Sunday, October 09, 2005

Americans are not buying Bushite clap-trap about Iraq anymore

Bush & Rice make new Iraq pitches but Americans aren't buying

( Absolute poppycock on the part of the Bushites. It is about time that Americans woke the hell up, en masse. These international criminals, we call government, have done nothing but deceive and terrorize Americans from Day One of this nightmarish administration.)

Over the last weeks, the White House quietly has been trying out a new argument on Iraq. Aimed at shoring up public support, the tactic compares the difficulties there with historic conflicts, such as World War II and the battle against communism.

What Iraq shares with those periods, the argument goes, are bouts of doubt and confusion followed by victory - if we are resolute and patient.

It's a good argument, but not good enough. My bet is that it's too late and has too many holes in it to be persuasive for those sick of the carnage in Iraq.

The first peek at the new approach came Sept. 30, when Secretary of State Rice linked Iraq to history's "extraordinary times" in a speech at Princeton University. Then, last Thursday, President Bush picked up the theme in Washington, where he compared Osama Bin Laden and other Islamic terrorists to Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot.

Rice was more thoughtful and less bellicose, but her audience, drawn mostly from the Woodrow Wilson graduate school, responded politely but unenthusiastically. Although her office billed the speech as major, it did not get wide attention, so parts of it are worth repeating here.

Citing setbacks the free world suffered in the first five years after World War II - the division of Germany, the Communist victory in China, the Soviet atomic bomb, the Korean War - she put our choice in stark terms.

"If we quit now, we will abandon Iraq's democrats at their time of greatest need. We will embolden every enemy of liberty and democracy across the Middle East. ... If we abandon future generations in the Middle East to despair and terror, we also condemn future generations in the United States to insecurity and fear."

She mentioned budding signs of democracy in the region, including in Egypt and Lebanon, as reasons for hope. But in a nod to the growing doubts, she added:

"I know that this vision can seem very distant at times, especially when we see so many tragic images of death, of innocent Iraqis and Afghans, and, of course, Americans dying overseas. There are legitimate differences about the war we are now fighting in Iraq, and in a great democracy like ours, everyone has the right to express those views freely."

But she urged "perspective" by recounting the events involving the collapse of the Soviet Union and the freeing of Eastern Europe. "One day, they seemed impossible; and several days later, they seemed inevitable. That is the nature of extraordinary times," she said.

Rice concluded by saying America's leaders in the Cold War period proved that "if you are certain of your values, and if you act upon them with confidence and with strength, it is possible to have an outcome where democracy spreads and peace and liberty reign.

"Because of the work that they did, it is hard to imagine war in Europe again. So it shall be also for the Middle East."

The problem with the argument is not the history Rice cites. The problem is that this administration has been wrong so many times on Iraq that it has lost the credibility needed to regain public support.

A new sales pitch won't cut it. Only clear progress will bolster a doubting public. We need convincing proof that the brutal insurgency is being defeated. Until then, all talk will remain unconvincing.

Indeed, some of the talk is counterproductive. It doesn't help when Bush, on Thursday, vowed that "we never back down, never give in and never accept anything less than complete victory."

That's complete nonsense. No one, including in the White House, can possibly believe that "complete victory" is in the cards. The goal, as Bush himself has said, is to get Iraqis ready to fight for their own country. The minute they can, we're outta there. And Bush knows it.

At least I hope he does.

LINK

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