With those words, President Bush began the portion of his speech Tuesday night that was yet another justification for taking on Iraq, for turning it into a terrorist haven and a killing field. I am not comforted by his assurances, and not because I fear the long arm of al-Qaeda; it's how he will use his misrepresentation of success to muscle through more changes in our lives that I fear most.
I am more afraid
than I am of
my country's enemy.
This is how our lives have changed since 9/11: an abrogation of our rights and our most basic liberties, no habeus corpus for anyone in U.S. custody, warrantless wiretaps and phone company data mining, the inability to board a plane because your name is on a list, sanctioned torture, needless passport laws and a baggie full of travel-size lotions.
Hector-the-Projector struck again later in the speech, with his characterization of the enemy we are killing and dying to fight:
"They preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs, and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent."
If you substitute the word "democracy" for "paradise" (no, they are not always inter-changeable) Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghans (and soon Iranians) can be saying the same thing about us.
The real problem here is Bush believes in this fight as if it were a classic biblical battle against a godless enemy, and those whom we fight feel the same:
"This war is more than a clash of arms -- it is a decisive ideological struggle..."
The problem here is that wars for ideological principles weren't even that successful in their heyday, a thousand years ago.
ANOTHER PROSE AND THORN TRUTH:
Just because our guns are bigger
doesn't mean we're right.
Fighting for a principal in a "civilized society" is something you do with words in Debate Club, not with weapons in an armed conflict eight thousand miles away, and not in someone else's civil war (regardless of the fact that we started it). But Bush says he didn't mean to be in a war like this:
"This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in."
And that is what has really changed for the terrorists since 9/11. The fight we wanted, the one that made the most sense, was the one that we could stop with a vigilant government that doesn't ignore warnings. But now, the "fight we're in" is the fight the terrorists want, and despite his Texas machismo, Bush cannot stop his own ignorant disaster from delivering the dead to our doorstep.
So be afraid, America.
"If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict."For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally -- their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America."
Epic battles? Come on, Mr. President, this is already a nightmare. I have to believe, though, that America can be restored in spite of all you have done to bring our society to the brink. I'm counting on it.