Dear President Bush,
When you first came to office eight years ago, you promised us “no nation building”, yet the legacy you leave behind is precisely that.
Seven years after that awful Tuesday, our campaign in Iraq has met with mixed results. Some say that it was a great success, others say that it was a great failure. What most of us agree on, however, is that it was both prohibitively expensive and, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, largely unnecessary.
I do not blame you for getting us into Iraq – at least not entirely. Much of the blame falls on the Congress that handed you a blank check. And I blame we, the people, for being scared and angry enough to surrender liberty for safety. But that’s another story.
We should have seen the warning signs when we could not come up with a consistent reason for being there in the first place. First it was “Enforcing UN Resolutions“, then it was “Finding the WMDs“, then “Let’s Get Saddam“, then “Combating Terrorism” followed “Stabilizing a Democracy“, then, finally, “Finishing the job“. As if that was not enough, we did not have a fixed objective of leaving, either.
Yes, we should stay and finish the job; we made the mess, we should clean it up. The question is whether or not we should have started it in the first place.
Yes, we got Saddam, but he was never part of 911. Bin Laden, however, remains at large to thumb his nose at us.
I will not presume to judge you, history will do that. But you will have the souls of thousands of soldiers on your conscience. That is worse than any judgement that the world can bestow.
As you depart from the white House for the last time, I hope that you will do so with a little more style than your predecessor, who, as we all remember, trashed the place, and removed the letter W from all of the computer keyboards (remember that?). Do not descend to his level.
I wish you well.