Bush met today with military people about Iraq (I believe this was his last such meeting, and I would bet that Cheney made sure he heard from Rumsfeld, the alliterate Peter Pace, and the Joint Chiefs last, since Bush does tend to agree with whoever talked to him last). Bush said afterwards, “I thank these men who wear our uniform for a very candid and fruitful discussion about the -- about how to secure this country, and how to win a war that we now find ourselves in.” Find ourselves in? Have we been sleep-invading again? Or did we just take a wrong turn at Albuquerque?
What did they talk about? Why, “We spent a lot of time talking about a new way forward in Iraq”. Sick of that phrase yet?
He says that in the last quarter of 2006 we have captured or killed 5,900 of the enemy. Funny, I thought they didn’t do body counts.
Addressing the troops, he reassured them that he is “focused on developing a strategy that will help them achieve their mission.” That’s what happens when you sleep-invade, you always forget something. Bullets, check, Humvees, check, strategy... d’oh! Still, we’ve done so well without a strategy so far that there’s really no hurry: “I’m not going to be rushed into making a difficult decision, a necessary decision, to say to our troops, we’re going to give you the tools necessary to succeed and a strategy to help you succeed.” In fact, he says about the postponing until January of his speech to the American people on the subject, “actually, I was quite flexible about when I was going to give my speech, to begin with”. See, whoever said Bush isn’t flexible? “And at the appropriate time, I will stand up in front of the nation and say here’s where we’re headed. But one thing people got to understand is we’ll be headed toward achieving our objectives.”
Asked if he’s heard any new ideas that might make him, god forbid, change his “thinking” (that’s a reporter’s over-generous terminology, not mine), he said he’d heard some interesting ideas, but won’t tell us what they are, and “I’ve heard some ideas that would lead to defeat, and I reject those ideas -- ideas such as leaving before the job is done”. And “I want to make sure I hear from as many of those ideas and opinions as possible. Today I heard from some opinions that matter a lot to me... And I am proud to have listened to their points of view.”
In his last days in the White House, Richard Nixon talked to the portraits of former presidents. Bush wouldn’t do that of course, because he’s never heard of any of them, although “George Herbert Walker Bush” sounds a little familiar to him, but he talks to families who die, and now ideas and opinions “speak” to him. Anything else? “And we spend a lot of time in our government talking to people like Saudi Arabia, or Egypt, or Jordan, or Turkey”.
He’s also been speaking with a lot of Iraqis whose names he didn’t quite catch: “today on the telephone I spoke to the two Kurdish leaders... I met with the major Sunni leader yesterday”. Think when he talked to those Kurdish leaders, he called them “Kurdish Guy One” and “Kurdish Guy Two”? Really, there are, what 25 million Iraqis? You can’t expect him to know more than one of their names. And that one lucky guy is Prime Minister Maliki: “In my conversations with him, I have said, are you going to promote a unity government, or will you be so divisive in your approach that you can’t achieve the objectives that the Iraqi people expect you to achieve? How do I know they expect to achieve? They voted; 12 million of them actually went to the polls and expressed their opinions.” He doesn’t actually say what Maliki’s answer was. And does the White House have a special translator who can render Broken English into Arabic? What is the Arabic for “How do I know they expect to achieve”?
Not surprisingly, if he can’t keep people’s names straight, how can he keep countries separate, which is why he said that it’s in the interests of Gulf Coast that there be a stable Iran, “an Iran that is capable of rejecting Iranian influence.”
Bush said if we fail in Iraq, “It would certainly make it more likely that moderate people around the Middle East would wonder about the United States’ will. Moderate people -- moderate governments in the Middle East would be making irrational decisions about their future.” I don’t know what that means, but neither does he, so that’s okay then. I wouldn’t care to attempt to diagram his last sentence, either: “And as I deliberate the way forward, I keep in mind that we’ve got brave souls that need -- to need to know that we’re in this fight with a strategy to help them achieve the objectives that we’ve got.” Do they really need to know that? Really?