Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Will of the People Doesn't Matter Much

The vast majority of people in Iraq and the U.S. want American troops to leave the Middle East's newest democracy. One might expect the will of the people to translate into policy in democratic countries.

The American people are very concerned about footing the bill for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the war was not worth waging. Iraqi citizens believe the insurgency exists, in a significant part, to drive out the U.S. presence from their country. A BBC poll showed nearly three fourths of Iraqis oppose coalition forces. Over 50% say the surge made things worse.

Yet in his speech, the democratic American President made no mention of the will of the people. Instead, he said "he had no regrets about the unpopular war in Iraq despite the 'high cost in lives and treasure' and declared that the United States was on track for a major victory there."

Didn't we already declare victory? In May 2003 Bush declared that "major combat operations" in Iraq were over as he stood on the USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner reading "Mission Accomplished." So Mr. President, we're on track for another major victory in Iraq? Why are the people, especially the Iraqi's, the last to know?

It seems a compassionate person could find at least one regret in all this:

The war has cost the United States $500 billion. An estimated 80,000-90,000 Iraqis have been killed and 4.5 million people displaced. Nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been killed, as well as 175 British troops and 134 from other countries.

Given the above was based on inaccurate intelligence, a leader could easily find regret:

An October 2002 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate -- representing the consensus views of the American intelligence community -- concludes that Iraq is pursuing a nuclear device, has an active biological weapons program and has resumed making deadly mustard, sarin and VX chemical agents.

In an exhaustive 2005 review, the blue-ribbon Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, finds that the NIE's conclusions were flat wrong.

Somebody, please keep this man away from the button during his last ten months in office.