Five years later . . .

The “Loyal Opposition” and the BDS-sufferers have never recovered.

Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.) And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

[Hold.  See below — #4]

In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment — yet, it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it. Your courage, your willingness to face danger for your country and for each other, made this day possible. Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free. (Applause.)

[Check]

Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before. From distant bases or ships at sea, we sent planes and missiles that could destroy an enemy division, or strike a single bunker. Marines and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground, in one of the swiftest advances of heavy arms in history. You have shown the world the skill and the might of the American Armed Forces.

[Check]

This nation thanks all the members of our coalition who joined in a noble cause. We thank the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland, who shared in the hardships of war. We thank all the citizens of Iraq who welcomed our troops and joined in the liberation of their own country. And tonight, I have a special word for Secretary Rumsfeld, for General Franks, and for all the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States: America is grateful for a job well done. (Applause.)

[Hold.  Not all of America]

The character of our military through history — the daring of Normandy, the fierce courage of Iwo Jima, the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies — is fully present in this generation. When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength and kindness and goodwill. When I look at the members of the United States military, I see the best of our country, and I’m honored to be your Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)

[Check]

In the images of falling statues, we have witnessed the arrival of a new era. For a hundred of years of war, culminating in the nuclear age, military technology was designed and deployed to inflict casualties on an ever-growing scale. In defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Allied forces destroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflict were safe until the final days. Military power was used to end a regime by breaking a nation.

  [Check]

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. (Applause.)

  [Hold.  How “innocent” were the innocent?  To what extent can the Iraqi people be held responsible for their failure to overthrow Saddam themselves?  We killed hundreds of thousands of Germans and Japanese civilians for their complicity in allowing criminal regimes to run their countries.  How froggy would the Fedayeen Saddam and Former Regime Loyalists have been if the surviving Iraqis had been so traumatized by us that continued resistance was no longer tolerable to them?  Sparing Iraqi civilians probably did facilitate the eventual creation of a capable client-state in the heart of the Middle East, but it was contrary to Jacksonian principles of war and cost us blood we didn’t have the stomach to spill in a cause the value of which we were not convinced.]

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. (Applause.)

[Hold.  Islam cannot abide liberty]

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We’re bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We’re pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We’ve begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We’re helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. (Applause.)

[Check]

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. (Applause.)

[Hold.  Not enough Americans believe it is worth the effort.] 

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. (Applause.)

  [Check]

In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban, many terrorists, and the camps where they trained. We continue to help the Afghan people lay roads, restore hospitals, and educate all of their children. Yet we also have dangerous work to complete. As I speak, a Special Operations task force, led by the 82nd Airborne, is on the trail of the terrorists and those who seek to undermine the free government of Afghanistan. America and our coalition will finish what we have begun. (Applause.)

  [Hold.  We did destroy the Taliban.  It didn’t stay destroyed.] 

From Pakistan to the Philippines to the Horn of Africa, we are hunting down al Qaeda killers. Nineteen months ago, I pledged that the terrorists would not escape the patient justice of the United States. And as of tonight, nearly one-half of al Qaeda’s senior operatives have been captured or killed. (Applause.)

[Check.  One-half of the HVT’s known at that time.] 

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. (Applause.)

[Check. They’ll get ’em from the Syrian, Iranian or North Korean regimes.]

In these 19 months that changed the world, our actions have been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offense. We have not forgotten the victims of September the 11th — the last phone calls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble. With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got. (Applause.)

[Check, although disproportionate response would have been more emotionally satisfying to Jacksonians, and would probably have attained our objectives quicker, at less cost to us and greater cost to them.  But we wanted to make allies of them, not tributaries.]

Our war against terror is proceeding according to principles that I have made clear to all: Any person involved in committing or planning terrorist attacks against the American people becomes an enemy of this country, and a target of American justice. (Applause.)

[Hold.  Justice is for criminals.  Destruction is for enemies.]

Any person, organization, or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and equally guilty of terrorist crimes.

[Hold.  Sounded good at the time, but persons and organizations in the United States haven’t been held to this.  The “Loyal Opposition” protects them.]

Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world — and will be confronted. (Applause.)

  [Check.  Confronted, probably.  Broken of bad habits?  Qaddafi was.  Not the rest.]

And anyone in the world, including the Arab world, who works and sacrifices for freedom has a loyal friend in the United States of America. (Applause.)

[Check]

Our commitment to liberty is America’s tradition — declared at our founding; affirmed in Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms; asserted in the Truman Doctrine and in Ronald Reagan’s challenge to an evil empire. We are committed to freedom in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in a peaceful Palestine. The advance of freedom is the surest strategy to undermine the appeal of terror in the world. Where freedom takes hold, hatred gives way to hope. When freedom takes hold, men and women turn to the peaceful pursuit of a better life. American values and American interests lead in the same direction: We stand for human liberty. (Applause.)

[Check.  Sounded good then.  Still sounds good, even though we’ve seen “free elections” that turned out badly]

The United States upholds these principles of security and freedom in many ways — with all the tools of diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence, and finance. We’re working with a broad coalition of nations that understand the threat and our shared responsibility to meet it. The use of force has been — and remains — our last resort. Yet all can know, friend and foe alike, that our nation has a mission: We will answer threats to our security, and we will defend the peace. (Applause.)

[Check]

Our mission continues. Al Qaeda is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly weapons remains a serious danger. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. Our government has taken unprecedented measures to defend the homeland. And we will continue to hunt down the enemy before he can strike. (Applause.)

[Check]

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. (Applause.)

[Hold.  Our resolve has been weakened.  We won’t know how badly until November.]

Other nations in history have fought in foreign lands and remained to occupy and exploit. Americans, following a battle, want nothing more than to return home. And that is your direction tonight. (Applause.) After service in the Afghan — and Iraqi theaters of war — after 100,000 miles, on the longest carrier deployment in recent history, you are homeward bound. (Applause.) Some of you will see new family members for the first time — 150 babies were born while their fathers were on the Lincoln. Your families are proud of you, and your nation will welcome you. (Applause.)

[Check]

We are mindful, as well, that some good men and women are not making the journey home. One of those who fell, Corporal Jason Mileo, spoke to his parents five days before his death. Jason’s father said, “He called us from the center of Baghdad, not to brag, but to tell us he loved us. Our son was a soldier.”

[Check]

Every name, every life is a loss to our military, to our nation, and to the loved ones who grieve. There’s no homecoming for these families. Yet we pray, in God’s time, their reunion will come.

[Check]

Those we lost were last seen on duty. Their final act on this Earth was to fight a great evil and bring liberty to others. All of you — all in this generation of our military — have taken up the highest calling of history. You’re defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope — a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “To the captives, ‘come out,’ — and to those in darkness, ‘be free.'”

[Check]

Thank you for serving our country and our cause. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless America.

  [Check]

The sticking point seems to be the definition of “major”, and the unpalatable truth that the thousands KIA since, so precious and irreplaceable in a nation of 300 million that bred only 5 million capable of meeting the standards required of our defenders, beloved of their families and canonized by American Exceptionalists, were lost in comparatively “minor” actions.  Taking Baghdad in the spring of 2003 was a major operation by any standard.  Operations in Iraq since then have rarely risen to a level that would be objectively considered historically “major.”  Fallujah II, perhaps.  There are over 500 known named operations listed under Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Were they all “major”?  Probably everybody who lost body parts in them thinks so.  Probably everybody who lost a family member in them thinks so.  Probably everybody who lost a buddy in them thinks so. 

But that’s not how historians rate the strategic significance of this or that battle, operation, skirmish, ambush, or action.  The mindless chant of “Bush Lied, People Died” is indicative of a mentality so bereft of any significant knowledge of military history as to be rendered incapable of good judgement on such matters.
 

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Five years later . . .

  1. Patrick Chester

    “Hold. How ‘innocent’ were the innocent? To what extent can the Iraqi people be held responsible for their failure to overthrow Saddam themselves?”

    There were at least two attempts to overthrow Saddam during the 90’s that failed. Badly. I’ll have to go look them up to see if either of them were open revolts involving a large percentage of a province’s populace or more.

    Would that cut them some slack?

  2. Sure, Patrick. About as much slack as we cut the Germans for unsuccessfully attempting to assassinate Hitler in July, 1944.

    I brought up the issue of collective guilt of citizens of rogue states for the evils of their rulers because IMHO Westphalian nation-states warring with Westphalian nation-states have often targeted the enemy’s population, breaking the national will to resist by fire and sword. Keep killing them until they do what you tell them. Jacksonians understand that way of war.

    Treating the Iraqis as “victims” to be rescued from Saddam didn’t terrorize enough of them to rat out insurgents. The reasons for our forbearance may have been valid but they were not well explained to the domestic target audience.

  3. Canno, one refrain I kept hearing was “Iraqis are now free”. But to the Iraqis, what did that mean? To the Kurds, it probably meant free from Saddam and external interference from Sunnis in their internal politics. To the Sunnis, it meant free to starve, free to conduct crime, free to loot, and free to take revenge.

    To the Shia, it was freedom from Sunni control.

    As America, which all three meta-factions (which the Kurds excluded themselves from, but even for them they wouldn’t reject American protection and benefits if asked) recognized as the ruler of Iraq even if Americans themselves refused to, kept telling Iraqis that they were “free”, the message got distorted into “free to do whatever the hell we want to do”.

    In the absence of order, terrorism gains strength and adherence because terrorism is a kind of order, an order that bases itself not upon consent but upon intimidation and fear.

    All America had to do was to conduct an Imperial governorship of Iraq, complete with transfering laws and institutions from America to Iraq. But American resistance to Colonial or Imperial doctrine prevented any thought of such solutions.

    And of course, America’s resistance to the idea of torture, helped by the MSM and distorted ideas, also refused the solution of Total War and psychological warfare that targeted people’s will. The same thing that terrorism does, except with more ethics.

  4. Would that cut them some slack?

    One primary reason why von Stauffenberg organized a coup composed of many Eastern Army Wehrmacht elements was because he knew that with Hitler’s self-destructive policies in place, this war will end up with Germany totally destroyed if it wasn’t stopped. And the only way to stop the war is to kill Hitler and conduct a coup on the gov.

    The same thing should have been a primary reason for Iraqis to overthrow Saddam. Because if they don’t, Saddam will bring war and devastation to their nation. And if it wasn’t for the fact that Saddam melted his forces away using the UN time Bush gave him, Iraqis probably would have focused their hate and rage against Saddam even had we blown up a couple of dozen cities with MOABs, FAEs, or nukes.

    But Saddam went out of power pretty fast and we replaced him. Thus all the frustrations of Iraqis had only one outlet. Through us.

  5. Things have gone wrong in the Iraq Campaign, no doubt. Things have gone wrong in every battle, campaign and war America has ever fought. Not since the War Between The States have Americans seen such a concerted effort to spotlight every error, emphasize every misstep, crucify the imperfect. The “Loyal Opposition” gains politically from everything that goes badly.

    They decided to deny this Commander-in-Chief legitimacy before he even took office. They denied him nearly all the tools his predecessors had for their wars. Bush is not Lincoln, and does not have the ruthlessness to break Copperheads of their bad habits. This lack of ruthlessness is interpreted by many as weakness.

    Some of the things that should have been done weren’t because they wanted to make Iraq a reliable client-state in the heart of the Middle East and thought killing them in large numbers would be a bad idea. A lot of the things that should have been done weren’t because nobody wanted to take the pain the “Loyal Opposition” would inflict over it, like a colonial-style MacArthurian Proconsul, a U. S. Constabulary occupation force, and de-Baathization.