The New York Times has some excerpts from a speech that Bush plans to give tomorrow at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention:
Bush: "There are many differences between the wars we fought in the Far East and the war on terror we are fighting today. But one important similarity is that at their core, they are all ideological struggles.
But what exactly does the war on terror have to do with Iraq? In the war on terror we are, in fact, fighting an enemy with a committed ideology. In particular, a brand of militant jihadism based on the fundamentalist creed of the Sunni Wahabbi sect of Islam and having its roots in Saudi Arabia.
In Iraq, we are fighting some of these same extremists, but we are also fighting a much larger array of different ideologies: ex-Baathists who follow a socialist ideology, Iraqi nationalists, Shiite fundamentalists (who are incidentally committed to the destruction of the jihadists who we are fighting in the war on terror), criminal elements who have no ideology at all, and a myriad of other insurgent and militant groups who cover the entire spectrum of ideologies.
Once again, Bush will attempt to confuse the two conflicts and paint them as one. Nice try, but the American people won't fall for it because we understand what's really going on in Iraq.
Bush: Our troops are seeing this progress on the ground. And as they take the initiative from the enemy, they have a question: Will their elected leaders in Washington pull the rug out from under them just as they are gaining momentum and changing the dynamic on the ground in Iraq?"
This marketing message for continuing the war is in stark contrast to what he was saying just a few months ago:
Bush: "And so we will help this Iraqi government succeed. And the first step for success is to do something about the sectarian violence in Baghdad so they can have breathing space in order to do the political work necessary to assure that different factions in Baghdad, factions that are recovering from years of tyranny, that there's a hopeful future for them and their families. I would call that political breathing space. And by providing this political breathing space -- in other words, giving the Maliki government a chance to reconcile and do the work necessary to achieve reconciliation -- it will hasten the day in which we can change our force posture in Iraq."
So before, the original purpose of the surge was to provide breathing space so that the Maliki government could move forward on political reconciliation of Iraq's warring factions. Now, of course, given that this hasn't taken place, Bush is forced to invent an entirely new rationale for keeping our troops in Iraq indefinitely against the determined will of the American and Iraqi people.
Now Bush is telling us that the surge is "changing the dynamic" on the ground and, for that reason alone, we should continue it even though the Iraqi politicians have made no progress at all in addressing the underlying causes of the Sunni insurgency (to say nothing of settling the expanding conflict between the Shiite militias themselves). Bush has apparently abandoned the idea that political reconciliation in Iraq is necessary at all anymore. He seems to believe that we should stay forever regardless of how badly the situation deteriorates between the Sunnis and the Shiites. The only thing that is important now is that we are "changing the dynamic" on the ground.
But, of course, the American people know that we've really been doing is paying off the Sunni insurgents with weapons and cash in exchange for their promise not to attack us. We also know that our military is organizing the insurgents into militias that will one day stand toe-to-toe with the Shiite militias that are already well-organized and control most of Iraq. It should be plainly obvious even to the dullest neoconservative minds, that the Iraqis themselves are simply sharpening their knives and preparing for the day when they will have their final showdown.
Consequently, it will be increasingly difficult for Bush to sell his new rationale for continuing our presence in Iraq which is just the last in a long line of rationales that have been discarded in getting us to this point. The bottom line that the American people know to be true is that the situation right now is really not much different than the situation at the end of 2003. Only now, thousands more of our troops have died and the Iraqis are no nearer to reconciling their differences.
Time has run out for George Bush on Iraq. He's not going to succeed in his effort to play out the clock on the war and dump the whole disaster on the next President. We need a change of course now. We have waited far too long already. The President's strategy is a failure and it's time to face up to it instead of continuing to deny the reality of the situation. Getting another thousand of our troops killed with another year of occupation isn't going to get the Iraqis to solve their differences. It's up to them now. Bring our troops home now, Mr. President!
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