Not One Day
Strangely, this evening, from out of the blue while I was reading a novel about life up in "the county" here in Maine, it dawned on me that there's another way to think about it. Let me try to express it here.
One way to look at the job the troops are doing in Iraq is the way Bush painted the picture that March evening. The troops had a job to do in Iraq. Saddam was seen as a threatening and domineering dictator virtually rolling in the wealth of his nation's oil money. He was painted to the American public as being someone who had stockpiled massive amounts of very dangerous weapons which he could at any time he wished distribute to Islamic terrorists to use against Americans anywhere in the world including right here in the USA. The job of the troops was to remove Saddam from power and capture and destroy Iraq's "weapons of mass murder." Once that job was done, Bush assured us, the troops would immediately come home. They would stay "not one day longer."
Fine, except that led nearly all Americans to think that the troops would be in the fight in Iraq for maybe a few months, maybe as much as a year, and then come home. Within a year we had discovered that there were no such weapons remaining in Iraq, that there weren't even any at the time of the invasion, none even on the evening of that speech that Bush gave on that March evening. Also within that year we had captured Saddam. Yet the US troops stayed. And they stayed. And they stayed. And they stayed. And they remain there today for job after job after job after job and behind the scenes America has spent tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars building permanent US military bases and a permanent mega embassy in Iraq.
So that first vision of not staying one more day hasn't stood up to the test of time.
Another way to look at it is this. What Bush may actually have been intending but not willing to say to us was that we will keep our troops in Iraq for as long as we can find jobs for them to do. The meaning of that is exactly the opposite of the message conveyed in Bush's speech, yet his speech, when you give it some thought, doesn't preclude this intent. And when it comes to the test of time, this second way of looking at it seems far more accurate than the first.
Give it some serious thought.