Forty-one months after the United States entered World War II, we had achieved victory in Europe. We've been in Iraq for over half that period. What reasonable person would say we have reached the halfway point in Iraq?
Today's troops are just as brave, patriotic and capable as their WWII predecessors. They have already accomplished much. They deposed and imprisoned a tyrant. They have given ordinary Iraqis the chance to shape their country's destiny.
Nevertheless, the military occupation of Iraq will not turn Iraq into a democratic nation. Longstanding rivalries will do more to shape that country's future than anything American troops can do. Those forces will not be controlled by American boots on Iraqi ground, no matter how many we put there or how long they remain.
In Iraq there are no front lines, no easy way to tell friend from foe, and no clear way to measure success. Iraq is a quagmire. Meantime, it has become a recruiting poster for Osama bin Laden. Are we to keep fighting indefinitely, losing more troops every week, spending billions of dollars, and increasing the strain on our armed forces, especially the reserve and National Guard?
We feel this course, with its echoes of Vietnam, is unsustainable. It has already added $200 billion to our national debt and costs U.S. taxpayers more than $1 billion per month. It jeopardizes the strategic interests of the United States, particularly in Asia and the Pacific. It alienates allies in the Muslim world and elsewhere, hindering efforts to create a united global front against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
Unlike World War II, where the enemy surrendered and the troops came home, there is no such prospect in Iraq. We must define an endpoint. We will soon introduce legislation to achieve that goal by bringing the occupation of Iraq to a close. The troops have done their job. It's up to Congress and the president to forge a policy worthy of their sacrifices.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii,is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, D-Ohio,is ranking member of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations.
© 2005 USA Today