A desperate, dishonest attempt to justify the continuation of our unnecessary, unwarranted invasion and occupation of Iraq. It was painful to listen to even the few snippets of President Bush's speech I tolerated while awaiting the commentary and Democratic responses. It was like watching an exceptionally gory horror film. You cover your eyes, but sneak peeks out of morbid curiosity. The President now conflates the entire war in Iraq with Al Qaeda and fears of another 9/11 because playing the terror card is his last refuge. These are huge lies, of course. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with Bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda in Iraq represent, at most, 5% of the total number of fighters attacking us in Iraq. I was quite pleased with Sen. Jack Reed's official Democratic response and by that of John Edwards, the first time he's ever really impressed me with anything he's said. The responses from Giuliani, McCain and Mike Huckabee were merely partisan echoes of Bush. Sadly, no amount of analysis or rhetoric, however incisive, will change anything at this point. Congressional Democrats won't even attempt to defund Bush's war, so it continues.
I won't perform a line by line analysis of the speech. Fred Kaplan offers an excellent one at Slate. Nevertheless, Bush's speech was so replete with targets of opportunity that I'll comment on a few portions.
Yet Iraq's national leaders are getting some things done. They're sharing oil revenues with the provinces.A blatant lie. The Iraqi parliament has yet to pass revenue sharing legislation. Sigh.
A free Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven. A free Iraq will counter the destructive ambitions of Iran.Because you, President Bush, dropped the ball in Afghanistan and Bin Laden escaped while you pursued the invasion in Iraq, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda already enjoy a safe haven in Pakistan under the protection of a resurgent Taliban. Your invasion of Iraq and the subsequent chaos it brought to that country enabled Al Qaeda, who were never a presence in Iraq before, to set up shop there, and our occupation of Iraq validates their anti-American ideology and provides them with their best recruiting tool.
If we were to be driven out of Iraq, extremists of all strains would be emboldened. Al Qaeda could gain new recruits and new sanctuaries. Iran would benefit from the chaos and would be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region.
Iraq under Saddam Hussein was the countervailing force to Iran. The Iraqi Shiite majority, with Iranian support, will now probably crush the Sunni minority, leaving Iraq a twin of sorts to Iran. The idea of a free Iraq that opposes Iranian ambitions is as much a delusional fantasy as the rest of your assessments and predictions, Mr. President.