Nathan on the president's speech last night
Nathan over at Sollicitudo Rei Socialis beats up the president after his speech last night. Below is my response I posted in the comments.
I am not surprised with your response to the president's address. Coming from someone who believes the president is evil, your words were expected. Your mischaractization of the reasons we invaded Iraq are not new and have been answered before. And your description of the war is questionable.
Why do you think the president must follow polling data on American support of the war and retreat? He was re-elected less then a year ago. Yes, the public is concerned. Yes, they want the troops home. So does the president. But we live in a dangerous world and the president told the country prior to the election we would stay the course in Iraq until the job was done and he was re-elected by a majority of Americans. If they feel differently in 2006 or 2008 then they will vote accordingly, but until then the president makes these decisions and he does not make them based on polling data.
You make the following statement:
"But we must state emphatically that President Bush's failed policies in Iraq have contributed to turning Iraq into the terrorist minefield that it is today."
This is wrong. Here is what the president said about why terrorists and insurgents fight in Iraq:
They fight because they know that the survival of their hateful ideology is at stake. They know that as freedom takes root in Iraq, it will inspire millions across the Middle East to claim their liberty as well. And when the Middle East grows in democracy, prosperity, and hope, the terrorists will lose their sponsors, lose their recruits, and lose their hopes for turning that region into a base for attacks on America and our allies around the world.
If this is untrue tell us why.
You state it is "no exaggeration...that President Bush's failed policies in Iraq have made America less safe, leaving us open to an attack equal to or worse than September 11."
Again, I believe you are wrong. Here is what the president pointed out in regards to this concern:
Before our Coalition liberated Iraq, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Today the leader of Libya has given up his chemical and nuclear weapons programs. Across the broader Middle East, people are claiming their freedom. In the last few months, we have witnessed elections in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon. These elections are inspiring democratic reformers in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Our strategy to defend ourselves and spread freedom is working. The rise of freedom in this vital region will eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder - and make our Nation safer.
And I would add that the Patriot Act, the creation of the Homeland Security Department, and the ongoing intelligence reform have also made us safer. Do you not disagree?
You state, "The truth is that Iraq is falling apart...because we have attempted to force democracy on a people not ready for it". Really? Here is the president once again, reacting to, in my opinion, an unfounded concern:
One year ago today, we restored sovereignty to the Iraqi people. In January 2005, more than eight million Iraqi men and women voted in elections that were free and fair - and took place on time.
We continued our efforts to help them rebuild their country. Rebuilding a country after three decades of tyranny is hard - and rebuilding while at war is even harder. Our progress has been uneven - but progress is being made. We are improving roads, and schools, and health clinics ... and working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity, and water. And together with our allies, we will help the new Iraqi government deliver a better life for its citizens.
They are doing that by building the institutions of a free society - a society based on freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and equal justice under law. The Iraqis have held free elections and established a Transitional National Assembly. The next step is to write a good constitution that enshrines these freedoms in permanent law. The Assembly plans to expand its constitutional drafting committee to include more Sunni Arabs. Many Sunnis who opposed the January elections are now taking part in the democratic process - and that is essential to Iraq's future.
After a constitution is written, the Iraqi people will have a chance to vote on it. If approved, Iraqis will go to the polls again, to elect a new government under their new, permanent constitution. By taking these critical steps and meeting their deadlines, Iraqis will bind their multiethnic society together in a democracy that respects the will of the majority and protects minority rights.
As Iraqis grow confident that the democratic progress they are making is real and permanent, more will join the political process. And as Iraqis see that their military can protect them, more will step forward with vital intelligence to help defeat the enemies of a free Iraq. The combination of political and military reform will lay a solid foundation for a free and stable Iraq.
Your solution to all this seems to be to elect others in 2006 and 2008. What would you have them do though? You point out we cannot leave now that we are committed, so what is it that we should do in Iraq if the course the president has laid out is wrong? You expend a good amount of energy here to remind your readers how much you dislike the president and that we need a change of course, yet you list no other course other then finding a new horse. That is irresponsible. I understand your and others' concerns over why we went to war and how we initially fought it. I do not share them, but respect that disagreement. But beating up on the president, the commander-in-chief, is not a way to go.
I would be interested in what course you think any newly elected (in 2006 and 2008) public officials should take in Iraq. That kind of dialogue is constructive and more worth your effort.