Mission Accomplished 5 Year Anniversary

Mission Accomplished 5 Year Anniversary With characteristic snark, Spencer Ackerman commemorates the fifth anniversary of President Bush’s infamous speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln commemorating the end of major combat operations. You know, the one where he had “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” behind him on a big banner.

Of course, the banner referred to the crew of the Lincoln, which was on its way home, having in fact accomplished their assigned mission. As their commander-in-chief told them,

Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

[…]

Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.

But . . . but . . . didn’t Bush say that it was going to be a cakewalk from there on out? It was going to be over, like, the next week or something, wasn’t it? Judge for yourself:

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. And then we will leave — and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

But, as they say, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Ransom Stoddard killed Liberty Valance. And George W. Bush declared the war over five years ago.

Photo credit: CBS News

Correction: The original misidentified the ship as the “USS Roosevelt.”

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Steve Plunk says:

    A mistake was made. For gosh sakes give it a rest. It’s not like the mistake lead to the problems that followed it was just a mistake of optimism over what would happen next.

  2. Hoodlumman says:

    Your attempt to correct the re-writing of history will fail, James.

    The Dems have an election to win, you know.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    My comment is not directed to James Joyner but to those who keep bringing this up.

  4. Michael says:

    It’s not like the mistake lead to the problems that followed it was just a mistake of optimism over what would happen next.

    Was that irony, or were you trying to be serious?

  5. duckspeaker says:

    I don’t know that angst over the anniversary of this event is necessarily an attempt to “rewrite history.” Much of the snark and dissatisfaction boils down to a genuine disgust that military and top civilian leaders did not understand that the difficulty of toppling of Saddam would pale in comparison to the nation-building that would have to occur afterward.

    I can grant you that perhaps some parts of GWB’s speach rightly reflected some degree of forecasting of further difficulty, but I would hope that you would also concede that the underestimation of the cost, scope, and fallout of “Iraq Phase 2: Democratize the Middle East” was profound.

    A mistake was made. For gosh sakes give it a rest.

    Soldiers continue to die and become maimed for life because of this grand mistake. “Giving it a rest” is not an option for those that believe invading Iraq was the biggest tactical victory that bin Laden could ever have been handed.

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  7. Triumph says:

    President Bush’s infamous speech aboard the USS Roosevelt

    I think you meant the USS Abraham Lincoln.

  8. Ugh says:

    Of course, the banner referred to the crew of the USS Roosevelt, which was on its way home, having in fact accomplished their assigned mission.

    You’re not serious, are you?

  9. Triumph says:

    A couple of great nuggets from the Great Leader’s May Day speech:

    And as of tonight, nearly one-half of al-Qaida’s senior operatives have been captured or killed.

    Is anyone keeping count of al-Qaida’s “senior operatives”? Since we seem to keep getting them every couple of weeks, they must be breeding like rabbits.

    After service in the Afghan and Iraqi theaters of war — after 100,000 miles, on the longest carrier deployment in recent history — you are homeward bound. Some of you will see new family members for the first time — 150 babies were born while their fathers were on the Lincoln. Your families are proud of you, and your nation will welcome you.

    I wonder how many of the poor saps on that boat thought that 5 years henceforth the ship would be back in the 5th Fleet area, fighting for an Iranian-backed Prime Minister in the thick of an Iraqi civil war?

  10. anjin-san says:

    And let’s not forget this tidbit from the “Mission Accomplished” speech:

    ‘In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban”

  11. James Joyner says:

    ‘In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban”

    There’s much to lament about the speech, including that line. He meant “The Taliban” as the governing group, which we pretty much had destroyed. But certainly there are rump elements out there who control territory and which has partially reconstituted. “The Taliban” as we understood it in 2003, though, was pretty much destroyed.

  12. Bithead says:

    I don’t know that angst over the anniversary of this event is necessarily an attempt to “rewrite history.” Much of the snark and dissatisfaction boils down to a genuine disgust that military and top civilian leaders did not understand that the difficulty of toppling of Saddam would pale in comparison to the nation-building that would have to occur afterward.

    Mmph. I doubt the anti-war foamers have the ability to think quite so deeply on such matters. Look, they’re pissed we ahve a military at all, much less that it’s deployed. Wars almost never go as adverstised, but that difference gives then another lever to use against the hated BOOOOSH…. and frankly that’s all this nonsense ever was.

  13. Steve Plunk says:

    Hopefully in the future I’ll refrain my chiming in when I have limited time. I’ll explain my point in more detail.

    Bush’s speech was designed to give credit to our forces for a job well done, the invasion and toppling of the Iraqi army. The choice of some words was obviously wrong but far from malicious or purposely misleading. The speech did not change the continuing battle on the ground in any way.

    The continued insurgency was clearly not planned for properly but that has nothing to do with the speech. Soldiers did continue to give their lives but that had nothing to do with the speech. If criticism is due it should be directed toward military and civilian planners who underestimated the continued fighting. Even that criticism should be muted and constructive since no one can foresee what happens on the battlefield with 100% accuracy. To ask that is silly.

    I ask critics to give it a rest simply because they are not offering anything other than criticism for political gain.

  14. G.A.Phillips says:

    5 years later, same traitors undermining the same war effort for the same reasons. When you gonna do a post on them?

  15. davod says:

    “having in fact accomplished their assigned mission. As their commander-in-chief told them”

    The banner was also to celebrate their homecoming from the longest deployment in current times. The ship was on its way home from a normal deployment when it was ordered to turn around and go to war.

    The enemy propagandists win again.

  16. C.Wagener says:

    Wars almost never go as advertised

    The only quibble I have with that statement is the “almost”. I remember people estimating U.S. loses in the 3,000 to 6,000 range for the initial invasion. The public was cool with that apparently since roughly 80% thought invading was the right thing to do.

    I still feel the Iraq War will go down in history as the greatest gain for the cost since the Mexican War.

  17. Ugh says:

    5 years later, same traitors undermining the same war effort for the same reasons. When you gonna do a post on them?

    You’re right, this post left out quite a few of the traitors.

  18. anjin-san says:

    Mmph. I doubt the anti-war foamers have the ability to think quite so deeply on such matters. Look, they’re pissed we ahve a military at all, much less that it’s deployed.

    Really bit, could you possibly be a bigger ass? I for one, oppose the war. I opposed it before it started, and I oppose it now. On the other hand, our military forces now have, and have always had, my full support.

    I grew up in an Air Force town when there was a shooting war going on. Our county is blessed to have such fine men & women in uniform, and cursed to have leaders, past and present that have provided such poor leadership for them (I refer to LBJ, Nixon & Bush)

  19. anjin-san says:

    He meant “The Taliban” as the governing group

    Really James, did you help write the speech and hang the mission accomplished banner? You seem to have all kinds of insight into them that everyone else lacks…

  20. floyd says:

    “”Really bit, could you possibly be a bigger ass?””
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Why? You offering lessons??

  21. anjin-san says:

    Oh thats right floyd, I forget that you Bush types think people who support the troops with anything beyond a lapel pin are asses…