Southern newspapers weigh in on Iraq anniversary

As the Institute has documented again and again, the South is the region most linked to, and most impacted by, the Iraq war and U.S. foreign policy. Southern states provide more of the troops, are home to more bases, and draw more military contracts than any other region of the country.

That's why it's been such a blow to the Bush administration that the public in most Southern states, like the rest of the country, have swung so heavily against the war (I'm looking for a good recent poll; here's one the Institute conducted in 2006).

Overall, the Southern press has also been harshly critical of the war. Here's a sampling this week from some of the South's biggest newspapers (note: many have yet to weigh in):

"It's hard to argue that the lives of Iraqis are better ... Five years on, regrettably, we have our shock and awe. Shock that the Iraq invasion fell so woefully short of improving Iraqis' lives. Awe in the failure of the Bush administration to address mistakes sooner."
- Dallas Morning News (house editorial), 3/19/08

"When the price of a gallon of gasoline and a loaf of bread both hit $5, and a full-blown recession has a chokehold on the country, how many Americans will be willing to keep pouring billions and trillions down the rat hole of a pre-emptive war of choice in the wrong place, for the wrong reasons?"
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (McClatchy Tribune), 3/17/08

"There were no weapons of mass destruction. We were not greeted as liberators. The war did not pay for itself. The smoking gun was not a mushroom cloud. There was no connection to 9/11. The course we stayed led over a cliff ... The war that was supposed to pay for itself was recently projected to cost us $3 trillion -- that's trillion, with a ''t,'' that's a three followed by 12 zeroes, that's three million millions. And American forces have sustained more than 33,000 casualties, including 4,000 dead and 13,000 wounded too severely to return to action."
- Miami Herald (Leonard Pitts, Jr.), 3/19/08

"Of course, attention must be paid to accomplishing whatever can still be salvaged and to extricating as many of our troops as soon as consistency with those goals allows. And, of course, it is imperative that each presidential candidate outline coherent, realistic plans that they would pursue if elected to the White House. But it is possible to look in both directions. Indeed, it is essential if the nation and its leaders are to glean lessons from this debacle that reduce the risk of a repetition."
- Louisville Courier-Journal (house editorial), 3/19/08

"Five years, gone. Gone, as well, are nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers; tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians; the infrastructure of the nation of Iraq; and global goodwill for the U.S. as the world's top power ... The White House claims success, even as it insists we must stay in Iraq for years to come. Americans should not accept this contradiction. The Iraqi government will not begin to take responsibility for its people while the U.S. calls the shots, and Americans' presence is increasingly considered unwelcome. For the sake of the heroic American soldiers' lives and everyone's economic future, let's make 2008 the beginning of the end of this war."
- Nashville Tennessean (house editorial), 3/19/08

As Editor and Publisher notes, many opinion pages across the country (although less so in the South) expressed reservations about the Iraq war from the beginning. Now, in many quarters, the opposition is full-throated.