The US death toll in Iraq now stands at more than 3,200.
The first 3,000 of those deaths can reasonably be said to be the responsibility of President Bush. He, Vice President Cheney and their aides manipulated intelligence in order to frame a case for invading and occupying Iraq. As their deceits began to be exposed, they sought to punish those–such as former Ambassador Joe Wilson–who tried to tell the truth to Congress and the American people.
When that truth became clear, the people elected a new Congress. Last November, Democrats were given control of the US House and Senate. Their mandate was as simple as it was clear: Bring the troops home in a smart, responsible and rapid fashion. And they had the ability to do so, as the Constitution clearly gives Congress the authority to use the power of the purse and other means to conclude an unwise and unnecessary war.
Unfortunately, the Democrats have not moved with the swiftness or the effectiveness that polls suggest the American people want. Instead, they have squandered time and energy on meaningless “non-binding resolutions.”
As a result, the more than 200 US troops who have died since control of Congress shifted can reasonably be said to be the responsibility of both the Bush Administration and the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate.
As we mark the fourth anniversary of the most insane military misadventure in American history–yes, even worse than James K. Polk’s invasion of Mexico for the purpose of spreading slavery–there is now more than enough blame to go around for the death and destruction that has not merely killed thousands of Americans but that has left hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis dead, emptied the US and Iraqi treasuries into the pockets of unscrupulous contractors and corrupt politicians, and done severe harm to the reputation of the United States as an honest player on the world stage.
It happens that the anniversary coincides with a critical test for members of Congress. As soon as this week, a vote could be held in the House on the question of whether to fund the war for another year–at a cost not merely of roughly $100 billion in additional tax dollars but also of thousands of additional American lives and tens of thousands of additional Iraqi lives.
It is not simplistic to suggest that a vote to continue funding the war as it is currently being conducted is a vote for more death, more destruction and more threats to the stability of the Middle East and the world. The fact that a funding plan may be sponsored by Democrats, and that those Democrats may claim it contains “benchmarks” and “time lines,” does not change the reality that any measure that authorizes the president to carry on in pretty much the manner he chooses guarantees that this will not be the last anniversary of the U.S. presence in Iraq. Indeed, when we consider that money moves relatively slowly through the funding pipeline, it becomes evident that this is not just a vote on funding the war for another year–it is a vote on funding the war through the end of George Bush’s presidency.