"If we justify war, it is because all peoples always justify the traits of which they find themselves possessed, not because war will bear an objective examination of its merits." -- Benedict
I'm anticipating Bush's speech tonight, and I'm reflecting on this administration's obsession with their spin of their Iraq occupation, and on Bush's and his generals' concerns about their ability to control the flow of information surrounding their militarism. You just have to wonder how Bush intends to manage the reporting that will follow this latest ploy to escalate his Iraq occupation.
The White House ran a campaign for most of last year to bolster public support for their faltering Iraq occupation which was punctuated by speech after speech from Bush in which he laid out his rationale for continuing his bloody fiasco. Throughout the period in which he was deriding the critics of his Iraq disaster as traitors and terrorist enablers, Bush complained of the "images of violence on television" which he said were turning Americans against the occupation.
"In the face of continued reports about killings and reprisals, I understand how some Americans have had their confidence shaken," Bush said in March. "Others look at the violence they see each night on their television screens, and they wonder how I can remain so optimistic about the prospects of success in Iraq. They wonder what I see that they don't."
What Americans were seeing was the damning reality of the dangerous folly that Bush's manufactured war on Iraq had become. They didn't need Bush to interpret the cause and effect of the thousands of American soldiers killed and maimed, or need him to explain the significance of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who lost their lives as the troops he deployed there were supposed to be protecting them. Bush, nonetheless, tried his best to frame our nation's role in the chaos and unrest in Iraq as an inevitable consequence of his contrived "war on terror."
Terrorists, Bush explained in October 2005, "use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against nonradical Muslim governments . . . we're facing a radical ideology with an unalterable objective, to enslave whole nations and intimidate the whole world," he said in his policy address.
The blurring of the issues surrounding the hunt and prosecution of those our government holds responsible for the 9-11 attacks and his characterization of the violent resistance to his Iraq invasion came to a head in the months leading up to the midterm elections with Bush declaring that Iraq was the "center" of his terror fight; not Afghanistan where bin-Laden was allowed to escape into the mountains. We know Iraq is the center of the "ideological struggle," Bush said repeatedly, "because bin-Laden says so."
No longer was the failed hunt in Afghanistan for Bin-Laden and his associates to receive the bulk of our attention and resources; Iraq was now Bush's main concern as he called for would-be combatants to "bring it on," and declared that "we're fighting them there, so we don't have to fight them here," and as he invited wanton attacks on the troops he had deployed there. Americans didn't need any interpretation from Bush about the cause and effect of overthrowing and occupying a sovereign nation populated by opposing factions who were now free to directly challenge each other for power and influence now that Saddam was out of the way.
They didn't need Bush to explain how vulnerable, after his invasion, the region was to extremist elements who were rising up and rebelling against the U.S., our allies, and our interests. All we needed to know was that Bush had unilaterally chosen to put our troops in harm's way in Iraq, directing them to fight and die in defense of the Maliki regime on one side of the multi-fronted civil war.
Americans heard Bush as he ranted and raved around the country trying to preserve the jobs of his republican enablers by casting the decision to support or deny his Iraq policy as a litmus test of patriotism and courage. Bush and his cabal crisscrossed the country complaining that an end to their fiasco in Iraq would invite another terrorist attack on our shores, this time from the combatants he had stirred into action in Iraq with his call for an American jihad on Muslims who would actively resist the military imperialism he's waging in their homeland.
Bush's message before we voted was to be very afraid of the folks he had done so wrong in Iraq. According to Bush, there's a good chance they'll be following us home if we stop fighting them and leave. No matter that in the four years we have been fighting them in Iraq they haven't challenged or attacked us outside of their own border. But, since Bush is so frightened that these folks will eventually retaliate in the U.S., he's declared them terrorists and put them at the top of his list of "enemies," replacing the original 9-11 suspects in his concern.
Instead of chasing down the original band of thugs suspected of the 9-11 violence, Bush has declared that he intends to continue to wage a "long war" against "enemies" and "insurgents" everywhere in the world. This August, Bush spelled out his plan to permanently yoke our nation's generations to his "ideological struggle."
"In the coming days, I'll deliver a series of speeches describing the nature of our enemy in the war on terror, the insights we've gained about their aims and ambitions, the successes and setbacks we've experienced, and our strategy to prevail in this long war," Bush said.
The "cakewalk" into Iraq has become a bloody quagmire, yet, Bush is somehow looking forward to the prospect of future conflicts to provide the justification for continuing to wage his Iraq debacle. Bush is afraid that Americans will grow tired of standing behind him as he hides behind the sacrifices of our troops. He's afraid that Americans have had it with the killing and maiming that has been the consequence of his decision to divert to Iraq. Bush is desperate for a new narrative to sell to Americans which would re-ignite those passions for retaliation and revenge which propelled him to his position as lord of our defenses in the wake of 9-11.
"Information is just as critical as firepower in the long war," Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last January, speaking to an AEI group. "Twenty-first century warfare is more about "will and perception, than taking territory or enemies killed," he said.
The "will" of the White House is to continue their occupation of Iraq, and continue to prosecute it as part and parcel of Bush's rhetorical "war on terror." The way Bush characterizes this new phase of his occupation tonight - this escalation - should signal just how much he's willing to cast Iraq as the 'central front' in his 'long war'. It appears that Bush is digging in, instead of crafting an exit from Iraq as voters demanded when they replaced his enabling, republican legislative majority.
It should be more than interesting to hear how Bush makes his intention to continue on with his occupation in Iraq as he has for four years sound like a new proposal. If Bush and his generals are to be believed about the importance of their control of the propaganda surrounding their militarism, ensuring the success of his speech tonight will be an essential component of their battle plan. American's "will and perception" toward the administration's renewed round of militarism is evidently more important to this administration than the realities and consequences of their escalation of their occupation.
How Americans view Bush's direction of the conflict is more important to the White House than are the lives of the overburdened, overextended soldiers they expect to carry out their plan for a face-saving surge of violence and suppression by our forces toward the Iraqi population in Baghdad, and against the resistant populations that reside in the cities and towns of the al-Anbar province. Even with the bolstered force of 150,000 or so, there can never be any significant intimidation of Iraqis into accepting the rule and authority of the new regime, but, that's what Bush wants to happen. I don't think he expects it, but, that's what he wants. That's what his Iraqi puppets want.
However, Bush's own fortune in Iraq will rise or fall with the reception of his speech tonight, not so much with the ultimate sacrifices of life and limb which would grow out of his decision to escalate, the consequences of which he'll ignore as he has all along. Bush doesn't care a wit about the fate of Iraqis, or, for our own American troops, for that matter. His main concern is for his faltering legacy, which promises to be as devastating as the effects of his military muckraking abroad. He's 'working hard' on the details of tonight's presentation. Perception is everything with Bush.
White House spokesman Tony Snow described to reporters yesterday how Bush is preparing for tonight's Iraq sleight-of-hand:
"There are some, but also just -- now it's the point of going through and looking at language and saying, you know, I want this point, or, let's emphasize this one, or, what about this issue? It is more now at the sort of fine-tuning point. But on the other hand, anybody who has ever done a term paper knows you keep working until the very end. And my guess is that there will continue to be tweaks and practices into tomorrow," he said.
In a blurb of idiocy and bluster tonight, Bush will lay out his ambitions for the future of his Iraq folly - bare for the world to gauge and judge by his own deluded lecturing, and by his own feeble logic. He will present his plan to America for a desperate escalation of the occupation by dropping even more of our nation's defenders into the Iraq quagmire.
If there is, in fact, some controlling equalizer of fate and destiny, Bush will forfeit whatever shred of credibility he has left in his role as commander-in-chief in front of those Americans who have the stomach to watch as he attempts to commit even more troops to die in Iraq for his "ideological struggle." No "fine-tuning" or "tweaking" will obscure the impact tonight when he commits our soldiers to another functionally-indefinite tour of duty in Iraq. Nothing will obscure the impact among Americans tonight as he unapologetically commits more of our soldiers to die in Iraq; commits them to continue to fight and die in the conflict they demanded just 6 weeks ago that he end.