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Bush Speech Offers "Clear Strategy"- For Victory or Disaster?

By Ray McGovern  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments


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But the bromide-heavy speech that President George W. Bush gave yesterday at the Naval Academy presents a clear strategy for quagmire and eventual disaster. Despite the gathering storm of opposition to his approach to the war in Iraq, the speech was bereft of new ideas, calling to mind the words of Emerson: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

The problem is that this hobgoblin has consequences. Bush's renewed warning of a future "Islamic empire from Indonesia to Spain" at first seemed to me as outlandish as President Ronald Reagan's warning that the Russians planned to transit Nicaragua to invade Texas. On second thought, Bush's concern may become self-fulfilling prophecy, since the course he is on could hardly be better designed to usher in an eventual Islamic, rather than American, "empire."

Iraqi Security Forces: A Pathetic Pillar

The president indicated that in the days ahead he would be addressing various pillars of his policy in Iraq. Yesterday's speech was devoted largely to the training of Iraqi army and security forces, and he protested too much in his efforts to accentuate the positive. His tortured attempt to explain why, after so many months of US training, only one Iraqi army battalion can fight independently was no more convincing that earlier attempts by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his star-bedecked generals. Statistics just confuse the issue, we have been told; progress is being made. Trust us.

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All this is reminiscent of the rhetoric at a similar juncture at the beginning - yes, the beginning - of US involvement in the Vietnam War. The Lyndon Johnson tapes show how in February 1964 President Johnson found fault with a draft of a major policy speech by then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara:

LBJ: "I wonder if you shouldn't find two minutes to devote to Vietnam."

McN: "The problem is what to say about it."

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LBJ: "I would say that we have a commitment to Vietnamese freedom ... Our purpose is to train [the South Vietnamese] people, and our training's going good."

The training was not going good then, and it's not going good now. The Johnson administration's self-deception helped usher in a decade of war resulting in 2-3 million Vietnamese and 58,000 American servicemen killed. The parallel is eerie. Just a few months ago Rumsfeld was talking about the need for US forces to remain in Iraq for perhaps as long as 12 years.

Let "Freedom" Ring

As for LBJ's commitment to "freedom" for a foreign client, Bush's speechwriters would not be outdone. In his speech the president used "freedom" or "free" no fewer than 36 times. The nine-paragraph coda, apparently orchestrated by Bush speechwriter and ambassador Karen Hughes, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, was a veritable free-for-all - with 19 "frees" or "freedoms."

...and "Real Progress" in Preparing Iraqi Forces

I found it embarrassing to listen to President Bush stretch for evidence of "real progress" in readying Iraqi army and security forces to "stand up [so that we] can stand down." Did you know that, because of our help, the Iraqis now have their own supply depot north of Baghdad; simulation models for roadblocks; a bomb disposal school; a training program for squad leaders? Bush even quoted a US soldier saying, "We have turned the corner." For veteran observers of the Vietnam, this brings on a very troubling flashback.

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How Many "Insurgents?"

Missing from the president's words was any information on how many "insurgents" there are. No surprise here. Rumsfeld, whose fingerprints are all over the speech, is apparently still seeking "situational awareness," the lack of which he has famously bemoaned time and again.

Those of us with experience on Vietnam remember only too well that the Pentagon kept the count of Vietnamese Communist forces at an artificially low level, lest its claims of "real progress" be given the lie. It is hard to know which is worse - artificially low numbers, or none at all. It is, in fact, quite telling that Rumsfeld and the president prefer to leave enemy strength in the Rumsfeldian category of "known unknowns." And it is small solace that this category is one step higher than the "unknown unknowns" in his lexicon.

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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