Now, I realize that many of the liberal bloggers will talk about the problems with Bush's speech tonight, and I will no doubt agree with many assessments. They will talk about how Bush was sticking to the "we must stay until victory" stuff despite the overwhelming evidence that his rosy vision of the country is just another example of his selective viewing of the facts. They'll also show many news reports that deny Bush's claims. One thing I suspect they do and will miss is one glaring part of the speech that jumped out of the TV screen at me. The following portion is from the full text of the speech available at ThinkProgress.
"The terrorists do not merely object to American actions in Iraq and elsewhere – they object to our deepest values and our way of life. And if we were not fighting them in Iraq … in Afghanistan … in Southeast Asia … and in other places, the terrorists would not be peaceful citizens – they would be on the offense, and headed our way.
September 11th, 2001 required us to take every emerging threat to our country seriously, and it shattered the illusion that terrorists attack us only after we provoke them. On that day, we were not in Iraq … we were not in Afghanistan … but the terrorists attacked us anyway – and killed nearly 3,000 men, women, and children in our own country. My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad … removing their safe havens … and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share."
Do you see that? Do you see how brazen of a baseline claim he made there? It's not just his claims about Iraq that are erroneous and misleading. His very claim about September 11th is the starting point for this entire mess. He says that "the terrorists" attacked the US on 9/11/01 without provocation. They just attacked us because they're so evil and they hate that we're so good. If we stopped all our military actions, they would still attack us because they're just evil...that's how they roll.
This view right here forgets all history that predates 9/11/01. It misses the obvious fact that 1) we WERE in Iraq before 9/11 and in fact did have a military presence flying over Iraq daily to enforce our arbitrary "no-fly zones" and 2) the US has done many things prior to 9/11 to make people angry enough to design, plan, and execute a highly coordinated activity such as the 9/11 attacks. I shouldn't need to list them, but here's a sample: Iraq (the first time around as well as our support for Saddam Hussein's brutality in the 80's while he was committing his worst crimes), our support for Israel and their violence against Muslims, our military presence in Saudi Arabia, our traning and monetary support for Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan (a group that Reagan referred to as "freedom fighters"), and the list goes on.
The attacks on 9/11 were horrible and completely unjustified, but they were NOT unprovoked. The "they started it" defense is not only factually incorrect, it paints us as the innocent superpower that is justified in ANY response it takes to violence. 9/11 wasn't justifiable, and neither was the US invasion of Iraq. Before we will ever hope to see the end of the so-called "war on terror," we must be willing to look in the mirror and see the fault of our previous actions. We must begin to make amends for what we've done and get our house in order. Only then can we begin to talk about (much less undertake) the task of stopping the spread of terrorism around the globe. Only a good faith effort on our part will begin to change the perception that people from other countries have of us.
That and unequivocably stopping anything that could even possibly resemble torture. Repeating the lie "we do not torture" is obviously not working for us. By the way, I'm not advocating that we stop torturing just because it hurts America's image around the world. I think that we should not torture simply because it's wrong. End of story. We should need NO other reason to stop it. The fact that we even have to ask whether our government engages in torture tells me that we've gone too far.