Throughout the Iraq war, President Bush has consistently rejected calls for setting a timetable for withdrawal, insisting that to do so would be “conceding too much to the enemy.” Responding to reporters’ questions in 2006, Bush stated:
This notion about, you know, fixed timetable of withdrawal, in my judgment, is a — means defeat. You can’t leave until the job is done. Our mission is to get the job done as quickly as possible.
Similarly, in a 2005 interview with al-Arabiya television, Bush said:
I think it’s very important for the Iraqi citizens to know what I’ve been telling the American citizens, and that is, is that we will stay as long as is necessary to help the Iraqis secure their country.
Yesterday, Turkish officials showed that they had observed and learned from the Bush administration’s position on timetables and deadlines.
Responding to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ admonition that Turkey’s ground offensive in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq “should be as short and precisely targeted as possible,” the Turkish government responded by mimicking White House talking points on Iraq:
— “Turkey will remain in northern Iraq as long as necessary. … There is no need for us to stay there after we finish (off) the terrorist infrastructure… We have no intention to interfere in (Iraqi) domestic politics, no intention to occupy any area.” [Defense Minister Vecdi Gonu]
— “A short time is a relative term. Sometimes this can mean one day and sometimes one year.” [Army chief Yasar Buyukanit]
The Bush administration may not be exporting democracy, but it is exporting misguided talking points.