In his weekly radio address today, President Bush once again framed the war in Iraq as a battle against al-Qaeda and urged the American people to give his troop surge strategy more time to be successful. The president started off this week by giving listeners a preview of his speech at the American Legion national convention this week.
â€œI will focus on the Middle East and why the rise of a free and democratic Iraq is critical to the future of this vital region and to our Nation’s security. I will also provide an update on the developments we are seeing from our new strategy in Iraq. Every month since January, U.S. forces have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists and other extremists. And in June our troops launched a surge of operations that is helping bring former Sunni insurgents into the fight against al Qaeda, clear the terrorists out of population centers, and give families in liberated Iraqi cities a safer and more normal life.â€
The president viewsÂ the security situation in Iraq as improving, and he said the Iraqi people are taking on a greater role. â€œAs security improves, more Iraqis are stepping forward to defend their democracy. Young Iraqi men are signing up for the army. Iraqi police are now patrolling the streets. Coalition and Iraqi forces have doubled the number of joint operations. As the Iraqi people feel more secure, they are also forming neighborhood watch groups. They’re volunteering important information about the terrorists and extremists hiding in their midst. And the increase in tips helps account for the marked reduction in sectarian murders.â€
â€œHere at home, it can be easy to overlook the bravery shown by Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians who are in the fight for freedom. But our troops on the ground see it every day. Last week, a team of American soldiers was meeting with an Iraqi citizens group near Baghdad. Suddenly, a suicide bomber came running around a corner and headed straight for our soldiers and the Iraqi civilians. One Iraqi man saw what was happening and ran to intercept the bomber. As he pushed the terrorist away, the bomb detonated — killing both men, but sparing four American soldiers and eight Iraqi civilians. Army Staff Sergeant Sean Kane is one of those who says he owes his life to this brave Iraqi. Sergeant Kane says, â€œHe could have run behind us or away from us, but he made the decision to sacrifice himself to protect everyone.” Sergeant Kane spoke to the Iraqi man’s father, who said that even if his son had known the outcome beforehand, he “[would not] have acted differently.â€â€
â€œThe story does not end there. Later that same night, the citizens group contacted the local director of the National Police and told him the location of the al Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the attack. The National Police immediately conducted a raid that resulted in four arrests.â€
The president concluded by asking the American people to be patient. â€œWe are still in the early stages of our new operations. But the success of the past couple of months have shown that conditions on the ground can change — and they are changing. We cannot expect the new strategy we are carrying out to bring success overnight. But by standing with the Iraqi people as they build their democracy, we will deliver a devastating blow to al Qaeda, we will help provide new hope for millions of people throughout the Middle East, we will gain a friend and ally in the war on terror, and we will make the American people safer.â€
It seems we are in the midst of the Bush administrationâ€™s semiannual attempt to convince the American people that we are winning the war in Iraq, and victory is right around the corner. To me, there were two disturbing elements to this address. First is the realization that the administration is still trying to live off 9/11 by linking Iraq and al-Qaeda. This attitude demonstrates that the White House hasÂ no desire to discuss the real root of the problems in Iraq. I canâ€™t help but wonder how there can ever be a solution when the administration refuses to admit the problems?
Second, Bush still sees victory in Iraq in military terms. Despite all of his talk about political solutions, at the end of the day, he still thinks that he will bring democracy to Iraq at gunpoint. Absolutely nothing has changed in this administrationâ€™s thought process about this war. They are still sticking to their same fairy tale that the U.S. is in Iraq to fight al-Qaeda, and we are making progress every single day. If we just stay the course, we will win. This was the same trap that LBJ fell into with Vietnam. Bush can give a million speeches on this war, and public opinion will not change. He lost the American people, and they arenâ€™t willing to stay the course anymore. This exact same radio address could have been given in 2004, 2005, or 2006. President Bush has nothing new to say and has alreadyÂ been marginalized.
Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at www.411mania.com/politics His column The Political Universe runs on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which airs live Sundays at 7:00 PM (ET) at www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse Â Â Â Â Â