(Pre-speech photo via Wonkette).
President Bush came as close as he ever has to admitting mistakes on Iraq Wednesday, acknowledging setbacks and uneven results in the training of Iraqi troops in his latest defense of the war 2 1/2 years after he first declared victory.
George W. Bush finally did what he always feared doing: he announced how we would win the war, at the risk of threatening the troops by spreading formerly classified information to the public today at the US Naval Academy (transcript).
Not really. The National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, as its written, was composed earlier this month according to its datestamp, despite White House claims to have been operating according to the plan since 2003.
Listen to the November 30 Talk of the Nation from NPR for a great conversation on this speech featuring James Fallows and Michael Rubin.
A couple insights from across the blogosphere:
Marc Cooper took the wayback machine and found that the “old Nixon game plan seems tailor-cut for Bush.” Seems text of the speech may have been leaked to Cooper as he vowed to sleep through the president’s “major” announcement.
Cafe Politico says there was hardly any evidence of a plan being revealed, suggesting the title: “Lots of Testosterone-Inspired Soundbites Minus Any Specifics.”
Sens. Kerry and Reid released statements to the effect of: “yo, I don’t think so.”
The Left Coaster says that in addition to the typical rhetoric, Bush “retreated back to his strategy of 2000. It?s him and the people of America against the entrenched political forces in DC.”
Tuesday, Donald Rumsfeld had an “epiphany,” and like all of his previous epiphanies, this one resonated very little with the actual military players don’t come across like Rummy, who speaks as if he is “merely observing the Iraq war on television,”Dana Milbank wrote in the Post. Here is some of the exchange he had with his new Joint Chief of Staff:
[A]sked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld replied that “obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility” other than to voice disapproval.
But [Gen. Peter] Pace had a different view. “It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it,” the general said.
Rumsfeld interjected: “I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.”
But Pace meant what he said. “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it,” he said, firmly.
I’m glad we cleared that up. Rumsfeld should have begun the press conference with the anecdote he used to close it:
“I just don’t know…. I can only talk about what I know.” [exaggerated shrug] “That’s life.”
Finally, earlier today AP released a list of about 40 international civilians believed to still be kidnapped throughout Iraq.