Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mission Accomplished (Well, Not Really)

My how time flies. It seems like only yesterday that Bush and his gang were literally flying high about their successful war in Iraq.

Thursday is the fifth anniversary of Bush’s dramatic landing in a Navy jet on an aircraft carrier homebound from the war. The USS Abraham Lincoln had launched thousands of airstrikes on Iraq.“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,” Bush said at the time. “The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on.”

Anybody with a lick of sense knew then that the war was nowhere near over, but just beginning. Five years and thousands of deaths and injuries later, here we are, still in Iraq, and still trying to artificially measure success. This time the metric is the so-called surge, which has reduced violence in Iraq to absurdly low levels over the last few months according to some pundits. Which all sounds good until you actually do a little fact checking, during which you'll find that the violence grinds on.

Now in its sixth year, the war in Iraq has claimed the lives of at least 4,061 members of the U.S. military. Only the Vietnam War (August 1964 to January 1973), the war in Afghanistan (October 2001 to present) and the Revolutionary War (July 1776 to April 1783) have engaged America longer.

In fact, April was the deadliest for U.S. troops in months, not to mention the civil war within a civil war among the Shiites. I mean with success like that...

Here's what I think. This and any subsequent administration should banish the words progress and success in Iraq from their vocabularies until they have tangible evidence that shows it, both abroad and at home.

For example, you can trumpet success when a high ranking American official can make a trip to Iraq that's not top secret, in the dead of the night, or on five minutes notice. I mean the Iranians announce their visits, why can't we? Maybe they should be talking about Mission Accomplished instead.

Or talk about success when the standard of living in Iraq begins to at least come close to what it was before we liberated them. Like having reliable access to food, water, and electricity for at least part of the day, and being able to go to school or market without getting blown to bits. That wasn't happening before we invaded, was it?

On the home front, it would be nice to see the soldiers who make it back be afforded the honor that they deserve, and the the benefits they have earned, and not just paid lip service to the point. We all know that's not happening, and the numbers of wounded vets, both physically and mentally is increasing at a tremendous rate. How is our health care system going to accommodate these men and women? Has anyone thought about it? What about assistance transitioning out of the military for those who choose to do so, and jobs? We see more homeless vets daily, and there just doesn't seem to be a whole lot being done for them. And there are many more who are on the edge. It's really shameless to treat these folks who've put it all on the line this way, while talking about success and progress in the same breath.

I won't even touch on the damage this war has done to our national economy and the impact its had on the typical American family. All I know is that my ten-year old and her kids will still be paying for this war long after the Bush administration has faded from the scene.

Bush, in a speech earlier this month, said that “while this war is difficult, it is not endless.”

I'm not sure about that, because with the current spineless crop of politicians of all persuasions in power, it's looking like it will go on for a lot longer. So with that in mind, Mission Accomplished? I don't think so.

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