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Thursday, May 25, 2006


Bush, Blair, and "the people"

I didn't have the stomach to watch George Bush and Tony Blair's entire press conference, nor even to read the entire transcript. My hip boots aren't deep enough. In the part I did watch, however, one thing caught my attention:
Tony Blair: "the impression is given that the Iraqi people wish that we were gone from Iraq and weren't there any longer in support of the Iraqi government or the Iraqi forces. Not a single one of the people I talked to, not one of the political leaders, from whatever part of the spectrum in Iraq that I talked to -- and these are all people from all the different communities elected by their people -- not one of them wanted us to pull out precipitately. All of them wanted us to stick with it and see the job done."
As was the case with Leslie Gelb in an article a year ago, the Prime Minister conflates (or confuses) the "Iraqi people" with the "political leaders." The fact, as an honest Blair would have admitted, is that all polls shows that the actual Iraqi people, the ones Blair isn't able to actually talk to since they aren't admitted to the Green Zone, in their vast majority want the Americans and British to leave. Needless to say, the "leaders," whose continuation in office and in the comfort of the Green Zone depends precisely on the presence of those troops, have a rather different opinion.

Bush makes the complementary error:

No question that the Iraq war has created a sense of consternation here in America. I mean, when you turn on your TV screen and see innocent people die, day in and day out, it affects the mentality of our country.

But here's what they're asking in America. They're asking, can we win? That's what they want to know. Do we have a strategy for victory?
First off, I'd like to know what channel he's watching, because I almost never see "innocent people die" on the ones I watch, certainly not "day in and day out." I do hear reports of people killed, but seeing them? Rarely.

More importantly, Bush, like Blair, is lying about what people think, in this case the American people. Every poll shows that the majority of American people want the troops brought home on some reasonable time scale, "victory" or no victory. When the troops are coming home is what's on their mind, not "what is our strategy?"

While I'm on the press conference, I will note just one more thing. I wrote last December:

Has anyone else noticed that there are now allegedly 200,000 Iraqi troops "standing up," and not a single American soldier (not one!) has been "stood down" as a result? What are these Iraqi troops anyway, neutrinos?
And in today's press conference, the press finally noticed the same thing, as Bill Plante from CBS asked this question:
But the fact is, you have been standing up Iraqi forces in great numbers. The administration says you have hundreds of thousand trained and equipped, tens of thousand leading the fight. And yet, during the same period they've been standing up there has not been a substantial decrease in U.S. and coalition forces. So what does that tell us about how meaningful the figures are on Iraqi troops? And what does that tell us about a potential for a draw-down?
I won't bother you with the answer.

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