July 28th, 2008

Wow: AP says the war is won

If the AP says the war in Iraq is practically won, that’s news—even though one of the co-authors of the piece is John Burns, who has always been more measured and judicious about the war than most journalists.

But I do have a quarrel with the article: it repeats the Meme That Will Not Die:

It means the combat phase finally is ending, years past the time when President Bush optimistically declared it had.

The correction for this error bears repeating, because the misleading story seems to have penetrated almost everywhere. Here are the relevant quotes from Bush’s infamous speech given on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003. I think it’s crystal clear that Bush was referring to the end of the conventional war against the military of Saddam Hussein, and was well aware that the occupation would present more difficulties and bloodshed [emphasis mine]:

Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country. …

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We have begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. And then we will leave — and we will leave behind a free Iraq…

Al-Qaida is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people.

[CORRECTION: A very alert reader (more alert than I in this case) has pointed out that the piece was written by Robert Burns, not John Burns. The latter is the person to whom I was referring when I said that his work on Iraq has been more measured and judicious than that of most journalists.

And I would wager that the Robert Burns involved---who is an AP military reporter---is not the same as this guy, either.]

12 Responses to “Wow: AP says the war is won”

  1. kungfu Says:

    I think in the end it’s not so much what the president intended in the words of his speech as much as it is what the public perceived. How much of what the public perceived was cheer led by the media is really a big question here. Did the media at the moment want the public to feel like the war was over and won? And as much as some of the details from the president’s speech indicate that he was aware that there was still much work to do, you have to wonder why he would put on the spectacle that he and his handlers did. Flying on to the plane in the flight suit, legions of sailors, “Mission Accomplished.” It all felt like a victory lap. The “Mission Accomplished” sign is still the key image of that moment. My understanding is that the crew of the ship itself had ordered the sign, but that the White House paid to have it printed. You can’t help wondering if the White House intended that to be the message despite the cautious words in the speech. The public often remembers images far more vividly than speeches is my guess. I remember that day getting an email from my brother, a strong supporter of Bush at the time, with a photo of Bush in his flight suit. He was thrilled by those images, and felt pride in what had been accomplished (most notably the destruction of Sadam’s regime). He, like most people, didn’t real hear the speech, but those images jumped out at him.

  2. gcotharn Says:

    Bush had a responsibility to be truthful, yet to also be a positive and assured leader. Good leaders are not pessimists.

    Secondarily, Bush had a responsibility not to encourage Jihadis. His message to them had to be: Iraq is a lost cause. Don’t even think about trying anything there. For Bush to have overly encouraged jihadis would have been malpractice.

    I’ve often heard criticism of Bush: “He didn’t tell us the whole story, et al”. The WOT is a propaganda war as much as anything. The POTUS is speaking to a lot of audiences – including potential jihadis. I think much criticism of Bush has not taken that circumstance into account.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    And, as long as I’m here in the “criticism of Bush” category: I’ve often heard “Bush should have done this in 2002, 2003, 2004, etc.” The reality is, political conditions in those years did not permit Bush to act as the cavalier criticizers recommend. Such should always be remembered when criticizing Bush. I paid close attention in 2002, 2003, etc. The most politically skilled POTUS in history, aka the political/oratorical combination of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan, could not have enacted those cavalier recommendations inside the political climates of 2002, 2003, etc. Bush, given the political realities he was facing, pretty much was as aggressive as he could have been.

  3. expat Says:

    gcotharn:

    You are exactly right. In our narcissistic world, everyone thinks Bush can speak directly to them. They don’t know that he is speaking to citizens, military, friends, foes, allies with political troubles back home all at the same time. It’s an almost impossible situation.

  4. harry McHitlerburtonstein the COnservative Extremist Says:

    Ok….

    WHY are they admitting this now? What’s their angle with this? I think we need to anaylize this. There’s got to be a reason for this.

  5. Occam's Beard Says:

    Consistent with my handle, I prefer the simplest solution: they don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of events, and lose even more credibility. It’s always best policy to get in front of bad news. The sad part is that for many on the left, this is bad news.

  6. harry McHitlerburtonstein the COnservative Extremist Says:

    Yes, but this tends to make their candidate look silly for opposing the very thing that’s allowing success. Why would they under-cut their messiah?

  7. Occam's Beard Says:

    Harry, that’s true, to anyone paying attention, this makes Obama look bad. But that’s not all that many people, and Obama can muddy the waters enough, with the complicity of the MSM, that people won’t make the connection.

    Look at how few people today recall that the Dems’ dire predictions re Afghanistan back in 2001? “Graveyard of empires” where the British and the Russians met defeat, the Afghan winter, a quagmire in the making, blah blah. A few months later, those squawks dropped off the radar to the extent that now the Messiah is advocating greater involvement in Afghanistan.

  8. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    I’ll tell you why they’re admitting it now, harry, because they want to get it off the table before the elections. If the war’s won they can say “see, doesn’t Obama’s 16 month plan look reasonable!?”

    Of course, the reality is a bit more complicated. You don’t win an insurgency all at once, like WWII. They peter out. Over the past year and a half I’ve watched just about every press briefing our military commanders have given at PentagonChannel.mil and DODvClips.mil and recently event he most optimistic ones will caution that while AQI is down it isn’t out. They warn that unless we maintain vigilance they could conceivably come back.

    Even so, I’m glad to see the AP admit that we’re winning.

    Oh, and “kungfu”, you would come across better if you didn’t write in one giant paragraph.

  9. harry McHitlerburtonstein the COnservative Extremist Says:

    Well, both of you make credible points, but I still say it’s risky. I wonder how the Obama camp gets to spin this one. This does not mesh well with the “still-would-not-have-supported-it stance on the surge. Not unless you really want to make it sound as if more troops on the ground have anything to do with it.

    If I was on my 3rd or 4th rotation over there, I’d be so pissed at such an easy dismissal of sacrifice.

  10. Truth Says:

    Wow: AP says the war is won

    What you expected from Empire of liars?
    War built on lies and went on and occupied a state killing people and made 20%-30% of its population’s refugees dismantling state that was the top of the list of third world countries.

    Now not just WON the war it’s so attractive that those liars in the dark like this big fish Richard Perle going to get their share of that BIG theft from that country:

  11. Bugs Says:

    Truth – making as much sense as always.

    Baghdad Bob, is that you???

  12. Neil C. Reinhardt Says:

    Hey “TRUTH”

    This 75 year old Pro Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Activist and Vet who is much more experienced as well as knowledgeable than most my age much less any “mental children” like you sez:

    YOU would NOT know the “truth” were it a sharp pointed cactus you sat on while naked!

    The REAL TRUTH IS CHILD, the Iraq War is FULLY JUSTIFIED and a Necessary Part of Our World Wide War on the Moslem Terrorists who have been KILLING our Friends, Allies and Americans for OVER THIRTY YEARS!

    So WAKE THE HELL UP!

    Neil C. Reinhardt

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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