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My Right Gemini Twin on Bush’s Speech

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Could it be our little Dubya is growing up? He is not a mature adult yet, but he has taken a massive step and I am quite proud of our little guy. I mean he is still deep in denial about how we got to where we are today in Iraq, but he is recognizing the depth of our failures thus far and his responsibility for those failures. Little steps forward are better than giant leaps backwards I believe. Tonight’s speech has given me a tiny ray of hope in an otherwise dim outlook.

Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq’s elections posed for their cause. And they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis.

Al Qaeda has very little to do with the trouble in Iraq today. The Sunni/ Shiite war has a very long history that goes back much further than our overthrow of Saddam. It is a conflict that even predates the war between Sunni ran Iraq and Shiite ran Iran in the '80s. It is a religious war of ideology much like the Catholic/Protestant war that wreaked havoc in England for so long. It saddens me that Bush still insists that Iraq has anything to do with the war on terror, but like I said, at least he is getting better.

The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people – and it is unacceptable to me… where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.

It has taken President Bush six long years to admit error, but he finally has and that does count for something with me. It is a long way from his mocking the hunt for WMDs and his insistence that we were winning in Iraq. The speech tonight could possibly signal the birth of a new George Bush; one that is humbled before the American people. It is possible that he really did get the message sent to him in November. His past history does not fill me with much hope, but the speech tonight does.

In keeping with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, we will increase the embedding of American advisers in Iraqi Army units – and partner a Coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division. We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped Army – and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces… We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. We will double the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

This is a very different plan than the one we have failed under for the past three years. It almost seems like President Bush has recognized it was his desire to run the war that caused most of the problems and has finally decided to let those who understand war run it. Most of the items he is covering in this new plan are actually things requested of him and denied long ago. This is not so much his plan as his acknowledging his plan sucked in the first place, but nothing was going to change until he realized his failures.

The plan is far from perfect and, to be honest, I still wish we had never gone in the first place, but wishes are for wells. The reality is that we are there. We have two choices before us and those are leave or stay. I would prefer we leave, but that is not going to happen so at least those with experience are going to be running it now. There is hope for success now whatever that means.

I am trying to be optimistic right now. I did not watch the speech, but read the text online. I may be giving the words written for him more credit than his reading them deserved. I may wake up tomorrow pissed off at the entire plan, but then I will read this and say “I am an idiot” and not know if I mean when I wrote this or when I read it.

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About Brad Schader

  • Bliffle

    He said :”Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue – and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties.”

    But I thought he had redefined “success” from “depose Saddam” to “make Iraq secure” which would preclude more casualties. Sounds like a loophole, to me.

  • SHARK

    I dunno, I must have seen a different speech. There was very little of substance — the same stuff we’ve heard for years. There was a ton of empty rhetoric, but in reality, most of what he said was relatively meaningless.

    “Americans won’t tolerate the current situation in Iraq. And I won’t tolerate the current situation in Iraq.”

    —???!!!

    Really!? Wow! Stop the presses!

    The speech included nothing new except a minor, whimpered, insincere “mea culpa” — and a threat to expand the war to include Syria and Iran.

    Oh.

    Boy.

    Can’t wait!

    ====

    Aside: You read the text only; I might have had an altogether different impression of the meaning of the words, since Bush’s “we’re in a war” body language — rather than implying the strength of a pit-bull like Winston Churchill — looked more like a pale chihuahua having an anxiety attack.

  • S.T.M

    Shark wrote: “looked more like a pale chihuahua having an anxiety attack.”

    … after getting accidentally stuck inside one of those dirty great cowboy hats

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com Brad Schader

    I am at a disadvantage and an advantage with this speech. By reading the text only I can concentrate on the words without my feelings for the man getting in the way, but I also lose the body language that is very important to understanding full intent. I wrote this more on the words and the plan rather than his presentation of them. I took this speech as Bush’s admitting he was the main problem with the war thus far and was stepping aside to let the generals run it now. I may have misunderstood this because I only read it and did not watch the speech.

  • marianne

    No, he’s not stepping aside to let the generals run it; he’s replacing them with generals who will publicly agree with him. It’s more of the same, and with the groups of aircraft carriers sent to intimidate Iran and his threats last night, he’s very likely to drag us into a wider conflict.

  • Bliffle

    Bill Kristol is beating the drums for Gen. Petreus: he’s the best general we’ve got. But where was Kristol the last couple rounds of appointments?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIMW5iYFGhM D’oh

    I gotta go with SHARK on this one. I watched, then read the transcript. And most of it was the same olde schtick, with a nice admission tossed in there.

    Nothing major, and nothing new.

    For all that 21,000 troops sounds like a lot, think a moment. In three shifts that would mean at most 7,000 more rifles patrolling the city. In perspective, there are more than 40,000 cops in NYC patrolling 24/7… and they speak the language and can spot an enemy.

    Our troops do NOT speak the language, and couldn’t tell one side from the other, or even a good citizen from a cop/military guy whose hobby is a Shi’a death squad.

  • http://www.minor-ripper.blogspot.com MinorRipper

    Looks like “The Dunce” might just invade Iran and Syria while he’s still in office…God help us.
    http://www.minor-ripper.blogspot.com

  • Bliffle

    In business, government, or even your church choir, if a guy steps up and promises a bold extravagant future and then fails, we fire him! Why don’t we do the same now?

  • Baronius

    Brad, I don’t think much of your analysis. Mostly name-calling and (deliberately or not) Dem talking points. But it’s the most thoughtful of the Blogcritics analyses, so thanks.

    I wonder, is this the perfect example of the limitations of the internet? Defense, State, and the NSC develop a new plan over the course of months, and we amateurs pretend to assess it based on one broad presentation (by a lousy public speaker). I know, I know, this is a democracy, and it’s good to be wary of the experts. Still, I was probably wrong to even look for thorough analysis on a blog site.

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com Brad Schader

    I do not think I named called. Can you please show me. His speaking abilities have nothing to do with my analysis because, if you read what I wrote, I said I purposely did not watch the speech but read the text online because I did not Bush to color how I would see it.

    The Dem talking points from what I see are that they do not want more troops period and this plan is more of the same. I see it as Bush taking the blame finally and allowing actual military people to run things. THank you for the kind of kind words though =D

  • Baronius

    Noooooo! (That’s not at you, Brad, it’s at my computer. I just lost a pretty lengthy comment.)

    I actually did mean to give you a compliment. Your article would have been different if Bush’s speech were different. And I can’t say that about much of the other things I’ve read today.

    As for the name-calling accusation, maybe you meant “our little Dubya” in an affectionate way. I assumed it was derogatory.

    As for the comment about talking points, I did an online search to find examples of Bush admitting mistakes in Iraq. I found a variety of articles over the past 18 months: Rice admits mistakes, Bush admits mistakes, Bush & Blair admit mistakes, Bush staff admit mistakes. That’s not to mention Bush’s earlier accepting responsibility for the faulty WMD intelligence.

    Bush has spent the last two months talking about the need to change policy, reviewing the Iraq Study Group report, and consulting with military and elected officials. Yet you characterize the speech as Bush’s first acknowledgement of problems. So do the Democrats. Durbin imlied as much in his response: “Tonight, President Bush acknowledged what most Americans know: We are not winning in Iraq….It is time for President Bush to face the reality of Iraq.”

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com Brad Schader

    I just got busted on the “little Dubya” line on my blog as well. It was supposed to offset the fact I called him President Bush every other time in the article; to show that I am someone who does not like his Presidency but will give him the fifth chance he is asking for. I am called a Bushie too often when I do not bash the man that I had to include that just to let you know where I come from. I had hoped starting off with “Dubya” would make the more respectful full title stand out more. Live and learn.

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com Brad Schader

    Yet you characterize the speech as Bush’s first acknowledgement of problems.

    It was the first time that I can recall that he took the full blame without trying to justify it some way. He just said flatly that things were bad and he was to blame. No “the generals never asked for…”; no “no one expected…”; and only one blaming it on AQ. It was a major step towards fixing things. The first and hardest part is saying you have a problem. He skipped AA and NA so he is now in WMA (War Mongers Anonymous)*

    *That was just a button pushing comment =D

  • SHARK

    Baronius: ” … is this the perfect example of the limitations of the internet? Defense, State, and the NSC develop a new plan over the course of months, and we amateurs pretend to assess it based on one broad presentation (by a lousy public speaker).”

    Is this a joke? Are you fucking nuts?

    The only dangerous amateurs in this equation are the idiots in the Bush Administration.

    I listened to the speech & I read the speech — and I didn’t see one hint of a NEW “PLAN” for Iraq; EVERYTHING Bush mentioned has been tried before.

    Jeesus, do you and the Bush people think we don’t have MEMORIES? OR VIDEOTAPE?

    We’ve had more “surges” than Dick Cheney standing next to a microwave oven.

    And don’t please don’t insult the public by pointing out that THIS TIME, we’ll “take” the neighborhoods, kill the bad guys, and then stay around long enough for the Iraqi Death Squads… um, I mean Iraqi Police and Military to take over security.

    This is such an absurdity. If the Iraqi police and military were PERFECT, they couldn’t stop an urban guerrilla insurgency/CIVIL WAR of combatants armed with AK-47s, RPGs, and garage-sale artillery shells turned into IEDs. The greatest military in the world [USA] can’t stop that shit — why should a bunch of undereducated, badly shaven, chain-smokin’, goodwill clothes wearin’ terrified, tribal/sectarian, vengeful Iraqis be able to do it?

    As I’ve pointed out before, the US Army couldn’t successfully occupy NY City or Los Angeles if the Crips and the Bloods [armed as the iraqi “civilians” above] didn’t want them to.

    NEW PLAN? Baronius, yer as full of shit as Bush if you think you heard a “new plan”. You heard a new commercial for an old plan that hasn’t worked for over three years.

    Oh, and that commercial contained YET ANOTHER DISTRACTION:

    ~WAR WITH IRAN AND SYRIA.

    Sleep on that, American taxpayer.

    ============

    Gawd, so much to rant about — so little time. : )

    S

  • Baronius

    Shark, you make some valid points. There was a lot in the speech that wasn’t ground-breaking. I thought the acknowledgement of mistakes was insignificant, but some in the media played it as the lead story. The case that Bush made for the importance of Iraq was standard.

    To me, the big stories were the embedding of American troops in the Iraqi patrols, and the clear accusations against Iran and Syria. The number of American troops will be small militarily, but they’ll be serving as trainers and chaperones. A sectarian-leaning soldier won’t have the chance to help the insurgents, actively or passively.

    Why don’t the Crips and Bloods take over LA? There aren’t enough cops to prevent it, but there don’t have to be. There have to be enough officers to make it too costly. A committed Iraqi military won’t end religious hatred, but it will discourage opportunists.

    I loved the directness with which Bush identified Iran and Syria as problems. The Study Group was wrong to endorse “peace talks” with those supporting our enemies. You’re wrong to call them distractions. They’re providing personnel and supplies for attacks against American troops.

  • Clavos

    If the Iraqi police and military were PERFECT, they couldn’t stop an urban guerrilla insurgency/CIVIL WAR of combatants armed with AK-47s, RPGs, and garage-sale artillery shells turned into IEDs. The greatest military in the world [USA] can’t stop that shit — why should a bunch of undereducated, badly shaven, chain-smokin’, goodwill clothes wearin’ terrified, tribal/sectarian, vengeful Iraqis be able to do it?

    So fuck it. Let’s quit trying. If nobody can stop them, why the hell even bother. Bring ALL the troops home, tell the UN we’re done, it’s now their problem, and they have to deal with it without US troops.

  • MCH

    “Bring ALL the troops home…”
    – Clavos

    Wow, we agree on something twice in the same month. Amazing.

  • SHARK

    Baronius: “To me, the big stories were the embedding of American troops in the Iraqi patrols, and the clear accusations against Iran and Syria.”

    Wow. Americans with Iraqi patrols. Guess that next, the “big news” is that we’ll be training the iraqi army and police. Who-hooo! WHAT A CREATIVE NEW APPROACH!

    Oy. Where the fuck have you been, baronius?

    They’ve been saying this same shit for three years.

    =========

    Clavos: “So fuck it. Let’s quit trying. If nobody can stop them, why the hell even bother. Bring ALL the troops home, tell the UN we’re done, it’s now their problem, and they have to deal with it without US troops.”

    Wow. What a great idea. And you finally caught up with the rest of America.

    =======

    Here’s what fucking amazes me, and NO ONE, virtually NO blogger, commentor, politician, pundit, or talking head HAS MENTIONED IT (that I know of):

    With all the Bush Hoopla about the elections in Iraq, the ‘purple finger revolution’, the new parliamentary government, the leadership, the democracy — blah blah blah —

    WHY hasn’t anyone suggested that the Iraqi Government, Parliament, Council of Representatives — etc. HAVE A FORMAL MEETING AND FORMULATE A LIST OF SUGGESTIONS FOR SECURING THEIR OWN FUCKING COUNTRY?

    I mean — what would that look like? Would it include American troops in any equations? Would it force some of their sectarian [read “civil war”] leaders to either NEGOTIATE or declare an explicit WAR on each other? Would it encourage the “emergence” of a new de facto majority leader who could actually wield some authority among the violent islamic nutbars?

    Why is it that — after three years and two elections — America is still trying to decide a “domestic strategy” for a sovereign nation?

    ========

  • troll

    the Shiite government of Iraq has put together its list of suggestions…it reads ‘kick Sunni ass…Insha’Allah’

  • Clavos

    Wow. What a great idea. And you finally caught up with the rest of America.

    Actually, I would go BEYOND the rest of America. When I said ALL troops, I meant just that: pull ‘em back from Germany, S. Korea, Japan, THE WHOLE WORLD, including UN forces, and let the UN deal with every thing WITHOUT US.

    Let’s see how that works.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIMW5iYFGhM D’oh

    Germany..oh yeah, no need for them to bet here, S Korea is debateable, Japan is just naval bases for the PACfleet flagship and resupply.

    But it is a decent idea, if you could get a decent price for the facilities we’ve built.

    If nothing else it might wise people up as to what could happen if we got pissed off.

    There’s not much else, short of nukes, that we have left that we can do, realistically. Even bluffing is gone off the table after the last few years have shown just how ineffectual we can be.

    So much is perception in international affairs, and right now, thanks to Iraq, too many people see U.S. as impotent.

  • Clavos

    D’oh,

    It might be cold in Maine, but your brain sure ain’t frozen.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIMW5iYFGhM D’oh

    Well Clavos, it IS the flip side of W’s “go it alone” cowboy approach.

    For Afghanistan, even China and Russia said “need any help?” The entire world was with us, felt our pain, and wanted to aid however they could in U.S. getting the bastards.

    ALL of that was squandered, wasted and tossed aside with the invasion of Iraq, as was the prestige and appearance of being a “superpower”.

    Doesn’t take a brain to see that, just eyes and honesty.

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com Brad Schader

    As I see it there is only one difference between this plan and the old one: Bush is not going to be calling the shots. While that is only one thing, I see it as a HUGE thing since he has denied every request of those who know what is happening. Iraq was a mistake to enter into and has become even worse due to Bush’s lack of knowledge and his refusal to admit it. It seems he is going to, in theory, sit back now and let the generals do their jobs.

    Yes, it is painfully obvious to all those except that the extreme partisan that he is doing this now that there are no more elections under his watch. It shows beyond a doubt that he has been running this war according to the polls in America and not the realities of Iraq. Maybe now he will let reality run the show. If not then I retract every word I typed in this article.

  • Del Senor

    That was a very interesting take on the subject. It is still startling that the war in Iraq is the first major military venture in history (since World War II) where the soldiery is completely made up of self-enlisted people. That makes it both unprecedented in that respect and difficult to define as “Bush’s war.”