Really good to see Obill here.
The following should probably be over on the big Iraq thread, but I doubt it would be either raad or appreciated much there, at least by those who most need to read it, so I'll post it for those more likely to read and appreciate it.
It does address one of the most onerous of the Democrat talking points:
June 30, 2005
The Coalition of the Deaf and Blind
Feigned shock and surprise seems to be the emotion du jour on the Left. What do you mean that invasion of Iraq may have been a policy option as early as 2002? We were never notified! Their latest antics call for pretending that September 11th and the Iraq War are two separate and totally unrelated events, until two nights ago, when President George W. Bush contrived to make them one.
There's been quite a bit of discussion of late about what liberals did or didn't do in the aftermath of 9/11, and what they did or didn't know. In their narrative, we were solidly united, until George Bush started a completely unannounced and unexpected war. And so, the Coalition of the Deaf and Blind came into being, dedicated to flushing down the memory hole the new hawkish thinking about terrorism and national security in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In light of these histrionics, it might be helpful to examine the world as it actually was in September 2001, and what President Bush said, in his own words, about what lay ahead in the war on terror - in a time when 90% of Americans and 80% of Democrats supported his policies.
The night of September 11, 2001 was not one for bold, sweeping policy pronouncements. Nonetheless, the President gave his first hint that this conflict would not be limited to those who perpetrated these acts, but to the states that supported them:
The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I've directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.
In the days that followed, there would be much discussion of the name used to define this struggle: the war on terror. There was nothing inevitable or automatic about how our war aims were defined. In fact, it would have been easier had the President limited his objectives to a Clintonesque "We will find the perpetrators and bring them to justice," followed by a particularly intense round of sand-pounding in Afghanistan, and a ticker-tape parade down Broadway six weeks later, bringing this whole chapter in our history to a swift conclusion. Given America's mastery of lightning fast quasi-wars - Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf (still then the archetype), Bosnia, Kosovo - this would have been the obvious and conventional route. But, in a moment of decision, the President concluded that this time, something different and greater was called for. And he did something that you wouldn't have expected, committing us to a long struggle to eradicate terrorism broadly defined, not just mitigate it. At the time, Democrats overwhelmingly supported this.
Another hint that this would be a big war, more like the Cold War than the Persian Gulf War, came in President Bush's radio address the Saturday following the attacks:
Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle, but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them.
We are planning a broad and sustained campaign to secure our country and eradicate the evil of terrorism. And we are determined to see this conflict through. Americans of every faith and background are committed to this goal.
The President's September 20, 2001 address to a joint session of Congress was the foundational statement of this war, and it was applauded by virtually all who today form the Coalition of the Deaf and Blind. In it, the President stated that nation-states would not be off-limits in this war:
The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.
And, in a crucial passage, punctuated by bipartisan applause, the President explicitly declares that this war will extend beyond al Qaeda:
Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. (Applause.)
In another passage surely missed by the Coalition of the Deaf and Blind, the President prepared the country for a long and difficult war, and put the country on notice about what we should expect:
This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
Though necessarily broad, the September 20th speech was a remarkably prescient foreshadowing of everything that has happened in the last four years.
Over the course of the eight months that followed, these very thoughts were amplified and refined in the doctrine of preemption announced at West Point on June 1, 2002. When that speech was delivered, the President's approval rating stood at 75%, and even in last year's campaign, a majority of Americans supported preemption. And yet, the Coalition insists that all of this is somehow news to them.
Saddam Hussein didn't attack us on September 11th! There was no Iraq-al Qaeda connection! Leave aside just how dubious that latter claim is - (cough)Zarqawi(cough) - and calmly re-read the President's speeches from that September. The President didn't say al Qaeda - he said all terrorism. What about this do you not understand?
From the fedayeen in Nasiriyah, to the "foreign fighters" from Egypt and Saudi Arabia found dead in the battle for Baghdad, to today's al Qaeda-driven insurgency, terrorism has been the sole means of waging war against American troops. It was Saddam's - and Zarqawi's - only war plan. Call us crazy, but is it that unreasonable to assume that: A terrorist after the war = a terrorist before the war? The debate over whether Ba'athist Iraq was a terror state as defined multiple times by the President in September 2001 is pretty much over. And yet liberals remain under the impression that Saddam was the Iraqi Robert E. Lee, an honorable and worthy opponent who obeyed the rules of warfare, and had nothing to do with terrorism.
Only a member of a coalition of the deaf and blind could actually believe that.