Bush on Iraq: It's not about politics; it's about "some politicians"

The president launches a new round of speeches to bolster support for the war.

Published September 1, 2006 1:06PM (EDT)

Let's do this again.

At a campaign stop in Arkansas Wednesday, George W. Bush said that his new round of speeches on Iraq wouldn't be "political speeches." "These are important times, and I seriously hope people wouldn't politicize these issues that I'm going to talk about." Bush gave the first of the speeches in question Thursday at the American Legion Convention in Salt Lake City. Among the highlights:

A swipe at "some politicians": "Here at home we have a choice to make about Iraq. Some politicians look at our efforts in Iraq and see a diversion from the war on terror. That would come as news to Osama bin Laden, who proclaimed that the 'third world war is raging' in Iraq. It would come as news to the number two man of al-Qaida, Zawahiri, who has called the struggle in Iraq, quote, 'the place for the greatest battle.' It would come as news to the terrorists from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and other countries, who have to come to Iraq to fight the rise of democracy. It's hard to believe that these terrorists would make long journeys across dangerous borders, endure heavy fighting, or blow themselves up in the streets of Baghdad, for a so-called 'diversion.'"

The requisite marginalization of public opposition to the war: "Some Americans didn't support my decision to remove Saddam Hussein; many are frustrated with the level of violence. But we should all agree that the battle for Iraq is now central to the ideological struggle of the 21st century." (For the record, 59 percent of Americans say the war in Iraq wasn't worth fighting, and only 44 percent view it as part of the war on terrorism.)

The requisite marginalization of public support for a troop withdrawal: "Still, there are some in our country who insist that the best option in Iraq is to pull out, regardless of the situation on the ground." (Some? Fifty-seven percent of Americans want to see a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and 52 percent say all U.S. troops should be out of that country by next August. And at least some of those "some" would argue that a pullout is warranted precisely because of the "situation on the ground.")

Gratuitous 9/11 references: We counted six of them.

And a slippery, notice-I-didn't-say-when reference to WMD: "In Iraq, we saw a dictator who harbored terrorists, fired at military planes, paid the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, invaded a neighbor, and pursued and used weapons of mass destruction."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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2006 Elections George W. Bush Iraq Middle East War Room