Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Check out the White House "fact sheet" about Bush's speech yesterday.
Titled Making America Safer by Defeating Extremists in the Middle East, with the subtitle "President Bush Explains Why Winning The Fight In Iraq Is Key To Countering The Ambitions Of Al Qaeda And Iran", it reads like it was written for a fifth grader. And its about as "factual" as the Wizard of Oz.
Hey, let's imagine it -- we'll have Bush as Dorothy and Condi as Toto. Petraus would be the Scarecrow, McConnell as the Tin Man, and Gates as the Lion. Cheney is, of course, the wizard. and the Iraqis are the Munchkins. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the Wicked Witch of the West.
But there are no good witches in this scenario.
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid aren't going to be waving any magic wands to get the Americans home from Iraq, no matter how hard the troops click their heels together.
So let's follow their yellow brick road. Here are some excerpts from the fact sheet -- the bold and underlined lines in the following are from the original:
. . . America is engaged in a great ideological struggle against violent Islamic extremists around the world, and the fight for the future of the Middle East is a key aspect of this struggle.
The Most Important And Immediate Way To Counter The Ambitions Of Al Qaeda, Iran, And Other Forces Of Instability And Terror In The Middle East Is To Win The Fight In Iraq.The challenge in Iraq comes down to this: either the forces of violent extremism succeed and our enemies advance their interests in Iraq, or the forces of freedom succeed and we advance our interests.
If Violent Extremists Were Allowed To Prevail In The Middle East, The Region Would Be Dramatically Transformed In A Way That Could Imperil The World
The Fight In Iraq Has A Direct Impact On The Safety Of Americans Here At Home. We have seen what violent extremists will do when American forces are actively engaged in Iraq, and we can envision what they would do if they were emboldened by American forces in retreat. For all those who ask whether the fight in Iraq is worth it, imagine an Iraq where militia groups backed by Iran control large parts of the country, and al Qaeda has established sanctuaries to safely plot future attacks on targets all over the world, including the U.S. Homeland – and they could use billions of dollars in oil revenues to buy weapons and pursue their deadly ambitions.
The Momentum Is On Now Our Side In Iraq – Our New Strategy Is Seizing The Initiative From Our Enemy, And Giving It To The Iraqi People. . .
On and on and on it goes, winding its way to that Emerald City way off in the distance, with the faint sound of trumpets in the air:
Encouraging Developments At The Local Level . . . Making Gains In Other Important Areas . . . Signs Of Bottom Up Progress . . . Our Strategy Is Also Showing Results At The International Level . . . we will continue to rally the world to this noble and necessary cause...
Sounds great, doesn't it? Wouldn't it be great to live in the world that these people think they're living in?
By contrast, here's what it's actually like in Iraq -- just a few of the headlines from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on Iraq Today:
The Missing in Iraq
Northern Iraq hit by major cholera outbreak
Aid agencies unable to gain access to violence-afflicted Karbala
More Iraqis Flee As Figure Tops Four Million: UNHCR
Active-Duty US Troops Become Outspoken Critics Of Iraq War
Lower school attendance expected in coming year
Iraqi Insurgents Using Bigger Rockets
US surge sees 600,000 more Iraqis abandon home
Violence hits Salahuddin Province
Depleted uranium threatens thousands of lives in Basra
But neither Bush nor Cheney care about any of this, not really.
Bush and Cheney aren't promoting the Iraq improvement fantasy because they care about Iraq. It's because they want to go on to Tehran. They really do believe that "Anyone can go to Baghdad but real men go to Tehran", but they don't think America will follow unless it believes that either they are "winning" in Iraq, or they WOULD win if only Iran were taken care of.
So if the Iraq part of Bush's speech was ridiculous, the Iran part was frighteningly delusional -- demanding regime change, implying a war against Iran has already begun, playing the nuclear card, fantasizing about the Islamic caliphate following the American army home:
. . . Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. . . . Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.
Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere.
. . . what would happen if these forces of radicalism and extremism are allowed to drive us out of the Middle East. . . . Iran could conclude that we were weak -- and could not stop them from gaining nuclear weapons. And once Iran had nuclear weapons, it would set off a nuclear arms race in the region.
Extremists would control a key part of the world's energy supply, could blackmail and sabotage the global economy. They could use billions of dollars of oil revenues to buy weapons and pursue their deadly ambitions. Our allies in the region would be under greater siege by the enemies of freedom. Early movements toward democracy in the region would be violently reversed. This scenario would be a disaster for the people of the Middle East, a danger to our friends and allies, and a direct threat to American peace and security. This is what the extremists plan. For the sake of our own security, we'll pursue our enemies, we'll persevere and we will prevail . . .
We seek an Iran whose government is accountable to its people -- instead of to leaders who promote terror and pursue the technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons . . .
Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people. Members of the Qods Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated IEDs. And with the assistance of Hezbollah, they've provided training for these violent forces inside of Iraq. Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months -- despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.
Some say Iran's leaders are not aware of what members of their own regime are doing. Others say Iran's leaders are actively seeking to provoke the West. Either way, they cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis. The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities . . .
I'm not so sure America will go along with this program, not just because Bush says so. But Glenn Greenwald asks what is being done to stop it:
As we march step by step with barely a debate towards a confrontation with Iran -- one that neoconservatives have long been proclaiming is inevitable -- are there any meaningful efforts to avert this? We frequently hear the slogan from war critics about Iraq that "hope is not a policy." The same is true with regard to preventing an attack on Iran.
Clicking our heels and wishing we were somewhere else won't work either.

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