What kind of progress have we made on our objectives in Iraq?

Don't Panic!... Your war questions answered

The end of the school year is upon us. While students are gearing up for an unforgettable three months of loitering and text messaging, teachers are still working. They've got report cards to finish.

In honor of report card season, I offer you, below, a report card on Iraq. The subject headings are based on the list of stated war objectives that President Bush has used to sell the war's importance to the American people.

I'd mail a copy to George W.'s parents, but I suspect they already know all of this. After all, Dubya's dad (a president whose many faults did not include complete ignorance about how the rest of the world lives and thinks) had a chance to topple Saddam 14 years ago but chose not to; he didn't think the inevitable, chaotic aftermath of regime change was in the U.S.'s best interests.

Toppling Saddam Hussein will make the U.S. safer from terrorism.

Grade: F

Saddam Hussein was indeed a supporter of terrorism outside his country. He used to send money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. It was a sickening gesture, but compared to the support for terrorism emanating from other countries (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc.), it was small potatoes.

Since the invasion, Iraq has become the world capital of terrorism. The U.S. State Department says there were 198 significant terrorist attacks in Iraq in 2004, up from 22 in 2003. Nearly 600 people have been killed in Iraq in May alone. Al-Qaeda is now active in Iraq. Sunni Iraqi terrorist attacks against Shi'ite Iraqis are inching the country toward civil war.

And let's not forget that more than 14,000 American soldiers have been killed or injured in Iraq. Just because the U.S. military is an all-volunteer force doesn't mean we shouldn't count soldiers' lives when we're trying to figure out if Americans are safer now.

Speaking of the military, this war is jeopardizing our safety for years to come because it's hurting the Army's ability to recruit tomorrow's soldiers, a crisis that retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Krohn refers to as a "death spiral."

Then there's the $300 billion we've spent so far on Iraq that could have been spent securing U.S. ports, railroads and nuclear plants - and perhaps even improving airport security.

Going into Iraq will spread freedom and peace elsewhere in the region.

Grade: C

Some people say that renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Syrian troops' exodus from Lebanon, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's promise to hold open elections this fall are all the result of Iraq's elections in January. Those people are wrong. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks started up again because the Palestinian people's power-grubbing leader, Yasser Arafat, finally had the decency to die.

The event that got freedom rolling in Lebanon was not the Iraqi elections; it was the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

And in Egypt, well, Mubarak's "open elections" include a clause requiring candidates for president to have the endorsement of 250 "elected" officials before they can run. Keep in mind that the party Mubarak controls holds 90 percent of the seats in parliament and 98.5 percent of Egypt's local council seats. Open elections, my ass.

The only reason Dubya gets a passing grade here is that he's finally showing some signs of being interest in brokering peace between Israel and Palestine.

"The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." - President Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address.

Grade: F

WMD? More like WTF! Iraq didn't have any. And after we invaded Iraq, North Korea announced that it has nukes and that Iran is on its way to building them.

Bush & Co. maintain that Saddam retained both the intention and the weapons facilities to build new WMD if he wanted. That's fair enough, but it makes me wonder why we left those facilities unguarded (an assertion confirmed by countless eyewitnesses and two U.N. agencies), allowing systematic looting during the chaos that followed the fall of Baghdad in April 2003.

Invading Iraq will show the world that the U.S. will not shy away from the fight against terrorism.

Grade: A

Top marks to George on that one. If there's one thing he's proved, it's that he's anything but shy.