The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would fund the war in Iraq but that also provides a non-binding clause ordering the president to immediately begin bringing the troops home, with a complete withdrawal by December of 2008. In response to this, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino issued a rather startling, and more than a little nonsensical, statement:
“The President put forward this funding request based on the recommendation of our commanders in the field. They know what the troops need to accomplish the mission. The Democrats believe that these votes will somehow punish the President, but it actually punishes the troops. This punishes our military planners, our procurement officers and many others who are working on this war effort. If the President is presented with this version of the bill he will veto it.”
There is an expression that says ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ As with much of the so-called information coming from the White House, the ‘whole’ proves to be far less than the sum of its parts, although what that sum can be is anybody’s guess. A detailed look at Ms. Perino’s puzzling statement sheds little light on the matter.
“The President put forward this funding request based on the recommendation of our commanders in the field.”
Need anyone remind Ms. Perino that when the commanders in the field make recommendations that do not please Mr. Bush, he simply changes them? In December of 2006, Mr. Bush appeared to take note of the elections the previous month, and began talking about a ‘new way forward’ in Iraq. At that time, General John P. Abizaid, who was the U.S. commander in Iraq, announced his plans to retire. Mr. Abizaid had made clear his opposition to any troop surge, seeing that as only accomplishing increased Iraqi dependence on U.S. military might. Mr. Bush quickly named Lt. Gen. David Petraeus as his replacement, a man who foretold ‘an enormous (military) commitment’ by the U.S. to Iraq. This statement from the press secretary seems to be an attempt to place a level of competence, credibility and reasonableness on the funding request that simply does not exist, because Mr. Bush manipulates the ‘commanders in the field’ to suit his own twisted and unrealistic vision for Iraq.
“They know what the troops need to accomplish the mission.”
If someone would please tell the world what that mission is, perhaps this statement could be more fully evaluated. Trite, jingoistic phrases like ‘defeating the terrorists’ or ‘preserving freedom’ just don’t cut it. Those do not constitute a ‘mission;’ those are slogans worthy of a second-rate Madison Avenue advertising agency.
“The Democrats believe that these votes will somehow punish the President, but it actually punishes the troops.”
Ms. Perino was obviously using her clairvoyance skills to determine what it is the Democrats believe. More importantly, how she can utter this line with a straight face is mind-boggling. If the Democrats wanted to punish the president, they would begin impeachment proceedings, something that a significant portion of the U.S. population supports.
But the second phrase is the most startling. Ms. Perino actually says with a serious tone and angry countenance that removing soldiers from harm’s way and taking them out of a deadly civil war in which they have no business is ‘punishing’ them. Perhaps she supports ‘rewarding’ them by extending their time in mortal danger, causing untold anguish and anxiety to their loved ones back home and prolonging their exposure to situations that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. This seems to be precisely what she says Mr. Bush wants.
“This punishes our military planners, our procurement officers and many others who are working on this war effort.”
By not funding the war, Congress removes employment opportunities from military planners, procurement officers and ‘many others’ who benefit from war. Ms. Perino says that they are all working on the war effort, but what is to be accomplished by this effort has never been clear. Again, pseudo-patriotic sound bytes may have been palatable to many Americans as the U.S. invaded the peaceful, sovereign and totally non-threatening nation of Iraq at the start of the war, but they don’t work anymore.
“If the President is presented with this version of the bill he will veto it.”
This comes as no surprise to anyone. Mr. Bush has never been particularly interested in the will of the people. Lest anyone forget, in November of 2000, the people of the United States, by half a million votes, said they wanted Vice President Al Gore for president, but Mr. Bush’s questionable legal maneuverings enabled him to sneak in the back door of the White House. In November of 2006, the pro-war Republican Congress was swept from power by an electorate that naively believed the Democrats, once in control, would end the war. They made one, ineffective effort to do so by passing a bill that would have ended it eventually, but when Mr. Bush vetoed it, they passively handed him yet another blank check, GOP-style. One does not need Ms. Perino to tell us that he will again ignore the people’s elected representatives and proceed with his own bloody course in Iraq.
Ms. Perino referred to the ‘war effort, but nowhere is there talk of a ‘peace effort,’ outside of the quixotic presidential campaign of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich. Mr. Bush has vowed to continue the war in Iraq, and has hinted strongly that he is more than willing to extend it into Iran, until some undefined goal is achieved. U.S. citizens have grown weary of this war, despite their initial and totally unfounded and incomprehensible enthusiasm for it at its start. Congress, with its ever-watchful eye on public opinion polls, and always keeping in mind statements that are sufficiently innocuous as to be twisted in the future to suit whatever political wind happens to be blowing at the time, is loathe to say or do anything that will appear to be ‘soft’ on the current national bugaboo, ‘terrorism.’ The Bush Administration has successfully camouflaged the Iraqi oil grab by hiding it deep inside red alerts, fundamentalist Islam fear-mongering and the U.S.’s tried and true arrogance and self-proclaimed superiority. That Congress refuses to unwrap this ugly package and see just what it contains only makes them as guilty of the Iraq War obscenity as Mr. Bush. Ms. Perino is a worthy spokesperson for the dishonest, greedy and murderous Bush regime.
ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.‘