5 years ago today Bush stood on the deck of aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Under the now infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner, he pridefully declared:
“Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed…
In the images of falling statues, we have witnessed the arrival of a new era. For a hundred years of war, culminating in the nuclear age, military technology was designed and deployed to inflict casualties on an ever-growing scale. In defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Allied forces destroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflict were safe until the final days. Military power was used to end a regime by breaking a nation.
Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.
In the images of celebrating Iraqis, we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear…”
Today, the U.S. casualty count totals 4,065. The Iraqi count is near-impossible to determine but is in the range of 90,000 documented civilian deaths. The cost to the U.S. alone grows by about $200 million per day. There’s no victor here. Bush’s myopic and hubristic speech on May 1, 2003 ought to be remembered as a warning for future generations. Of course, to the contrary, near silence in the American press about this today.