In a recent poll, a sobering 47% of Americans said that we should stay the course in Iraq, reasoning that now that our troops are there, we need to stay. Most responded by saying that if we pull out it will be a disaster for the Iraqi people. Americans feel this way in spite of the facts regarding the ongoing occupation of Iraq. The truth is that an overwhelming majority of Iraqis want Americans out of Iraq now. The security that we are providing in Iraq is mostly for our own service members. Most of the tax dollars that we spend on Iraqi security goes to protecting convoy lines, building and supplying military bases and paying for resources that we are expending funds on specifically because we are there.
March 19th marks the fifth anniversary of the ongoing occupation of Iraq. It has been nearly as long since president Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier with the words 'mission accomplished' boldly printed on a banner behind him. Since that time nearly 4,000 Americans have died in Iraq and tens of thousands have been injured. No one knows exactly how many Iraqis have been killed. Some estimates are as low as 100,000 and some estimates are as high as 600,000 people. What we do know is that we have turned Iraq into a living hell where people get blown to bits while trying to go shopping, get shot by private contractors while driving down the street, get tortured by American military personnel after being caught up in security sweeps and watch neighbor kill neighbor over sectarian concerns bubbling from below the surface of extreme poverty, suffering and trauma.
The Iraqi war is a shameful war and one of the worst policy decisions of the contemporary era. As the United States teeters on the brink of depression and watches its currency value plummet we continue to waste our national treasury on a war that was based on the pretext of weapons of mass destruction that never existed. It is time for Americans to come to terms with the reality of what we have done. Those who supported the war and voted for it followed the foolish emotionalism generated by the current administration after the traumatic experience of the Sept. 11th attacks. It is time for us to admit that the war was really an act of vengance, a blind lashing out at some Arab nation as retribution for the lives lost in 2001.
The Bush administration understood the pain and the anger of the American people, and chose to manipulate us for the economic advantage of a few private corporations who have received the lion's share of contracts worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The President has betrayed the trust of the American people, the armed services and the international community.
Opposition to the continuation of the war has become a moral issue. Shortly after the American invasion of Iraq, in a rare admission of dissent in the American public, the President said you are either with the ‘us’ or you are with the terrorists. In hindsight, it is clear that Bush and his cronies are the ones who are at odds with the American people and the democratic traditions of this nation.
The Iraqi war will be remembered as the defining international conflict of the first decade of the 21st century. The verdict is already out on this occupation and we are the losers. We have lost our honor. We unilaterally attacked a nation which had not attacked us and had not declared war on us. We imprisoned their citizens and tortured them. We dropped bombs on their houses and murdered their children. We spent hundreds of billions of dollars and accepted the lies of our President and his administration. We have lost our soul as a nation.
It is time to restore our fallen honor and reconcile ourselves to the evil that we have done out of fear and a desire for retribution. Only then can we begin to truly live up to the promise of what our nation can be. It is time to bring the troops home and end the occupation of Iraq.