After reading the news from a study released this week by the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism about the Bush administration's 935 whoppers used to sell the war in Iraq to the American people I felt compelled and obligated to write this piece. I know the number of false statements exposed by the study sounds a tad high to some people, but usually where there is smoke there is fire. And the evidence is just overwhelming that the Bush administration has deliberately and unforgivably misled our nation into a war that has so far resulted in the deaths of 4,000 American troops, over 30,000 wounded, and the countless deaths of innocent Iraqi civilians.
All for weapons of mass destruction and Al-Qaeda links that were nonexistent in Iraq. (At least the president could find some positivity in all this.)
President Bush has described his false statements as failures of the intelligence community. However, if it had to be done all over again, the president and vice president said they would have invaded Iraq regardless of the intelligence. How repugnant is that?
The Bush administration calls Iraq the central front in the war on terror. Give me a break. Iraq is a place where President Bush decided to place 165,000 troops as stationary targets for an unidentifiable enemy to attack and kill continuously. All while the real terrorists who are plotting to attack us here at home are roaming freely around the world, and Bin Laden is safely hidden in the mountains of Pakistan. How does that make Iraq the central front in the war on terror?
I often take to the streets in protest of this war. Not only because it is eroding our military strength, a detriment to our national security, and destroying our nation's image abroad, but because I believe the war is immoral and illegal.
In the midst of my efforts I always encounter those who so ardently support the war in Iraq (nowadays the numbers are decreasing). These self-appointed patriots claim total ownership rights over troop support by advocating for their continued death in Iraq, and at the same time accuse me of somehow not supporting the troops because I'm opposed to more troops dying for Bush's "intelligence failures."
Their support of the troops, in my opinion, is simply running their mouths, prematurely touting progress, ignoring the facts, and choosing not to commit any sacrifice of their own.
The troops in Afghanistan and Iraq could care less about this element in American society that claims service to our country by fighting the PR war here at home. The troops don't need neocon mouthpieces, they need more of these young pro-war Americans to join the military and provide them with some relief from long over-extended multiple combat deployments.
Oh, before I forget, the Army is "proposing" that combat tours may be reduced from 15 months to 12 months, how nice of them. I guess that is progress?
And while war supporters here at home are doing the victory dance, guess who isn't -- General David Petraeus, who knows that the job in Iraq is far from finished. I'm sure he is very well aware that any gains made from the surge can and will evaporate into thin air once we draw down our forces to pre-surge levels because the Iraqis can not achieve any form of political reconciliation. (As Colin Powell recently stated.)
I totally concede that the military surge in Iraq led by General Petraeus has significantly reduced violence over the last 6 months (even though 2007 has been the deadliest year for our troops). At the same time I'm a realist who understands the surge is only a short term military tactic, not a long term solution for a stable Iraq. Let's remember the surge was implemented to create an atmosphere peaceful enough for the religious warring factions to come together, bury the hatchet, reconcile their differences, and unite as a nation. That clearly did not happen.
Our troops are simply serving as a buffer between the Sunnis, the Shias, and the Kurds. If and when we withdraw the suggested 30,000 troops it is a certainty that violence will skyrocket, and that is why the Iraqi government is dreading our departure.
Commanders on the ground foresee a U.S. military presence in Iraq for the next five to ten years -- and that is just under the assumption of the best case scenario that we can return to pre-surge levels of 130,000 troops without Iraq once again exploding into an all out chaotic civil war.
I have come to the conclusion that anything we can do military for Iraq has long been achieved. There were no weapons of mass destruction to disarm. The Iraqi people are free of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqis have had three democratic elections. We have funded, trained, and armed Iraq's new army and police forces. And we conducted a military troop surge in an effort to pacify Iraq's multi-front civil war. All of this in the "hopes" that one day the Iraqi people will conform to the style of democracy that we are trying to force upon them. It is just endless.
Believe it or not, I would be absolutely delighted to see Iraq become a model of democracy for the Middle East. That would mean that my service and the service of my fellow troops wasn't for nothing -- that we actually achieved something good out of this whole mess. But for the last five years I saw no evidence of that whatsoever. Regardless, that decision will ultimately have to be left to the Iraqi people to make freely -- not by the imposition of the U.S. military by the Bush Administration.
Until then I'll continue on fighting tirelessly to bring our troops home.