Bush’s War: Four Years and Counting in Iraq
Today President Bush actually acknowledged the 4th anniversary of his war in Iraq. It was March 19, 2003 when President George W. Bush came before us the American People to let us know that our country was at war. This coming without an actual declaration of war.
Things began to happen fast and furious. CNN reporters were imbedded with U.S. Forces showing tanks rolling through the desert and into Baghdad. Our troops were on their way to finding the weapons of mass destruction, and they were to be greeted as liberators. Private Jessica Lynch was rescued (or was she?), the statue of Saddam came down, and by May 1, the President uttered those fateful words: "My fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," under a banner that read "Mission Accomplished."
And yet it doesn't seem like four years of false promises and failed policy. It's been nearly 3 years since the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were uncovered. Nearly 2 years since the Downing Street Memo. A year and a half since Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) made a call for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. It doesn't seem like that long ago for me, but I'm sure it all seems like an eternity for the men and women of our armed forces as well as their families.
It doesn't seem like four years because there has been little to no change in the lives of everyday Americans. No sacrifices, not even much in the way of reflection on 3,200 plus American lives that have been lost. The 24,000 plus soldiers who have been wounded, or the God knows how many Iraqi citizens who have lost their lives in the last 4 years.
Our own Dallas Morning News chose to run another story on the demise of the Cotton Bowl as the "above the fold" piece, while an Associated Press account of the 4-year anniversary of the war was relegated to the bottom of the front page.
But for the soldiers who so dutifully carry out their mission, and their families who support them, I'm sure every day seems like an eternity. They have been asked to sacrifice for all of us, and that was not the case in previous wars. They fight an unseen enemy while we shop, fill out our brackets, and vote for our favorite 'Idol.'
But what about the next four years? What about the men and women of our military and citizens of Iraq? They all deserve better than what they have been given, especially our Army veterans who can't get a clean hospital room here on U.S. soil.
Will new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates make the difference? Dr. Gates is a pragmatic realist that has been placed in the middle of a group of hawkish optimists; he's got a tough job. In his recent interview on CBS' Face The Nation, you see a man who main focus seems be getting the job done and doing right by our troops. Gates actually thanked the Washington Post reporters who exposed the Walter Reed Hospital situation. Could you have imagined anyone else is this Administration doing such a thing?
As much faith as I have in Gates (the man whose last job was president at my alma mater), he is but one man and not the one who makes the final decisions. But then again who is that man? Who makes the final decisions about the very mortality of our soldiers? Is it the President? Is it the Vice-President? Is it the man who allegedly outed Valerie Plame and initiated the strategy that led to the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys?
The truth is there are no more answers today than there were four years ago. Well there is one answer – no WMD's. Only our uniformed men and women- many of them under legal drinking age- have shown courage in these times. Not Senator or Representative. Not Republican or Democrat. Not Liberal or Conservative.
They deserve better from elected officials, at least the truth. They deserve better from the American people, who should be holding those elected officials accountable for their actions. And who could, if nothing else, take a moment to stop and pray for our them, and pray for the people of Iraq.
Thanks to Think Progress for it's timeline on the Iraqi War.