Perfidy on last night’s speech

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. President

Johno at the Ministry of Minor Perfidy has what I consider to be a top-notch summary and commentary on Bush’s speech. Yeah, he credits the speech-writer with what he considered the best parts, but that same logic applies all the time to everyone so I’ll say no more. I encourage you to go read it. (Please note that this is quite unusual. Generally, when I direct you to the Ministry it’s to read a post by Buckethead.)

He points out my claim that what Bush said last night is the same thing he’s been saying all along, and disagrees. He and I certainly don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and this is bound to be one of those issues. I’m willing to grant that the message has been tweaked and spun, and that the direction we’re sailing has been adjusted and modified as the situation has changed, but I don’t believe that the President’s plans for a significant Iraqi army or for providing the military with the troops or equipment it wants are “180 degree” changes of tack.

It’s obvious that using former high-level Iraqi military personnel wasn’t part of the original plan, but I honestly don’t think that it signals the end of the de-Ba’athification process.

And when did Bush indicate that the military wouldn’t get what it needed? Most of what I’ve heard indicates that the military commanders were happy with their force levels until the fighting in late March erupted. It was the military talking heads, for the most part, that railed on and on about manpower shortages in Iraq. Sure, there’s spin and bound to be pressure to make do, but I certainly wouldn’t call Bush’s words a major change in policy.

Still, even though I think he missed the mark about Bush’s change in plans, Johno’s right on the money in his analysis.


  1. Murdoc, thanks for the kind words. As we differ more on matters of opinion than on fact, I think we can leave things as they are. I would like to amplify something I said, though, about the military getting what it wants. I don’t have time to research at the moment, but my fuzzy nonspecific sense is that some members of the military were asking for more troops as far back as LAST May-April, for example Gen. Shinseki. Since the folks that asked for more troops kept getting the sack, Bush’s promises on Monday seemed particularly ironic. More than the incessant yammering of the talking heads, this is what I have tried to go on. I should also have probably made mention of something that was rattling around in my head while I was writing the post, about non-troop shortages, like of armor and water. These persistent failures of the supply chain, though they are certainly not really Bush’s fault (Clinton pared down the Army, Rummy seems to think along similar lines, supply-chain security in any event ain’t the Pars-dent’s problem) stand as a real-world counterbalance to the rhetoric that Bush is currently using. Also, I hereby retract my ‘180 degree’ comment. Bush has made more of a course-change midstream than an effort to paddle back up shit crick, and I ought to have written more precisely and less polemically. Anyway, thanks for the link and kudos.

  2. Johno: I think the supply and equipment shortages are disgraceful, and I’ve written about them fairly often (especially the shameful body armor issue) on my site. There’s no doubt that we certainly could have used more boots on the ground during the initial post-major combat phase, but more troops during the invasion probably would have made the supply line issues even worse, and the advance to Baghdad and Tikrit occurred so quickly I think that the occupation plans were blown up from day one. Not to make excuses, mind you. We really botched the post-invasion phase, and there’s no denying that we should have done a better job of it. But I think we’ve done as well with the Army that’s available as we were probably capable of doing. And when you change your words from ‘180 degree change’ to ‘course-change’ I fall in line and will agree with you 100% When I said the speech was more of the same, I meant in the larger, vision-sized scope of things. There’s no doubt that we’ve done a lot of making things up as we go along, but that’s what war (and life in general) is like. Thanks for responding, and keep up the good work, even though I don’t often agree with you…