Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The speech

Here’s the text.

A few points are preliminarily worth noting. First, he’s very clear about what’s at stake:

The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.

Second, the Iraqis have allegedly given us a green light to go after bad guys that we haven’t had before. If this isn’t the case, well, then:

I’ve made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq’s other leaders that America’s commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."

Third, there’s more blood, toil, tears, and sweat to come.

Fourth, thre are benchmarks for the Iraqi government, a political dimension for which this military effort provides support and defense.

Fifth, GWB hasn’t abandoned his vision:

The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region. 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.

From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom?

Sixth, he has formed a coalition of the willing (to talk) with Congress.

And lastly, he "addresses" Syria and Iran, not by entering into conversations, but by making clear that they’re part of the problem:

These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.

If he’s serious about this, then Syria and Iran may have some worries about their own "territorial integrity."

Discussions - 3 Comments

He only mentioned two carrier strike groups, but a third one is to leave Washington by late month, according to the Navy, for the Persian Gulf. That and the offer of Patriots to regional allies sounds like something bigger is afoot.

Good analysis, and a promising speech.

I am torn. As I watched the president last night I felt sorry. I really really wanted to rally behind him.

However I just can’t buy the domino theory. The domino theory only holds water if you figure we will stand around and let a hostile nation build up and create a pipeline of evil with other potential terrorist states.

Is Bush suggesting we have only two choices?

C’mon, we all know that is a false choice and his attempt to force a false choice on me seems to override my urge to rally around him.

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