Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The President's Speech

I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to think about it. I didn't even want to listen to it - so much so that I took a shower that I knew would be cold, in order to drown out his voice droning on at his oh-so-choreographed public relations jaunt at the Naval Academy.

But, I found myself later at the White House website, reading the transcript and later, thinking about it. Blast! Not that I'm going to have the definitive response; I'm not sure I have a cogent response at all. But we -the body politic- must talk about it.

On some level, he told us to.
So, today we're releasing a document called the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. This is an unclassified version of the strategy we've been pursuing in Iraq.... I urge all Americans to read it.

So, I did. I had a dentist appointment and I knew they'd keep me waiting. I'm on the third part of the grand total of four. I've learned who, apparently, our enemy is. This dreaded enemy has multiple dimensions or faces, but it's not who we were told at the outset, interestingly enough. I've learned all kinds of things in this glorified press release, except.... when do the troops come home. The President will accept nothing short of complete victory in this war, so the troops can't come home until then.

So, what's victory, you ask? Well, there you have the problem. Victory is defined for the purposes of his document; it has multiple parts as well. It's just that victory is defined with only the vaguest reference to the stated enemy. Am I missing something? It seems to me that victory in the context of war means vanquishing some kind of enemy. But here we have an enemy, it seems, a war, and a definition of victory that have very little to do one with another.

As a student paper, I'd give it a C-. You actually have to read it carefully to realize that there's no underlying logic. Someone went to a lot of trouble to make it seem that this plan hangs together logically. So, I wouldn't fail the paper, just based on the effort. But, this isn't cute or funny. It isn't even mostly a logical undertaking, as much as I value those. People are dying, we have a military presence in a country where we've already been asked to leave, and we were never "welcomed as liberators" as we were promised. So, the fact that his definitions and outcomes don't match isn't the primary issue.

On the other hand, the fact that it's so blatantly logically flawed tells us that the enterprise is doomed. Which we already suspected, heaven knows. So, the question on my mind is, does he really not know this? Without sashaying into treason or libel -or just malicious behavior- do we really have a President who believes his own rhetoric? The thought beginning to creep in at the edges of my consciousness is that there might really be mental health/social work issues here -and that doesn't help me to sleep well at night.

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