"They think I'm stupid," he says to himself, "well I'll show them who's stupid." "They'll believe anything I say, as long as I can keep from cracking up long enough... uhhuh huhh... (shaddup Beavis)"They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Again we have here the ever-present question of who "they" is. Reports from eyewitnesses suggest US covert operatives, unafraid of potential intervention from nearby US Apache Helicopter squadrons, took their time in broad daylight setting the bombs and showed no fear or haste during the entire process. Calculated effort indeed... Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today. OK OK... Radical Shia elements had already formed death squads, often with the support of the US advisers who were sent there to impose a "Salvador" solution to the restive Iraqi "problem". For those who are too young or don't remember recent history, a "Salvador" (as in El Salvador) solution is one that consists of summary execution, kidnappings and disappearances, extensive torture, brutal class divisions, ideological extremism and behind-the-scenes puppetmaster control by the US designee, whomever that might be. The bombing's effect on the already accelerating vicious cycle of violence did have the desired effect (for the Americans, I assert) because it immediately spiked sky-high and ushered in a whole new universe of the grotesque and macabre. The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people, and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me. How about naming one of these mistakes, George? I notice you pointedly do not. You don't even imply that you accept or understand that anything real or tangible has actually gone wrong under your watch. "Where" mistakes have been made, without examples, means you're really saying "if" mistakes have been made, which you're unsure of... By using the term "unacceptable" to define both yours' and the American peoples' dissatisfaction with the Iraq war you re lying by analogy. You think it's unacceptable because things aren't going the way you and your cronies want them to. The American people think the war's unacceptable because it's wrong, it's stupid, it's grossly destructive, it's brutal, it's sadistic, it's heartbreaking, and ultimately, because it's a crime against humanity on a spectacular scale. You don't seem to get this... It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq. So my national security team, military commanders and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. "Because we didn't like what the Iraq Survey Group (Baker Commission) had to say in their list of recommendations. Talk to Syria?!? What are you HIGH?!? Talk to Iran?!? Does anyone here look like they speak Farsi?!? Get the hell out??? No way!!! We got a better plan... More of the same, but different!!" We consulted members of Congress from both parties, allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. OK... Joe Lieberman, Democrat, Check - Insert generic Republican - England, Israel, ??? - Henry Kissinger and Bill Kristol. We benefited from the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States. Bush winced when he read the first sentence like he was benefiting from a barium enema. The Iraq Study Group put out page after page of recommendations, but only one came through the static. Perhaps it was the only one he was briefed on. Hold your hands up if you think he read the whole thing himself... No hands??? Thought so. I would also suggest that there could never be a magic formula for "success" in Iraq because there is no agreement as to what that would actually mean and most statements including that phrase are patently disingenuous when analyzed in context. 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. Number one, the "consequences" of "failure" are anything but clear. Especially since "failure to do what" is nowhere here exactly defined. How can the consequences of failing to do something, that you don't even know what it is, be knowable in advance? And is he talking about radical Islamist "extremists" just in Iraq? Or elsewhere too? How can US Troops being in or out of Iraq substantially effect the numbers of extremist recruits in other countries? Other than of course, encouraging people to sign up because we are still occupying Iraq. Which moderate governments is he talking about anyway?? Please define "moderate". In the Bush context, "moderate" usually means, "willing and able to take our orders and control their population." How exactly does one operate and maintain an oil industry in an environment of "chaos"? Those seem like the contradictory goals of an ineffective insurgency. I doubt that's really the plan. One or the other, maybe, but not both. Iran's "emboldenment" vis a vis the subject of nuclear weapons should be taken with a bit of skepticism. Iran has vigorously disavowed ambitions to build and/or possess nuclear weapons, and the IAEA has pretty much backed them up on this. The whole underexplored subtext of the Valerie Plame affair was the destruction of the Brewster-Jennings undercover intelligence operation that was keeping tabs on what exactly the Iranians WERE up to, lest they be able to contradict the assertions of the Neo-Cons who were making yellowcake-style claims about Iran's intentions and activities. This, I dare say, is clearly Treason. I invite rebuttals as to why it is not, but I don't see how you can call blinding US policymakers by destroying both an ongoing intelligence operation and a seasoned operative could be described as anything but. Not to mention that many of the contacts and allies that Valerie Plame and other Brewster-Jennings associates had carefully cultivated and promised to protect were exposed as CIA sources and promptly liquidated by their respective regimes. Nice, eh? 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. Ahhh... now we get to the "real" point. Back to September 11th. The central justification for this entire clusterf*ck we now find ourselves immersed in. But was that event really what they say it was? He says "we saw" a certain thing, but I for one "saw" something much different than what he suggests happened. I see it as the lynchpin of their entire theory of retaliatory conquest, but one that even they know to be absolutely false. They make a good show of it to scare the masses, but among people who pay attention and dig beneath the surface, the problems with the "official story" add up to an official coverup. Why would they most urgently endeavor to cover up the most spectacular crime in American history if they wanted the "whole truth" to get out? Why did they not even address the majority of questions posed by the widows of the victims in the official 9/11 Commission Report. Why indeed... No matter what can be proven about what did or didn't happen on 9/11, it's clearly provable that a massive cover-up took place in the months and years after 9/11. This is what the administration doesn't want you to understand. Lefties who don't realize that this is the smoking gun we need to end this madness are missing the central point. Common citizens from all walks of life feel in their hearts a dread that things are not actually as they've been portrayed. Their dread is well founded. That the "official" story is a bizzaro-world hall of mirrors is plain to anyone who looks at the evidence in any detail at all. The widespread knowledge that 9/11 was a scam is one thing, in my opinion, that reinforces and solidifies the public's revulsion against this war. Most Americans are not actually as stupid as their leaders would like to believe, but they are sometimes a little slow on the uptake. That time has past though, and there's gonna be hell to pay soon. Just watch. The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it. Yea... "their government" has a plan. Right. I wonder who translated it from Arabic for the Americans. Or was it the other way around? And if "only the Iraqis" can end the violence and bring security, then why exactly are we "helping" so much? Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents, and there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. OK, this is big news. Bush admits that his efforts have actually "failed". But then he goes on to completely get wrong why that's the case. He forgets a really big point about urban warfare, namely that it's very very hard to subdue an entire city, especially when they don't want you there and every household is actually allowed to have one AK-47 Kalashnikov rifle on premises. Sounds like everyone is a potential threat, no? Is that what's meant by "cleared". How do you "clear" an apartment block? Where do you put the people you've "cleared"? What due process methods are utilized to weed out the combatants from the non? I highly doubt that you or I would want to be subjected to them, whatever they are. The second point though, is much more sinister. What exactly does he mean by "too many restrictions" were placed on troops that participated in these operations before? Does he think that encouraging more acts of brutality and reckless discharges of automatic weapons fire in residential neighborhoods will actually help "secure" Baghdad. I don't follow the logic... What he seems to be calling for would be encouraging exactly that. The US troops in Baghdad have not exactly displayed a massuses' touch when it comes to the luckless city residents who encounter them. Removing whatever tenuous restrictions, often observed mostly in the breach anyway, that might mitigate the troops more rapacious behaviors, is a certain recipe for sickening war crimes that will shame this nation and the world. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work. Which military commanders are these? The new Navy guy you picked to run your two desert land wars? I'm glad he's on the job, that's for sure. Since he just got there, almost, he's also probably the best guy to evaluate your plan, right? Let me explain the main elements of this effort. The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations; conducting patrols, setting up checkpoints, and going door- to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents. "Going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents"?!? You've got to be kidding. Somehow I think that when the troops come knocking door-to-door that everyone will scatter and run, not open up for a trust-bonding experience with Iraqi-partnered Americans. Maybe I'm wrong on this, but I don't think so. This is a strong commitment. But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help. So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. Change our strategy, eh? Does that mean we're admitting failure (like he just did) and leaving?? Well... no, not exactly. This will require increasing American force levels. So I have committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Wow... embedded. Like ticks. Or chiggers. Or major media reporters. Twenty thousand you say? That should help. Sure. Just one question... Where are you going to get these guys? The proud US fighting forces have been systematically ground down into dust by way of this war. IPS reports that:
The number of injured has far outstripped the dead, with the Veterans Administration reporting that more than 150,000 veterans of the Iraq war are receiving disability benefits.Wow... bet you hadn't heard that... One hundred and fifty thousand young men and women already on disability because they've fought in this war. I sure would call this dust-grinding. It's an absolute unmitigated disaster for force levels and a setup for a manditory military draft that everyone says is impossible but is only one actual or invented crisis away from becoming a reality. The math just doesn't add up any other way. They're running out of volunteer soldiers. It's gonna get ugly. Not that it's not revulsive already. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs. How can a mission that fundamentally contradicts itself be "well-defined"? "Clearing" neighborhoods means invading them with massive trigger-happy displays of force that proceed to kick down everyone's door and drag the menfolk out into the streets to kneel in submission at gunpoint in front of everyone, selecting some or all for detention and consignment to god-knows-what horrors. How this might unfold in an environment of "fewer restrictions" on the troops leaves me in a cold sweat. How, pray tell, could this ever be contrued as "protecting" the "local population"? Seems the real problem is that the "population" is overwhelmingly hostile to the Americans and any Iraqis who want to play patty-cake with them. Their society's longstanding traditons of blood revenge and extended clan affiliations mean that almost everyone in Baghdad has some reason to be hostile to the forces who have killed or maimed a relative or destroyed a relative's home or business. I guess "draining the sea to get the fish" doesn't really work in the desert. Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Really George? You think so? Here are the differences. In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents but, when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. Note the easy confluence of the terms "neighborhoods" and "targets". Maybe the problem is that they just cleared "many" neighborhoods and not "all" of them. Or maybe the problem is that they left people alive in the neighborhoods they moved on from? Where did the killers "return" from anyway? Did we "clear" neighborhoods by just chasing the insurgents away? Did we arrest them and then let them go? This time, we will have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. Oh... I see. So now we're going to permanently occupy each residential neighborhood of Baghdad with the 20,000 extra troops. We're rousting people from their jobs as firemen and accountants to drag them over there so they can stand guard at the Abdul Bodega on the corner of Tikrit Avenue and 47th St. That'll be good. I'm sure the wives/husbands/bosses/children/parents of the afflicted National Guard troops can all really understand the urgency of our national mission here. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter these neighborhoods. And Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated. Or he's gonna do what? Yell at people? Complain to Condolezza Rice? Certainly not strap-on a flak jacket and wade into the battle himself. No way that's gonna happen. So what's he going to do? He has no more power to stop armed militias doing whatever the hell they want to than the Americans do. The same forces that "prevented" Amer-Iraqi forces from imposing their will before will conspire to thwart it again. No "green light" or lack of "tolerance" is going to help that situation. I have 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. And it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Well... judging from the latest poll numbers, the Iraqi government has about as much popular support in the United States as former Rep. Mark Foley. Maybe less. I can't really comment on the public opinion of the Iraqi people, but it seems hard to believe that the systematic mayhem overflowing the streets each day indicates wholehearted support of the Iraqi government by its subjects. Now is the time to act. The prime minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of sectarian or political affiliation. Outlaws you say... Like Halliburton? KBR? Custer Battles? the list goes on and on. Bunnatine Greenhouse was cashiered from her prominent position as the Army's chief auditor because she dared speak out about such wholesale thefts. These folks don't like their cash cows gored. Bush wouldn't think of reaching for the spear. So he's lying, plain and simple, because outlaws with the correct political affiliations seem to have a very safe haven indeed. This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Oh... so it's NOT going to actually work after all... OK... Those sycophants of the Iraqi terror-squad leaders themselves, the TV broadcasting networks of America, are going to make sure that those who "hate us because we are free" have an unfettered channel to the hapless citizen's horror and cowardice reflex, as they grind away relentlessly at our will to fight. So, is there any good news? Yet, over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. "Chasing down murderers", now that sounds exciting! Maybe they could do it live-action like COPS, only the guy gets filled with machine gun fire instead of read his rights once they've hunted him down. They could syndicate the rights worldwide to help raise some money to offset the awful costs of this whole enterprise, no? Fewer "brazen" acts of terror doesn't actually mean fewer acts of terror, just fewer "brazen" ones. That should be an improvement... yea... And then there's the bit again about trust and cooperation with people whose houses you bust your way into and drag people screaming from. I'm pretty much an amateur at this "win friends and influence people" thing but I dunno... Doesn't sound like a promising strategy to me... When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Just like MAGIC! Wow... it's true!! It can happen!! Pigs CAN fly!! Oh yea... not really... that's just what it said on the teleprompter. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace. And reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible. Yes, here George you're actually saying something that is abstractly true. Most people of all religions want to live in peace and enjoy their lives and raise their children in safety. The main problem is that this will likely not happen until we GTFO. Your forced lack of understanding of this small point makes sure that reconciliation im-possible. A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced. Benchmarks? That the Iraqi government has announced? How on earth is America going to hold the Iraqi government to its benchmarks? What will we do if they go unmet? Execute the governing officials? Withdraw all of our troops suddenly? Complain bitterly on Faux News in mock disgust? To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. Note "plans to take responsibility for" not "has taken responsibility for". You know what they say about the best laid plans... To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. This I'd like to see. Sounds like Socialism to me. Is that what the US has stooped to? Ressurecting state socialism to rescue/support this disintegrating mega-capitalist project? Talk about ideological chaos! Sheesh... To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend 10 billion dollars of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. Wow... their "own money" huh. Gonna let the kids spend their own money? Where did they get the lead-in? "To show that it is committed to delivering a better life," sounds like a General Electric ad. Maybe it is. Maybe GE's getting all the new washing machine contracts in the community laundromats that the project will build? Maybe it's less civilian-oriented than that. That'd be what I'd wager. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. So are the candidates going to be announced publicy before the elections this time? That might help. Good to know who at least your choices ARE, even if you can't quite figure out what they stand for. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution. You'd think the Iraqi Muslims liked pork considering all the baloney he's trying to feed them. Or maybe it's all-beef Kosher baloney. Nah, that wouldn't work either. I'm confused... America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks. 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. In other words, "We will establish direct oversight and control of your every move. You will go nowhere without our watchful presence, and our ability to call in air power to violently enforce our will on a massive scale." We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped Army, and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. I'm starting to think that the physics of acceleration surrounding the Iraqi army's training process has many similar features to the suspension of the laws of physics in lower Manhattan some five plus years ago. Neither theory stands up to rigorous testing. Take two examples.
1) All three World Trade Center Towers (1, 2 and 7) collapsed at free-fall speed after suffering damage that (by itself) never could have caused the observed phenomenon we all witnessed that day. 2) Every time we "accelerate" the "training" of Iraqi troops, it seems like fewer and fewer get "trained". It's the classic "the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get" scenario.It's so hard to train people to take orders though. Especially if they hate your guts. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. And ask them to please please please not spend it ALL on Hookers and Black Jack again this time. We will double the number of Provincial Reconstruction Teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen moderates and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance. All praise the strong local moderate self-reliant Iraqi!!! Wait... isn't that almost a sure sign that they're up to something no good?!?! Thank goodness we've got fewer restrictions now so we can keep our eye on him and rough him up a little if he starts getting too uppity. And Secretary Rice will soon appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq. That should help. Sounds like they'll have a lot of real power to knock heads together. You think? As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue Al Qaida and foreign fighters. ...since they make the most effective chimeras to pursue. Since there are hardly any of them out there, we can spend most of our time pretending we're trying to capture them and not be too disappointed when we come up empty handed. They make good false enemies, though, because the only other people there are to shoot at are Iraqi citizens. Are they the Enemy? Is the entire country now a free-fire zone where all who tread without US escorts are potential targets of the Americans, and those who travel with US escorts are targets of the resistance forces, who consider any cooperation with the invading forces tantamount to treason. Al Qaida is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar province. Al Qaida has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. Which brings us back to the point that the Al Qaida network was founded, organized, nurtured, given weapons and training, and kept OFF the "real" list of US military targets. Remember how Osama Bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora? Everything the US government says about Al Qaida is a cover story drenched in a myth. It's instructive how he says that A.Q. has only "helped" make Anbar the most violent area in Iraq. The US military is by far the worst culprit, and he knows this. A captured Al Qaida document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring Al Qaida closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad. I guess we must thank our lucky stars that the bumbling terrorists lay out their entire plan in an easy-to-capture-and-decipher document that laid bare their entire set of devious designs. Sort of like the luggage Mohammed Atta "left behind accidentally" at the airport in Portland, ME in his rush to make sure he caught his connecting flight with destiny. How providential that the FBI didn't have to look very hard at all before "all the answers" conveniently tumbled out of Atta's rental-car trunk. The trunk contained the "real names" of all 19 "terrorists", a Koran, a "terrorist training manual", and his last will and testament. Never mind that a terrorist who was planning on dive-bombing major commercial properties in a concerted effort to meet his maker in a fiery explosion would probably never bring their final wishes for the disposition of their estates onto the very plane that they were planning on immolating. Don't you think that all the charring would interfere with clearly determining Mr. Atta's wishes once he was no longer able to speak for himself? Don't you think a "brilliant" terrorist leader able to fearlessly thwart the best defensive efforts of the North American air-defense system would figure out this one little iron-clad rule of organic chemistry -- documents made of paper generally burst into flames when exposed to tens of thousands of gallons of exploding jet fuel. I have my doubts about kerosene's ability to melt or soften industrial-grade construction girders made of hardened steel, but I'm sure that little piece of paper would have been toast, making his relatives' already burdensome task of resolving his probate issues even harder. What a thoughtless bastard, eh? Good thing he spaced out on the Samsonite. Otherwise we might never have "learned" what "really" happened. Seems like even on one of it's worst days ever, America the beautiful caught a break when, in a moment of confusion or weakness, Atta fatefully "left" his satchel of incriminating evidence behind for the diligent "investigators" of the FBI to "find" in that abandoned rental car. Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing Al Qaida leaders and protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on Al Qaida. As a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So who are these "leaders" that we keep killing and capturing? I don't remember any of them ever being named in the media. Ever since the phantasmic Abu Musab al Zarqawi was allegedly killed many months ago, the forces of Al-Kayda-in-Irack have barely caused a ripple of newsworthy trouble. But that doesn't really seem to matter. They've been juiced up at the designated boogeyman, and they represent the only even theoretically justifiable idea why we have so many of our young citizens tromping around the country getting contantly shot at and explosively ambushed. Bush has to somehow create a plausible scenario where they still constitute a credible threat. Otherwise he has absolutely nowhere to go. He knows this, and the justifications get weaker and weaker as the canard gets more and more obvious and the justification attempts chase their tails into dizziness. Time to sit down. The room is spinning... So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to step up the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away Al Qaida's safe haven in Afghanistan, and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq. Anbar province is 30,000 square miles in size. That amounts to one more US soldier for every eight or so square miles. So this isn't just for show, eh? Yah... Right. I'm sure the bad guys will just scamper back to Syria at the first sign of the reinforced calvary coming over the hill. All will be right in the world again, and peace and tranquility can safely return to this arid yet beautiful landscape. Maybe this IS a good idea after all. Since it's surely going to work... right? Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. Well Iraqi territorial "integrity" is a matter of imposed colonial mandate, and not quite a "thing" in and of itself. One reason that Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds all fight bitterly amongst themselves is that they were all forced into a live-together arrangement by their former colonial masters, the British. So it's a good thing to spend someone's finance's life to "defend". Surely it's worth a brother or two (or 2700). Maybe a couple of fathers. How about a former kindergarten teacher just back for his second tour? Or a twenty year old medical student ready to ship back home in a week. Amazing how war authors so many bitter personal tragedies. My opinion is that Iraqi "territorial integrity" is really the opposite goal of what they're trying to achieve. They're suggesting that they are committed to making sure Iraq remains one country, but their actions speak otherwise. It's the opinion of many observers that the US seeks ultimately break Iraq up into smaller pseudo-states, where they can have more control through corruption and intimidation than they are able to achieve now. The "Extremist Challenge"? Sounds like a new reality TV Show. Like "Batchelors in Baghdad". How does one "sabilize" a region in the face of such a challenge? What exactly are the "extremist" positions that challenge us so much? U.S. out of Iraq? Justice for the Palestinians? A return to Sunni dominance in Iraqi affairs? A cultural and political alliance with neighboring Shia Iran? Supression of women's rights? Opposition to international finance agencies? The fantasy of Iraqis somehow organizing an Islam-wide Caliphate is pretty ridiculous on its face, considering how difficult it is for them to agree even with each other. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq. First of all, Syria and Iran are "countries", not "regimes". "Addressing" in this context doesn't mean "speaking to", as in, "I addressed the assembly". Instead it means "attack and initiate covert operations against". The Neo-Cons are still chomping at the bit for a middle-east-wide expanded conflict, despite the miserable disasters their existing projects have turned out to be. "Interrupting the flow of support" apparently also includes illegally arresting ambassadors in their embassies, clearly an act of war provocation. If any other country did that to the US, there would be hell to pay, and rightly so. Who the bleep do we think we are to blatantly disregard all previous norms of international diplomacy and behavior and proceed with this kind of operation? And where is the proof for all this? Have we actually observed people moving across the border at officially sanctioned crossings with the apparent complicity of the local authorities? Hell no. If we had, the footage would have been all over the news already. All this has echoes of another country nearby to the territory that we have chosen to invade. That one is called Cambodia. As many as five million people died as a result of our expanding the war to include it. Read Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent for the full brutal details. We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. Oh good. Another carrier strike group. Slick way to add more troops to the region without actually announcing it like that's what you're doing. I've never heard the personnel from this group included in the totals of any estimates of the troop increase, but it's about another 6500 souls. Sounds like a major escalation to me, and perhaps (especially when combined with the last couple lines of the speech) a harbringer of a major series of air strikes against Iran. We will expand intelligence sharing, and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region. Well the work that the Americans have done to help Iran take a more dominant role in the Persian Gulf region could hardly have been done by anyone else, so it's hard to believe that the US really is seeking to diminish Iranian influence. Removing Iran's arch-enemy Saddam Hussein was a gift to the mullahs akin to Bob McFarlane's frosted cake. That symbolic pastry was the harbringer of many shipments of sophisticated American weapons and spare parts to the Iranians. The Israelis, believe it or not, were the conduit, happily shipping (fronting even) boatloads of ordinance to Teheran on the promise that the US would resupply them, plus a little "cooperation bonus". But the Bush 41 October Surprise treason is another story, although connected and still highly relevant to the situation today. Funny how the hostages were released the very hour Reagan was inaugurated. Funny how everyone alleged to be involved in that plot denies it but can't actually place there whereabouts on the day they were reported to be meeting with the Iranians in Paris. You'd think it was an outrageous claim, except that it comes from the former Iranian President at that time, who would actually be in a position to have known. Notice also how Bush says the US will deploy Patriot air defense systems to "reassure", rather than "defend" our friends and allies. Who exactly are these people anyway. He doesn't name any specific countries that Patriot batteries will be deployed to, but that's OK, because IEDs and snipers are not effectively deterred by Anti-Missile Missiles, and they seem to be the most deadly threat on the ground right now. Turkey and Iraq have a very complicated political problem on their border, called the Kurds. Too bad for the Turks that the Kurds are the only US ally in Iraq and so as such receive special favors from the Americans. Too bad for the Kurds that whenever they have ever trusted or relied upon the US in the past, they have been royally screwed for their foolishness. We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. Sounds like a not-so-subtle threat to cause some kind of an "accident" for the aforementioned countries should they balk at providing the US sufficient cover and support for their attack on whatever it is we're fighting in Iraq. Notice how the political entities on this US friendly list are referred to as "countries", instead of "regimes", although most are autocracies with little individual freedom or respect for human rights. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. "That's MUST. Did you hear me. Don't make me get all Shock-and-Awe on your ass. I will. You know it." We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an international compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. How does he exactly propose to "reform" the shredded meltdown that is the current Iraqi economy? How can "reform" in such a context be offered as an exchange for anything? Does he really mean "reforms" that strengthen the ever expanding US business dominance of the Iraqi economy. I think the reforms he has in mind are pretty specific and deal with the rights for who will control the extraction, refinement, and sale of the vast pool of petroleum that lies innocently beneath the Iraqi desert sands, mere fathoms from the light of day. So I think the strategy is: "Starve and deprive them to death until they agree to hand every last one of the country's assets over to US control in a way that we can say that they asked us to do it." And, on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region to build support for Iraq and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East. Given the rest of the current reality, I'd be shocked if this wasn't a complete waste of time, given that she will be advancing no new proposals or interesting ideas. The debate is over. The US needs to get its soldiers out of Iraq now, or continue to hack away at the body politic and the countries armed forces. Some of the most strident voices calling for immediate withdrawal are right up in the mid to high levels of the on-the-sand military command structure. The know the game is over. No amount of "diplomacy" is going to save the US vision of its victory dance now. The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. Whoa, whoa, whoa... Are you saying, George, that you'all believe in "moderation"?!? Since when??? Do only "extremists" "kill the innocent"? How about American or other coalition country's G.I.s? Are all the folks killed by them "guilty" of something? Other than just being in the way? Seems to me that I remember many employees of your administration described as "extremists" themselves. Who are the "moderates" in your crowd? Your adoring public would love to know. At least I would. Must be people I've never heard of that you've kept securely under wraps until now. Are you planning a big coming out party? Somehow I doubt it. I've always thought you preferred extremists to moderates. Cheney, Wolfowitz, Pearle, Krystol, Haggard, Robertson. Sounds like a frickin' Extremists Hall of Fame if you ask me. Are these the "moderates" you suggest love freedom so much? Or are they the "extremists" who are trying to "destroy our way of life"? They seem pretty extreme according to my world view. Their agenda actively seeks to create a world that I'm not eager to sign up to live in. It's like psychosis meets venality writ large. Almost everything they stand for is anathema to my innermost political and spiritual beliefs. Decisive ideological struggle, yea. But once again George, you've got the sides and the stakes and the desired outcomes totally, totally, w