For a war that President Bush victoriously declared over back in May 2003, this weeks grim body count milestone must surely come as an tragic embarrassment.
No doubt the Bush administration is disappointed that the weeks other milestone in the region, the successful referendum on a draft constitution, came on the same day that a 2000th American soldiers body was wrapped in a body bag and prepared for the the final flight back to America, this time in a coffin draped in the stars and stripes.
With a recent Ipsos/AP poll suggesting that his public support is at an all-time low of 39% for two straight months, President Bush told Americans that no-one should underestimate the difficulties ahead and that they should brace themselves for more casualties. He went on to say “each loss of life is heartbreaking” but stated that he felt the best way to honor the dead soldiers was to “complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace by spreading freedom”.
Of course the number of troop casualties is dwarfed by the number of Iraqi’s who have been killed and injured since the war began. Various estimates put the figure anywhere between 20,000 to 30,000. Though with the country still in disarray the actual figure may never be fully calculated.
The war in Iraq has recently been re-branded as ‘the front-line’ in President Bush’s ‘war on terror’, despite his earlier insistence that the two wars were not in the slightest bit connected. Iraq was initially invaded in order to find and destroy President Saddam Hussein’s amassed collection of WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction). No such weapons nor any evidence of them were ever found, so the war was re-branded ‘the liberation of Iraq.’ Elections were held and victories in liberty were declared, but still the star spangled coffins keep returning the the United States.
History will be the better judge of President Bush and his efforts to do whatever it is he’s actually trying to do in the Middle East. Personally I wonder whether the number of young men and women willing to strap explosives to themselves and detonate them near American and other western targets has actually increased since the invasion of Iraq?
Some say the situation there is better than it was before, and who knows maybe they’re right. But I don’t think we’re anywhere near being far enough away from the epicenter of this most unholy of wars to make a fair assessment of whether any of this will have been worth it in the end.
I hope that history will remember President Bush as a man who brought stability and peace to a region historically torn by bitterness and bloodshed. I fear the reality will be nothing of the sort.