2006/02/01

Analysis of 2006 SOTU

From Bush's 2006 State of the Union speech:


No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam – the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder – and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear. When they murder children at a school in Beslan … or blow up commuters in London … or behead a bound captive … the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. But they have miscalculated: We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.


This is a part of the speech that was delivered in a slow and sober manner, but the language here is absolutely hysterical. I don't mean hysterical in a funny “Ha-ha” sense, I mean hysterical in an arm-waving, screaming, running-naked-down-the-street sense. Are “terrorists” (This word is, as always, very vaguely defined and universally applied to the national enemy of the moment, pretty much regardless of the actual tactics or methods used.) like bin Laden “serious about mass murder”? Duh! Bin Laden engineered 9-11 (Allegedly anyway. Websites like 911Truth have serious questions about that.) so of course he's “serious” about it! As is quite normal for Bush, he engages in “straw man” arguments. He accuses people of asking questions nobody ever dreamed of asking or of making assertions that no one ever dreamed of making. Who is America is honestly under the impression that bin Laden is not serious?

“Their aim is to seize power in Iraq”. Okay, let's take this claim at face value. Is there any serious possibility that such a thing could be done? People have counted the foreign jihadists among insurgent casualties (No, there's no way to tell what proportion of the jihadists are al Qaeda.) and among prisoners taken in the field. I have yet to see a serious estimate above 7% and most of them are in the range of 3% or 5%. Now, if the jihadists wanted to take over from within a peaceful society, if they wanted to launch a surprise coup and suddenly take control, this plan might make a bit of sense. How they are supposed to wrest control of Iraq from a well-armed and organized insurgency doesn't make any sense at all. Might Zarqawi be the Dr Moriarty of Iraq, the e-e-e-evil mastermind behind the Iraq insurgency? Doubtful. The Middle East Institute published a study in August 2003 on the Iraq insurgency that remains one of the better and more sober views of the insurgency that I've seen. They estimated that there were up to 15 separate, independent groups engaged in armed combat with the American occupiers of Iraq. I find it very highly doubtful that al Qaeda will remain operating in Iraq for as much as a month after American soldiers have been driven out or after a negotiated withdrawal has taken place. To delay a withdrawal from that country for fear al Qaeda will take over is just plain silly.


The best way to break this addiction [to oil] is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly 10 billion dollars to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources – and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.


Nearly $10 billion? Hey sounds real good! Oh, by the way, how much profit (Not gross earnings, profit) did Exxon stash away for just this last quarter? Oh, $10.7 billion. So the President thinks that putting as many research dollars into replacements for oil as a single company has profited by in a single quarter amounts to a serious program?!?!? Puh-leez!!


Oh, and...


FACT - BUSH PUSHED FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY CUTS IN LATEST BUDGET: President Bush's FY06 budget request for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) energy efficiency and renewable energy programs envisioned "reductions totaling nearly $50 million - an overall cut of roughly four percent." [Renewable Energy Access, 2/28/05]


The reaction of the audience I watched the SOTU with was also quite interesting. Basically, their reaction was non-existent. Not surprising, as Bush has done little or nothing to press for already-proven technologies. How many wind-power station openings has Bush or any member of the Bush Administration gone to? LeftCoaster summarizes the Bush Administration approach to energy issues.


Max Blumenthal at the Huffington Post covers the incident cited by Bush as to the reason he's asking for his NSA spying program to continue. Was America's inability to put wiretaps onto suspected members of al Qaeda the reason 9-11 succeeded? Hardly. The reasons had more to do with simple ineptitude and incompetence. Tom Tomorrow also has a great piece on that.


As for Bush's earnest and heartfelt peans to liberty and democracy and all that fine stuff, firedoglake has a post on how Cindy Sheehan was treated when she wore a t-shirt to the SOTU address that conflicted with the happy-happy joy-joy images that Bush and his image-makers preferred. We mean, y'know, protest and all that is fine and dandy, but well, y'know, it's gotta be the right sort of protest, it has to fit in with the themes of the day and all.






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