President Bush is making his case for ''staying the course'' in Iraq with a series of speeches. He believes he will be vindicated by history for his decision to invade Iraq. He is sending his whole team out with the message – a message that can be summed up as, ''We cannot give up.'' The President said, ''If we give up the fight in Baghdad we will face the terrorists in the streets of our own cities.''
The president's reasoning has more to do with getting his base on the streets on November 7 (the day of the mid-term elections), than it does getting terrorists off the streets of our nation. His motivational techniques are more fitting of a televangelist, than a president. The only problem is that Americans cannot simply tune out the president and hope he goes away for good. Nor can we send in a $25 dollar check or vote for a Republican in November, and expect for our souls and/or lives to be saved.
Advertisement - story continues below
In fact, the president's fear-based rhetoric is more background noise than the basis of a sound strategy against terrorism. The president's ''terrorism strategy'' can be summed up in one word, Iraq. We have little to no money or manpower for anything else.
We faced terrorists in the streets of our cities when they attacked us on September 11, 2001. Yet, even the president has admitted Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with that attack. The man who masterminded that operation, Osama bin Laden, is still a free man. His organization's media presence has grown from crude videotapes to streamed Internet video and podcasts. Bin Laden is still sending his message of hate through the airwaves. The administration's strategy against bin Laden is to isolate him and the rest of the al-Qaida leadership, but this is about as effective as removing Saddam Hussein. As the CIA reports, al-Qaida has adapted quickly to recruit new cells, which are more difficult to find and stop.
The White House, along with the Republican National Committee, is also fond of media recruitment tools. They send sound clips and talking points to hosts and like-minded publications across the country. On the issue of Iraq, these messages range from the ''Democrats are just cut and run,'' to words like ''appeasement'' with broad comparisons to the appeasement of Hitler in Germany by the British.
Secretary Rumsfeld trotted out Hitler for a gratuitous comparison to Iraq in a speech this week. It's an odd time to put Hitler on the parade stand, or perhaps grandstand is a better metaphor. The first Bush administration effectively used the Hitler comparison when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. But eight years of war with Iran, the first Gulf war, and over a decade of sanctions left Saddam with cash in his pocket thanks to under-the-table oil trading, but little else in terms of threatening weaponry. You don't seem to hear the phrase ''weapons of mass destruction,'' anymore – the ''original'' cause for war in Iraq.
Advertisement - story continues below
So the president's Iraq public relations campaign has morphed from stopping Saddam from having and giving away weapons of mass destruction to creating democracy in the Middle East, to what is now staying the course or make way for another Hitler. Huh? Who are we fighting in Iraq? Who is the enemy? Insurgents? Terrorists? Saddam loyalists? Or, all of the above? That's the problem. According to troops in Iraq and senior military leadership, we don't really know who or what we are fighting in Iraq. The country is on the brink, if not in, a civil war. Iraq's army is decimated. Remember, J. Paul Bremer fired them all? Our troops cannot determine friend from foe. Who is going to stabilize the country? There is no real leadership that unites the country.
Iraq is a wholly broken nation. Casualties are up over 50 percent according to the Pentagon's own report issued this week. Most of the worst news never makes it to the U.S. There is information that has been filtering down about the terrible situation in Iraq including the destruction of Abrams tanks with estimates by some that in order to ''stay the course'' and not ''cut and run,'' we will need 500,000 troops to do the job. And then, we may not even be able to ''do the job.''
So, while the Bush administration is dusting off the Hitler doll for the congressional elections this November, and the Republican National Committee is pouring money into Get Out The Vote campaigns rather than individual elections, the reality of our Iraq policy is getting lost in the politics. It is a shame. Iraqis are dying in greater numbers than ever before. Our troops caught in the middle of a civil war.
Hopefully, the American people will see though the talk and take the action that is needed this November.