MartiniPundit

Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

President Bush’s Iraq Speech

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I was unable to listen to the full speech last night, although I did catch the back half. Delivery seemed to me to be standard Bush – not his most rousing but yeomanlike nonetheless. So it wasn’t until the morning that I read the rest – I prefer it that way in any event as one can work with the material better. The full text is here.

In short, the President said what needed to be said. He and the Administration have been far too quiet of late, and have failed to counter the drumbeat of negativity from the Democrats and the MSM. Things are going well in Iraq and in the larger GWOT, but the American people have only heard the bad, the sort of thing that goes on in any war, but not the good which is specific to this one.

In starting by thanking the troops, Bush sends a message that he, as Commander in Chief, has not forgotten them, and that he appreciates what they’re doing. This is good given certain recent statements.

The terrorists who attacked us — and the terrorists we face — murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance, and despises all dissent. Their aim is to remake the Middle East in their own grim image of tyranny and oppression — by toppling governments, by driving us out of the region, and by exporting terror.

To achieve these aims, they have continued to kill — in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, and elsewhere. The terrorists believe that free societies are essentially corrupt and decadent, and with a few hard blows they can force us to retreat. They are mistaken.

It is also important to remind people just what we face. This isn’t partisan rancor — that’s bad, but we’re not going to start blowing each other up — this is a war against people who will blow you up for disagreeing with them, and more. They will blow us up because we allow women to drive wearing shorts and a halter top. They will blow us up because we allow freedom of religious expression (or none at all). They will blow us up because we are free, prosperous, successful, and optimistic. They will blow us up because they think we’re weak and decadent.

Our mission in Iraq is clear. We’re hunting down the terrorists. We’re helping Iraqis build a free nation that is an ally in the war on terror. We’re advancing freedom in the broader Middle East. We are removing a source of violence and instability, and laying the foundation of peace for our children and our grandchildren.

This has always been the mission. Far from lying or misleading us into war, the President has talked about these themes from the very beginning.

Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom. Our military reports that we have killed or captured hundreds of foreign fighters in Iraq who have come from Saudi Arabia and Syria, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and others. They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime who want to restore the old order. They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty, as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy and prosperity and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.

Indeed, it’s called flypaper, and it’s working. We’re fighting the terrorists there, not here. We’re fighting the terrorists in a place with tens of thousands of the best and toughest hombres in the world. The American military is taking these guys down and training Iraqi security forces to help. Yes, we’ve had some two thousand fatalities, but this is a war. And by historical standards, one that is not very bloody for our troops. We regret the loss of each and every one of them, we regret all those who are wounded and perhaps maimed. But we have been fighting for nearly four years now, and the military losses do not equal those of 9/11. Perspective should be maintained. With every passing month, the better trained and more experienced terrorists are facing terrible attrition.

With every leader caught or killed, someone lesser takes his place. They cannot sustain operations at this level without degrading their ability to virtually nothing.

The terrorists — both foreign and Iraqi — failed to stop the transfer of sovereignty. They failed to break our Coalition and force a mass withdrawal by our allies. They failed to incite an Iraqi civil war. They failed to prevent free elections. They failed to stop the formation of a democratic Iraqi government that represents all of Iraq’s diverse population. And they failed to stop Iraqis from signing up in large number with the police forces and the army to defend their new democracy.

They certainly can use car bombs and IEDs to blow things up, but they cannot make headway in the things that really matter. One, because many of them are not Iraqis, and two, because those that are are merely remnants of Saddam’s regime. These guys didn’t go to Brazil, they stayed. And they’re losing.

In the past year, we have made significant progress. One year ago today, we restored sovereignty to the Iraqi people. In January 2005, more than 8 million Iraqi men and women voted in elections that were free and fair, and took time on — and took place on time. We continued our efforts to help them rebuild their country. Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard, and rebuilding while at war is even harder. Our progress has been uneven, but progress is being made.

We’re improving roads and schools and health clinics. We’re working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity, and water. And together with our allies, we’ll help the new Iraqi government deliver a better life for its citizens.

This the second half of the strategy. In addition to flypaper, there is the beacon. Most of the people of the Middle East live under brutal oppression. They know only what their governments tell them. But the word spreads nevertheless — in Iraq, they had free elections and almost everybody came. (This is unlike the sham election in Iran where almost everybody stayed home.) In Lebanon, in Egypt, in Kuwait, even in Saudi Arabia, that election is reverberating through aftershocks as other nations in the region adjust to the new reality. (It doesn’t hurt that Dr. Rice continues to push the theme hard over there – how it must gall the Islamofascists that she’s a she.)

A free, democratic Iraq is the grenade thrown into the tent of Middle East dictatorship.

Finally, we have continued our efforts to equip and train Iraqi security forces. We made gains in both the number and quality of those forces. Today Iraq has more than 160,000 security forces trained and equipped for a variety of missions. Iraqi forces have fought bravely, helping to capture terrorists and insurgents in Najaf and Samarra, Fallujah and Mosul. And in the past month, Iraqi forces have led a major anti-terrorist campaign in Baghdad called Operation Lightning, which has led to the capture of hundreds of suspected insurgents. Like free people everywhere, Iraqis want to be defended by their own countrymen, and we are helping Iraqis assume those duties.

This is a necessity, both to relieve the burden on our own troops, but also to prove Iraqi sovereignty is real and lasting. Nothing says that like an army.

I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed, and not a day longer.

The only way to win a battle — and a war — is to see it through. No one ever won a battle by leaving it.

America has done difficult work before. From our desperate fight for independence to the darkest days of a Civil War, to the hard-fought battles against tyranny in the 20th century, there were many chances to lose our heart, our nerve, or our way. But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in certain truths. We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity, and returns to strike us again.

This is the lesson of history, and why we must confront terrorism everywhere it exists. This does not always mean militarily (although I would like to see the us take out Iran and Syria), and it does not always mean diplomacy (the likely route for the Saudis). It requires a flexible approach, and an understanding of the end goal. I believe the President has this.

After September the 11th, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult, and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult — and we are prevailing. Our enemies are brutal, but they are no match for the United States of America, and they are no match for the men and women of the United States military.

All in all, it needed to be said.

Also in the address, the President mentioned a new DoD website — AmericaSupportsYou.mil — as a place for people to go and learn ways to tangibly support the troops.

Written by martinipundit

June 29, 2005 at 9:45 am

Posted in GWOT, Iraq, Politics

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