Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bush appeal to support the Troops?

Much was made about the hazard of facing Bush, and the President's bully pulpit, in the arguments made to give cover to the Congressional Democrat's historic war enabling 2007 Emergency Authorization to sustain the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts...

Yet Bush is not able to weild the full power of the bully pulpit, without the careful soundbyte management of the mainstream media. This is the eager framing assistance loaned to the President's awkward speech, which had a different agenda altogether.

President Bush offered to talk with Democrats about the standoff over war funding, but he made it clear Tuesday he will not embrace any timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal. Democrats said there was no point in talking if Bush refused to negotiate.

"We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill - a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal, and without handcuffing our generals on the ground," Bush said in a speech to an American Legion audience in nearby Fairfax, Va.

[Macon.com with the AP article by Deb Riechmann]


Yet the American Legion speech is not really that straightforward, in fact the President claimed he was trying to make just two points: "Doctrine is important!" and "Failed States = bad!". And it took seven or eight awkward, but possibly significant and true, long minutes, to get around to his points:

Good morning. Please be seated. Thank you for your warm hospitality, it's a pleasure to be here at Legion post 177, Fairfax, Virginia

I appreciate you inviting me.

I've come to share some thoughts about... Service to our country... uh.. This war we face... and the need for the United States Congress to make sure our troops have what is nenecessary to complete their mission.

Bob Sussan greeted me, coming in... I appreciate ya, a commander, greeting a fellow from post 77, we... we drop the "1" in Houston ...he not only presented me with a cake... he gave a chance to express my gratitude to the Legion, its members and the service you provide for those who wear the uniform today.

I appreciate the example you have set.

You know, there is something to be said for a country, where people serve something greater than themselves.

Where people, in this era, volunteer in the face of danger, to defend the United States of America.

And those who have worn the uniform in the past have set such a powerful example for our brave men and women who wear the uniform today, and I thank you for that, a lot, I don't know if you know that, or not,

but the example of our veterans have inspired many to wear the uniform today.


This is good stuff to remember. Many people in the military are there because they feel called to service, and respect a tradition. Anti-war activists have to remember that, and not denigrate a noble impulse, or tradition within the military of responding in times of true threats to our national security, though Iraq did not present one.

The President then spent a minute or two recounting the history of that American Legion post, of the specific services offered bythat post to soldiers returning home during and after WWII.


...

(3:10)

Today, the men and women at this post, um, visit the wounded in our military hospitals, and I thank you for going to Walter Reed and Bethesda, and were going to make sure that the care is superb care.

I went over there the other day and I made it clear to the caregivers, that there, uh, there were some bureaucratic snafus that were unacceptable. Secretary Gates and our military folks will clean that up, but the care that our troops get from the doctors and nurses is superb care. And we owe those people on the front lines providing care for the wounded a real debt of gratitude, just like we owe the families and the soldiers the best healthcare possible.

(3:54)


That had to be awkward...

On 9-11, We saw that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state, 7000 miles away, can bring death to our citizens!

...I vowed that: "if you harbor a terrorist, you are equally as guilty as a terrorist"... that's a doctrine! In order for this country to be credible... when the President says something, he must mean it. I meant it, and the Taliban found out that we meant what we said.

and therefore we ended al-Qaeda's safe haven in a failed state...

(7:50)

The two points I want to make is: Doctrine matters. and secondly: A failed state can lead to severe consequences for the American people

and therefore it's in our interest not only to pursue the enemy overseas, so we don't have to face them here,

it's in our interests to spread an alternative ideology...to their hateful ideology

(8:10)

These folks... uh... do not believe in the freedom to worship. They don't believe that women have got a equal place in society. They don't believe in human rights and human dignity... We believe that people have the right to worship as they see fit...

[President Bush, 4/10/2007, at the American Legion post 177]


There you go, the President's real purpose was to point out that doctrine matters, and that failed states can threaten us. The speech continued, but I don't know when he got around to the part quoted in the article by Deb Riechmann.

There is truth to the statement that despairing populations in failed states can hurt us, but recounting the real history of Afghanistan and its history would be more informative, and creating a path to a future without recreating the post-Soviet situation in Afghanistan, in other war-ravaged countries, would be real leadership.

We haven't seen either the President or Congress bother to be informative, or offer leadership, in dealing with failed and failing states credibly. The fact is they are numerous. The fact is they are profitable.

Instead the President wants to buttress the ideology that has brought us to a defeat in an unnecessary misadventure in Iraq, which, on September 12th, was not a failed state that had attacked us, but the most interesting target that Bush, and Cheney, and the oil companies could set their sights on. Arabs trained in Afghanistan, educated in Europe and the U.S., are the ones that attacked us, in large part because of our support for regimes that suppressed religious freedom but provided access for American companies to commercial markets and commodities on our terms, regimes that overruled popular elections, etc.

They attacked us, because they became addicted to war, after we helped finance, train and provision an Arab army in Afghanistan, against the Soviets. Surviving in pockets after the American CIA and State Department, for all intents, had turned our backs on post-Soviet Afghanistan, entrusting it to Pakistan's ISI, and we left the tap turned on for weapons and financial support to the progenitors of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

We should be more careful about pumping weapons and money into an unstable situation in Iraq. Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it, right?

Let's put Iraq "back in the box", and stop the flow of weapons, money, and training to the police and military and militias and Iraqi Private Military Companies, now. Yes, there are Iraqi versions of Blackwater, and they are suspected of being a channel to the militias for weapons, and even training from former U.S. servicemembers.

If we do rewrite and resubmit an emergency war funding measure to the President, let's make sure we aren't buying weapons that will be used to accomplish genocide in Iraq at the end of our adventure to achieve this Iraqi Hydrocarbon law and production sharing agreements. Or was that "an alternate ideology, to their ideology of hatred"?

If Congress does meet with the President, let's not concede any ground, regardless of how profitable this war has become, how many jobs are tied to it in each Congressional district. Let's start to reign in this military industrial complex that is always itching to find excuses to put more U.S. Armed Servicemembers in harms way, to fire off expensive new weapons at newly invented, or imagined enemies.

Instead, let's try to really understand the threat, to the extent that failed states are a threat to the security of the homeland. One place we might expect people to provide detailed analysis, in addition to the CIA and State Department, universities and colleges, could be a U.S. Department of Peace. Let's create that. Compared to the 122 - 124 billion dollar price tag of this one Emergency War supplemental it could be quite a deal, at $8 billion per year.

Let's create a non-violent alternative for citizens to volunteer to serve through. Service to country truly is a noble impulse, despite the defensive rhetoric of our ignoble leaders, leaders that routinely abuse the service of others, as if it were just a flourish, a quaint notion that in any non-military, non-religious context they deride.

In order to make this situtaion, you must become involved, somehow. Call your U.S. House Rep, and your Senators, and insist that they not cave to Bush in "negotitiating" a version of the confrence committee version of H.R. 1591 that will allow this war to continue indefinately. If Bush vetos it, let's encourage Pelosi and other congressional leaders to allow the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and the Congressional Out of Iraq Caucus to vote their conscience. Let's encourage everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike to end this war by constraining its funding severely, and forcing a focus on an endgame and post-occupation aftermath that more people can live with. More people will live if we get out now, and cut the flow of all arms, but especially small arms and ammunition, into Iraq.

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