Five years ago, as US forces prepared to invade Iraq, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff urged President Bush to allocate twice the number of troops he wanted for the invasion. George Bush placed greater reliance on the advice of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and on Vice President Cheney who derided Army requests as representing old fashioned thinking. Five years have passed, 4,000 Americans have been killed and over 30,000 wounded before George Bush finally got around to accepting five year old advice. There has been a dramatic drop in violence and the Iraq government is urging withdrawal of American forces. During the 2004 presidential race, President Bush told the American people the Iraq army would shortly be able to handle the situation. Four years later his statement has the semblance of reality as Iraqi soldiers are assuming greater responsibilities in the front lines.
US troops will be leaving Iraq but many of them will simply be taking a detour on the road home to stop by and do some fighting in Afghanistan where the situation has become somewhat chaotic. Of course, seven years ago, President Bush was urged to focus on wiping out the Taliban, but he chose to fight in Iraq. The legacy of George Bush lives on in death, funerals, and men and women carrying the wounds of combat in their everyday lives.