Lather, Rinse, Repeat

President Bush made yet another “major policy” speech on the war in Iraq today, accompanied by the release of his National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, a 35 page document attractively bound in a cover of red, white, and blue.

In his speech, the President repeated mantras about the “shared ideology” between the terrorists who attacked the U.S. in 2001 and those who continue to ravage American forces and Iraqi civil society on a daily basis today. He reasserted his conviction that “this is hard work” and that “we are making progress” and that one day a “free Iraq” will stand as a beacon to the entire Middle East and the world.

He was less clear, however, about how we may expect things to go in the meantime.

The President’s speech before the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD was mainly a re-tread of the same assurances he and his administration have been making for most of the past two years, after he stood on the deck of the USS Lincoln and declared the “mission accomplished, ” and after the absence of any real “strategy for victory” became more and more apparent.

The National Strategy document released today is an unclassified version of the “strategy” that has been guiding the American effort all along, designed, apparently, to counter the administration’s sinking stature in opinion polls reporting the number of Americans with confidince in the President’s handling of the Iraq adventure.

Again, the President implored, “this is hard work,” “we are making progress,” “the Iraqis will take over soon,” “trust me, you’ll see.”

The wheels of history roll slowly, to be sure, and it may be too soon to tell whether Mr. Bush will be seen to have ridden a chariot on them through an Arc de Triumph, or whether he’ll be portrayed as having been crushed under their relentless path — but one clue in his speech today suggests he may be slightly off in the calculation of his own potential fame and grandeur.

Echoing a theme prevalent among the administration and its supporters in the run-up to war — when Saddam Hussein and the threat of his henceforth undiscovered weapons of mass destruction were likened to Adolph Hitler and the threat of Nazi totalitarianism that begat World War II — the President again today evoked that war, and sought to compare the idea of American withdrawal from Iraq with what might have happened had we withdrawn from World War II before Hitler and Nazi Germany were crushed.

This is such a facile and inappropriate analogy, it’s both incredible the President still gets away with making it, and telling as to the depths of delusion under which he and his administration continue to operate.

Let’s be clear here:

Hitler commanded a sophisticated, well-equipped, relentless fighting force with obvious designs on dominating as much of the globe as it could tear asunder. Saddam controlled a rag-tag band of ill-equipped, under-fed toy soldiers who disappeared into the desert sands and the reeds of the Tigris and Euphrates at the first sign of any real opposition to Saddam’s megalomaniacal fantasies.

Millions and millions of Americans joined the war effort and willingly sacraficed en masse to defeat Germany and Japan in World War II; the country was joined by allied forces from countries throughout the world against the axis powers in that war.

Aside from the negligible contributions of a few symbolic allies, the Iraq adventure has been a creation and production of the U.S. military alone. And the only Americans who have willingly sacraficed anything in this war are the 2100 plus dead, and many tens of thousands of wounded American soldiers who are the true casualties (along with uncounted thousands of Iraqi civilians) of George W. Bush’s hubris.

One actual new “stratgey” out of the Bush camp recently, came on the wings of an “epiphany” Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld had over the weekend. From here on out, we ought to stop calling them “insurgents” because “You know, that gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit,” according to Mr. Rumsfeld. If we call them “enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government” it will “turn the tide in the struggle in freedom’s favor.”

As Mr. Bush said today, critics of this war are “flat wrong” if they claim “we’re not learning from our experience or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground.”

Sort of like the strategic initiative the administration floated several months ago, which held the war would go better if the press would just stop reporting on all the negative things happening in Iraq every day.

Some of the things the President did not mention today, and which have seen scant attention in the press, are the increasing activity of death squads and a continuing program of torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners as “strategies” in the turning of freedom’s tide.

While Mr. Bush may believe he’s got a National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, he’ll be leaving his successors the task of coming up with one for healing the deep divisions he’s created in the country at home, and for repairing America’s tarnished reputation abroad.


  1. lonbud - December 13, 2005 @ 10:37 pm

    Aye, thar, laddie Tam. Is it the lifestyle that begets the singin’ of the blues, or the singin’ that begets the lifestyle? Chickens ‘n eggs, me boy, chickens ‘n eggs.

  2. Tam O’Tellico - December 14, 2005 @ 9:27 am

    Point well-taken, Bud. But the more fitting cliche might be ham’n’eggs. As my old boss used to say when illustrating the nature of committment:

    “The chicken just has to lay an egg, but the pig is committed.”

    Or perhaps the line Maya Angelou appropriated is appropriate to this discussion:

    “I know why the caged bird sings”

    In any case, I suspect that the culture of despair comes first and that leads to drinking and of course drinking feeds the culture of despair. What amazes me is that such beauty can come from such despair. I am reminded of Dylan Thomas, a man not averse to quaffing a few. In fact, his poem Do Not Go Quietly inspired this song of mine:

    I Will Not Go Quietly

    Sometimes life seems like such a circus
    Sometimes I just can’t get it right
    Sometimes it feels like there’s no purpose
    But I will not go quietly into that cold, dark night

    Sometimes I wonder why I bother
    Sometimes it isn’t worth the fight
    Sometimes I wish it was all over
    But I will not go quietly into that cold, dark night

    Swallowing my rage
    Turning a page
    Last cool days of Fall
    Winter is near
    Icy cold fear
    Back against the wall

    Sometimes I just can’t keep from crying
    Sometimes I cannot see the light
    Sometimes living’s worse than dying
    But I will not go quietly into that cold, dark night

    © 2005 Thomas Cordle

  3. Tam O’Tellico - December 15, 2005 @ 5:52 pm

    Bob Novak Says President Knows Leak Source
    By Pete Yost, AP, December 14, 2005

    Washington – Columnist Bob Novak [in response to a question about the sources for his 2003 story exposing Valerie Plame’s indentity] says “I’d be amazed” if the President didn’t know the source’s identity and that the public should “bug the President as to … who the source is.”

    Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald prosecutor has aggressively pursued charges in the probe. According to people close to the investigation, Bush’s top political adviser Karl Rove is one of Novak’s sources, but his other source is not publicly known. Novak apparently is cooperating with the criminal investigation, though the journalist has never said so.

    Tam: Does anyone believe that Bush and/or Cheney weren’t involved in this escapade? Haven’t we learned from the U2, Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Monicagate? Why doesn’t Bush just call Fitzgerald and confess or turn in Cheney? I guess he probably figures it’ll get dragged out another three years, and he won’t have to face the music. But he should keep in mind, there’ll be no Presidential pardons then. Hey — maybe that’s his revenge on Crooked Dick for all the bad advice.

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