Liveblogging The Bush Speech

(8:55) OK, 5 minutes until the Bush speech. Let’s hope that he has spent a few hours getting prepared.

(9:00) Back in October 25, 2006 — I wrote a piece called The Way Forward in Iraq. In it, I wrote:

“However, there is one idea with merit that has come out of the study group and that’s benchmarks. What are benchmarks? Think of it as a private timeline that’s shared between the U.S. and Iraq and it’s going to be the way forward for us in Iraq.

…Although George Bush may be our commander in chief, Congress also has a big say over what we do in Iraq and after the elections, the pressure from Democrats and Republicans on Bush to get our troops out of Iraq is going to start ramping up significantly. Does that mean Bush will be forced to cut and run? No, but it probably means that he essentially has a window that will last through 2007 to do what he needs to do in Iraq before, at a minimum, our troops will have to fill a role more similar to the one they play in Afghanistan than the one they play in Iraq. That means our special forces may be active and we may be helping with training, logistics, and air power, but we’re not going to have our troops policing Iraq on a day-to-day basis. And let’s be completely honest here. We invaded Iraq in March of 2003, so by the end of 2007, we’ll have been there for more than four and one-half years. Quite frankly, by that point, the Iraqis should be policing their own streets, fighting their own battles, and dealing with their own internal bad actors.

…So, basically what we need to do is reaffirm to the government of Iraq that if they want to start cleaning out these militias now, we’re going to be right there beside of them. But, they also need to understand that whether they want to deal with the problem or not, we’re starting to get close to the time when the training wheels are going to come off the bike. In other words, they can deal with the militias now, when we’ve got 140,000 troops in the country, fighting beside them or they can deal with the situation at the end of 2007, when 70,000 or 80,000 of those troops will have probably already headed back to the US. The only thing they can’t do is keep us hanging around forever while they try to make up their minds.

Does that mean we set an artificial deadline based on political concerns? No. But, as George Bush has said many times, “As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down,” — and quite frankly, by the end of 2007, they should have had enough time to stand up. Granted, it would be tempting for us to hover over them like a mother hen over her eggs, but there comes a time when, for good or ill, you’ve got to cut the apron strings. We’re getting to that point in Iraq.”

It sounds like that’s what we’re doing. Taking on the militias, benchmarks, and having them takeover policing their own country by the end of 2007. That’s great.

(9:02) Fox cut in late because Brit Hume was blathering. Good grief.

(9:04) That’s right. If we cut and run, Iraq could be another terrorist enclave like Taliban Afghanistan.

(9:05) 9 districts, 18 brigades. He should have broken it down by troops like Snow did. Maybe that’s coming up.

(9:07) Why will this effort succeed?

(9:07) This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to take ’em out and either the Iraqis go through with it or they lose or support. Good.

(9:11) We will hold them to the benchmarks they’ve announced. They will take responsibility for security by November. Oil revenues to all Iraqis. They will spend 10 billion of their own money on new jobs. More elections. Reform debaathification allows. We will help them get these things going.

(9:12) He should emphasized that they were taking over their own security by November more. I think that’s the key to the whole speech.

(9:13) So Al-Qaeda wants to control Anbar and the Democrats want to pull our troops out while they’re fighting and winning against them with the help of local tribesmen? Really?

(9:14) Iran and Syria are causing problems in Iraq. Iran is allowing attacks on us. We are going to disrupt them. It’s about time! The Democrats will freak over this, I bet.

(9:15) This is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. Yes, it is.

(9:16) They are watching Iraq. Will the Democrats win and get us to give in to the terrorists or will we stick in there? Exactly.

(9:17) Deadly acts of violence will continue. No surrender ceremony, but it will mean a functional democracy, that polices its own borders. Yes, spot on.

(9:18) Scale back or withdrawal? To step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and cause mass killings. That’s the result of the Democrat cut and run strategy.

(9:19) Yes, how will the Democrat cut and run strategy help us “succeed” in Iraq?

(9:20) We need to increase size of the military.

(9:21) Times of testing reveal character. Will we quit and fail this time? Not if I have my way.

Summary: I liked this speech a lot because it revealed a workable plan, it gave people a key date to watch (Nov, 2007 for the Iraqis to takeover), and it did seem to explain the point of the surge. I love the fact that he told the Iraqi government that they have gotta move on these militias, they’ve got to fulfill their promises. He also warned Iraq and Syria. Great. Not a great delivery, but it seldom is with Bush. All in all, B+.

Dick Durbin’s Response

(9:25) We must surrender to the terrorists! We must lose, lose, lose!

(9:26) We have given them so much, but we must allow them to collapse now, even though they only need until November to takeover security in their own country.

(9:28) We must surrender now, before Bush’s plan has a chance to work!

(9:28) Bush wants to win. Durbin wants to surrender. Seems pretty straightforward.

Durbin Summary: If Bush is saying, “We need until November to get the Iraqis taking over the policing of their country,” how do you even come back and demand that we give up now and leave the Iraqis to die? Bush is at least offering up a hope for victory and Durbin is offering nothing but a dishonorable surrender to the terrorists. I think it’s pretty clear which policy makes more sense.

Update #1: Here’s the
text of the Bush’s speech as prepared for delivery.

Update #2: The press releases are already flying fast and furious. Herre’s the key phrase from a Duncan Hunter release:

“We are a nation at war. To fracture the U.S. government at this critical time will demoralize our troops and allies, and embolden our enemies. I support the Commander-in-Chief in this operation.”

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