"Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq -- and I ask you to give it a chance to work." -- Bush, in his State of the Union Address, January 23, 2007
Speaking mostly to critics of his Iraq occupation in his State of the Union Address, Bush asked Congress and the nation to "give his new strategy in Iraq a "chance." However, these same Americans that Bush asked to give him their blessing to move forward with his escalation of his Iraq occupation still have the images and words fresh in their minds from 8 weeks ago as the president and his White House minions were flying frantically around the country labeling everyone who disagreed with the course and consequence of their nearly four-year occupation as traitors, cowards, and terrorist sympathizers.
Yet, Bush insisted in his speech that these same Americans should agree to share responsibility for his Iraq folly, declaring that they "did not vote for failure," referring to Congress' approval of the 2003 Iraq resolution - the provisions of which he disregarded anyway in his rush to invade and occupy the sovereign nation. This lame-duck pretender is intent on moving forward with his Iraq occupation as if his decision to wage his manufactured 'war on terror' in Iraq hadn't been completely repudiated by the American voters who removed his legislative majority in the last election.
Bush couldn't have been more clear in the months leading up to the November vote how convinced he was that Iraq should be the "center" of his terror war that he imagines himself waging against faceless "enemies" and extremists everywhere. Not interested in actually pursuing the suspected orchestrators of the 9-11 attacks, Bush was content to repeat the taunts and threats of the terrorists in an attempt to frighten Americans into supporting his discredited occupation. Iraq, we were told, over and over, would fall to bin-Laden and his al-Qaeda co-horts if the U.S. took its jackboots off of the Iraqi's throats and left them to sort out their differences without the interference of our deadly, muckraking forces.
Americans tolerated the lecturing from Bush, and then responded when it was their turn to exercise their role in our democracy, and weighed in on his swaggering ambitions for our nation's beleaguered defenses and our overburdened defenders. Every aspect of Bush's Iraq argument was overwhelmingly rejected by those who voted in November - and rejected by those who've been polled before, during, and after the election. Where, then, does Bush get his mandate to continue and escalate his occupation which, originally, was supposed to be about our soldiers removing the now-discredited threats to our nation that he claimed existed there and then returning home?
The justification which Bush is still relying on to continue his military meddling in Iraq is the same fearmongering rhetoric about "enemies" and "extremists" there who somehow threaten the U.S. outside of Iraq's borders if we left Iraqis to settle their conflicts without our soldiers in the middle. He's still using the specter of al-Qaeda to make it appear that the 2% or so in Iraq who've adopted the terrorists' moniker are a threat akin to the alleged perpetrators of the September 11 attacks.
"If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides," Bush told Congress and the nation. "We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al-Qaida and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict."
It shouldn't have escaped the notice of anyone who's been paying any attention at all to the Iraq occupation, that these factions Bush wants to confront and separate with our soldiers have been fighting each other and killing thousands of innocent Iraqis for years, despite a force structure which has been as practically able as they will be with the paltry 21,000 reinforcements Bush vainly hopes will make a difference in the level of violence.
It should also be clear to Americans that any threats to our nation from Iraqis that Bush is now warning us about, would be, if they actually existed, a direct result of his calls for anyone who would resist his false authority in Iraq to "bring it on," and a result of his insistence that we should "fight them there . . ." Instead of pursuing and fighting the 9-11 terrorists where they were, in Afghanistan, Bush took our nation's defenses to Iraq - where there were no terrorists threatening America - in order to "draw a line in the sand" (as his co-hort Tony Blair described it), to assuage their own paranoid insecurity in the wake of the attacks.
This new round of intimidation Bush has planned for the Iraqis, though, has nothing to do with his "war on terror" alibi. It has everything to do with the over 3000 lives lost in Iraq and the tens of thousands of maimed Americans who he made fight, kill, and die there for what he calls his "decisive ideological struggle" against Sunnis, Shia, and everyone else who dares to oppose his military expansionism into their country. Those American soldiers he sacrificed to his Iraq fiasco have died for what Bush says he believes to be the correct course in Iraq, over the objections of nearly everyone else, including the objections of the Iraqi leadership. Bush took eight weeks on a "listening tour" to produce an Iraq strategy which is nothing more than an escalation and exaggeration of his present occupation. The wedging of even more U.S. soldiers in between the warring factions in Iraq will almost surely result in more deaths and injuries, yet, there's absolutely no guarantee of any measurable success in Bush's ultimate goal of intimidating Iraqis into compliance with his puppet regime.
It's ludicrous to throw more U.S. soldiers into the bloody mix without some demonstrated progress from the new, propped-up Iraqi leadership in reconciling itself with the population. Our nation shouldn't be in the business of using our military to ensure the political survival of any unpopular regime, no matter how tragically our leaders manage to commit us.
The Iraqi 'elections', held under an increased occupation, were only a reflection of those individuals who chose to participate. Many factions sat out the elections in protest, while others were kept away from voting by the intimidation of an increased U.S. force acting with the Iraqi interim 'authority' as they suppressed the Sunni communities with raids, bombings, and a maze of prohibitive checkpoints which restricted free movement to the polls. The Shiite leadership effectively convinced Bush to move ahead with the Iraqi elections by guaranteeing a strong turnout of their followers. Predictably, the Shia then gained a majority of representatives in the new government. Now Bush is bent on interjecting our troops into almost every community to muckrake, threatening to escalate violent resistance to our military all throughout Iraq without any sense of connection to any aspect of democratic governance.
It was ironic that Bush took time in his speech to scold Iraqis for using violence to achieve their political aims. What is he teaching the Iraqis about democracy with the example of his tyrant's reign? Bush insists there's no military solution to Iraq's political problems, yet he persists in applying his own brand of violence to the population to achieve his own political objective. There wasn't, and hasn't been any 'democracy' that our soldiers have been defending in Iraq. They've been directed to preserve their president's junta against rebelling factions struggling for power and influence. As long as our soldiers occupy Iraq, their government will never be anything more than Bush's military-fostered invention, destined to fall without our continuous, on-the-ground military support.
There's nothing "new" or defensible about Bush's future intentions for our soldiers in Iraq. He's told America and the world that he intends to be in Iraq "for as long as he's president." Bush is set to do just that, behind the continuing sacrifices of our soldiers. That's what he told Americans, again, in his State of the Union Address.
"The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle," Bush said, "that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others."
We now know that Bush is content to wage his contrived terror war in Iraq, even though the majority of us have been advocating strongly against the Iraq occupation. It's now our duty to see that Bush's desire to make the rest of us responsible for his Iraq folly serves to make us more determined to rein him in, and more determined to hold him accountable for his arrogant disregard of our demands that he end his occupation and bring our soldiers home. We've given him more than enough chances.