Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Some of the points Bush didn't cover in his speech

Fight on.

Bush's speech was long on historical, and often unnecessary, details and short on any clear strategy. In short, it's more of the same old Bush plan - FUBAR. He gave Congress and the citizens of the US a one-finger salute.

Throughout his address, Bush continually laid blame at the feet of the Iraqis themselves.

I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people
Bomb a country to it's knees, destroy its infrastructure, screw up the reconstruction and continue to deny basic services and then blame an uprising on the conquered. How very... Caligulan.

There was also the standard neo-con/Bushco linkage of 9/11 to Iraq.

The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.
The sad part is that it wasn't even subtle.

Nancy Pelosi took no time to respond:

The President had an opportunity tonight to demonstrate that he understood the depth of the concern in the country, make a long overdue course correction, and articulate a clear mission for our engagement in Iraq. Instead, he chose to escalate our involvement in Iraq's civil war by proposing a substantial increase in the number of our forces there. This proposal endangers our national security by placing additional burdens on our already over-extended military thereby making it even more difficult to respond to other crises.

Escalating our military involvement in Iraq sends precisely the wrong message and we oppose it.
In the days ahead, Congress will exercise its Constitutional responsibilities by giving the President’s latest proposal the scrutiny our troops and the American people expect. We will demand answers to the tough questions that have not been asked or answered to date. The American people want a change of course in Iraq. We intend to keep pressing President Bush to provide it.
And, with that, Nancy Pelosi has offered to bite off the finger.

Interestingly, while Bush was tossing out rhetoric, there were a couple of bits from the White House website worth noting. In the Fact Sheet, under the heading Key Elements Of The New Approach: Economic, is this little gem:

Enact hydrocarbons law to promote investment, national unity, and reconciliation.
That would be the oil law which emerged from the US State department and has Cheney's footprints all over it. The law which forces Iraq into restrictive and financially punitive Production Sharing Agreements with the "Big Four" American and British-based oil companies.

Then there's the Highlights of The Iraq Strategy Review. This would be the tossing out of all prior plans and the birth of a new one. That document repeats one particular theme from Bush's speech and the Fact Sheet which is patently false - that al Qaeda is the primary instigator of the insurgency in Iraq. Military commanders on the ground have already refuted that fallacious claim.

Some other points from the strategy review which you didn't hear in Bush's speech:

Previous: Restrictive ROE hindered execution of Baghdad security plan.
New: Iraqi leaders committed to permissive ROE and non-sectarian, non-political command and control arrangements.
New, "permissive" rules of engagement. This is likely the unleashing of a bloody reign of terror on the population of Baghdad by the Iraqi interior ministry. More:

Previous: Acknowledged continued Syrian and increasing lethal Iranian interference in Iraq.
New: Counter Iranian and Syrian action that threatens Coalition forces.
Why does that sound like extra-territorial incursions? I'm wondering how long it will take before we hear of US military actions in Iran? More:

Remobilize the National Guard to support rotations
Now, why wouldn't Bush mention that in his speech? You can bet that there will be more stop-loss activity and I suspect the Individual Ready Reserve is, once again, in jeopardy. More:

We Must Maintain and Expand Our Capabilities for the Long War
•Acknowledge that succeeding in Iraq is the immediate challenge, but it is not the last challenge
•Ensure we have adequate national capabilities to fight the long war, on the military and civilian side (Italics mine)
Then, of course, we have this.

A US Army battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks to deploy to Iraq.
That's robbing Peter to pay Paul. Not to mention that Bush water-carrier Steve Harper has been making loud noises to NATO, after Canada suffered some significant losses in Afghanistan, that more troops were needed there. This move will make the situation in Afghanistan worse. That means Bush's troop escalation in Iraq will negatively impact two combat operations.

We'll have to watch the US Congress now. Fight on.

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