Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I did not see the entire Bush speech last night, although I read it late last night. Bush avoided specific time tables as to when American troops would leave Iraq. He left the impression that it would be sooner rather than later, without actually saying so. Bush, therefore, met my minimum standards, and I am sure is happy to hear me say so.

When you say that the third of the five steps needed to rebuild a free Iraq is "rebuilding the infrastructure" and then you say the fifth step is free, national elections in 2005, you are leaving the impression that the entire nation is going to be rebuilt by the end of the year. Lots of money to be made quickly. I wonder which company with ties to the administration is most up to the task.

When you talk about elections being "free" and "orderly" and "accurate" and "national," I just cringe. That is harder to do than having Halliburton rebuild the country by the end of the year. Words that Bush wisely did not use are "fair" or "peaceful". Bush knows that it is unlikely that there will be fair or peaceful elections, but Bush intends to stand by the results of whatever election there might be. I don't know how there can be a fair election without an accurate census, or even a minimal sense of who is actually living in Iraq, as opposed to all those nice people just passing through to fire weapons.

In the first American elections, the voters were a very limited number of white, male, landowners. Those elections may not have been reflective of true will of all the people, but at least they were easier to pull off, and resulted in a little track record of success to build on. I am not saying that Iraq should limit its voters to white, male, landowners. I am not saying that Iraqi elections are doomed to failure. I am saying that we expect Iraq, right out of the box, to do something that we were unable to do until 1920, after almost 150 years of existence, or, if you would rather, until after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, after almost 200 years of existence. We are asking Iraq to have an election where the entire adult population is allowed to participate. Hope they start planning NOW.

There is an extremely good argument to be made that the benefits of establishing a beach-head of freedom in the Middle East is worth the sacrifices we are making to accomplish it. I tried to say something of it yesterday, and I will return to it. I was hoping that maybe I could quote something George Bush said last night --- but he didn't say anything about it. Maybe in next week's speech.

I know he thought he said something. He spoke about tyranny and murder, and mind-control, and the mistreatement of women, and dramatic acts of murder to shock, frighten and demoralize. He could have been talking about the people who bombed the Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City.

He talked about the horrible prison in Abu Gharib, and tearing it down after the United States builds a more state-of-the-art horrible prison in Abu Gharib. That's kind of like when Tony Soprano told Carmela, well not that he would stop cheating, but that he would be more discrete about it.

He talked about going to the United Nations as a fourth step (In criticizing the speech, Joe Biden thought that holding an international summit should be the first step). I think the United Nations is important in its place. However, I think asking a room full of dictators and tyrants to help establish freedom in the Middle East is ludicrous.

He said that we are guided by a "vision" (nice choice of words. Dad didn't have a vision thing, you know). "We believe that freedom can advance and change lives in the greater Middle East, as it has advanced and changed lives in Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe and Africa." THAT IS NOT SELF-EXPLANATORY. THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE FIRST SENTENCE OF THE SPEECH, NOT THE LAST. THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE TOPIC OF THE SPEECH EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

People I speak to are for the war, or they're against the war, but when I ask them who they know who is actually in Iraq or in Afghanistan, their faces turn blank. Bush is able to sell this war in the way he sells this war because it is not a war at all, it is a television show.

This war is worthy of the efforts and the sacrifices of EVERYBODY. Bush could not give a speech like that. Even he couldn't get the words out of his mouth.

I have eluded (sic)to this in other blog entries, I implied it in several of the recent entries below ---

A great tragedy of American history is that Bill Clinton could be fighting this war, but chose not to.