In a forty-minute long speech yesterday to the National Endowment for Democracy, President George W. Bush defended “the war on terror” and the ongoing occupation of Iraq. During the speech (transcript), Bush sought to draw connections between the war on terrorism, which he described as a “global campaign of freedom” launched in response to “a global campaign of fear.” Bush described how the war in Iraq has become the “terrorists’” “…central front in their war against humanity” and that the United States continued presence is necessary in order to prevent Osama Bin Laden from taking over Iraq. The speech, like the majority of Bush’s speeches on Iraq, tried to draw connections between the war in Iraq and the September 11 terrorist attacks, with Bush mentioning the attacks seven times and using emotional descriptions of them in the earlier portions of his speech. Bush also likened the war on terrorism to “the fight against communism” during the Cold War, arguing that the terrorists, like the communists, have a “cold-blooded contempt for human life.”
The speech comes near the four-year anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan and at a time when there are continued doubts about the Bush administration’s “success” in Iraq. With the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq rapidly approaching 2,000 and with the Bush administration reaffirming that the “war on terror” will last decades, many in the United States are calling for a withdrawal and the Democrats are increasingly asking questions about Iraq. Bush’s speech sought to alleviate the growing concerns, but it will likely fail to do that and for many his simplistic response to critics that if the United States leaves Iraq Osama Bin Laden will take over the country will be easily dismissed. Moreover, Bush’s five point plan to win the war on terror–the prevention of terrorist attacks before they happen, stopping “outlaw regimes” from gaining weapons of mass destruction, denying support to radical groups, denying “militants” control of countries, and advancing democracy in the Middle East to stunt terrorist recruitment—offers nothing new and in many ways, reflects the simplistic reasoning of a man who believes he was told by God to invade Iraq.