I didn’t catch Bush’s speech on tube, but reading it is undoubtedly better than watching him deliver it anyway. That said, it’s not the most informative piece of writing I’ve ever seen. To me this is the most important bit:
It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom – and to help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.
Like it or not, America’s obligations to the Iraqi people haven’t gone away just because we’re sick of George Bush.
I happen to believe that he deliberately misled us about the WMDs and I know that his military minds missed the opportunity to secure Iraq by not sending enough troops.
But I also believe that America must do her utmost to leave the Iraqis in a viable situation. It’s bad enough that 50-100,000 Iraqis are dead – how many more will be murdered if we leave?
Only when and if it becomes obvious that there is no chance of success can we abandon them. That point hasn’t been reached. On the contrary, the truth is that we haven’t really given it our best effort yet. At no time have we committed anywhere near the number of the troops to Iraq as were in theater during the first Gulf War. If we had we wouldn’t be in this situation now.
My opinion is that 20,000 troops won’t be enough to pacify Baghdad and that the Iraqi government and army aren’t strong enough to do what’s needed. That means we should do more, not less, until the day is won or hope is lost.
That’s what fairness to the Iraqi people demands. Near the end, Bush said:
It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed.
Perhaps it’s easy for him to say since he’s not out there getting his ass shot at. But I don’t think so. I think he means it and feels it deeply.
Maliki hasn’t been doing his part so far. But if we’re going to run out on him he deserves fair warning if nothing more. This, I think, is it.