Now that U.S. combat troops have left Iraq, this might be the perfect moment for our favorite Texas Air National Guard alumnus to dig out that flight suit and get his Top Gun groove back on.
President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, may have been seven years too soon, but how was he to know that the arms of Iraqis wouldn’t be welcoming? And what part of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” didn’t those ungrateful people understand? Did they really think we charged into their country looking for weapons of mass destruction?
As our combat forces leave Iraq, I’d like to give credit where credit is due – not for getting us out of Iraq, but for getting us into Iraq.
Before we blew into Baghdad, a little known group led by Karl Rove, called the White House Iraq Group, met for the sole purpose of selling the impending invasion of Iraq to the American people – mostly by terrifying us.
Who can forget Condi Rice’s brow-furrowed warnings of mushroom clouds, or Dick Cheney’s aluminum-tubes clamor, or Donald Rumsfeld’s “God-knows-what-else-could-be-transpiring-in-that-place” panic attacks?
Protests around the world were muted by Bush’s browbeating reminders of terrorists and their plans to do us in. Protests here at home were met with shouts of anti-patriotism and a mocking of common sense. Verifiable intelligence was tossed aside for vague, forged documents, while seasoned intelligence officers were bypassed for a more agreeable ex-Iraqi politician with an axe to grind against Saddam.
We smoked into Bagdad on swagger, flimsy intelligence and vigilante dreams, not expecting an Iraqi resistance.
“Bring ‘em on,” Bush chided Iraqi insurgents, kicking up the insurgency and slapping bull’s eyes on the backs of our soldiers. Fighting two wars not only stretched our military so thin it wouldn’t cover leftovers from lunch, but with the help of poorly-timed Bush tax cuts for the rich, it turned a stunning budget surplus left by the Clinton administration into a raging deficit.
Where were tea party budget-pinching patriots then? Where were today’s deficit-conscious Republicans when $9 billion of U.S. currency, shipped to the Coalition Provisional Authority and meant for Iraqi reconstruction, was lost and unaccounted for?
Now that our combat troops have left Iraq, a sovereign nation we invaded on a shady sale’s pitch, some “patriots” will no doubt shrug it off as President Bush did when pressed by Diane Sawyer about never finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
“So, what’s the difference?” he shrugged.
The difference is the 4,415 members of the U.S. military killed in Iraq would be living their lives today, and the nearly 32,000 of our wounded would be living without physical injuries or disabilities.