Tuesday :: May 25, 2004

Reactions To George's Latest Recitation

by pessimist

Generally speaking, Bush could have saved his breath. Only those who refuse to face the facts, or ordered not to like those at Carlisle, don't see that almost everything George Warmonger Bush mentioned last night was straight out of the PNAC wish book.

The rest of the world, however, isn't invested in the continuing search for political legitimacy, international power, free and easy petroleum, and massively increased monetary wealth for the connected through the abusive useage of military might for the Right. Let's take a look at how they see this 'speech':

Insurgents Mount Rocket Attacks

A day after President Bush outlined his plans for handing power to Iraqis in a few weeks' time, the obstacles to an orderly transition were apparent as insurgents mounted bomb and rocket attacks in Baghdad. Militants fired rockets from the window of an apartment building toward a police station and a hotel, setting off thunderous explosions and wounding one American soldier. A car bomb near a hotel wounded at least five Iraqis, the U.S. military said. The target of the blast, about 100 yards from the Australian Embassy, was not immediately clear. Elsewhere, a bomb stopped the flow of Iraqi oil to a key export terminal in Turkey, and insurgents bombed a bridge in Numaniya, destroying part of it and disrupting traffic. Clashes in Najaf between U.S. forces and radical Shiite militiamen killed at least 13 Iraqis, and damaged a key Shiite shrine.

With only weeks before the June 30 deadline when U.S. occupation forces hand over limited power to an interim government in Baghdad, Iraqi Planning Minister Mehdi Hafedh acknowledged at a conference of international donors that, "security is, without doubt, the most significant challenge currently facing Iraq."

"The violence is clearly a serious impediment to progress and development in Iraq on every front," he told the conference. "It depresses economic activity and increases the cost."

Yup! Everything's just ducky and rosy and on schedule - just like it was planned!

Iraqis Demand More Freedom, Swift End to Occupation

Iraqis reacted with weary skepticism Tuesday to promises from President Bush of a peaceful and independent future, saying a U.S. offer of sovereignty did not go far enough to restore their freedom.

Reacting to a U.S.-proposed draft U.N. resolution that would hand many powers to an interim government on June 30, the Iraqi Governing Council welcomed the idea but called for changes to give Iraq full control over troops on its soil and of its oil.


Bush's vision of Iraq vs reality

Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, was not the focus of terrorism, violence and instability, contrary to the claims made by Bush before he invaded. Today, and despite the continued US occupation, Iraq has emerged as the focus of instability and a gathering place for terrorists of all stripes. So despite Bush's claim that the Iraq plan is on track, the United States has little real control over that plan.

At the same time, all the endeavors of Brahimi might come to naught by a mere veto of that reclusive symbol of real legitimacy and power in Iraq, Shi'ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has withheld legitimacy from the US authority. At the same time, he has remained committed to creating Islamic democracy in Iraq dominated by the Shi'ites, while Brahimi and Bush have visions of pluralizing Iraq - making it a place where the Kurds, Shi'ites, Sunnis, men and women would govern and live in harmony. These visions are waiting to clash, and in Iraq, there are no magnanimous losers.

All this is waiting to happen, while Bush desperately tries to convince Americans, world opinion, and the Iraqis that he is on the right track. It is too early to know whether the American people believe their president. World opinion is highly skeptical of anything Bush has to say about Iraq.

What about the Iraqis? Well, they were sound asleep when he was making that speech in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Perhaps that reality also signifies the fact that even after getting rid of the rule of a brutal dictator, the Iraqis still have no say about their own future.

They might just as well be sleeping.

Mid-East media lukewarm on Bush speech

US President George W Bush's speech setting out his vision for Iraq has been greeted as offering nothing new by the Middle East media.

President Bush's speech was aimed at domestic, world and, of course, Middle Eastern opinion - each audience having its own concerns about events in Iraq.
Judging by reaction from the Arab world's main sources of television news, his words seem unlikely to get more than a lukewarm response in the Middle East.

Al-Jazeera led its bulletins with the speech until news of the latest violence in Iraq relegated Mr Bush to lower down the running order. Its conclusion was that his words had little new to offer.

Halim Barakat said in an interview on al-Arabiya the speech was part of the President's re-election strategy. "I believe he's lost popularity and support - and of course he has an election campaign and so wants to influence public opinion by saying everything is fine and will go just as the US wants," Mr Barakat said. To this end, Mr Barakat said the president had concentrated on the bright side in Iraq, and had said little about the grimmer aspects of the situation.

In Iran, state television has been harsher, describing Mr Bush's promises for Iraq as baseless and unrealistic. It said the speech was propaganda and another attempt to repair America's reputation after the scandal at Abu Ghraib prison.

We will persevere, Bush tells Americans

George Bush tried last night to persuade an increasingly sceptical American public to rekindle its faith in his project for Iraq, promising he had a clear strategy for a handover of power.

But the substance of Mr Bush's plan was still woefully thin, and was seen largely as a concerted effort by Mr Bush to re-engage American public opinion, and stop the erosion in support for his administration.

Bush begins damage limitation exercise as conflict bites into his poll ratings

Hours after setting out his goals for a stable, democratic Iraq, George Bush began the uphill task yesterday of rallying international support for an enterprise on which the future of his presidency now largely depends.

As ever, Mr Bush was utterly certain of the righteousness of his cause. He admitted no mistake, or even misjudgement, in the year since his premature "mission accomplished" speech on a US aircraft carrier almost 13 months ago.

Bush needs to admit that serious mistakes have been made

President Bush needs to acknowledge with due humility that serious mistakes have been made. And above all, he needs to stop kidding the American people that an operation such as this can be done and dusted in a matter of 14 months. If Mr Bush cannot do this convincingly, he is the one who will deserve to have his mission aborted. The termination of his presidency could be less than six months away.

Good PR, but what's new?

Despite President Bush's protestations yesterday, Washington still seems to be undecided about what it actually wants in Iraq: the resumption of full sovereignty regardless of the consequences, or the country's continued occupation, regardless of the costs. Many in the Security Council - particularly France - suspect that America's current strategy is somewhere in between: the continued occupation of Iraq, with most of the costs and risks transferred to other countries under the guise of a new UN mandate.

Razing the new Bastille

President Bush’s five-point strategy for the immediate future of Iraq — as laid out in his keynote speech the other day — may not convince many people.

Mr Bush’s imperatives of sounding confident are clear, even if they lack credibility. The latest opinion polls show his popularity ratings bumping along somewhere in the mid-30 per cent mark, which means he’s now more unpopular than he was at any time since he started living in the White House. Weeks of unremitting bad news from Iraq leave him no choice but to try and convince audiences at home and abroad that the disturbing uncertainties in Iraq are only mirages that will vanish, come June 30 when power is handed over to the interim government.

Unfortunately for Mr Bush, some crucial signboards are missing in his roadmap. They don’t tell us much about how a nation, which is now divided between the secular and more democratic Kurdish north, Shiite and Islamic south, with the Sunni cauldron in between, will reconstitute itself into democratic and secular Iraq. The problem with the Bush plan is perhaps not its lack of clarity, but the plan itself.

Bush Offers Nothing New Except Prison

Bush's tone was significantly less smug and contemptuous than in other recent speeches, particularly with respect to the United Nations and his praise for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), which Washington still hopes will decide to assume a substantial security role in Iraq at next month's Istanbul Summit. Similarly, Bush dispensed with the word ''evil'' or ''evil-doers'' in the address, although he still posed the conflict in black-and-white terms, accusing ''terrorists'' of trying to ''impose Taliban-like rule country by country across the greater Middle East''.

In some ways, the choice of the Army War College to deliver the speech was also curious due to the fact that retired army commanders like Zinni, Gen Wesley Clark and the most recent army chief of staff, Gen Eric Shinseki, have been furious with the way the administration has treated their overstretched service since the Iraq War. Indeed, officers attending Monday's speech appeared respectful, but uncharacteristically subdued toward a sitting Republican president, applauding less than 10 times in the course of a speech that contained dozens of applause lines.

Bush himself occasionally paused during his delivery in apparent anticipation of applause, but, hearing none, forged ahead with his text -- a fitting metaphor, perhaps, for the situation he faces in Iraq.

US-induced power struggles make post-war stability difficult

An imperial Washington is a flawed preacher. US President George W. Bush's remarks Monday night on his country's strategy to turn over sovereignty to Iraqis after June 30 were impressive, as always, at the level of emotional rhetoric about freedom and democracy, but unconvincing at the level of policy.

The US president's remarks, like those of Secretary of State Colin Powell last week to the World Economic Forum in Jordan, are not convincing to most people in the Middle East because they appear to come from a different planet. Washington insists on convincing us over and over again that it wants to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq and the Arabs, and that it will punish those American individuals who committed crimes at Abu Ghraib prison to emphasize how American justice and democracy work. Those are fine words and noble deeds - but they appear to most Middle Easterners like a rainbow in the sky at the same time that a thunderstorm is killing people a few kilometers away. We want to get out from under the US-made thunderstorm so we can then find our own way to the rainbow.

As long as the American leadership refuses to acknowledge that the vast majority of human beings and countries in the world rejects its premise for invading Iraq, we risk the danger of more tragic adventures like the current one in Iraq. If the US insists on preaching to the world about its fine values, it should not be surprised that the rest of the world only preaches back to Washington about its flawed, occasionally imperial, and sometimes criminal policies.

Bush outlines strategy for Iraq

Although Bush was more expansive on his vision for Iraq than he has been in previous appearances, the substance of his plan was still woefully thin, and was seen largely as a concerted effort by Bush to stop the erosion in support for his administration.

With time running out on Iraq -- and Bush just five months away from his own electoral test -- the consequences of his decision to go to war are becoming even more stark.

From Abu Garib to Abu Garob

Let George Bush and his inability to master the English language and speak intelligibly be a constant reminder of his incompetence to be in his position. He has cost his workers two hundred thousand million dollars of their hard-earned money (which they will have to pay, but they don't know it yet), he has involved his country in an illegal war, he has made Americans war criminals, he is responsible for an act of mass murder, he is responsible for purposefully destroying civilian structures, including homes, with military equipment, he is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and mutiliations (over 45,000 collectively), he is responsible for blasting away the futures of a thousand children, he is responsible for leaving swathes of Iraqi territory with dangerously high levels of radiation.

He acts like the husband who got drunk, kicked the dog, fell off his bicycle and had an altercation with a biscuit and the morning after agrees to everything his wife says, smiling broadly, trying to pretend everything is rosy. This may be OK for Western Texas. It is unacceptable for a President of the United States of America. Time for regime change. This man stiffed the world.

White House ignores Iraq critics

Iraq has proved a liability for Bush's re-election prospects. His job approval ratings are at the lowest point of his presidency and opinion polls show a clear majority of Americans disapprove of his handling of the situation there. Analysts saw his speech as an effort to counteract daily news of violence and scandal in Iraq by speaking directly to the American people about the nobler aspects of mission.

Bush's half-hour speech also won few admirers in Iraq, where weary residents are bitter after a year of chaos, and drew a mixed reaction at best in the United States.

Despite all the comments insisting that these results are as the Bush (mis)Administration says they are, there is no denying that members of the audience knew better, and for a while now.

War College paper said goodwill in Iraq would fade in a year

In the months before the invasion of Iraq, some senior faculty members at the Army War College predicted several of the problems the Bush administration is facing more than a year into the occupation.

A paper, Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario, was published in February 2003, written by Conrad C. Crane and Andrew Terrill for the college's Strategic Studies Institute.

Parts of it seem prescient, suggesting that any U.S. occupation would face increasing resistance as time passed.

"After the first year, the possibility of a serious uprising may increase should severe disillusionment set in and Iraqis begin to draw parallels between U.S. actions and historical examples of Western imperialism," the authors wrote. The paper also predicted U.S. forces would face suicide bombings and resistance tactics aimed at eroding public support for the occupation.

"The possibility of the United States winning the war and losing the peace in Iraq is real and serious," it warned. "Rehabilitating Iraq will consequently be an important challenge that threatens to consume huge amounts of resources without guaranteed results."

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pessimist :: 5:06 PM :: Comments (13) :: Digg It!