What is all the more amazing about that is the importance – rhetorically, at least – this administration gives to the war in Iraq.
Bush gave a speech before the American Legion this week following Donald Rumsfeld.
During the speech, the President said, “The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq.” Fred Kaplan, in Slate, sees it differently:
Kaplan points out, correctly in my opinion, that it would be a mistake to withdraw troops from Iraq at this time because we need to quash this sectarian violence before it explodes in full scale civil war destabilizing the whole region and becoming the very thing Bush claims it is now – a haven for terrorists. Unfortunately, this administration doesn’t see that as a danger.
Here's the question: Does anybody believe this? If you do, then you
must ask the president why he hasn't reactivated the draft, printed war bonds,
doubled the military budget, and strenuously rallied allies to the
If, as he said in this speech, the war in Iraq really is the front
line in "the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century"; if our foes
there are the "successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists"; if victory is
"as important" as it was in Omaha Beach and Guadalcanal—then those are just some of the steps that a committed president would feel justified in
If, as he also said, terrorism takes hold in hotbeds of stagnation
and despair, then you must also ask the president why he hasn't requested tens
or hundreds of billions of dollars for aid and investment in the Middle East to
promote hope and livelihoods.
Yet the president hasn't done any of those things, nor has anyone
in his entourage encouraged him to do so. And that's because, while the war on
terror is important and keeping Iraq from disintegrating is important, they're
not that important. Osama Bin Laden is not Hitler or Stalin. Baghdad is not
Berlin. Al-Qaida and its imitators don't have the economic resources, the
military power, or the vast nationalist base that Nazi Germany or the Soviet
So, the speech sends the head buzzing with cognitive dissonances.
There's the massively exaggerated historical analogy (which should have been
obvious, if not insulting, to the World War II veterans in the audience). And
there's the glaring mismatch between the president's gargantuan depiction of the
threat and the relatively paltry resources he's mustered to fight it.
President Bush is right about one thing: It would be a mistake to
withdraw all our troops from Iraq—though, even here, he's right for the wrong
reason. The danger is not, as he warns, that al-Qaida would take over Iraq.
That's an exceedingly improbable scenario. First, al-Qaida's numbers in Iraq are
small. Second, other well-armed militias, both Sunni and Shiite, would
ferociously resist any such attempt to take power.
The real danger is that Iraq might devolve into anarchy and total civil
war, the likes of which would make the present turmoil seem placid by
comparison. Killings could soar into the hundreds of thousands, even millions.
Neighboring countries, whether for aggrandizement or security, would feel
compelled to intervene—Iran siding with the Shiites, Saudi Arabia bolstering the
Sunnis, Turkey suppressing the Kurds—and, from there, one good spark could set
off a horrendous war across the whole region.
Bush doesn't see this danger—he chooses not to see it—because it
plays against his ideology. He views the world as locked in a titanic struggle
between, as he put it in today's speech, the forces of "freedom and moderation"
and the forces of "tyranny and extremism." This is, in his mind, "the decisive
ideological struggle of the 21st century."
Policy based upon gross oversimplifications and empty rhetoric is a recipe for disaster. Iraq is deteriorating because of this administration’s policies but coming up with a corrective strategy would be admitting mistakes have been made. This administration does not admit mistakes and, thus, will do nothing to win. And not only that, but its actions only add to the instability of the region making the very thing the President claims to be championing – democracy – all the harder to take root. Kaplan:
You may read the entire article here.
Not all of our enemies are fascists, and not all of our friends are
democrats. The danger—really, the crisis—looming in the Middle East is not the
threat to freedom and democracy but rather the threat to stability. This is the
bugaboo Bush does not want to face. He has said, over and over, that his
predecessors' infatuation with stability is what caused the festering stagnation
and resentment that bred the terrorists who mounted the attacks of Sept. 11.
"Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither," Bush
said this morning. That's a matter of debate. In any event, the new danger is
that Bush's neglect of stability to promote freedom will leave us with neither
of those things—to the still-deeper detriment of peace: a trifecta of world