Thursday, June 28, 2007

Our military is undergoing through a lot of hard work and pressure

Today Bush went to the Naval War College in Rhode Island. He figured he might as well give it a try since he likes wars, though he doesn’t like colleges, and is pretty much neutral on navels (another thing he doesn’t much like, evidently, is Rhode Island; this is his first trip to the state as president). “The Naval War College,” he said, “is where the United States military does some of its finest thinking,” adding, “kind of like I do my finest thinking on the crapper.”

I may have made up that last part.

While sitting on the crapper.

Speaking of fine thinking: “Earlier this year, I laid out a new strategy for Iraq. I wasn’t pleased with what was taking place on the ground. I didn’t approve of what I was seeing. And so I called together our military and said, can we design a different strategy to succeed? And I accepted their recommendations. And this new strategy is different from the one were pursuing before.” So it’s different, is that what you’re saying?

He had maps and everything, just like Mitt Romney. “Let me begin with Anbar province. You can see here on the map, Anbar is a largely Sunni province that accounts for nearly a third of Iraqi territory. It’s a big place. ... It was al Qaeda’s chief base of operations in Iraq. Remember, when I mention al Qaeda, they’re the ones who attacked the United States of America and killed nearly 3,000 people on September the 11th, 2001. They’re part of the enemy. They’re extremists and radicals who try to impose their view on the world.”

Yes, Bush really felt that he needed to explain, at the Naval War College, what Al Qaida is.

IN OTHER WORDS: “According to a captured document -- in other words, according to something that we captured from al Qaeda -- they had hoped to set up its -- a government in Anbar.”

Back to the maps: “To the north of Baghdad, our forces have surged into Diyala province. The primary focus is the provincial capital of Baqubah, which is just an hour’s car ride from Baghdad.” Even less if Mitt Romney is driving – that guy doesn’t stop for pee breaks. “There, masked gunmen enforce their brutal rule with prisons and torture chambers and punish crimes like smoking.”

Just like California, then.

“Extremists in many of these areas are being confronted by U.S. and Iraqi forces for the first time in three years. We can expect determined resistance. They don’t like to be confronted.”

Just like California, then.

Speaking of confrontational behaviour: “Last week our commanders reported the killing of two senior al Qaeda leaders north of Baghdad -- one who operated a cell that helped move foreign fighters into Iraq, and another who served as a courier for the same cell.”

Senior Al Qaida leader = courier.

Senior Al Qaida leader = guy who helped his friends move.

“In the mixed Shia-Sunni neighborhood of Rashid, our foot patrols discovered a wall with two Arabic sentences spray-painted on them. It’s just a small example. It certainly didn’t get any news, but it says, ‘Yes, yes to the new security plan. No difference between Shia and Sunni.’” It didn’t get any news because the left-wing media is biased against... well, possibly they didn’t want to take their lives in their hands to report on graffiti.

“[T]he Iraqis have got to be making tough decisions towards reconciliations.” What, the graffiti wasn’t enough?

“I speak to the Prime Minister and I speak to the Presidency Council quite often, and I remind them we expect the government to function, and to pass law. ... We expect there to be reconciliation. We expect them to pass law.” Hell, at this point we’d be happy if they passed gas.


“To evaluate how life is improving for the Iraqis, we cannot look at the country only from the top down. We need to go beyond the Green Zone and look at Iraq from bottom up.” You first, George.

Also, heh heh, he said bottom.


“We are also encouraged by the way Iraqis are responding to atrocities intended to inflame passions and provoke reprisals. In early 2006 -- things were going fine in 2005. ...”

Things were going... fine... in 2005.

WHAT DO WE WONDER, GEORGE? “Al Qaeda is responsible for the most sensational killings in Iraq. They’re responsible for the sensational killing on U.S. soil, and they’re responsible for the sensational killings in Iraq. Here at home, we see the bloody aftermath of a suicide bombing in an Iraqi market -- and we wonder what kind of people could do that. That’s what we wonder. We’re good-hearted people.”

By the way, that example would probably work a lot better if the US had never dropped bombs on Iraqi markets.

“And that’s their strategy. Al Qaeda’s strategy is to use human beings as bombs to create grisly images for the world to see. They understand that sensational images are the best way to overwhelm the quiet progress on the ground.” Yes, it’s the images that are the problem, not the, you know, reality. “They hope to gain by the television screen what they cannot gain on the battlefield... Our success in Iraq must not be measured by the enemy’s ability to get a car bombing into the evening news.” Bush’s secret weapon: Paris Hilton. “No matter how good the security, terrorists will always be able to explode a bomb on a crowded street.” Always?

Then, in the bit that will get the most coverage world-wide, he provided Iraq with a positive role model: “In places like Israel, terrorists have taken innocent human life for years in similar attacks. The difference is that Israel is a functioning democracy that is not prevented from carrying out its responsibilities. And that’s a good indicator of success that we’re looking for in Iraq: the rise of a government that can protect its people, deliver basic services for all its citizens, and function as a democracy even amid violence.” So our goal, after all these years of war, is a place just like Israel, only less Jewy?

DID YOU SAY... BEGINNING STAGES? “We’re involved in a broader war against these ideological killers. Iraq is just a theater in this war. ... The stakes are high in the beginning stages of this global war against ideologues that stand for the exact opposite of what America stands for.”

“It’s amazing how the Navy has been able to accomplish more with less. Perhaps that’s what you’ve been able to -- that’s less manpower, more mission, better use of equipment, the capacity to manage manpower better.” He makes it sound so... dirty.

THE LONGEST WORD BUSH HAS EVER HAD TO READ OFF A TELEPROMPTER: “Part of the strategic thought for our military is interoperability.”

The audience was invitation-only, so this was the toughest question:

Q: At the beginning of your speech -- that you said that you consult with the military. With all due respect, sir, how much do you really listen and follow them?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, a lot.

He added, “I talk to General Petraeus all the time. I say ‘all the time’ -- weekly; that’s all the time...” Really, you’re smothering me. “...on secure video from Baghdad. There’s a lot of discussions about troop positioning; what will our footprint look like.” That’s not a metaphor; Bush calls Petraeus up every week on secure video to talk about what his footprint looks like.

It looks like the bottom of a foot.

Possibly I spoke too soon earlier. Maybe this was the toughest question:

Q: I wanted to ask you about your thoughts concerning strategic culmination. Are we --

THE PRESIDENT: Strategic --

Q: Strategic culmination.

WHAT IS OUR MILITARY UNDERGOING THROUGH, GEORGE? “And I think people recognize that obviously -- you know, our military is undergoing through a lot of hard work and pressure.”

“Our foreign policy is much more than the use of the military. I know the focus is on the military; it’s, like, on TV everyday, I understand that.” The question was about hospital ships. “It’s really effective diplomacy to help a mom deal with a child’s sickness. And we do a lot of it. We get no credit for it, but we do a lot of it.” Really effective diplomacy... that we get no credit for. And just how pissy is that “we get no credit for it”?

SOMEWHAT SUSPECT: “Well, I suspect if you look back at history they might have been somewhat suspect if someone would have predicted an American President would be sitting down keeping the peace with the Japanese Prime Minister at some point -- particularly after World War II.”

WE NEVER SAID “IDEALIST”: “I think it’s going to be very important for our country to have faith in the capacity of liberty to be transformative. Some say that’s -- you know, he’s a hopeless idealist guy.”

Talking about the dead-in-the-water free-trade treaty with Colombia, he took a shot at, I assume, Chavez: “The free trade vote has a lot of strategic implications because in the neighborhood there is a person who is undermining a democracy, and therefore we need to be concerned about the loss of democracies in our neighborhood.”

Later, he told a little joke about God and Castro and death: “It’s in our interests that Cuba become free and it’s in the interests of the Cuban people that they don’t have to live under an antiquated form of government -- that has just been repressive. So we’ll continue to press for freedom on the island of Cuba. One day, the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away (laughter) -- no, no, no -- then, the question is, what will be the approach of the U.S. government?” One approach is to make sure no more Cubans wind up in Miami: “we’re working very closely with the Navy and Coast Guard to make sure that there is not any issues when it comes between the United States and Cuba, should there be a -- when there is a transition.”

Huh, good God, what is it good for?

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