Building on Cernig's post about the recommendation from the U.S. Institute of Peace for "handover of security to the Iraqi military in five years," I was struck by a sense of deja vu.
“The Iraqi people have their country back,” President Bush said at a NATO summit in Istanbul, Turkey.Didn't we already do that?
Saying the turnover is a "proud, moral achievement" for the U.S.-led coalition, Bush said, "we pledged to end a dangerous regime to free the oppressed and restore sovereignty — we have kept our word."
U.S. officials hope that Iraqis will believe that they are now in control of their country and that will take the steam out of the insurgency.
"Allawi said we are ready to take this all over ... it is part of our security strategy ... to have Iraqi officials be held accountable by Iraqis," said the senior administration official in Turkey.
And what did the average Iraqi have to say back in June 04 about their new sovereignty?
"Iraqis are happy inside, but their happiness is marred by fear and melancholy," said artist Qassim al-Sabti. "Of course I feel I'm still occupied. You can't find anywhere in the world people who would accept occupation. America these days, is like death. Nobody can escape from it."
Ali Hussein Ali, a retired teacher, held blue prayer beads as he played dominoes at a Baghdad cafe.
"People are afraid to express their happiness," Ali said. "When security prevails, Iraqis will be very happy. They will celebrate when the American troops leave and when they are no longer taking orders from the Americans."
June 28, 2004. According to the White House, the war was all but over. Signs of progress. Purple fingers. Freedom and democracy was just around the Friedman corner and we're going to win this baby on the cheap.
On Friday, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost of the war will probably be $55 billion to $60 billion if troop levels remain unchanged.
“I will leave Iraq confident in its future,” Bremer told them and fellow ministers at the handover ceremony.
Over four years later, Bush is still just as confident about Iraq's future. I only wish I could be as confident about our own.