On Friday, July 13, my heart soared as I read the news: the United States Representatives had finally passed a bill to begin bringing soldiers home within 120 days and a full withdrawal from Iraq by April 2008. Democrats have long wanted to pull out of the Iraq war, but some Republicans are now agreeing that troop surges are not working and a reassessment is needed.
September will mark the sixth anniversary of the war on terrorism, and only eight out of the 18 benchmarks on combating Iraqi terrorism have been met. Though support for the war was strong in the beginning, it has steadily declined over the years as Americans have witnessed more destroyed lives than results. According to the Gallup poll on July 11, 2007, over 70 percent of Americans agree with the bill to extract troops by April 2008.
Anxiously, I scanned the articles following the House’s decision, anticipating good news. My heart plummeted a week ago when I discovered the Senate’s vote on the bill. Despite the majority of senators, including Oregon Republican Gordon Smith, voting to approve the bill, the 52-47 vote fell short of the 60 votes required for it to pass. It astounds me that over two-thirds of this nation and over half of government officials can agree that the right thing to do is bring home our troops, yet at the moment, they remain in Iraq indefinitely.
There have been too many flag-draped coffins and too many maimed veterans struggling with the government to receive proper care. There have not been enough results and our government is too divided. With the Senate so evenly split on the bill, there needs now to be some compromise. If the Republicans feel that April is too soon, perhaps both parties could agree on a timeline of achievable deadlines to arrive at a concrete date next year. We need strong leaders who want to swiftly and efficiently wrap up the war in Iraq with the necessary security measures and training to prevent subsequent terrorism. This way we can honor those that have given their lives by seeing that their efforts were not in vain, yet still preventing unnecessary future casualties.
Instead, President Bush just submitted a bill to Congress to increase military spending through 2008. Bush just had a similar bill approved in May, stating that this summer would be critical in Iraq. Yet, halfway through this summer, there have been only limited results. Those billions of dollars would have been better spent reuniting troops with their families, giving wounded veterans the finest medical attention possible and commemorating the dead.
Civilian organizations such as MoveOn.org are inviting peaceful demonstrations to end the war such as virtual marches. On July 27, a documentary entitled No End In Sight will be released, showing the wrongdoings of U.S. policy in Iraq. YouTube.com and Iraq Veterans Against the War host hundreds of first-hand experiences revealing the brutal truth about their time spent in Iraq. These groups are able to say what their active-duty military comrades are unable to say: the best thing to do is to bring American troops home.
According to the July 18 Gallup Poll, President Bush’s approval rating was at its highest during his fifth quarter of presidency at 85.7 percent. This rating has steadily decreased, and now in his 26th presidential quarter, a mere 31.8 percent of Americans approve of his actions. Congress needs to listen to the American majority and the U.S. soldiers. We shouldn’t have to wait until the end of President Bush’s term in January 2009 to withdraw from Iraq. A deadline needs to be set to bring American troops home as soon as possible, and everyone who has fought and served in Iraq, regardless of rank and status should be honored and immortalized in America’s history books for serving their country.