Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision. And they end up alienating decent people across the globe.
This is from President Bush’s Veteran’s Day address. And I bet he said it with a straight face.
My administration remains firmly committed to serving America’s veterans.
Since I took office, my administration has increased spending for veterans by $24 billion, an increase of 53 percent.
In the first four years as president, we increased spending for veterans more than twice as much as the previous administration did in eight years. And I want to thank the members of the Congress and the Senate for joining me in the effort to support our veterans.
For some accounts of the many ways the Bush Administration has tried to screw both veterans and active-duty military, go here, here, and here. This very week, Republicans in Congress were pushing for $600 million in cuts to veteran’s benefits, which would deny health care to 100,000 veterans.
Is the President lying when he says he increased spending? Not necessarily. He has had to spend more because of the carnage created by his policies.
Then Bush wanders into the topic of radical Islamic terrorism. Catch this “transition”:
Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives fighting on scattered battlefields share a similar ideology and vision for our world.
We know the vision of the radicals because they have openly stated it in videos and audio tapes and letters and declarations and on Web sites.
First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace and stand in the way of their ambitions.
Al Qaida’s leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicated, quote, “their resources, their sons and money to driving the infidels out of our lands.”
The tactics of Al Qaida and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter of a century.
They hit us and they expect us to run.
We didn’t run, exactly, but we did allow the people who “hit us” to get away while we invaded someone else.
Last month, the world learned of a letter written by Al Qaida’s number two man, a guy named Zawahiri. And he wrote this letter to his chief deputy in Iraq, the terrorist Zarqawi.
In it, Zawahiri points to the Vietnam War as a model for Al Qaida. This is what he said: “The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents is noteworthy.”
See how slick he is? We go from the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 to Iraq, without a blink. He doesn’t come out and say “Iraq was involved in September 11,” but anyone listening to this speech who didn’t know better would infer that it did. This is, I’m sure, what the speechwriter intended.
The terrorists witnessed a similar response after the attacks on American troops in Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993.
They believe that America can be made to run again, only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.
Secondly, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Islam governments.
I’m sure that is what they want, but never forget it was the Bush White House who made this possible. Removing Saddam Hussein from power played right into Osama bin Laden’s plans. See also testimony here on the fact that Saddam Hussein, bad guy though he certainly was, was at least not allowing al Qaeda to train in areas under his control.
But, thanks to Bush, they are training in some of those places now.
And let us not forget that the Bushies deliberately allowed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to escape on at least three occasions.
In his recent letter, Zawahiri writes that Al Qaida views Iraq as, quote, “the place of the greatest battle.”
The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. We must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war against the terrorists.
The “front” appears to be bleeding over into Jordan, but let’s go on … The “great battle” of Iraq is a living monument to the failure of the Bush Administration to respond correctly to September 11. We shouldn’t be fighting there at all. The organization responsible for September 11 primarily was in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it operated only in those parts of Iraq that Saddam Hussein did not control. We held back in Afghanistan because the Bushies already were preparing to invade Iraq. We let Osama bin Laden get away, and then we fulfilled his dearest wish and invaded another Muslim country that was no danger to us. We might as well have sent Halliburton to Osama with orders to build his training camps.
Then Bush whines on for a bit about how Syria had better watch its butt — like they have reason to be afraid of us now — then he complains about
elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American war on Islam, with seldom a worry about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan and Bosnia and Somalia and Kosovo and Kuwait and Iraq, or seldom a word about our generous assistance to Muslims recovering from national disasters in places like Indonesia and Pakistan.
Our government denies that U.S. military used white phosphorous against Iraqi civilians, but the Army’s own arguments are contradictory. The military denied bombing a wedding last year, also. And read this recent Fareed Zakaria column, which begins, “Ask any American soldier in Iraq when the general population really turned against the United States and he will say, ‘Abu Ghraib.'”
Stuff like this happens in war, which is why it’s a bit irrational to invade people who were no threat to you and then expect them to love you for it. It’s your actions, not your good intentions, that people notice.
What Bush fails to note is that much of the suffering and frustration felt by the Iraqi people is a direct result of U.S. policy. Not only did the Iraqi people suffer under decades of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship (which was backed by the United States during the peak of his repression in the 1980s), the U.S. led one of most intense bombing campaigns in world history against Iraq in 1991, resulting in severe damage to the civilian infrastructure. This was followed by a dozen years of crippling U.S.-led economic sanctions that resulted in the deaths hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, mostly children, from malnutrition and preventable diseases. As a result of the U.S. invasion, at least 20,000 civilians have died violent deaths, the country is facing a low-level civil war and an unprecedented crime wave, basic utilities have yet to be restored on a regular basis, unemployment is at an all-time high, there are mounting ethnic tensions which threaten to tear the country apart, priceless national artifacts have been stolen or destroyed from museums and archeological sites, and infant mortality is way up.
Some have also argued that extremists have been strengthened by our actions in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals.
I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001.
This is nearly word-for-word from a speech Bush made on October 6, of which Fred Kaplan wrote,
This is mere playing with words. Notice: First, he cites the claim that the U.S. occupation has “strengthened” the extremists; then he dismisses some straw man’s contention that our presence has “caused or triggered” the radicals’ rage. The fact that 9/11 preceded the invasion of Iraq is irrelevant to the point that he started to counterâ€”that the occupation “strengthened” the insurgency. This point is incontestable. (On the most basic level, before the invasion, there was no insurgency and no al-Qaida presence in Iraq, except for a training camp run by Zarqawiâ€”and that was in the Kurdish-controlled northern enclave, which Bush could have bombed, and was encouraged by the Joint Chiefs to bomb, at any time.) More important, to evade the point is to misunderstand this phase of the warâ€”and, therefore, to misjudge how to win it.
[Update: This wasn’t the only section of today’s speech lifted from the October 6 speech; see Sadly, No.]
No act of ours invited the rage of killers and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.
On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence.
Isn’t that the excuse we’re making for invading Iraq–that we could change them by force into becoming a pro-western democracy?
Come to think of it, that makes about as much sense as the sound of one hand clapping. A war koan!
Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, we will never accept anything less than complete victory.
That sounds grand, but as Fred Kaplan points out Bush has yet to explain what he means by “victory” and how he plans to get there.
Then he goes on about awful things Islamic terrorists have done. And these are, indeed, awful things. Islamic terrorists are nasty and dangerous and up to no good. It would be really nice if we had some effective policies to counter them, instead of Bush’s policies, which empower Islamic terrorism and make it stronger.
Here’s the part of the speech getting headlines:
Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war.
These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq’s weapons programs.
That’s because the bipartisan Senate investigation didn’t look for evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments related to Iraq’s weapons programs. From Media Matters:
In fact, there has been no official investigation into whether the Bush administration “lied about intelligence [or] distorted intelligence … to produce assessments that would support a supposedly pre-baked decision to invade Iraq.”
The first phase of the Senate Intelligence report determined, by the unanimous 17-0 vote that Garrett referenced, that intelligence assessments were not tainted by “pressure” that analysts received from policymakers, but it did not investigate whether the Bush administration misused that intelligence. The committee postponed analysis of the latter, more volatile question until after the 2004 presidential election, pledging to include it in phase two of the report. The Robb-Silberman report similarly excluded examination of the use of intelligence, noting: “[W]e were not authorized to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received from the Intelligence Community.”
Can we say that righties by nature are congential liars? I think we can.
They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein.
Well, not about the aluminum tubes, or buying yellowcake in Africa, and in March 2003 the UN weapons inspectors were begging Bush for more time because they weren’t finding WMDs …
They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions, citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.
The UN wasn’t keen on us invading, either.
Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: “When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat and a grave threat to our security.”
That’s why more than 100 Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.
The newest offensive in the War on Terra is on reality itself. Those 100 Democrats did not have access to the same intelligence; they had access to intelligence cherry-picked and massaged by the Bushies.
To his credit, Bush took the time to say that the enemy is not Islam, but extremists. And then finally, near the end, we get to the quote at the top of this post — “tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision. And they end up alienating decent people across the globe.” In this case it’s the neocons’ grand vision, and the United States government trying to simultaneous claim that we don’t murder and torture innocent people but, by the way, we need to have a free hand to murder and torture people just in case.
And they’re ending up alienating decent people across the globe.