Friday, September 14, 2007

Bush's Speech

Sometimes I prefer the sports world for its simplicity and, ironically, honesty. Last night the Prez gave a speech that was chock full of lies, half-truths, and outright deceptions. But I can’t score it like this Monday’s upset when Washington runs the ball all over the Eagles defense. There aren’t touchdowns, field goals, passing yards, or turnovers. Instead, there’s just one jackass with the attention of the nation.


Sometimes I just want to forget politics altogether.

I was thinking of doing a paragraph by paragraph rebuttal to the speech, but then institutional laziness and depression took over. It’s hard enough just to read the speech, not to mention analyze it. I seriously wonder if we have a talking monkey in the White House. De-volution indeed.

Anyway, for those interested, here’s a copy of the transcript. Read at your own peril.

I, however, do want to comment on several points.

First, Al-Anbar. The Monkey Prez is making a big deal out of this. In the few moments I actually watched last night (the sound of his voice is grating and the wife hates him), he mentioned that, “Anbar citizens who once feared beheading for talking to an American or Iraqi soldier now come forward to tell us where the terrorists are hiding,” and then, “During my visit to Anbar on Labor Day, local Sunni leaders thanked me for America’s support.” And finally, “Earlier today, one of the brave tribal sheikhs who helped lead the revolt against al Qaeda was murdered.”

Now this is a pleasant fiction. Never mind that what’s happening in al-Anbar is just a replay of Afghanistan 2001 (local tribal leaders taking advantage of US funds and guns for their own ends), the story that the Monkey Prez told is flatly deceptive. Sheikh Abu Reesha was murdered by car bomb, but that was almost certainly retaliation for meeting with the Monkey Prez a week and a half ago. So much for “coming forward to tell us where the terrorists are hiding.”

Second, the “success” in Al-Anbar certainly can’t be attributed to the surge. As I mentioned previously, the province received only a very small percentage of “surge” troops (Bush mentioned 4,000 last night) and the Asian Times article I linked above clearly explains that the US piggy-backed on preexisting paramilitary organizations that were fighting Al-Queda for their own motives.

Not only that, it belies credibility to call something a “success” when the reduction in violence is extremely minimal. This is an area where we could especially use some touchdowns. There’s a lot of press on this, but essentially, General Petraeus massaged those figures like a well oiled Ross Perot.

I liken the strategy to the OJ Simpson defense team. The general public is going to be easily confused by the laundry list of statistics, statistics which they have no control over, no ability to independently verify, and no opportunity to question.

Last, it’s not a drawdown. The US never had any intention of keeping 160,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely. It’s called a “surge” because it is a temporary increase aimed at heading off obscene violence levels. Think about it like this. If you were on a diet and you decided to go off the diet temporarily for 1 year, it would be news when you went back on, but it wouldn’t be an indication that you had gained more weight over that year. It would just mean you are following your prearranged plan. (Sorry, best analogy I could come up with.)

My point is that drawing down troops to pre-surge levels (130,000) doesn’t mean that the surge is working anymore than it means Bush has committed to “bringing some troops home”. It just means that realistically, we can’t maintain those troops levels, something we’ve known for a long ass time.

Not only that, the White House is already backtracking on the whole 30,000 number. They pretty much pulled that number out of a hat to placate the public, nothing more, nothing less.

Ultimately, if you cut through all the bullshit, the President basically said, we’re staying in Iraq with a large number of troops at least until I leave office.

At the end of the day, even with the most wildly optimistic estimates, we’ll have 130,000 troops in Iraq in January 2009. This is the Democrats problem.

I’ll end this post by linking to a speech by Dick Lugar (R-Ind) that he made on September 11th of this year. The money quote:

One can debate, as many will do this week, whether progress in Iraq has been sufficient to justify continuing American sacrifices. But the greatest risk for U.S. policy is not that we are incapable of making progress, but that this progress may be largely beside the point given the divisions that now afflict Iraqi society. The risk is that our efforts are comparable to a farmer expending his resources and efforts to plant a crop on a flood plain without factoring in the probability that the waters may rise. In my judgment, some type of success in Iraq is possible, but as policy makers, we should acknowledge that we are facing extraordinarily narrow margins for achieving our goals.

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