So there was Bush, at his State of the Union Address, using the same old tired arguments about the war in Iraq, plus a few extra specious ones.
Bush said he is sending more troops in Iraq to “stop the sectarian violence.” In other words, to patrol the civil war that U.S. troops were supposed to be preventing by being there in the first place.
Bush is stuck in Iraq, and he is sticking more of our troops there because he, like Lyndon Johnson before him, can’t admit failure.
Or, as Bush confessed, “This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but is the fight we’re in.”
And so we have to say, he argued. “It would not be like us” to leave, he said.
He added, “It is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle” and to “turn events toward victory.”
But few believe that, so Bush fell back on the pathetic “give it a chance” line, and the even more embarrassing, “Whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure.”
What did they vote for again? Oh, yeah, weapons of mass destruction, which vanished in Iraq as they did in Bush’s speech.
Still, Bush kept blocking the exit doors with his overblown rhetoric. He said, “Our commitment is not open-ended,” but later on he added, “Nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East [and] to succeed in Iraq.”
If that’s the case, if winning in is Iraq is really that important, then even if Maliki doesn’t not meet Bush’s benchmarks, Bush can’t withdraw.
He assumes that Iraq will devolve into chaos if the United States leaves, and while that is a possibility, it is also possible that the Iraqis, having rid themselves of the occupying force, will arrive at a political settlement with less bloodshed in the end than if the United States stayed there.
It is also highly unlikely that Al Qaeda and the Sunni extremists will prevail in Iraq, since the Shiites predominate.
Bush has a bad tendency of slipping on his way up the moral high ground.
He blamed Sunni extremists because they “preach with threats [and] instruct with bullets and bombs.”
But what, pray tell, is the U.S. doing to the Iraqis but instructing with bullets and bombs, or to the Iranians but preaching with threats?
With his broad brush (the only kind he has), Bush slapped distortion upon distortion.
In Iraq, he said that the bombing of the mosque in Samarra created the Shiite death squads. But those death squads came into being long before that. By denying this, Bush minimizes the depths of the sectarian divide.
And, not satisfied to go after Al Qaeda but warming instead to a bombing raid on Tehran, Bush blames Iran for some of the Shiite militias. And then he conflates all of the threats together in a grand sleight of hand. “The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat,” he said. But it does no good to lump them all in together. Their goals and missions and ideologies and demands differ. By treating them the same way, Bush steers himself and the American people to the only solution he favors: war. (He also injects into the American mind the idea that all Muslims are the same.)
“We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism,” Bush said.
Actually, he has virtually no diplomatic strategy whatsoever, and the world is increasingly abandoning Bush’s fight. In a recent BBC survey, 73 percent of people polled in 25 countries disapprove of Bush’s handling in Iraq, and 68 percent say the U.S. presence in the Middle East is a cause--not a cure--for conflict.
Bush did not acknowledge what his own intelligence agencies have admitted: that the U.S. occupation in Iraq has been a recruiting bonanza for Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism.
He waved at the need to “remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred.” There are many such conditions, including poverty, lack of education, the funding of madrassas by Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and the role the U.S. has played in propping up repressive regimes in the Middle East and in siding, time and time again, against the Palestinians. But Bush focused solely on the lack of democracy in the Middle East, while praising “moderate” regimes that are anything but. He barely mentioned the Palestinians. “We’re pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security,” he said. But no Administration in the last 30 years has done less to pursue this diplomacy.
Truth is, he’s not interested in diplomacy. What he thrives on, in his favorite football metaphor, is “staying on the offense.”
But that strategy has been proven decisively wrong in Iraq.
Bush is stuck there, and he is sticking more of our troops there because he, like Lyndon Johnson before him, can’t admit failure.
© 2007 The Progressive