"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States


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-> Cox and Forkum - Sword of Injustice

-> Israel Gets It Right Again

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07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004

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04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005

07/03/2005 - 07/10/2005

Tuesday, September 28, 2004
  O'Reilly Interviews Bush (Part 1 of 3)
I've been watching Bill O'Reilly for about three years now, ever since 9/11, and I've generally found him to be a good news correspondent. He has definite philosophical contradictions (especially his "traditional" values), but all this is overrun by his commitment to the truth. Granted, he doesn't always get it, but on numerous issues he doesn't give a damn about anything other than the truth. He's notorious for calling his guests out any time they try to side step an issue rather than give him a straight answer. I respect that about him, and I think that is a big part of his success among both left and right wing Americans.

Tonight he started part one of his three part interview with President Bush. So of course, I figured I'd see how it went, given his track record to ask tough questions. I must say I was pretty impressed. While he didn't press President Bush as firmly as he would other guests, I think that was in part because he was addressing the President and wanted to grant him respect (which is appropriate to the office even if Bush himself is a disgraceful holder of it). What follows are portions of the transcript, with my comments inserted:
O’REILLY:Um, the first one is, according to a poll taken by the Coalition Authority last spring, only five percent of the Iraqi people see the United States as liberators. Are you surprised they don’t appreciate the American sacrifice more?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I, I think they're beginning to, appreciate the sacrifice, because the country is getting better. It’s tougher than heck right now, because Zarqawi and some of these former Baathists are killing innocent Iraqis and killing our soldiers in order to try to get us to leave. Um, I also saw a poll where it said by far the vast majority of the Iraqis believe the world is getting better. And that's positive. In other words, people are beginning to see progress. Electricity is better, schools are opening, hospitals are running. Um, I think when it’s all said and done, the Iraqis are going to look back and say thank God for America.

O’REILLY: How long is it going to take before that happens, do you think?

PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, it’s uh, as soon as possible. Now, I think the elections are going to have uh, uh you know, a very positive effect, and they take place in January, and, but the people want to vote.

O’REILLY: But can they vote when people are being blown up,


O’REILLY: And these guys are threatening them, then they vote,

PRESIDENT BUSH: That's when you're supposed to vote. You’ve got to stand tough with these terrorists. You cannot allow the terrorists to dictate whether or not a society can be free or not. Do you remember what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban pulled the four women off the bus and killed them because they had voter registration cards? I think there had been about three million Afghan citizens who had registered at this point in time. A lot of people said, well, the elections look like they’ve got to be over in Afghanistan, because the Taliban is, too violent to allow the elections to go forward. Today ten million citizens, [OVERLAPPING VOICES] in that country have registered to vote, forty percent of whom are women, which is a powerful statistic.

O’REILLY: The South Vietnamese didn't fight for their freedom, which is why they don’t have it today.


O’REILLY: Do you think the Iraqis are going to fight for their freedom?


O’REILLY: You do.

PRESIDENT BUSH: No question in my mind, they will, you bet. I was with Prime Minister Allawi yesterday, he is a tough guy. He is a strong leader. He believes the future of Iraq is the future of freedom, and he tells me that, you know that these places where they go bomb the recruits, the people trying to sign up to serve in the army or the police, the next day, more recruits come.


PRESIDENT BUSH: Because people want to defend their country. I believe that. You know why I believe that, and this is really important, uh, uh, it’s because, I believe everybody yearns to be free. I believe Muslims yearn to be free. And I, and this is tough, look, no question it’s tough times. But if we send mixed signals, if we waver, the times will be tougher. That's what the terrorists are watching, they're watching us like hawks.

Bush really seems to believe that somehow elections will put an end to the insurgency or somehow legitimate everything that has happened in Iraq up to now. Why does he think elections will fix the mess that is obviously Iraq? Because people "yearn to be free" (even Muslims). Unfortunately, yearning alone will never guarantee freedom. All of history is proof of that. Even granted that many or even the majority of Iraqi's will vote in this "election", I am highly skeptical of the results. But I think elections will be interrupted or at least influenced by terrorist attacks. As I've noted previously, Allawi himself has basically told the country that an Islamic state is OK, as long as the people vote for it. This is what the militants want and have been clamoring for. They want to reinstate the Muslim caliphate. How long will any secularist (which is the prerequisite of freedom) last in this environment, where holy warriors have free reign to go blowing up whomever they choose? I think most likely we will see a government formed with a large majority of Muslim theocrats who will help to form an Islamic state. I don't think that it's too controversial to say that such a development would be much worse than Saddam in power. And if the government were to become mostly Shiite, who knows what kind of hegemonic relationship would develop with the Iranians. For as much as the Iraqi's hate the Iranians, Sunni's and Shiites hate each other all the more.

I think the most likely result of this election, if it takes place, will be to lay the foundation for a civil war, with possible alliances made with Iran and Turkey by various factions. It will be bloody and savage, and our security in the world will falter all the more. But continuing on:
O’REILLY: What happened to Saddam’s chemical arsenal, do you know?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No. I don’t. We thought we’d have stockpiles, uh, we do know he had the capability of making weapons. And that capability could have been passed on to terrorists, and that was a risk, after 9/11, we could not afford to take.

O’REILLY: No I understand that. But you, to this day, don’t know what happened to his chemical weapons. He didn't tell us, and, and,


O’REILLY: He hasn’t given us much, has he?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, he, well he doesn’t have anything, you know, doesn’t have anything to, to gain by giving us much, I mean, he’s, he’s going to go on trial, and the Iraqis will lay out a case, and, you know, I mean, why would he, why would he tell the truth?

O’REILLY: “The Wall Street Journal” says, and that's a conservative paper, that uh, the Defense Department and the Pentagon wasn’t aggressive enough in getting al-Sadr and then crushing Fallujah.


O’REILLY: Is the “Journal” wrong?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I, I think this uh, I think that the, government of Iraq, Allawi, did a good job in Najaf with Sadr. In other words, they now control the shrines, and they did so in a way that he, Allawi, thought would be best for the political process. In other words, there's a dual track here. There's a political process going forward, and a security operation going forward. And the two must be parallel, and uh, Allawi made the decision that the best operation in Najaf uh would be to, the way we handled it, and uh, if they're saying that maybe last fall we should have moved on Sadr, it’s a judgment call that you know, history will have to look back on.

O’REILLY: Fallujah? Should we have crushed it when we could have?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, there again, there was a dual track with uh, a political process going forward, a lot of people on the ground there thought that if we’d have gone into Fallujah at the time, the uh, interim government would not have been established, and if the government would not have been established, we wouldn't have been able to transfer sovereignty. I happen to think the transfer of sovereignty is a key moment in this, history of a free Iraq. The reason I believe that is that the Iraq people are going to follow uh Iraqi leadership, not U.S. leadership. And uh, Prime Minister Allawi’s been there for about two and a half months, nearly three months, he’s getting his feet on the ground, he’s establishing a government, they're training police, they're training army, they're beginning to move out in, in places like Sumaria and Najaf in order to make the place a more peaceful, peaceful country.

On weapons of mass destruction, Bush was weak. Saddam Hussein was a weapon of mass destruction. Bush came across on video as unconfident and even embarrassed. More importantly though, he tried to sidestep the question on Fallujah (and to O'Reilly's credit, he asked the question again). Although the Democrats are given hell for saying it, they are right - Bush can never admit to a mistake, which is a huge weakness on his part. In fact, his rationalizations on the war on terror are rife in this segment. He really seems to believe that life is getting better in Iraq and that with elections on the way "Democracy" is just over the horizon.

Bush seems to know at some level that he made a mistake in Fallujah, as his comment about history judging it indicates. And his notion, which has been central to his campaign in Iraq, that Iraqi's will only follow Iraqi leadership is bogus. The Iraqi's will follow strength. If our goal is to establish a bastion of freedom in Iraq, we will only do it by appealing to those who value freedom and killing those who oppose it. If Iraq is overwhelmingly against freedom, then we should leave and bomb those who vocally oppose freedom. But if we can salvage it, we must fight these insurgents to the death, just as we did the Nazi's. We didn't just defeat the Nazi command - we destroyed everything Nazi, right down to their corrupt textbooks. This is what must be done in Iraq, if we're to salvage it at all.
Moving on:
O’REILLY: This is really a tough one.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay. [chuckles]

O’REILLY: Iran. Uh, said yesterday, hey, we’re going to develop this nuclear stuff, we don’t care what you think. You ready to use military force against Iran if they continue to defy the world on nuclear?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My hope is that we can solve this diplomatically.

O’REILLY: But if you can’t.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, let me try to solve it diplomatically first. All options are on the table, of course, in any situation. But diplomacy is the first option.

O’REILLY: Would you allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We, we are working our hearts out so that they don’t develop a nuclear weapon, and the best way to do so is to continue to keep international pressure on them.

O’REILLY: Is it conceivable that you would allow them to develop a nuclear weapon?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Uh, no, we’ve made it clear, our position is that they won’t have a nuclear weapon.

O’REILLY: Period.


While it certainly seems like Bush is saying he will do something to stop the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear weapon, he sounds just like John Kerry here. John Kerry hasn't said military options are off the table, only that diplomacy should be tried first. But this just shows Bush to be a hypocrite. His argument for invading Iraq was that diplomacy failed; what in hell makes him think that the UN will solve the Iranian (or North Korean) problem now? Is he really stupid enough to believe that weapons inspections didn't work in Iraq, but they'll work in Iran? The UN doesn't want the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon, but they are unwilling to apply the only means necessary to prevent such an acquisition: a pre-emptive military strike, if not all out war. Bush seems to have fallen into this disreputable camp. Look how far he has fallen since his "axis of evil" speech. All the more I have seen how Bush's rhetoric rarely reflects the reality of his policies. Bush's failure to act now will give the Iranians the time they need to develop a nuclear weapon. My only hope is that Israel will have both the intelligence (literal and military) and will to prevent this from happening.

Tune in tomorrow for part two of my three part analysis of this insightful interview.

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