Mission still unaccomplished

Since Bush's declaration five years ago, multitudes of soldiers have died.

Five years ago today, newspapers repeated the triumphant declaration President George W. Bush made on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in front of a banner proclaiming “Mission accomplished.” “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed,” Bush said. That single moment has become a defining image of the war and Bush’s hubris.

At that time, 139 troops had died. Five years later, 4,063. The announcement of “mission accomplished” was clearly short-sighted.

But, the Bush administration says the exact meaning of that banner has been misinterpreted, going so far as to say it wasn’t even their idea in the beginning – until the story leaked that they had indeed come up with the whole idea, then they finally accepted some responsibility.

What exactly did that banner mean? “‘Mission accomplished’ for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Wednesday. She even went so far as saying that Bush knows the sign should have been more specific. “And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner,” she said.

The price is far greater than any public relations damage it caused. The act of standing on a ship, announcing an end to major combat undermines the 3,924 lives lost since then. And ironically enough, the ship Bush landed on in a bravado Top Gun style is sailing back to the Persian Gulf.

Bush’s announcement in that speech that the Taliban were destroyed and the United States was winning the battle against other terrorist organizations has also proven shortsighted.

Afghanistan has seen a Taliban insurgency, where 232 coalition troops died last year. And according to a recent State Department report, “al-Qaida and associated networks remained the greatest terrorist threat to the United States and its partners in 2007. It has reconstituted some of its pre-9/11 operational capabilities.”

Still, five years later, the mission has yet to be accomplished.