The White House has released early excerpts of a speech President Bush will be giving at the Pentagon on Wednesday to mark the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq. The president does acknowledge that the war came at a high price, but also continues to maintain that the U.S. is winning. “No one would argue that this war has not come at a high cost in lives and treasure, but those costs are necessary when we consider the cost of a strategic victory for our enemies in Iraq.” So the logic now is that we are fighting not to spread democracy, but to keep Iraq out of the hands of our enemies.

Bush also takes aim at critics of the war. “The successes we are seeing in Iraq are undeniable, yet some in Washington still call for retreat. War critics can no longer credibly argue that we are losing in Iraq, so now they argue the war costs too much. In recent months, we have heard exaggerated estimates of the costs of this war.” I think it is extremely debatable whether or not we are winning in Iraq. Where is this progress that he will speak about? Is Iraq able to be responsible for its own security? Have basic services been restored to the country? It seems that President Bush has taken the position that if we aren’t losing, then we must be winning.

The president will repeat his standard mantra that if the U.S. leaves Iraq, al-Qaeda will take over the country. “If we were to allow our enemies to prevail in Iraq, the violence that is now declining would accelerate and Iraq could descend into chaos,” Bush said. “Al-Qaida would regain its lost sanctuaries and establish new ones fomenting violence and terror that could spread beyond Iraq’s borders, with serious consequences to the world economy.”

But wait, the president takes his argument a step further. He will lay out a scenario where al-Qaeda could take over Iraq, dominate the region, and you guessed it, attack America.”Out of such chaos in Iraq, the terrorist movement could emerge emboldened with new recruits … new resources … and an even greater determination to dominate the region and harm America,” Bush said in his remarks. “An emboldened al-Qaida with access to Iraq’s oil resources could pursue its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack America and other free nations.”

It must be pointed out that this is all speculation and fantasy on the part of the president. There is no evidence that any of this would happen. A bigger worry is the situation in Afghanistan, where the terrorists still are. Speaking of Afghanistan, the president says that a rebellion against the ideology of Bin Laden is under way not there, but in Iraq. “In Iraq, we are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology, and his terror network. And the significance of this development cannot be overstated.”

This is interesting considering that Bin Laden has never been to Iraq, and his ideology was non-existent there until we decided to invade the country. In short, we brought al-Qaeda with us when we invaded. According to the president, we should keep focusing on the place where there terrorists aren’t, instead of putting more resources into where they are. His speech seems to be full of the same rosy delusions that have been coming out of the White House since this war started.

At best, I think the U.S. will be able to maintain a stalemate in Iraq. Victory is a very subjective term, and I would expect both Bush and McCain to continue to change the definition of victory to fit their political purposes. No amount of delusional optimism can answer the question what did the United States really gain by going to war in Iraq?  As we remember the dead and wounded caused by this president’s decision, keep in mind that this is a question that no supporter of the war, including the president, has a good answer for.

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