Sunday, December 18, 2005

There are only two options before our country — victory or defeat

Yet another Bush speech about Iraq. I can’t have been the only one mesmerized by Bush’s hands, which were constantly in motion, to no particular effect, in part because they were positioned awkwardly on the desk in front of him because his chair was too low.

The speech struck me as more defensive than he’s been, the message being essentially that it’s not as bad as you think it is. “For every scene of destruction in Iraq, there are more scenes of rebuilding and hope.” Is that the standard? that the number of “scenes” (it’s all just pictures on the tv to him) of bombs blowing up are outnumbered by other scenes in which people are rebuilding after the last time bombs blew up.

The people of Iraq and Afghanistan must be wondering why Bush keeps calling them allies of the US in the war on terror. Hey, we already did our little bit, they must be saying, we gave at the office. I’m pretty sure no candidates in either countries’ elections ran on a platform of being allies of the United States in The War Against Terror (TWAT).

He admits that “This work has been especially difficult in Iraq — more difficult than we expected.” No fucking kidding. That’s what will be praised by the right-wing pundits as welcome honesty.

“Saddam Hussein, captured and jailed, is still the same raging tyrant — only now without a throne.” Raging tyrant? Didn’t Robert DeNiro gain a lot of weight for that one?

“We invite terrorism by ignoring them.” They just don’t take the hint, do they? We’ve all got relatives like that.

He’s perfectly willing to listen to “honest criticism” but not to “defeatists.” So if you oppose the war or think it is going badly, he doesn’t have to listen to you because you are dishonest (and a partisan, he says in the next sentence, and “giving in to despair,” he says later, as if his view of the war is rational and fact-based while differing views arise entirely from emotion).

Now, he says, “there are only two options before our country — victory or defeat.” The more he paints withdrawing troops from Iraq as a defeat, the more he makes it impossible ever to say that it’s time to do so, given the unlikelihood of the country calming down to the point where even he can credibly declare victory. So there is in fact a third option: permanent military occupation and never-ending warfare.

Then he finished with what he called a Christmas carol (and misquoted), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Christmas Bells,” which was about how God would defeat those fucking Confederates.

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