Iraq following the formation of the new government with the old players. My favorite part is when he answers the question, "Is the Iraq War over?"

Which one? What Americans call "the Iraq war" has really been a series of conflicts, sometimes overlapping. There was the U.S. invasion, then the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda-type mayhem, followed by the sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites that led to the U.S. troop surge in 2007. There was also the war in which mainstream Sunnis fought, with U.S. help, against al Qaeda-linked extremists. And there has been sporadic but fierce fighting among Shiite groups. This is partly what makes it so hellish for average Iraqis who are trying to work, keep their kids in school, and just survive: Front lines, threats, and enemies keep changing without notice.

The answer, as Larry quite rightfully points out, is probably not.

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