In his weekly radio address on Saturday, Aug. 20, the president demonstrated his cluelessness about the enemy he is fighting in Iraq by asserting that "Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy."  --  For one thing, military intelligence has had great difficulty determining just who it is that they are fighting.  --  For another, the president is bewildered about the nature of terrorism.  --  He should schedule an emergency briefing with Robert A. Pape, the scholar who has just published Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Random House, 2005).  --  There he'll learn that suicide terrorism is caused by the occupation by a democratic state of territory regarded as another group's homeland.  --  Pape shows that the "savage enemy" will stop being savage once his (or her) homeland is no longer occupied.  --  Therefore our troops cannot "know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets," since this is not true, and it is impossible to "know" what is false....

By Tabussum Zakaria

August 20, 2005

CRAWFORD, Texas -- President George W. Bush launched a counter-offensive against growing public discontent over Iraq on Saturday, when he defended the war as a way of protecting Americans from another September 11 attack, a message he will reinforce when he takes to the road next week.

"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war," he said.

Bush next week will speak to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Utah, and meet with members of the Idaho National Guard and the Mountain Home Air Force Base, which played a leading role in the air bombing campaign in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks.

The public is showing more discontent with Bush's handling of Iraq, with high-profile protests during his ranch vacation and new poll results showing nearly six in 10 Americans are worrying about the outcome of the war.

"They're trying to get the public's attention again and remind them of the arguments that once worked with the public," Larry Sabato, director of the center for politics at the University of Virginia, said.

Asked whether the United States was meeting its objectives in Iraq, 56 percent of those polled said it was not and 39 percent said it was. The poll is to be published in next month's issue of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, became a symbol for anti-war protesters after camping near Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch, while he is on vacation, urging the president to bring U.S. troops home.


"He bottomed out on Iraq even before Cindy Sheehan's protest started. Look at the poll numbers, Americans have been increasingly disaffected," Sabato said.

But there is little that Bush can do after ruling out a withdrawal from Iraq in the near-term, Sabato said. "All he can hope for is that conditions improve in Iraq."

More than 1,800 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq and thousands more wounded.

"We are running out of time. We need a strategy to win in Iraq or an exit strategy to leave," said Max Cleland, a former Democratic senator from Georgia who lost three limbs in the Vietnam war.

"The present course will lead us to disaster. More of the same just means more precious blood spilled in the desert," he said in the Democratic response to Bush's radio address.

The Bush administration justified going to war in Iraq in 2003 by saying it posed a threat because of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. None have been found.

Critics say Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington and that the administration has tried to tie Iraq to terrorism since the war to justify its actions.

"In a few weeks, our country will mark the four-year anniversary of the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. On that day, we learned that vast oceans and friendly neighbors no longer protect us from those who wish to harm our people," Bush said.

"We're fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, striking them in foreign lands before they can attack us here at home," he said.

Bush likened the current situation to World War Two when U.S. forces "helped former enemies rebuild and form free and peaceful societies that would become strong allies of America."

He acknowledged the deaths in the current war and said: "We owe these fallen heroes our gratitude, and we offer their families our heartfelt condolences and prayers."

"Now we must finish the task that our troops have given their lives for and honor their sacrifice by completing their mission," he said.