Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Change For Victory!

President Bush gave another press conference on Iraq today. It seems that I was right after all to predict that the congressional elections would force the Republicans to change course, just not in quite the way I was expecting. (Of course, Bush never actually said "stay the course". [Link Updated. Jon Stewart is the man. Via (due to my backlogged RSS reader).])

Before discussing the change, here a quick look at what hasn't changed. (Scroll down to The Change if you're after something new.)
If we do not defeat the terrorists or extremists in Iraq, they will gain access to vast oil reserves, and use Iraq as a base to overthrow moderate governments across the broader Middle East. They will launch new attacks on America from this new safe haven. They will pursue their goal of a radical Islamic empire that stretches from Spain to Indonesia.
The fear! The fear!

(As a side note, it is interesting that Bush believes that there are "moderate" government's in the broader Middle East. Wonder who he means?)

It is true that the consequences of failure in Iraq will probably be dire but certainly not in the way Bush suggests. His obssession with control of Iraq's oil is showing though.

Basically all of Iraq's oil is located in Shiite and Kurdish controlled areas. The Kurds pose potential problems for Iran and Turkey (beacaue these two countries have sizable Kurdish minorities who might want to join a new independent Kurdistan) but no-one else; Kurds certainly won't be looking to divert their oil revenues towards the construction of a new evil empire.

Would a U.S. withdrawal threaten that situation? The uncomplicated answer is no. The coalition doesn't provide security in Kurdish Iraq, the pershmerga does. A U.S. military withdrawal isn't going to leave them at the mercy of Sunni extremists because there are essentially no U.S. troops up there to withdraw. Kurdish oil isn't going to fall into the hands of radical extremists in the foreseeable future.

So what about the oil in the Shiite areas of Iraq? Well, Iraq's religious Shiites are mostly interested in consolidating their new power, not expansion outside Iraq's borders. And even the most fanatical, Khomeini loving Shiite knows that they wouldn't be able to use their oil wealth to create a radical Shiite empire stretching across the predominantly Sunni Muslim world. It's a non-starter.

That leaves the prospect of Shiites losing control of their oil reserves to Sunni extremists. In truth, it is ridiculous to suggest that al Qaeda linked extremists could gain control of Iraqi oil reserves in Shiite areas. Shiites have the advantage of overwhelming numbers and the rising tide of sectarian hatred precludes the possibility that an al Qaeda type group could use any Shiite dominated area as a "safe haven". At most, Sunni extremists could continue to disrupt oil production.

Sunni extremists may be able to operate in some Sunni areas if the U.S. withdraws but there's no oil in these places. It's all desert. Unless they discover some way to manufacture WMD out of sand, they won't have any useful resources at their disposal. They certainly won't "gain access to vast oil reserves".

At a push, they might just conceivably be able to gain access some of the oilfields up at the boundary with the Kurdish region. There are plenty of Sunni's up there so there is a faint possibility that Sunni extremists could operate openly enough to be able to establish and profit from oil production at some distant future point. But then, the Kurds, protected by their pershmerga, are pretty keen to keep control of those oilfields too. If it comes to a civil war over control of these areas (as it mat well do), the well organised and well equipped Kurds will almost certainly win.

None of this is a secret as far as I'm aware.

Bush's scaremongering is a fiction based on a ridiculous simplification It is a propaganda weapon employed against the American people by his party and their useful idiots. Unusually, reporters were allowed to question the President after he'd said his piece. Not one challenged his fatuous nightmare scenario.

To be fair to the press corp, they have at least started asking a few awkward questions recently. Shame it was about four years too late but better late than never.

The Change

It was when Bush was questioned by reporters that the change I talked about at the start was fully revealed. Here are some examples from the Q&A.
And my point to the American people is, is that we're constantly adjusting our tactics to achieve victory.

And so we've made changes throughout the war, we'll continue to make changes throughout the war. But the important thing is whether or not we have the right strategy and the tactics necessary to achieve that goal. And I believe we do.

What will work is a strategy that's constantly -- tactics that constantly change to meet the enemy. And that's what I was describing in my speech, we're constantly adjusting. As the enemy changes, we change. War is not a -- this war, and other wars, they're not static. They're dynamic events. And we must adjust to meet those events, and we are.

And that's important for the American people to know, that we're constantly changing tactics to meet the situation on the ground.
These all tell the same story. The backstory undoubtedly went something like this:
Rove: Mr President, we're in trouble with Iraq. Have a look at this.

Bush: Gee, we're really getting a kicking in the polls, huh?

Rove: Yes, we are. Look at these focus group results. People are losing faith in the whole "stay the course" thing. It's just adding to the impression of quagmire and lack of progress.

Bush: This is bad. We need a new strategy fast. Some of our rubber stamp guys could lose their seats. Imagine if we actually had to defend our policies in a real debate...

Rove: I know Mr President, I know.

Bush: So what are we gonna do?

Rove: Well, I've got an idea. All you need to do is tell the American people that we're constantly changing tactics to meet the situation on the ground. Keep stressing the importance of change and downplay the stuff about staying the course. That should take the sting out of this till we get past the mid-terms.

Bush. Ya think?

Rove: Sure. Change equals progress. As long as you keep on saying things are changing, that'll give the impression that things are, well, changing. It should be enough.

Bush. Yeah, I see it. I like it. Let's do it.


Bush: But Carl?

Rove: Yes, Mr President?

Bush: Won't the American people notice that things are not actually changing. Won't they realise that my words don't actually make things better in the real world?

(They both burst out laughing)

Rove: Good one, Mr President. You had me going there for a second. Won't they notice? Ha ha. That is good...

Bush: Hee hee hee hee! Gotcha!
As we've also got a leadership which treats us like idiots, I feel able to offer my heartfelt sympathies to those on the other side of the pond. Unfortunately, there appear to be enough actual idiots in both countries for this sort of thing to be reasonably effective.

That said, it does seem that things really are changing in the U.S. in ways that Bush and his spinmeister won't like at all. More and more Americans are starting to see through the spin and evasions. In fact, I'm starting to feel cautiously optimistic that the Republicons will finally get the trouncing they deserve on the November the 7th.

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