Questions for Bush on Iraq

Dear President Bush:

I have read your address to the nation on “The New Way Forward in Iraq” and wish to share some observations.

You say “where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.” You then quickly change the subject. Whoa now, what does it mean when you say the responsibility for mistakes rest with you?

Responsibility for “mistakes” that led to the invasion-which other prominent officials and former officials say were based on inaccurate information, deceptions, and cover-ups?

Responsibility for the condoning of torture, even after the notorious events at abu-Gharib prison were disclosed?

Responsibility for months and months of inability to equip our soldiers with body armor and vehicle armor that resulted in over 1,000 lost American lives and many disabilities?

Responsibility for the gross mismanagement over outsourcing both service and military tasks to corporations such as Haliburton that have wasted tens of billions of dollars, including billions that simply disappeared without account?

Responsibility for serious undercounting of official U.S. injuries in Iraq-because the injuries were not incurred in direct combat-so as to keep down political opposition to the war in this country?

Over and over again, during your political campaigns you called for consequences to attach to bad or failing behavior. Responsibility means consequences, you said.

Well just how does that belief apply to you, as a failed and disastrous commander-in-chief and caretaker of both American soldiers, American tax dollars and, under international law, the safety of Iraqi civilians?

You said, “I’ve made it clear to the Prime Minister… that America’s commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people.” But you have stated on many prior occasions that a U.S. retreat from Iraq would be catastrophic. Now you imply that if the Iraqi government does not deliver, the U.S. commitment will end. Which is it?

And the Iraq war has lost the support of the American people some time ago.

What are the people to believe “not open-ended” means? Especially since your new Secretary of Defense told the Congress that within two months it will be known whether your troop escalation strategy is working or not.

You said that your Administration will “partner a coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division.” Why do you continue to use misleading euphemisms? They are not “coalition brigades”-they are U.S. soldier brigades. Even the British want to draw down their small number of troops.

You said that a discovered al Qaeda document describes “the terrorists’ plan to infiltrate and seize control of [Anbar Province].” “This would bring al Qaeda,” you asserted, “closer to its goals of taking down Iraq’s democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad.” Since your field commanders’ estimate a total of 1300 al Qaeda, mostly foreign fighters, widely disliked and increasingly opposed by the local people and their tribal leaders, why are you continuing to engage in this preposterous sequence of doom, this politics of mega fear ala your neo-conservative advisors? Why indeed, do you do this when your own intelligence officials, including your former Director of the CIA, Porter J. Goss, and military leaders in Iraq, have said publicly that the U.S. military occupation has been a magnet for the attraction and training of more and more terrorists, including those from other countries who will acquire demolition and other skills before leaving Iraq.

Your comment that victory in Iraq will bring a “functioning democracy that upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people,” invites the response, “Have you done this in our country?”

Given your serial civil liberties’ violations, frequent mockery of the rule of law and our Constitution, and your ignoring the judgment of last November’s election (not to mention the desire by 70 percent of U.S. soldiers polled last January in Iraq wanting you to leave within 6 to 12 months), there is a pronounced lack of consistency here.

Finally, you conclude that “We mourn the loss of every fallen American-and we owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice. Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve.”

Why not some exemplary sacrifice from the Bush family? What is keeping those bright, capable daughters-Jenna and Barbara-from showing that the family is not expecting everybody but the Bush family to sacrifice? Why are they not demonstrating their sacrifice and resolve for your Iraq democracy war by enlisting into the armed forces?

Could it be that they disagree with your policies? Or could it be that they do not consider your war-quagmire “worthy of their sacrifice?”



Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!