(photo credit: The Australian)
Many analysts of President Bush’s speech on Iraq last night noted that he has stopped insisting that things could hardly be better in Iraq and that victory was around the corner. He acknowledged high costs of America’s Iraq effort and slightly flirted with realism.
However, in the view of TWN, Bush has modified his style a wee bit but kept his core message exactly the same.
Despite his admission that Iraq’s parliamentary elections on December 15th would not end the violence, Bush’s opening lines again reflected a lop-sided, sentimental, and self-serving perspective on Iraq’s recent elections that fail to address or acknowledge the serious problems that lie beneath a “veneer of success.’
Bush has not become more ‘real’ by acknowledging the numbers of deaths or mentioning the fact that Iraq continues to violently boil. This new “style” is more tactic than substance. The tack towards the appearance of realism came because the White House knew that Americans were scoffing at a president who acknowledged no costs in this war and were embracing Congressman Jack Murtha’s views that we are paying too high a price in Iraq and have no strategy to win or get out.
Bush’s embrace of last week’s election as yet another milestone of success in that “Mission Accomplished” style of his had him celebrating December 15th as “a landmark day in the history of liberty.” He continued with his rosy overstatement that “a people who suffered in tyranny for so long will become full members of the free world.”
To argue that Iraq has turned the corner and is now a “constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East”, as Bush has, sounds too remote from realities on the ground to be taken seriously.
This morning in The Australian, I have an op-ed on this subject titled “The Jury is Still Out on Iraqi Democracy“. The piece deals with how leading neoconservatives like Bill Kristol, Bob Kagan, and Lawrence Kaplan — in addition to President Bush — are interpreting Iraq’s elections.
In my view, opponents of the Iraq War need to be careful not to co-opt every bad development in Iraq to justify assessments that are worse than reality. But the President is doing the opposite — as are other leading neoconservative voices who are ignoring important factors that should be legitimately considered in their takes on what is unfolding in Iraq.
To get things right — whether America stays or leaves Iraq (and TWN thinks that we should go) — we need our leading analysts to make their arguments and market their Iraq proposals to the public through a realistic prism.
— Steve Clemons