Is it really too late for President Bush to bring the majority of Americans back onside to continue the War On Iraq for years to come?
While Bush's 'The Way Forward In Iraq' speech yesterday is being widely mocked as, literally, the worst speech he has given in the seven years of his presidency, he may well still see a substantial turn around in American support for the Iraq War.
Regardless of whether it's the truth or not, Bush appears to be successfully giving the impression that the Iraq War is gradually coming to an end, almost, but not quite yet, but soon, real soon. So soon, he's used his address to the American people to announce he would start withdrawing troops before Christmas.
That American troop levels will then go back to pre-"surge" levels, simply because the Pentagon has no choice, they will run out of deployable troops if the current numbers are kept in place longer than May-June 2008, is news seeping through much of the American mainstream news coverage. But it's not one of the key, most important neon-signs of Bush's speech that most Americans will pay the closest attention to.
Many critics and angry Americans will now think, or be able to allow themselves to believe, that Bush is listening to them, that he is doing what they wish, what they have demanded of him : start bringing the troops home. This will buy Bush more time, which was always the strategy anyway. More time to find some kind of fix to the incomprehensible raft of problems for America in Iraq.
Next year, during his State Of The Union speech, there will be a whole new set of reasons to keep more than 100,000 American troops on the ground in Iraq. It hardly matters what those reasons will be right now. They won't be based completely in fact, as many of Bush's reasons not to begin immediate and widespread troop withdrawals aren't based in fact in the speech we've excerpted below.
Think Progress has a couple of good, solid round-ups dismantling Bush's reasons for staying in Iraq, and how he is able to spin the reality to claim, as he did in the speech yesterday, that "success" in Iraq has given him the opportunity to bring some of the troops home, just as he promised it would before the troop "surge" began more than six months ago :
New White House Report Contradicts President's Claim That Troop Drawdown Is The Result Of "Success" In Iraq
The Washington Post also has an essential 'Fact Check After The Speech' feature here and another point-by-point fact check story here.
Bush managed to squeeze in twelve references to 'Al Qaeda' in the 18 minute long speech, and continues the NeoCon tradition of presenting the foreign terrorist threat in Iraq as being the 'New Nazis' - that is a huge, formidable enemy that requires the rallying-around and the blind allegiance of the entire American nation to defeat.
Bush steers clear, for now, of focusing on the "ideological war" against Al Qaeda, as he did earlier in the year.
In the speech, Al Qaeda are real and numerous and deadly and extremely dangerous, and a worthy enemy for the American military to defeat, instead of the reality of what Al Qaeda in Iraq actually is, as evidenced in this story.
Here's most of Bush's 'Way Forward In Iraq' speech :
In the life of all free nations, there come moments that decide the direction of a country and reveal the character of its people. We are now at such a moment.
In Iraq, an ally of the United States is fighting for its survival. Terrorists and extremists who are at war with us around the world are seeking to topple Iraq's government, dominate the region, and attack us here at home. If Iraq's young democracy can turn back these enemies, it will mean a more hopeful Middle East and a more secure America. This ally has placed its trust in the United States. And tonight, our moral and strategic imperatives are one: We must help Iraq defeat those who threaten its future and also threaten ours.
The premise of our strategy is that securing the Iraqi population is the foundation for all other progress. For Iraqis to bridge sectarian divides, they need to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods. For lasting reconciliation to take root, Iraqis must feel confident that they do not need sectarian gangs for security. The goal of the surge is to provide that security and to help prepare Iraqi forces to maintain it. As I will explain tonight, our success in meeting these objectives now allows us to begin bringing some of our troops home.
Since the surge was announced in January, it has moved through several phases. First was the flow of additional troops into Iraq, especially Baghdad and Anbar province. Once these forces were in place, our commanders launched a series of offensive operations to drive terrorists and militias out of their strongholds. And finally, in areas that have been cleared, we are surging diplomatic and civilian resources to ensure that military progress is quickly followed up with real improvements in daily life.
Throughout Iraq, too many citizens are being killed by terrorists and death squads. And for most Iraqis, the quality of life is far from where it should be. Yet General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker report that the success in Anbar is beginning to be replicated in other parts of the country.
One year ago, much of Baghdad was under siege. Schools were closed, markets were shuttered, and sectarian violence was spiraling out of control. Today, most of Baghdad's neighborhoods are being patrolled by coalition and Iraqi forces who live among the people they protect. Many schools and markets are reopening. Citizens are coming forward with vital intelligence. Sectarian killings are down. And ordinary life is beginning to return.
These gains are a tribute to our military, they are a tribute to the courage of the Iraqi security forces, and they are the tribute to an Iraqi government that has decided to take on the extremists.
Now the Iraqi government must bring the same determination to achieving reconciliation. This is an enormous undertaking after more than three decades of tyranny and division. The government has not met its own legislative benchmarks -- and in my meetings with Iraqi leaders, I have made it clear that they must.
I have consulted with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, other members of my national security team, Iraqi officials, and leaders of both parties in Congress. I have benefited from their advice, and I have accepted General Petraeus's recommendations. I have directed General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to update their joint campaign plan for Iraq, so we can adjust our military and civilian resources accordingly. I have also directed them to deliver another report to Congress in March. At that time, they will provide a fresh assessment of the situation in Iraq and of the troop levels and resources we need to meet our national security objectives.
The principle guiding my decisions on troop levels in Iraq is "return on success." The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home. And in all we do, I will ensure that our commanders on the ground have the troops and flexibility they need to defeat the enemy.
Americans want our country to be safe and our troops to begin coming home from Iraq. Yet those of us who believe success in Iraq is essential to our security, and those who believe we should begin bringing our troops home, have been at odds. Now, because of the measure of success we are seeing in Iraq, we can begin seeing troops come home. The way forward I have described tonight makes it possible, for the first time in years, for people who have been on opposite sides of this difficult debate to come together.
This vision for a reduced American presence also has the support of Iraqi leaders from all communities. At the same time, they understand that their success will require U.S. political, economic, and security engagement that extends beyond my presidency. These Iraqi leaders have asked for an enduring relationship with America. And we are ready to begin building that relationship -- in a way that protects our interests in the region and requires many fewer American troops.
The success of a free Iraq is critical to the security of the United States. A free Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven. A free Iraq will counter the destructive ambitions of Iran. A free Iraq will marginalize extremists, unleash the talent of its people, and be an anchor of stability in the region. A free Iraq will set an example for people across the Middle East. A free Iraq will be our partner in the fight against terror -- and that will make us safer here at home.
Realizing this vision will be difficult, but it is achievable. Our military commanders believe we can succeed. Our diplomats believe we can succeed. And for the safety of future generations of Americans, we must succeed.
If we were to be driven out of Iraq, extremists of all strains would be emboldened. Al Qaeda could gain new recruits and new sanctuaries. Iran would benefit from the chaos and would be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region. Extremists could control a key part of the global energy supply. Iraq could face a humanitarian nightmare. Democracy movements would be violently reversed. We would leave our children to face a far more dangerous world. And as we saw on September the 11th, 2001, those dangers can reach our cities and kill our people.
Whatever political party you belong to, whatever your position on Iraq, we should be able to agree that America has a vital interest in preventing chaos and providing hope in the Middle East. We should be able to agree that we must defeat al Qaeda, counter Iran, help the Afghan government, work for peace in the Holy Land, and strengthen our military so we can prevail in the struggle against terrorists and extremists.
To the Iraqi people: You have voted for freedom, and now you are liberating your country from terrorists and death squads. You must demand that your leaders make the tough choices needed to achieve reconciliation. As you do, have confidence that America does not abandon our friends, and we will not abandon you.
To Iraq's neighbors who seek peace: The violent extremists who target Iraq are also targeting you. The best way to secure your interests and protect your own people is to stand with the people of Iraq. That means using your economic and diplomatic leverage to strengthen the government in Baghdad. And it means the efforts by Iran and Syria to undermine that government must end.
To the international community: The success of a free Iraq matters to every civilized nation. We thank the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq and the many others who are helping that young democracy. We encourage all nations to help, by implementing the International Compact to revitalize Iraq's economy, by participating in the Neighbors Conferences to boost cooperation and overcome differences in the region, and by supporting the new and expanded mission of the United Nations in Iraq.
To our military personnel, intelligence officers, diplomats, and civilians on the front lines in Iraq: You have done everything America has asked of you. And the progress I have reported tonight is in large part because of your courage and hard effort. You are serving far from home. Our nation is grateful for your sacrifices, and the sacrifices of your families.
Some say the gains we are making in Iraq come too late. They are mistaken. It is never too late to deal a blow to al Qaeda. It is never too late to advance freedom. And it is never too late to support our troops in a fight they can win.
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