President Bush’s TV address tonight was the worst speech he’s ever given on the war in Iraq, and that’s saying a lot. Every premise, every proposal, nearly every substantive point was sheer fiction. The only question is whether he was being deceptive or delusional.
The biggest fiction was that because of the “success” of the surge, we can reduce U.S. troop levels in Iraq from 20 combat brigades to 15 by next July. Gen. David Petraeus has recommended this step, and President George W. Bush will order it so. [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — President Bush’s basic problem as he addressed the nation last night was that his position has become untenable: he is a president who needs a front man. If General Patraeus could have given a presidential address, Bush seemed like he would happily have handed over the Oval Office.
“The war of good and evil” — phrasing that Bush would in the past have eagerly claimed as his own — this time came instead from an email from the parents of a dead soldier, Army Specialist Brandon Stout of Michigan. Then, in the ultimate act of disownership, Bush said, “now it falls to us to finish the work they have begun.”
Sorry, Mr. President, it wasn’t Americans like Brandon Stout who started this war — they simply blindly followed your lead.
Three and a half years later, faced with the consequences of their casual assent to war, many — perhaps even most Americans — would now support the idea that the president and this administration’s top officials “have to be held accountable.”
That demand also comes from elsewhere — this time from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Today he went on to say, “I have a firm belief that one day this current US president and the American officials will be tried in a fair international court for the atrocities committed in Iraq.”
Washington’s reaction would no doubt be, of course that’s what America’s nemesis would say. Yet as all the neocons and now the president himself each energetically pursue their own personal exit strategy for getting out of responsibility for Iraq, the judgment day they clearly fear is much closer than the hereafter. It comes in the ignominious fall that the mighty will always struggle to evade. Eventually, though, executives lose their privilege.
At this point the president’s arguments have become so shrill that I’m baffled that anyone even takes this man seriously anymore. But the cynic in me knows that by the time the president’s announcements get filtered through to the average Joe on the street that person will think that the president is actually taking steps to draw down troop levels. Kaplan’s argument that troops will be forced to return by late next spring because their rotation would have ended anyway is immaterial. An educated person knows this. A person who reads beyond the headlines knows this. But to the man on the street that hasn’t been paying much attention to begin with will think that some modicum of victory has been achieved.
What I don’t understand, and haven’t ever been able to understand, is why we believe there will be catastrophe if we leave. All the people who are predicting catastrophe are the same ones who predicted a short, quick, economical war.