December 18, 2005

Bush's Iraq War Speech: He's Still Wrong

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 9:34 pm

Bush iraq war speech 12-18-05

President Bush gave a good speech tonight. While I didn’t see it live, and haven’t yet seen a video, the transcript shows a speech that lays out his case as well as any speech could.

Too bad he’s still wrong.

Bush began by describing the good news of the Iraqi election. While many of us liberals would rather deny that any good could come of the Iraq War, I think we have to agree that democracy, no matter how flawed, is a good thing. Many on the left criticize Bush for drawing our attention on the bright sparkly things like elections, thereby distracting us from the horrors of his policies, but the Iraqi election is more than just a sparkly thing of no consequence — it’s a sparkly thing of great value for the Iraqis.

Of course the result could be a pro-Iranian Shiite theocracy, not of such great value for the U.S.

Bush also talked about what a brutal dictator Saddam was, and how good it is that he’s gone. Which is certainly true.

But he really went off the rails when he returned to his favorite big lie:

The terrorists do not merely object to American actions in Iraq and elsewhere — they object to our deepest values and our way of life. And if we were not fighting them in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Southeast Asia and in other places, the terrorists would not be peaceful citizens — they would be on the offense, and headed our way.

The terrorists aren’t fighting us because of our American values. As much as we like to think we’re unique, American values aren’t all that different from Canadian, German or Australian values, but the terrorists aren’t attacking those countries. They are attacking Americans because we’re in Iraq, not because of our values.

September 11th, 2001 required us to take every emerging threat to our country seriously, and it shattered the illusion that terrorists attack us only after we provoke them. On that day, we were not in Iraq, we were not in Afghanistan, but the terrorists attacked us anyway — and killed nearly 3,000 men, women, and children in our own country.

Uh, well, actually we were in Saudi Arabia, the holiest of all lands to Islam. Not that I could ever condone the 9/11 attacks, but they were partly an attempt to get us to pull our bases out of Saudi Arabia, which bin Laden (remember him?) considered a provocation. And let’s remember that none of the hijackers were Iraqi or Afghani — most of them were Saudi.

My conviction comes down to this: we do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.

We don’t create terrorism by fighting the terrorists, but we do create new terrorists by occupying Iraq. And as far as I can see, the western countries that have ignored Iraq haven’t had terrorists accepting their invitation to attack.

And Bush seems to miss Rep. Murtha’s whole reason for proposing redeployment: we are doing more harm than good.

Yet now there are only two options before our country — victory or defeat. And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party, because the security of our people is in the balance. I do not expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom.

Murtha, and others, have come to the conclusion that success in Iraq can be better achieved with our troops redeployed “over the horizon”, so that we are not a constant provocation for violence. I don’t have the expertise or the facts to know whether we are doing more harm than good, but at least Bush could address the point. It is not a simple choice between victory and defeat. It is a question of how best to achieve a positive outcome.

Bush seems to think that a redeployment would show cowardice in the face of the enemy. I think he’s projecting his own insecurities into the issue. It’s not a question of cowardice, but of wisdom. His simple-minded with-me-or-against-me formulation precludes the thoughtful insight necessary for wisdom, and ultimately, success.


  1. I wish I hadn’t missed the speech. The news organizations are making it sound like he’s much more humble, yet he still sees us in the death throws of battle with a World War Two-like Islamofacism, forgetting that in this schema we’d be occupying munich or something like that… Still I think … I don’t know what to think actually.
    Check out this great breaking down of the Iraq war at my political blogozine:

    Comment by Chris — December 19, 2005 @ 5:11 am

  2. “…We will continue to listen to honest criticism, and make every change that will help us complete the mission.

    Yet there is a difference between honest critics who recognize what is wrong, and defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right.

    Defeatism may have its partisan uses, but it is not justified by the facts….

    …It is also important for every American to understand the consequences of pulling out of Iraq before our work is done. We would abandon our Iraqi friends — and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its word.

    We would undermine the morale of our troops — by betraying the cause for which they have sacrificed….

    …I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq: I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt.

    Yet *NOW* there are only two options before our country — victory or defeat. And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party, because the security of our people is in the balance. I do not expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom.” (emphasis mine)

    —President George W. Bush.

    Comment by Jacke — December 19, 2005 @ 8:02 am

  3. Yet, what if Bush’s definition of “victory” is illusory? Early electrom results from Iraq show that Shiite and Kurdish candidates received the majority of votes in their respective areas. We may call this democracy, but the Sunni population may see it as further infringment of their rights and privileges, which may further fuel an armed insurrection. While some of the insurgents (or terrorists, if you prefer) undoubtedly fight the U.S. because we are Americans, many more do so in their struggle to establish and maintain some level of politcal power and control.

    It is as if the victory of George Bush in 2000 in such a close and controversial election caused some portion of the Democrats to resort to armed insurrection because of the political, religous and economic disenfranchisement they feared would result. Thankfully, that is not the case in the U.S. However, in the middle-east armed insurrection is the historical response to this situation. It is not helpful that the country of Iraq itself is an artificial political construct forced upon several disparate political, ethnic and religious entities. Furthermore, the peoples of this Iraq have no common political goal as did the thirteen colonies, no iconic statemen such as George Washington (an guerilla insurgent warlord?)and Thomas Jefferson.

    Once simply has to look to the former USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia for examples of what happens when totalitarian regimes that had strongarmed political and religious cohesion are disassembled. It turns out that “Yugoslavia” and “Czechoslovakia” were the ullusions.

    Personally, I am as disgusted and frustrated as the Bush administration must be by the lack of progress toward democracy in Iraq. But calling such unlikely results “victory” and anything short of that “defeat” doesn’t make the goal any more achievable.

    Comment by Herman O. — December 19, 2005 @ 10:41 am

  4. And he is STILL wrong!

    Comment by wildwest — December 21, 2005 @ 6:22 am

  5. And two days later he’s STILL wrong!!

    Comment by wildwest — December 23, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

  6. It’s the second day of Christmas, and STILL he is wrong!!!

    Comment by wildwest — December 26, 2005 @ 11:50 am

  7. And he JUST can’t get it right!!!!

    Comment by wildwest — December 28, 2005 @ 8:36 am

  8. Great points!

    Comment by Howie Luvzus — February 2, 2006 @ 6:57 am

  9. There is a great new book out which hits on the reasons for impeachment that you might want to read. by Cholene Espinoza.

    Through the Eye of the Storm.

    Comment by Greg — April 20, 2006 @ 10:36 am

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