Wednesday, June 29, 2005

So, If A Man Travels Back In Time...

Bush's recent spate of rhetoric is reminding more people than just me of a dog chasing its own tail:

President Bush on Tuesday retooled his original argument for the
Iraq war, justifying the U.S. military presence there as the solution to a problem that critics say the war itself caused.
More than two years ago, Bush argued that Saddam Hussein's control over Iraq could make the nation a haven for terrorists. But in his nationally televised speech, Bush asserted that the tumult that has followed Hussein's removal created the same threat.


Blogger Management said...

By Ronald Brownstein Times Staff Writer Wed Jun 29, 7:55 AM ET

President Bush on Tuesday retooled his original argument for the
Iraq war, justifying the U.S. military presence there as the solution to a problem that critics say the war itself caused.

More than two years ago, Bush argued that
Saddam Hussein's control over Iraq could make the nation a haven for terrorists. But in his nationally televised speech, Bush asserted that the tumult that has followed Hussein's removal created the same threat.

In the lead-up to the war, Bush presented the invasion of Iraq primarily as a means of preventing the Iraqi dictator from providing nuclear, biological or chemical weapons to terrorists.

After coalition forces failed to find evidence of such weapons, and several investigations did not uncover meaningful links between Hussein and Al Qaeda, the president increasingly stressed the possibility that creating a democracy in Iraq could encourage democratic reform across the Middle East.

In his speech Tuesday before a crowd of soldiers at Ft. Bragg, N.C., Bush still emphasized the cause of democracy. He also mixed optimism about conditions in Iraq with sober assessments of the continuing challenge there.

But mostly Bush defended the war as a means of preventing another terrorist attack on the United States. The most striking argument Bush offered for his policy in Iraq was that the Mideast nation could become a sanctuary for terrorists if U.S. forces withdrew.

By completing "the mission," Bush declared, "we will prevent Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists from turning Iraq into what
Afghanistan was under the Taliban — a safe haven from which they could launch attacks on America and our friends."

That argument drew instant scorn from some Democrats, who argued that Bush was defending the continued military operations on the basis of a threat that did not exist before the invasion.

"Most Americans are aware that the hotbed of terrorism never existed in Iraq until we got there and it has, in fact, grown increasingly as we are there," Sen. John F. Kerry (news, bio, voting record) of Massachusetts, Bush's Democratic opponent in the 2004 election, told CNN after the speech.

Bush's heavy emphasis on Sept. 11 in his address followed a speech last week in which Karl Rove, his chief political advisor, dramatically raised the issue. Rove charged that while conservatives "prepared for war" after the 2001 attacks, liberals wanted "to offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

Democrats see the twin speeches as signs that Bush, facing public anxiety about the war in Iraq and some of the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, is hoping to regain his footing by returning public attention to the terrorist attacks that transformed his presidency.

Tad Devine, a veteran Democratic consultant, charged that the reason the administration is emphasizing 9/11 again "is simple: It is a strategy of fear. But as the nation is further and further removed from what happened on that day … I really think the sand is going through the hourglass on this for the president."

Bush offered no new policies in his remarks. Instead, as he has in major speeches before, he presented the war as a test of American resolve, arguing that to shift course would provide a victory to terrorists.

His tone was optimistic, but he was clearly much more cautious about the challenges remaining in Iraq than Vice President
Dick Cheney has been. Cheney recently said the insurgency was in its "last throes."

The speech continued a public relations drive on the war that the White House began last week when leading
Pentagon officials appeared on Capitol Hill and Bush met with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari.

The effort reflects the conclusion in the White House that Bush, who had focused primarily on domestic priorities since his reelection in November, needs to make the case for the war more forcefully and consistently.

"The sound of silence is over," said one GOP strategist familiar with White House thinking, who asked for anonymity in discussing administration planning.

Still, many Republican strategists hold modest expectations for the ability of any argument from Bush to lastingly shift public opinion, absent actual improvement in Iraq.

"Reality matters so much more than speeches at this point," said Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard and a leading neoconservative advocate of the war.

Bush delivered the speech against a backdrop of rising political turbulence over the war. In the last few weeks, Democrats from Sen. Joseph R. Biden (news, bio, voting record) Jr. of Delaware to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco have markedly escalated their criticism of the war and accused the White House of exaggerating progress. A few Republicans, such as Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record), have expressed similar concerns.

On Tuesday, Kerry appeared on the Senate floor to deliver his most extensive remarks on the war since the election. He urged Bush to accelerate training of Iraqi security forces and give other nations a larger role in the effort; pressure the Iraqi government to provide a larger role for minority Sunni Muslims; and organize a multinational force to patrol Iraq's borders.

For the first time, Kerry also urged Bush to renounce the establishment of any permanent U.S. bases in Iraq.

But Kerry pointedly did not endorse the call from some Democratic liberals to begin a process of withdrawal. Biden, in his speech last week, criticized that idea, underscoring the divisions among Democrats.

Polls show that the public, though discouraged about Iraq, seems uncertain and ambivalent about what to do next. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Monday found that Bush had made small but perceptible gains since early June on questions such as whether the war has contributed to the nation's long-term security and was worth fighting, given the costs.

Even so, 53% of those responding to the survey said the war did not justify the costs, and, for the first time, a majority — 52% — said Bush had "intentionally misled" the public in making his case for the war.

In a separate CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey released Monday, Bush tied his lowest numbers on both his handling of Iraq (40%) and his overall job approval rating (45%).

Yet about two-thirds of those polled by Gallup also said establishing a friendly and stable Iraqi government was "important" to the U.S. Nearly three-fifths of those polled in the Washington Post/ABC survey said the U.S. should keep its military forces in Iraq "until civil order is restored there."

Taken together, these numbers portray a public increasingly disillusioned with the decision to invade and worried about the course of the war — but still unconvinced that the answer is simply to withdraw.

In that sense, tolerance for the continued deployment of American troops may depend less on faith in Bush's arguments than doubt that his critics have yet to outline an alternative that would produce a more acceptable outcome.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Management said...

So the new rationale for being in Iraq is "Haven't you heard? It's a terrorist nightmare over there! We have to do something to stop it!"

Excuse me?

I must've missed something. The last I heard, Saddam planned and carried out 9/11, threatened to attack us with his chemical and biological weapons, came this close to building a nuclear bomb... and besides, the Iraqi people were begging us to liberate them, and would dance in the streets once our troops arrived. They might even throw flowers. The whole thing would take six weeks - six months tops. It would be a cakewalk. And it would hardly cost us a dime.

And sure, none of that was even remotely true, but let's be clear - it wasn't Bush's fault. Yes, his administration were pumping 24/7 lies and misjudgements and propaganda down the American people's throats, but Bush was just trying to protect us from the WMDs terrorists. Oh yes, and bring freedom to the Iraqi people.

So now where are we? Well apparently Iraq is now a real live training ground for terrorists. Apparently, by invading a country which had nothing to do with 9/11 (except in the mind of George W. Bush and friends), we have stoked the flames of jihad and emboldened radical Islamists all over the world. Apparently Iraq is home to more and more foreign fighters, although - and this is a piece of luck - we can now "fight them over there instead of fighting them over here." Assuming they have no concept of multi-tasking, that is. (And, oh, hey Iraqi people, you don't mind if we use your country to fight terrorists do you? You'll get that "freedom" we were talking about right after we've killed every last one of you, uh, I mean, them.)

So whose fault is all this? Who was in charge before and after September 11? Who has called the shots and made the policy decisions and through the force of his "strong, steady leadership" guided us into this ridiculous mess? I'll give you a clue:

Yeah, it was that guy.

Take a look at this exchange from a Bush press conference in March of 2002. It's most enlightening:

Q: ...don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run. I was concerned about him, when he had taken over a country. I was concerned about the fact that he was basically running Afghanistan and calling the shots for the Taliban.

But once we set out the policy and started executing the plan, he became -- we shoved him out more and more on the margins. He has no place to train his al Qaeda killers anymore.

Whoops! I guess he does now! And wouldn't you know it - that's George W. Bush's brand new rationale for war. How convenient.

Look George: you broke it. Now, I don't care if you can't fix it - just step aside for someone who can. But know that history is not going to look kindly on your total failure to even own up to breaking it in the first place, you unfortunate little monkey man.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Bush Offers Defensive Rhetoric, Rejects Real Solutions
Posted by Jesse Berney on June 28, 2005 at 08:35 PM

From DNC Research:

With 1,700 U.S. troops dead in Iraq and the violence increasing daily, the American people are raising questions about Bush's strategy in Iraq. Tonight, Bush had a chance to answer those questions -- but he didn't. Instead, he offered the same defensive rhetoric and refused to put forth real solutions. Osama bin Laden is still free and Iraq is now the training camp of choice for tomorrow's terrorists.

Bush can't make up for the mistakes he made in taking our country to war, but tonight he had the opportunity to move forward in a responsible way. Instead, he failed to present the American people with a clear plan for providing our troops with the equipment, resources and long-term strategy they need for a successful mission. Patriotism and love of country does not demand endless sacrifice on the part of our troops. The American people deserve honest leadership.


"This war reached our shores on September 11, 2001."
[Bush Speech at Ft. Bragg, 6/28/05]


"No, we've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the 11th." [FNS, 9/17/03]

"...We have never claimed that Saddam Hussein had either, that Saddam Hussein had either direction or control of 9/11. [ABC, 9/16/03]

"I've not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that [Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th attacks]. [CNN, 9/16/03]


Bush "Hardly Ever Utters" Osama Bin Laden's Name. "The White House has sought to play down the significance of bin Laden to the global anti-terror battle...As a result, Bush hardly ever utters the name of the man he once declared wanted "dead or alive" and repeatedly promised would be caught." [Associated Press, 3/3/05]

Bush "Rarely Mentions" Osama Bin Laden. CBS News reported that "Three-and-a-half years after 9/11...Osama bin Laden remains at large and dangerous. President Bush rarely mentions him anymore..." ABC News reported on the President's comments that the US is keeping pressure on bin Laden, stating bluntly that "That's another way of saying the United States is not finding bin Laden." [CBS, 3/3/05; ABC, 3/3/05]


Goss Worried About Sovereignty, Not Osama. Asked when we would get Osama, Goss changed the focus to the sovereignty of sanctuary states, blaming international obligations for the U.S.'s failure to capture him. "In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice...when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play." [Time Magazine, 6/27/05]


"These are savage acts of violence – but they have not brought the terrorists any closer to achieving their strategic objectives."
[Bush Speech at Ft. Bragg, 6/28/05]


CIA: Iraq Is Insurgency's Most Effective Training Camp. A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat. [New York Times, 6/22/05]

Administration's Failure To Plan For Post-War Iraq Aided Insurgency. The Bush Administration's failure to plan adequately for the postwar period has been well documented. The Pentagon, for example, ignored extensive State Department studies of how to achieve stability after an invasion, administer a postwar government and rebuild the country. And Administration officials have acknowledged the mistake of dismantling the Iraqi army and canceling pensions to its veteran officers -- which many say hindered security, enhanced anti-U.S. feeling and aided what would later become a violent insurgency. [Washington Post, 6/12/05]

Generals: Insurgency Undiminished, More Foreign Fighters Joining. The three military commanders -- Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command; and Army Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq -- described an Iraqi insurgency that had not weakened despite two years of intense counterinsurgency operations. Abizaid disputed a contention by Vice President Dick Cheney that the Iraqi insurgency was in its "last throes" and told Congress on Thursday that its strength was basically undiminished from six months ago. Furthermore, Gen. John Abizaid told the Senate Armed Services Committee, "I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago." [Associated Press, 6/23/05]

More American Soldiers Killed Post-Sovereignty Than During Invasion. More American soldiers have been killed since the handover of sovereignty on June 28 than during the initial invasion. The numbers show that "18 months after the invasion, the fighting appears to be intensifying rather than waning." [Washington Post, 9/9/04; Brookings Institution, "Iraq Index," Updated 5/26/05; Los Angeles Times, 6/17/05]


"Our strategy can be summed up this way:
As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down."
[Bush Speech at Ft. Bragg, 6/28/05]


Administration Estimates Of Trained Iraqi Forces Vary Wildly. In a February 2004 interview Rumsfeld said the number of Iraqis serving in the security forces is over 210,000. Rumsfeld said the number may grow to over 226,000 Iraqi security personnel by April. Then in February of 2005, Rumsfeld said there were only 130,200 Iraqi security personnel. In recent testimony, that number increased to 170,000 – but just tonight Bush gave the number as 160,000. [State Department, 2/24/04; Fox News, 2/1/05; Knight Ridder, 6/24/05; Associated Press State & Local Wire, 6/23/05; Bush Speech at Ft. Bragg, 6/28/05]

Number That Are Combat Ready Is Classified. In the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on June 23, 2005 Rumsfeld and the military leaders declined to say publicly how many Iraqis are fully trained and ready to take over from U.S. troops. Gen. Casey claimed that the readiness assessment of Iraqi security forces is classified. Sen. McCain called that information "the key element to success in Iraq" and said that "the American people need to know" what percentage of the 170,000 are combat ready. [Knight Ridder, 6/24/05; Associated Press State & Local Wire, 6/23/05]


"At this time when we celebrate our freedom,
let us stand with the men and women who defend us all."
[Bush Speech at Ft. Bragg, 6/28/05]


Soldiers Not Given Body Armor Needed. Over year after the beginning of the Iraq war soldiers being deployed to Iraq were still buying their own body armor. Responding to pressure from Senators, the Administration then sent soldiers to war with body armor they knew had failed ballistics tests, leading to a recall of more than 5000 armored vests in May 2005. [Periscope Daily Defense News, 5/11/05; AP, 3/26/04; FNS, Hearing of the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, 5/12/04; Marine Corps Times, 5/9/05]

Army Study Suggests One-Fourth of Deaths in Iraq Could Have Been Prevented If Troops Were Properly-Equipped at Beginning of War. Newsweek reported that many U.S. deaths and wounds in Iraq simply did not need to occur. According to an unofficial study by a defense consultant, as of April 15, 2004, perhaps one in four of those killed in combat in Iraq might be alive if they had had stronger armor around them. Almost all those soldiers were killed while in unprotected vehicles. Thousands more who were unprotected have suffered grievous wounds, such as the loss of limbs. [Newsweek, 5/3/04]


Marines Still Lack Equipment Necessary To Do Their Job In Iraq. A Marine Corps Inspector General report said that the estimated 30,000 Marines in Iraq need twice as many heavy machine guns, more fully protected armored vehicles, and more communications equipment to operate in a region the size of Utah. The Marine Corps leadership has "understated" the amount and types of ground equipment it needs, according to the investigation, concluding that all of its fighting units in Iraq "require ground equipment that exceeds" their current supplies, "particularly in mobility, engineering, communications, and heavy weapons." [Boston Globe, 6/21/05]

National Guard Units In US Recently Forced To Give Up Equipment. Already suffering from manpower shortages, the National Guard's overstretched forces are being confronted with another problem: not enough equipment to supply Guard troops at home. "To fully equip troops in Iraq, the Pentagon has stripped local Guard units of about 24,000 pieces of equipment. That has left Guard units at home, already seriously short of gear." [Detroit Free Press, 6/13/05]

Commanders Acknowledge Continuing Shortages In Iraq. Facing a shortage of helicopter squadrons in Iraq, the Pentagon announced plans for three navy helicopter squadrons to be transferred to Southern Iraq, though they are "more accustomed to plucking downed aviators out of the water." Commanders acknowledged the shortages on the ground. Navy officials would say only that the squadrons will augment Army air units because of an "emergent capability shortfall in Operation Iraqi Freedom." [Navy Times, 6/13/05]


Republican Senate Voted Against Improving Health Care for Veterans and Republican Congress Refused To Consider $2.6 Billion Increase in VA Health Care Funding. The Republican Senate voted against making a portion of VA funding mandatory or automatic, like other health related programs. They also repeatedly voted against efforts to increase overall funding for veterans' medical care by almost $2 billion. In addition, Republicans in the House repeatedly voted to block efforts to increase VA funding by about $2.5 billion. Just this week Republicans admitted that they had underfunded veterans health care by $3.7 billion over the next two years. [Roll Call #145 S 2400, 6/23/04; Roll Call #89 and #90, HR 1268, 4/12/05; Roll Call #40, SCR 95, 3/10/04; H.R.2528, Vote #223, 5/26/0l5; H CON RES 95, Vote #82, 3/17/05; H.J.Res. 107, Vote #478, 9/29/04; Washington Post 6/24/05; AP 6/28/05]

Republicans Opposed Expanding TRICARE to National Guard & Reserve Volunteers. Republicans voted against expanding access to the military's TRICARE health insurance program to all reservist and National Guard members. The proposal would have expanded military health care to provide access to TRICARE to members of the Guard and Reserve and their families for a low fee. [HR 1815, Roll Call #221, 5/25/05; Leadership Document, "DOD Authorization Previous Question on Rule"; S. 2400, Roll Call Vote #105, 6/2/04]

Republicans Opposed $100 Million Increase for Military Personnel. Republicans voted against a proposal to the budget to increase funding for military health care by $100 million and transitional job training for military personnel by $50 million. [HR 1268, Roll Call #76, 3/16/05; vote reports]

Republicans Voted Against Increased Funding for Humvee Armor For Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans voted against an additional $213 million for armored Humvee production remains at its maximum level through the fiscal year. [Roll Call #108, SA 520 4/21/05]


Bush Proposed New $250 User Fees and Double Prescription Drug Co-Payments For Veterans. Bush's proposed 2006 budget would more than double the co-payment charged to veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new user fee of $250 a year for their health care. Bush would also increase the co-payment for a month's supply of a prescription drug to $15, from the current $7. Veterans' groups said that at least 200,000 veterans would be driven out of the system entirely, and would cost veterans remaining in the system more than $2 billion over five years. [New York Times, 2/7/05; Office of Democratic Leader Pelosi;; Budget of the US Government, 2/05]

Bush Budget Retains Disabled Veterans' Tax, Does Not Do Enough For Troops And Families. The Bush 2006 budget includes no targeted pay raises for senior noncommissioned officers, petty officers and warrant officers; has no money to fund the 2006 costs of proposed increases in death benefits; and would make no further progress in eliminating the so-called disabled veterans' tax, which requires military retirees to forfeit a dollar of retired pay for every dollar they receive in veterans' disability compensation. "Simply put, this budget could do more for our troops and their families," Rep. Ike Skelton said. [Army Times, 2/21/05]

2:41 PM  

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