November 30, 2005

President Bush's Iraq Plan Speech

Marc Comtois

Anchor Rising contributor Mac Owens alludes to Federalist 71 as he gives his positive impression of the President's Iraq strategy speech:

I don’t know if President Bush has ever read The Federalist Papers, but the steps he is to taking to explain the policy and strategy of the United States in Iraq means that he has at long last recognized [Alexander] Hamilton’s principle. His speech today at the Naval Academy is as fine an example of republican rhetoric as I have heard since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

We often forget that opinion polls have no constitutional standing. Nonetheless, when properly done, they can tell us a great deal about what the citizenry are thinking. And it is clear that in the absence of any attempt by the president to defend his policies, the vacuum has been filled by “by the wiles of parasites and sycophants, by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate, by the artifices of men who possess [the people’s] confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to possess rather than to deserve it.” Under such circumstances, it should not be surprising that public support for the war has gone down.

Another name for such operators is “demagogue.” Our demagogues have pandered to the fears and weaknesses of the American rather than to their virtues and strengths. In his Naval Academy speech, President Bush did just the opposite, exercising his “duty [as one whom the people have] appointed to be the guardians of [their] … interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection.”

Today’s speech is the opening salvo in a campaign of public diplomacy to reinvigorate the war effort and restore public support for our enterprise in Iraq. . . . The fact is that the United States has always had a strategy for Iraq, but any strategy worthy of the name must be adaptable.

What critics mean when they say there is no strategy is that they don’t like what the president is doing, although none have offered any alternative but withdrawal. By publishing the outline of his strategy, the president makes it impossible for his critics to take the easy way out. Now they will have to put up or shut up…if only.

Instapundit also notes that the plan has been there all along:
Some people are asking what's new about this strategy. The answer. . . is nothing, really. . .

What's new is that the White House is forcing people to pay attention to the plan, and to the fact that there is, and has been, a plan even though the press has ignored it. That many media outfits, as Henke notes, seem to think this is all new is merely evidence that they've been providing lousy war coverage all along.

But the White House, if a bit late in the day, is doing something it needs to do. You can't rely on bloggers to do it all.


Rich Lowry perceptively notes that the President found himself in a "rhetorical box" with his "stay the course" mantra. Thankfully, this speech kicked the walls of the box down. From the speech:

Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to, "stay the course." If by "stay the course," they mean we will not allow the terrorists to break our will, they are right. If by "stay the course," they mean we will not permit al Qaeda to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a safe haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on America -- they are right, as well. If by "stay the course" they mean that we're not learning from our experiences, or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground, then they're flat wrong. As our top commander in Iraq, General Casey, has said, "Our commanders on the ground are continuously adapting and adjusting, not only to what the enemy does, but also to try to out-think the enemy and get ahead of him." Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics are flexible and dynamic; we have changed them as conditions required and they are bringing us victory against a brutal enemy.