The Iraqi people showed great courage and faith in democracy during Sunday’s election. The election was something the Iraqis insisted on, not something that was part of the Coalition Provisional Authority’s original plan for Iraq. Let’s hope that Sunday’s step forward indicates the administration is now more willing to listen to the world rather than dictate to it.
President Bush said: “Our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we do not have to face them here at home.”
FACT: According to the Washington Post on January 13, “Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of ‘professionalized’ terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director’s think tank. Iraq provides terrorists with ‘a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills,’ said David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats. ‘There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries.’”
President Bush said: “We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium re-processing, and end its support for terror. ”
FACT: Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, “on Friday urged the United States to join forces with the EU to persuade Iran to give up atomic processes that could be used to make weapons.”
FACT: Just three months ago, Undersecretary of State John Bolton mocked the very notion of diplomacy with Iran. At a conference in London, Bolton “responded to a question about whether he would support Europe’s attempt to offer Iran incentives with the terse one-liner: ‘I don’t do carrots.‘”
President Bush said, “Other nations around the globe have stood with us….In the next for years, my Administration will continue to build the coalitions that will defeat the dangers of our time.”
There goes that talk about coalitions again. Does anyone else remember the 2003 State of the Union address? President Bush announced, “If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.” Two years ago, we were set to lead a coalition into Iraq; our allies on the “coalition of the willing” list were much publicized even though “only a few” of the countries in the coalition were “providing any major military presence in the Gulf.” The reason why we are back to building coalitions is that:
FACT: The once heavily touted 45-member “coalition of the willing” list has been scrapped and replaced “with a smaller roster of 28 countries with troops in Iraq sometime after the June transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government.”
FACT: Spain has withdrawn its troops in Iraq.
FACT: The Netherlands has withdrawn its troops in Iraq.
FACT: Hungary has withdrawn its troops in Iraq.
FACT: Ukraine is expected to withdraw its troops in Iraq soon.
FACT: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Philippines, Thailand, and New Zealand are some more countries “which had troops in or supported operations in Iraq at one point but have pulled out since.”
And of the remaining countries:
FACT: “Polish military officers, who command the multinational division in south-central Iraq, have said their reduced numbers…could force them to cut the number of provinces they patrol — a decision that may force the US to fill the gaps.”
FACT: “Several allied countries, many of them eastern European, that were part of the original ‘New Europe’ group backing the Iraqi war have said they will either completely withdraw or substantially reduce their forces in Iraq after the January 30 elections.”
FACT: “Several western European NATO members — including France, Germany, Belgium, and Spain — [have refused] to participate in the alliance’s new training mission in Baghdad.”
President Bush said, “We are cooperating with 60 governments in the Proliferation Security Initiative, to detect and stop the transit of dangerous materials.”
FACT: The administration has undermined the legitimacy of the Proliferation Security Initiative by refusing to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This treaty has been ratified by 145 nations, including the other members of the Proliferation Security Initiative (who insist that it provides the only legitimate international framework for the initiative). Even Republican Senator Richard Lugar — chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a Bush supporter — has repeatedly criticized the administration for failing to ratify the treaty.
QUOTE: “During this time of war, we must continue to support our military and give them the tools for victory.”
FACT: In December, a soldier serving in Iraq asked why he had to “dig through local land fills” to find scrap metal to properly arm his military combat vehicle. Rumsfeld’s response? “You have to go to war with the Army you have.”
President Bush said: “There are still regimes seeking weapons of mass destruction – but no longer without attention and without consequence.”
FACT: “Questions of how to deal with North Korea…have divided the Bush administration since its first days.” Under Bush’s watch, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is thought to have quadrupled. Charles Pritchard, formerly Colin Powell’s top official dealing with North Korea, has warned for months that “the White House lacks an effective strategy to dissuade North Korea from building up its nuclear arms.” And while the U.S. sat passively on the sidelines, North Korea may have sold nuclear material to Libya. In fact, instead of stepping up efforts to secure nuclear materials, a recent Harvard University report titled “Securing the Bomb: An Agenda for Action,” finds “less fissile materials were secured in the two years after Sept. 11 than in the two years before.”
President Bush said, “We have created a new department of government to defend our homeland, focused the FBI on preventing terrorism,…improved border security, and trained more than a half million first responders.”
FACT: “As its leadership changes for the first time, the Department of Homeland Security remains hampered by personality conflicts, bureaucratic bottlenecks and an atmosphere of demoralization, undermining its ability to protect the nation against terrorist attack, according to current and former administration officials and independent experts.”
FACT: “DHS is still a compilation of 22 agencies that aren’t integrated into a cohesive whole,” said its recently departed inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin, who released many critical reports and was not reappointed after a falling-out with Ridge. Asked for examples of ineffectiveness, he replied: “I don’t know where to start. . . . I’ve never seen anything like it.”
FACT: When asked about the administration’s effort “to secure chemical plants and trains carrying chemicals,” President Bush’s former Deputy Homeland Security Adviser Richard Falkenrath replied, “I’m sorry to say, since 9/11 we have essentially done nothing.”
FACT: Virtual Case File, the software overhaul intended to aid in coordinating the FBI’s antiterrorism measures, “has been a train wreck in slow motion.”
FACT: The White House has consistently underfunded top security priorities like firefighter and police departments…
FACT: …as well as ports…
FACT: …and trains.
FACT: “The Bush administration has failed to create a unified U.S. fingerprint database because of agency infighting,” though this project was one of the top priorities of the Department of Homeland Security.
President Bush said: “In the three and a half years since September 11th, 2001, we have taken unprecedented actions to protect Americans. We have created a new department of government to defend our homeland.”
FACT: “The Department of Homeland Security remains hampered by personality conflicts, bureaucratic bottlenecks and an atmosphere of demoralization, undermining its ability to protect the nation against terrorist attack, according to current and former administration officials and independent experts…it remains a second-tier agency in the clout it commands within President Bush’s Cabinet, the officials said. ”