A Look at the Facts Behind Bush's SpeechAs the information from this link tells us, though, even the sainted General Petraeus admitted last January that developments in Anbar (where Sunni sheiks led the fight against al Qaeda) were taking place independent of “the splurge” anyway. And with the tragic death of the courageous Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, we shall have to wait and see whether the Sunnis maintain their resistance to al Qaeda in Anbar.
By ANNE GEARAN
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON - President Bush pointed to political realignment in Iraq's volatile Anbar province as evidence that Iraq is a fight that the United States is winning.
A look at some of Bush's assertions in a national address on Iraq on Thursday.
"Anbar province is a good example of how our strategy is working," Bush said, noting that just last year U.S. intelligence analysts had written off the Sunni area as "lost to al-Qaida."
Early Thursday, the most prominent figure in a U.S.-backed revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida in Iraq was killed by a bomb planted near his home.
The killing of a chief Anbar ally hours before Bush spoke showed the tenuous and changeable nature of success in Anbar and Iraq at large.
Although Sunni sheiks have defied al-Qaida and largely allied with U.S. forces in Anbar, the province remains violent and al-Qaida remains a threat.
Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha died 10 days after he met with Bush during a surprise visit the U.S. leader made to highlight the turnaround in Anbar. The charismatic young sheik led the Anbar Salvation Council, also known as the Anbar Awakening, an alliance of clans backing the Iraqi government and U.S. forces.
The Sunni revolt against al-Qaida led to a dramatic improvement in security in Anbar cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi. Iraqis who had been sitting on the sidelines , or planting roadside bombs to kill Americans , have now joined with U.S. forces to hunt down al-Qaida in Iraq, whose links to Osama bin Laden's terror network are unclear.
Anbar is not secure, accounting for 18 percent of the U.S. deaths in Iraq so far this year, making it the second deadliest province after Baghdad.
Bush's top military commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, told Congress this week that Anbar's circumstances are unique and its model cannot be replicated everywhere in Iraq, but "it does demonstrate the dramatic change in security that is possible with the support and participation of local citizens."
BUSH SAID:And regarding the news about the possible “draw down” of our forces, Patrick Murphy stated here that “only in Washington can you have the same number of troops from nine months ago [in Iraq] and call it a reduction.”
Progress in Iraq, including improvement in the performance of the Iraqi army, led to Petraeus' recommendation that "we have now reached the point where we can maintain our security gains with fewer American forces."
Bush said there is still work to be done to improve the Iraqi national police.
A new White House report on Iraq shows slim progress, moving just one more political and security goal into the satisfactory column. Efforts to let former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party rejoin the political process earned the upgrade, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
The report largely tracks a comparable poor assessment in July on 18 benchmarks. The earlier White House report said the Iraqi government had made satisfactory gains toward eight benchmarks, unsatisfactory marks on eight and mixed results on two.
Although the benchmark list is the rubric that the White House and the Iraqi government proposed earlier this year, the Bush administration has recently said it offers a skewed or incomplete view of progress in Iraq.
BUSH SAID:Oh yes, that pesky oil law that the Iraqis just can’t seem to pass (and if they can’t agree to something that crucial to the survival of the country, I can’t see how they can agree on anything).
Bush noted that the government has not met its own legislative benchmarks, but he pointed to limited political progress among Iraq's national leaders. He said Iraq has passed a budget and is sharing oil wealth.
The Government Accountability Office reported last month that Iraq has only partially met a test involving reformation of its budget process, although the State Department, Pentagon and White House disputed the finding.
Some proceeds from Iraq's vast oil and gas resources are being shared among regions, but the country lacks a national framework agreement for the distribution of oil revenues.
A national oil law, which would also invite foreign investment, has been repeatedly promised by Iraq's leaders and frequently mentioned by U.S. officials as a crucial marker of the country's ability to reconcile its ethnic and religious groups.
Iraq's main political parties are deadlocked over the law and the legislation has been sent back to party leaders to see if they can salvage it, an official involved in the talks said Thursday.
And Paul Krugman (who else?) noted something interesting today about that (this is “behind the wall”; I’ll try to get a more accessible link later)…
What’s particularly revealing is the cause of the breakdown (in negotiation on the oil law). Last month the provincial government in Kurdistan, defying the central government, passed its own oil law; last week a Kurdish Web site announced that the provincial government had signed a production-sharing deal with the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas, and that seems to have been the last straw.Back to the analysis...
Now here’s the thing: Ray L. Hunt, the chief executive and president of Hunt Oil, is a close political ally of Mr. Bush. More than that, Mr. Hunt is a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a key oversight body.
Some commentators have expressed surprise at the fact that a businessman with very close ties to the White House is undermining U.S. policy. But that isn’t all that surprising, given this administration’s history. Remember, Halliburton was still signing business deals with Iran years after Mr. Bush declared Iran a member of the “axis of evil.”
No, what’s interesting about this deal is the fact that Mr. Hunt, thanks to his policy position, is presumably as well-informed about the actual state of affairs in Iraq as anyone in the business world can be. By putting his money into a deal with the Kurds, despite Baghdad’s disapproval, he’s essentially betting that the Iraqi government — which hasn’t met a single one of the major benchmarks Mr. Bush laid out in January — won’t get its act together. Indeed, he’s effectively betting against the survival of Iraq as a nation in any meaningful sense of the term.
The smart money, then, knows that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia. And I suspect that most people in the Bush administration — maybe even Mr. Bush himself — know this, too.
BUSH SAID:This link takes you to information on troop levels maintained by other countries in Iraq (and this list numbers 22 countries, so Dubya doesn’t even know how to lie properly on this). What’s more telling, though, are the countries that have withdrawn forces (and again, the fact that we are even giving Sarkozy in France the time of day since he has not committed anything is appropriate for this madness; why we like him and didn’t like Chirac who did the same thing is one of the many mysteries to me on this).
"We thank the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq and the many others who are helping that young democracy."
There may well be 36 nations contributing to the cause, but the overwhelming majority of troops come from the United States. For example, Albania has 120 soldiers there and Bulgaria has 150 non-combat troops in Iraq. Bush visited both nations this summer as a thank you.
The United States has 168,000 troops in Iraq.
Here are more contradictions in Bush’s speech versus reality as well as some amplification to points noted above by Glenn Kessler in today’s Washington Post.
And finally, here is a link to the two-minute speech by John Edwards on the war broadcast on MSNBC last night (I’ll try to embed the video here later).
No timeline, no funding, no excuses. That’s it.