Q Mr. President, what do you think of the successor to Zarqawi that was named by al Qaeda? And how do you stop an insurgency that is still able to recruit people and continue to threaten attacks?Not unlike the mythical multi-headed snake that grows a new head to replace the on that gets cut off, there are many terrorist willing to take a stab at the "American Devil."
THE PRESIDENT: I think the successor to Zarqawi is going to be on our list to bring to justice.
What was the second part of your question?
Q How do you stop an insurgency that continues to be able to recruit people and continues to threaten attacks and carry them out?
THE PRESIDENT: The best way to win this war against an insurgency is to stand up a unity government which is capable of defending itself, but also providing tangible benefits to the people. The Iraqis have got some wonderful assets: They've got energy, which they can use to benefit their people; they're entrepreneurial; they've got a stable currency; they've got a small business sector that's growing. And, ultimately, the Iraqi people are going to have to make up their mind, do they want to live in terror, or do they want to live in peace. And the United States and our coalition will help them realize their ambitions if they choose to live in peace and hope, which we believe they will.
Remember, it wasn't all that long ago that 12 million people went to the polls and said, we want to live in a free society. No question, the fighting is tough. No question, the enemy is violent and mean. But the enemy doesn't stand for anything. They have no message of hope. They have no positive philosophy. All they can do is kill and hope that the government splits up, or that the American people lose their will. And I keep reminding the American people that the stakes are worth it. It is worth it to help Iraq succeed. It is worth it to have a democracy in the Middle East. It is worth it to show other reformers and people who want to live in a free society what is possible.
But the President's answer to a rather complex question leads me to a number of philosophical questions for the blogisphere. What do you think is the proper answer to the president's dualistic proposition - terror or peace...hmmm, what about us the American people? Which do we choose? I think we all choose peace. The problem is that the terrorists don't. Who controls whether we live in terror? The reduction of multifaceted, complex problems in to dualistic propositions where one side is completely implausible or untenable as an option is the President's specialty. Don't fall for this political parlor trick.
But let's look a bit further. The dualistic nature of the President is also obviated in the latter portion of his answer where he doesn't have to state the other side of the position. Here's the "it's worth it," argument regurgitated for all to see. What's the other option? It's not worth it? Like he is going to say that? But I have to ask, are the American people suckers for this kind of political hucksterism?
Moreover, I wonder, since the president still suggests that the Iraq Conflagration (regardless that there were no real ties to 9/11 or WMD) was and is "worth it," if he has a conscience and has discussed that with any relatives of GIs who are now short one because a family member was KIA in Iraq, and if those people would concur.
Oh, and incidentally, perhaps you should ask some of the troops that are plus-up-ed (what ever that means) if they think it's worth it:
Q Dan, if you take some of the things you said together, you talked about various possible deployments similar to the 3,000 troop movement from Kuwait to Anbar, and you said, the plan has been all along what Casey said, gradual reductions in coming time. When you put those together, a lot of these meetings will be focusing on various deployment decisions with a goal of gradually reducing -- is that overstepping?Ah, I see, so the new Press Secretary's Office is not above speaking for the American people either. This is something that Scotty used to do on a regular basis. Do these folks speak for you? Not me. I wish they would stop pretending that they do.
MR. BARTLETT: Well, actually, that would contradict yourself, because the 3,000 troops shows that it's conditions-based, meaning there will be -- there are instances where you're going to want to plus-up troops and --
Q But it's discussions with a goal of doing what Casey mentioned --
MR. BARTLETT: Well, as the President said, of course, the goal is to accomplish our mission as quickly as possible so our troops can come home. That's a fundamental premise of all of our conversations. That's what the President has pledged to the American people. But I don't think the American people want us to do it in a premature way in which we don't complete the mission. And what the conversation here is about is how do we help the Iraqi people and this Maliki government succeed in implementing its plan.