The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Slow news day, with most blogs talking about the speech last night. Predictably, Fox News loved it, as did right-wing bloggers. They applaud him for sticking to his talking points and ignoring criticism.

What bothers the rest of us is that, as this editorial puts it:

Bush didn't explain how a war meant to remove a tyrant believed to wield weapons of mass destruction turned into a fight against Muslim militants, a transformation caused in part by his administration's many errors since Saddam Hussein's defeat more than two years ago. The president also didn't speak candidly enough about the primary mission the United States now has in Iraq, which is not "hunting down the terrorists" but constructing a stable government in spite of Iraq's sectarian divisions and violent resistance from the former ruling elite. It's harder to explain why Americans should die in such a complex and ambitious enterprise than in a fight with international terrorists. . .

The truly mystifying part is that one by one, every reason we were given to invade Iraq has been shown to be a lie and quickly replaced by a new reason. And neither the administration nor their cheerleaders on Fox News feels the least bit compelled to own up to it.

For my money, this the low point:

Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong signal to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve.

So, the soldiers are happier knowing that their government has no plans whatsoever for sending them back to their families. Somehow I doubt that.

Of the more shocking moments was this:

Some Americans ask me, if completing the mission is so important, why don't you send more troops? If our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them. But our commanders tell me they have the number of troops they need to do their job. Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever, when we are in fact working for the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave. As we determine the right force level, our troops can know that I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters: the sober judgment of our military leaders.

Remember, Bush fired the general who suggested that the initial troop estimates were far too low. And there's the stop-loss policy, retired soldiers being recalled, multiple and extended tours, etc. Just a couple of days before this speech, General Abizaid stated that the insurgency is as strong today as it was a year ago.