Thursday, June 30, 2005

Talking Points on Iraq

The article Time to Separate Fact from Fiction on Iraq makes these three points:

The Iraqi insurgency has strengthened not weakened.
President Bush will certainly try to convince Americans that all is well in Iraq, and perhaps reiterate Vice President Cheney’s sentiment that the insurgency is in its “last throes.” The reality is much harsher. In the past year, over 890 U.S. troops have died (more than half of the 1743 fatalities since the war began). And since the handover, the AP reports more than 7500 people have been killed or wounded by car bombs. The number of attacks per day has risen from 10 in May 2003 to 52 in June 2004 to 70 last month. Secretary Rumsfeld is already predicting that attacks will increase as the national elections approach and has stated that he believes the insurgency may last 12 years.

Vital reconstruction efforts are lagging and billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money has disappeared.
The insecurity on the ground has resulted in a lack of progress on the reconstruction front. From car bombs to power outages to water shortages, Iraqis are not experiencing Bush's rosy rhetoric. One Iraqi businessman said, "It's going from bad to worse. I cannot fully explain it -- electricity, water, telephones, and these are just utilities. As for security, just look around you." Billions of dollars in American taxpayer funds for Iraqi reconstruction have simply disappeared—including a large portion of $12 billion in cash that is unaccounted for according to a recent House report—with nothing to show for these expenditures.

A clear timetable for political and military goals is needed to ensure success.
Hiding behind baseless claims that any call for a timetable for ending the war in Iraq is a concession to the enemy, President Bush is essentially arguing for protracted military occupation of Iraq with no clear end state. President Bush criticized President Clinton for not setting a timetable in Kosovo, yet refuses to apply his own standards to his war in Iraq. Without clear guidelines for success, the White House will simply fall into the very same trap that led to the deaths of tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Vietnam and a forced and humiliating rapid withdrawal.


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