On the same day that the 2000th American soldier was confirmed dead in Iraq, the President gave a speech to a friendly audience. Looking over his remarks, they seem remarkable similar to his domino speech of October 6, 2005, except for some new threats against Syria.
The dominoes didn't fall after Vietnam despite the Soviets leaning on the dominoes. Without a great power patron, al-Qaeda is doomed to destructive futility in Iraq and possible death at the hands of the majority Shia and Kurds. No dominoes will fall if we cease current military operations in Iraq. But we will close a major al-Qaeda recruiting center. A center which did not exist prior to our invasion.
What have we gotten with our 2,000 US lives and over $250 Billion? Not much:
- No statistical reduction in the number of attacks against Iraqis or coalition forces.
- An increase in the worldwide number of terror incidents since 2001.
- A reduction in Iraqi military readiness to A SINGLE battalion able to conduct operations without American aid.
- The belief of ONE Percent of Iraqis that coalition forces are improving security
- We have convinced Eighty-two percent of Iraqis nationwide to be "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops.
- A country still so unsafe that our officials will only travel there unannounced.
- A pro-Iranian government in Baghdad.
Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time. This was clearly seen by the millions of people across the political spectrum who tried to prevent this so called "preventive war." Despite that, if the President's occupation policy were actually reducing the number of terror attacks and increasing the number of Iraqis able to fight without our aid, I would be willing to counsel patience. But the longer we â€œstay the courseâ€?, doing the same things, the worse things get for our troops and for all Iraqis except the Kurds, who have their own effective militia. We need to change what we are doing. Either cease military operations entirely or switch to patrolling the borders and blocking foreign jihadis from entering the country.
Moving on to the speech itself, it was notable for the lamentable excess of misinformation and double-standards that this administration seems to be best at. A few examples:
Rhetoric: Every sailor, soldier, airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman who wears the uniform volunteered for duty.
Reality: Tens of thousands of soldiers are trapped in the Army by stop-loss orders. I admire their discipline by continuing to serve, but that service isn't voluntary until they reenlist of their own free will. If the President wants to say â€œEveryone in Iraq is a volunteer!â€?, he needs to rescind the stop-loss policy.
Rhetoric: Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism.
Reality: In all of his speeches, the President NEVER refers to the ideology behind al-Qaeda as wahabbi Islam, despite the wide acknowledgment that this brand of fundamentalism drives al-Qaeda. Why? Because acknowledging this fact would force the President to face the sources of this intolerant faith â€“ Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt instead of letting him focus on his favorite villains of Iran and Syria. Iran ruled by a Shia Islam detested by al-Qaeda and Syria, a secular dictatorship. But until we confront the true sources of al-Qaeda's ideological and financial support in Saudi society and elsewhere, we are doomed to more dramatic terrorism. Just like the post-Iraq events President recounted in his speech. â€œFighting them thereâ€? isn't working.
Rhetoric: Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.
Reality: The al-Qaeda/Taleban regime had Afghanistan for over a decade and not a single country converted to radical Islam of any flavor â€“ until we deposed the secular dictatorship in Iraq and helped install radical Shia politicians and put in too few troops to keep out al-Qaeda recruiters.
Rhetoric: The radicals depend on front operations, such as corrupted charities, which direct money to terrorist activity.
Reality: If you check the Department of the Treasury's list of terrorist charity fronts, you will find the majority of them belong to Pakistan, nominally our ally. Syria and Iran are nowhere to be found.
Rhetoric: The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more than 150 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan.
Reality: Russia has been embroiled in an occupation against the Chechens for decades. No one I know has suggested that Russians are facing trouble because we invaded Iraq.
Rhetoric: And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride.
Reality: This is a double standard. The President is afraid to visit Iraq with notice, much less to offer to go a ride-along with our troops. He is exhibiting the same behavior he is condemning.
Rhetoric: Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision.
Reality: Another double-standard. Because this was a so-called â€œpreemptive warâ€?, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians were sacrificed to the President's vision of a better Middle East.
Rhetoric: With every random bombing and every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters -- they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people, themselves.
Reality: While some insurgents are DEFINITELY terrorists, the armed opposition in Iraq in multifaceted. Even members of our own military understand this. Treating the â€œinsurgentsâ€? as a single block of terrorists is a stumbling block to a lasting solution.
If there is to be a real solution to Iraq, the President needs to admit his mistakes and outline a clear military disengagement strategy that still offers financial and other support to a truly sovereign Iraq free of US military checkpoints.
That's enough politics for one Thursday