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Bush was Right: the Mission was Accomplished

In March of 2003, the United States led a multinational force whose goal was to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein and eliminate that country's WMD stockpiles and programs. On May 1 of 2003, George Bush stood on the deck of USS Abraham Lincoln and declared the end of "major combat" with a banner loudly proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" in the background. A brutal dictatorial regime had been toppled and no significant quantities of WMD had been located. The war was, for all intents and purposes, over.

On June 2nd, with the war won and our troops having accomplished their mission, Iraq began to fall apart.

About 1,000 ex-soldiers from the disbanded Iraqi army gather to protest the disbanding outside the CPA's Baghdad headquarters. An internal CPA memo documents the event, focusing on the coverage the protest garners from the Arab television news networks Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. "There have been some public statements by some former MOD (Ministry of Defense) members that they will resolve to suicide attacks if their grievances are not addressed," the memo reads. "Other protesters have continued to state that they will organize armed units to fight against the CPA and occupation." "The entire Iraqi people is a time bomb that will blow up in the Americans' face if they don't end their occupation," says one protest leader after meeting with CPA officials. Another protester declares, "All of us will become suicide bombers. I will turn my six daughters into bombs to kill the Americans." Paul Bremer responds, "We're not going to be blackmailed into producing programs because of threats of terrorism." He further notes that the protests are the first time in decades anyone has dared to do such outside of Hussein's presidential palace. Isn't that a sign of progress? he asks. (Bob Woodward)

It was at this time that Bush changed the mission of our troops and snatched the victory that they had achieved away from them. Instead of the clearly defined goals of deposing Saddam and cleaning up the WMD, Bush gave the military new ambiguous goals that can only be described as nation building. He also made these new goals extraordinarily difficult to accomplish by adopting a policy that promoted Shiite revenge on the entire Sunni population of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Sunnis were stripped of their positions in the military and government and thrown out of work into an economy with massive unemployment that had been ruined by nearly 25 years of continuous warfare.

Literally overnight, the Iraqi government had completely collapsed. Because of the sweeping deBaathification program, Iraqi government ministries stood empty unable to perform their functions. The US military was cast into an unfamiliar role that they hadn't trained for and weren't prepared for. They were now the sole authority in the country of 26 million people and became responsible for virtually every aspect of Iraqi life.

Four years later, we are no closer to succeeding in this new nation building mission than we were four years ago. All of the "milestones" lauded by the Bush administration while citing "progress" in this mission haven't had any impact on the violence and instability tearing the country apart. The first election, the second election, the first government, the second government, the third government, the interim constitution, and the permanent constitution have all deepened and exacerbated the rifts within Iraqi society rather than healing them. Billions of dollars and thousands of our heroes have been sacrificed to this effort and there is clearly no end in sight. How many more billions will it take? How many more heroes must be sacrificed? Is it even possible to build a nation in a land where the people's loyalties are first to their religion, their sect or their tribe?

The Iraq War should have been over for our troops in 2003. Only blundering incompetence and constantly shifting goals have denied our troops the victory parade they richly deserve. We removed the evil dictator and gave the Iraqis a chance for a better life. It's up to them now to seize that opportunity. It's time to start bringing the troops home.

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Rating: 1.9/5 (9 votes cast)

Comments (9)

Concerned Student:

I say we bring the troops home too. As soon as the democrats and everyone pushing for this course of action sign a contract that they will take the blame for the loss of life that is sure to follow. Which they didn't do, and gloss over to this day, when we "pulled out" of Vietnam. How many people died in the ensuing bloodbath? Millions.

How are you fools going to spin it if you get your way and defund the war and pull everyone out? It was still Bush's fault for stirring up the violence? It was already there, but there's a big difference. Before it was government sanctioned and carried out... They didn't need to resort to IED's and other sensational camera grabbing tactics (not that CNN would have paid any attention, they were to busy paying($) for the right just to report news at all), Saddam just sent out the goon squads. We have tallies on how many people Saddam killed, and the unintentional casualty counts of this war, to this day, do not match the amount his regime would have likely murdered, that is if he kept up with his regular pace of genocide and tyrranical murder. Who's to say he wouldn't have boosted it up every now and then for a spot of fun, or when the Iraqi soccer team came home again without the cup?

So bring on the first twit to say we are the same as Saddam, or that it would have been just as good since the damage totals are the same. That is like saying it would be better to rent a house for 30 years paying the same amount as you could mortgage the house for the same amount of time. At the end there is a better outcome, you own the house in one case, and in the other you are just out 300K. At least we are trying to right a wrong happening in the world, that genocidal terrorist was getting his jollies torturing and murdering people. Completely different.


Concerned Student --

Here's how we "spin it". We live in reality here on earth. We can't control what's going on in Iraq. Some bad people are going to (continue) killing a bunch of other people. Just like happens in many, many places in the world. We just don't control everything.

Do you know America killed half a million Cambodians? Then, the country was weakened enough for Pol Pot to take power and kill another 2 million.

How many Vietnamese did we kill? A lot. Did other countries kill Vietnamese? Did they kill each other? You bet.

So, what the f%ck would we stay in Iraq for? We can't put the country back together. We can't prevent the slaughter. All we can do is contribute to the slaughter, and include American soldiers among the maimed and killed.

That's a really bad idea. That's why we want them home. And those of you who claim to care about the troops and want them in Iraq...well, you "love them to death."


Of course, the Democrats accomplished their mission, too.

By delaying the start of the war by six months or more, they gave Saddam's flunkies lots of time to disperse their weapons cashes and invite all of the Mideast's worst people over to play in their sandbox.

That six months certainly gave the bad guys all the time they needed to get ready to do all of the things the Democrats are complaining about right now.

Concerned Student:

This mentality, that some people are going to die, and that people will always kill other people so let's let them to it, is crap. For all the liberal think and spewage about stopping violence in our schools, and stopping poverty here and around the world, stopping idiocy in our education system, stopping global warming for the children, I would think that people being persecuted and killed for no other reason than for being born in Saddam's Iraq would be a top cause of liberals around this country. But I am wrong. This isolationist mentality that is spewed when liberals don't agree with the objective is BS on it's face. And if you are in fact suggesting we be completely isolationist and stay out of everyone's business, I don't want to hear anything more about Darfur, Bosnia, or any other poor podunk country out there that "needs" our help. No more aid to developing countries, no more food for oil, or just plain food for poor in Somalia. I also would like to see us become more isolationist by pulling out of the UN, since belonging to a world body with intentions of solving the worlds ills is not isolationist at all.

Unluckily the world is too interconnected now, we don't have the luxury to not get involved anymore. Lest we be taken for everything we hold dear.

Lets see how your concept extends to other areas liberals hold dear though.

Poor people are going to be poor, and there are just going to be poor people. Leave them to it and if they figure out how to get rich, good for them.

Hmmm.... Liberal thought is we need welfare to get the poor out of that funk they're in and on their feet. So where is your isolationist idealism here. Oh right it only applies when and where and to whatever pet projects you want it to apply to. Giving a person money doesn't increase their value, it extends their existence. Teaching them they have to get off their own feet and do what they need gives them value.

I know lots of people died in Vietnam, and Cambodia. I didn't say they didn't. Just because we killed some too doesn't put us on the same level as the real murderers. That is like saying the guy who fell asleep behind the wheel and accidentally killed someone in a car crash is just as guilty or at fault as the guy who was drunk behind the wheel and did the same thing. We know there is a difference and that is why there is a different penalty for doing one versus the other. I only brought Vietnam up as a historical look back at what is likely to come in the sectarian violence/civil war if we give up. I don't see the point bringing the merits of what we did/didn't do in Vietnam/Cambodia valid in this argument. Different time, different intentions, different objective.

And back to the point of post... if we won already and we had just left as Larkin suggests, wouldn't Iraq have been in the same weakened state Pol Pot came to power under? Are you advocating for us to walk away (or that we walked away) and turn(ed) a blind eye to wholesale slaughter? Where is your humanitarian vein, I think you might want to inject some steroids in there and see if you can get it pumping again, because I don't think you have a pulse.


Concerned Student --

You're not listening. You are responding to an argument that exists in your head, not what I said.

We can't put the country back together. We can't prevent the slaughter. All we can do is contribute to the slaughter, and include American soldiers among the maimed and killed.

I said nothing about isolationism or accepting all violence. Nor did I say anything about the U.S. being on the same level as "the real murderers".

I said that we can't control everything and that we can't put Iraq back together again. Terrible things have happened and more terrible things will happen. But, letting our soldiers die there, where we can accomplish nothing, is a bad idea. Which is why I want to bring them home.

There are times when the U.S. can and should intervene...when they can accomplish something. Iraq isn't one of them. We made a big mistake; let's not add to it. Ok?


BTW - I brought up Vietnam and Cambodia in response to this:

when we "pulled out" of Vietnam. How many people died in the ensuing bloodbath? Millions.

The implication, if I understand you correctly, is that the Democrats are responsible for the bloodbath in Southeast Asia because they led us to withdraw from Vietnam. I pointed out that the situation was more complicated than you were suggesting...and that our intervention actually facilitated the bloodbath that followed. It's rather strange to put the blame on the withdrawal. (Should we STILL be fighting in Vietnam?!)

Now, Johnson and Nixon didn't want for these bad things to happen----they were trying to save the world from communism. And Bush doesn't like what's happening in Iraq----he was trying to fight terrorists. But all three made very bad mistakes. And a lot of kids, KIDS, are dying for it. We need to stop that.

Paul Hamilton:

Cirby: Saddam's weapons caches were dispersed to begin with. And even if your claim about the Dems "delaying the war" was true -- which I dispute -- that doesn't alter the fact that rather than capturing and holding weapons caches, we simply over-ran them in an obsessive drive to Baghdad. It's just one more example of how if there was a wrong way to handle an occupation, we did it.

Student: Would you care to explain to me how you can equate the military occupation of a country like we're doing with Iraq is the same as sending aid to a region like Darfur? This is apples and oranges.

And you make a good point about the weakened country, and one that I've been making for the last four years. You cannot just create a power vacuum like we did by deposing an all-powerful dictator such as Saddam and expect an American-style democracy to just pop out of the ashes like a phoenix... Any rational analysis of the effects of an invasion of Iraq would have predicted a clash between the Sunnis and Shia. But the Bush brainiacs completely missed it. Civil war was inevitable without some sort of strong transitional leadership, but instead, we allowed rioting and looting to run rampant, excusing it as just "celebrations."

Concerned Student:

So I didn't reply to your insinuation that we can't do anything to help because I didn't spell it out? Is that what you are saying? Let me ask you something first though. Do you have a crystal ball? Are you Nostradamus or some other magnificent seer of the future? Then how do you know that we can't do anything to help the situation?

I did explain myself and rebutted your argument that we should become isolationist because we can't/couldn't/won't be able to do anything. That is your implication when you say things such as:

I said that we can't control everything and that we can't put Iraq back together again. Terrible things have happened and more terrible things will happen. But, letting our soldiers die there, where we can accomplish nothing, is a bad idea. Which is why I want to bring them home.

This indifferent standpoint to what was going on there and around the world is not a solution. Who cares what is happening to them as long as it isn't really affecting me? Is that the thinking?

You use absolutes like you really do have a crystal ball. Who would have said in the early 80's that there would never be a war with Russia? No one. I doubt anyone today does either, because no one knows. So don't tell me we can accomplish nothing. Which brings me to my next point.

I already explained that we did do something. We removed a sadistic dictator from power that was killing people off by the tens of thousands because it fit his fancy. Are you saying that is nothing? I said earlier that the accidental casualty of war count was far less than that of Saddam's fit of rage genocides, so don't bring up the equality of body count thing, and besides you seem to agree there is a difference between intentional and accidental murder. Specifically I say we are preventing a slaughter, and to some extent fixing a very messed up country where a ruling elite did what it wanted when it wanted to whomever it wanted to.
Re: We can't put the country back together. We can't prevent the slaughter.

There you have some accomplishments. Now as far as the rest of your argument the we won't be able to do anything more, and that we can't permanently fix the country I don't know how you come up with that conclusion. Unless one of your answers to the above questions was yes. I don't know what will happen in the future of this war but I am pretty sure that if we pull out, there will be a larger bloodbath that what you already imply is happening (and for that matter was happening before). Which I put more in the category collateral damage, and yes I can admit I am cold hearted when it comes to collateral damage in war. That is the nature of war unluckily, and sometimes it IS inevitable.

As to the merits of Vietnem... time says it may have been more a mistake than not. But there were probably better solutions than that which we chose, pull out, which is what we are trying to chose again. Why would we do that?

And while there is talk of aid to Darfur, that was not the issue I was reffering to. There is a genocide going on there carried out by islamic extremists. I have heard calls from the left that we should go help then if we are so worried about everyone else in the world. Examples: Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, etc. It was really responding to the implication by Publicus that we should be more isolationist. Which what he wronte I took as, 'we can't fix the problems, we can't stop the killing, and are only contributing to the killing, so we shouldn't do anything at all'.

I don't know who on the right has ever said we would create a democratic republic in Iraq in 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, or for that matter within any amount of time, let alone rising from the ashes like a phoenix. I am not sure the president has even implied we would. In his speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln, the president said major fighting is over but there is a long hard road ahead. Did he say 'a two year long hard road ahead'? Maybe he slipped 'a five year long hard road ahead' in there and I missed it. The fact is he didn't, he never said how long 'long is'. That will be determined by time and efforts put forth. Pushing things down peoples throats doesn't solve anything, it usually makes them resent it more. Problems with the invasion, military footprint and quantity of necessary forces, along with other things may have been underestimated. Heads have rolled and poeple have swallowed their hats. What do you want, a do over? Should we quit because we didn't do it right in the first place? Do you play golf? Do you not count strokes you shank into the forest, or go back to the start when you miss a putt? Do you know how to ride a bike Paul? Did you ever fall when learning how, or were you an immediate natural? If you did learn how you must not have pulled out just because you fell once. You were probably told by whoever was helping you learn to 'brush it off and get back on, you can't learn if you don't try'.


First, I have to laugh at the continued red herring about me being an isolationist. I am against THIS war in Iraq. I don't know where you get "isolationist" from.

I said that nothing can be accomplished in Iraq. Saddam is dead. If we are fighting to create a democracy or stabilize the country or whatever this month's alleged goal is...WE CAN'T DO IT!

We could have staying in Vietnam for 1000 years, but the Vietnamese would never accept our presence there. And, if we were able to wear them down in 1000 years, it wouldn't have been worth the price.

As for a crystal ball, I don't need one to read the immediate past. Our efforts in Iraq have been a failure, year after year, with promises of progress. All we have there is an impotent government that has no chance of stabilizing the country.

I am, of course, not indifferent to the slaughter there...or elsewhere. But I don't want to have our soldiers die FOR NOTHING, because they can't create a viable democracy there. Or even quell the violence for any length of time.

We know this FROM EXPERIENCE. During our ongoing intervention, violence has increased. Chaos has increased. The number of enemies has increased. It's OBSERVATION, not magic, that I'm using the assess the situation.

And I don't want another American soldier to come home in a box for this cause. We've already paid too high a price.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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