On March 19, 2003, President Bush spoke to the nation from the Oval Office and announced that the United States was invading Iraq. “Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly — yet, our purpose is sure. … [O]ur forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done.” Four years later, the American public is no longer sure what the president’s “purpose” was for invading Iraq, nor do we know when our troops will be coming home. Violence in Iraq continues to skyrocket, and Bush’s escalation seems to be driving the United States into “a much deeper and longer-term role in policing Iraq than since the earliest days of the U.S. occupation.”
- The overextension and systematic neglect of our military has left our troops less prepared. In 2000, Bush stated, “To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected, that’s no criticism of the military. That is criticism of a president and vice president and their record of neglect.” Yet now, as all signs point to a military that is overextended, the Bush administration is trying to claim that the military’s readiness is “unprecedented.” In reality, the U.S. Army’s preparedness for war “has eroded to levels not witnessed by our country in decades.” Army and Marine Corps officials say it will take years for their forces to recover from a “death spiral” in which rapid war rotations have “consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops, and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand.” Similarly, troops coming back from war — with unprecedented levels of mental health disorders — are facing a bureaucracy unprepared to deal with them, as the Walter Reed scandal highlighted.