Iraq beyond catch phrases

The public deserves to know the plans we have to clean up the mess we've made.

Even though the administration refuses to acknowledge it, our effort in Iraq is destined for failure. Growing violence and poor economic conditions are contributing to a hostile environment that leads us to rethink our policy again and again, each time to no avail. Even as Bush changes his tagline from “staying the course” in Iraq to “staying until the job is done,” the reality remains the same, and no amount of rhetorical maneuvering can supplant that.

Violence in Iraq has been growing unchecked, and some accounts put the civilian death toll at 100 each day. Iraqi security forces, which hold the prospect of restoring order, still face significant obstacles. A diversified security force is necessary in ending sectarian violence, yet many factions of Iraqis oppose the forces according to a state department poll. Confidence in the security forces is low among Iraqi youth and the vast majority are resistant to the idea of enlisting in the security forces. This presents a flaw in the goal for Iraqis to take over the security of their country.

As the confirmed death toll among Iraq civilians approaches 45,000 and recent research by Johns Hopkins suggests that the number could be as high as 655,000, it is not surprising that the majority of Iraqi people have anything but contempt for our country. Ironically, an intelligence document released in September suggests that we’ve created a birthplace for terrorism, as opposed to a birthplace for democracy.

It’s tough to forgive the incompetence and hubris that put us in this situation, but it’s even harder when the situation endures. It’s time for both parties to speak candidly about these circumstances. The American public deserves to know the situation in Iraq and the plans we have to clean up the mess we’ve made.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like our current leaders are willing to give us that. Instead, we have catch phrases and talking points. In a sense, the embodiment of this administration’s approach is when Mr. Bush delivered a speech under the banner of “Mission Accomplished.” And we all know the merit of that claim.