Four years ago,
- Iraqis had a fully functioning electric grid, with 24/7 power
- Iraqis lived in one of the most modern societies in the Middle East
- Iraqi women saw a level of independence and acceptance similar to that in Western societies
- Iraqis felt safe to walk their streets at night
- There was no sectarian violence in Iraq
- Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were still alive
- 3208 Americans were still alive
- 32,000 Americans were unwounded
Today, four years after the invasion, here's how the world looks:
- Iraqis have only spotty electricity, with other utilities similarly demolished and barely functioning; living conditions are much worse than under the previous regime
- Iraqi society has devolved significantly; the upper class has fled, the middle class faces massive unemployment, and modernity has been replaced with near-feudal living conditions
- Iraqi women have been forced to adhere to hard line religious rule and restrictions; freedom and independence are a thing of the past
- Iraqis not only can't walk the streets at night, they can't walk the streets in the daytime without fear of being bombed, shot at, or kidnapped
- The country is in the midst of a violent sectarian civil war
- Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed, either by U.S. troops or by sectarian violence
- 3208 American troops have been killed in combat
- More than 32,000 Americans have suffered combat-related injuries, many of them horrific and unrecoverable.
In other words, and no one in power wants to admit this, things were much better under Saddam Hussein -- for both Iraqis and Americans. Since Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction (or even of everyday type destruction), he posed no threat to the United States. The Iraqi populace, while somewhat repressed, were at least alive. They had electricity and running water and no one was shooting at them every time they opened their front doors. Life under Hussein wasn't perfect, but it wasn't deadly.
Today, life in Iraq is deadly -- for Iraqis and Americans alike. The Iraq invasion has proven to be perhaps the biggest foreign policy blunder in American history. And yet the Bush administration shows no sign of ending our long international embarrassment. The incursion that was supposed to last weeks, not months, has instead lasted four years, with no end in sight.
Still, the president pleads for our patience in seeing it through to whatever end might await. "Four years after this war began, the fight is difficult but it can be won," Bush said. "It will be won if we have the courage and resolve to see it through."
He is wrong. He has consistently been wrong. The "fight" cannot be won. Courage and resolve have nothing to do with it. At this point, Bush's "resolve" is nothing more than suicidal stubbornness. Facts are facts; Bush and his cronies have made Iraq a much worse place than it was before we invaded. Iraq is in the midst of a bloody civil war, and it's America's fault.
We must own up to our mistakes and get the hell out of Iraq as fast as we can. The right-wing war hawks think it is a sign of weakness to admit and correct our mistakes. Instead, they'll stick to their wrong-headed ideas until there are no soldiers left to fight. I don't know what sort of psychological problems these people have, but our soldiers and the Iraqi populace are dying for the hawks' misplaced bravado. Fighting till the bitter end is seldom the best approach to any conflict, especially if you're fighting a losing battle.
Some war proponents argue that we have to stay in Iraq because the situation will get even worse if we leave. Maybe that's the case, but things are also getting worse the longer we stay. Four years is enough; each additional day only makes things worse.
But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.