Today while speaking at the Charleston Air Force Base in Charleston, South Carolina President Bush once again tried to rally support for the Iraq war by claiming that U.S. is fighting al-Qaeda for control of Iraq. The president said, â€œForeign terrorists also account for most of the suicide bombings in Iraq. Our military estimates that between 80 and 90 percent of suicide attacks in Iraq are carried out by foreign-born al Qaida terrorists. It’s true that today most of al Qaida in Iraq’s rank and file fighters and some of its leadership are Iraqi. But to focus exclusively on this single fact is to ignore the larger truth: Al Qaida in Iraq is a group founded by foreign terrorists, led largely by foreign terrorists, and loyal to a foreign terrorist leader — Osama bin Laden.â€
President Bush linked al-Qadea in Iraq to Bin Laden, â€œIn some cases, these groups have formally merged into al Qaida and take what is called a “bayaat” — a pledge of loyalty to Osama bin Laden. In other cases, organizations are not formally merged with al Qaida, but collaborate closely with al Qaida leaders to plot attacks and advance their shared ideology. In still other cases, there are small cells of terrorists that are not part of al Qaida or any other broader terrorist group, but maintain contact with al Qaida leaders and are inspired by its ideology to conduct attacks.”
He summed it up,Â ”Here’s the bottom line: Al Qaida in Iraq is run by foreign leaders loyal to Osama bin Laden. Like bin Laden, they are cold-blooded killers who murder the innocent to achieve al Qaida’s political objectives. Yet despite all the evidence, some will tell you that al Qaida in Iraq is not really al Qaida — and not really a threat to America. Well, that’s like watching a man walk into a bank with a mask and a gun, and saying he’s probably just there to cash a check.â€
Once again Bush made his claim that Iraq is a part of the war on terror. â€œYou might wonder why some in Washington insist on making this distinction about the enemy in Iraq. It’s because they know that if they can convince America we’re not fighting bin Laden’s al Qaida there, they can paint the battle in Iraq as a distraction from the real war on terror. If we’re not fighting bin Laden’s al Qaida, they can argue that our nation can pull out of Iraq and not undermine our efforts in the war on terror. The problem they have is with the facts. We are fighting bin Laden’s al Qaida in Iraq; Iraq is central to the war on terror; and against this enemy, America can accept nothing less than complete victory.â€
President Bush also rejected the idea that al-Qaeda is in Iraq because of the U.S. invasion. â€œSome note that al Qaida in Iraq did not exist until the U.S. invasion — and argue that it is a problem of our own making. The argument follows the flawed logic that terrorism is caused by American actions. Iraq is not the reason that the terrorists are at war with us. We were not in Iraq when the terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. We were not in Iraq when they attacked our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. We were not in Iraq when they attacked the USS Cole in 2000. And we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001. Our action to remove Saddam Hussein did not start the terrorist violence — and America withdrawal from Iraq would not end it. The al Qaida terrorists now blowing themselves up in Iraq are dedicated extremists who have made killing the innocent the calling of their lives.â€
Bush also provided a variation of his weâ€™re fighting them there, so we donâ€™t have to fight them here argument. â€œIf we were not fighting these al Qaida extremists and terrorists in Iraq, they would not be leading productive lives of service and charity. Most would be trying to kill Americans and other civilians elsewhere — in Afghanistan, or other foreign capitals, or on the streets of our own cities. Al Qaida is in Iraq — and they’re there for a reason. And surrendering the future of Iraq to al Qaida would be a disaster for our country.”
Bush continued, “We know their intentions. Hear the words of al Qaida’s top commander in Iraq when he issued an audio statement in which he said he will not rest until he has attacked our nation’s capital. Weâ€™ve already seen how al Qaida used a failed state thousands of miles from our shores to bring death and destruction to the streets of our cities — and we must not allow them to do so again. So, however difficult the fight is in Iraq, we must win it. And we can win it.â€
President Bush concluded, â€œThanks for letting me come by today. I’ve explained the connection between al Qaida and its Iraqi affiliate. I presented intelligence that clearly establishes this connection. The facts are that al Qaida terrorists killed Americans on 9/11, they’re fighting us in Iraq and across the world, and they are plotting to kill Americans here at home again. Those who justify withdrawing our troops from Iraq by denying the threat of al Qaida in Iraq and its ties to Osama bin Laden ignore the clear consequences of such a retreat. If we were to follow their advice, it would be dangerous for the world — and disastrous for America. We will defeat al Qaida in Iraq.â€
Ok, here is what President Bush didnâ€™t tell you. Estimates on the number of al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq vary from as low as 2,000 to as high as 8,000. Do we really need 160,000 U.S. troops there to deal with a few thousand al-Qaeda members, or is there a bigger problem here that the president is ignoring? It is amazing to me how consistently the president down plays sectarian violence in Iraq. Notice that President Bushâ€™s statements about al-Qaeda all lacked evidence. They were more of the same old, â€œtrust me, this is whatâ€™s going onâ€ type of conclusions.
This speech was sort of a greatest hits collection of every Bush administration reason for the war, and as a bonus, a scare tactic about an al-Qaeda attack. Plus we also got President Bush saying that American actions donâ€™t cause terrorism. Why, because we are the good guys? Once again, the president showed an astounding ability to defy logic and common sense.
I donâ€™t think the White House understands that the American people arenâ€™t buying what they are selling. I especially doubt if they realize that most people have tuned them out. President Bush has been doing nothing but repeating himself for the past four years. In these years, the president has never been able to answer one simple question, why is the Iraq war more important than bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice? If there is a bright side to all this, it is that we only have to listen to this same old song and dance for another 18 months.
Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com. Â His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics
Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse