I’m guessing all the regular readers and contributors listened to the President’s speech tonight, and I would suppose that we all share similar views. I think it’s important to discuss some of the highlights.
Here’s my take……
1– Watching the speech, my first impression was that it was about 2 years too late. If, in early 2004, Bush came out and said, “Mistakes have been made in Iraq, and I take full responsibility for them. Yes, I listen to the military commanders, but ultimately I’m the commander in chief, and I am responsible for the execution of war in this country. That being said, the fight in Iraq is vital to our national security, and in order to win that fight, I propose the following……”, if he had said that, someone might have listened to him, some may have actually believed him. The problem now is, he has lost nearly all of his credibility. Prior to the speech, recent polling showed only 12% support for increasing troops in Iraq. The country no longer believes him, and that is unfortunate because there are kernels of truth in what he is saying.
2– I thought Dick Durbin’s response was excellent. The nationalistic, America First, message was a classic conservative talking point used in prior wars, but never as appropriately as it was used tonight. His message encapsulated the average American’s opinion of Iraqis and the Iraq war– we have done a lot: we have captured and killed Saddam, we helped you draft a constitution, we helped you have several elections, and we have helped you form an unity government. We have sacrificed hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives. The time has come for you to take responsibility for your own actions and for your own political futures– if you are not willing to reach political reconciliation, we cannot help you forever.
3– Back to a kernel or two of truth. Anyone who has read The Looming Tower knows that Al Qaeda is deadly serious about it’s mission. They are heartless, ruthless, delusional killers who want nothing more than to see us fail worldwide, and who want nothing more than to see our interest hurt around the world. If they could, they would kill as many americans and moderates as possible, and they wouldn’t think twice about it. If it is in fact true that Al Qaeda is looking to turn Anbar province into its new enclave, we should do everything in our power to destroy them. Again, the problem is, who knows what’s true and what’s bullsh*t from the President. If there are Al Qaeda elements building in Anbar, we should destroy them. If there really were Al Qaeda elements in Somalia, we should have attacked them. Who knows if there really are terrorists in either location. We simply can’t trust anything this President says anymore on these issues, and that’s a shame.
4– The most important part of this speech may have been the announcement of a carrier group moving into the region, specifically to serve notice to Iran and Syria that we will do everything in our power to disrupt the networks being used by “terrorists” to support their insurgent efforts in Iraq. Again, if true, it’s certainly in our national interest to do so, but did he just signify a possible escalation of the conflict in Iraq to a regional conflict? We may be headed for disaster in the region as we further expect our brave men and women to take on other challenges they are not equipped for.
5– The political benchmarks in the speech outlined by Bush for Maliki were exactly the type of thing being discussed in 2004 and 2005, and were ridiculed by Bush et al. Again, 2 years at least too late…..
6– 20,000 troops is not enough. 200,000 probably wouldn’t be enough…… We’re sending these kids into an urban war where they will not be able to tell who the bad guys are, where snipers will pick them off like target practice, and where we will have to serve as the referees for a sectarian conflict that is over 1000 years old. For the sake of comparison, there are 45,000 police officers on patrol daily in NYC……
I’m anxious to hear others’ thoughts….