There were no overt surprises in the President’s address to the nation. Since late last week, the basic outline of the speech had been reprinted throughout the MSM and blogosphere. And it should be no surprise that Bush is remaining true to form, that is, as myopic and stubborn as ever.

Despite the fact that he and his party suffered a sound defeat in the November elections, returning both houses of Congress to the opposing Democratic party; despite the fact that a clear majority of Americans have judged his policies (both domestically and) in Iraq to be abject failures; despite multiple assessments from military, intelligence, and diplomatic professional experts (who, by the way, have more experience collectively and individually than Bush will ever have) that say we need to be finding a way out of the Iraqi quagmire; despite the fact that Iraq is well past the smoldering stages of civil war; despite all these seemingly important hallmarks, the President has applied his hands to his ears and loudly proclaimed, “Lalalalalalala- I can’t hear you, I don’t care.”

Already surmised, Bush says he is increasing troop levels in Iraq, primarily in Baghdad (where the daily death count for Iraqi’s and Americans alike continues to increase) but also in Anbar province, the area he calls the al-Qaeda base in Iraq. At least 20,000 more American troops will be (re)deployed in pursuit of presidential folly. Adding more Americans troops will inflame the Iraqi population and keep providing excuses for the sectarian violence and death squad retributions that are increasingly out of control. American presence, widely viewed as an occupation force by Iraqi citizens, gives each side a reason to attack the other under the excuse of collaboration with America.

Also in the speech was the financial infusion Bush wants to send to Iraq in the form of untold and likely largely unaccounted for billions of dollars to rebuild what we have destroyed and to create Iraq jobs. The notion of a State Department oversight position to “ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq” is laughable considering this administrations (mis)handling of the billions spent so far. If Bush was serious about confronting or eliminating fraud and waste, he would have called for and created an independent (as in outside his administration and Congress) review panel. That he did not shows he still wants to keep real costs as close to the vest as possible as well as remaining able to control the flow of reconstruction information.

Those are the points we already expected to hear. But despite outward appearances, the President’s speech was less about restructuring the Iraq War and more about laying a long term, albeit subtle, escalation of warfare with the added benefit of further decimating the social compacts of America through the systematic squandering of American tax revenue on warfare and its associated costs. Also buried beneath the glossy exterior is the framework to further destabalize the Middle East, through the insistence that only through the adaption of American ideals can the world be safe.

Consider this from the President’s speech:

“We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the armed forces we need for the 21st century.”

Aside from the costs of continued warfare in the Middle East, Bush plans to call for an increase in the military overall. Already the US spends more on its military than most countries combined. That we can scarcely afford our domestic obligations in the process seems to matter not, and indeed, this is a core concept in the neo-con efforts to scale down (bankrupt) government. As military spending continues to increase, at some point it will be necessary to place the costs of this war on the books. Add to that an increased force size, the rebuilding of materiel and equipment depleted, and the Bush plan to create a new generation of American nuclear weapons, and it becomes clear to see that military spending will not only dwarf domestic spending, but completely overshadow it to the point of irrelevance. Such a shift in government spending will have serious effects on the public institutions of health, education, justice, and poverty assistance. And as the military wing of the US government expands at the same time that social programs contract or disappear, the breakdown of the American social system will become more apparent, creating domestic problems and strife not seen in generations. If this happens fast enough (i.e. before Bush leaves office) look for an increase in a domestic police state under the guise of keeping order. But remember, it is all part of the plan.

I mentioned a framework being built that maps out the further destabilization of the Middle East:

“We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region.”


“Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity – and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

These words, when combined with his calls for an increase in the military in general, seem clearly to point out where the tanks and planes are headed next. Make no mistake- Bush has every desire to extend the Iraqi War into these countries. He has been simply waiting for an opportunity. His rhetoric about Iranian nuclear intentions and capability have been consistently rebuffed by experts who say that Iraq is at least 7 years or more away froma viable nuclear weapon. In other words, plenty of time to try and work something out. But Bush, in classic ‘screw you’ form, has planted the seeds of war in those spoken words. By tying them in as material support for the foreign terrorists fighting in Iraq, Bush has laid down the gauntlet. If he goes forth as intended, expect to see border incursions and firefights at both the Syrian-Iraq and Iran-Iraq borders, with an eventual crossing of one or both by US troops. Such an escalation would only make matters far worse as nations divide and join sides.

And I mentioned the concept that Bush holds dear- that only American might, followed by exported American ideals, can bring true democracy to the world:

“We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas – where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.”

No matter that much of the Middle East wants nothing to do with American culture and democracy, seeing how poorly it has been applied in Iraq and Afghanistan and watching how the vaunted American Rule of Law has been flaunted by our own elected eladers. Bush ignores all cultural reality and blindly surges ahead with the notion that the American way is the only way to go. What he really means though is that capitalism, controlled by the richest of the corporate giants and reaping trillions in profits off the backs of average human beings, is the only way to go. Unfortunately, a look at the capitalistic laissez-faire policies of the Bush administration has only served to expose the wicked underbelly of our way of life, showing the world that classic American values (values that were once respected and envied) like hard work, dedication, honesty, honor, trust, and fairness are no longer relevant in Bush’s America. What matters n
ow is money- get it, keep it, keep others from having it. The world, and inparticular the Islamic world, has seen that American export, and no amount of worldy advances are making them want to adopt our ever-corrupted way of life. No longer does the world see “a shining city on a hill” when they look to North America. Instead, they see a run down tenement with a seedy landlord at the door banging for the rent while the pipes drip endlessly on the floor.

For their part, the newly elected Democratic Congress is trying to put up road blocks to stop, or at least stall, some of the Bush proposals. Good for them. Frankly, this is why I voted for a federal Democratic ticket. I had no real illusions of them producing great reforms or legislation. I simply wanted them to slow down the Bush juggernaut. To what extent they intend to do so remains to be seen, but the Kennedy Bill in the Senate prohibiting increased funding for additional troops in Iraq is a start. For me, this Congress has a mandate, but it isn’t one of great social change. This congress must be a roadblock and holding effort until Bsh finally leaves town. If that is all they accomplish, I will consider them successful. If they manage to advance a progressive social domestic agenda as well, then it’s frosting on the cake.

Stripped of the rhetoric and flowery jargon, this has to be one of Bush’s scariest speeches to date. Not only does this speech continue to inflate the war in Iraq, it lays the groundwork for a militarized and financially strapped America and plants the seeds for wider military conflict, violence and death. It holds out scant promise for future generations of Americans if this path is followed, yet promises safety in the distant future. It catapults America towards a century of warfare and strife at a time when human endeavors should be better spent on finding new sources of energy, combatting preventable disease, and protecting our planet from our own excesses.

No doubt that the right side of the aisle will be bogged down in the patriotic nuances, the continued attempts to tie the Bush doctrine to the 9-11 attacks, and the overt and covert appeals to America’s narcisstic nature as greatest nation on Earth. No doubt that they will zero in on the mentions of Islamic terrorism connected to American security. But they will see little else in his words, hearing nothing but the words they are comfortable with. They will not dig past the shiny coating to see what lays beneath and the implications that lay ahead. And they will denounce those who write things like this essay as cowards or worse, as traitors. It is easier to denounce a critic than to reflect on ones own failures.

The President has set forth his goals and vision of the future of America, the Middle East, and perhaps the world. It is time now for the newly elected Congress to do the job they were put there to do. Slow down or stop the Bush juggernaut before its actions can cause any more havoc in the world. Bush’s ideas may look nice on paper, but in reality they may be pretty damn scary indeed.

(cross posted at Bring It On! )