Friday, October 07, 2005

President Bush's Major Speech: Sounding Old Themes on Iraq - New York Times

President Bush's Major Speech: Sounding Old Themes on Iraq - New York Times: "We've lost track of the number of times President Bush has told Americans to ignore their own eyes and ears and pretend everything is going just fine in Iraq. Yesterday, when Mr. Bush added a ringing endorsement of his own policy to his speech on terrorism, it was that same old formula: the wrong questions, the wrong answers and no new direction.
Mr. Bush suggested that people who doubt that nation-building is going well are just confusing healthy disagreement with dangerous division. 'We've heard it suggested that Iraq's democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with one another,' he scoffed. What he failed to acknowledge was that the Iraqi power groups seem prepared to go through the motions of democracy only as long as their side wins.
Just this week, the United Nations narrowly averted disaster when it convinced Shiite and Kurdish officials to drop a plan to fix the upcoming constitutional referendum to eliminate Sunni voters' capacity to vote down the constitution. But their promises to follow the rules seem likely to hold up only as long as the game goes as they want.
Americans want to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq, and Mr. Bush offered quite a bit. 'Area by area, city by city, we're conducting offensive operations to clear out enemy forces and leaving behind Iraqi units to prevent the enemy from returning,' he said. Best of all, there were 'more than 80 Iraqi Army battalions fighting the insurgency alongside our forces.' Unfortunately, the real questions are how many of the cleared-out towns actually stay clear once American troops have gone, and how many Iraqi units are capable of fighting on their own, without American soldiers at their side. In both cases, the answers are fa"

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