To hear President Bush tell it, Iraq is a bed of roses: “Our strategy is succeeding,” he said last week. Yesterday at the U.N., he said Iraq is “on the path to democracy and freedom.”
Yet the CIA told Bush recently that the scenarios we’re really facing there range from a quagmire to a bloodbath. The CIA’s July report outlines three possibilities for Iraq, ranging from “an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous” to “civil war,” according to the New York Times.
Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) is calling on Bush to level with us, by releasing the report, formally called a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), to the public. Graham, the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has read the NIE, and he thinks we all should see it too.
It’s not just Democrats who are questioning the President’s grip on reality.
- Senator Chuck Hagel (NE), a Republican, says: “The worst thing we can do is hold ourselves hostage to some grand illusion that we’re winning. Right now, we are not winning. Things are getting worse. The fact is, we’re in trouble. We’re in deep trouble in Iraq.”
- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also supports releasing the NIE and says: “We made serious mistakes right after the initial successes by not having enough troops there on the ground, by allowing the looting, by not securing the borders.”
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), says “he believes the situation in Iraq is going to get worse before it gets better, adding that he believes the administration has done a ‘poor job of implementing and adjusting at times.'” and says “We do not need to paint a rosy scenario for the American people….”
- Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) says it’s “exasperating for anybody look at this from any vantage point.”
So what can you do? Join Sen. Graham in demanding that Bush tell us the truth. Sign Moveon.org’s petition to demand the disclosure of this National Intelligence Estimate.
Those are Republicans talking. Here’s what the generals and national security experts are saying, in a terrific recent piece in the UK’s Guardian newspaper:
- Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency, said: “Bush hasn’t found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it’s worse, he’s lost on that front. That he’s going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It’s lost.” He adds: “Right now, the course we’re on, we’re achieving Bin Laden’s ends.”
- Retired General Joseph Hoare, the former marine commandant and head of US Central Command, [said]: “The idea that this is going to go the way these guys planned is ludicrous. There are no good options…. The priorities are just all wrong.”
- Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College, said: “I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true…”
- W. Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College’s strategic studies institute — and the top expert on Iraq there — said: “I don’t think that you can kill the insurgency”… “The idea there are x number of insurgents, and that when they’re all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed”… “Most Iraqis consider us occupiers, not liberators.”
- General Odom [also] said: “This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn’t as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we’re in a region far more volatile, and we’re in much worse shape with our allies.”… “I’ve never seen [tensions] so bad between the office of the secretary of defence and the military. There’s a significant majority believing this is a disaster.”
Just as important are the opinions of those whose loved ones are serving in Iraq, like Martha Jo McCarthy, whose husband is on National Guard duty there. She says:
“Everyone supports the troops, and I know they’re doing a phenomenal job over there, not only fighting but building schools and digging wells. But supporting the troops has to mean something more than putting yellow-ribbon magnets on your car and praying they come home safely.”
“I read the casualty Web site every day and ask myself, ‘Do I feel safer here?’ No. I don’t think we can win this war through arrogance. Arrogance is different from strength. Strength requires wisdom, and I think we need to change from arrogance to solid strength.”
President Bush has got to tell us the truth about Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction. No Saddam-al Qaeda connection. The mission is not accomplished. The transition has not been peaceful and stable. Attacks on our troops are increasing, not decreasing. These failures lie solely with the president, and he owes us an honest explanation.