Bush Failing the Nation in Iraq

Dan Murphy

Historically, the Republican Party is known as the party of foreign policy and national security. Democrats, meanwhile, are known as the bunglers of military endeavors and diplomatic coups. From President Lyndon B. Johnson’s disastrous Vietnam War policies to Jimmy Carter’s failed hostage rescue mission to Bill Clinton’s botched intervention in Somalia, it’s easy to see why Americans are hesitant to trust the Democratic Party’s foreign policies.

But in light of the gross incompetence displayed by George W. Bush’s administration, I don’t think that the Republican Party is the party of national security anymore. 2,000 American military personnel have been killed since the Iraq War began in March of 2003. While it took 18 months for the death toll to reach 1,000, it has taken just 14 months for the number to reach 2,000, signaling an insurgency that is growing in strength and a military that is weakened and undersupplied. Even more tragic is the fact that 450 Americans troops died on return tours of duty after spending initial time in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Despite the carnage, the Bush Administration continues to rely on a failed policy. Why haven’t Pentagon policy-makers devised a new strategy yet? After more than two and a half years since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government, the United States failed to provided basic security and services to Iraqis, resulting in an emboldened insurgency. Despite the progress made in the January elections and by the recent passage of the Iraqi constitution, suicide bombings and attacks on American service men and women continue.

The steady flow of violence has eroded public support for the war and confidence in the Bush Administration. In a recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, 59 percent of Americans believe that the United States made a mistake by sending troops to Iraq. If an election were held today, only 39 percent said they’d vote for President Bush, while 56 percent said they would vote for a Democrat.

However, since Iraq has become a training ground for terrorists, immediate withdrawal of United States military personnel is not an option. Because policy-makers failed to formulate plans to secure Iraqi borders, terrorists from all over the Middle East are using Iraq as their base.

As a young Vietnam veteran, John Kerry posed these questions to Congress. He asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” These questions are perfectly applicable to the present day. The Bush Administration’s justification for war – you remember WMD right? – was discredited. Now, we’re engaged in a colossal battle to rebuild, secure and democratize Iraq. Sure, this is a noble cause, but not if the administration isn’t taking the necessary steps to ensure a victory.

We, as a nation, need to reassess this war. Though we do not want Iraq to turn into a haven for terrorists, we do not the escalation of violence to continue, either. So what’s the next step?

Our military is strapped for troops. We simply do not have enough soldiers to win this war. If you remember, former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki predicted we’d need at least 300,000 troops to win the peace. As it stands, we have only 160,000 troops in Iraq – an entirely insufficient number. The United States needs apologize to its European allies, and ask for some help. A safe and secure Iraq would increase safety and security throughout the European Union. If the US showed a little humility to our allies – something it has failed to do in the Bush Administration – the Europeans might actually help us.

Is the Republican Party still the party of national security? After it bungled the Iraq War, it might be time to reconsider that title.