WASHINGTON (May 1, 2008) Southern Maryland's U.S. Representative, and House Majority, Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D) released the following statement today, which marks the fifth anniversary of President Bushs speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln under a banner reading Mission Accomplished:
Five years ago today, President Bush climbed out of a Navy jet, walked onto the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, posed for the cameras beneath a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner, and declared: 'Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.'
If only the President had been correct. Instead, his pronouncement was tragically and egregiously wrong as so many of his statements and judgments on Iraq have been and it haunts our nation to this very day.
In the five years after President Bush declared victory, nearly 4,000 Americans have died in Iraq including 48 in April, the highest casualty rate since last September. And since this war began, another 30,000 of our brave servicemen and women have been wounded; the American taxpayer has poured more than $600 billion into this failing war effort which has no end in sight; and our military readiness has been severely strained. We actually have more troops on the ground in Iraq today than we did on May 1, 2003.
The tremendous courage and sacrifice of our armed forces in the field has not been matched with a strategy for success by our Commander in Chief and top civilian leaders. In fact, Iraq remains a shattered country. Reconstruction projects sit delayed or abandoned. Shells continue to pound the Green Zone. Progress seems contingent on the willingness of militia leaders to stand down. And political reconciliation is still a distant hope.
Five years ago, and thousands of lost lives ago, President Bush declared: 'Our nation is more secure. . . . The tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.' We all wish that this were true. But Iraq is still not free not from fear, bloodshed, or the sectarian violence that remains a fact of life for millions.
History will forever remember President Bushs rash, inaccurate remarks, no matter how hard the Administration tried to backpedal and make excuses today. We all hope that the weeks and months ahead will be marked by a renewed focus on the fight against al-Qaeda, a commitment to restore our armed forces readiness, and a new direction in Iraq.