Bush Sticking to His Guns
In his televised address Wednesday night to announce plans for a spike in U.S. troops in Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush spoke with a notably less confrontational tone than he's embraced in the past. That's not to say his remarks weren't provocative, specifically his direct pronouncement that Syria and Iran "are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq," with Iran "providing material support for attacks on American troops."
Some of us on the other side of the TV screen, however, wished the U.S. President might have pursued this point a little further, recognizing that the divisions that exist among Middle East states over support for Shiites and Sunnis, not only in Iraq but in Lebanon and elsewhere, offers a rare opportunity for American diplomacy (WSJ sub required, sorry).
But that's another story.
Regardless of one's view of the Bush plan for Iraq, it must be admitted that the president is, literally, sticking to his guns.
"The president is clearly going against the sense of the American people, against the Iraq Study Group and most of the Congress," said Jeffrey Addicott, who directs the Center for Terrorism Law in San Antonio. "You've got to give him credit for sticking to his guns despite all the direction signs from every corner indicating that we should go the other way."
World Politics Review spoke to Addicott last night after the speech. Though many question whether Bush's plan offers anything new, Addicott dismissed such complaints.
"It's not just more troops, I think President Bush has clearly got a vision for a new strategy and I sense the fingerprint of Gen. David Petraeus [soon to replace Gen. George Casey as top troop commander in Baghdad], it's really a new strategy," said Addicott. "I also kind of see Fallujah here too, meaning the pursuit of a military victory, of going in and cleaning house and not just holding our own, but to actually take one last stab at controlling territory and meeting the enemy face to face."
One interesting note: Bush spoke for approximately 20 minutes without once uttering the word God. Instead, he closed his speech by referring to the "Author of Liberty" who "will guide us through these trying hours."
The full text of his speech can be read on the White House Web site. Below are excerpts that World Politics Review found most essential:
"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."
"The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital."
"I have committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad."
"If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people."
"Iran and Syria. ... These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."
"From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists -- or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom?"
"Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror."