Monday, April 23, 2007

Bush in a State of Denial About Iraq.

Part of a speech by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, today at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

... Back in December, the Iraq Study Group said that "the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating." Unfortunately, since then nothing has changed.

And yet the President on Friday used the word "progress" no fewer than ten times when he gave his Iraq update.

He said that while there were still horrific attacks in Baghdad - and I quote - "The direction of the fight is beginning to shift." In describing his escalation of American troops - what he calls a surge - he said, "so far the operation is meeting expectations."

The White House transcript says the President made those remarks in the State of Michigan. I believe he made them in the state of denial.

These are the facts on the ground, the hard truths facing our heroic troops on the front lines:

-- American casualties are increasing, not decreasing. Four coalition troops have been killed each day this month, making it one of the deadliest months in the war in over two years. My home state of Nevada has lost 27 since the war began, and hundreds remain in harm's way, facing some of the most violent days since the war began.

-- Untold thousands of Iraqi civilians have died, while over two million more have fled the country as refugees.

-- The President used to talk a lot about establishing benchmarks for the Iraqi government. Yet despite our surge in troops and spending, they have failed to take meaningful steps toward achieving them.

-- Militias have not been disbanded and continue to cause terror. And now the Iraqi government itself, once the Bush Administration's greatest pride, stands on the brink of chaos.

-- Progress on amending the Constitution in order to ensure minority rights has languished, giving further fuel to the sectarian infighting.

-- Power, clean water and oil production - all of which are critical to establishing any kind of economic stability - are still not meeting minimum targets - leaving millions in despair.

-- 70% of Iraqi children are suffering from trauma like nightmares, bed wetting, stuttering and fear -- that some say could paralyze an entire generation that we had been counting on to harvest the seeds of democracy.

-- And to make up for shortages of combat-ready troops, tours of duty have been extended, recently from 12 to 15 months, with many soldiers now on their third or fourth tour.

In short, there is no evidence that the escalation is working - and it should come as no surprise, because, as General Petraeus has said, the ultimate solution in Iraq is a political one, not a military one. ... (full text)

Too bad Bush and his cronies aren't competent enough to bring about a political settlement in Iraq.

The insurgents are fighting because they feel they have no voice in the new government or because they want the foreign invaders (that's us) out of their country.

The "fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here" is looking stupider and stupider. The al-Qaeda terrorists just aren't there.
... The strength of al-Qaeda now is debatable.

Irrespective, for the Bush claims to have validity, foreign fighters of any form would be targeting Americans. In the event this was the case, Bush could rightly continue his mantra, "We are fighting the terrorists in Iraq, so we don't have to fight them at home."

However the small number of foreign fighters in Iraq is not targeting Americans, they are targeting Iraqis.

Four weeks ago, in an interview on the U.S. Defense Department's Pentagon Channel, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said, "Most of the foreign fighters as I read the intelligence, many of the foreign fighters are, in fact, suicide bombers and they come across the border from Syria, perhaps several dozen a month and they are responsible for a lot of these attacks. I think most of the suicide bombers are those who go into marketplaces and are killing other Iraqis to tell you the truth. I think most of these, the irony is foreign fighters are coming into Iraq and killing Iraqis." ...

... Captain Phillip Valenti, public affairs officer for Task Force 134, the U.S. Military Police group in charge of prison operations, was quoted as saying "The intent is to detain individuals determined to be true threats to coalition forces, Iraqi security forces and stability in Iraq."

Every day there are reports of the capture or killing of terrorists in Iraq. ...

... In the Washington Post article however Capt. Valenti is quoted as saying that of the 18,000 detainees in the American-run prisons in Iraq, only 250 are foreign fighters. That's a little over 1 per cent. So where have all the "terrorists" come from? Or are they all Iraqis? ... (source)
No Savage Jihadi Army roaming the streets of Bahgdad and chomping at the bit to invade America. As much as right-wing talkers and bloggers love to conjure up the image of roving bands of terrorist on the streets of AnyTown, U.S.A.; there just ain't no way. The connection between U.S. troops in Iraq and the threat of terrorist attacks on American soil are, at best, imaginary and very probably the reverse of what the Bushies claim. There is a documented increase in world-wide anti-American sentiment since the invasion of Iraq. The Bush Administration may very well be increasing the threat of attacks by staying their stubbornly stupid course in Iraq. The undeniable fact is that U.S. troops occupying Iraq are a cause célèbre for al-Qaeda recruitment.
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-proclaimed "Islamic State of Iraq" says that Iraq under American military occupation is a "university for terror."

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