As conditions have worsened in Iraq since the early summer of 2003, there has never been a moment when the Bush administration did not claim that progress was being made.  --  President George W. Bush continued a neo-Orwellian approach on Wednesday in a major 45-minute address on Iraq.  --  Bush said, as he has said so many times before, that improvements have been made by Iraqi security forces and that mistakes made in the training of Iraqi forces have now been corrected, the Washington Post reported.[1]  --  He said, in effect, that there is no limit to the number of lives he is willing to sacrifice:  "America will not abandon Iraq."  --  And there will be no timetables for withdrawal, either, because that would send the wrong message.  --  Ward Harkavy of the Village Voice analyzed the 35-page strategy document the administration issued Wednesday.[2]  --  It is, Harkavy says, full of "Soviet-style jargon saying the opposite of what [the administration] actually does." ...



Middle East


By Daniela Deane

Washington Post
November 30, 2005

[PHOTO CAPTION: President Bush speaks at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005, during a $1,000 a plate fund-raiser for Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo.]

President Bush, facing increasing opposition to the war in Iraq, went on the offensive today, releasing a detailed plan for fighting the war and then delivering a major speech in an attempt to show the country that the administration has a clear vision for victory in Iraq.

In a 45-minute speech before a receptive audience at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Bush again rejected a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq, saying conditions on the ground rather than "artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington" would dictate when American forces could return home.

He recounted improvements made by Iraqi security forces that he said would eventually lead to a U.S. withdrawal, although he warned that it would take "time and patience." Bush said the U.S. goal is for Iraqi forces to take the lead without "major foreign assistance," and he chronicled how Iraqi forces were fighting better and gaining more control of their embattled country. He said mistakes had been made in the training of Iraqi forces that have now been righted.

The speech, the first in a series the president will deliver in the run-up to the Dec. 15 elections in Iraq, broke no new ground in the increasingly impatient and vocal debate about U.S. strategy there.

"America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am commander in chief," Bush said to the audience of uniformed Navy midshipmen. "America will not abandon Iraq."

The White House offensive comes as continued deadly violence in Iraq and the deaths of more than 2,000 U.S. troops and the wounding of 16,000 others chip away at Bush's popularity, now at its lowest level since he became president.

In an oft-repeated message, Bush said that setting an artificial deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal sends a statement that "America is weak and an unreliable ally" and vindicates "terrorist tactics of beheadings, suicide bombings, and mass murder," inviting new terrorist attacks on the United States.

Even before Bush was finished speaking, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) issued a statement saying the president had "recycled his tired rhetoric of 'stay the course' and once again missed an opportunity to lay out a real strategy for success in Iraq that will bring our troops safely home."

Reading from a letter written by a U.S. soldier on his lap-top computer before his death, an emotional Bush said America owes those who have died in Iraq to "take up their mantle, carry on the fight, and complete their mission."

Just hours before the speech, the White House released a detailed 35-page "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" outlining the American political, security and economic strategies in the war.

The report, the first such report issued by the White House on the war, maintains that U.S. strategy is working in Iraq, but victory will take time and many challenges remain. It also outlined how the United States defines victory in Iraq, why it is vital to U.S. interests, who the enemy is, and how the strategy is being implemented.

"No war has ever been won on a timetable and neither will this one," said the document. "But lack of a timetable does not mean our posture in Iraq (both military and civilian) will remain static over time."

The administration expects the number of U.S. forces in Iraq -- currently about 160,000 -- will decrease over the next year as the "political process advances and Iraqi security forces grow and gain experience," according to the document. While the U.S. military presence "may become less visible, it will remain lethal and decisive, able to confront the enemy wherever it may organize."

The plan says increasing numbers of Iraqi troops have been equipped and trained, a democratic government is taking shape and Iraq's economy is being rebuilt. It says the United States is pursuing victory on political, security and economic fronts.

"Failure is not an option," the document said, citing three principal reasons: Iraq would become a safe haven for terrorists, Middle East reformers would never trust U.S. resolve again, and the ensuing tribal and sectarian chaos in Iraq would have major consequences for U.S. interests in the region.

"It is not realistic to expect a fully functioning democracy, able to defeat its enemies and peacefully reconcile generational grievances, to be in place less than three years after Saddam was finally removed from power," the report said.

The White House document identified the "enemy" in Iraq as "diffuse and sophisticated," a combination of Iraqis who reject democratic reforms, Saddam Hussein loyalists and al-Qaeda inspired terrorists.

The Bush administration's political strategy in Iraq, the report says, involves isolating enemy elements, engaging those outside the political process, and building stable national institutions.

The report repeats the administration's claim that Iraq is the "central front in the global war on terror." It said "failure in Iraq will embolden terrorists and expand their reach; success in Iraq will deal them a decisive and crippling blow."

According to the report, the administration defines victory in Iraq in three stages -- short term, medium term, and longer term. In the short term, it said, "Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces."

"Our mission in Iraq is to win the war," the document said. "Our troops will return home when that mission is complete."


Morning Report

By Ward Harkavy

** Comrade Bush unveils new national strategy **

Village Voice
November 30, 2005

I don't know exactly what George W. Bush is going to say in his supposedly major speech on the war later this morning at Annapolis, but the Soviet-style document the White House released ahead of it promises a radical departure from the current disastrous approach.

For one thing, the 35-page document is called "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq."

For another, it contains an appendix called "Organization for Victory: The Eight Strategic Pillars," of which the sixth pillar is "Help Iraq Strengthen the Rule of Law and Promote Civil Rights." That pillar carries this epigraph: "One of the most important ways to fight terrorism is to promote democracy, and one of the most important ways to promote democracy is the rule of law." --Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, July 2005

Finally, the "rule of law." This has to be a new direction, because Gonzales is the same guy who advised flouting the Geneva Conventions and who I pointed out last January 5 had approved the torture technique of "water-boarding" when he was Bush's White House counsel.

This is the same guy who, when Bush was the hangingest governor in U.S. history, spent as little time as possible going over pleas of clemency with the careless, inattentive Bush.

If you need any more evidence that the beleaguered Bush regime has hunkered down in its bunker in a paralyzingly bureaucratic survival mode full of Soviet-style jargon saying the opposite of what it actually does, check out the table of contents of the White House's "Victory in Iraq" doc:

Table of Contents

Executive Summary…1

Strategic Overview
Victory in Iraq Defined…3
Victory in Iraq is a Vital U.S. Interest…4
The Benefits of Victory in Iraq…4
The Consequences of Failure…5
Our Enemies and Their Goals…6
The Strategy of Our Enemies…7
Our Strategy for Victory is Clear…7
A. The Political Track (Isolate, Engage, Build)
B. The Security Track (Clear, Hold, Build)
C. The Economic Track (Restore, Reform, Build)
This Strategy is Integrated, and its Elements are Mutually Reinforcing…9
Victory Will Take Time…10
Why Our Strategy Is (and Must Be) Conditions-Based…11
Our Strategy Tracks and Measures Progress…12

Strategy in Detail
The Political Track in Detail…14
The Security Track in Detail…18
The Economic Track in Detail…22
Organization for Victory…25

The Eight Pillars…27

I really like "Clear, Hold, Build." But my favorite is "This Strategy is Integrated, and its Elements are Mutually Reinforcing."

I can't wait to hear Comrade Bush explain those "elements."

As for Gonzales's quote about the "rule of law," I guess it's not really an epigraph, because it appears at the bottom of the sixth "pillar." Call it an epitaph.