Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I've got to be the only one blogging about this, but...

First of all, I'd like to point out that Exit145 had its 1,000 visitor today. Considering that more than half of those hits were likely from Eric and me this is not a huge event. Regardless, a heartfelt congratulations to....us.

That said, I'd like to make a few comments about the President's Iraq speech from last night. What's that you say? Everyone in the blogosphere is commenting on it? And they are all far more qualified to do so? Well, then turn the channel guy because it's coming anyway.

There was not much new information given by Bush, but my gut reaction to the speech was largely positive. A few points:

1) Among the American public, the President's disapproval numbers are at an all-time low. Far more importantly, however, support for the war has plummeted. This cannot be good for morale among the troops currently serving in Iraq, so a passionate call for support by their commander-in-chief, days before July 4th, is necessary and wise. The location of the speech (Fort Bragg, NC), the introduction of this website and the majority of the rhetoric were, one would surmise, aimed at improving levels of morale among very tested forces.

2) Bush avoided any 'last throes'-type comments and painted a less rosy picture of the Iraqi scene as compared to what others in the administration have done recently. While he obviously lauded the accomplishments of the past two years in Iraq (and elsewhere), he did begin to acknowledge the reality of a long road ahead. Surely his critics would have wanted Bush to admit that we're screwed indefinitely, but that was not going to occur last night.

3) Bush also laid down the law (once again) concerning any type of exit strategy. In classic Bush fashion ("not on my watch"), he left no room for interpretation on this front and anyone who heard the speech knows that the President will not be downsizing forces in the forseeable future. Perhaps his greatest strength shone here, as there is little doubt as to who the President is when Bush gives such a speech. Unbending and uncompromising for better or for worse.

4) Bush reiterated the connections between the war on terror/Islamic extremism and the present situation in Iraq. Drawing on comments made by Bin Laden and actions taken by Zaqarwi, he was able to remind the public that we are fighting not simply for the freedom of Iraqis from despotic rule but also against the Islamic extremists who were responsible for 9/11 and much of the violence against innocents in Iraq right now. Like much of what Bush said in the speech, this point has been made before. Seems as though people need to be reminded from time to time however.

5) Bush briefly addressed concerns from some quarters that as many as 100,000 additional soldiers are needed to, among other things, seal off the border with Syria to prevent additional jihadists from streaming across. Granted, we don't want to increase the size of our footprint in a country and region already skeptical of our presence. It seems to me, however, that a larger force would take less time to handle the situation and would be able to withdraw more quickly. At that point the logistics become an issue, but we'll save that argument for another day. Regardless, Bush (and Rumsfeld) have both put the decision in the hands of their military experts. Repeatedly and publicly doing so borders on abdication of responsibility. And considering that officials (Bremer) and Generals (Shinseki) who have expressed interest in more boots on the ground have been marginalized or worse, I have a hard time believing that honesty (read: subordination) in such matters is always appreciated. I'm not the only one who thinks so.

6) The delivery of the speech was better than average. For Bush. Forceful at times, but he's simply not the world's greatest orator. And I'm pretty sure I caught a smirk during the phrase 'carbombers and assassins.' But no matter how bad a speaker he is, I'm just glad I voted for the President instead of this guy.

Here's to another 1,000.

--Frank

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