While each day that we occupy Iraq it is a tragedy, it is on anniversaries like today that we must acknowledge the true burdens of war: 3,990 American troops have been killed, some 30,000 have been wounded in action, about 145 have died of self-inflicted wounds and 308 foreign troops have also died. No one can seem to agree on the number of Iraqis dead but it is legion. We have also created some 4 million Iraqi refugees across the Middle East. We have also bankrupted ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
In spite of the above we are still been told daily that "progress is being made". We even have a Presidential candidate telling us that it doesn't matter if we are in Iraq for another 100 years and trillions of taxpayers dollars. We are not told of the billions of dollars simply lost. We are not reminded that only 3 of the 18 benchmarks have been met by the Iraqi government. We are not reminded that this war has lasted longer than WWII. We are not reminded that it has now cost more than Vietnam. We are not reminded that global terrorism has increased every year since the invasion. We are not reminded that the early gains made in Afghanistan are now virtually reversed by the resurgent Taliban. We are not reminded that opium harvests are setting new records. We are not reminded that last year was the most deadly for American troops since the beginning. We are only told that we are "making progress" and that is a lie.
This year, we Americans will have an opportunity to choose our future in Iraq. We have an election in which we will have the opportunity to decide if next March 19th we are marking a more tragic list of the costs of war or acknowledging as a nation the tragedy of our mistake and making plans to right the wrongs and heal the wounds. The choice is up to us and it is my dearest wish that we not squander this glorious opportunity.