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July 30, 2007

Bush Fights Back, and It’s About Time


There is no doubt that President Bush has been admirably steadfast on the Iraq War. His approval numbers have taken a severe beating in recent months and years, as has his party in Congress and around the country. Through all of these difficulties, the president continues to maintain an admirable dedication to the fight in the Middle East, and despite his other flaws, America is lucky to have him in office at this difficult time.


That said, there is an equal lack of doubt that his communication about the war has been nothing short of dreadful. Few policies of such gargantuan importance in the history of the United States have been explained to Americans as poorly as the Iraq War has been, and for that, the war effort itself has suffered.


Many of us have had our fair share of training on the Middle East and have come to fully understand the complicated situation in the region. But many more – many, many more – have not. President Bush’s speeches have been broad and targeted at a seemingly ignorant populace. Are punch lines about fighting the terrorists and making America secure really enough to convince an entire nation to endure the death of its finest men and women? Who are the terrorists that we must so fiercely fight? How is the war making America more secure?


Democrats and those who oppose the war have seized on the president’s inability to articulate a convincing case for staying in Iraq to develop their own arguments. And, however ludicrous some of these are, they are nonetheless arguments that have been repeated frequently and forcefully by the media and the anti-war crowd. They are arguments that need counter-arguments, which the president has miserably failed to provide over the years.


President Bush’s speech at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina last week is a great example of what he should have been doing early and often in this struggle. The president took the arguments that he and his party have been so recurrently hammered with for such a long time, and, in a pleasant surprise, shot them down, one by one.


He even did a good job at it. After all, the fact that you are not speaking to a nation of scholars does not necessarily mean you are speaking to a nation of dummies. Americans appreciate a well-thought-out line of reasoning, and the president finally gave them a taste of one.


The speech combined a variety of the president’s usual punch lines and formed them into an intellectual rationale, supplementing it with new information and improved logic. The president eloquently stressed the point that the war in Iraq is really not just about Iraq – it is in fact the most important battlefield in the global war of ideologies. He did well seizing on the fodder inadvertently given to him by the likes of Osama Bin Laden, using the fanatic’s words against him by reminding Americans that the terrorists themselves believe that Iraq is the ultimate battle between Islamic radicalism and western ideals.


President Bush also went into some detail about the leading role of foreigners in the organization of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and their swearing of allegiance to Bin Laden. He skillfully incorporated into his speech a reminder of the large numbers of top terrorist leaders the U.S. military has killed or captured in the past few months and years. He reminded us that taking the fight to them would make us safer at home as, indeed, we have been in the last six years.


Most pleasing was the president’s decision to finally hit back at those who argue that terrorism is a fault of our own and of our actions. He said in his speech what many of us have repeated in columns and on television for years, namely, that atrocious terrorist attacks have long been occurring against American interests. He named the 1993 World Trade Center, the Kenya and Tanzania embassies and the USS Cole as a suggestion that it could be a bit of a stretch to blame the Iraq War for terrorist attacks that happened long before the invasion of Iraq.


In concluding what should be an archetypal statement for White House speechwriters, the president finished off by reminding us, in somewhat of a detailed manner this time, why it would be a terrible idea to leave Iraq. And again, it was a reminder that it is not just about Iraq. Abandoning that country would signify the abandonment of the whole region. Iraq and the Middle East would be handed on a silver platter to terrorists who will then use their new resources against us.


Some of us already understood all of this. Most did not. If the president continues giving such substantive speeches without fearing the reaction of his opponents, he just might be able to convince Americans of the importance of staying in Iraq as long as is needed. Unfortunately, due to too long a time of careless communication and explanation, even such solid speeches could very well be too little, too late.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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