Quote of the day...

"The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it" - Ayn Rand

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Welcome to the Game, Mr. President

"Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can and will prevail"

Change the course! That is how the president framed his new plan to stabilize Iraq and bring Democracy to the once fertile crescent. He introduced “bold” new initiatives, like vastly expanding the U.S. presence in Iraq, and guarantying an oil sharing plan that would not favor any region. He also described a world wherein Iraq fell to the insurgents and Al Qaeda was left to flourish unchecked. And, perhaps most importantly, he accepted responsibility for America’s failure to secure Iraq to date.

One question for the A.L.F. claiming to be George W. Bush this evening: Who are you and what have you done with our President? And, why couldn’t you deliver this speech repeatedly over the last 4 years?

Overall, the speech tonight was strong message that spelled out exactly what is at stake for the U.S. in Iraq, what American’s should expect to accomplish the mission and how it will be accomplished. Remember The Powell Doctrine?

First, the President admitted that he expected the destruction of the Hussein Regime to bring Iraqis together. Why he thought that I will never know. Wishful thinking? Maybe. But, while I supported the move to invade Iraq, it seemed to me that there was plenty of evidence that the invasion of Baghdad would unleash a bloodbath if not managed correctly.

Still, a President who rarely accepts responsibility acknowledged that the blame rested squarely on him. Perhaps if he had said that prior to the invasion, all the “Darth Cheney” and “Lord Rumsfeld” rumors would never have surfaced. It’s a crucial step for this President.

However, the most powerful statement the President made this evening was to reiterate that the loss of Iraq is unacceptable. Both sides of the isle need to hear this point, again and again. All of America needs to understand that the fall of Iraq would endanger our security for a generation. The Honorable Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Reid should think very carefully before they force the U.S. to surrender.

Mr. Bush’s description of an Iraq in the grips of Al Qaeda and as a safe haven for Islamist terrorists was powerful and accurate. He should have abandoned the WMD position long ago (even if it is proving to be true) and focused on the strategic importance of such an Iraq, bordering Iran and Syria. I appreciated his understanding of why the insurgents are fighting so fiercely- to them, Democracy equals Death. Equally important, he stressed that the violence is being caused by a small minority who are holding the vast majority of peace loving Iraqis (Shiite and Sunni) hostage.

As for the practical- well, I guess those Generals on the ground are finally asking for more troops, because Mr. Bush is allocating 20,000 more!! Sorry to sound so glib, but that’s a LOT! If in fact the Generals were holding back when they needed that many new troops, they should be court marshaled. However, since the President has accepted responsibility, I can overlook that gross dereliction of duty.

Seriously- everyone knew the troop levels were too low over 3 years ago. While the increase is welcome (my best wishes and sincere thanks go with them), it’s long overdue. The President needs to explain why he waited so long to do this. He should also immediately bring Colin Powell and John McCain on as his dedicated advisors in Iraq.

The expansion of U.S. forces will enable the troops to secure all of Iraq in the coming year, according to the President. Ok. That sounds good. U.S. troops will team with Iraqi troops to go door to door throughout neighborhoods and hunt down insurgent safe havens. That’s a good idea. Why haven’t we done it until now? Well, according to the President, sectarian interference has prevented our troops and Iraqi police from entering the most important neighborhoods, where sympathetic citizens hide and harbor the insurgents. Well, no more! PM Maliki has just last week told all of Iraq that he will not tolerate any sectarian interference to these sweeps! Thanks for that, Mr. Maliki. I’m glad you finally got around to that. Such a move is purely symbolic. As the President noted, Al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. They will hardly listen to the elected PM.

Perhaps it is also wishful thinking to hope that a new oil sharing plan will quell fears of a bloodbath to control oil revenues after the U.S. leaves. I hope there is a plan to prepare the Iraqi army for this eventuality. It is certain to be brutal and could threaten any new democracy. Maybe he is saving that speech for 2010.

However, President Bush recognized the immediate danger and warned us that we will see more blood, more death and more destruction throughout the coming year. But he also described a world with a stable, secure and DEMOCRATIC Iraq! He suggested that Iraq would be stabilized by November (2007, I presume), that Saudi Arabia would rally to the new Democracy, and the troops could start coming home.

There is much more to discuss, and I will update this post over the next few days. I have not read the transcript yet- so far this post is based solely on the notes I scribbled during the speech. My overall reaction is that it was a powerful speech, and America would be a much stronger country if it had been delivered in March, 2003, instead of January 2007. While I am optimistic that we can accomplish our objectives in Iraq, I fear the U.S. has suffered through a season of trials and tribulations unnecessarily.

In short:

President Bush accepts responsibility, finally.

Defeat in Iraq equals a victory for Al Qaeda and Islamist fascism.

More troops will help root out the insurgents and keep them out.

There will be much more bloodshed in the months to come.

By November, a new era of democracy and security in Iraq will portend a homecoming for our brave and tireless soldiers.

Godspeed Mr. President. I hope it’s not too late.

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