Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Bush rhetoricizes Iraq strategy; Annan preaches US

Well, after the much talked about Iraq Study Group (aka Baker-Hamilton commission) report, many expected President Bush to announce a change in Iraq strategy, and for him to replace the warn out "stay the course" catchphrase. Wrong again, everyone. The Decider is going to do it his way: delay until everyone forgets — or he forgets, whichever comes first. Remember that history 'will judge' him 'well' (sarcasm). Washington Post:

President Bush said today he has rejected "some ideas that would lead to defeat" as he considers a new Iraq strategy, and he vowed not to be "rushed" into a decision.

Asked if he has heard "any new ideas" that would change his thinking about a new strategy for Iraq, Bush said, "I've heard some ideas that would lead to defeat. And I reject those ideas: ideas such as leaving before the job is done; ideas such as not helping this [Iraqi] government take the necessary and hard steps to be able to do its job."
What exactly is defeat at this point? I mean, how low can you even go? He does not want to be "rushed" into "defeat", why did he ever give Paul Bremmer the green light with the the CPA? That was the perfect way to further ruin a recently invaded nation.

There looks to be absolutely no strategy change, and whenever a "change" is announced, it will just be recycled rhetoric. Now I am even more inclined to get the Frank Rich book on the Bush administration's PR, ranging from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, this president is the undisputed king of rhetoric. King George, fancy that...

Selections from the BBC News article reporting on the Annan speech:
Kofi Annan has made his final speech as UN secretary general, calling on the US not to lose sight of its core principles in its fight on terror.

"No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over others," Mr Annan said, urging the US to respect human rights in its "war on terror".

The speech has been interpreted as a sharp rebuke of President Bush.

[...]Mr Annan again raised objections to the Iraq war, a war he has already condemned as illegal.

"When power, especially military force, is used, the world at large will consider it legitimate only when convinced that it is being used for the right purpose - for broadly shared aims," he said.

In the address, he urged the US to embrace its natural and historical role as responsible global leader and warned that no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over others.

But he also said that "that lead can only be maintained if America remains true to its principles - including in the struggle against terrorism".

"When it appears to abandon its own ideals and objectives, its friends abroad are naturally troubled and confused."

Mr Annan also stressed that Washington's current position in the world gives it "a priceless opportunity" to entrench the principles of democracy at a global level.

He ended with an appeal for a shift in US policy, saying "In order to function effectively, the system still cries out for far-sighted leadership in the Truman tradition."

"I hope and pray that American leaders of today and tomorrow will provide it."
The speech was held at the Truman presidential library in Missouri; Truman was a champion of the UN as Bush is a dissenter.

From Guardian Unlimited's Comment Is Free:
The UN secretary general used his farewell speech to take revenge on his persistent critics from the US administration.
I see it less as vengeance and more as truthful commentary, saying what needed to be said about recent United States policies. Whether it be about military or human rights, the US has gotten schooled plenty, but this is a well-needed slap in the face by a very powerful man: outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Too bad Annan did not show this sincere charisma when dealing with UN reform or things such as the oil for food program scandal. He will leave office on 31 December 2006, after being the head of the international body since 1997. Annan's successor will be South Korean diplomat Ban Ki-moon.

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