Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, April 30, 2004  

In celebration of tomorrow's anniversary of the great "Mission Accomplished" debacle, I'll take Scott McClellan up on his challenge. Yesterday, when he was asked if the President had any regrets about the premature ejaculation of glee (not exactly the reporter's words), Scott bristled and said: "Let's go back and look at his remarks. He also declared that there is more to do, that difficulties remain in Iraq."

Indeed, let's go back and look.

Bush started out modestly--by comparing his victory to WWII. His vision, you see, was infused with the same moral clarity of the champions of 1945.

Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.

In the images of celebrating Iraqis, we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.

I fairly hear the angels singing; I see the dappled light upon his shoulders. Fair enough--he was speaking for a nation and for soldiers (though he was the guy who vamped in a flight suit). So let him overstate the accomplishment. But after that came the boasts he may regret. First there was this one:

The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

Bush then made the mistake of lying, connecting our invasion to the 9/11 attacks--even then a position supported by absolutely no evidence. I'd love to hear a reporter quote these paragraphs and ask Bush to remind us again of the connections he believes he saw between Iraq and al Qaida.

The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, that September the 11th would be the "beginning of the end of America." By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation's resolve, and force our retreat from the world. They have failed...

The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more.

Finally, the words Scott hopes to hang his hat on--the qualifications. But even this may not be a statement the administration will rush to stand on (itals mine).

The war on terror is not over; yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide. No act of the terrorists will change our purpose, or weaken our resolve, or alter their fate. Their cause is lost. Free nations will press on to victory.

All right, Scott, let's ask again: is there anything the President regrets from this speech?

The administration's giddy triumphalism lives on digitally. It includes a "Vision for Iraq" ("All the Iraqi people ... should enjoy freedom, prosperity, and equality in a united country." " Iraq must never again be a haven for terrorists of any kind.") There's a photo essay that shares all the subtlety of Soviet Realism. There's further propaganda about the Coalition (representing a high-water mark of support that even then included countries like Slovakia who had not yet been bought off and was never a supporter). And of course, it glowingly highlights all the President's carefully-scripted words.

posted by Jeff | 7:47 AM |
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