Watch for Iran in Bush’s speech tonight
White House photo The Politico has publish selected parts of President Bush’s speech, which he will give at 9 p.m. tonight in the Oval Office. Reading the excerpts, it looks like the White House’s strategy is to embrace Petraeus, declare progress, and cite a return to pre-“surge” troops levels in Iraq as evidence of a ...
White House photo
The Politico has publish selected parts of President Bush’s speech, which he will give at 9 p.m. tonight in the Oval Office.
Reading the excerpts, it looks like the White House’s strategy is to embrace Petraeus, declare progress, and cite a return to pre-“surge” troops levels in Iraq as evidence of a drawdown. Bush reportedly plans to bring some 5,700 troops home for Christmas. Never mind that the “surge” was always temporary—that’s what surges are, after all—and Defense Secretary Bob Gates had to extend military deployments to 15 months in order to make it happen. The “surge” has to end, or the U.S. military will break. It’s that simple.
Many folks will be reading the tea leaves to divine what the Bush administration plans to do about Iran. But there’s only one mention of Iran in the excerpts:
We should be able to agree that we must defeat al Qaeda, counter Iran, help the Afghan government, work for peace in the Holy Land, and strengthen our military so we can prevail in the struggle against terrorists and extremists.
“Counter” can mean a lot of different things, but it’s not exactly fire and brimstone. Compare this relatively mild fare with Bush’s August 28 speech to the American Legion, in which he mentioned Iran 23 times, beginning with this framing of the problem:
Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran backs Hezbollah who are trying to undermine the democratic government of Lebanon. Iran funds terrorist groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which murder the innocent, and target Israel, and destabilize the Palestinian territories. Iran is sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which could be used to attack American and NATO troops. Iran has arrested visiting American scholars who have committed no crimes and pose no threat to their regime. And Iran’s active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.
“Nuclear holocaust.” Wow. He continued:
Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people. Members of the Qods Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are supplying extremist groups with funding and weapons, including sophisticated IEDs. And with the assistance of Hezbollah, they’ve provided training for these violent forces inside of Iraq. Recently, coalition forces seized 240-millimeter rockets that had been manufactured in Iran this year and that had been provided to Iraqi extremist groups by Iranian agents. The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased in the last few months — despite pledges by Iran to help stabilize the security situation in Iraq.
Some say Iran’s leaders are not aware of what members of their own regime are doing. Others say Iran’s leaders are actively seeking to provoke the West. Either way, they cannot escape responsibility for aiding attacks against coalition forces and the murder of innocent Iraqis. The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops. I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.
Will tonight’s speech hit the same points? Watch closely.
Blake Hounshell is a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.
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