Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Selling the War Effort

President Bush gave another speech on the Iraq and the War on Terror today. The emphasis was rebuilding. If I had the time, I'd point out everything I find objectionable, misleading or just plain wrong in this statement but I don't have that much time so I'll just have to chose the most striking examples. I'm a little steamed up.

Let's start with the headline:
President Discusses War on Terror and Rebuilding Iraq*
Once again, let's just acknowledge the fact that Iraq was not involved in the global "war" on terror until the US administration decided that it should be. Dubya just cannot pass up any opportunity to portray the invasion as an inevitable part of the GWoT. To be honest, I find this contemptible. It is willfully disingenuous and misleading and the US administration does it constantly.

Let's be clear: if al Qaeda terrorists are ever able to "use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against America, overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, and try to establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain" it will be in large part due to the many horrendous errors of judgement that this president has made. I'm more than prepared to make a list if anyone doubts it. In February 2003, Saddam was a brutal dictator and a threat to his own people but he was powerless to influence events outside Iraq to any significant extent. Today, the US and UK governments have created a situation which is far more dangerous to the region and really does have the potential to provide a base for international terrorists. Bush and Blair have taken an enormous risk by choosing to invade Iraq.

Some people argue that we shouldn't base our decisions on the actions of the enemy and this is a fine moral principle. In reality, that's very often exactly what must be done, especially in times of war. And they do say they are at war. Constantly. A couple of examples which I have given before. The enemy is carpet bombing your cities daily and killing your citizens by the tens of thousands. Do not build anti-aircraft defences in the remote countryside arguing that we shouldn't base our actions on those of the enemy. Noble maybe, but stupid definitely. Or, France is about to attack. Crack French troops are ready to invade across the channel. Our defences are stretched and we might not hold them off. Do not send all our troops to invade Denmark arguing that we shouldn't base our actions on those of the enemy. Definitely not noble and very definitely stupid.

The terrorists are not currently as dangerous as the enemies in these fictitious examples and are never likely to be but the point remains. In the real world, strategic decisions must take account of the current and likely future actions of your enemy. A soldier who doesn't understand that will very quickly be a dead soldier.

Sigh. I can see I'm not going to get very far through the speech. Next point:
On September the 11th, 2001, our nation awoke to another sudden attack. In the space of just 102 minutes, more Americans were killed than we lost at Pearl Harbor.
September 11th is related to Iraq how? The President of the United States of America is hiding behind the dead bodies of nearly 3,000 Americans (nearly 5,500 actually) to try obscure the many failings of his Iraq policy. It is disgusting, simple as that. And evoking Pearl Harbor? Japan, 1941 and Al Qaida, 2001: compare and contrast. I'm not even going to bother. Next point:
Yet the terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in their war against humanity. So we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror.
Confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror.
- World's most disingenuous President, October 7th, 2002
Bush chose Iraq as the central front in the war on terror long before the extremists moved in. And that quote from the 2002 speech is almost immediately followed by:
Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror, the instruments of mass death and destruction.
That's might be downright lies rather than disingenuousness. Anyway, back to today:
This is an enemy without conscience -- they cannot be appeased. If we're not fighting and destroying the enemy in Iraq, they would not be leading the quiet lives of good citizens. They would be plotting and killing our citizens -- across the world and within our own borders. By fighting the terrorists in Iraq, we are confronting a direct threat to the American people -- and we will accept nothing less than complete victory.
As regular visitors will know, I'm aften pointing out that an attrition based counter-terrorist (or insurgent) strategy is just stupid. The assumption behind it is that there are a finite number of terrorists and that killing them will solve the problem. That's dangerous nonsense. Ask anyone who's studied counter-terrorism and they'll tell you that this sort of thinking is incontrovertably wrong "Did that come from some wet behind the ears fresher?", they'd ask (once they'd stopped laughing). How can it be that the President of the most powerful country in the world is putting forward a proposal which is based on an entirely erroneous assumption? Seriously, it scares the sh*t out of me.**

This also appears to be yet another acknowledgement that Iraq was always intended to be a "flytrap" for terrorists. So what if some Iraqis get killed? And if a couple of thousand military bods end up dead, well they're mostly working class. Not nearly as important as high powered NY executive types... Is that the subtext? What right does Bush have to chose to wage his war on another country's soil anyway?

Those are just some points from the first third or so of the speech. There's lots more I could add but I'll leave it there. I'm not at all confident that this President can ever deliver the victory he declared on May 1st, 2003. I have one other section I'm going to highlight in a seperate post. It's really got my blood boiling.

* Some might say that Bush didn't write that headline so I shouldn't hold it against him but then I doubt he wrote very much of the speech either (US Presidents rarely do) and he's the boss at the end of the day. If you're looking for the buck, there's really only one place it can be.

** Trying to stop blog swearing. Again.

No comments: