September 9, 2006
POLITICS/WAR: The President, Still Fighting
Paul Gigot interviews President Bush in today's Wall Street Journal. Some excerpts - on Palestine:
Take the Palestinian elections that elevated the terrorist group Hamas to power. "I wasn't surprised," he says, "that the political party that said 'Vote for me, I will get rid of corruption' won, because I was the person that decided on U.S. foreign policy that we were not going to deal with Mr. Arafat because he had let his people down, and that money that the world was spending wasn't getting to the Palestinian people. . . . They didn't say, 'Vote for us, we want war.' They said, 'Vote for us, we will get you better education and health.' "
Mr. Bush concedes that Hamas's "militant wing," as he calls it, is "unacceptable." But he says he sees a virtue in "creating a sense where people have to compete for people's votes. They have to listen to the concerns of the street." The answer is for other Palestinian leaders to out-compete Hamas to respond to those concerns. "Elections are not the end. They're only the beginning. And, no question, elections sometimes create victors that may not conform to everything we want. . . . On the other hand, it is the beginning of a more hopeful Middle East."
On his management of the Iraq War:
"Now, my view of the country is this: Most people want us to win. There are a good number who say, get out now. But most Americans are united in the concept--of the idea of winning."
On that point, I ask Mr. Bush to address not his critics on the left who want to withdraw, but those on the right who worry that he isn't fighting hard enough to win. "No, I understand. No, I hear that, Paul, a lot, and I take their word seriously, and of course use that as a basis for questioning our generals. My point to you is that one of the lessons of a previous war is that the military really wasn't given the flexibility to make the decisions to win. And I ask the following questions: Do you have enough? Do you need more troops? Do you need different equipment?" The question I failed to ask but wish I had is: Does this mean that, like Lincoln, Mr. Bush should have fired more generals?
On the nature of the war:
"[T]his is a different kind of war. In the past, there was troop movements, or, you know, people could report the sinking of a ship. This is a war that requires intelligence and interrogation within the law from people who know what's happening. . . . Victories you can't see. But the enemy is able to create death and carnage that tends to define the action.
Read the whole thing.
RE: "My point to you is that one of the lessons of a previous war is that the military really wasn't given the flexibility to make the decisions to win."
I've heard the President explain our defeat in Vietnam this way earlier; these beliefs are deeply rooted - which is pretty sad.
Does he consider the lack of a clear mission in Vietnam? Does he understand the importance of clearly defined goals? Has he ever heard of the now defunct Powell Doctrine?
I am sure as a college student in the sixties and the son of a prominent Republican, young George had to rely on quick, simple rationalizations to defend himself against a hostile student body.
A similar hold over in George's head from that era is when he denounces liberal, activist courts. Back then, you could duck the racism issue by saying the courts are too agressive; it also worked against women's rights, defendants rights, etc.
Now he says the same thing, even though the bulk of judges have been appointed by Republicans. And he fails to see how the defense works against his party as well (See Terry Schavio/National Embarressment).