Four years ago this week President Bush, traveling aboard a fighter jet, landed on the USS Lincoln aircraft carrier. Donning a flight suit, acting every bit the part of the victorious Commander in Chief, he strode confidently to the podium under a banner of “Mission Accomplished” to address the American people on Iraq.
For the President’s communications team it was the mother of all PR coups.
Or so they thought.
But the truth has a way of overcoming even the most elaborate spin.
In the weeks and months after that dramatic televised event it became clear that the mission was anything but accomplished. Four years later, we now know that in fact, it had only just begun.
We just ended the most lethal month for U.S. troops in Iraq. In April, 104 brave soldiers died in Iraq. The total number of troops lost since the war began has risen to 3,351. That number accounts for over 2,000 children who have lost a parent in the war.
Polls show that the Iraqi people want us out of their country. Six in ten support attacks against U.S. troops and an even greater number believe our soldiers provoke more violence than they prevent. The Maliki government has even had to publicly distance itself from President Bush’s surge plan because it is widely disliked by the Iraqi people.
The American people also don’t want us in Iraq. 64 percent of Americans support a timeline for the withdrawal of troops and only 24 percent approve of the way the President is handling the war.
But unfortunately, the President is ignoring the will of both the American public and the Iraqi people. Congress has passed a bill to begin bringing our troops home which focuses on diplomatic efforts to create stability in Iraq. Our experience from the past four years should tell us that a military solution just won’t work.
Instead of listening to American people and the many military experts who agree with what Congress has proposed, the President is digging in his heels, unafraid to play chicken with funding for our troops in harm’s way. He has promised to veto the bill and is expected to do so by the middle of this week.
The political battle, however, will not end here. We will continue to press the issue of bringing our troops home, possibly amending the upcoming Defense Authorization and Defense Appropriations bills with language to do so.
It is past time to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. We must bring our troops home and out of harm’s way. Democrats are committed to ending the war and we will continue using our new majorities in the House and Senate to press the White House for a new direction in Iraq.