Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Iraq War: A Matter of Character?

Good evening. In the life of all free nations, there come moments that decide the direction of a country and reveal the character of its people. We are now at such a moment.

That's how George Bush began his "Way Forward in Iraq" speech on Thursday night. It sure takes chutzpah for him to make the war a question of character. After all, this is a guy who did not review the full intelligence before launching the invasion, who hyped the WMD threat, who cut off the inspections process when it was working, and who did not plan adequately for what would happen after he sent 150,000 troops into a foreign country--and who for years afterward claimed progress when clearly there was none. But now character is the issue.

He next said,

In Iraq, an ally of the United States is fighting for its survival. Terrorists and extremists who are at war with us around the world are seeking to topple Iraq's government, dominate the region, and attack us here at home. If Iraq's young democracy can turn back these enemies, it will mean a more hopeful Middle East and a more secure America. This ally has placed its trust in the United States. And tonight, our moral and strategic imperatives are one: We must help Iraq defeat those who threaten its future and also threaten ours.

Can the commander in chief cite by name the enemy we're fighting in Iraq? The al Qaeda chapter there is not the real problem, as U.S. military officials have said. In his address, Bush refused to acknowledge that the United States is caught in what is fundamentally an ethno-sectarian conflict, as even General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker acknowledged. He once again is depicting the issue as us-versus-the-terriorists. That comic-book description is wearing thin. And, no surprise, he also did not acknowledge the profound problems with the Iraqi government. (See my recent postings on the rampant corruption within the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.)

Bush then said that Petraeus and Crocker have

concluded that conditions in Iraq are improving, that we are seizing the initiative from the enemy, and that the troop surge is working. The premise of our strategy is that securing the Iraqi population is the foundation for all other progress.

I suppose Bush missed that recent ABC/BBC/NHK poll that found that 61 percent of Iraqis said that security in Iraq is worse than it was six months ago. Those Iraqis must be spending too much time reading and watching the defeatist liberal media.

The rest of the speech was predictable, as Bush hailed great progress in Iraq and urged Americans to tough it out. He echoed Petraeus' "vision for a reduced American presence" in Iraq. But as has been widely noted this "reduced" presence would bring U.S. troop levels to what they were this past January, and this will not happen until next summer (if it happens at all). That's like going back to a six-pack a day after really bingeing for a year and a half.

Bush noted that the U.S. military engagement with Iraq will extend "beyond my presidency." And he called on Petraeus and Crocker to report back in March. In other words, six more months. In fact, that seems to Bush's overarching strategic plan: keep it going for another six months, and then another, and then....At least, until he's gone. Next, someone else will be responsible for making the hard choices, as Bush leaves behind the mess. Talk about character.

Posted by David Corn at September 14, 2007 12:07 AM


Hajji said...

I hafta admit...I watched the whole thing.

PBS followed the Democratic response with an earlier taped interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski and some "conservative" flunkie.

Zbigniew was spot on in his assesment of the information that has been presented to congress so far and actually seemed to be quietly stumping for Obama. He must be one of the hundred or so foreign policy experts that Obama has reportedly relied upon.

Here's a good start on
Fact Checking the (p)Resident

capt said...

John Edward’s Response To Bush’s Surge Speech

Democratic presidential contender John Edwards purchased ad time on MSNBC to air his response to the president’s address this evening. Pulling no punches, Edwards goes directly after President Bush and his failed surge but does not spare the Democrats for caving to him and continuing to fund the occupation of Iraq.

Download (WMV)

Download (MOV)

Transcripts below the fold

This week - as we will forever - we remember those lost on September 11th. And this week, Washington refocuses on Iraq. But the question of Iraq is separate from September 11th - as it has always been, whatever George Bush would have us believe.

Likewise, supporting our troops and pursuing a failed war are not the same things - whatever George Bush would have us believe.

All Americans honor the incredible sacrifice of our troops. They have done everything asked of them with courage and resolve. Now we should bring them home.

They are policing a civil war, and the only way to end that civil war is for both sides, Sunni and Shia, to take responsibility to end it by agreeing to a political solution. And the only way to force them to take responsibility is to withdraw our troops - starting now.

Unfortunately, the president is pressing on with the only strategy he has ever had - more time, more troops, and more war.

In January, after years of evidence that military actions cannot force a political solution, the president announced a military surge to force a political solution. In May, he vetoed a plan to end the war, demanded more time to show the surge could work, and Congress gave it to him. Now, after General Petraeus reports the surge has produced no progress toward a political solution, what does the president want? More time for the surge to work, when we know it won’t.

Our troops are stuck between a president without a plan to succeed and a Congress without the courage to bring them home.

But Congress must answer to the American people. Tell Congress you know the truth - they have the power to end this war and you expect them to use it. When the president asks for more money and more time, Congress needs to tell him he only gets one choice: a firm timeline forwithdrawal.

No timeline, no funding. No excuses.

It is time to end this war.


micki said...

If I was in the United States military, I'd be so royally pissed off at the C-I-C, that I'd seriously consider a military coup d'├ętat.

If one analyzes bush's rhetoric, he has basically suggested that the U.S. military has been held to a battlefield stalemate for over four years by a ragtag bunch of freelancers.

A drawn contest? Between the mighty last remaining superpower and a bunch of "terrorists" under the control of an elusive "commander" who brings us to our knees by distributing a videotape every time the moon is full or the wind blows a certain direction?

capt said...

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