These are just some of the stories on the four-year anniversary of Mission Accomplished:Washington Post: "The deaths of more than 100 troops in April made it the deadliest month so far this year for US forces in Iraq."
Los Angeles Times: "April was even more devastating for Iraqi civilians. More than 1,500 were killed in bombings, assassinations and sectarian violence."
New York Times: "In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successful, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting, and expensive equipment that lay idle."
Boston Globe: "Deaths and injuries from terrorist attacks increased sharply last year, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, with government officials, police, and security guards coming under greater attack than ever before . . . more than 20,000 people died and more than 38,000 were injured . . . an increase of 6,000 deaths or more than 40 percent over 2005, according to [the State Department]."
This is four years after President Bush staged one of the gaudiest self-congratulations in American history. He landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln in a jet fighter, popped out in a flight jumpsuit and proclaimed major combat operations to be over in Iraq under the now-infamous banner, "Mission Accomplished." It is four years after Bush said, "We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide. No act of the terrorists will change our purpose, or weaken our resolve, or alter their fate. Their cause is lost."
Bush's cause is so lost that 71 percent of Americans disagree with his handling of Iraq in the latest New York Times/CBS poll and 64 percent say Bush should set a timetable for troop withdrawal in 2008. By a 57 percent-to-35 percent tally in that poll, Americans say Congress, not Bush, should have the final say about troop levels. Similarly, in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, Americans say by 56 percent to 37 percent they agree with the Democrats' push for a troop withdrawal deadline over Bush's refusal to set a deadline.
Bush's cause is so lost that people are turning on him wherever he turns, from former CIA director George Tenet to the family of Pat Tillman, who calls the military's glorification of his death in Afghanistan "utter fiction," and soldier Jessica Lynch, who said the military's glorification of her capture and rescue in Iraq was utterly unnecessary. "The American people are capable of determining their own ideals for heroes and they don't need to be told elaborate lies," she told a congressional oversight panel last week.
This, not to mention Abu Ghraib, was all inevitable in a war that itself was an elaborate lie. With no weapons of mass destruction, no proof that Saddam Hussein was tied to 9/11, Al Qaeda, or an imminent threat himself, America was led by fiction into a disaster that has now claimed 3,351 US soldiers, 3,211 of the deaths coming AFTER Bush declared major combat operations to be OVER.
The civilian toll will probably never be accurately known, since US military officials famously said "we don't do body counts." Numbers range from the conservative 60,000s of Iraq Body Count to the 600,000 of the medical journal Lancet. Last week, the United Nations criticized Iraqi officials for not providing civilian casualty figures. The United Nations estimates that the continuing violence claimed 34,452 civilian lives last year. The Iraqi government says the number was 12,357.
Yesterday, Bush continued to do violence to history by going to Central Command in Tampa to once again string together 9/11 and Al Qaeda and Nazis and communists into Saddam and Iraq. Bush said, "Four years ago, we confronted a brutal tyrant who had used weapons of mass destruction, supported terrorists, invaded his neighbors, oppressed his people, and tested the resolve and the credibility of the United Nations."
Four years later, we know what mission was truly accomplished. Bush destroyed the credibility of his presidency and degraded America's standing in the world for years to come. Whatever he tried to accomplish, America is saying the mission is over.
Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is email@example.com.
© Copyright 2007 The Boston Globe