If you are hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, using heroin or having unprotected sex with a HIV positive person, my guess is that you, the reader, would believe that staying the course regarding these self-destructive behaviors would be wrong. The same basic argument holds true for our approach to the Iraq War.

The Bush White House and his Republican supporters are urging American citizens to “stay the course” in Iraq. Unfortunately, the course they are advocating is self-destructive to the American nation.

The invasion of Iraq was bad policy from day one. The reasons for the invasion advocated by Bush were mistakes at best, deliberate lies at worst. Iraq had no significant stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Iraq played no significant role in Islamic terrorism aimed at the United States. Iraq was not a serious threat to neighboring countries when the invasion was launched. Saddam Hussein was certainly not behind the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Larry Beinhart has documented all these assertions in his new book, Fog Facts.

The only logical reason that might justify an invasion in an unbalanced mind was the fact that Iraq had massive amounts of untapped crude oil. Of course, it is against international law to invade another nation to gain control of their natural resources. A basic principle of international law is that wars that are not defensive in nature are illegal. By international law, attacking militarily a nation that has not attacked you first is illegal.

If oil was the reason for attacking Iraq, it was not helpful to American consumers. Sadly, Iraq is currently producing 1.9 million barrels of oil a day. Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq was producing 2.6 million barrels of oil daily. Additionally, the war is consuming huge quantities of oil by our military further tightening world oil supplies and driving up prices for American consumers. Iraq oil production does not even come close to funding the war or Iraq reconstruction efforts as the war backers once claimed it would. American taxpayers got stuck with a huge, completely unnecessary bill from Bush’s Iraq misadventure.

It is difficult by international law to justify the invasion of Iraq by the United States. I do not see how “oops, we made a mistake” concerning weapons of mass destruction is a legal justification for a military attack. It is not legal under international law to attack another nation just to depose a leader who does not like our government. It seems possible that leaders of our government responsible for launching the invasion could in theory be charged as war criminals.

Bush could use his pardon powers domestically to shield his Administration and supporters from criminal prosecution over breaking American laws. The federal judges appointed by Bush might protect Bush from personal domestic prosecutions (which might help explain some appointment choices) for crimes he might commit in office. However, international war crime prosecution is not under the control of the Bush White House or American courts. Certainly, the United States should not be “staying the course” concerning policies that could potentially cause a sitting or former American President to be charged with international war crimes. The reputation of the American nation is important enough for us to admit our mistakes and withdraw from Iraq.

On the practical side (excluding international law considerations), the current Iraq policy is a failure. Our reputation worldwide is in serious decline because of Iraq. The Bin Laden organization is using our actions in Iraq to recruit terrorists and undermine pro-American Arab governments.

The damage to American interests was recently demonstrated by a Pew global public opinion poll in Indonesia. Indonesia is the predominantly Moslem nation with the largest population in the world. It is not an Arab nation. Before the Iraq invasion, the majority of Indonesians held favorable opinions of America. Currently, only 15% of the Indonesian population holds a favorable view of the United States. Fully 80% of Indonesians believe that the United States might attack their nation.

Despite the often repeated claims of the Bush Administration, there is no evidence that our policies will ever establish a stable, democratic, pro-American government in Iraq. Despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars and losing the lives of nearly 2,000 brave American soldiers, Iraq is not safe or stable. Ethnic violence is on the rise. Civil war seems more and more likely. Basic services like electricity and running water are often still not available. There is no reasonable end in sight to the costs in taxpayer dollars and lives if we continue “staying the course” advocated by the Bush Republicans.

It is time for Bush to admit his mistake in launching his Iraq War. It is time for Bush to admit that his course in Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion has been a dismal failure. We cannot find our way as a nation out of this mess until we admit our mistakes and seek a new course.  We do not need to keep whacking ourselves in the head with the hammer of a failed Iraq policy!

Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio ).