Friday, September 01, 2006

Understanding the Enemy

From the New York Times:
“We face an enemy that has an ideology,’’ Mr. Bush continued. “They believe things. The best way to describe their ideology is to relate to you the fact that they think the opposite of the way we think.” Bush Shifting Public Focus to Terrorism and Iraq War


Anonymous Anonymous said...

August 31, 2006
Bush Shifting Public Focus to Terrorism and Iraq War
NASHVILLE, Aug. 30 — With the midterm elections approaching, President Bush is beginning an extended tour to draw attention to the threat of terrorism and the Iraq war, quickly pivoting to more comfortable territory after the focus on the Hurricane Katrina anniversary.

Starting with an address to veterans on Thursday, Mr. Bush intends to outline what one adviser described as the “consequences of victory and defeat,” a theme he conveyed here on Wednesday night, when he warned that a hasty departure from Iraq would create a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East.

Advisers said Mr. Bush would continue his speeches on Iraq and the broader struggle against terrorism for several weeks, keying off the five-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The White House has made national security and Iraq the centerpieces of its strategy to help Republicans retain control of Congress. Nonetheless, as Mr. Bush went to Arkansas and Tennessee on Wednesday to raise money for Republican candidates, he said of his series of speeches, “They’re not political speeches.”

“These are important times, and I seriously hope people wouldn’t politicize these issues I’m going to talk about,” Mr. Bush said after a fund-raiser at a house in Little Rock, Ark.

A short time later, at a fund-raiser here, the president urged an audience to vote for a Republican Senate candidate to help keep the nation safe. Declaring his “message of optimism,” Mr. Bush said he needed colleagues on Capitol Hill who understood the importance of tools like the USA Patriot Act and domestic surveillance to help stop terrorism.

“I need people in the United States Senate standing side by side who understand our most important task is the security of the United States of America,” he said.

“We face an enemy that has an ideology,’’ Mr. Bush continued. “They believe things. The best way to describe their ideology is to relate to you the fact that they think the opposite of the way we think.”

He criticized detractors who have sought to withdraw troops from Iraq, saying that to leave that country “before the job is done” could lead to a much worse terrorist state. But Mr. Bush did not emphasize signs of progress in Iraq as he had in the past.

The focus is shifting as other senior members of the administration have been attacking Democrats over the war and national security in general.

In the most combative instance, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld set off a partisan battle by saying on Tuesday that critics of the war had not “learned history’s lessons” and going on to allude to appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930’s.

The Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, called Mr. Rumsfeld’s comments reckless on Wednesday.

Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, who is in charge of helping elect Democrats to the House, criticized the defense secretary as taking on a political role.

“Donald Rumsfeld should spend less time thinking about the midterm elections and more time figuring out how to clean up the mess this administration made in Iraq,” Mr. Emanuel said in a statement.

It is unclear whether Mr. Bush and his top officials can translate support for combating terrorism into political points in the fall.

Unlike the last two election cycles, when the threat of another attack helped bolster support for Republicans, strategists believe that the increasingly unpopular American presence in Iraq could hurt the governing party.

Mr. Bush’s personal popularity remains low, with his approval ratings hovering at less than 40 percent. That has led some Republicans to distance themselves from the president and the war, raising questions about how Mr. Bush can be an effective advocate in the fall campaign.

On Wednesday, Mr. Bush played the role of fund-raiser relatively quietly.

Traveling from his ranch outside Crawford, Tex., in the morning, he appeared in Arkansas at a private event for Asa Hutchinson, the former Republican congressman who is running for governor.

Mr. Hutchinson is trailing his Democratic opponent, Mike Beebe, the Arkansas attorney general, according to polling data.

The governor’s seat is now held by a Republican, Mike Huckabee, but term limits prevent Mr. Huckabee from running again.

In the Tennessee race to fill the seat held by the departing Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, the Republican, Bob Corker, leads the Democrat, Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., in polls by a slight margin.

Republicans view victory here as critical to retaining control of the Senate. They have a six-seat margin, and at least four seats are considered highly likely to fall to the Democrats.

Organizers said they raised more than $1.5 million from the dinner on Wednesday.

September 01, 2006 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a discussion the nation needs to have. Here is my take on it:

In 2001, Iraq (as awful as its regime was) stood as a Sunni-controlled buffer between Persian Iran and the rest of the Arab countries. It was not a haven for Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists because, Saddam Hussein's government was a secular dictatorship which the fundamentalists opposed.

Now our misguided military adventure has created an incipient vacuum, in which (1) the buffer is being eliminated, (2) the Arab world has shifted such that Sunni and Shi'ite extremists (outside of Iraq) at least temporarily set aside their differences to make common cause against the United States, and (3) Iraq as become a breeding ground (and training ground) for fundamentalist terrorists. You may recall that in the Democratic primary debates in late 2003/early 2004, Dennis Kucinich asserted that we should immediately pull out of Iraq because it was not part of the terrorist problem. Howard Dean challenged Kucinich's call for immediate withdrawal noting fact # 3: As Dean correctly observed, Iraq wasn't a breeding ground for terrorists before the American invasion, but the invasion made it into such a breeding ground.

So President Bush's assertion that Iraq is a central front on the war on terrorism is correct. What he refuses to recognize, however, is that he created that front -- which did not exist before the invasion of Iraq. Yes, it would be terrible if Iraq became a pre-2001 Afghanistan with oil. If it does -- and that likely will happen whether we stay or whether we phase out -- we will have the Bush II Administration to thank. "Staying the course" creates more terrorists (in Iraq and elsewhere) than it eliminates. But phasing out may hasten the final demise of the Iraqi government, such as it is, leaving a vacuum that could make it easier for terrorists to thrive. So we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

Ironically, the best hope for elimination of Al Qaeda in Iraq (a Sunni operation) will then be the likely Iranian Shi'ite alliance with the majority Shi'ite Iraqi government, which will play then inflict genocide on the Sunnis. The democratically-elected government of Iraq would become an Iranian satellite. That would exchange one set of enemies of America for another.

But does anyone really believe that we have the capacity to stop that through military means? Does the analogy of pouring gasoline onto a fire ring true here?

From an American national interest perspective, the best result might be interminable intra-religious warfare between Sunnis and Shi'ites in the Middle East. But that would likely so disrupt our oil supply that it could wreck our economy -- particularly since we have made no serious efforts to develop alternatives to oil or to be more fuel efficient. The anti-American core of the Iranian government's approach -- and its threat to the Gulf Oil states and Saudi Arabia -- is such that even if the instability were quickly resolved, it would be resolved in Iran's favor, thus threatening our economic interests, or at least making us incredibly dependent on governments that see us as The Great Satan.

We have kicked into motion a chain of events that is increasing the suffering in the world immensely. And it seems to be too late to undo the damage in the foreseeable future. It is tragic that America -- the shining hope of the world for more than two hundred years -- has taken such a turn.

So this will probably be President Bush II's legacy. The messes he made earlier in his life could always be cleaned up by money from his father's friends. Not this time, however.

September 01, 2006 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"THE PRESIDENT: ...You know, I've heard this theory about everything was just fine until we arrived, and kind of "we're going to stir up the hornet's nest" theory. It just doesn't hold water, as far as I'm concerned. The terrorists attacked us and killed 3,000 of our citizens before we started the freedom agenda in the Middle East.

Q What did Iraq have to do with that?

THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

Q The attack on the World Trade Center?

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a -- the lesson of September the 11th is, take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody has ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq..."

September 02, 2006 7:21 AM  

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