Talking points

The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency; it is the right decision at this point in my presidency; and it will forever be the right decision. —President George Bush, March 11, 2008


We need to join the world community and communities like Brattleboro, Vt., in relentlessly pressing for war crimes tribunals against George and Dick, et al. For once, American regimes cannot ride contentedly into the sunset after their terms are up to live in comfort while millions of us suffer. It cannot happen this time. BushCo need to be, if not confined behind bars, confined into small prisons of their own making and to be terrified to step outside their cloistered existences lest they be swept into real prisons, housed with the real people that they always condemned in their unbridled arrogance. —Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist


I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn't believe it. I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny Penny — "The sky is falling." I've never seen anything like it! And here is a country that's being liberated, here are people who are going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they're free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or 10 headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot — one thing after another.

From the very beginning, we were convinced that we would succeed, and that means that that regime would end. ... And, you cannot do everything instantaneously; it's never been done, everything instantaneously. ...

Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that's what's going to happen here. —Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, April 2003


We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement — that's the kindest word I can give you — of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war. The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously. ... I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history. —Arizona Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain


I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. But I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency. —Vice President Dick Cheney, June 2005


On March 19, 2009, the date of the sixth anniversary of President Bush's invasion of Iraq, as surely as the sun rises in the East, I'll be sitting here and we will still have many tens of thousands of troops, a string of major bases, and massive air power in that country. In the intervening year, more Americans will have been wounded or killed; many more Iraqis will have been wounded or killed; more chaos and conflict will have ensued; many more bombs will have been dropped and missiles launched; many more suicide bombs will have gone off. Iraq will still be a hell on Earth. ...

If Senator McCain were elected president, the American position in Iraq on March 19, 2009 will certainly be as described above — and, if he has anything to say about it, for many anniversaries thereafter. But, when it comes to the sixth anniversary of the Iraq War, the truth is that it probably doesn't matter much who is elected president in November.

Take Hillary Clinton, she's said that she'll task the Joint Chiefs, the new Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council with having a plan for (partial) withdrawal in place within 60 days of coming into office. Since inauguration day is January 20th, that means ... March 21st or two days after the sixth anniversary; by which time, of course, nothing would have changed substantially.

Barack Obama has promised to remove U.S. "combat" troops at a one-to-two-brigades-a-month pace over a 16-month period. So it's possible that troop levels could drop marginally before March 19, 2009, in an Obama presidency, but again there is no reason to believe that anything essential would have happened to change that "anniversary."

In addition, the stated plans of both Democratic candidates, vague and limited as they may be, might not turn out to be their actual plans. ... —Tom Engelhardt, editor of the Nation Institute's blog, March 13, 2008


... I believe Iraq's problems will require a long-term effort. There are no easy answers or quick solutions. And though we ... believe this [surge] effort can succeed, it will take time. Our assessments underscore, in fact, the importance of recognizing that a premature drawdown of our forces would likely have devastating consequences. —Gen. David Petraeus, testifying before Congress, September 2007


Of course Gen. David Petraeus predicts success in the Iraq war. What wonders couldn't generals achieve with more troops and more time? The battle is always going well until it is lost, and then they blame defeat on the politicians and the public.

... this week's ABC-BBC poll shows that 70 percent of Iraqis believe security has deteriorated since the surge and that 60 percent believe attacks on U.S. forces are justified. And 93 percent of Sunnis, whom the general [David Petraeus] and ambassador [Ryan Crocker] claim are joining our side, want to see us dead. As for optimism, only 29 percent of Iraqis now think the situation will get better, as opposed to 64 percent who shared that optimism before the surge — which almost 70 percent of Iraqis believe has "hampered conditions for political dialogue, reconstruction and economic development." —Columnist Robert Scheer, September 2007

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