by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Ali Frick, and Ryan Powers
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Six years to the day have passed since President Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, a preventative war of choice based on "intelligence fixed around the policy." The purpose, according to Bush, was "to disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger." Yet of course, there were no weapons to disarm and no "grave danger" to defend against. The war has spawned more terrorists and created deeply rooted resentment of the United States. Even including the billions of dollars Congress has authorized to bail out the nation's troubled financial institutions, this unnecessary war will most likely turn out to be "the largest spending bill in history," as Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) called it. Billions have been lost in waste, fraud, and abuse. Private contractors who have raked in billions from the war have established solid records of endangering the lives of Americans and Iraqis in the country. More importantly, al Qaeda -- the main threat to the U.S. when the war was launched -- "has organized to pre-9/11 strength" because Bush turned his back on Afghanistan, a war in which the U.S. and its allies are not currently winning. However, the war in Iraq may be starting to draw to a close. Late last year, the Bush administration negotiated a security agreement -- or "withdrawal accord" -- with the Iraqi government, mandating that all U.S. troops exit the country by 2011. Last month, President Obama announced his own plan to speed up that process, ordering two-thirds of U.S. forces to redeploy by Aug. 31, 2010. The Progress Report has rounded up the significant developments surrounding the Iraq war over the last year -- some good, some bad, and others ugly.
-- Violence in Iraq is down to its lowest level since August 2003.
-- A new ABC/BBC/NHK poll suggests that Iraqi civilians are "more upbeat about the future," and for the first time since March 19, 2003, violence and insecurity "are no longer the main concern of most Iraqis."
-- U.S. combat deaths are at their lowest level since the initial invasion.
-- Iraqi leaders and U.S. troops have offered praise of Obama's plan to speed up the American withdrawal from Iraq.
-- Iraqi civilian casualties have been steadily dropping since 2007, and despite a slight uptick in February, January 2009 "set a record for the lowest number of Iraqi civilians killed" since the war began.
-- Through last Tuesday, 4,260 U.S. servicemen and women and hundreds more from coalition countries have been killed in Iraq since the war began. Tens of thousands have been physically and mentally wounded. In fact, suicides among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans "may exceed the combat death toll because of inadequate mental health care."
-- According to Iraq Body Count, nearly 100,000 (maybe more) Iraqi civilians have lost their lives because of the war. Nearly 5 million Iraqis have either been internally displaced or left the country.
-- A U.N. report released last month found that more than 25 percent of Iraq's young men are out of work, "a situation that is likely to worsen and threatens the country's long-term stability. ... Overall, the country's unemployment rate is 18%, but an additional 10% of the labor force is employed part time and wanting to work more."
-- A study released last month found that "Iraq accounts for 1,067 suicide attacks" anywhere since 1981, "a number that accounts for more than half (54.8%) of all suicide attacks" since that time.
-- The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate as precious American and allied resources are still being used in Iraq.
-- Being an architect of the war means never having to say you're sorry. Bush blames others for having to launch the war. Vice President Cheney is convinced the life and treasure lost to fight the Iraq war was worth it. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice actually said she is "so proud" the U.S. invaded Iraq. And major war architect Richard Perle now denies the existence of neoconservatism, the ideological basis for the invasion.
-- Despite zero evidence, Bush administration officials are still trying to link Saddam to al Qaeda.
-- The British government released internal memos and e-mails last week that provide further evidence that the government dossier former UK prime minister Tony Blair used as the basis for which to justify the country's involvement in the invasion was indeed "sexed up" with unsupported claims of an imminent threat from Iraq.
-- Last July, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced a resolution praising the success of the "surge" of U.S. forces into Iraq "against enemies who attacked America on 9/11." Rep. Steve King (R-IA) recently introduced a "Victory in Iraq" resolution (despite the fact that Gen. David Petraeus refuses to use the term) "chronicling the success of the troop surge in Iraq and warning the new Commander-in-Chief that if he changes strategy, he takes ownership of whatever happens on his watch."
-- The war has engendered so much hostility that during Bush's last press conference in Iraq, Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at the President in an attempt to avenge the humiliation Bush levied on the Iraqi people. "This is a farewell kiss, you dog," al-Zaidi.