10.29.2003

Mission Accomplished??

Bush is certainly trying to spin himself out of the Bannergate... For those unaware of the situation, here is the quick n dirty.

On May 1, 2003 President Bush landed on the USS Lincoln for a major press conference in which he announced that major combat operations have ended. This has already been a source of controversy for the White House because they revised the press announcement from "Combat Operations Have Ended" to "Major Combat Operations Have Ended". By stating that "Major combat operations have ended" in addition to standing under a large 100ft banner that claimed "Mission Accomplished", some people were under the impression that President Bush was declaring that the war was basically over and the risk to American soldiers was substantially reduced. Well, those people were obviously mistaken.

To be fair to the President, you can watch the video of the event and he clearly says, "Major combat operations are over." However, he does all of this under a banner that states "Mission Accomplished". In a press conference, Bush stated:

The "Mission Accomplished" sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed some how to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way. But my statement was a clear statement, basically recognizing that this phase of the war for Iraq was over and there was a lot of dangerous work. And it's proved to be right, it is dangerous in Iraq.



OK. So Bush wasn't saying that our mission was accomplished. However, one month after the carrier landing President Bush visited Qatar. In this speech, Bush says:

I am happy to see you, an so are the long-suffering people of Iraq. America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished. (Applause.)

Again, some people heard this speech and misinterpreted it to mean that the President believed that the overall mission in Iraq was accomplished. Evidently, those people were wrong again.

It seems like Bush needs to take time off from his busy schedule and initiate a frank dialogue with the American people. He is not keeping his word to the American people that he gave in full faith and credit during the Presidential Debates:

The mission must be clear. Soldiers must understand why we're going. The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well-defined. I'm concerned that we're overdeployed around the world. See, I think the mission has somewhat become fuzzy. Should I be fortunate enough to earn your confidence, the mission of the United States military will be to be prepared and ready to fight and win war. And therefore prevent war from happening in the first place. There may be some moments when we use our troops as peacekeepers, but not often. The Vice President mentioned my view of long-term for the military. I want to make sure the equipment for our military is the best it can possibly be, of course. But we have an opportunity -- we have an opportunity to use our research and development capacities, the great technology of the United States, to make our military lighter, harder to find, more lethal. We have an opportunity, really, if you think about it, if we're smart and have got a strategic vision and a leader who understands strategic planning, to make sure that we change the terms of the battlefield of the future so we can keep the peace. This is a peaceful nation, and I intend to keep the peace. Spending money is one thing. But spending money without a strategic plan can oftentimes be wasted. First thing I'm going to do is ask the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan so we are making sure we're not spending our money on political projects, but on projects to make sure our soldiers are well-paid, well-housed, and have the best equipment in the world.


The President has an obligation to the American people to explain the basics of our exit strategy in Iraq, OR he has to explain in clear, coherent terms why this situation precludes the possibility of a specific exit strategy. The President has not completely lost the faith of the American people yet. Even (most of) those who did not support the war in Iraq desire to see success. If the US (and allies) can turn that country into something resembling Qatar, not Iran or Saudi Arabia, the world will eventually forget the pain of how it happened. The President needs to show some leadership on this issue and be honest, completely honest and forthright, with the American people. A little humility goes a long way in this world, and it's not too late for the President to show some.

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