On Thursday, Sept. 13, President Bush announced that he will remove 30,000 troops from Iraq by the summer of 2008, a relatively small percentage of the estimated 168,000 U.S. troops that are currently in Iraq.
Why, after six years of his war on terrorism, has Bush decided that now is the time to bring troops home? For at least two years, if not longer, American confidence in the war effort has been steadily decreasing. The war in Iraq has faced endless criticism, and even some members of the Republican Party have begun to question the decisions coming out of the Oval Office.
Is it a coincidence that this removal is to take place so close to the beginning of the 2008 election campaigns? Is it possible that after four rough years in terms of his popularity, Bush may be attempting to save face for the Republican Party, anticipating cheers and confetti for this long requested decision?
With such strong support already being demonstrated for Democratic presidential hopefuls like Sen. Barack Obama, many are expecting a tough campaign trail for the Republican candidate, whomever it may be. So after six years spent moving full steam ahead with military actions that never appeared to create any solutions, Bush is now trying to end a disastrous term in the way he should have started it. Obviously, the American people want to see our troops finally withdraw and come home safely, but the public should be offended at the method of presentation and the timing of this plan. Americans have been fooled by the government far too often, and this thinly veiled attempt at reconciliation seems to be just another political tactic.
While Bush may have been expecting a pat on the back for this decision, CNN quoted Sen. Hillary Clinton as calling the plan, "too little, too late." John Edwards and Obama are also voicing their opinions that the troop removal should be larger and more immediate, and that it is long overdue. These Democratic statements can be expected to be at the forefront of the upcoming campaign.
Bush had better not expect the nation to accept this, either. At least four boys from my high school graduating class are in the military, two of them overseas. One of my friends has a brother who has been lying in a hospital in Texas for months, recovering from a tank explosion that has left him partially paralyzed. The men overseas should be sitting next to us in college classrooms, holding their wives' hands while they are in labor, and starting careers rather than shooting machine guns and driving tanks. We have all been touched in some way by this pointless war, and I will not accept Bush implementing this plan when it is politically convenient for him.
I am completely in support of withdrawal, but it is too late for Bush to expect praise for it. The nation is tired, and our scars run too deep. Since Bush's plan only extends into next summer, the end of the war will fall into the hands of the next president. I can only hope that they can manage to pull us out of this mess.