Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Shifting Rationales, Emerging Truths

I've found that reading seemingly throwaway items like the president's weekly radio address and obligatory ceremonial speeches can yield some fascinating nuggets. This is where trial balloons sometimes get initial helium, new mantras are introduced, and---sometimes---the unvarnished truth manages to seep out.

From President Bush's speech yesterday at the Naval Air Station in San Diego:
The terrorists and insurgents are now waging a brutal campaign of terror in Iraq. They kill innocent men and women and children in the hopes of intimidating Iraqis. They're trying to scare them away from democracy. They're trying to break the will of the American people. Their goal is to turn Iraq into a failed state like Afghanistan was under the Taliban. If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks; they'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions; they could recruit more terrorists by claiming an historic victory over the United States and our coalition.
While noting the telling and extremely rare actual mention of Bin Laden by name, the tired but perpetually shameless commingling of Afghanistan and Iraq, the well-flogged "scare them away from democracy" and "break the will of the American people", and the tragically mendacious "would create" in reference to a training ground for terrorism that already exists, notice anything new here?

"They'd seize oil fields."

We now have Rationale #978---yet another that was introduced post-invasion---to justify this war. Or was it a bit more of a priority than that all along?

And for those who believe the flurry of reassuring intimations we hear about significant troop withdrawals each time we have a particularly bad stretch for troops killed in action, here are two items you should have on your "timetable for withdrawal" checklist: When might the oil infrastructure be so secure from attack that we won't have to guard it anymore? And at what point will there be no more "terrorists" in Iraq so we can come home without looking as if we're running?


Blogger Pete said...

Bush actually mentioned bin Laden by name???


8/31/2005 8:39 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

There is no "timetable for withdrawal." As long as the Arab world is intent on destroying Israel, America's sons and daughters will occupy Afghanistan, Iraq and possibly more Arab countries. For generations to come. Get used to it.

8/31/2005 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You missed an equally tragic moment of candor today when a U.S. general was quoted as saying that there's been tremendous progress on training Iraqi security forces over the past year. According to the general, the military didn't get serious about training these troops until about a year ago, but since then- surprise, surprise- it's gone very well.

You know you're scraping the bottom of the truth barrel when you start admitting earlier incompetence in order to cover your current incompetence.

8/31/2005 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello??? Why is it so hard to believe that "Oil Fields" was also Reason #1. Enron would have been sharing all the no-bid action with Halliburton if it hadn't been for 'you know what'. And Ken Lay would be running the Iraq Desk in the White House. George Bush doesn't give a rats ass about the people of Iraq, or the GME, he does however, care about Oil. The fact that Iraq is occupied by Iraqis must be really frustrating. It's very inconvenient that Cheney was unable to put Chalabi on the throne of the Hashemite Kings, but our buddy Ahmed now has the second best job in Iraq; Minister of Oil.

8/31/2005 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does he think they're going to do, sell tankers full of oil on the black market like drugs and guns? Yeah, OPEC is going to think that is a particularly good idea, not to mention the Southern Shia and the Kurds.

8/31/2005 10:16 AM  
Blogger Mark Jones said...

Yes, how interesting, that the line "They'd seize oil fields" is now included in his standard TP. Just in time for record high oil prices and the possible release of oil from the SPR. Surely, one of the reasons for this inclusion is to start to place blame for high energy costs on the "terroristssss" in "I-rack"(as GWB likes to pronounce it). After all, since they are trying to "seize" the oil fields, I guess they must also be responsible for $70/BBL oil. Just wait to see what happens when have $80 oil, and the inevitable slowdown in economic data; the "terroristisst” in “I-rack” will then also be responsible for our recession, too.

8/31/2005 10:27 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

Boy, you guys have a ways to go if you think all this is about oil. Most Middle East oil goes to Europe. We get most of our oil from Canada.

I guess it'll be a while before the quarter finally drops and Americans wake up to the REAL reason we're dying there.

8/31/2005 11:06 AM  
Blogger semper fubar said...

I guess I can dig out that NO WAR FOR OIL button that so many people derided a few years ago.

As for this:
Most Middle East oil goes to Europe. We get most of our oil from Canada.

Well yeah, no kidding. And we were going to change that by taking over the second largest oil reserve in the middle east, and ship it all back to the good ole USA.

8/31/2005 12:07 PM  
Blogger Linear Jones said...

Why is Bush suddenly mentioning the oil fields? Is he using that to prey upon the country's gas price frustrations? That's quite low.

8/31/2005 1:05 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

As always, great post. I know the answer to the question of those oil fields (at least in the south) not needing our guards: Iran.

In all fairness to Bush, only a third of Iraq (by land) and 20 percent (by population) will be a failed state. Huzzah!!

8/31/2005 1:07 PM  
Blogger James said...

So most Iraqi oil goes to Europe...what do you think would happen if those oil fields were suddenly off line?

The Europeans would have to get their oil from somewhere (and so would we, and China, and the rest of the world).

Without the capacity of Iraq, this would represent a severe financial crisis that no tapping of the SPR or ANWR would fix. Just the psychological effect would be to continue to drive oil prices thru the roof (and the Saudis appear to have little or no more excess capacity available -- despite what they've been claiming -- to drive those prices back down again). Never mind the fact that bin Laden is Saudi and has been looking to take down the the Saud family (who he sees as defiling the holy land), and Iraq is right next door.

Unless we begin to do things right in Iraq, we may have handed bin Laden the keys to his Caliphate in a decade or so.

8/31/2005 1:11 PM  
Blogger Roy said...

If only the Middle East had no oil we could ignore THEIR problems just like we do Africa! Maybe we could hold a concert for them every decade or two. That is a vision of the world I can believe in.

8/31/2005 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Airforce - indefinitely

Bush "as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down"... "Joe Biden puts the number of Iraqi troops at 3000."... "At this rate, 138,000 troops will be replaced by self-sufficient locals in roughly 100 years."

No elected official has come right out and said it is for oil, but every once in awhile you get someone that'll say something like Iraq has oil and it is okay to war over our economic interests; economic interests is patriotic. I'd still like to know what the heck Cheney and his gang of buds talked about in his Energy Taskforce. If Cheney works for us, and is suppose to be accountable to us, why is our energy policy that is suppose to be for us a big secret?

What exactly is the Republican party good at? They are fighting scientists studing climate change, they are fighting against bioscience and stem cell research, they are fighting against a thorough 9/11 investigation, they are fighting against science and evolution, they want us to believe if you don't understand it's magic and don't think, they don't want us to face reality so we can plan and make changes as necessary for success, they couldn't think outside their box to even think an airplane could be hijacked and flown into a building even though in August of 2001 they had a PDB memo sitting in front of their faces saying that. What action did Bush take, oh, a vacation. They incompetence, or inability to think outside their ideological textbook box, is putting us all at risk for various disasters. Are we stupid or what!

8/31/2005 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Bush Want to Win in Iraq? - "My reference was to the ongoing desire of the military-industrial complex, whose interests Bush faithfully serves, to keep expanding."

8/31/2005 2:15 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

If Israel were an island in the Pacific, we'd be trading oil peacefully with the Arabs nomads just like we've been trading with them peacefully for hundreds of years. Before you go off on the Crusdaes and the Ottoman empire, those were Muslim Turks, not Arabs.

Israel is the problem, not oil. Wake up people!

8/31/2005 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"President Commemorates 60th Anniversary of V-J Day"

Just for the record:

Pearl Harbor to VJ Day, elapsed time: 1,347 days

September 11, 2001 to today, elapsed time: 1,450 days

8/31/2005 3:14 PM  
Anonymous wmr said...


No, the bigger question is: what are your grounds for thinking we can ever impose a democracy in Iraq?

Other questions also come to mind. What will we do when we run out of troops? Will the American public accept this as the newest rationale for the war? If they do accept it, how long will they continue to accept it?

(also posted in comments to Where Do We Go From Here below.)

8/31/2005 3:30 PM  
Anonymous wmr said...

OOPS, shd have read it again.

Substitute: Will the American public accept Israel as the newest rationale for the war?

8/31/2005 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A broken record is ... a broken record, is a broken record.

8/31/2005 4:07 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

>>what are your grounds for thinking we can ever impose a democracy in Iraq?<<


>>also come to mind. What will we do when we run out of troops?<<

Israel goes to the wolves.

>>We're awake.<<

No you're not. Because when we start running out troops, patience and money and it becomes apparent we have to surrender Israel, the mood in German around 1933 was a cakewalk compared to what we will go through here. It's coming...

8/31/2005 4:29 PM  
Blogger brian said...

Notice how he actually made a distinction between the foreign terrorists there & the insurgency? His loyalists drones oughta be confused, they scream at anyone else who acknowledges it's not all one lump.

The oil excuse is actually a pretty dumb one, despite the popular wisdom. Overthrowing Saddam for oil when we could've just got the sanctions dropped is like using an axe to slice bread.

8/31/2005 5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they (the neocon idealogues) got the war they wanted,..


now they can REALLY make money!

8/31/2005 6:25 PM  
Blogger 277fia said...

From Mr. Bush's speech:

"Do we return to the pre-September the 11th mind-set of isolation and retreat, or do we continue to take the fight to the enemy and support our allies in the broader Middle East?"

There's another rationale - we're there to support our allies in the broader Middle East.

I assume he meant Israel (thirdeye is right!) But who else and how are we supporting them?

I'm confused on a couple of points. What's the difference between insurgents and terrorists if they share the same goal?

Are all terrorists in Iraq foreigners? And are they Sunnis?
Are all insurgents Iraqi Sunnis?

How many insurgents are there compared to the number of terrorists?

Is the source financing terrorists the same one financing the insurgents?

Does the president believe that there's a snowball's chance in hell that 19 million Shites and Kurds are going to sit back and let Osama bin Laden rake in billions in oil revenue?

8/31/2005 10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thirdeye said: Because when we start running out troops, patience and money and it becomes apparent we have to surrender Israel, the mood in German around 1933 was a cakewalk compared to what we will go through here. It's coming...

Um, thirdeye, while I agree that Israel is the most likely "real" reason for our Iraq debacle, the above doesn't make any sense to me. You make it sound like Palestinians are going to march through Tel Aviv shooting Jewish women and children huddled in their homes. Are you forgetting the small matter of Israels aproximately 200 nuclear weapons? They threatened to use them in '73, and Dick Nixon helped 'em out of their fix. Then we sat in gas lines, but few Americans knew why. I suspect a similar ploy would work just fine today, although with AIPAC working so effectively, there's likely little need for it.

8/31/2005 11:19 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

>>You make it sound like Palestinians are going to march through Tel Aviv shooting Jewish women and children huddled in their homes. Are you forgetting the small matter of Israels aproximately 200 nuclear weapons? They threatened to use them in '73, and Dick Nixon helped 'em out of their fix.<<

You are exactly right. But now we're in deeper than we were then and the deeper we get sucked into the Arab-Israeli conflict and the more losses we sustain, the greater the risk public opinion will turn against meddling in the Middle East. That's a hair's breath away from dropping support for Israel and the resulting public discourse could get very ugly.

9/01/2005 12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article on police training in Iraq.

Three major problems:
1. The recruiting pool consists of intimidated teenagers or disillusioned, desperate unemployed men left with no other prospects; they aren't "getting the hightest quality 'volunteers' because many of those have joined the insurgency". We started a war for them, and no one is coming to the party.

2. (ROI) 40% to 60% graduates never actually join.

3. Inadequate training for what is needed specificially in Iraq.

Maybe what Sean Penn was told in Iran could have been true for Iraq?

"We must be patient. To reform too quickly would cause a deep backlash. You see about the bombings today, and we expect them now to continue. This process must move slowly or not at all. We need reform, not revolution."

9/01/2005 1:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel knows how to take care of itself and the arab world knows it and fear it.

The US interest in the Middle East besides of Oil, which I believe is one of the main reasons, the next is revenge for Bush I, and of course Bush II wants his place in history.

All of this aside, the neo-cons interest is, they are
keen to ignite the Middle East into lasting wars, which will eventually drag Israel to it, so that finally Armaggeddon will come. The neo cons want the jews to destroy the Mosque of Omar and have the jews rebuild the temple in its place so that Christ and the end of time will come. The neo cons will, at the end, anihilate the Jews, and convert the few survivors into Christianity
Read George E. Lowe two-volume written in 2000.

But this will never happen. The jews will never destroy any Mosque nor would they build any temple. The third temple miraculously will "descend" ready made
from the skies. So the neo-cons can go on dreaming and they have Bush in their pockets to execute their wishes. It is
pathetic. Meanwhile the public is paying up the consequences and Bush is totally unconscious, as long as he can
call himself " a war president".

9/01/2005 3:32 AM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

I am aware of the neo-cons intent. What most folks don't realize is this same sort of grand scheme has occurred, in various forms, many times over the centuries. And every time it has ended with a strong wave of ant-Semitism and an effort to eradicate Jews. This time, we’re being set up for a neo-con failure and the result will be a wave of anti-Semitism sweeping over the U.S. This is entirely off of anyone’s radar screen at this point.

Before you scoff that it can’t happen here remember Jews were very well integrated in Germany from the mid-1800s forward and it took some German neo-con-style adventurism and the resultant hardship to ignite the flames of anti-Semitism. The parallels in the U.S. now are potentially quite disturbing.

9/01/2005 9:51 AM  
Blogger Roy said...

I agree with Thirdeye and the wave of anti-semitism that is ready to hit but neo-cons want armaggeddon???? Mosques and Temples destroyed, anihilate the Jews???? You need to stop the medication because the paranoia is not getting better. Maybe you should read the Pentagons New Map War and Peace in the 21st century, by Thomas Barnett.

9/01/2005 11:02 AM  
Anonymous wmr said...


Thanks for laying out your position in more detail. I don't know enough about the whole Israel-Palestine-ME situation to judge how realistic your fears are. But, based on your responses to my last set of questions, I suggest that pinning your hopes on success in Iraq is inadequate.

You admit that you have no grounds for thinking that a democracy can be formed, still less a democracy that would be at least neutral to Israel. Further, you admit that after we run out of troops, which will inevitably happen in any stay-the-course scenario, the shit will hit the fan anyway.

Given these points, I think you will have to admit that what you fear will come to pass no matter what we do in Iraq. Your argument for staying only has teeth if you can show that there is something else we can be doing in the meantime to reduce or possibly prevent the bloodbath you foretell.

Just hoping for liberal democracy in Iraq because it's Israel's only hope is not a reasonable strategy.

9/01/2005 3:29 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

wmr, I agree we're trapped. Right now, my sense is the American public has an ostrich-like mentality hoping things will magically get better. That, plus it's easier to let things linger on than to make the decision to pull out.

But if it were up to me to pull out, I'd have to weigh long and hard the risk to Israel showing any weakness here. There's a direct path between the U.S. pulling out of the Middle East and Israel literally nuking Mecca and pushing back the Muslims once and for all.

9/01/2005 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a new equation has entered the stage with the incompetence of Bush to respond to the devastation of New Orleans.
So far we have gotten a lot of hot air and very little concrete help. This will not play well in the country and the mood of the country can, lets hope, turn on the GOP and take them apart.
And just maybe people will remember that when the next election comes around next fall. They need to be taken to the 'woodshed' bigtime.
I have dreams, but no great hope.

9/01/2005 6:45 PM  
Anonymous wmr said...


Careful, there. That was your case, not mine. I didn't say I bought all your points; I was just drawing conclusions based on your premises.

But if that is your conclusion, then I strongly suggest that you stop harping on Israel - it's just not a good debating strategy. You have to start thinking about ways of reducing tensions or reducing the severity of the reaction when the US does finally leave Iraq. One thing to consider is what sort of defensive support we will be able to give Israel if our Armed Forces have been drawn down to the bare minimum by fighting to the bitter end in Iraq.

9/01/2005 9:07 PM  
Anonymous thirdeye said...

wmr, I've essentially given up on a good outcome for the Iraqi operation. I'm looking beyond to the impact the failure will have on the U.S., in general, and the U.S.-Israeli coalition. That's where I see an ugliness that I believe many thought would never come again.

9/01/2005 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: All of this aside, the neo-cons interest is, they are keen to ignite the Middle East into lasting wars, which will eventually drag Israel to it, so that finally Armaggeddon will come. The neo cons want the jews to destroy the Mosque of Omar and have the jews rebuild the temple in its place so that Christ and the end of time will come. The neo cons will, at the end, anihilate the Jews, and convert the few survivors into Christianity
Read George E. Lowe two-volume written in 2000.

I think you might be confusing Neo Cons with Christian fundamentalist nutcases. I thought Wolfowitz et al. were just garden variety (albeit powerful) Zionists. My impression of their attitude toward the fundies was something like "Hey, thanks for the political support! We think you're nuts, but thanks much the same!" If anyone cares to shed light on this, please do.

9/02/2005 12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George E.Lowe's two-volume collection says it all as to how "the neo-cons became a logical partner with the "rapture" christians, whose goal is to precipitate Armageddon and a second coming of Christ. One clear common political goal is increasing weapons production, because it will both enrich the ne-cons corporate interests and help precipitate a Messianic age for the radical fundamentalists. The Christian fanatics seek a World War III, because it will lead to the triumphant return of a resurrected Christ and a transformed Israel".

9/02/2005 1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great, but all that will get us is the end of the human race and the world as we know it.
After what we have seen the last few days, no great loss.
I hope there is a God and he should take Bush apart so that now two cells will remain together, but that will not help the poor people slowly dying in NO.

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