Monday, May 24, 2004

In advance of President Bush's speech tonight in defense of the Iraqi War, and laying out his strategy for the future, I would like to say the following:

1. I remain in favor of an aggressive policy towards terrorism, which must be focussed in the Middle East. Destroying Al Qaeda in Pakistan or Afghanistan, while perhaps the main event in avenging September 11, is not the main event in the "War on Terrorism." If we stay in Iraq, there are enemies who will wage war against us in Iraq, because we are in Iraq. If we leave Iraq, there are enemies who will wage war against us in the United States, because we are in the United States. We did not create these enemies because of something we did prior to September 11. We did not create these enemies because we went into Afghanistan. We did not create these enemies because we went into Iraq. These are our enemies because of who we are. Every breathe we take is a capital offense in their eyes. And there are a lot of eyes involved.

2. Virtually everyone I know has a son or daughter who will face the draft. It is very hard to defend an aggressive foreign policy in a conversation with these people. I am rarely up to the task.

3. If George Bush says anything tonight that indicates that the American committment to Iraq, and the presence of American soldiers in Iraq, has an end date, say after the transfer of sovereignty in June or after the election in January, or after the turn of the next century, then we may as well leave tomorrow, before another soldier is in danger.

4. I do not expect him to say anything that speaks to an end date. I expect that even a man who pretends to be as religious as he says he is has some fear of hell.

5. I haven't read either Wooodward book, either the one on September 11 or the current best seller. Those books probably clarify what I am about to say, and I would appreciate it if someone clarified this for me: Bush's speeches are very well written. However, they do not seem to reflect him at all. I am sure he agrees with everything in them, but they rarely reflect his true priorities or his true intensity of feelings. They are television events, and like all television events, immediately disposable, and the subsequent actions do not reflect what is in the speeches.

I mean, in the technical sense they contain the idea seeds of future actions. But the tone they set has nothing to do with was subsequently happens. Best example is all the speeches that Bush gave, all the statements Bush made on WMDs. Now, of course, his people say, no. There were other statements in those speeches about Saddam was a cruel dictator, etc. Those are the clauses you need to look at. Those of us who were paying attention at the time know that there was a different tone set.

6. "McClellan has the slows" --- Twice in recent weeks, in the wake of the Abu Gharib, Rumsfeld has mentioned that he was reading a book about the 40 Days and the Seige of Petersburg. One time he mentioned that like Grant, Rumsfeld had stopped talking to the media.

I don't know much about about current events, but I know everything about Grant:

a. The media accused Grant of being a drunk and a butcher. There is nothing in contemporary journalism --- Drudge, Limbaugh, the National Enquirer, nothing --- that is as vile and unfair as mainstream respectable journalism at the time of the Civil War. Back in those days, most of the newspaper advertising revenue came from the sort of legal notices you see in the back of the paper. You were either a Republican newspaper or a Democratic newspaer, and your ad revenue was very much effected by who was in power.

b. "McClellan has the slows" --- Lincoln spent half a war trying to get McClellan to fight. There was always something he said he needed that he didn't need. Grant was always able to fight with what he had. The Powell Doctrine of "overwhelming force" is similar to McClellan --- There is always something else that you need to do before you fight. No one wants to fight. Military people, who know the costs the most, are the least likely to ever want to fight. There is a lot to be said for an orientation that the military is always blowing smoke up your ass. Unfortunately, it appears that in this one instance, the generals were giving Rumsfeld an honest assessment about troop strength. However, I can also appreciate Rumsfeld saying to himself that if he gives the generals all the troops they said they needed, they would complain that they needed something else, and the fight would never happen. War really is too important to be left for generals. If Rumsfeld is reading about Grant, he most certainly has been taking that lesson to heart. No wonder the generals want Rumsfeld out.