Looking Back on Progress in Iraq:


Five years since “mission accomplished”


May 1, 2008




May 1, 2008 marks the fifth anniversary since George Bush, the US president, declared all major military operations in Iraq to be over, in a speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln warship as a banner proclaiming "mission accomplished" hung in the background.



Anti-war activists have used the now infamous slogan for their own campaign [GALLO/GETTY]


However, five years on from the declaration, there have been more than 4,000 US military deaths and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or fled the country while the fighting against the presence of US-led troops in the country is ongoing.


Here is a selection of comments from George Bush and other senior White House figures on the aftermath of the war in Iraq.



George Bush, US president


"Good news to the men and women who fought ... their mission is complete."  --  May 1, 2003, on the USS Abraham Lincoln, announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq


"The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11, 2001, and still goes on."  --  May 1, 2003, on the USS Abraham Lincoln, announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq


"There are some who feel like - that the conditions are such that they can attack us there [in Iraq]. My answer is, bring 'em on! We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation."  --  July 2, 2003


"A turning point will come two weeks from today."  --  June 16, 2004


"Tomorrow the world will witness a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom, and a crucial advance in the war on terror."  --  January 29, 2005, one day before Iraq elections


"I'm absolutely confident that the actions we took in Iraq are influencing reformers and freedom lovers in the greater Middle East. And I believe that you're going to see the rise of democracy in many countries in the broader Middle East, which will lay the foundation for peace."  --  June 2005


"2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq ... and the history of freedom."  --  December 12, 2005


"I think - tide turning - see, as I remember - I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of - it's easy to see a tide turn - did I say those words?"  --  June 14, 2006


"Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way."  --  January 2007


"I want to say a word to our troops and civilians in Iraq. You've performed with incredible skill under demanding circumstances. The turnaround you have made possible in Iraq is a brilliant achievement in American history.


"And while this war is difficult, it is not endless."  --  April 10, 2008



Bush: Iraq war is "difficult, not endless" [EPA]



Dick Cheney, US vice president


"When you think about what we've accomplished in terms of ... launching an attack into Iraq, destroying the Iraqi armed forces, taking down the government of Iraq, getting rid of Saddam Hussein, capturing 42 out of the 55 top leaders, and beginning what I think has been fairly significant success in terms of putting Iraq back together again, the price that we've had to pay is not out of line, and certainly wouldn’t lead me to suggest or think that the strategy is flawed or needs to be changed."  --  September 14, 2003


"What we did in Iraq was exactly the right thing to do. If I had it to recommend all over again, I would recommend exactly the same course of action. The world is far safer today because Saddam Hussein is in jail, his government is no longer in power. And we did exactly the right thing."  --  October 7, 2004


"The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."  --  June 24, 2005


"We will succeed in Iraq, just like we did in Afghanistan. We will stand up a new government under an Iraqi-drafted constitution. We will defeat that insurgency, and, in fact, it will be an enormous success story."  --  June 24, 2005


"[If US forces withdrew from Iraq] we would simply validate the terrorists' strategy that says the Americans will not stay to complete the task ... that we don't have the stomach for the fight. That's the biggest threat."  --  January 25, 2007


"There's problems - ongoing problems. But we have, in fact, accomplished our objectives of getting rid of the old regime and there is a new regime in place that's been there for less than a year, far too soon for you guys [journalists] to write them off."  --  January 25, 2007


"Well, I look at it and see it [British troops withdrawing from Iraq] is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well."  --  February 21, 2007


Cheney: "On the security front, I think there's a general consensus that we've made major progress, that the surge has worked. That's been a major success."

Interviewer: Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting.

Cheney: So?

Interviewer: So? You don't care what the American people think?

Cheney: "No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls."  --  March 19, 2008



Cheney: US has made "major progress" in Iraq [AFP]



Donald Rumsfeld, former US secretary of defense


"I don't do quagmires."  --  July 24, 2003


"Why the intelligence [on weapons of mass destruction] proved wrong, I'm not in a position to say. I simply don't know. But the world is a lot better off with Saddam Hussein in jail than they were with him in power."  --  October 5, 2004


"We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years."  --  June 27, 2005


"The terrorists seem to recognize that they are losing in Iraq. I believe that history will show that to be the case."  --  March 19, 2006



Dana Perino, White House press secretary



"President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific, and said, 'mission accomplished for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission'."  --  April 30, 2008


"We have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year."  --  April 30, 2008