3.19.2007

President Bush + Iraq : Four Years Together

Bush decided to invade Iraq four years ago and decided to talk about this important anniversary today. (Four years is linen, so I hope he bought something appropriate for Iraq.)

Here are my immediate responses to the words somebody wrote for Bush to mumble.

Good morning. Four years ago today, coalition forces launched Operation Iraqi Freedom to remove Saddam Hussein from power. They did so to eliminate the threat his regime posed to the Middle East and to the world. Coalition forces carried out that mission with great courage and skill. Today the world is rid of Saddam Hussein and a tyrant has been held to account for his crimes by his own people.

Distraction, distraction, distraction. His regime posed very little threat to the Middle East or the world. Taking him out was the easy job. Sealing the power vacuum was the hard job. Our army is fighting a reactionary war in the middle of a revolution. This administration is directing our army to fight yesterday's enemy instead of trying to redefine tomorrow's battlefield.

Nearly 12 million Iraqis have voted in free elections under a democratic constitution that they wrote for themselves. And their democratic leaders are now working to build a free society that upholds the rule of law, that respects the rights of its people, that provides them security and is an ally in the war on terror.


Good for them. Too bad they no power and could be overthrown by a half-dozen militias funded by countries on nearly all of Iraq's borders.

At this point in the war, our most important mission is helping the Iraqis secure their capital. Until Baghdad's citizens feel secure in their own homes and neighborhoods, it will be difficult for Iraqis to make further progress toward political reconciliation or economic rebuilding, steps necessary for Iraq to build a democratic society.


Not exactly. Baghdad has been an excellent training ground for the new generation of Iraq militants. They will now move off to other cities and the petroleum infrastructure. The election? It won't matter when somebody makes a move for the resources. That's the end-game here. It hardly has anything to do with Iraq's capital city.

So with our help, Iraq's government is carrying out an aggressive plan to secure Baghdad. And we're continuing to train the Iraqi security forces so that they ultimately take full responsibility for the security of their own people.


Iraq's government is spinning its wheels and that does provide a nice shiny distraction for Bush. However, let's be honest. They didn't ask for our training, and they will throw out the textbooks when we leave. Baghdad is never going to be as secure as Denver, Seattle, or even Oakland. The average Iraqi would be safer walking in New Orlean's Ninth Ward than any American walking in Baghdad, Fallujah, Tikrit, or al-Anbar province.

Bush is damning our troops to stay in Iraq indefinitely because it isn't possible to meet his metrics for leaving.

I've just received an update on the situation from Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. My conversation with the Prime Minister followed a briefing earlier this morning that included Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates, along with General Petraeus and Ambassador Khalilzad, who participated by video conference from Iraq.


Hooray! We have proof that Bush showed up for work recently. These video phone calls are hard work!

Prime Minister Maliki and General Petraeus emphasized that the Baghdad security plan is still in its early stages, and success will take months, not days or weeks. Yet, those on the ground are seeing some hopeful signs. The Iraqi government has completed the deployment of three Iraqi army brigades to the capital, where they've joined the seven Iraqi army brigades and nine national police brigades that were already in the area.


Translation: This round of the military shell game will last months, not days or weeks. Yet, those on the ground are seeing signs that the militants are moving away from Baghdad. Don't you think it's awesome that I know about all these numbers? I'm like one of those egg-head mathemakitchens. Right? Right? Can I take a nap now?

The Iraqi government has also lifted restrictions that once prevented Iraqi and coalition forces from going into areas like Sadr City. American and Iraqi forces have established joint security stations. Those stations are scattered throughout Baghdad and they're helping Iraqis reclaim their neighborhoods from the terrorists and extremists.


This would be good news if Iraq's petroleum infrastructure was located within a few blocks in Baghdad. This would be good news if all of the groups we fight were based out of Baghdad.

Together, we've carried out aggressive operations against both Shia and Sunni extremists; carried out operations against al Qaeda terrorists. We've uncovered large caches of weapons and destroyed two major car bomb factories that were located on the outskirts of Baghdad.


In other news, we finally got all the deck chairs on the Titanic in their proper storage closets. Nothing to see here, just keep moving. It's all goooood.

I want to stress that this operation is still in the early stages, it's still in the beginning stages. Fewer than half of the troop reinforcements we are sending have arrived in Baghdad. The new strategy will need more time to take effect. And there will be good days, and there will be bad days ahead as the security plan unfolds.


Bad days would include those that start with the letter S, M, W, and T. And occasionally F. Days that don't start with those letters are generally good.

Bad days would include those like last Saturday when there were three chlorine gas attacks in Iraqi cities that don't begin with the letter "B" and end with the letters "aghdad".

Could somebody explain what a good day in Iraq looks like? A day when less than three bombs detonated in the country? A day when the capital city has more than six hours of electricity? A day when less than twenty civilians are killed or wounded? Seems like it's been nearly four years since there was a good day in Iraq...

As we help the Iraqis secure their capital, their leaders are also beginning to meet the benchmarks they have laid out for political reconciliation. Last month, Iraq's Council of Ministers approved a law that would share oil revenues among Iraqi people. The Iraqi legislature passed a $41 billion budget that includes $10 billion for reconstruction and capital improvements. And last week, Prime Minister Maliki visited Ramadi, a city in the Sunni heartland, to reach out to local Sunni tribal leaders.


Those are the benchmarks? They signed a deal that will be voided sometime in the next few years? They allocated ten billion for reconstruction when we've spent over ten times that much? Their prime minister was removed from his bubble wrap and sent to another city?

Wake me up whenever they figure out how to ride a bike without training wheels.

There's been good progress. There's a lot more work to be done, and Iraq's leaders must continue to work to meet the benchmarks that have set forward.


At least Ronald Reagan could say nothing with a little bit of zest.

As Iraqis work to keep their commitments, we have important commitments of our own. Members of Congress are now considering an emergency war spending bill. They have a responsibility to ensure that this bill provides the funds and the flexibility that our troops need to accomplish their mission. They have a responsibility to pass a clean bill that does not use funding for our troops as leverage to get special interest spending for their districts. And they have a responsibility to get this bill to my desk without strings and without delay.


Yeah, because Bush is soooo going to veto troop money if the bill isn't "clean". I guess this makes him feel like he earns his afternoon nap.

It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home. That may be satisfying in the short run, but I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating. If American forces were to step back from Baghdad before it is more secure, a contagion of violence could spill out across the entire country. In time, this violence could engulf the region. The terrorists could emerge from the chaos with a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they had in Afghanistan, which they used to plan the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. For the safety of the American people, we cannot allow this to happen.


Yet another distraction. "Consequences for American Security" actually means "US access to Middle East petroleum" in this paragraph. Anti-American terrorists can find several more places to train than Iraq. If we want to be secure against these attacks, then there are more options than occupying Iraq. This is about staying in Iraq to prevent Iran from co-opting Iraq oil resources. That's the only logical reason for us to stay there. Bush just weaves stories to wrap around this fact.

Prevailing in Iraq is not going to be easy. General Petraeus says that the environment in Iraq is the most challenging that he has seen in his more than 32 years of service. He also says that he has been impressed by the professionalism and the skill and determination of our men and women in uniform. He sees in our troops "a true will to win and a sincere desire to help our Iraqi partners achieve success."


Nothing helps wind down a speech than empty patriotic rhetoric.

Four years after this war began, the fight is difficult, but it can be won. It will be won if we have the courage and resolve to see it through. I'm grateful to our servicemen and women for all they've done and for the honor they brought to their uniform and their country. I'm grateful to our military families for all the sacrifices they have made for our country. We also hold in our hearts the good men and women who've given their lives in this struggle. We pray for the loved ones they have left behind.


Yes, yes, yes. Platitudes for sacrifice are groovy. Can we go back to the first sentence in this paragraph? OK. Now will you please define what the hell it means for this fight to be "won"? I only ask because you started this speech by saying that we started this war to remove Saddam Hussein from power. We've already won. Are we there for oil? To turn Baghdad into Salt Lake City? To turn Iraq into a crime-free country like Canada? Are we there to kick out Al Qaeda or is it to prevent them from entering when we leave (which doesn't make much sense BTW)? I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan, and I'm used to redefining the definition of 'victory', but I can only go so far. What the hell is success in Iraq?

The United States military is the most capable and courageous fighting force in the world. And whatever our differences in Washington, our troops and their families deserve the appreciation and the support of our entire nation.


They deserve a commander-in-chief that doesn't manipulate the army like pawns in a geopetroleum chess game. A chess game that has made this President's family incredibly rich.

Thank you.


In the words of Dick Cheney, "Go Fuck Yourself."

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