The Full Bush Blitz

Last night, the President of the United States addressed the nation.  He did so on the premise that based on the advice of commanders on the ground, specifically that of General David Petraeus, he was going to make his final decision on what to do in Iraq.  I liveblogged the speech here, and you can catch a transcript of the speech here.

And before we move forward, I wanted to say this is the first time in my life where I have found myself  not only not fond of the sitting president, but ashamed of him.  This is a particularly sad day for America when she has a President such as this, one with no moral value, or scruples.  One with no shame himself who continues his tactics of obfuscation and mischaracterization and outright playing of the American public for his own means, even after his tactics have become transparent beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Again, Bush continues to be a particularly dark stain on American History.

Almost immediately, Bush launches into mischaracterization and misdirections that have plagued much of the recent rhetoric coming from the White House about the War.  In his opening paragraph he claims “We must help Iraq defeat those who threaten its future and also threaten ours.”

But I’m left to wonder who are these people he speaks of that threaten our future, and how immediate of a threat is that?  It can’t be those groups that account for the bulk of the fighting in Iraq, that would be the sectarian militias and insurgents.  They, at this point, could care less about America, their primary concern being the future of Iraq.  It’s possible that Bush is talking about the organization AQI (al Qaeda in Iraq) which at last tally accounts for about 7% of the violence there, but AQI is not exactly the same thing as al Qaeda, and its goals apparently are to further al Qaeda’s agenda, as their name might suggest, in Iraq

Indeed, this enemy that threatens us is essentially a hypothetical, part of this idea that if we left Iraq completely and totally alone, it would crumble into pure chaos, be filled with every evil entity in the middle east, which would then use Iraq like a springboard to attack the US.  While possible, given this administration’s poor record at prognostication thus far, I would be a little hesitant to throw all my eggs in that particular basket.  Also, this is making the assumption we are pulling all troops straight from Iraq and bringing them home and outside of the region altogether, which is actually countrary to what Democrats want.

The current Democratic goal is to redeploy out of Iraq to focus on the region.  Part of this action would be to ensure that while Iraq is doing what it has to do, and work through this on their own, we would have a force ready to prevent outside actors from interfering.

So the idea that America would be in even more danger is simply ludicrous.  Even more so when you look at the fact that our continued presence in Iraq is not making Iraqis (by wide margins according to a recent Iraqi poll) nor muslims in general particularly happy.

Then Bush moves on to say that, yes, the Surge is working, which is untrue.  George Will wrote about this just recently, and just yesterday Editor & Publisher came through and backed him up with Bush’s own words.  He claims that all we need to do is keep Iraq safe and secure and Iraqis will reconcile, again untrue.

Senator Reed, delivering the Democratic rebuttal to the president, citing experts, explained that there has been no reconciliationin Iraq, nor is there any evidence that there will be in the near to moderately not so near future.  Meanwhile, in Iraq, what we are seeing is the Iraqi people segregating themselves.  Ethnic cleansing is occuring in previously mixed neighborhoods, which I suppose provides some hope; one of the key ingredients to Anbar’s success was the homogenous quality of its community, perhaps, with Iraq divided up along boundaries of factions and race, they might too be able to experience an Anbar Awakening…  You know, just in time for them to start attacking each other over their newly drawn lines in the sand.

Which brings us to the point of the President’s speech where he talks about Anbar, and how it happened, neglecting to mention that because of the lack of Shia population, it was a miracle that occurred without addressing the prime concern within Iraq, that being sectarian violence.  He mentions al Qaeda several times, neglecting, again, to mention that this is al Qaeda in Iraq (the reasoning for this I shall explain in further detail later on), and the most important thing is that he fails to lay out in clear, or even highly muddled language, how he intends to translate the progress in Anbar throughout the rest of the country.

And for all the successes in Anbar, the President himself even acknowledges that it might not be as nice as previously advertized, a harsh reality that he was forced to face when the local leader he shook hands with in his most recent trip there was assassinated.

What a find interesting in Bush’s touting of progress is that it follows pretty much in line with what to expect from him; no specifics, and underrepresentation of the facts.  He declares the gains in Baghdad a stunning success but, isn’t this also the same place that is littered with green zones, and where a bulk of the surge went?  Doesn’t it follow that if you put more troops on the ground, then yes of course you’re going to have more violence?  Especially when we see Shia communities ousting Sunni families?

And keep in mind the quality of the data that this is being based upon.  Keep in mind that the successes in Iraq do not count IEDs, or even shooting victims depending on where in the head they have been shot.  Keep in mind that Iraqi civilian violence has experienced no relief according to the GAO.

And then, wait for it. After all this success, are you ready for your great big carrot?

Because of this success, General Petraeus believes we have now reached the point where we can maintain our security gains with fewer American forces. He has recommended that we not replace about 2,200 marines scheduled to leave Anbar Province later this month. In addition, he says it will soon be possible to bring home an Army combat brigade, for a total force reduction of 5,700 troops by Christmas.

And he expects that by July, we will be able to reduce our troop levels in Iraq from 20 combat brigades to 15.

General Petraeus also recommends that in December, we begin transitioning to the next phase of our strategy in Iraq. As terrorists are defeated, civil society takes root, and the Iraqis assume more control over their own security, our mission in Iraq will evolve. Over time, our troops will shift from leading operations, to partnering with Iraqi forces, and eventually to overwatching those forces. As this transition in our mission takes place, our troops will focus on a more limited set of tasks, including counterterrorism operations and training, equipping and supporting Iraqi forces.

Ooh, yay!  Wait a minute, 5700 troops come home?  But you sent 30,000, Mr. President, so that’s not really like a troop cut at all, really, but more like just not having as big of an increase as before.  In fact, I was only off by about 1700 as far as how many troops he is intending to pull before the next progress report which will come in, yeah, you guessed it, six months.

In fact, the only thing to really change in this entire ordeal is the bumper sticker, the new slogan for the Iraq war being, “return on success.”  The premise being that the more successful our troops are in Iraq, the more we can bring home.  Unfortunately, this is not exactly true either, and highlights one of my biggest problems with the nature of the military goal in Iraq.

Soldiers are being asked to undertake a broad mission whose success depends not upon their performance, but upon the performance of Iraqi politicians.  This puts our troops in an impossible situation.  According to the strategy we are now employing, OUR successes have absolutely nothing to do with when our troops get to come home.  Instead, we must wait and continued to be mired in this catastrophy until the IRAQIS finally find some modicum of success, that modicum, need I remind you, is very far off if in existence at all.

And even while Bush tries to use his insignificant carrot of a 5700 “troop cut” as a reason for those of us on differing sides in the Iraq war to finally come together, he cleverly slips in the real deal:

Americans want our country to be safe and our troops to begin coming home from Iraq. Yet those of us who believe success in Iraq is essential to our security, and those who believe we should bring our troops home, have been at odds. Now, because of the measure of success we are seeing in Iraq, we can begin seeing troops come home.

The way forward I have described tonight makes it possible, for the first time in years, for people who have been on opposite sides of this difficult debate to come together.

This vision for a reduced American presence also has the support of Iraqi leaders from all communities. At the same time, they understand that their success will require U.S. political, economic and security engagement that extends beyond my Presidency. These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship — in a way that protects our interests in the region and requires many fewer American troops.

Translation: I’m reducing a few troops so you think I’m actually willing to engage in a withdrawl, but boy am I fooling you, we’re gonna be in Iraq forever.

And after a little fearmongering (which, again, I will cover in more detail later), we get to what was, in my opinion, the most disgusting, vile, reprehensible portion of the speech.

Earlier this year, I received an e-mail from the family of Army Specialist Brandon Stout of Michigan. Brandon volunteered for the National Guard and was killed while serving in Baghdad. His family has suffered greatly. Yet in their sorrow, they see larger purpose. His wife, Audrey, says that Brandon felt called to serve and knew what he was fighting for. And his parents, Tracy and Jeff, wrote me this: “We believe this is a war of good and evil and we must win … even if it cost the life of our own son. Freedom is not free.”

This country is blessed to have Americans like Brandon Stout, who make extraordinary sacrifices to keep us safe from harm. They are doing so in a fight that is just, and right, and necessary. And now it falls to us to finish the work they have begun.

These two paragraphs alone are enough to stoke in me an unquenchable rage.  There is no excuse for this president to exploit the grief of a family for his own political gain.  There is none.  About 3700 soldiers have perished in this war in Iraq.  According to Senator Joe Biden, they call them Fallen Angels, and he’s right, it’s heart wrenching.  3700, all joined for different reasons, all leaving behind torn asunder families, all with differing beliefs and thoughts about this war.

And he chooses the one letter that most succinctly fits his agenda so that he can read it on prime time television to stir public sympathy.  Why, sir, do you not read also the letters from Cindy Sheehan?  Why, sir, did you not read for us the letter that seven soldiers braver than I ever was in my service, sent to the New York Times, two of whom died this week?

The answer is clear.  He does not care about engaging the nation in honoring and mourning the sacrifice of these Fallen Angels, he cares only about his war.  And he’ll do anything to keep it going.

Meanwhile, we are treated to the entire, and comlete Bush Blitz, the factual blunders, like the 36 nations that stand at our side, perhaps the one stat that he uses, and Chris Matthews calls ludicrous:

He simplifies the situation, removing from the Iraq conflict much of the complexity that has accounted for why it’s such a mess in the first place, preferring instead to make it merely a conflict between good and evil, us vs. them, made only more heinous by the exploitation of grieving parents to help pound this concept into the American people.

But the big winner tonight is the politics of fear, and the concepts of Terror Management Theory. Despite the successes of Iraq, Bush also delivered this messge to keep you afraid, to keep thinking about terrorists, and even about Iran.

Through the speech, President Bush mentions “al Qaeda” twelve times, and terrorism/terrorists ten times. He mentions the threat that Iran poses at least three times and at least once in regards to nuclear weapons. On top of everything else, on top of the distortion of the facts, on top of the shameless usurping of feelings of loss, Bush also attempts to winover the public by scaring them shitless.

In musing upon what might happen if we leave Iraq, Bush offers the most daunting of nightmares:

If we were to be driven out of Iraq, extremists of all strains would be emboldened. Al Qaeda could gain new recruits and new sanctuaries. Iran would benefit from the chaos and would be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region. Extremists could control a key part of the global energy supply. Iraq could face a humanitarian nightmare. Democracy movements would be violently reversed. We would leave our children to face a far more dangerous world. And as we saw on September the 11th, 2001, those dangers can reach our cities and kill our people.

He does so without irony, and without shame. He invokes the name al Qaeda because he knows it captures our worst nightmares, but irresponsibly ignores, yet again, the name of Osama bin Laden, because that would remind us of his colossal failure. He invokes Iran as part of the ever present beating of war drums, and nuclear weapons because of the sheer terror such things cause, but he ignores the outright pleading of the IAEA to the US and its allies to listen when they say that Iran is cooperating. He invokes the horror extremists controlling the world’s oil could have, but omits the fact that his failure to lead us into an era of energy independence could have helped curb that, as well as the fact that his State Department’s Oil law has actually contributed to some of the tension in Iraq. He talks about our children, and how unsafe the world would be, but eschews reminding us that it was his policies in the first place that has allowed terrorism to grow and florish in this world.

Finally, he reminds us of September 11th, because that is all he knows how to do.

He disrespects us, and dishonors us. He does not trust, nor want us to use our rational minds and so he plays to our emotions of sorrow and fear to get what he wants. And he does this from behind his desk in the oval office.

Meanwhile, we prognosticators were right all along. Nothing in Iraq has really changed, at least not for the better. Iraqis still only get a few scarce hours of power a day, still live with the same level of violence, whether your narrow definitions call it sectarian or not. People are still being driven from their homes, four million, two million living in refugee camps abroad. Others are afraid of making it across the border, and so they stay and live in fear. Meanwhile our soldiers are stuck there, held hostage by a mad dictator who uses their courage and their sacrifice for his own gain.

This isn’t a presidency, it’s a nightmare, and I’m ready to wake up already.

2 Responses to “The Full Bush Blitz”

  1. matttbastard says:

    I liked this observation from Hil @ ObWi:

    And by the way: don’t you love all those youth and growth metaphors? “A young democracy”, for instance: if you have a young anything, just give it the food and care and love that it needs, and it will grow. “For lasting reconciliation to take root”: if you have a plant, and you set it in good soil and water it conscientiously, its roots will grow. If Iraq were a child or a plant, then the surge — whose entire aim is to provide the conditions in which reconciliation can flourish and democracy can grow to maturity — would be exactly what was needed.

    When I hear these metaphors, I think: it’s as though Bush had planted a stone in fertile soil, and watered it, and said: any moment now, it will put down some roots and begin to grow! Eventually, it will become a boulder!


  2. More like he’s pissin on a tree after an all night bender.


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