The Bush administration and its supporters have pledged to Americans time and again during the past four years that the “next few months” in Iraq will be the “decisive, critical period” of the war.
The implication has always been that U.S. forces just need to hold on a little while longer for things to get better. Using an interactive timeline tool, the Center for American Progress has catalogued the broken record of false claims we’ve been hearing. Some examples:
TOM FRIEDMAN: It might be over in a week, it might be over in a month, it might be over in six months, but what’s the rush? Can we let this play out, please?” [NPR, 6/3/04]
DICK CHENEY: I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency. [Larry King Live, 5/30/05]
JOE LIEBERMAN (I-CT): By the end of this year, we will begin to draw down significant numbers of American troops. [Washington Post, 7/7/06]
JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): If you talk to most military experts, we’re in a critical and crucial time. We’re either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months.” [Meet The Press, 11/12/06]
ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Iraq Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki “has a window of a couple months. … If the perception is that this unity government is not able to deal with this issue, then a big opportunity would have been lost.” [Washington Post, 9/30/06]
Four years later, Iraq is still plagued with violence and political instability. Since the beginning of the invasion, 3,679 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died. “August has begun with a wave of U.S. troop deaths,” and Iraq’s unity government remains in disarray.
The United States has no good options given the strategic and tactical mistakes made in Iraq since 2002, but simply staying the course with an indefinite military presence is not advancing U.S. interests.
For a progressive strategy on the way forward in Iraq, read “Strategic Reset,” the Center for American Progress’s plan for reclaiming control of U.S. security in the Middle East.