Bush needed to make a persuasive speech tonight, that is a speech calculated to win back the waverers, but he did not, offering rhetoric rather than argumentation. He simply does not know how to persuade. He needed to show some sign that he realized things were not going according to plan and that his policy would shift to take into account those realities, but he did not, suggesting instead that victory was inevitable. He didn’t define victory, because on the day when he finally does declare victory, Iraq will look much worse than it does today, but he suggested that as long as the US was determined to win, it would do so. He didn’t acknowledge the possibility that the US could remain determined to win but still lose through miscalculation, poor strategy, or because the task is simply too hard. Indeed, it’s hard to know if Bush privately understands that things are not going well or if he believes the things he says.
He quoted Osama bin Laden, saying that he had the same view of the situation in Iraq as Bush does. Hey, weren’t you going to catch that guy? Wasn’t he the one who could run but couldn’t hide? I’m just asking because it seems the height of chutzpah to link Iraq and 9/11 over and over, and then blandly quote the guy whose continued freedom is a sign of his failure to complete job #1 before moving on to Iraq.
He said several times that we need to stay in Iraq to “send a message.” If you want to send a message, use Western Union. When political leaders start thinking of military actions as ways to maintain national prestige, look strong, send a message, etc, rather than as a pragmatic business with defined objectives, you know you’re in trouble. Think LBJ. This is why he offered no plan and why, indeed, he has none. He doesn’t think it’s necessary.
It’s all abstract to him anyway. “Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed.” “They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras.”
I liked the suggestion that we are in Iraq to prevent it becoming what Afghanistan was, a haven for terrorists. Well, whose fault is that? Iraq wasn’t the destination for every jihadist in the Muslim world three years ago, now was it? So now the justification for the war in Iraq is to deal with conditions created by the war in Iraq.
At least there were no hoo-ah’s, which would really have made me vomit.