October 22, 2006:
George Stephanopoulos: James Baker says that he’s looking for something between “cut and run” and “stay the course.”
George W. Bush: Well, hey, listen, we’ve never been “stay the course,” George.
Man, he’s just asking for it, isn’t he?
(Yeah, that’s some sort of Democratic party ad, but their edit job is better than other vids I’d seen on this topic)
Does Bush realize that when he speaks to a bunch of journalists that he’s being filmed? Hasn’t anyone told him that?
Apparently, the US is not and never has been
at war with Eastasia “stay the course”. But whatever it was in the past, the US is now “adjusting tactics to achieve victory.” If he means adjusting rhetorical tactics to achieve electoral victory, then Mission Accomplished. But what tactics are we adjusting in Iraq? How? Do we actually have tactics in Iraq? I thought our current strategy was “praise the Iraqi government, shovel money at Halliburton and hope that The Rapture comes soon.” I don’t know if I’d call that “tactical.”
Bush answers these questions in last week’s press conference about Iraq. Here we go, the big adjustments:
- “refining our training strategy for the Iraqi security forces”
- giving Iraqi forces better weapons
- more “coalition advisors” in Iraqi Defense and Interior Ministries
- “changing our force structure”
That’s about it. Insurgent and sectarian violence doesn’t stand a chance in the face of our mighty refining!
However, if the Iraqi security forces are rife with militiamen and soldiers with tribal allegiances, then giving them training and weapons is pouring gasoline on the fire.
Bush does mention a bit of a renewed diplomatic/political effort, and talks with some of Iraq’s neighbors (he mentions Jordan and Saudia Arabia, but quite tellingly, not Iran and Syria), but I’m not sure where that gets anybody.
Then we’ve got the sleight of hand that Bush and Rumsfeld are trying to pull. We can’t have any “timetables for withdrawal”, because that makes the US look weak. So the US pushed for the Iraqi government to come up with “benchmarks” for when Iraqi forces will have the violence under control. That’s a nice escape plan. “We’re failing in Iraq and want to leave, but we can’t admit it. But what if we pressure the Iraqi government to tell us ‘everything will be okay by December 2007!’ Then we can leave and pretend we won! Or, if things are still bad, then we can act angry, blame the Iraqis for their incompetence, and storm off!”
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is pretty peeved about this idea, and has been announcing that he’s not America’s man in Iraq”. Obviously, any implication that he’s doing America’s bidding weakens him politically and threatens the already shaky Iraqi government. I think they must have slapped him down pretty hard, though, because Maliki is now agreeing to “benchmarks” and “timelines” worked out with the Americans. My guess is that the cause was Bush’s implied threat that the US would continue supporting Maliki “as long as he continues to take tough decisions.”
Then we’ve got the two kickers of the press conference.
I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq. I’m not satisfied, either… But we cannot allow our dissatisfaction to turn into disillusionment about our purpose in this war. We must not look at every success of the enemy as a mistake on our part, cause for an investigation, or a reason to call for our troops to come home. We must not fall prey to the sophisticated propaganda by the enemy, who is trying to undermine our confidence and make us believe that our presence in Iraq is the cause of all its problems.
“Not satisfied”??? Jesus Christ, “not satisfied” is finding out that your cup of coffee has gone cold. 655,000 dead Iraqi civilians and a civil war with no signs of slowing is something else. “The situation in Iraq makes wonder if there is no God” would be more appropriate. And talking about disillusionment about the war’s purpose? You lied to get us into this war, you bastard! Disillusionment isn’t a side effect, it’s a prime feature.
And you have to love the “don’t call for an investigation” and “enemy propaganda” stuff. Remember, if we investigate the billions of missing reconstruction dollars or prosecute US soldiers for raping Iraqi civilians, then the terrorists have won!
One reporter asks the president if he thinks that we’re winning in Iraq, and Bush gives a long, rambling response that doesn’t really answer the question. The reporter then repeats the question and Bush answers
Absolutely, we’re winning. Al Qaeda is on the run. As a matter of fact, the mastermind, or the people who they think is the mastermind of the September the 11th attacks is in our custody. We’ve now got a procedure for this person to go on trial, to be held for his account. Most of al Qaeda that planned the attacks on September the 11th have been brought to justice.
“Yes, we’re winning the war against Iraqi insurgents because we’ve captured Saudi terrorists who aren’t in Iraq. We’re hoping to declare victory in Iraq soon by capturing the president of Turkey, launching airstrikes on Madrid, and defeating a terror cell on the Moon.”
It’s easy for me to mock, but I don’t have any fucking idea of what actions and diplomacy might end the violence in Iraq. The Shia seem pretty hell-bent on their ethnic cleansing against the Sunni, and I don’t think the Sunni are willing to stop fighting until they’re guaranteed some Shia and Kurdish oil money (the Sunni-dominated areas don’t have much oil wealth). The Kurds seem to be doing fine, but I still worry that Turkey won’t accept something so close to a Kurdistan on its border. The only way I can see the US playing a role in peace is to declare that they’ll pull out if all sides can negotiate some sort of treaty/alliance with each other first.
And that’s assuming that the US actually has peace as it’s goal. Many in the US establishment have agendas more about oil privatization, permanent military bases, or a puppet government. So we get “stay the course, with adjustments”.
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