micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
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Monday, September 08, 2003
More of the same
Bush didn't back down last night. In fact, George W. President of Some County was nearly John F. Kennedyesque in evincing a desire to lead the "civilized world" to victory over "the terrorists." (Hey, where's Lee?)
Bush's demeanor came across like that of a guy who wants to be trusted, so it is interesting to note just how much dishonesty there was in speech.
First of all, there is the budget:
Our strategy in Iraq will require new resources. We have conducted a thorough assessment of our military and reconstruction needs in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan. I will soon submit to Congress a request for $87 billion. The request will cover ongoing military and intelligence operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, which we expect will cost $66 billion over the next year. This budget request will also support our commitment to helping the Iraqi and Afghan people rebuild their own nations, after decades of oppression and mismanagement.Sounds good but the White House's own "Fact Sheet: Request for Additional Fy 2004 Funding for the War on Terror" (dated September 8, 2003) says that the request for additional funds for Iraq alone is $87 billion. ("$51 billion to support ongoing military operations in Iraq," "$20 billion to help secure Iraq's transition to self-government and create the conditions necessary for economic investment and investment," "roughly $5 billion to improve security immediately by training border and customs enforcement personnel, a new Iraqi army, police force and local civilian defense corps. The request will also support building a judicial and penal system" and "$11 billion to support continuing U.S. efforts to track down terrorists and provide stability.") Then there is an additional request of over $1.5 billion for Afghanistan. ("$800 million to address some of the most critical remaining security and reconstruction needs," "over $400 million to train and support the Afghan National Army and national police, border and highway patrol" and "over $300 million to accelerate the construction of roads, schools, health clinics, and local, small-scale projects.")
Bush said the war has been "one of the swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history," which ignores the fact that arguably the war is still ongoing as well as the bombings and sanctions that for over decade softened Iraq up.
Those, however, are just minor complaints compared to what else Bush had to say.
As seems to be the policy of Team Bush, Bush implicitly said that attacking the occupying troops amounted to terrorism, something that is at odds with his own government's definition. Bush also talked about "the terrorists" as if they are a unified group, when the truth is quite different.
Then there is this bit about additional troops:
Our military commanders in Iraq advise me that the current number of American troops -- nearly 130,000 -- is appropriate to their mission. They are joined by over 20,000 service members from 29 other countries. Two multinational divisions, led by the British and the Poles, are serving alongside our forces -- and in order to share the burden more broadly, our commanders have requested a third multinational division to serve in Iraq.Since Bush did say that one of the Uncle Sam's goals in Iraq was to increase "international cooperation in the reconstruction and security of Iraq," it is possible that the this additional division is just for show and not really necessary. But if it is actually desired by military commanders, it becomes an issue of whether or not these other troops that would come, if they come at all, from yet to be determined countries are known to be able to accomplish something that the same number of U.S. troops could not accomplish. Obviously the question is ridiculous, so, unless these troops are just for show, Bush should have said, "a small number of additional troops are needed. We are going to try to get them from other countries."
Last but not least there are the weapons of mass destruction and related programs that have disappeared from Bush's agenda. Bush correctly said that Saddam Hussein's now deposed regime "possessed and used weapons of mass destruction" but made no mention of the efforts to find the weapons of mass destruction and related programs that the Bush Administration said were a threat to the U.S. and other countries before the war started. Has Team Bush found out that they were wrong to emphasize that threat? If so, Bush should have been honest about this. If the threat still exists, Bush should have explained what they are doing to track down the weapons of mass destruction and programs to build such weapons. And if that has been taken care of, Bush should come out and say that as a way of calming people who believed him in March. (It is hard to believe that if the threat had indeed been neutralized, that Bush wouldn't have bragged about doing so.)
Of course, expecting Bush to be honest at this point in the game is a bit delusional.