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eggbeater
09-08-2003, 02:56 AM
WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 — President Bush's task tonight was to convince the country that the terrible toll of the long, hot, casualty ridden summer in Iraq was a necessary price to pay in a broader struggle against terrorism, and to prepare the electorate for years of occupation, billions more in expense, and many bad days.

His sobering speech to the nation was not the one that the White House was envisioning for the president four months after he declared the end of the "active combat" phase of the war. Even in July, as Mr. Bush prepared for a month at his ranch, his aides were talking optimistically about a fall devoted to transforming Iraq quickly into a model democracy at the heart of the Middle East, and making its transition to a peaceful nation contagious throughout the region.

Now there is reason to wonder whether that vision was unrealistically optimistic — at least on the time scale Mr. Bush and his aides once described — or whether it was, as one of his former foreign policy advisers put it recently, "optimism blended with a touch of naοvetι."

Every week events from Baghdad to Jerusalem seem to be spinning out of the control of a Bush team that, during the president's trip to the region in late May, seemed intent on demonstrating that it now had the power to transform the region.

Last month's bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, and this weekend's resignation of the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, on whom Mr. Bush had pinned so many of his hopes of a broader Middle East peace, only reinforced the sense that the president's post-Iraq strategy will need to be rewritten once again.

This evening, with his poll numbers dropping and his political problems mounting, Mr. Bush insisted there was no turning back. He described America's mission in the region as open-ended, and came up with his own echo of John F. Kennedy's famous inaugural phrase that the United States would "pay any price, bear any burden" to defend liberty.

Iraq, he intoned, is now "the central front" in the war on terrorism, and he vowed "We will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom, and to make our own nation more secure."

For the first time he named that price: $87 billion for the first full year of occupation and reconstruction, of continuing his battle in Iraq and Afghanistan and his search for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It is a figure many experts believe may yet prove low.

In that sense, he has made the Middle East what Southeast Asia was to the nation of his youth: a place where dominoes could not be allowed to fall, where a vicious ideology could not be permitted to take hold and spread. His argument to the wider world tonight was that it had to put aside the bruising conflict with his administration over whether the invasion of Iraq was justified, and now had to join the fight to make the American experiment in Iraq work. The price of failure, he argued, would be too high for all.

His message to Americans — whom he clearly wanted to remind of his leadership after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon two years ago this week — was simple: "The dangers have not passed." Just as in the cold war, when presidents from Truman to Nixon argued that America was the target of Communists, Mr. Bush said, "We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today, so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities."

With that phrase, he fully merged the challenge of the occupation of Iraq with the terrorism of Al Qaeda, even though his own intelligence agencies found no link between Mr. Hussein and the conspirators of Sept. 11. Now, in a post-Iraq world, Mr. Bush is saying that link makes no difference — the arrival of terrorists blowing up Americans in Baghdad and Tikrit in the postwar period have turned this into a single war.

"The Middle East will either become a place of progress and peace, or it will be an exporter of violence and terror that takes more lives in America and in other free nations," Mr. Bush insisted, in justifying the cost in blood and deficit-inducing spending. "The triumph of democracy and tolerance in Iraq, in Afghanistan and beyond would be a grave setback for international terrorism."

To some of Mr. Bush's admirers, like Eliot A. Cohen, a military expert at Johns Hopkins University, tonight's speech was "an overdue explaining of the case — he has a sophisticated argument to make about changing Iraq and making it a decent place and a role model for the Mideast, but he doesn't make it often enough," or in enough detail. "I'm struck by the fact that the view of elites, Democrats and Republicans, is that this has to be made to work, and the argument is over how."

To his critics — including most of the Democratic presidential aspirants, who believe that Mr. Bush's initial go-it-alone instincts have become his biggest political vulnerability — the president is wrongly blending the war against terrorism with the effort to build a stable Iraq.

"I think it bears little to no resemblance to the war on terrorism," said James Steinberg, who served as President Clinton's deputy national security adviser and is now a scholar at the Brookings Institution. "There was a theory in this White House that if you were just tough, and knocked Saddam and those like him off, people would not mess with you anymore," he said tonight. "They would no longer regard you as weak.

"Now there is a risk that our muscularity, if not used in a smart way, could make us more vulnerable, not less."

Mr. Bush's aides dispute the notion that Iraq is now a more fertile breeding ground for terrorists than it was before Mr. Hussein was deposed, despite the arrival of what Mr. Bush described tonight as "foreign terrorists." In interviews in recent days they have played down the coordination of the Baathists, suspected Qaeda members and other fighters, and Mr. Bush said tonight "we cannot be certain to what extent these groups work together." But left unstated tonight was the critical question looming over the president as he goes before the United Nations this month, and the electorate next year: How quickly can he bring order out of the chaos?

He did not say tonight, and his Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell, appearing earlier in the day on the NBC News program "Meet the Press," did not sound as if even the passage of a United Nations resolution would bring much more force to quieting Iraq ? he guessed 10,000 to 15,000 more foreign troops, at best a 10 percent increase over the forces now on the ground.

Yet the occupation forces face an environment far more complex than than the occupations of Japan and Germany, the models of success Mr. Bush cited tonight. Both were cohesive nations long before their defeat; Iraq never has been. And while there was more to rebuild in Tokyo and Berlin in 1945 than in Baghdad in 2003, the occupied were not shooting at the occupiers. That is why Mr. Bush could not predict the end point of the conflict he was rallying the country around tonight, and that is the problem he must solve first.

Jimmy B
09-08-2003, 03:00 AM
That was way to long to read, can anyone who did sum it up in 30 words or less for me? JB

Qtec
09-08-2003, 03:48 AM
IMO,
If you have the support of the people , then you are Liberators. If you dont have their support , then you are Occupiers.
The fact is that the US has lost control in Iraq, if it ever had control. Gw has dug himself a hole and the US insistance in running the whole operation makes it look more and more as if Iraq is considered to be a prize to be kept. The problem now is that it is costing more than expected.
They must have been smokin weed when they thought that this would be easy. They just dont understand that nobody wants them in Iraq, which has many holy shrines and cities.
The Palestinian problem doesnt help. On the one hand you have the Israeli Govt commiting acts of assasination and collective punnishment and Hamas who retaliates by targeting innocent civilians.
A couple of days ago soldiers tracked 4 Hamas militants to an appartement block. All the residents were forced to evacuate the building. After a firefight , they just demolished the whole building. 7 storey's high, maybe 40+ appartements raised to the ground. The residents combed through the rubble to salvage what they could from their possesions.
Can you imagine if it was your appartement?

America constantly backs Irael. The Arabs see this and they dont believe that the US is in Iraq to help them.

Who can blame them.Its been one lie after another.

Q

Cueless Joey
09-08-2003, 09:32 AM
Iraq is a freakin' mess.
Its' damned if we stay. It's damned if we leave.
There are too many factions there. Too many people with different interests.
Since we are damned if we stay, we might as well leave.