Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bush and Blair

I missed the first of the Bush and Blair press conference on Iraq but I did see most of it. I thought Bush was more articulate than usual and Blair less. But Blair did pose a good question: If what we are doing in Iraq is not important why is the enemy so determined to stop us? What are they afraid of?

Democracy is the answer to the question.

I might add, the press was its usual obnoxious, self important, arrogant, pompous, rude, shallow, banal self.


Barry Dauphin said...


I'd emphasize the "shallow" and "banal" part, as the other aspects are regular fodder for the blogosphere-we're used to that. But the shallowness is astounding. The Iraqis have elected a government after voting on a Constitution. al Qaeda and leftover Baathists are desparately trying to stop this, and the press can't be bothered to ask why. Too many of them must think that Zarqawi is Ho Chi Minh.

ex-democrat said...

just watched the presser on Hume and feel moved to say this: the older i get, the smarter i get; and the smarter i get, the more i'm able to see what a terrific president we have.

and to the snickerers out there i'll say this: you point the finger (of disdain/contempt etc) at him; but, in truth, the finger points right back at you.

Unknown said...


I could not agree more. Thank you for the comment.

ex-democrat said...

terrye: my favorite Q&A here:

Q You both presented the Iraqi government as a substantial vindication of the conflict. Do you also accept, as a matter of harsh political reality, that the Iraq conflict has also left both of you politically weakened and, whether justly or unjustly, less able to give the kind of moral leadership that you're discussing today?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No question that the Iraq war has created a sense of consternation here in America. I mean, when you turn on your TV screen and see innocent people die, day in and day out, it affects the mentality of our country.

But here's what they're asking in America. They're asking, can we win? That's what they want to know. Do we have a strategy for victory? And so the talk about the unity government -- you might remember there was some -- a lot of speculation as to whether there would even be a unity government. A couple of months ago, people were saying, well, they can't even get a unity government going. But we have a unity government -- a Kurd President, a Prime Minister who is a Shia, a Speaker who is a Sunni. These are strong leaders. It's an indication that progress is being made.

Part of progress, of course, is on the political track. You know, we had elections in Iraq; 12 million people voted last December. Now, it seems like an eternity ago, I know, like a decade. But that's not all that long ago in the larger scope of things. Twelve million people said, we want to be free. It was an astounding moment. And this unity government is now formed, as a result of those elections, under a constitution approved by the Iraqi people. That's progress. It's certainly a far sight from the days of a tyrant who killed hundreds of thousands of his own people and used weapons of mass destruction and threatened the neighborhood. I mean, that is progress.

No question, however, that the suiciders and the killers and the IEDs and the deaths have an effect on the American people. But one of the reasons that I appreciate Tony coming is that he brings a fresh perspective of what he saw, and the American people need to know we are making progress toward a goal of an Iraq that can defend itself, sustain itself and govern itself. That will deny the terrorists a safe haven.

You know, al Qaeda has made it clear what their intentions are in Iraq. I'm sure you've read some of the intercepts that are laid out there for people to see. And they have made it clear that it's just a matter of time for countries like Great Britain and the United States to leave. In other words, if they make life miserable enough, we'll leave. And they want us to leave because they want a safe haven from which to launch attacks, not only on us, but on moderate Muslim governments, as well. These people are totalitarians. They're Islamic fascists. They have a point of view, they have a philosophy, and they want to impose that philosophy on the rest of the world. And Iraq just happens to be a -- one of the battles in the war on terror.

And Tony brings up a good point: Why are they resisting so hard, what is it about democracy they can't stand? Well, what they can't stand about democracy is this: Democracy is the exact opposite of what they believe. They believe they can impose their will, they believe there's no freedom of religion, they believe there's no women's rights. They have a -- they have a dark vision of the world, and that's why they're resisting so mightily.

So yes, I can understand why the American people are troubled by the war in Iraq. I understand that. But I also believe the sacrifice is worth it and is necessary, and I believe a free Iraq is not only going to make ourselves more secure, but it's going to serve as a powerful example in the Middle East.

You know, foreign policy, for awhile, just basically said, if it seems okay on the surface, just let it be. And guess what happened? There was resentment and hatred that enabled these totalitarians to recruit and to kill, which they want to continue to do to achieve their objectives. And the best way to defeat them in the long run is through the spread of liberty.

And liberty has had the capacity to change enemies to allies. Liberty has had the capacity to help Europe become whole, free, and at peace. History has proven that freedom has got the capacity to change the world for the better, and that's what you're seeing.

You know, the amazing thing about dealing with Prime Minister Blair is never once has he said to me on the phone, we better change our tactics because of the political opinion polls. And I appreciate that steadfast leadership. And I appreciate somebody who has got a vision, a shared vision, for how to not only protect ourselves in the war on terror, but how to make the world a better place.

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I don't really think it's a matter of our vindication. I think, in a way, that's the least important part of it. But I do think that occasionally we should just take a step back and ask, why are we doing this? Why is it so important?

Saddam was removed from power three years ago. Since then, incidentally, our forces have been there with the United Nations mandate and with the consent of the Iraqi government, itself, the Iraqi government, becoming progressively more the product of direct democracy.

So whatever people thought about removing Saddam -- you agree with it, you didn't agree with it for these last three years, the issue in Iraq has not been, these people are here without any international support, because we haven't had any United Nations resolution governing our presence there. The issue is not, you're there, but the Iraqi people don't want you there, because the Iraqi government, and now this directly-elected Iraqi government has said they want us to stay until the job is done.

So why is it that for three years, we have had this violence and bloodshed? Now, people have tried to say it's because the Iraqi people -- you people, you don't understand; you went in with this Western concept of democracy and you didn't understand that their whole culture was different, they weren't interested in these types of freedom. These people have gone out and voted -- a higher turnout, I have to say -- I'm afraid to say, I think, than either your election or mine. These people have gone out and voted --

PRESIDENT BUSH: Which one? 2000 or 2004? (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: I think both of them.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I think you're right. (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER BLAIR: They have gone out and voted despite terrorism, despite bloodshed, despite literally the prospect of death for exercising their democratic right.

So they have kept faith with the very democratic values that we say we believe in, and the people trying to wrest that democracy from them are opposed to absolutely everything we stand for and everything the Iraqi people stand for.

So what do we do in response to this? And the problem we have is very, very simple. A large part of the perspective with which we look at this is to see every act of terrorism in Iraq, every piece of ghastly carnage on our television screens, every tragic loss of our own forces -- we see that as a setback and as a failure when we should be seeing that as a renewed urgency for us to rise to the challenge of defeating these people who are committing this carnage. Because over these past three years, at every stage, the reason they have been fighting is not, as we can see, because Iraqi people don't believe in democracy, Iraqi people don't want liberty. It is precisely because they fear Iraqi people do want democracy, Iraqi people do want liberty.

And if the idea became implanted in the minds of people in the Arab and Muslim world that democracy was as much their right as our right, where do these terrorists go? What do they do? How do they recruit? How do they say, America is the evil Satan? How do they say the purpose of the West is to spoil your lands, wreck your religion, take your wealth? How can they say that? They can't say that.

So these people who are fighting us there know what is at stake. The question is, do we?

[from the White House website]

ex-democrat said...

Summary of the event on the BBC website:
"Bush and Blair admit 'mistakes' during Iraq conflict."

every day is Roshomonday

buddy larsen said...

I watched the event on TV, but had not realize until reading ex's excerpt what great answers those were. The boys rolled up the carpet. And, per the soured set, Rashomonday indeed, I'd laugh if it didn't hurt so much.

buddy larsen said...

Master propagandist Tokyo Rose's message:

1. Your President is lying to you.
2. This war is illegal.
3. You cannot win the war.

ex-democrat said...

that explains that rashomon problem.

buddy larsen said...

To that I might note that Tokyo Rose was indeed American. As per the link, her pardon was President Ford's last act in office.

buddy larsen said...

What's changed in the half-century is that Tokyo Rose had to transmit from enemy territory.

OTOH, I guess a non-Demo Party administration makes USA "enemy territory" for some -- and, delightfully enough for those -- one need not actually "move" nor risk anything. Just take the position in fantasy, and then cast oneself noble in reality.

buddy larsen said...

And even better, per "taking" the 5th-column position, since it is indefensible, it's easy to "take" (being undefended).

Therefore it bears less risk, and requires less effort, and yet pays far more feel-good (tho feaux, but that's another topic) than any defense of any status quo.

"How To Feel Good, Risk-Free, And On The Cheap!"

ex-democrat said...

insourcing enemy propagandizing

i blame globalization

buddy larsen said...

...oh of course--it's got to be the globalization.

ex-democrat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ex-democrat said...

.. and the wide open borders, of course.

by the way, have you ever looked at the Guide to Naturalization? (Some of us have had more reason to, i suppose). Anyway, I was struck by this part, in the Taking the Oath section:
"You may take the Oath, without the words 'to bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law...' if you provide enough evidence that you are against fighting for the United States because of your religious training and beliefs.
If you provide enough evidence and USCIS finds that you are against any type of service in the Armed Forces because of your religious training and beliefs, you may leave out the words 'to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by law.' "

what kind of religion is that??

Unknown said...


I knew some Amish who served in hospitals during the VietNam war, it was that or jail...and that was religious. I wonder how long that provision has been there?

buddy larsen said...

I think Walt Whitman used it during the Civil War--

ex-democrat said...

Terrye - good question. fortunately for the new citizen the amish can pick up the slack for them now.