Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Five Points of Reality Jim Gets Wrong

WaPo Columnist Jim Hoagland wrote a respectful, yet castigating letter to President Bush regarding the President's "Iraq Plan" speech. Mr. Hoagland, you are just plain wrong.

Mr Hoagland says of President Bush, "Your recent vacillation on policies -- unilateralist one day, U.N.-centered the next -- suggests you are letting yourself be pulled in different directions by putative allies and your aides in daily, desperate improvisation. By letting King Abdullah of Jordan and other Sunni leaders poison your view of what Shiite rule in Iraq would mean, you leave the impression that you had not thought through your promise of democracy for Iraq before going to war."

Mr Hoagland, have you read the list of nations involved in operations in Iraq? Unilateral is not defined as "without UN permission". Unilateral means "alone". We are not, nor have we ever been, alone in our determination to rid the world of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime. This rhetoric is old, old, old. The "phony war" agenda is a team of two old, worn out horses, pulling an old, rickety wagon. One horse is dead in its traces (no connection between Al-Qaida and Saddam)and two of the wheels (no WMDs in Iraq) are gone. But those like you, Mr. Hoagland, are that other horse - blinders in place, determined to keep pulling along.

You also mention Sunnis "poisoning" President Bush against "Shiite rule" in Iraq. You only need to look at what Shiite rule has accomplished in other nations (Iran maybe?)to understand why that particular theocracy would be a bad idea. I also thought President Bush made it clear that there would be no particular group left out of governing Iraq. You have accused President Bush of poor leadership because he has been willing to listen to ideas from other governments in the region. You don't find it astute to understand how other nations will react to the form of government being attempted in Iraq? I would think it a key factor in determining the probability of success.

You contradict yourself, Mr. Hoagland. You state the President should not have concentrated power in a provisional authority because it was damaging to the credibility of the purpose of liberation, rather than occupation. Then in your very next point you state the local "legitimized" government can't possibly be ready to do the job after June 30th. In your attempt to denigrate the President's reasoning, you make the case for why things are as they should be.

First there was a shrill left wind of "where's the UN??". Now the shrill left wind is "Brahimi is ineffective and his reported choice for a Shiite (A report which is being stated as incorrect today) Prime Minister is unpopular." First of all, the President has been trying to make it clear the UN was ineffective for a couple of years now. Now you believe him? Secondly, Unpopular to whom, Mr. Hoagland? This is national politics - of course people are going to disagree on who should be the Prime Minister.

You have said, Mr. Hoagland, that NATO allies are not going to take up new burdens while the President campaigns for reelection and Germany and France have no incentive to risk taking on such a burden. I agree, but you fail to understand NATO countries are already involved in Iraq and we don't need Russia (zero combat troops in GW1), Germany (zero boots on the ground in GW1) or France (7K soldiers in GW1). We are not fighting an Iraqi army - we are building one.

Your final point is so incomprehensible, as to be difficult to address. I think you reference which combatants should be held in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and which should not. I think the President made the distinction very clear many months ago. If you weren't listening, that is really more your fault and not the President's.


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