What Bush Didn’t Say

As I listened to Bush’s speech today at the Council of Foreign Relations I was struck by all the things he didn’t say.

He started out by comparing Pearl Harbor with September 11. Both times we confronted new dangers with firm resolve and a will to fight without wavering, blah blah blah. He really wants to be Churchill.

He marched ahead to his standard theme: Terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front on its war against humanity. So we must recognize Iraq as the central front on the war on terror.

Notice he didn’t say that anything he did made Iraq the central front on the war on terror. It just happened.

Then he recapped last week’s speech regarding the three kinds of bad people in Iraq: Sunni rejectionists, Saddam loyalists, and terrorists. The terrorists are the smallest but most lethal group, he said, led by brutal terrorist Zarqawi who has pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden. They want use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against America and establish Islamic totalitarianism from Spain to Indonesia. They have the same ideology as the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. Can’t leave out 9/11. If we were not fighting them in Iraq they’d be plotting against Americans; because we’re keeping them too busy to plot, I suppose. The usual bullshit, in other words.

Bush said that our strategy has a political side, a security side, and an economic side. This speech was supposed to be about the economic side, but frankly I didn’t hear him give many specifics about economics. And I don’t believe he mentioned oil at all, but I might have missed it.

Bush said that “terrorists” keep retaking territory that had been liberated by coalition forces because there havn’t been enough Iraqi soldiers to hold the territory after it had been liberated. What he didn’t say was that maybe there weren’t enough coalition troops at hand to do the job they’d been directed to do.

Last year, he said, a violent militia took over Najaf, but coalition and Iraqi forces retook it and forced out the militia. What he didn’t say was that the militia was not made up of Sunni “rejectionists” or “Saddam supporters” or al Qaeda-like terrorists. It was Shi’ite cleric Abu Sadr’s Mehdi army militia.

He talked about all the infrastructure that had been devastated during Saddam’s reign. What he didn’t say was that his administration’s lack of planning and failure to send enough forces to provide security after the invasion resulted in a whole lot more devastation of infrastructure, and hospitals, and schools, and lots of other things. No, he just talked about all the damage Saddam was responsible for.

Iraqis are beginning to see that a free life is a better life, Bush said. But reconstruction is going more slowly than we’d like because of a lack of security. See previous paragraph.

He whined about the awful news media that doesn’t cover good news coming out of Iraq. What he didn’t say was that security in Iraq is so bad that many journalists are afraid to leave the Green Zone. Reporting is barely possible in Iraq.

He praised Joe Lieberman. Again. Lordy, we’ve got to do something about Lieberman. Mistakes have been made, Bush said (note the passive voice; he doesn’t say who made those mistakes) but good Joe Lieberman says that the biggest mistake would be to lose our will. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and all that.

Without naming him, Bush criticized Jack Murtha’s recent proposal for withdrawal. It would make America less safe, Bush said, although he offered no arguments to back up that claim. It would be giving the terrorists what they want, Bush said. Yeah, that’s what they want you to think, fratboy.

The Council of Foreign Relations audience sat quietly through most of the speech. Only once did they interrupt with applause — very tepid applause — after Bush had said something about not leaving Iraq. I was listening to the speech on MSNBC and didn’t watch it much, but I did take a peek at the end to see if Bush got a standing ovation. It appears he did, but the cameras only showed the guys in the front rows. For all I know the rest of the audience was already sneaking out the door.

And, like last week, as soon as the speech ended somebody played “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Canned? I can’t imagine the Council of Foreign Relations keeps a marching band around. Kind of weird, if you ask me.

Update: Thanks to Ken Melvin for this link

Bush’s speech, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, was the second in a series of four to answer criticism and questions about the U.S. presence more two and a half years after the war started. He spoke to a group of foreign policy experts, many of whom have been critical of his policies. They gave him a cool reception. Some in the audience interrupted to applaud when Bush said the U.S. would not run from Iraq, but most sat stoically during the entire speech.

Also: Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the Washington Post.

Update update:
Jack Murtha is giving a rebuttal to the speech. I missed part of it, but essentially he’s saying he tried to warn the President and the Pentagon before the invasion that the job in Iraq was going to be harder than they seemed to think it was. If you find a transcript or video, please post the link!

13 thoughts on “What Bush Didn’t Say

  1. More false logic and outright lies. Never mind that Al Qaeda couldn’t get into Iraq so long as its enemy, Saddam, was in power. Never mind that the insurgency in Iraq mostly wants us to get the hell out of their country, while Al Qaeda wants all the world to convert to Islam and live under sharia– so much for the “same ideology.”

    We’ve got flags at half staff here in the heartland, for Pearl Harbor which occurred 64 years ago. Last time I checked, we won that war, and are now friendly with Japan. Bush and his kind can only thrive if we remember the Alamo, the Maine, Pearl Harbor and 9/11, long after it would’ve been healthy to “let it go.”

  2. It is always astonishing to me how little George W. Bush and his conservative friends actually know about Winston Churchill — or how much they want to ignore.

    The ignore or do not know, for instance, that Churchill started his political career in the British Liberal Party, and worked with Lloyd George to break the power of the House of Lords and create the beginnings of the British welfare state. If you read some of Churchill’s speeches from 1909-1912, the era of the People’s Budget, they are just as incendiary as those of Lloyd George the coal miner’s child from Wales. (And when Churchill returned to power in 1951 he spent exactly NO time trying to reverse the welfare state established by the Labor Party.)

    They ignore or do not know how desperate Churchill was to find allies, any allies, in World War II (“the only thing worse than having allies is not having allies.”)

    They ignore, or don’t know, that Winston Churchill fought — physically fought — in every war he could get to from the time he was 20 until he was in his 40s, when he fought in the trenches of the Western Front in World War I after he left the cabinet over the Gallipoli expedition. They also ignore, or don’t know, that Churchill’s only son was on active, combat service in World War II. No chickenhawks there. Instead of hiding from danger, Churchill used to stand on the roof of the building in Whitehall where he had his underground safe room, and watch the German bombers attacking London.

    They ignore, or don’t know, that Churchill used to weep — actually weep — at reports of casualties, and that he went home to his wife on June 5, 1944, in tears, telling her that he was desperately worried 20,000 men would be killed in the D-Day landings.

    They also don’t know or ignore the fact that despite his loathing of Communism Churchill tried to arrange a diplomatic overture to the Soviet Union right after Stalin died, to reduce tensions. He could not talk Eisenhower into joining him in this effort, but he told his secretary John Colville that Colville would almost certainly see Communism come to an end within his lifetime (which turned out to be absolutely right).

    Sorry for the lengthy rant, but the ignorance of these neo-cons about the history they claim to understand and the historical figure they claim to admire never ceases to amaze me. I mean, none of these items is obscure. All of them are in any basic biography of Churchill, you don’t have to plow through all of Manchester or Martin Gilbert to find it out.

  3. Oh the monkey wrapped his tail around the flag-pole…And caught a bad cold…(What we used to sing as the lyric for Stars and Stripes Forever. Don’t know if there are real lyrics or not.)

    Seemed kinda appropriate for the chimperor.

  4. Oh no! Bluewave, now that song’s gonna be stuck in my head all day! (Only we used to sing more vulgar lyrics than “And caught a bad cold”….)

    The monkey wraps the flag around himself.

  5. When Bush was talking about all the great advances in the Iraqi economy, I thought of the song “The Irish Rover.”

    We had one million bales of the best Sligo rags
    We had two million barrels of stones
    We had three million sides of old blind horses hides,
    We had four million barrels of bones.
    We had five million hogs, we had six million dogs,
    Seven million barrels of porter.
    We had eight million bails of old nanny goats’ tails,
    In the hold of the Irish Rover.


  6. And now the terrorists think they can make America run in Iraq, and that is not going to happen so long as I’m the commander in chief.

    sooooo… he’s saying that we have three more years of this?

    Also, I like how Bush quoted Liberman as saying “Mistakes have been made”. Nice touch.

  7. Terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front on its war against humanity. So we must recognize Iraq as the central front on the war on terror

    Which means they choose the battleground. Only a bad general would let this happen.

  8. He started out by comparing Pearl Harbor with September 11. Both times we confronted new dangers with firm resolve and a will to fight without wavering, blah blah blah. He really wants to be Churchill.

    US wingnuts who revere Churchill conveniently forget this Churchillian observation:

    “The Americans can always be counted upon to do the right thing — after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives”.

    Just cherry-picking, I guess.

  9. Pingback: The Mahablog » Not So Much

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