Yesterday, the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg welcomed President Bush as the guest speaker for the Division Review ceremony, marking the end of All American Week. Predictably, the most unpopular president in American history used his speech to the troops and their families as another opportunity to buttress his legacy and defend the disastrous decision to invade Iraq by — what else? — waving the bloody shirt of 9/11.
VetVoice’s Rock Richard, himself a member of the 82nd Airborne, attended the ceremony and found the president’s remarks extremely inappropriate. “Six and a half years after the September 11th attacks,” Richard writes, and “the President is still linking those attacks to Iraq and Iraq to Osama bin Laden…This is just too ridiculous”:
Given the opportunity to thank honorable men and women for their service to their country, the President, using a captive back drop of American Soldiers seized the opportunity to make political demands of the Senate, make ridiculous errant arguments for our entry to the Iraq war, and link Iraq to Osama bin Laden and the September 11th attacks. I must say, in my entire career, of all the military functions I’ve attended, not a single one has disgusted me as much as I was today when President Bush finally ended his remarks.
Among the various discredited claims which the president continued to indulge is the idea that, by invading Iraq, the United States has “taken the battle to the terrorists abroad — so we do not have to face them here at home.”
It is far past time that the president and his supporters abandoned this ridiculous and reprehensible talking point. First, and most obviously, because it’s been long established that “the terrorists” weren’t in Iraq in any real sense until after the U.S. invaded and created the chaos which “the terrorists” subsequently exploited. Secondly, and more profoundly, “fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here” is simply another way of saying that America has chosen to turn the towns, streets and homes of Iraq into battlefields, to use the Iraqi people themselves as bait for “the terrorists” and as cannon fodder in an illusory “war on terror.”