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Iraq War: Drafting the dead

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER | June 2, 2005

President Bush was among the 260,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery when he said it. But it was clear Monday that the president was referring to the more than 1,650 Americans killed to date in Iraq when he said, "We must honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives; by defeating the terrorists."

Bush insists on clinging to the thoroughly discredited notion that there was any connection between the old Iraqi regime -- no matter how lawless and brutal -- and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

U.S. military action against an Afghan regime that harbored al-Qaida was a legitimate response to the 9/11 attacks. The invasion of Iraq was not.

As of Memorial Day 2003, Bush had declared major combat operations at an end, predicted that weapons of mass destruction would be found and that U.S. forces were in the process of stabilizing Iraq. One hundred sixty U.S. troops had died.

The U.S. death toll has grown more than tenfold. No weapons of mass destruction were found. More than 700 Iraqis have been killed since Iraq's new government was formed April 28.

Bush said of the insurgents at a news conference yesterday, "I believe the Iraqi government is plenty capable of dealing with them."

Of course, this is the same president that assured the world that military intervention in Iraq was a last resort and that the United States would make every effort to avoid war through diplomacy. Giving lie to that as well is the so-called Downing Street War Memo, which shows that as early as July 2002, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the Intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Perhaps all presidents' remarks in military graveyards are by nature self-serving. But few have been so callow as the president's using the deaths of U.S. troops in his unjustified war as justification for its continuance.

 

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