2005/10/07

More on Bush's speech

Pandagon makes several good points about Bush's speech. What really strikes me about this speech and about the Chris Hitchens piece they quote is the inordinate amount of mind-reading that's going on here. This whole idea of “I know everything there is to know about these folks and I'll tell you exactly what they're thinking” is the same crap we've heard for years. What Bush gives us in the speech is entirely unproven and there's no way to check on anything he says. Bush claims that the US has disrupted 10 terrorist attacks. Evidence? Well, eight of the ten are classified, meaning we'll never know anything about them. Two of the ten are Jose Padilla and a fellow who was thinking of driving a truck-bomb into something. In neither case was there any indication that anything bad would have happened in the absence of US action. In neither case has any evidence been found that either man made a serious attempt or that he could have or would have actually carried anything out.

Slight correction: Actually, we do indeed have a way to check on a claim that Bush makes. As a person from TownHall.com claims “First, [Bush] made the point that Iraq is the central front in the War on Terror by quoting bin Laden saying as much.” I considered this to be an ineresting statement and did a search and only found a statement quoted by DailyKos saying something sort of vaguely similar:


OSAMA BIN LADEN (Translated): I now address my speech to the whole of the Islamic nation: Listen and understand. The issue is big and the misfortune is momentous. The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate.
The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries; the Islamic nation, on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. It is either victory and glory or misery and humiliation. The nation today has a very rare opportunity to come out of the subservience and enslavement to the West and to smash the chains with which the Crusaders have fettered it.



Kinda close, but nowhere near what Bush actually cited. Obviously, bin Laden is not going to use terms like "War on Terror" or "central front", but even allowing for that, it's not at all clear that bin Laden is identifying Iraq as any sort of schwerpunkt (German for concentration of effort). "It is either victory and glory or misery and humiliation." sort of comes close, but in practical terms, a guerrilla army wins as long as it does not lose. The "misery and humiliation" is far more likely to apply to the US than to the "Islamic nation". So, as usual, when Bush “quotes” a liberal or a national enemy or any other sort of opponent, he doesn't take much care to see that he's quoting the other guy correctly.

UPDATE: LeftI acknowledges that the Bush Administration has put out a sketchy list of alleged disruptions of terrorist activities, but notes that convincing details are lacking and that Bush's whole presentation depends very, very heavily on faith that he's right.

FURTHER UPDATE: LA Times article reprinted demonstrates skepticism about alleged foiled plots runs wide and deep.

AND YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Juan Cole does a "fisking" (Detailed, almost line-by-line or paragraph-by-paragraph analysis) of Bush's speech. Well worth reading.

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