This is for my conservative friends and relatives who continue to question why I think the Iraq war was a mistake.
Bush just gave a speech essentially reverting all the way back to his second justification for the war (WMD was always number 1), which is that 9/11 changed everything and therefore, we need to attack Iraq.
Bush drags out this old chestnut having also admitted there is no evidence Saddam had anything to do with 9/11. In fact, every administration official except Cheney now admits that the war in Iraq is completely unrelated to 9/11 in any way. (Getting bin Laden, now that would make a 9/11 statement; but then again, Bush says he doesn't really think about that anymore.)
My right-leaning friends argue that Bush has something of a dyslexic logic when it comes to 9/11; that when he says "9/11" he really means terrorism in general. This is why he doesn't care about bin Laden, the war on terror is a proxy for justice on the 9/11 attackers. Whatever. Personally, I'd rather see us find the son of a bitch.
To evaluate Bush's war, we need to look at one thing. When this is all said and done, what is the most likely scenario for the situation in Iraq? Right now, Bush seems to be planning on building up Iraqi forces to be capable of "fighting the insurgency." [Currently, we are fighting the insurgency, and it would be logical to assume Iraqi forces will never be as capable as American forces. Depending on whom you believe, the insurgency is (a) in its last throes, per the previously identified liar, (b) is basically stalemated, but drawing attention from all the great things going on in Iraq, or (c) growing stronger and more sophisticated every day, likely to begin exporting these skills to other countries in the future, per our generals and the CIA.]
As soon as the Iraqi forces are trained up and capable of "fighting the insurgency", we will pull out. At that time, we will be able to survey the landscape and determine if our return on investment was worth it. In other words, what did we get for a few hundred billion dollars, a couple thousand dead soldiers, and hundreds of thousands maimed?
The outcome should be measured in the context of the "war on terrorism", as Bush seems to have finally decided on that justification after waffling several times (WMD, marching freedom, etc.) How damaged will the terrorism enemy be after suffering its defeat in Iraq, as compared to its status before the Iraq war?
Well, we will have a flourishing Terrorist University in Iraq, where nothing existed before. If the Iraqi forces stalemate, the terrorists will continue to train and create more lethal means of offensive power. In effect, we will have created a brand new Afghanistan; thereby negating every benefit of our previous military actions - actions supported by liberals, Democrats, independents, and RightWingNuttia alike.
If this is the end result (and Rummy recently confirmed we could leave and let Iraq fight it out for the next 12 years but still declare victory,) then clearly the Iraq war will have been a foreign policy disaster.
We might withdraw, and the fledgling "democracy" and green Iraqi troops we leave behind might be overtaken by the insurgency, engage in civil war, or a general failure of the state due to its weakened condition and excessive violence might result... considerably worse for us, as terrorist training camps could be built openly at that point.
Perhaps we will never trust the Iraqi forces, making Iraq our personal welfare state for a couple generations. Place your bets: if we are there for 10 years, will the insurgency grow or recede each day the face of the "occupiers" are seen? Will more or less terrorists be created?
So we've bet the farm on the following outcome: we will train the Iraqi forces, we will leave, and they will successfully do what we could not; defeat the terrorists. (I won't even bring up what Iran is likely to do with Iraq once we're gone.) This is what Dear Leader has done to our image, our military, and our safety. All while destroying the domestic and global unity created after 9/11, letting bin Laden escape, pulling out of Afghanistan before the job was done, and lying to Americans about the Iraq threat to enable a war in the first place.
Yes, folks; I think Bush's optional war was a huge mistake. I think he knowingly lied about the WMD threat. He compounded the lie when no WMDs were found, by claiming he invaded to "spread freedom" like it's some kind of STD. And Cheney has lied countless times by claiming Saddam and 9/11 are linked.
That leaves us with the only argument Bush can make without completely bursting into flames, and that is that Iraq has become the "central front" on terror due to his stupid decision to invade it.
This, sadly, is where I must agree with him. Thanks to a shameful corporate media, timid Democratic leadership, Blair's conspiracy, and hordes of willing theocons ready to be anally raped while condemning homosexuality; Bush was able to thrust the greatest military power on Earth into an unwinnable conflict (and yes, US generals agree Iraq can not be won using military force.)
You can cover your eyes, stroke your SUV stickers, and call me a traitor-scumbag-hippy-LIBERAL; but the facts remain the same. Soon, you will be calling Chuck Hagel a coward and Walter Jones a pussy (some already have.) As more of your hard-assed Right Wing brethren open their eyes, they will come to the same conclusion progressives have.
We are still united in the following way: liberals and conservative Americans both pray that Iraq survives and grows into a vibrant, shining democracy. The only difference is: liberals can't bring themselves to lie about how we got here.