Prague Twin

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hypocricy Reaches Fever Pitch

One of the things that really blows about living overseas is that when something happens at 9pm EST, I'm asleep. I don't get to see things like President Bush's speech in real time. I also miss out on all the immediate analysis that is sure to follow. So I settle for watching sober analysis (not mac friendly) on CNBC in the morning. But now that I have read the damn speech, I feel it my duty to tear the thing apart, bit by miserable bit.

Ignoring the obvious fact that a 21,500 increase in troop levels will not represent the maximum troop levels in this war, and thus has little chance of truly changing the face of this war; ignoring the fact that an increase of 21,500 troops does not represent an escalation on an order of magnitude that former General Shinseki said would be required; ignoring the fact that the overall suggestion is for a change that is less substantial than what we have seen in the past, let's look at the hypocricy that has been unleashed on the American people and the world.

But before I go headstrong into the hypocricy contained in the speech, I have to take pause that the president has actually taken some responsibility for the mistakes made.

Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.

So what were the mistakes? First and foremost is obviously the lack of sufficient troops to secure the country. After the looting, the insurgency raging out of control, the sectarian violence, and the general lack of security over the last 3 1/2 years, the president is in some respects admitting that he made a mistake by not having enough boots on the ground. But let us not forget that the original estimate for the cost of the war was $60-$70 billion. Now at $350 billion and counting, there can be little doubt that this war will cost American taxpayers a minimum of $1 trillion before it is all said and done. Let us not forget that Paul Wolfowitz predicted that Iraq would be able to fund it's own reconstruction "virtually immediately." Let us not forget that billions of dollars have been stolen and tens of billions wasted on projects that will never be finished or that have been completed so poorly that they are useless.

Yes, Mr. President, these things, and the undue loss of life that has resulted from the inept and foolish way this war has been executed from day one rests upon your shoulders and yours alone. I'm glad you finally realize that, or at least are paying some lip service to that undeniable fact. I guess it is just too bad for those who are now dead because of your incompetence.

Now, getting to the hypocritcy in your thinly veiled call to further war, I will start with the following gem:

On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.

So although a safe haven for terrorists in Afghanistan is what caused 9/11, we are now going to pull troops away from Afghanistan and into Iraq before the people who executed that diabolical plan are brought to justice. Furthermore, before we invaded Iraq, there was no safe haven for al-Qaeda in that country, but something close to that is approaching now. Why don't we work on eliminating the safe haven for terrorists that have already attacked America before we start making new ones? Oh, wait, too late. So now al-Qaeda has two safe havens, and neither one looks to be threatened significantly.

Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people.

If this is true, what point is there in increasing American troops?

America's men and women in uniform took away al-Qaida's safe haven in Afghanistan — and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.

Wrong on both points. al-Qaeda is still alive in well in Afghanistan (and Pakistan) and is now operating with impunity in Iraq, thanks to the United States.

The biggest problem of all, of course is the combination of these quotes...

A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.


I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people


In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.

So just like in the ISG report, the message is that success in Iraq is essential, but in the end it is all up to the Maliki government to achieve that success. We are in a place now where (if you believe the president's rhetoric) our very lives depend on the efficacy of the Maliki government who is backed by the likes of Moqtada al Sadr and whose ministries are filled with death squads, criminal gangs, and Iranian agents.

These are the people we now rely on for our very lives. Let us not forget who got us into this situation and who takes the full blame for what happens as a result. By his own admission, it is none other than the president himself.

Finally, the most disturbing part of the speech (which many have touched on) was the hard-line talk vis-vis Iran...

Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

Wasting no time, U.S. forces raided the Iranian Embassy in Iraq just hours after the speach was delivered.

I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing — and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies.

Again, this is not original thought on my part, but clearly this means that strong action agains Iran is imminent, and steps are being taken to prepare for that.

Two unfinished wars, and he wants to start a third. It is nice that you admit that you have made mistakes and you take responsiblility for them, Mr. President. It would be nice, however, if you would actually learn from those mistakes and take steps not to repeat them over and over and over.

It has been a while since anything has really gotten me fired up, but this speech has done it. It is the culmination of years of failed policy, tired rhetoric, and belligerent arrogance, all wrapped up in a 15 minute speech. This indeed is the defining moment of your Presidency, Mr. Bush.

This is how you will be remembered.


  • There will be a lot of oversight with a new Congress. I see hope and the possibility of a national consensus.

    By Blogger Publia, at 10:19 PM  

  • Excellent analysis. The only part I felt wasn't touched on enough, is that Iraq wasn't a failure simply for the way it was conducted, but that it WAS conducted at all. It's too late to change that now, but the war itself was a mistake when Afghanistan was and is still raging.

    By Anonymous saskboy, at 11:31 PM  

  • Publia,

    We need optimists. Thanks for being one. I've all but given up.


    Good point. I've written earlier that it is a moot point that we never should have invaded in the first place as there is nothing that can be done about that now, but you are absolutley right.

    Perhaps in the future we will think about where we will be before we cross the Rubicon.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 11:37 PM  

  • Great Read --

    By Blogger small town girl, at 12:21 AM  

  • Nice post Twin, and good comments too. I share your pessimism, however. I have no faith that the new congress will actually stop this psychopath. This is the gist of my post on what seems to be important to the American people. Beckham, Tom Cruise, Arnold breaking his leg....

    The last, truly powerful group that can put an end to this are the young men and women who can refuse to go and a population that supports them and not the administration.

    You and I being Americans who live outside of the country have a unique and I think clear perspective on all this. Keep it up.

    By Blogger expatbrian, at 3:38 AM  

  • This is a painful but sober analysis about the President's speech!

    The only positive with the speech must be that the President left out his trademark smirks and weird chuckless. One can't help but wonder, why did the American revolution, in replacing the king, created herself an emporor? There seems to be just a handful of extremists that see any merrit in this so called new approach. However, the President in his practically unlimited power to wage the war is saying to the people and their representatives to scram. This doggy is lifting his hind leg and pissing on the values that he was elected (sort of) to tend.

    By Anonymous pekka, at 6:37 AM  

  • I agree completely that this will do little to nothing to change the course of the war in Iraq, and I applaud you for remembering the war in Afghanistan that seems so far from people's minds of late.

    Inciting Iran or Syria is not going to help this situation. Unlike the optimistic reports of the study commission, I doubt we can negotiate a cooperative effort with Iran or Syria; however, thumbing our proverbial noses at them isn't going to help either.

    As disturbing as the President's speech is/was, I find the supporting speeches to be just as bad, if not worse. ( Especially when it comes to the Malaki/al-Sadr complication.

    The rhetoric there is getting old. I'm all for letting Iraq shape it's own destiny, but doing so while continuing to intentionally alienate some of the Iraqi citizenry seems foolhardy at best. The Mahdi army is engaging (at least supposedly) in ethnic cleansing, and the Sunnis and the Kurds are just supposed to trust their Prime Minister who garners support from the militia's leader? All the rhetoric in the world isn't going to solve that problem. And, neither Rice nor Gates seem willing to come out and say that Malaki and his militia are a legitimate target!

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 7:18 AM  

  • Pekka,

    You sound like you are as fired up as I am. I guess someone told him it wasn't cool to chuckle as he sends folks to their deaths.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 1:31 PM  

  • Stephanie,

    Unlike the optimistic reports of the study commission, I doubt we can negotiate a cooperative effort with Iran or Syria; however, thumbing our proverbial noses at them isn't going to help either.

    My reading of the ISG is anything but optimistic. The point is that regional players must be involved in any plan that has any chance of working.

    This mearly highlights the level of difficulty in negotiating a settlement that we are faced with. Snubbing noses doesn't help indeed. You have to talk to the enemies and make certain concessions if you want help.

    And, neither Rice nor Gates seem willing to come out and say that Malaki and his militia are a legitimate target!

    If Maliki is a legitamate target, you must have someone in mind to take his place. al-Hakim? Maliki is anything but perfect, but he is the best we got right now.

    If they ever decide to take on the Mehdi army, that is when the real war starts.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 1:35 PM  

  • Good analysis of Bush's speech (and good counterpoint to all his statements). Even if you didn't see or hear his speech live, you've probably seen TV or video replays of it. I think Bush's manner was the most telling thing. What happened to that famous cockiness, the arrogance, his one-liners (followed by that lame giggle of his)?

    He looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He was embarrassed, self-conscious, sheepish. He looked like he was explaining to his boss why he screwed up the project he was working on. And I think that's the proper demeanor for someone who's masterminded such a huge failure.

    By Anonymous Tom Harper, at 3:11 AM  

  • PT,

    "My reading of the ISG is anything but optimistic."

    I think it's optimistic to think that either Iran or Syria want a stable Iraq at any price we can give them. On the one hand, Iran is likely to feed the Shi'a militants until they take over the country completely. On the other hand, Syria is likely to feed the Sunni militants until the Ba'ath party can take a prominent place once again. Securing Iraqi borders is the solution; fighting them on the borders would offer Iraqis more stability than having them continuing feeding the militant forces with supplies and soldiers.

    What could we offer them that they want that out-weighs the possibility of having their own puppet for their neighbor?

    "If Maliki is a legitamate target, you must have someone in mind to take his place."

    Sorry, that was a typo. I meant Maliki's ally -- al-Sadr -- not Maliki himself. Maliki shouldn't be a target. Negating the electoral process won't help stabilize Iraq. But al-Sadr using his army to do dirty work that's connected to Maliki but that Maliki isn't "responsible for" won't stabilize Iraq either. We have little choice about working with Maliki, nor should we; but the Iraqi army and the allied soldiers should have a choice about al-Sadr and his men.

    "If they ever decide to take on the Mehdi army, that is when the real war starts."

    If they don't, it'll never stop. Hey, it may just be my opinion, but I doubt anyone whether it's Sunni, Shi'ite, or Kurd is going to sit back and trust their Prime Minister when his friend and ally is practicing ethnic cleansing. Why should the Sunni ever stop fighting if that's they're fate if they don't defend themselves? Why should the Shi'ite militants stop, when they have a virtual "go ahead" order from the Prime Minister, giving them some sense of legitimacy? Why would they stop while the Sunni's are also practicing ethnic cleansing?

    Perhaps it's just the limits of my news sources, or perhaps the Iraqi Kurds are too akin to the Afghanistanis on this, but the Kurds are the only major Iraqi group that I haven't heard of practicing ethnic cleansing.

    With that going on from neighborhood to neighborhood, something nice and diplomatic isn't going to stop it. You don't stop that kind of hate with diplomacy.

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 4:58 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 4:58 AM  

  • Stephanie,

    I think that Syria and Iraq do not want instability, but as long as there is chaos and conflict, they are going to back their side and try to win the conflict.

    But irrespective of my opinion, logic dictates that these two countries are players in and neighbors of Iraq. They must be involved in any resolution that has a chance of success.

    I don't like the odds there, but that is what we are up against.

    That and the continuing sectarian conflict that seems nearly impossible to stop. You are right that niether side is going to stop first. Even if you eliminate the Mehdi Army, the Sunnis will continue to kill the Shia, so although your contention that it will not stop until they are gone may be true, but getting rid of them doesn't solve anything. It only creates a greater power vaccuum which will lead to further bloodshed.

    There are no good answers here.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 7:05 PM  

  • Tom,

    Thanks. I like your analysis too. Somebody is obviously coaching him.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 7:05 PM  

  • You're more generous than I am in praising Bush for admitting his mistakes. IMHO, I don't believe he's really sorry. I think he's just going through the motions and saying the words because it makes for good public relations.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 8:55 PM  

  • Kathy,

    I guess I just never figured I'd hear those words come out of his mouth. You are probably right, he is simply going through the motions.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:36 AM  

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