Nothing, absolutely nothing, is any more distressing and deeply depressing than the fact the President of the United States told us five years ago today that the war in Iraq was over, and that our mission was accomplished.
It was foolish, and the thousands of American and Iraqi lives lost since them is a testament to that foolishness.
This war, which was supposed to have been over five long years ago, has seriously damaged our ability to respond to any new threat that might emerge anywhere around the globe, and it is from that prospective that Congresswoman Nancy Boyda has approached her very sound desire to begin a strategic redeployment of our troops from Iraq.
As reported by this blog at the time, Boyda expressed these concerns when General David Petraeus reported to Congress in early April.
Our men and women in uniform have done a supreme job in the missions they've been given, and God bless each and every one of them and their families. We have seen, however, rank mismanagement of this war by the civilian leadership in the Bush Administration and by Republicans in the House and Senate. The refocus to Iraq from Afghanistan has allowed the nation we invaded first to fall closer and closer to chaos, with only minor success in Iraq to show for it. And, on top of that, our strategic readiness, our ability to respond if anything else happens globally, has been seriously undermined.
Boyda said military leaders were also increasingly concerned with the situation in Afghanistan. About 10 months ago, a National Intelligence Estimate reported that al-Qaida had regained its pre-9/11 strength in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"When we ask why we aren't addressing that more, we are told that Iraq is our number one priority," Boyda said. "But why and when did Iraq become the number one priority? It wasn't the number one priority on Sept. 12-13."
Boyda said she wasn't in favor of a large withdrawal, rather a slow and steady progression that would allow the U.S. to reset its military readiness. Boyda cited a quote from General George Casey, Army chief of staff, who said there was an "invisible red line" that would indicate the current operations can no longer be sustained.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said April 2, "I think we're close to (the red line) now."
"While everyone rejoices in some stability in the region, the questions are two-fold," Boyda said. "One, will we be able to stay and hold on to that stability and two, at what cost could we do it? It's clearly having an affect on readiness moving forward.
"We're on uncharted ground," Boyda said. "There's no doubt in my mind that if we had another 9/11-type incident, we would be able to have an overwhelming and immediate response. The Air Force and Navy are ready (to respond quickly). The problem is sustaining that response. That's what we're hearing from senior military leadership."
So, on this five year anniversary of "Mission Accomplished," we'd just like to take a moment to remember all of those who have died or have been injured, and to hope for a fundamental change of direction - hopefully before another five years have passed. It is a time, friends, that we are lucky to have Nancy Boyda in Congress.