President George W. Bush, speaking before a military audience at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio this week, once again took his critics to task for suggesting it’s time to rethink the US occupation of Iraq. "No matter what shortcomings these critics diagnose, their prescription is always the same: retreat," Bush said.
In an exclusive interview with Vice President Dick Cheney, also this week, ABC’s Martha Raddatz pointed out that two-thirds of the American people feel the cost of the war in Iraq is “not worth it.” Cheney responded, “So?”
So Messrs. Bush and Cheney, on Monday, March 24th, we reached the dubious milestone of 4000 dead US Armed Forces men and women. And for every soldier killed, it is estimated that 15 are wounded. Here again, the government cooks the books. The Pentagon claims only about 30,000 US troops wounded in action. But another 30,000 or so have been injured in non-combat related incidents, such as vehicle accidents and suicides (suicides among active-duty soldiers are at their highest levels since the Army began keeping such records in 1980). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) doesn’t count at all. The number of Iraqi dead is orders of magnitude greater, but essentially unknowable.
Over 90% of American deaths have come after Mr. Bush’s 2003 “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, in which he declared, “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.” And multitudes more after Mr. Cheney’s pronouncement in 2005 that the insurgency in Iraq “was in its last throes, if you will.” These deaths may be an abstraction for Messrs. Bush and Cheney, but for the families of the dead and wounded men and women they are all too real – flesh and blood, if you will.
It should come as no surprise that an Administration that manufactured the reasons for going to war in Iraq, grossly underestimated its projected cost, assured the American people we would be greeted as “liberators,” and belittled and quashed dissent, now manufactures reasons for “staying the course,” and refers to reasoned calls for ending the occupation with pejorative terms like “cut and run,” and “retreat.” Secretive, deceitful, and arrogant, the Bush Administration simply tunes out reasoned arguments for a different approach to fighting terror, which after all, was the original intent.
I fear we are in for another nine months of mismanagement, mayhem, and massacre in Iraq. I only hope we aren’t in for another hundred years.