Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Obama Iraq Speech

It's not so much what President Obama said tonight in his nationally-televised address; it's what he didn't say. Much of it was pablum delivered in a somnolent style that makes us forget the stirring campaign speeches he used to make.

Obama paid gracious tribute to the troops who served (and died) in Iraq. He treated Iraq as if it were a distraction that he could now more or less dispense with. He mentioned that he called ex-President George Bush today.

"This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.."

Implication? Bush screwed up in Iraq, but he's well-intentioned. What's that saying about "faint praise"?

What he didn't say was the following:

Saddam Hussein and his murderous sons are gone (dead). No more torture rooms, rape rooms and mass graves.

Had he (Obama) his way, Saddam Hussein and his sons would still be running Iraq, killing people and proceeding with a program of developing deadly weapons.

He also opposed the crucial decision to launch the Surge, which changed the direction of the war and led to the present situation, which has allowed us to draw down.

What I am trying to say is that he might have conceded that Bush had a little something to do with the present (albeit still shaky) situation in Iraq.

But he said none of that. All he could bring himself to say about George Bush was that he supports the troops, loves his country and is committed to our security.

A forgettable speech. Even the sycophants at MSNBC could only discuss it for 5 or 10 minutes. I guess they would rather talk about Glenn Beck.


Montana said...

Honestly, the surge was a battle for improving a War, not winning it. Thank God we are getting out, what a waste of our Youth and Treasury set on a bed of lies.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I ran across an article recently which observed that George W. Bush has been silent about Obama's presidency. We all could have known that, except that we seldom pay attention to what is NOT happening. The key point though, is that this is deliberate. Bush said "President Obama deserves my silence." The article was about how ex-presidents are seldom the ones screaming invective about the current incumbent. They know too well what its like.

So, in that spirit, I think it was an appropriate gesture for President Obama to give President Bush a call. I think it was appropriate that he did NOT talk about the "Mission Accomplished" gaffe.

As for the surge, yes, Bush deserves some credit for it, but what he deserves credit for is recognizing that his previous strategy had failed, that Cheney ("we will be welcomed as liberators") and Rumsfeld ("Afghanistan doesn't have enough good targets - we should do Iraq") had totally misadvised him, that we, collectively, as a nation, our government, had no idea what we were getting into, and that the new thinking General Petraeus offered was the best way to extract some modicum of accomplishment and honor from the debacle.

So, I think it was quite respectful of President Obama not to get into that when he talked about President Bush.

As for Hussein al-Takriti, the world is well rid of him, but we opened a lot of new horrors in the process. He was, at the least, an avowed enemy of al Qaeda, and was in the process of doing himself in. It is not our general policy to invade nations run by brutal dictatorships, because, we don't have troops enough or tax revenues enough to do that consistently. What made this one so special?

Anonymous said...


No one is arguing that Iraq isn't better off in some ways today than it was under Saddam and his regime. But it was still none of our business really and Saddam was not an existential threat to the U.S. That's the point. It's not the U.S. military's job to violate the sovereignty of other nations when they pose absolutely zero threat to us. This war was a mistake from the beginning and it was not worth the lives or the money.

Ingrid said...

Are you saying that under Saddam more people died than did in the last 8 years? Iraq is going to have another dictator because that is the only way to keep people there under control and all the Americans died for nothing. Thanks to Bush.
There are none so blind than those who will not see.
I thought Obama should have skipped the praise for Bush. Otherwise it was blah blah.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Yes, it's true, he didn't talk about all of the good things that came out of Iraq. However, he also didn't talk about all of the blunders that led to the loss of so many American and Iraqi lives - not to mention the toll that this has taken on our economy (which conservatives never seem to mention when they talk about government waste).

Gary Fouse said...

Lies, Montana. If you tell me which lies, I can tell you who else was telling the same "lies".

Gary Fouse said...


The threat were the weapons that were either shipped out of the country or perhaps, an elaborate lie that Saddam spun to keep us from invading. At least that is what he told his captors. Not only Bush, but everybody else believed there were wmd.

Anonymous said...


There never were any weapons and if the Bush administration or anyone else thought there was, then that is an indictment of the intelligence system at the time. Which means the war was still a mistake. That's a fact. We can all have our own opinions about how or why that mistake happened, but the fact that it was a mistake is no longer up for debate.

Since it was a mistake, withdrawing in an orderly and timely manner is the exact right thing to do.

Everyone else that has replied so far has brought up great points as well.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I see I'm officially on the "right wing" of this discussion, just a little to the left of Gary, because at least I am willing to give President Bush a little bit of credit for belatedly realizing what blunders he had made.

It is plausible that President Bush sincerely believed Hussein al-Takriti has weapons of mass destruction. If so, he was convinced by very bad advice and intel, probably with some people in the chain of preparing it who knowingly lied. It wasn't there. The excuse that "it must have been spirited out of the country" is a lame position to retreat to by people who assured us it was there.

Gary Fouse said...

Every intel organ said there were wmd. John Kerry said there were wmd. Hillary Clinton said there were wmd. Everybody said it. Were they all lying?

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Weren't there some people who were dissenting and saying that there was no evidence for the WMDs? I realize that's vague, but I seem to recall hearing about that. I could be totally wrong though.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

John Kerry and Hillary Clinton were not lying, they were displaying cowardice. They were being typical spineless liberals, who in the face of blatant propaganda by the manipulative, emotionally driven, anti-intellectual cretins who pass themselves off as "conservative" these days, assumed (without proof) that this line of drivel could sway a majority of voters, hunkered down, and tried to prove their dubious "patriotism" by not asking obvious questions.

By contrast, my senator, Russ Feingold, voted NO on the misbegotten "USA Patriot Act" because he saw a need for major improvement before locking in some obviously needed national security measures, voted against the invasion of Iraq, and, when the Republicans targeted him as "definitely vulnerable," won 56% of the vote, while Kerry was getting a hair over 50%.