Tuesday, June 28, 2005

...And Then He Speaks

For those of you who missed it, President Bush addressed the nation this evening. Well, not entirely...he addressed a room of military officers (approximately 700) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina this evening in a primetime broadcast. The topic: Iraq.

In the last several weeks (or maybe we should say the last few months following the announcement that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction) there has risen harsh criticism of the Bush administration's continual efforts in Iraq. There is no link between Saddam, Iraq, or the war and the attacks on 9/11. This must be made perfectly clear. But tonight, after weeks of news about the Downing Street memo and question of a timetable of troop withdrawal, President Bush addressed the question.

Unfortunately, we still have an administration playing American loyalties by linking 9/11 with Iraq and as of this moment still no timetable of withdrawal. President Bush did make one change-- the war in Iraq is no longer about weapons of mass destruction it is about harboring terrorists. In that case, since every country in the middle east has a few terrorists about, why just Iraq?

I wish I could put all liberal biases aside, I wish I hadn't worn my "I did not vote 4 Bush" bracelet all day, and I wish that hearing Nancy Pelosi following the speech didn't get me all wound up, but at the rate I'm going, good luck redirecting me. I find it irritating that Bush plays 9/11 as if to invoke American sympathy. I find it odd that the president of the people, addressed the people, not personally, from behind the desk in the oval office. He instead addressed the military as the Commander-in-Chief. So be it. As Nancy Pelosi commented and as I would like to reaffirm, this is not about supporting the troops, this is about respecting, trusting, and allowing a presidency to continue in the same direction when there is no doubt in regard to deception.

I can't tell you if the administration fudged the paperwork. I can't tell you whether or not the intelligence agencies flubbed this. I can't even tell you if it was the Bush administration or not. But I can tell you that the American people have been led to believe that we went after Saddam because of weapons of mass destruction and/or a linkage between that tyrannical regime in Iraq and bin Laden's regime that attacked America on 9/11.

President Bush's address was not a rally, it was not an announcement, it wasn't even a declaration of anything. It was a reminder to the American people that we are in a mess and it is going to take quite a bit to get us out. The Iraqis have neither the motivation or the manpower to beat insurgency and allow for the dominance of freedom and democracy on their own. The Iraqis are ill-equipped and trained to carry out such a mission and are VERY dependent on their American and Coalition Forces. I have before commented on the "coalition of the willing," this evening President Bush named several of those coalition countries...the list is shrinking.

I have no wise counsel for the president or the administration. Having no understanding of foreign policy or military action, let me just say this: Warmaking is not always an attribute of presidential greatness (if nothing else I learned this from my American Presidency class), when you state that a timetable of withdrawal allows the enemy to assume that they are winning you begin to sound like Johnson and Nixon, look where that got those two administrations, and last, but certainly not least, don't play the heartstrings of the American people with your tears, military commitments, and accomplishments, tell the people the truth straight up, lead them wisely, and ask for their support and thank them...not just the military that is carrying out your mission.

Tonight as I watched President Bush give his speech and as he stumbled through a few lines, I was thinking about the image of the presidency. Presidents on television don't symbolize the strength, wisdom, and history of the office they hold anymore. Maybe it is just me, but when I look at presidents (let's say the presidents from Kennedy forward), I don't see the same thing that I see in the presidents before then. The office is losing it's prestige and I'm not sure if that is because the president has taken on a new celebrity-type role or if the occupants have lost clout. I would hope not. Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon (not as much), and Johnson were/are great men, but maybe only mortal men. There is something that was lost with Kennedy and maybe even before that. Maybe it's the media, I don't know. Tonight the presidency didn't look all that appealing. I don't want to say this is Bush's fault, nor his speech writer's fault, but something has happened and it negatively reflects a disinterested nation and a out-of-control executive office.


Nick Speth said...

I wish politics would allow the president to be totally honest. Here's the real fact. I supported the Iraq war because of the threat of WMD. Period. Though there was no direct link between 9/11 and Iraq, the 9/11 commission report tells us that there was a certain the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend type of understanding between bin Laden-affiliated terrorists within Iraq and Saddam, and the threat of a WMD-holding state developing that relationship into a real collaboration was too great.

BUT! It turns out there were no WMD, so now what? Well let's be honest about one thing, had we known that, most of us sane conservatives would have not supported war with Iraq while we were still in Afghanistan. This is something the President never says, but it is the truth.

Still in retrospect, I have to say that most of the world's intel services thought he had or was developing WMD, and no one can say that he ACTED like an innocent man. And if he did have them we couldn't have waited for the "smoking gun," for the smoking gun would have been a chemical weapon detonating in Tel Aviv, on an American military base or worse yet in an American city.

Liberals tend to assign the blessings of American justice too widely (see: Gitmo) and those who opposed the war did just that, trying to tell us that Saddam was innocent until proven guilty. Almost a year ago, I wrote on my blog "we can't afford innocent-until-proven-guilty foreign policy anymore." And I stand by that.

So we're in Iraq. The war was a mistake in that our basic premise for going was flawed. If we knew then what we know now, we wouldn't have gone. Okay, now what? Do we just pack it up? Obviously that is not possible. A hasty retreat from Afghanistan by the Soviet Union left it the unstable terrorist breading ground it became, and a big hole in the south of Manhattan is the end result. I think we need to have a clear exit strategy that leaves a stable Iraq, and I have no problem with establishing a time table for withdrawl, however if that time table is so unchangable that it will force us to leave Iraq in a potentially unstable state, then I will not support it. The key is to leave behind us an Iraq that will support itself.

Well that's what I hope is a sufficient explanation of the general conservative mindset from a member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. I know you wish you'd heard it from the President, but he's got a party to help keep in power.

Tara A. Rowe said...

Nick, THANK YOU! It is about time one of my conservative friends stepped up to the plate and started explaining a few things to me. When President Bush finished his address the other night I was so baffled as to why he wouldn't lay it out like the way you did. I hadn't considered keeping a party in power. I have a hard time thinking in the long term, especially with politics.

It may be no surprise to you that I was not a supporter of the war. Even when it was assumed that Saddam had WMD. I don't know if it was the Bush family connection to that region of the world (meaning the Gulf War and not oil or anything cynical like that) and I'm definitely a dove so that may have been the reason.

I at one time thought maybe what we were doing was right...the fall of Baghdad, but only once. My fear now is the outcome. I fear a cut-and-run approach just as much as I fear a long drawn out occupation.

I, too, wish that politics allowed the president (and others) to be honest. Thanks again, Nick.