Saturday, January 13, 2007

Iraqis killing Iraqis is something that Americans really don’t understand

Bush’s weekly radio address mostly reiterated his Wednesday speech on Iraq, but I would like to point out this characterization of Anbar: “America will step up the fight against al Qaeda in its home base in Iraq -- Anbar province.” He went on, “Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders”. In that order. Or not.

Bush reached out to Congress, well, reached out to slap them: “Members of Congress have a right to express their views... But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success.” I.e., get out now doesn’t count. “To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.” This is like an alchemist insisting his critics should shut up unless they have a better way to turn lead into gold. Like saying, all right, smartypants, if you don’t think my perpetual motion machine will work, let’s see you make one with a bicycle chain, three coat hangers, a baby stroller with one wheel missing, some string, an Atari joystick, and an old mayonnaise jar.

(What sort of spellcheck program doesn’t recognize “smartypants”?)

Bush added, “We recognize that many members of Congress are skeptical. Some say our approach is really just more troops for the same strategy. In fact, we have a new strategy with a new mission: helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad.” So for the last four years, we haven’t been trying to secure the population?

He also informs us that “Secretary Rice has gone to the region to continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.”

Actually, Condi herself says, “I’m not coming with a proposal, I’m not coming with a plan” and “this time, I think we want to have consultations to see where people are”, so possibly her definition of urgent diplomacy is different from her boss’s.

Speaking of urgent diplomacy, here she is with Israel’s deputy prime minister and minister for strategic threats, Unholy Avigdor Lieberman, whose threats against Palestinians have done so much to help bring peace to the Middle East.

Lieberman told her that it was just “a matter of time” before Israel re-invaded Gaza.

(I’m just going to mix together quotes from that briefing and the 1, 2, 3, 4 other interviews Condi gave yesterday. Oh, and I think I deserve some sort of prize for reading all of them. Cash, a back rub, cash, antidepressants, cash, something.)

Condi spoke about propping up Palestinian PM Abbas: “we continue to work on how to help Abu Mazen and how to help the Palestinian people to create governing structures and security forces that can actually secure the Palestinian people.” These are the exact same terms the Bushies use about Maliki and Iraq. “Secure” has been the Bushies’ favorite verb for the last couple of weeks. I’m never sure whether they mean it in the sense of to make safe, get possession of, tie down or fasten, to pledge something to assure payment, or to cover openings and make movable objects fast.

While unwilling to talk to Iranian leaders, Rice does say “we’re reaching out to the Iranian people. We’ve had a delegation of medical personnel here. They had a wonderful trip, went down to Atlanta to the CDC, seeing how America does these health matters. But we also have the American wrestling team going to Iran fairly soon. So we’re going to continue to reach out to the Iranian people, a great people, a people that shouldn’t be isolated.” Wrestled, but not isolated. Got it. Who needs diplomacy when you’ve got wrestling.

She criticized the skepticism expressed by senators about the Maliki regime: “And the undercurrent that because they’ve not performed in the past, they won’t perform this time, I think was -- is just -- there isn’t a natural automaticity there”. And even if they succumb to unnatural automaticity and don’t perform, “we’re not pulling the plug on Iraq.” Hard to see how that matters: it’s not like they have electricity anyway.

She says she has told Iraqi officials that the impatience of the American people has increased “as Americans watch Iraqis killing Iraqis. Because while we understand fighting al-Qaida, while we understand fighting Saddamists, while we even understand insurgency, Iraqis killing Iraqis is something that Americans really don’t understand.”

But the real pressure on Maliki will come from Iraq’s vibrant democratic process: “The Iraqi people have lost patience... the Iraqi people are fed up”; “Well, the compelling forcing mechanism is that this government is not going to survive its own people if it doesn’t take control of the situation in Baghdad.” Wow, a government forced to change its failed policies because the people are fed up – I guess we could never have a system like that in this country, huh?

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