Thursday, August 23, 2007

A "Remarkable" Speech- part 2

In George W. Bush's speech on August 22, 2007 before the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention, the President repeated his favorite mantra and suggested an unusual basis for formulating American foreign policy. Here it is:

There was another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam, and we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today’s struggle -- those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001. In an interview with a Pakistani newspaper after the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden declared that "the American people had risen against their government’s war in Vietnam. And they must do the same today."
His number two man, Zawahiri, has also invoked Vietnam. In a letter to al Qaeda’s chief of operations in Iraq, Zawahiri pointed to "the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents."
Zawahiri later returned to this theme, declaring that the Americans "know better than others that there is no hope in victory. The Vietnam specter is closing every outlet." Here at home, some can argue our withdrawal from Vietnam carried no price to American credibility -- but the terrorists see it differently.
We must remember the words of the enemy. We must listen to what they say. Bin Laden has declared that "the war [in Iraq] is for you or us to win. If we win it, it means your disgrace and defeat forever." Iraq is one of several fronts in the war on terror -- but it’s the central front -- it’s the central front for the enemy that attacked us and wants to attack us again. And it’s the central front for the United States and to withdraw without getting the job done would be devastating. (Applause.)

The President, as usual, conflates the war in Iraq and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In a speech vigorously, if misleadingly and reprehensibly, defending his war policy, Bush refers to "the enemy we face in today's struggle- those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001." The enemy which came to our soil on 9/11/01 is not in Iraq but probably in northwestern Pakistan, where al Qaeda is regrouping and bin Laden may be holding out. Of course, bin Laden might have been captured in that region (Tora Bora) in December, 2001, as the Christian Science Monitor reported, but this Administration, which continually uses support for our soldiers as a political tool, outsourced the job from the American military to Afghan warlords, outsourcing being one of the favorite tools in the Republican arsenal. Iraq is not "the central front for the enemy that attacked us" but for other insurgents and terrorists rallying around a cause Mr. Bush has offered them.

And is it necessary for the American people to be admonished to "remember the words of the enemy. We must listen to what they say?" The Washington Post reported in December, 2006 "the tension between the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff over the proposed troop increase" and noted "the uniformed leadership has opposed sending additional forces without a clear mission..." We have a President who periodically vows to follow the advice of the generals- unless they disagree with him- but apparently listens more intently to bin Laden than to the Joint Chiefs or foreign policy realists.

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Overwrought Reaction

Take the "L" and just move on.  162 Democrats joining Republicans to attack free speech and condemn a phrase that advocates one t...