Morning Report 6/29/05
Bush Calls 9/11
Sensing an emergency on the home front while Iraq continues to melt down from summer heat and violence, George W. Bush's handlers instructed the president to once again cry wolf last night.
As the Washington Post describes it this morning:
- Bush invoked Sept. 11 five times in his speech and referred to it by implication several more times. Although he has previously agreed with investigators that there is "no evidence" of a link between Saddam Hussein's government and the attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, he used much of his speech to depict the militants in Iraq as the same breed of Islamic terrorist who struck the United States. The White House titled his remarks a discussion on the "War on Terror," not Iraq.
Bush talked global, but his problem is local. In fact, his handlers are much more worried about dissent and rebellion against the regime and the GOP than they are about the Iraqis dying in a debacle created (as the Downing Street Memo scandal confirms) by the regime itself. As for Iraq itself, no wonder he didn't go into great detail, instead trying to give a "global war on terror" sheen to his shuck.
Yeah, it's kinda messy in Iraq right now. Christian Aid, the British humanitarian organization that was the first to expose the oil-for-slush scandal: the massive corruption and confusion of the gone-but-not-forgotten Coalition Provisional Authority's mishandling of billions of dollars, reports:
- More than 900 people, mostly Iraqis, have died in insurgent attacks across the country since the Shiite and Kurdish-dominated government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari came to power six weeks ago. Car bombings, explosions and ambushes have sent the death toll sky-high.
According to Christian Aid, as many as 25,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in the unjustified U.S. invasion and the resulting occupation. And this NGO has been right before.
Meanwhile, the Bush regime tries to rewrite history. In one astounding passage from last night's prime-time speech, Bush said:
- Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate.
Well, it is now. But it's the result of the unjustified U.S. invasion of Iraq in March '03. We've made Iraq the prime training ground for terrorists, a rallying point and battle cry. Many of us have been warning of that; even the New York Times recognizes it, as I pointed out recently in "Rove Cleans Up."
Just yesterday, the Bush regime celebrated the one-year anniversary of Jerry Bremer's "handing over" the reins of government to the Iraqis. And in last night's speech, Bush crowed about bringing "democracy" to Iraq. But it's more instructive to go back two years, to June 28, 2003. That was the day when Bremer, making one of his many memorable and tragic decisions, halted local elections in Iraq, marking a beginning of a hardening insurgency.
As the Washington Post's William Booth and Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported exactly two years ago to the day:
- U.S. military commanders have ordered a halt to local elections and self-rule in provincial cities and towns across Iraq, choosing instead to install their own handpicked mayors and administrators, many of whom are former Iraqi military leaders.
The decision to deny Iraqis a direct role in selecting municipal governments is creating anger and resentment among aspiring leaders and ordinary citizens, who say the U.S.-led occupation forces are not making good on their promise to bring greater freedom and democracy to a country dominated for three decades by Saddam Hussein.
Bremer even said at the time that restructuring Iraq's economy—not reviving it, but privatizing it for foreign investors is what he intended—had a higher priority. And as for Iraqi self-rule, that Post story added:
- "In a postwar situation like this, if you start holding elections, the people who are rejectionists tend to win," Bremer said. "It's often the best-organized who win, and the best-organized right now are the former Baathists and to some extent the Islamists." Bremer was referring to members of Hussein's Baath Party and religiously oriented political leaders.
Bremer's condescending and cowboyish approach was a disaster, as we now know. Also on June 29, 2003, he was interviewed on BBC's "Breakfast With Frost," where he said:
- Look, there are people out here, particularly remnants of the old regime, Baathists, Fedayeen Saddam, perhaps even some terrorists from neighbouring countries, who do not accept the military outcome of the coalition, and they are still fighting us and we're going to fight them and impose our will on them and we will capture or if necessary kill them until we have imposed law and order on this country. …
But there's no strategic threat to the coalition here, we dominate the scene and we will continue to impose law and order and impose our will on this country.
Yeah, right. And he said there was plenty of progress being made, adding:
- There is a lot of good news that tends to get lost in the noise here.
At the time, naturally, most of the U.S. press swallowed such swill. But not the Brits. On the same BBC program on June 29, 2003, Dominic Nutt of Christian Aid replied:
- It is unmitigated nonsense in my view. He talks about some of the good news being lost. I tell you it is being lost in the sound of gunfire.
Two years later, the situation is even more chaotic. As the Post's Dan Balz wrote this morning:
- On the ground, little seems to have changed. After a decline around the time of the Iraqi elections in January, U.S. casualties have increased again this spring. Iraqi civilians are dying at higher rates than a year ago, and the number of car bombings has risen from 18 in June 2004 to 135 last month. Reconstruction has been halting. According to the Brookings Institution's Iraqi Index, monthly production of crude oil has not risen in the past year, nor has the reliability of electric power. Electricity nationwide was available on average for 8.4 hours per day in May, according to the report.
Bush sought to assure Americans that his plan for training Iraqi security forces is moving forward, saying more than 160,000 of them have "trained and equipped for a variety of missions." Last week, Biden said that only about 2,500 of those troops are capable of operating independently and that it will take two more years to build a fully functioning Iraqi army.
No wonder Bush dialed 9/11 and said he felt threatened by strangers.