This is from the IHT. McCain talks of winning a major victory against Islamic radicalism. But the radicalism they are fighting in Iraq hardly existed during Saddam's reign. It was nurtured by the invasion itself! The Iraq war has been a huge boon for recruitment as far as Islamic radicalism is concerned.
Note that Bush fails to mention the fabled weapons of mass destruction that was the rationale for the invasion not overthrowing Hussein. Note that the right of the U.S. to overthrow any leader that it doesn't like is presupposed but not argued for. As Chomsky put it in an earlier post: The U.S. owns the world. I guess it can do what it likes with its property and no one would ever question their right to do so.
How else can one explain that Iran can be said to be meddling in Iraq affairs by a country that occupies Iraq, the U.S. The U.S. is not meddling because it owns Iraq and it has managed to get a UN resolution that gives it title until such time as the final ownership terms are negotiated with the government that was birthed by the occupiers.
Bush defends Iraq war on fifth anniversary
By Steven Lee Myers
Thursday, March 20, 2008
WASHINGTON: President George W. Bush used the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq to make the case for persevering in a conflict that could have many more anniversaries. Democrats accused him of lacking a strategy to win and withdraw.
Bush, speaking before troops, officers and defense officials at the Pentagon on Wednesday, in his frankest acknowledgment yet, said the costs of the war, in lives and money, had been higher and longer-lasting than he had anticipated.
But he remained unwavering in his insistence that the invasion of Iraq, which began in March 2003, had made the world better and the United States safer.
"Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it," he said. "The answers are clear to me. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision, and this is a fight that America can and must win."
The anniversary starkly illustrated the divide between Bush and Democrats who control Congress - and between the Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, and the two senators seeking the Democratic nomination, Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
At a community college in Fayetteville, a military town in North Carolina, Obama noted that the war in Iraq had now lasted longer than the Civil War, World War I and World War II, although it has been fought on a far-lower scale than those conflicts.
"Where are we for all of this sacrifice?" he said. "We are less safe and less able to shape events abroad. We are divided at home, and our alliances around the world have been strained."
Clinton, appearing at an American Legion post in Huntington, West Virginia, argued for a cautious withdrawal of troops that would begin within 60 days of her taking office. "Every one of you who has served knows, withdrawing troops can be as dangerous as inserting them," she said.
By contrast, McCain, who visited Iraq this week, issued a statement saying that the United States and its allies in Iraq stood "on the precipice of winning a major victory against radical Islamic extremism."
As it has in the past, the anniversary galvanized the critics of the war and, to a lesser degree, its supporters. Bush gave his speech as sporadic, relatively small but raucous protests erupted in Washington and in other cities, leading to dozens of arrests.
"How much longer?" read a banner along the president's route to the Pentagon across the Potomac.
Iraq has receded somewhat as an issue in the campaign. And the scale and fury of antiwar protests appeared to have diminished from just a year ago, before Bush ordered a "surge" of additional U.S. troops to Iraq that has resulted in a decline in overall violence there.
Still, the war stirs intense emotions on both sides. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said the war had damaged America's reputation, strained its military and now threatened its economy.
"With the war in Iraq entering its sixth year," she said in a statement, "Americans are rightly concerned about how much longer our nation must continue to sacrifice our security for the sake of an Iraqi government that is unwilling or unable to secure its own future."
Obama criticized both of his rivals, McCain and Clinton, for their initial votes for the war. "Here is the stark reality," he said."There is a security gap in this country - a gap between the rhetoric of those who claim to be tough on national security, and the reality of growing insecurity caused by their decisions."
He also seized on a gaffe McCain made on Tuesday in Amman, Jordan, when he confused the main branches of Islam and the support for each by Al Qaeda, a Sunni-dominated group, and Iran, a Shiite-majority nation. McCain corrected his statement after Senator Joseph Lieberman, who is traveling with him in the region, whispered in his ear. "Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America's enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades," Obama said. Obama said that as commander in chief he would begin withdrawing a brigade or two each month, beginning immediately. His plan, he said, would reduce the U.S. force in Iraq to only the number required to secure the U.S. Embassy and maintain a counterterrorist force. Even that, he acknowledged, would take until 2010.
The number of troops in Iraq is at the center of the administration's attention right now. The top U.S. commander, General David Petraeus, is scheduled to appear before Congress in April to present his recommendations on what to do after a withdrawal of the 30,000 additional troops ordered to Iraq by Bush last year.
Those troops brought the total number to a peak of more than 160,000; by summer, roughly 140,000 are expected to remain. Military and administration officials have indicated that there should be a pause in any further reductions to see whether security in Baghdad and other cities deteriorates. One administration official said on Wednesday that the outstanding question was how long a pause would last.
Bush said he had made no decision but indicated that he would be reluctant to hasten withdrawals. "Any further drawdown will be based on conditions on the ground and the recommendations of our commanders," he said, "and they must not jeopardize the hard-fought gains our troops and civilians have made over the past year."
Bush announced the war's start from the Oval Office on the night of March 19, 2003, declaring that the United States would "not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder." (It later became clear that those weapons did not exist.) His remarks each March 19 since have paralleled the ups and downs of the war. In 2004 he appeared in the East Room of the White House with dozens of foreign diplomats and cast the war as "the inescapable calling of our generation." By 2006, with the insurgency worsening along with ethnic and sectarian violence, he spoke alone for two minutes on the South Lawn and spent most of that time speaking of soldiers' sacrifices. "It's a time to reflect," he said. Bush's speech at the Pentagon on Wednesday will be his last presidential address on the anniversary, and he reflected at length on the overthrow of Saddam, the rise of the insurgency, the lurch toward civil war, and the decision to send more troops. The latter he declared a success, saying that it led the way to the decision by many Sunni Arabs to switch allegiances and join U.S. forces against extremists that U.S. officials say are foreign led. He called that the "the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden." "The challenge in the period ahead is to consolidate the gains we have made and seal the extremists' defeat," he went on. Vice President Dick Cheney, who declared in June 2005 that the insurgency was in "its last throes," also acknowledged on Wednesday that the war had "lasted longer than I would have anticipated," but he, too, defended the effort and brushed aside popular antiwar sentiment. When told in an interview with ABC News that two-thirds of Americans said the war was not worth fighting, Cheney replied, "So?" When pressed, he added: "I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls."
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