In his White House press conference earlier this week, George W. Bush told a reporter that "the only way to defeat" the authoritarian ideology of the "terrorists and extremists" who are resisting U.S. military forces in the Middle East is with "another ideology, a competing ideology, one where government responds to the will of the people."
Earlier in the presidential media event, Bush said that America's "freedom"-advancing strategy in iraq is "to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy. The tactics — now, either you say, yes, its important we stay there and get it done, or we leave. We're not leaving, so long as I'm the President," Bush added, consistent with his administration's insistence that setting a timetable or deadline for withdrawal would "only help terrorists."
Leaving illegally and disastrously occupied Iraq, Emporer Bush said, " would be a huge mistake. It would send an unbelievably terrible signal to reformers across the region. It would say we've abandoned our desire to change the conditions that create terror. It would give the terrorists a safe haven from which to launch attacks. It would embolden Iran. It would embolden extremists."
In fact, as we know, the Bush White House is moving to increase its troop levels in Iraq in response to the predictable (and widely predicted) U.S.-provoked civil war that has been going on there for some time.
Later in the press gathering, a reporter asked Bush if he agreed "with those in your party, including the Vice President, who have said or implied that Democratic voters emboldened al Qaeda types by choosing Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman, and then as a message that how Americans vote will send messages to terrorists abroad?"
In response, Bush said the following:
"What all of us in this administration have been saying is that leaving Iraq before the mission is complete will send the wrong message to the [terrorist] enemy and will create a more dangerous world…. But defeat — if you think it's bad now, imagine what Iraq would look like if the United States leaves before this government can defend itself and sustain itself. Chaos in Iraq would be very unsettling in the region. Leaving before the job would be done would send a message that America really is no longer engaged, nor cares about the form of governments in the Middle East. Leaving before the job was done would send a signal to our troops that the sacrifices they made were not worth it. Leaving before the job is done would be a disaster, and that's what we're saying. I will never question the patriotism of somebody who disagrees with me," Bush elaborated,…"and I have no — look, I understand how democracy works: quite a little bit of criticism in it, which is fine; that's fine, it's part of the process. But I have every right, as do my administration, to make it clear what the consequences would be of policy, and if we think somebody is wrong or doesn't see the world the way it is, we'll continue to point that out to people…. And there are a lot of people in the Democrat Party who believe that the best course of action is to leave Iraq before the job is done, period. And they're wrong."
"The American people," Bush said, "have got to understand the consequence of leaving Iraq before the job is done. We're not going to leave Iraq before the job is done, and we'll complete the mission in Iraq. I can't tell you exactly when it's going to be done, but I do know that it's important for us to support the Iraqi people, who have shown incredible courage in their desire to live in a free society."
"The American people" have a very different take on Iraq. According to a New York Times/CBS poll released today, "Americans increasingly see the war in Iraq as distinct from the fight against terrorism, and nearly half believe President Bush has focused too much on Iraq to the exclusion of other threats. The poll," the Times reports, "found that 51 percent of those surveyed saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort, a jump of 10 percentage points since June. That increase comes despite the regular insistence of Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans that the two are intertwined and should be seen as complementary elements of a strategy to prevent domestic terrorism." According to Times reporters Carl Hulse and Marjorie Connelly, "the opinion of 51 percent that the war in Iraq was separate from the war on terror was a considerable shift from polls taken in 2002 and the first half of 2003, when a majority regarded Iraq as a major antiterror front. As recently as June, opinion was split: 41 percent said the war in Iraq was a major part of the fight against terror, and 41 percent said it was not a part at all. Now only 32 percent consider it a major part of the terror fight, while 12 percent rate it a minor part."
According to a CNN poll released two weeks ago, "sixty percent of Americans oppose the U.S. war in Iraq, the highest number since polling on the subject began with the commencement of the war in March 2003." Furthermore, a "majority of poll respondents said they would support the withdrawal of at least some U.S. troops by the end of the year." Sixty-one percent said "they believed at least some U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year." When queried about "a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq, 57 percent of poll respondents said they supported the setting of such a timetable."
In his initial comments, Bush identified America and its foreign policy goals with "freedom" and "democracy," both of which he linked to the notion of "a government" that "responds to the will of the people." In his later comments, admittedly made before the CBS/NYT poll was released, he made it clear that he rejects any timetable for withdrawal, even to the point of saying, in essence that "we're not leaving while I hold my current job" – a sentiment back up my recent moves to actually increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq.
If we look at the recent polling data, however, we learn that the "will of the people" in the supposed homeland and headquarters of democratic "freedom" now includes a new MAJORITY sentiment rejecting his repeated insistent connection between the imperial state-terrorist invasion of Iraq and the so-called war on terrorism. It includes a majority sentiment for drawing down troops in the short term and for a timed total withdrawal over the long term. Sixty percent of Americans oppose the war on Iraq in general – a major reason for the fact that boy King Dubya's overall approval ratings continue to languish in the mid 30s.
If Bush and the people around him were serious about acting on their "democratic ideology" with regard to even the AMERICAN people, they would have to reverse their current Iraq policy along with and numerous other White House policies and agendas. But they are not serious along those lines.
The dirty little secret is that there is simply no pressing societal reason that they need to heed mere popular sentiment in the supposed land of freedom. We have butchered what we call "democracy" down to a short moment in a voting booth where one is faced with nauseatingly narrow choices between super-privileged corporate-crafted big money winner-take-all media driven war candidates representing two wings of the same basic corporate-imperial Chamber of Commerce party every four years.
We have let them take the risk out of democracy in this and countless other ways. It's going to take so much more than talking to an opinion pollster or walking into a voting booth to punch the cards for a now opportunistically anti-war Democrat. The Cheney-Bush-Rumsfeld cabal should be removed before the next appointed quadrennial extravaganza and before the launching of at least an air war on Iran.
Beyond that short term goal, bringing democracy to America is going to take mass popular involvement in a major overhaul and radical restructuring of core American institutions and habits. It's going to take a revolution.