Yesterday, President George W. Bush made a major speech on the Iraq War announcing his plan for “victory in Iraq.” The plan, detailed in a 35 page document titled “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq,” expands on the Bush administration’s recent claims that victory in Iraq is still possible and that while it will take an unknown amount of time to “win,” the United States cannot abandon Iraq. Central to this argument is the notion that “winning” the Iraq War is in the United States’ interest and throughout the document the interests of the United States are repeatedly put before any Iraqi interests—US victory is described as a “vital interest” because otherwise Iraq would become a “safe haven” for terrorists, would encourage middle eastern reformers who would improved stability for US interests, and would prevent “tribal and sectarian chaos” that would threaten “American security and interests in the region.” The document makes no mention of the Iraqi people and their desires and instead mentions, albeit briefly, that the United States will work with the Iraqi government in determining when the United States will leave Iraq—but as we have seen in the United States, there is frequently a huge disconnect between the views of the government and the citizens. Bush reiterated recent claims that “no war can be won on a timetable” and described a US presence in Iraq that would last for an unknown number of years and maintain its “lethal” capacity to strike even after the number of troops have been significantly reduced.
The document also introduced a new term to define the insurgency, calling them “rejectionists” and dismissing their concerns as lacking substance and lumping them in with the “terrorists” and “Saddam loyalists” that are seeking to derail the US victory in Iraq. The report quotes a June 28, 2005 speech in which Bush mentioned the September 11, 2001 five times, and while the report repeated many old arguments about Saddam Hussein “sponsoring terror,” there was little mention of the reasons for the war and no mention of the flawed intelligence leading up to the war. The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) has put together a series of talking points on the strategy and cites many instances in which the strategy makes erroneous assertions.
Reaction to President Bush’s speech has largely been dismissive or hostile, with early polls indicating that most Americans do not believe he has a serious plan for victory as another irrelevant speech on the war recycling tired rhetoric and outlining a plan that is destined to fail. It is not a surprising reaction given new cases of torture, the use of US-funded death squads in Iraq, the deaths of 85 US soldiers last month, and news that the military is funding “favorable” stories in the Iraqi media. However, despite the clear indications that the occupation of Iraq is crumbling, the corporate media obligingly gave large amounts of coverage to the Bush administration’s position and in most cases repeated its assertions uncritically.