The Nether-World

January 25, 2007

Bush: Give War A Chance – Fisking The State of The Union Speech

Filed under: Bush, Iran, Iraq, US Politics — netherworld @ 6:50 am

George Bush’s State of The Union speech smacked of desperation. He had to plead with congress to support his plans to escalate the war in Iraq. Right from the start of his speech there were references to Iraq and Iran. I’m not going to fisk the whole speech, that would take too long (easy though it is). No, I’m just going to fisk the part that deals with the escalation of his war, and that happens to be most of his speech. The much-heralded change of direction on the environment and global warming was about three short paragraphs inserted to throw a bone to the new Democrat congress. From environmental issues Bush went on to “stable supply of energy” which inevitably led him into his favourite subject, war.

Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean. For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, and raise the price of oil, and do great harm to our economy.

He might just as well have said “And this dependence leaves foreign regimes more vulnerable to the hostile USA“. In the end his new energy policy was nothing of the sort, just some non-specific statements of his plans to cut the use of petroleum by 20 percent in ten years, encourage more use of ethanol and bio diesels and rely on technology to get him out of the mess he’s in. It also probably means redoubled efforts to destroy the pristine environment in Alaska.

Once again Bush invoked the memory of 9/11 before launching into the main thrust of his speech. In fact he referred to September 11 no less than six times.

With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled: that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)

I don’t recall that issue being settled Mr Bush. Taking the fight to the enemy, as you put it, has devastated a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and filled it with terrorists when previously there were none.

From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.

Life has never been the same for most of the people Iraq since its destruction. As for protecting your people, well the families of over 3,000 soldiers might not agree.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen [like victory]. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented, but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terror cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them. (Applause.)

Those successes of course cannot be attributed to the war in Iraq. In fact they can’t all even be properly verified. To mention the alleged plot to blow up planes with baby milk, shampoo and hair gel is ridiculous. That so-called plot is looking like a bit of a damp squib and shameless fear-mongering.

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that’s the case, America is still a nation at war.

This might be a good time to remind ourselves that 15 of the 19 hijackers of the 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia and the plot was launched from Afghanistan which was ignored by you after its invasion so you could focus on Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11. I can’t help noticing that you haven’t caught Bin Laden yet.

In the mind of the terrorist, this war began well before September the 11th, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past five years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs, and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.

“In the mind of the terrorist”? Which terrorist? Are you suggesting that disparate factions in Iraq think that the war began before September 11? Okay another reality check. Al Qaeda is about three percent of the insurgency in Iraq. Perhaps it might be an idea to focus a bit more on the other 97 percent of your enemy.

Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: “We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse.” Osama bin Laden declared: “Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.”

Some, of course, just want you and your forces out of their country. Overthrowing moderate governments is something the USA has been doing for decades; Chile and Iran (with Britain) spring instantly to mind. Saddam’s regime can hardly be described a moderate but Iraq was in much better shape before it was visited by “the cause of liberty”. Zarqawi’s notoriety was, as we know, a product of the invasion. Before that he was just a common al Qaeda thug.

These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah — a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.

So was Iran this powerful before the destruction of Iraq, or is this phenomenon too a result of your invasion? As for Hezbollah, well its not universally recognised as a terrorist group. It holds seats in the Lebanese Parliament

The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. Whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.

What Shia and Sunni resistance groups share is a desire to get Americans and their allies out of their country where they have no right to be. Whether or not they want democracy or dictatorship is no business of America and the sectarian violence between these factions is again the result of the invasion. And a real democracy cannot flourish under occupation anyway. If you hadn’t invaded innocents wouldn’t be slaughtered on this scale. Before going on about weapons yet again wouldn’t it be better to get at least some credible evidence. This situation in Iraq is much more complicated than a simple Sunni Shia divide.

In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers had ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people. (Applause.)

And every unlawful and improper tool as well. This strategy will only create more extremists. It’s a vicious circle that is being exacerbated.

This war is more than a clash of arms — it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and to come and kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom.

If you really wanted to “remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred”, you’d get out of the region or at least be a balanced broker in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

— societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies — and most will choose a better way when they’re given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates and reformers and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security, we must. (Applause.)

This seems like a false argument to me. In fact the same statement could be used to argue the case for America’s withdrawal. Newsflash – America is not helping, its making matters far worse for the inhabitants of the region and for American security. When you say “Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies“, how do you explain the neo con ideology which is steeped in blood?

In the last two years, we’ve seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East — and we have been sobered by the enemy’s fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, they drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections, choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity that we should never forget. (Applause.)

As soon as the Syrians left Lebanon, the Israelis moved in… funny that. Now Lebanon is on the brink of civil war as well, largely thanks to your refusal to swiftly end last Summer’s war. The elections in Iraq were fought on sectarian lines resulting in the current increase in violence. We’ve recently seen the new democratic Iraq lynching, torturing and murdering in the same way Saddam did. Women are more oppressed than ever. Way to go Bush. Remind me again why we invaded.

A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon’s legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia — and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

So you are implying that the Taliban, Syrians, Iranians, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other assorted Shia and Sunni groups in Iraq are in fact all the same enemy with the same objectives and motivations. It stretches credibility somewhat. Another newsflash; the new democratic Iraqi government that you installed also has death squads. You seem to be blaming the region-wide chaos on everyone but yourself. Of course the killers bear much of the responsibility but don’t you think it’s a bit of a coincidence that when America interferes with a state chaos invariably ensues?

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we’re in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory. (Applause.)

The fight you’re in is the one everyone with any sense predicted you’d be in. I’m afraid it would be like you to leave your promises unkept and your friends abandoned. That’s what happens when you lose wars… remember Vietnam? Oh yes, you avoided that conflict. And don’t kid yourself, you lost this war a long time ago. The sooner you recognise that the more lives will be saved.

We’re carrying out a new strategy in Iraq — a plan that demands more from Iraq’s elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

No you’re, not your carrying on with the same failed strategy of before and making impossible demands on a weak puppet government to disguise your own ineptitude. Your stated goal is absolutely unrealistic and unobtainable. The best you could manage at this stage is an exit with a modicum of dignity. Iraq is wrecked and I doubt it can be fixed with any strategy let alone one that’s already proved to be a failure.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we’re deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we’re sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. (Applause.) We didn’t drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

20’000 new troops will make little or no difference. This terrorist hunt is a fools errand, you may get one or two but they will be replaced and the rest will melt away only to reappear again later. That’s the problem with this kind of asymmetrical war, you can’t win it in the conventional way. All you’re going to achieve is more resentment and more violence.

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it’s time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad — and they must do so. They pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party — and they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq’s leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks — to achieve reconciliation, to share oil revenues among all of Iraq’s citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s civic life, to hold local elections, and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secure. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

Yes, the people of Iraq do want to live in peace so why not let them. Their weak puppet government will collapse. You might delay the collapse but you can’t prevent it. The pledges this government has given you are pledges they have given before and failed to deliver on. It is incapable of performing in the way you want it to. A sectarian government will behave in a sectarian way. And as for oil revenues, well, we know where they’re going don’t we?

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching.

No George, you replaced the military commanders who (like most people it seems) disagreed with your plan. You chose this course of action because you want to retain control of Iraq and either you are so deluded that you have convinced yourself that you know better than the experts or you are so arrogant that you cannot admit that you are utterly wrong (it’s probably both). America has already failed in Iraq, the country is utterly wrecked and likely to fragment along ethnic, tribal and religious lines. If you haven’t already, you will soon be seeing the “grievous and far-reaching consequences” of your failure.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

This is what is happening now. Many people predicted this would happen but they were sidelined just as the people warning you about the current escalation have been sidelined. The presence of American troops in Iraq is only making matters worse. It can’t be fixed, that’s the tragedy and that’s why you shouldn’t have invaded.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally — their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger. (Applause.)

And who caused this chaos? If chaos is the greatest ally of your enemies, why create it? What evidence do you have to support your assertion that Iraq had any intention or capability of harming America before the invasion? If one of the lessons of September 11 was not to allow failed states to emerge, you have shown how much you have learned from 9/11 by turning Iraq into a failed state when before it was merely another brutal dictatorship supported by America.

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you’ve made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way. (Applause.)

You are not pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, you are pursuing the same failed strategy as before and ignoring the findings of the Baker Hamilton report which at least offered a more sensible alternative. You ask to be given a chance for your plan to work… you’ve had four years to make it work and the situation in Iraq gets worse every day. The best way to support your troops is to bring them home rather than sending in any more.

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. And that’s why it’s important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. It’s why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. We’ll show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.

Hang on a minute, at the beginning of your speech you said: “…To extend this nation’s prosperity; to spend the people’s money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations“. Now you’re saying that future generations will have to clear up the mess you’ve made. It doesn’t matter what new advisory councils you create, we’ve already seen that you ignore advice that doesn’t fit in with your world view. If one thing out of all this should be clear to you it is that America is deeply divided and if it does come together it will unite against you and your agenda if it hasn’t already.

And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. (Applause.) Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. (Applause.) A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

How long before you are forced to re-introduce the Draft? People aren’t exactly falling over themselves to join the military these days are they? Your plans to hire non-military citizens to join in your “crusade” seems pretty close to a draft of sorts, or if not a draft then a mercenary army. What if they decline your generous offer to “serve in the defining struggle of our time“?

Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle because we’re not in this struggle alone. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations. We’re working with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq’s government.

America is increasingly isolated and everyone knows that. Even the British are trying to extricate themselves from this quagmire. Your “coalition of the willing” is dwindling to the point where it will consist of just the USA. The United Nations, which you ignored in order to launch this illegal war, does give a limited mandate for occupation thanks to the bullying of member states and a desire to try and sort out the appalling mess. Soon it too will come to the conclusion that America is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are all worried about sectarian violence spilling over into their territories and the marginalisation of Sunnis. Their support is qualified to say the least.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. (Applause.) With the other members of the Quartet — the U.N., the European Union, and Russia — we’re pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive — the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, we’re pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. (Applause.)

The CIA has found no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Are you going to launch another war on faulty intelligence and lies? It certainly looks that way at the moment. You have done nothing so far to help the creation of a Palestinian state. What you have done is allow Israel to continue to build illegal settlements on Palestinian land. You have also starved the Palestinian people, a collective punishment on them for democratically electing a government that you (and Israel) don’t like. Until that is put right there is no chance of security for Palestinians and Israelis. In Afghanistan the Taliban is resurging and looking impossible to completely defeat. By attacking Iraq you took your eyes off the ball. And as for your efforts to achieve a “Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons“, well, I seem to remember North Korea testing a nuclear bomb not too long ago… yet another miserable failure Mr Bush.

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