BOULDER, Colo. –

“We will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life,” President Barack Obama said to troops at Camp LeJeune, N.C., on Feb. 27. “That is your achievement.”

On this sixth anniversary of the war on Iraq, the president wants us to think that this illegal, devastating war has yielded something noble.

Who are you kidding, President Obama?

At least 1 million Iraqis have been killed, their families’ lives decimated, 20 percent of the country is either in need of desperate medical attention or forced from their bombed-out homes, another 20 percent have fled their ruined country, which is in shambles and will take years and years to rebuild.

And what are the U.S. costs? More that 4,000 troops dead, 30,000 more who will live with injuries that are life-changing — including the wrenching tragedy of brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorders.

Thirty thousand.

Plus, the cost to the nation may reach $1 trillion before it’s over as the U.S. wobbles precariously near depression.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing noble or hopeful about it.

During his campaign, Obama indicated that he would “bring the troops home ASAP.” It is turning out that ASAP may mean 16 months. Sixteen more months of deaths, injuries, devastation.

He is saying that 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq, and the necessary 50,000 contractors to support them. That doesn’t sound at all like the bold, shining concept of turning this totally wasteful, illegal, tragic debacle around that he led us to believe in.

But at least hold him to no more than 16 months. The same eager voters, hungry for change, their faces showing their ecstasy on Inauguration Day, now need to show the president and Congress that they, we, are determined to take an entirely different path.

The president plans to expend more U.S. and Afghan lives by deepening the occupation of Afghanistan — more devastation.

Isn’t it time for the U.S. to move to diplomacy and reason and relentless insistence on uprooting and solving the causes of terrorism and rage? The money saved will create more jobs and expand all economies.

Now that is noble.

Join vigils at street corners around Boulder to mark the sixth anniversary of the occupation of Iraq and to call for withdrawal of all troops and contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meet at Canyon Boulevard and Broadway at 4:30 p.m. today or noon Saturday.

Judith Mohling is a member of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.