Iraq War Roundup: HuffPost Bloggers On The Iraq War Over The Years
March 20, 2009 is the sixth anniversary of the Iraq War, and thus an appropriate day to take a look back at some of the best HuffPost contributor commentary from years past. President Obama has announced a plan to unilaterally withdraw 92,000 - 107,000 troops from Iraq by August 31, 2010, leaving behind a residual force of 35,000 - 50,000 to be withdrawn by December 31, 2011.
The cost in blood and treasure has been astronomical. To date, 4257 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. And though far more difficult to calculate, multiple studies show that that number should be multiplied almost 100-fold to determine the count for Iraqis killed.
The current official cost in federal funds allocated to the war is $656.1 billion, according to the National Priorities Project. However, beyond the upfront, reported expenses, the overall cost to America's society and economy is estimated to reach $3 trillion.
From Bush's 2003 declaration of "Mission Accomplished" to the revealed atrocities at Abu Ghraib in 2004 to Iraq's first election in 2005 and on through the 2007 troop "surge", HuffPost bloggers of all stripes have contributed invaluable coverage. The following is a cursory roundup of that coverage. Read insights and observations from Iraq War veterans, politicians, comedians and more who played an integral role in upholding accountability for a lamentable past six years.
Sen. Russ Feingold, Senator from Wisconsin - Give Us Candor and Clarity if You Want Resolve, June 29, 2005:
With the country listening, the President had the chance to finally give our troops and the American public some sense of when he believes this conflict in Iraq will be over and when our brave men and women in uniform will come home. Instead, the President urged us to remember the lessons of 9/11. But it is with those lessons in mind that I oppose the Administration's current approach to Iraq. The President keeps talking about staying the course, but what the American people really want is candor and clarity about where this course is taking us.
I don't buy into the President's contention last evening that setting a timetable would "send the wrong signal to our troops." The brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces deserve our admiration, our respect, and our unflagging support. But that's not all that they deserve. They deserve sound policy and straight talk from elected officials. They don't have that right now. The Administration must not leave them in the lurch any longer.
Rep. John Murtha, Congressman from Pennsylvania - Situation in Iraq IS Civil War, January 12, 2006:
According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, the definition of a civil war is a "war between political factions or regions within the same country." That is exactly what is going on in Iraq, not a global war on terrorism, as the President continues to portray it.
93 percent of those fighting in Iraq are Iraqis. A very small percentage of the fighting is being done by foreign fighters. Our troops are caught in between the fighting. 80 percent of Iraqis want us out of there and 45 percent think it is justified to kill American troops.
Sen. John Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts - A Plan for Getting Iraq Up on Its Own Two Feet, April 5, 2006:
We are now in the third war in Iraq in as many years. The first was against Saddam Hussein and his supposed weapons of mass destruction. The second was against terrorists whom, the administration said, it was better to fight over there than here. Now we find our troops in the middle of an escalating civil war.
If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end. Doing so will empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain.
Paul Reickhoff, Executive Director and Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America - Is Iraq in a Civil War? Are You Kidding Me?, November 30, 2006:
I feel like I am living in a twisted version of the movie Groundhog Day. I sometimes have to ask myself if people are serious when they ask this question What do you call it when the citizens of a nation are hell bent on killing one another over religious, ideological differences and old tribal feuds? I call it CIVIL WAR. The idea that people still believe that Iraq is not steeped in a civil war is ludicrous. When entire neighborhoods are wiped from the map, when car bombs kill's dozens of women and children, when mosques are firebombed and people are killed openly in the street while returning home from buying bread, what would you call it?
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Congressman from Ohio - There is Only One Way to End The War in Iraq, Part I, November 30, 2006:
On November 7, 2006, the American public voted for a New Direction for our Iraq policy. That direction is--out. As Democrats prepare to take the majority for the first time in twelve years, Democrats now have the responsibility to act on the overwhelming mandate issued by the American public.
Will that new direction mean an exit from Iraq? Because, if not, America will be held hostage by the skyrocketing cost of the war in Iraq even as President Bush leaves office at 11:59 am on January 20, 2009. And, the voters will not forget who let them down.
Raed Jarrar, Political analyst - There Is No Victory in Saddam's Execution, December 29, 2006:
Iraqis don't miss Saddam, but they miss their national government that was inherited by the Baath regime and was destroyed under this occupation.
Saddam's life or death is irrelevant to the current Iraqi situation. Iraqis are fighting to hold their country together and get it back from the foreign occupiers. Saddam's recent trial and imminent execution are nothing more than evidence of how foreign interventions to change political regimes will destroy entire countries and split entire nations. The current situation in Iraq is a good indicator for how Iran and Syria, or other countries, would look if the U.S. administration went ahead and interfered and changed their political regimes.
John Stolz, Co-Founder and Chair of VoteVets.org - Iraq Vets On Iraq War Anniversary, March 19, 2007:
Here's my story. Almost four years ago, I went to Iraq believing that this was a war of necessity. I, and thousands and thousands of my fellow troops, soon discovered that there were no WMD, that Iraq was not an imminent threat, and not all Iraqis welcomed us with open arms. Now, home from Iraq, I am able to see the larger picture - that the troubles in Iraq aren't contained within its borders. It has affected our military readiness. It has burned our troops down to the wick. The war in Iraq pulled people hunting Osama bin Laden to referee a civil war thousands of miles away. Everyone in our military has learned a lot of hard lessons during the course of this war.
Paul Abrams, Doctor, lawyer and business executive - Iraq War "Worth It"?: Not a Single Volunteer from the Bush Family, a Republican Member of Congress, or Administration, March 19, 2008:
To George W. Bush, the loss of nearly 4,000 lives, 30,000 wounded and $500B on the Iraq War is "worth it." But, there is no evidence his family, Republican members of Congress or any member of his Administration agrees -- unless, of course, they mean it is "worth it" for others to be doing the fighting, the dying, and the multiple tours-of-duty.
Pat Tillman left his lucrative and high-profile career in the NFL to volunteer for Afghanistan. Yet, not a single Republican member of Congress of military-age has thought the Iraq war "worth it" enough to resign and volunteer for his country. Adam Putnam (R-FLA), for example, votes to send his generation to war, but will not volunteer himself.
Sen. Gary Hart, Wirth Chair professor at the University of Colorado - War and Remembrance, March 20, 2008:
Had leading Democrats taken the trouble to fashion thoughtful and reasonable national security principles in the post-Vietnam era and thereby regained the confidence of the American people in their ability to protect the country, quite possibly they would have felt comfortable opposing the invasion of Iraq. Instead, they permitted the now infamous war resolution to become a test of their "strength" and George W. Bush was provided a necessary bipartisan coalition of support.
Bill Maher, Comedian - The 100 Years War, March 21, 2008:
What if the war in Iraq did go on for 100 years, as McCain suggested it might? What are we looking at? An entire century of ever-increasing military spending, necessitating deep cuts in all other government programs -- like public education and health care and all that other sissy stuff. A staging ground for ten decades of warfare with Islamist militants, for whom the place is becoming a terrorist fantasy camp ("Come to Iraq and fight real Americans in your own back yard! Get your picture taken with real al Qaeda pros! Learn the fundamentals of blowing yourself up!"). And endless, lucrative contracts for American companies that support the war effort, from Grumman to Raytheon to -- of course -- Halliburton. Companies that in the absence of a Cold War might otherwise see their prospects dwindling.
Jane Smiley, Novelist and essayist - Why I Was Right About Iraq, March 24, 2008:
In other words, I was against the Iraq War because I distrusted the motives of its architects, because the story they cooked up was full of holes, and because when they were telling that story, their body language revealed their bad faith. I was also against the Iraq War because I could imagine myself as an Iraqi. Let's say China decided that regime change in Sacramento was necessary, so they landed an army at San Francisco and Los Angeles and carpet bombed us into throwing Arnie out. Would I embrace them? Would any American embrace them? The shock of invasion would certainly arouse anger and resistance. So, I saw, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld had no realistic understanding of human nature to add to their other personal failures.
Deepak Chopra, Bestselling author - The Bill Arrives for a Free War, March 24, 2008:
How ironic that Iraq was originally sold as basically a free war -- fast, clean, and cheap. Only 1% of the American population has borne the burden of fighting and dying. Everyone else could turn away and flip real estate as the booming housing market brought unprecedented added value to the average American's net worth. Pres. Bush continues to act as if the war is a noble cause on the brink of success, the economy basically sound, the world our friend. In other words, he wants a total bailout for the multiple disasters inflicted by ring-wing ideology.
See a slideshow that illustrates key moments in the Iraq War.
Check out the top five reasons why the international community should not turn its back on Iraq.