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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Bush gives important speech

Consisting primarily of two words: "al Qaida." 95 times in fact. Speaking to his usual audience today (a captive and presumably supportive crowd on an Air Force Base), Bush launched a major offensive aimed at supporting the contention that Iraq really is the "central front in the war on terror" and that the people the U.S. is fighting in Iraq really are "the same people who attacked us on 9/11" (and no, even I don't think Bush thinks they're really the exact same people, but he does think and claim that they're part of the same organization).

This paragraph, from the end, pretty much sums up the speech:

"I've explained the connection between al Qaida and its Iraqi affiliate. I presented intelligence that clearly establishes this connection. The facts are that al Qaida terrorists killed Americans on 9/11, they're fighting us in Iraq and across the world, and they are plotting to kill Americans here at home again. Those who justify withdrawing our troops from Iraq by denying the threat of al Qaida in Iraq and its ties to Osama bin Laden ignore the clear consequences of such a retreat. If we were to follow their advice, it would be dangerous for the world -- and disastrous for America. We will defeat al Qaida in Iraq."
There were, as you might imagine, more than a few holes in the speech, starting with the fact that quite a few paragraphs in which the justification (that al Qaida in Iraq and al Qaida "central" are really the same thing) was supported began with these words: "According to our intelligence community." Of course this is the same intelligence community which was not just convinced, but, at least as far as their opinions were conveyed to the American public by the Bush administration, were convinced with absolute certainty that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (and I remind readers that not only didn't they have WMD, they didn't even have any weapons of mass destruction programs, which was the fallback position), and were convinced with absolute certainty that Iraq had a close relationship with al Qaida. So any sentence beginning with the words "according to our intelligence community," has to be treated with an entire salt pond full of salt. Bush's claim that he "presented intelligence that clearly establishes this connection" would better be stated as that he "asserted that intelligence clearly establishes this connection."

But, as much as I could poke holes in the speech, that's not the fundamental problem with it. The fundamental problem is precisely the "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" mentality. Imagine if two thugs from rival mobs came into your house and started a knock-down, drag-out fight, destroying your furniture, knocking holes in the walls, killing your children ("by accident"), and when you went to the one who claimed he was on "your side" and asked him what he was doing, he said, "I'm fighting this guy here so I don't have to fight him in my house." Well, thanks an effing lot, pal! Chances are rather than being grateful for that, you'd wait until he wasn't looking and pop him one.

Iraqis have as much right to life as Americans do! And day after day after day, forgetting entirely (although how could you) about the Iraqis (not to mention Afghans) being killed by American bombs, another hundred or so Iraqis are being killed by suicide (and remote control) bombers, which are the direct consequence of the great "flypaper" theory that Bush was praising in his speech. "The homeland" may have been spared any terrorist attacks since 2003, but two other "homelands" are taking it on the chin instead. And to Bush, and to far too many others, this is a perfectly moral alternative. And even of the others who object, it's not because they object to the Iraqis being killed instead of "us," but because they don't believe (with good reason) that the members of "al Qaida in Iraq" would be headed for our shores were American troops to leave Iraq.

There is one nice strawman paragraph I'd like to quote:

"Some note that al Qaida in Iraq did not exist until the U.S. invasion -- and argue that it is a problem of our own making. The argument follows the flawed logic that terrorism is caused by American actions. Iraq is not the reason that the terrorists are at war with us. We were not in Iraq when the terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. We were not in Iraq when they attacked our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We were not in Iraq when they attacked the USS Cole in 2000. And we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001."
No George, Iraq is not the reason that "the terrorists" are at war with us. Have you forgotten that what Osama bin Laden claims to object to is the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia (and the Middle East in general), and the Israeli occupation of, and the American support for the occupation of, Palestine? No, I doubt he has, but he certainly wasn't going to mention it either.

Two other things he didn't mention, which is interesting because this was a long speech - 3631 words. But of those, the words "Iran" and "Pakistan" do not appear at all. Iran, because this speech was all al Qaida all the time, and the American people can't handle two bogeymen at the same time, at least not in the same speech. But Pakistan is an even more curious omission, especially considering the nexus for the entire policy which is contained in this statement:

"If we were to allow this to happen [by leaving Iraq], sectarian violence in Iraq could increase dramatically, raising the prospect of mass casualties. Fighting could engulf the entire region in chaos, and we would soon face a Middle East dominated by Islamic extremists who would pursue nuclear weapons, and use their control of oil for economic blackmail or to fund new attacks on our nation."
I'll skip the part where Bush predicts the future; his success at that in the past has been non-existent. But the part about nuclear weapons is the interesting bit. Because the prospect of "Islamic extremists" getting their hands on nuclear weapons is at least an order of magnitude higher, and probably more, due to the fall of the Pakistani government than to some other government (an al Qaida led Iraq) developing them. Look at how the U.S. and Israel are threatening to bomb Iran because they claim Iran is developing nuclear weapons. But they're holding off, not just because they're tied down in Iraq, but because Iran is a major power, with a large army and plenty of armaments. Now contrast that to some mythical al Qaida government, which will not own a single plane, a single attack helicopter, a single tank, etc., and if they ever so much as spell the word "nuclear" on a blackboard, the U.S. and its allies would bomb them to kingdom-come (indeed, if al Qaida were to come to power in Iraq, that would happen anyway, nuclear weapons being developed or no). I'll leave it to readers to judge if this is all just a cover story, and if that "control of oil" is what this is really all about.

But back to Pakistan. Lots of people have been (rightfully) worried about a U.S. attack on Iran, but in the last few days we've heard increasing talk of the U.S. sending troops to Pakistan, and I think that's far more likely. Remember that sending troops into another country to attack al Qaida (and topple the host government in the process) was a "no-brainer" for the U.S.; and now we're told (and it might actually be true) that al Qaida is in Pakistan, and we know the central government of that country can't do anything about it, so surely the case for sending troops there is just as high, especially because they'll be "invited" there by our ally (the one with his arm twisted behind his back). And Bush would probably perceive it as immensely helpful to the Republican cause in the next election as well.

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