Friday, December 15, 2006

Response to 2004 photos supporting troops in Iraq

These pictures of good-hearted American soldiers and grateful Iraqis serve to remind us all of the tremendous personal sacrifices our troops are making in service to our country. At the same time, however, these photos are misguidedly promoting the argument that our invasion of Iraq was justified and that anyone who criticizes that decision is being unpatriotic by not supporting our troops. This is not fair. The truth has now been made public about the deceptions that led to our invasion of Iraq. We know now that the decision to invade was made long before 9/11, and that the President dishonestly argued for that invasion by exaggerating the danger to America of Saddam gaining nuclear weapons and by making the false suggestion that Saddam was a supporter of Al Qaeda and somehow involved with 9/11. The administration's fallback justification for invading Iraq has been our desire to bring democracy and freedom to the Middle East. Does anyone actually believe that?

The pictures of grateful Iraqis also promote a falsehood. While it is true that the majority of Iraqis hated Saddam and are glad he is gone, very few now appreciate the presence of American troops in their country. In fact, polls show that as many as 80% of Iraqis feel that the presence of American troops in Iraq is now the cause for the continued violence, not the solution. Mistakenly or not, they want our troops to leave immediately.

Personally, I'm grateful to those who posted these photos. With the enormous fiasco that Iraq has become, with the bungling of the response to Katrina, and with the exposure of scandals involving Jack Abromoff and Tom Delay, the President's advisers very much want the public to focus instead on a debate about immigration. I think it's more important to deal with the immediacy of the situation with Iraq and its growing costs to America--in dollars, in human lives and suffering, and in our respect around the world.


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