Monday, May 01, 2006

Mission Botched

[[W A R]] * Of course, today also marks another, much less pleasant anniversary. It was three years ago that George W. Bush--after touching down in his action-figure flight suit on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, and posing beneath a giant “Mission Accomplished” banner--declared an end to “major combat operations” in Iraq, just over a month after the U.S. invasion of that country began. But as we all know now, his declaration was premature. Terribly so. Even now, Americans continue to fight and die in a Middle Eastern nation that was supposed to greet our soldiers as liberators. (As of this afternoon, the U.S. military death toll in Iraq was 2,401.) And a new CNN poll finds that only 9 percent of respondents believe the U.S. mission in Saddam Hussein’s homeland has been accomplished. A much larger 40 percent believe it will be completed someday, while a still greater 44 percent say the mission Bush had in mind will never be accomplished.

The prez and his spinners persist in their contention that significant progress has been made toward a peaceful, democratic Iraq; that “a turning point” in the conflict there is just around the corner; and that these successes are due in significant measure to the leadership of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (so what do those retired generals know, anyway?). Yet Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) contended in a dynamic speech today that U.S. forces have suffered in Iraq because of “failed, manipulated intelligence,” “too few troops and no plan to win the peace,” and “a self-described ‘war president’ not ready for the war.” Three years after Bush’s “mission accomplished” photo op, Reid points out that “the number of terrorist attacks has risen sharply around the world. More than 11,000 terrorist attacks occurred worldwide last year--a 250 percent increase from the year before. And Iraq--a country where Osama bin Laden had few in-roads before the war--has become a training ground and launching pad for international terrorism.”

No less regrettable, perhaps: Iraqis, in large part, don’t believe that their lot has improved since the downfall of Saddam. One poll shows 76 percent of Iraqis saying that their security situation is “poor,” and getting worse.

And this whole misadventure, which Bush now intends to leave to his successor to clean up, has cost the United States only $320 billion and the respect of the world community.

What a bargain, eh?

READ MORE:Mission Accomplished, Three Years Later,” by Tim Grieve (Salon); “Mission Accomplished: Bush Let al-Zarqawi Escape” (Taylor Marsh); “Happy Codpiece Day, Everyone,” by Digby (Hullabaloo); “Bush Should Honor ‘Mission Accomplished Day’ by Resigning,” by Bob Geiger (; “U.S. War Costs Could Hit $881 Billion” (BBC News); “Mission Accomplished: A Look Back at the Media’s Fawning Coverage of Bush’s Premature Declaration of Victory in Iraq” (Media Matters); “Bush of a Thousand Days,” by Frank Rich (The New York Times).

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