Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My initial reaction to the president's speech

I found the transcript via Fox News. I don't watch TV for stuff like this anymore - the four-year-old has a virtual hammerlock on the DVD player, and what with the web, who needs TV for information?

Anyhow, I must admit, I was deeply disappointed after my first reading of the speech. Luckily for me (and the president, for what it's worth), on my second reading, I noticed a paragraph I had earlier missed. I think it's the most important part of the entire speech.
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.

It isn't quite double liberation, but it is the first time the President has given proper weight to the Khomeinist/Ba'athist axis, and he made clear we will take action against their nefarious efforts. I also liked the upcoming provincial elections (maybe that's just my electo-philism coming through), and the reference to every neighbor except Syria and Iran. That will be noticed in Iraq's Sunni communities.

I'm not so sure on the November de facto deadline for the Iraqi government's "plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces." The rest of the political plans for Iraq were pretty good, and clearly designed to send a political message to Iraqi Sunnis - namely, that they have a stake in the new Iraq. In that vital context, I'm willing to swallow de-de-Baathification, although I'm swallowing real hard on that one.

Overall, I saw a clear strategy for battling not only the al Qaedists, but also the Khomeinists and their Syrian proxies, both politically and militarily. Is it everything I wanted? No. Is it enough to bring victory to America and freedom to Iraq, both of which I still consider vital? In my view, yes.

Cross-posted to the Shotgun

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