Friday, September 14, 2007

Obsidian Wings


The single best blog about all things Iraq is Obsidian Wings. This is the entry of today:

Bush's Pointless Speech
by hilzoy

In a move that caught all of Washington by surprise, President Bush announced tonight that he will begin drawing down troops at almost exactly the rate that he must draw them down unless he is prepared to extend troop rotations or institute the draft. In another startling move, he described this drawdown not as forced on him by deployment schedules, but as a "return on success": the tremendous success of the surge. In so doing, once again, our President shows himself to be a true visionary: seeing things invisible to ordinary men and women. Where we see only a country in the process of falling apart, our more discerning President sees success. Where we see millions of people fleeing their homes, he sees 'civil society taking root'. And, somehow, he sees "a young democracy" where we see dead people.

And to top it all off, where we see a President determined to keep our troops in harm's way for as long as possible, hoping that the civil war unleashed by his folly will unfold on someone else's watch, he sees a chance, "for the first time in years, for people who have been on opposite sides of this difficult debate to come together." Although why he thinks this is so novel escapes me: it has always been possible for both sides to come together if all those who disagree with George W. Bush simply abandon their positions, and this is not the first time he has suggested that we embrace this sort of bipartisanship.

The President also said this:

"In the life of all free nations, there come moments that decide the direction of a country and reveal the character of its people. We are now at such a moment."

Here, for once, I agree completely. We have had clear evidence that our policy in Iraq is unworkable for some time. We need to decide what to do about it. And we have, essentially, two choices. On the one hand, we can face up to this fact, as unpleasant as it might be, and figure out the most honorable way of extricating ourselves. On the other, we can continue to defer the moment when we have to realize that we have failed, and go on sacrificing good and decent men and women to our unwillingness to face the truth.

This will, as President Bush says, reveal our character as a people. I would much rather it reveal some capacity for maturity and decency than a willingness to ask people to die so that we can pretend we haven't lost.


And by the way: don't you love all those youth and growth metaphors? "A young democracy", for instance: if you have a young anything, just give it the food and care and love that it needs, and it will grow. "For lasting reconciliation to take root": if you have a plant, and you set it in good soil and water it conscientiously, its roots will grow. If Iraq were a child or a plant, then the surge -- whose entire aim is to provide the conditions in which reconciliation can flourish and democracy can grow to maturity -- would be exactly what was needed.

When I hear these metaphors, I think: it's as though Bush had planted a stone in fertile soil, and watered it, and said: any moment now, it will put down some roots and begin to grow! Eventually, it will become a boulder!

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