Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Initial thoughts after Bush's speech

Overall, I did not hear enough specifics. There were more than in speeches past, but not near enough to show any well-defined plan.

Several times Bush tied the war in Iraq to the global war on terror. I am so tired of him trying to whip up support by lumping the two together. This is nothing more than an effort to divert attention away from Iraq. Is Iraq part of the war on terror? Yes, but not to the extent Bush wants us to believe, and to the extent it is part of the war on terror, it is due to the war we started.

And speaking of the war on terror, there was no mention of Afghanistan and the problems there. Focusing on Iraq and sending more troops and resources there takes away from our efforts in Afghanistan, and that is a hindrance to the war on terror.

Bush said that the mission of the extra troops in Baghdad and Anbar province would have a well-defined mission, and that we would succeed this time because now we will have the force levels to hold areas that have been cleared. Well, we weren't able to do that when we had more troops there before, so why is that going to succeed now? And even if it does succeed, how many troops will be needed and for how long in order to keep those areas cleared?

Bush stated that failure in Iraq would be disastrous for America. However, he did not say what would be failure. For that matter, he did not say what would be "victory."

Bush also basically said that if we were to withdraw now, the whole region would go into chaos. He might be right about that, but that was always highly probable before the war, and that probability was high regardless of any possible scenarios. And yet no one in the Bush administration paid attention to that.

Bush also said that the war in Iraq is the "decisive ideological struggle of our time." Once again, Bush uses terms that are so absolute that there is no room for options. That's a big part of what got us in this mess in the first place. Look, the ideological struggle with radical Islam is huge. However, to say that what is going on in Iraq is only about radical Islam is wrong. The situation is so much more complicated and multifaceted. In other words, even victory in Iraq will NOT win the struggle with radical Islam. Moreover, to put the Iraq war in these terms is to set us up for failure. Bush's language means that anything less than total victory in Iraq will be total failure.

Bush said this would not be an open-ended committed, but the lack of details, the lack of any description of what we will do if Iraq does not meet the "benchmarks" speaks to just the opposite.

I'll have more later, but the combination of a cold and antihistamines is giving me tired head.

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