Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who does he listen to?

George W. Bush, in an interview on CNN's The Situation Room, gives every indication that he may still fail to grasp the seriousness of the state-of-affairs in Iraq. Even his tone is reminiscent of pre-election defensiveness. I quote from Part Two of the interview (Part one of the interview is avalable on this page.):

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk a little bit about Iraq...


BLITZER: ... because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public. A lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war, if not already a civil war.

BUSH: Yes.

BLITZER: I'll read to you what Kofi Annan said on Monday. He said, "If current patterns of alienation and violence persist much further, there is a grave danger the Iraqi state will break down, possibly in the midst of a full-scale civil war."

Is this what the American people bought into?

BUSH: You know, it's interesting you quoted Kofi. I'd rather quote the people on the ground who are very close to the situation, who live it day by day, our ambassador, or General Casey. I ask this question all the time, "Tell me what it's like there." And this notion that we are in civil war is just not true, according to them. These are people that live the issue.

BLITZER: We see these horrible...

BUSH: Of course you do.

BLITZER: ... bodies showing up, torture, mutilation.

BUSH: Yes.

BLITZER: The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, Al Qaeda in Iraq still operating.

BUSH: Yes, you see it on TV. And that's the -- that's the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there is also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people.

Twelve million people voted last December. Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma, because there is -- my point is, there is a strong will for democracy.

These people want a unity government. The unity government is functioning.

I'm impressed by President Maliki. I've talked to him. I've seen the decision-making process that he's put in place. The Iraqi army is still recruiting and training.
Kofi Annan said, most likely in an effort to be diplomatic, that Iraq was in danger of devolving into a civil war. The president responds to this remark by stating that he'll listen to his experts -- all of whom have said the same thing as Annan, more or less. But, to this wonderful leader of ours, this will suffice as a rebuttal.

The president then went on to, I guess you could call it this, downplay the level of violence in Iraq. He implied that it is amplified by the media -- which he has mentioned in the past. He then went on to cite the ever diminishing success of a national election in December.

At the conclusion of this presidential analysis, he said that the Iraqi army is still training and recruiting. This is true, though any neutral observer would admit that the Iraqi army has failed to "stand up" in a sufficient manner to allow the United States to "stand down". But, Bush is consistent with his definition, from 8/21/2006:
You know, I hear a lot of talk about civil war. I'm concerned about that, of course, and I've talked to a lot of people about it. And what I've found from my talks are that the Iraqis want a unified country, and that the Iraqi leadership is determined to thwart the efforts of the extremists and the radicals and al Qaeda, and that the security forces remain united behind the government. And one thing is clear: The Iraqi people are showing incredible courage.
Sadly, there will come a point when this definition is actualized. How much longer can the Iraqi government maintain legitimacy when we see about 2,000 or 3,000 fatalities per month (July, and August had more than 6,000 deaths according to the UN)? Any hope of avoiding a more terrible conflict would require drastic presidential leadership. That would require that our president realize he's made a number of historic mistakes.

It's very unlikely.


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