One Veteran's Voice

15 December 2005

Let's play spin the war

More from the Washington Post on the President's recent messages to America regarding the war in Iraq.

The strategic ambiguity also reflects hard experience inside a White House that has repeatedly miscalculated Iraqi resistance to the United States. After predictions that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators, Bush's "Mission Accomplished" aircraft-carrier speech and Vice President Cheney's assertion in June that the insurgency was in its "last throes," Bush advisers have learned to stay away from forecasting imminent victory.

"Having been burned with estimates before . . . we are being very, very careful not to give specific month or even year horizons that we could be stuck with," said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record. "It's not as if we have a secret ersatz timetable and we just won't say what it is."

This is what was previously called the "stay the course" philosophy in Iraq. Now the spin doctors in the White House are calling it "The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq"

Seems like the same product in new packaging.

As part of its new communications strategy, the White House has tried to impose new terminology to cast those resisting U.S. forces in a more sinister light. After Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he no longer liked the word "insurgents," the word was struck from Bush speeches. And the president has begun using "Saddamists" to refer to supporters of ousted president Saddam Hussein, a word he that used only once in public until two weeks ago but now appears in every speech.

Bush's speaking tour over the past two weeks has also attempted to reposition the president as more realistic about the war. Even as he maintained that victory, however it is defined, is inevitable, he acknowledged setbacks in detail, often agreeing with critics about points where the effort has gone wrong.

This is little more than propaganda. In fact, I'll just go ahead and say that it is propaganda.

insurgent-- a member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment.

How is the word insurgent not an accurate description of the forces fighting us in Iraq?

Voting is once again taking place in Iraq. I hope that things go smoothly, and they have locked down the country pretty tight, so hopefully they will. I remember the day of the first elections, we patrolled the streets in tanks. A city-wide curfew on driving was enforced by US and Iraqi forces to prevent car bombers from targeting polling stations and creating mass hysteria. Success in Iraq is ultimately defined not by what percentage of them vote, but if they can learn to police themselves, welcome the Sunnis back into the government, and convince the hard line Baathists to lay down their arms. The Iraqi people must step up and rid themselves of the twisted men like Zarqawi who have hijacked Islam and slaughtered fellow Muslims to make a political statement.

A US troop presence in Iraq accomplishes none of these goals, unless it is to train Iraqi forces, or joint US-Iraqi special forces raids on high value al-Qaida targets. Only a small fraction of US soldiers, however, have any part in the training of Iraqi security forces. We are there to do the grunt work, the real fighting. Partly because the Iraqi forces still don't have the stomach for it, partly because they are still poorly supplied, but mostly because we haven't forced them to step up. The Iraqi people are courageous and admirable people, and their urge to be free is genuine. I encourage them to participate in their democracy not just by voting, but by creating a climate where sectarian violence is not tolerated. I urge the American government to, as a measure of good faith in the Iraqi people's earnest desire for real democracy, begin to seriously draw down troop numbers and the US military's presence in the cities.

It's not too late to step back from the brink of madness that we are teetering on.

Bush's recent statement of responsibility for the invasion of Iraq, and the acknowledgement that the intelligence was faulty are not real news. Of course he's responsible for the war, he's the Commander in Chief. Duh. Of course the intelligence was faulty, we never found WMDs or a link between Saddam and al-Qaida. Bush is still not answering the real questions. Was there a coordinated effort by the administration to sell the war to the American people by saying the war was about one thing (which they expected to find), when in fact it was foreign policy that had been planned for before 9/11? Was there an attempt by Rumsfeld, Cheney, and others to discredit and silence government officials who questioned the rationale for war? Did they lie about it afterwards? Was the president aware of it?

I see an isolated man who just doesn't get it. I see a fractured administration that is blatanly using propaganda to try to sway public opinion for more war in Iraq. I see troops being used as the backdrop for politics, because the president is so unpopular that he can't speak in front of a crowd of random Americans for fear of being confronted with questions like the ones I have asked here. Military crowds don't boo or ask questions, they just cheer at the right times. By the way, attending a purely political event in uniform is against DOD regulation. If a soldier was caught at an anti-war protest in uniform, I think he would be doing some extra duty, or maybe worse with the way this administration has handled dissent. I am shocked that it has taken years for Bush to publicly admit that as the commander he is responsible for the mission's failures as well as its successes.
"It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As president I am responsible for the decision to go into Iraq, and I am also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities and we're doing just that."

President Bush needs to take responsibility for a lot more, starting with the lives of the soldiers he commands. How many more are going to be sacrificed while we wait for this elusive and indefinable "victory against the terrorists"? I guess I don't have the patience for death that Bush does, but my patience with the situation in Iraq and the way it has been bungled by Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld is about at its end.

President Bush
The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq

1 Other Voices:

sevie said...


When asked, the president also said he'd do it again even knowing what is now known. Basically, that means he intended to invade. Period. He wanted to invade and he did.

12/15/2005 07:46:33 AM  

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