Iraq War

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  White House Admits Fault On 'Mission Accomplished' BannerApril 30, 2008 19:47 The White House said Wednesday that President Bush has paid a price for the "Mission Accomplished" banner that was flown in triumph five years ago but later became a symbol of U.S. misjudgments and mistakes in the long and costly war in Iraq.

Thursday is the fifth anniversary of Bush's dramatic landing in a Navy jet on an aircraft carrier homebound from the war. The USS Abraham Lincoln had launched thousands of airstrikes on Iraq.

"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," Bush said at the time. "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on." The "Mission Accomplished" banner was prominently displayed above him - a move the White House came to regret as the display was mocked and became a source of controversy.

After shifting explanations, the White House eventually said the "Mission Accomplished" phrase referred to the carrier's crew completing its 10-month mission, not the military completing its mission in Iraq. Bush, in October 2003, disavowed any connection with the "Mission Accomplished" message. He said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later said the ship's crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor.
  Petraeus To Be Nominated To Lead Central CommandApril 23, 2008 11:34 Gen. David H. Petraeus, who has commanded United States troops in Iraq for the past year, will be nominated to head the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations across a wide swath of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced Wednesday.
  Economists Debate Link Between War, Credit CrisisApril 14, 2008 19:57 For House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the connection between the Iraq conflict and the U.S. economic downturn is simple: "The president has taken us into a failed war," the California Democrat said recently. "He's taken us deeply into debt, and that debt is taking us into recession."

This assessment was put to powerful political effect in the latest congressional hearings on the war, when Democrats and Republicans alike told Army Gen. David H. Petraeus that the oil-rich Iraqi government should relieve the United States of the conflict's financial burdens. And Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) echoed the theme yesterday at a manufacturing forum in Pittsburgh.

"If we can spend $10 billion a month rebuilding Iraq," the Democratic presidential contender declared, "we can spend $15 billion a year in our own country to put Americans back to work and strengthen the long-term competitiveness of our economy."

But this logic may have more political salience than economic validity, according to many economists, who say that the assertions linking the five-year-old conflict in Iraq to the domestic economic slide have been oversimplified.

"You should support the war or oppose the war, which I do and have done from the start, on the merits of the war itself," said Martin N. Baily, a former chairman of President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers. But, he added, "the current problems the United States is facing have very little to do with the war in Iraq."

Even so, the theme resonated in Congress last week. "We're kind of bankrupting this country," Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) told Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. "We're eating our seed corn. We're in a recession, and God only knows how long we're going to be in it."

The link between Iraq and the downturn reflects a growing public perception that individual economic anxieties must stem somehow from the unpopular war -- a unified theory of political misery, said Peter D. Hart, a Democratic pollster.

"It's a sour economy, it's a sour mood and it's a sour situation in Iraq," he said. "The public has for the last two years been told about the cost of Iraq in terms of human life. But then there was a direct and important switch, when we went into what I call the surge period, where the budget costs became front and center. While the administration was touting military successes, what the American public saw directly were the costs."
  Petraeus Urges Halt In Weighing New Cut In ForceApril 09, 2008 12:21 Telling Congress that progress in Iraq was “fragile and reversible,” the top American commander recommended Tuesday that consideration of any new withdrawals of American troops be delayed until the fall, making it likely that little would change before Election Day.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, refused under persistent questioning from Senate Democrats to say under what conditions he would favor new troop reductions, adding that he would not take the matter up until 45 days after a current drawdown is complete in July. His recommendation would leave just under 140,000 American troops in Iraq well into the fall.

The hearings lacked the suspense of last September’s debate, when the focus was on measurable benchmarks and heightened expectations of speedy troop withdrawals.
  Democrat: Report On Iraq 'Too Rosy'April 04, 2008 17:00 Senior Democratic senators challenged a new intelligence report's assessment of President Bush's "surge" strategy Friday, saying the troop increase in Iraq has failed to achieve its strategic goals.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was distributed to key lawmakers this week, sets the stage for the latest public progress report on Iraq that will be delivered Tuesday and Wednesday to congressional committees by Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the top U.S. diplomat in Baghdad.

"In my judgment, it's too rosy, but there are parts of it that are not so rosy, and both pieces need to be declassified," Sen. Carl Levin said, pointing in particular to the portion of the report describing Iraq's political progress.

Levin chairs the Armed Services Committee, one of the panels Crocker and Petraeus will testify before next week.