Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Foundation has launched an online war memorial that honors members of the U.S. armed forces who lost their lives serving in Iraq. The Memorial is a collection of video memories from family, friends, and military colleagues of those who have fallen.
Monday marks the four year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. See our timeline HERE.VIDEO / LINK: A video memorial to the fallen.
Think Progress's Mailing List, the Progress Report put this together...
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Four Years of Chaos 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. Instead of "reluctantly" going to war, "the president and his administration exaggerated, cherry-picked and simplified" intelligence that it then used to tell the American public, wrongly, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. As a result, approximately 3,200 American troops have died, the military is overextended, and the world is less safe. 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 White House has indicated that Bush's plans for today include "going about business as usual," including "playing host to the 2006 NCAA football champions, the University of Florida 'Gators.'" The Progress Report has put together a timeline looking back over the past 48 months HERE.
IRAQIS ARE LESS SECURE: On March 17, 2003, Bush declared to Iraqis, "The day of your liberation is near." Yet at least 150,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in violence since the beginning of the war. Car bombings reached an all-time high in January and February, and for the first time, the Pentagon last week acknowledged that "some of the violence in Iraq can be described as a civil war." It was the Pentagon's "bleakest assessment of the war to date." The report also found that two-thirds of the Iraqi people "believe that conditions are worsening, and as many as 9,000 are fleeing the country each month." A new BBC/ABC News poll finds that fewer than 40 percent of Iraqis "said things were good in their lives," compared to 71 percent two years ago. One Jan. 10, Bush announced his plan to send 21,500 more combat troops to Baghdad, promising it would "help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad." On March 6, Bush declared his plan to be working. "Yet even at this early hour, there are some encouraging signs," he stated. But as the Washington Post reported, "Sectarian attacks in Baghdad are down at the moment, but the deaths of Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops have increased outside the capital." Bush also claimed that "Iraqi and U.S. forces have rounded up more than 700 people affiliated with Shia extremists." But according to a military official, Bush's numbers appear "to have little to do with the new strategy. The number is ' based on captures...since July 2006.' ... Bush first reported the same roundup -- citing 600 captures -- last fall." Iraqi officials are also falling behind on the benchmarks of progress it promised to meet. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has announced that will miss his "self-imposed deadline for reshuffling the Cabinet," and just two Iraqi brigades and one battalion of a third have arrived in Baghdad, despite the Iraqi government's promise to employ three brigades.
TROOPS ARE 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 deflect criticism and 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." Virtually all of the U.S.-based Army combat brigades are "rated as unready to deploy," Army officials say, and a recent Pentagon survey found that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic shortages of armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and communications equipment. 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." "We have a strategy right now that is outstripping the means to execute it," Army chief of staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee. 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. Seventy-six percent of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, believe the Bush administration hasn't "done enough to care for [Iraq war] veterans." Bush plans to "cut funding for veterans' health care two years from now," even though "the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly -- by more than 10 percent in many years."
WORLD IS LESS SAFE: The Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy magazine recently released their second "Terrorism Index," a bipartisan survey of America's top national security experts. The consensus: the world is growing more dangerous, and America is losing the war on terror. Eighty-one percent of Terrorism Index respondents "see a world that is growing more dangerous for the American people, while 75 percent say the United States is losing the war on terror." Among the 81 percent of experts who believe the world is becoming "more dangerous" to the United States, a large plurality identified the Iraq war as the primary cause. These results are supported by the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate released last fall, which stated that "the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives," and that Iraq "has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists." Nearly six in 10 experts of all political stripes say the Bush administration is doing the "worst possible job" in Iraq and fully 88 percent of the experts believe the war in Iraq is undermining U.S. national security.
TIME TO REDEPLOY: "For the first time since the Iraq war began, less than half of Americans believe the United States can win in Iraq, a CNN poll said Tuesday. Just 46 percent think the United States will win." Fifty-eight percent of Americans "want to see U.S. troops leave Iraq either immediately or within a year." Forty-nine countries joined Bush's Coalition of the Willing at the start of the Iraq war. By mid-2007, just 20 countries will remain after Britain, Denmark, and South Korea reduce their forces. Even National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley recently acknowledged that some Iraqis want the U.S. military presence to be, "over." The Center for American Progress has a plan called "Strategic Redeployment" that calls for a gradual drawdown of American troops coupled with increased engagement with Iraq's political leaders. The plan goes beyond the debate between "cutting and running" and "staying the course" to show how we can more effectively achieve success in Iraq. The House Appropriations Committee also recently approved legislation to calling for troops to "leave Iraq before Sept. 2008, and possibly sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain benchmarks."
And finally, my local Senator, Russ Feingold sent this letter out in his mailing list...
Four years ago today, President Bush embarked on what has become the greatest foreign policy mistake in the history of our nation. The reckless and coercive drive to war, the botched handling of the reconstruction and occupation, and the recent escalation of our presence in Iraq has cost our country billions of dollars, eroded our military's readiness to respond to significant national security challenges, wounded tens of thousands of our brave service members and ended the lives of over 3,200 of our courageous men and women in uniform.
I've been working tirelessly to convince my colleagues that it's long past time for Congress to act responsibly and end this war. I was the first Senator, over 18 months ago, to propose a timetable for withdrawal. I also offered a second version of my flexible timetable, calling for complete withdrawal from Iraq by July of this year. Following the Democratic gains in last November's elections, I called on Congress to use its main power, the 'power of the purse', to stop George Bush's war.
It has become increasingly clear that the only way we are going to be able to end the President's failed policies in Iraq is by setting a date after which funding for the war will end. Those who argue that we should somehow defer to the President are wrong. The President has sent our country down a failed path and because he has abdicated his responsibility to correct the course for far too long, it's now up to Congress to provide much needed leadership.
Congress has the power and the responsibility to bring the situation in Iraq to an end. I plan to continue to press the issue by offering an amendment to the upcoming supplemental funding bill that would use the 'power of the purse' to safely redeploy our troops out of Iraq.
I'm looking to you, on this sad anniversary, to stand with me in our efforts to put this chapter of American foreign policy to bed and to continue moving forward with our focus on fighting the real war on terror and repairing our nation's stature in the world. Thank you for your continued support.
United States Senator
Honorary Chair, Progressive Patriots Fund
LINK: Progressive Patriots