Thursday, January 11, 2007

Surge!, pt II

From the Commander-in-Chief's address last night (c/o Drudge; link will probably be archived before long):
When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together – and that as we trained Iraqi security forces, we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.

But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq – particularly in Baghdad – overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq’s elections posed for their cause. And they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. 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. 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.
That last paragraph is a lie. It is factually untrue. Shia "death squads" (if one could call the 60,000-strong Mahdi Army a "squad") have existed and operated since before 2006. And the idea that Sunni insurgents wanted retaliation - that they wanted anything, that a strike on a Shia holy site was not an end in itself in the quest for glorious martyrdom - is absurd.
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. We consulted Members of Congress from both parties, allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. 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.
There's another lie. The President did not benefit from the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. He has been planning the surge since at least mid-November - three weeks before the Report was released. In fact, the Baker report took Bush's plans into account, not the other way around.
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. 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.
Considering that the U.S. has been the leader so far in toppling moderate (read: not radically Islamic) governments, creating chaos in the region and using oil revenues to fund its ambitions, we wonder if this is genuine concern or adolescent envy. Regardless, Baghdad was a much harder place for Shi'a and Sunni terrorists to operate in before March 2003.

Given that the premises of the speech rest on lies and historical revisionism, it shouldn't surprise anyone when Bush's additional 20,000 troops fail to stem the chaos. Violence will certainly decrease in the winter and spring - as it always does - but the Administration will search for a new bogeyman once we reach the deadliester months of autumn.


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