The handwriting has been on the wall for a very long time. The American people fell out of favor with this war long ago. The majority of Democrats in Congress have tried to deliver on an exit strategy but have lacked enough bipartisan support to do so. Many of those Republicans abandoning President Bush have been ardent defenders of this failed war. Their numbers are eroding so quickly that Defense Secretary Robert Gates today canceled a South American Trip as we approach the July 15 date for a report on the President's surge of troops. No doubt the President will argue he needs more time. More time equates to more deaths and more expense.
Few Americans have any idea what this war is costing the U.S.
I'm not referring to the money for military support and rebuilding Iraq (which has failed to do much but pad the pockets of contractors), those figures are readily available. And while they are shockingly high, I am talking about the intangibles... the things we cannot see, like:
- The loss of American respect overseas.
- The boost this war has given to recruitment of those terrorists who hate us the most.
- The stress that will be felt on our economy for years to recover from the unbudgeted hundreds of billions of dollars spent.
- The impact this war will have on the mental health of families of returning veterans.
It is true that the exit from Iraq will likely not be a pretty sight. As bad a the government was that we took out, it provided a minimal amount of stability in the region. I know all the arguments for overthrowing the government in Iraq. For every valid argument to take out Saddam Hussein, there are a half dozen equally bad or worse leaders of nations we do nothing about. The argument for overthrowing Saddam was just an add on to the otherwise misinformation that the Bush Administration used to build it's case for this war.
The men and women serving this country in uniform have not lost a war, they were given an unrealistic mission that was a mistake from the start.
The only questions that remain, are how to best extract ourselves from this. What kind of help can we realistically provide an unstable interum government that has been ineffective and struggles for legitimacy amid a civil war that has at the very roots a long history of religious disagreement, intolerance, and fear that spills blood on the streets daily, much less resist outside forces.
My hope is that in the next couple of weeks, enough Republican members of Congress can finally do the right thing and help put an end to our military presence and bring our troops home.