Let's see: there's "Sectarian Violence."
Or, how about another good modification of that tired phrase: "Foment sectarian violence."
Let's have a look at a very honest and concrete question posed Tuesday in the "Joint Press Availability" executed on foreign soil at great taxpayer expense. Does Deb get a good answer?
You be the judge:
Q Mr. President, thank you, sir. What is the difference between what we're seeing now in Iraq and civil war? And do you worry that calling it a civil war would make it difficult to argue that we're fighting the central front of the war on terror there?Okay, as the W trots out the stock "twelve million people voted" rhetoric, we have to ask ourselves if the election matters all that much to all the newly dead Iraqis?
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, the plans of Mr. Zarqawi was to foment sectarian violence. That's what he said he wanted to do. The Samarra bombing that took place last winter was intended to create sectarian violence, and it has. The recent bombings were to perpetuate the sectarian violence. In other words, we've been in this phase for a while. And the fundamental objective is to work with the Iraqis to create conditions so that the vast majority of the people will be able to see that there's a peaceful way forward.
The bombings that took place recently was a part of a pattern that has been going on for about nine months. I'm going to bring this subject up, of course, with Prime Minister Maliki when I visit with him in Jordan on Thursday. My questions to him will be: What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence? I will assure him that we will continue to pursue al Qaeda to make sure that they do not establish a safe haven in Iraq.
I will ask him: What is required and what is your strategy to be a country which can govern itself and sustain itself? And it's going to be an important meeting, and I'm looking forward to it.
Q -- are saying that we're moving forward to full --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Deb, there's all kinds of speculation about what may be or not happening. What you're seeing on TV has started last February. It was an attempt by people to foment sectarian violence, and no -- no question it's dangerous there, and violent. And the Maliki government is going to have to deal with that violence, and we want to help them do so. It's in our interest that we succeed. A democracy in the heart of the Middle East is an important part of defeating the radicals and totalitarians that can't stand the emergence of a democracy.
One of the interesting things that's taking place -- and people have got to understand what's happening -- is when you see a young democracy beginning to emerge in the Middle East, the extremists try to defeat its emergence.
That's why you see violence in Lebanon. There's a young democracy in Lebanon, run by Prime Minister Siniora. And that government is being undermined, in my opinion, by extremist forces encouraged out of Syria and Iran. Why? Because a democracy will be a major defeat for those who articulate extremist points of view.
We're trying to help get a democracy started in the Palestinian Territory. Prime Minister Olmert has reached out at one point to Prime Minister Abbas -- President Abbas. And you know what happens as soon as he does that? Extremists attack, because they can't stand the thought of a democracy. And the same thing is happening in Iraq. And it's in our mutual interest that we help this government succeed.
And no question it's tough, Deb. No question about it. There's a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented, in my opinion, because of these attacks by al Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisal. And we will work with the Maliki government to defeat these elements.
By far, the vast majority of the people want to live in peace. Twelve million people voted. They said, we want to live under a constitution which we approved. And our objective must be to help them realize their dreams. This is the -- this is an important part of an ideological struggle that is taking place here in the beginning of the 21st century. And the interesting contribution that a country like Estonia is making is that, people shouldn't have to live under tyranny. We just did that; we don't like it. They understand that democracies yield peace. This President is a strong advocate for democracies, because he understands. He understands what it means to live under subjugation, and he understands the hope that democracy brings to regions of the world. And I appreciate your steadfast leadership.
Any one out there care to discuss whether or not it matters how the W, Rove and Co chooses to define what is happening in Iraq?
Let's see how Steve Hadley amplifies the W, Rove Co confusion on the matter:
Q How can you say that we think the Maliki government is doing pretty well when, by all accounts, he would have no strength at all in parliament but for the bloc of votes that Sadr's party holds? It seems to be the majority view, in everything we read, that he has no power except the power which comes from his association with Sadr, who is inimical to U.S. interests.
MR. HADLEY: I don't think that's how it works. I think there are about 270 members, maybe 275 members in the legislature. Sadr has a block of 50. So this is a unity government, drawing from Kurds, Sunni and Shia. It has a broader base of support. Secondly, Sadr is in the government. Sadr has some ministers that are part of the government. And one of the things that Maliki has been very clear about is trying to keep Sadr in that government and get Sadr to recognize that he has a role as part of the government, he has a role as part of the government to ensure that the government is the exclusive source of authority and force within Iraq. And that means going after the extremes, whether Shia extremists or Sunni extremists, those elements that are standing outside the government and are willing to use force against the government. He is trying to unite moderates in Sunni, Shia and Kurd communities into his unity, and give them, through the training of security forces, the strength to go after those elements that refuse to become part of the political process. That's what he's trying to do.
He has said that the government needs to do better. We've said that the situation in Iraq is not proceeding well enough, fast enough. This is not -- I'm trying to give you a very candid assessment. But the question I got was, why isn't he doing better? And all I wanted to do was to remind everybody the situation which this unity government was presented, and the challenges with which they're having to deal. It is something one has to keep in mind when you evaluate what's going on in Iraq. That's my only point.
Q Pretty well is relative, isn't it?
MR. HADLEY: Pardon me?
Q Pretty well, as you said, is pretty relative, isn't it?
MR. HADLEY: It's very relevant, and my point --
MR. HADLEY: -- was not to -- I hope you don't sort of encapsulize what I've said by saying, Hadley says they're doing pretty well, because I think it would be unfair to what I've just described as a situation which is -- we're very concerned about, high levels of violence, sectarian violence that is a challenge for this new government, things proceeding not well enough or fast enough. All I'm saying is, they are not making the progress we would like, they are not making the progress they would like, and there's some reasons for that, because they face a very challenging situation. That's the best I can do, in terms of describing the challenge they face and where they are in that process.