Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More of the Same

In looking up information for the last post I did, I came across two recent speeches by our President. Consider first his most recent address explaining his decision to escalate in Iraq by 20,000 soldiers. Now check out his opening remarks before a press conference in October of 2006. I encourage folks to read them. They are eerily similar. There has been no substantive change in his view on the situation in Iraq over the past four months. This new policy really is just "stay the course" in different words. He uses the same buzz phrases in both. For example, in October he said

I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq. I'm not satisfied, either.

In January

The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people — and it is unacceptable to me.

In October, in addition to our military effort, our plan included

Yesterday, our Ambassador to Iraq, Zal Khalilzad laid out a three-step approach. First, we're working with political and religious leaders across Iraq, urging them to take steps to restrain their followers and stop sectarian violence.

Second, we're helping Iraqi leaders to complete work on a national compact to resolve the most difficult issues dividing their country. The new Iraqi government has condemned violence from all quarters and agreed to a schedule for resolving issues, such as disarming illegal militias and death squads, sharing oil revenues, amending the Iraqi constitution, and reforming the de-Baathification process.

Third, we're reaching out to Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan, and asking them to support the Iraqi government's efforts to persuade Sunni insurgents to lay down their arms and accept national reconciliation. The international community is also supporting the international compact that outlines the support that will be provided to Iraq as it moves forward with its own program of reform.

In January, in addition to our military effort, our plan included

To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend 10 billion dollars of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws — and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

... and ...

We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists — and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors — and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. And on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region — to build support for Iraq, and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.

The January speech gives very little in substantive change. Really, we have only two things, one is the claim that until now we only had forces in Baghdad sufficient to clear areas, but not to hold them. The 20,000 additional troops will make up that difference, although no argument or authority was cited to support the idea that 20,000 is enough to make a difference. Secondly, we will be adding additional air and naval forces to try an threaten Iran and Syria away from involvement in Iraq. So, this speech is indeed "stay the course" with a side order of "expand the war".

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