A four-year retrospect of missteps in Iraq

Four years ago the public was told that Iraq posed an immediate threat to the security of the United States. Saddam Hussein was portrayed as a monster who supported international terrorism and had weapons of mass destruction that he was more than willing to release on the streets of America.

Many citizens and elected officials were skeptical, but they trusted President George W. Bush and his administration in that uncertain time. During his 2003 State of the Union address, the president accused Saddam of purchasing uranium from Niger. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the press in March 2003, “We know where the weapons are.”

Everything sounded great, so in the soldiers went. Tanks rolled through Baghdad as statues of Saddam fell to the ground. Just two short months after the invasion, President Bush stood on the USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner that declared “Mission Accomplished.”

Unfortunately, the reality on the ground said otherwise. Suicide bombers were killing and maiming American troops with high frequency. Some Iraqis were sympathetic to the terrorists, giving them shelter and hiding them from the troops. It became clear that more innocent civilians were being killed than insurgents.

The Abu Ghraib scandal exposed the systematic torture of prisoners by coalition forces. A bipartisan report proved that there were no weapons of mass destruction to begin with. Revelations surfaced that the administration lied on many occasions in the run up to the war.

Now, four years later, things are not as promised; they have only gotten worse. The killing continues to rage on, American soldiers have been charged with murder, corruption is the rule rather than the exception, and Iraq is on the brink of all-out civil war. President Bush has approved a troop increase of more than 20,000 soldiers since January in a last-ditch effort to turn things around, but most experts are highly skeptical of the prospects.

So what do we do? Pulling our troops out immediately is the only reasonable course of action. More than 3,000 American service personnel have died. The war that was to pay for itself has now cost our treasury $510 billion dollars according to a March 2007 report from the Congressional Research Service. Saddam is dead and his regime has been eliminated. There are no WMDs. The Iraqis have had free elections. The mission, it seems, has been accomplished.

Some may argue that things will become exponentially worse if the U.S. leaves now. But if the past four years are any indicator, then things will not get much better even if we stay there forever.

If a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq is not an option, then withdrawal becomes a necessity-the sooner, the better.