01 July 2005

Bush, 911, and the Left

According to the President's detractors, Bush "invoked the tragedy of 911 to justify our occupation of Iraq" in his speech to soldiers at Fort Bragg. This is yet another demonstration of just the sort of perversion of fact and logic to which the Left is willing to resort in doing nothing but crowing about a President they simply do not like, and who will never do anything they like--except leave office. (Read the text of the speech here.)

Let's look at each of Bush's mentions of 11 September 2001 in turn.

The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror. The war reached our shores on September 11, 2001

Here, the the President makes two assertions. The first of these two assertions is that the military is at present "fighting a global war on terror." This is undeniably true. It would be true even if we were not doing any fighting at all in Iraq. The second assertion is that this war "war reached our shores on September 11, 2001." That also is true. Neither of these two propositions, clearly, is intended as a justification for our presence in Iraq.

After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy.

Here, there are two assertions: (1) that, after--and as a consequence of--the events of 11 September 2001, the President resolved that our approach to terrorism on our soil will not be reactive, but active; and (2), as an extension of the logic of the first assertion, we will seek out terrorists and hit them before they hit us. Although, it is true that one reason we are in Iraq is the connection between Saddam Hussien and global terrorism (note that I said global terrorism, not al-Qaeda), it is also true that these propositions could be true apart from 911. Let us say that 11 September 2001 never happened. President Bush could still have decided that we must defend our freedom by taking the fight to terrorists. He might have made this policy decision for no other reason than that he thought his predecessor's approach to terrorists (i.e., to indict and try them in court) was misguided. Furthemore, on the basis of that same logic (and quite apart from 911), he could have decided that we needed to invade Iraq and get Saddam Hussein for no other reason than his persistent refusal to abide by UN resolutions.

The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September the 11th, if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like bin Laden.
Is this really an "invocation of...911"? (What in the world does it mean to "invoke" a tragedy, anyway?) Here, we do get close to reliance upon the events of 11 September 2001, as a justification for our presence in Iraq. But so what? One of the things that the left likes to forget is that the President asked for, and received, a declaration of war against terrorism, not a declaration of war against al-Qaeda. Even if we grant the left the premise that there is no connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda, there can be no intelligent dispute that there is a connection between Saddam and terrorism. And it was, again, terrorism against which war was declared. (Bye the way, on the connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, see SoCalPundit's resume here. )

They are trying to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001. They will fail.
Still no use here of 911 as a justification for our presence in Iraq. All we have here is a description of what the enemy, in Iraq, is attempting to do to us, in Iraq. It does just happen to be the same thing they were trying to do on 11 September 2001. If 911 is being "invoked" here, it is being invoked as a reminder of what the global war--only a part of which is being fought out in Iraq--is about: terrorism. It may be that there is no connection between 11 September and Saddam Hussein, but there is one between terrorism and Saddam Hussein. We went into Iraq to get Saddam as a consequence of the global war on terrorism. This global war on terrorism was declared by Congress. We are still in Iraq, not because of 911, but because of the terrorists who went in there because we went in for Hussein. We are not occupying Iraq because of 911, but because of the terrorists. Saddam Hussein, a supporter and comforter of terrorists, had supporters. It's their fault we are still in Iraq.

After September 11, 2001, I told the American people that the road ahead would be difficult and that we would prevail. Well, it has been difficult and we are prevailing
Keeping in mind that the tragedy of 11 September marked the beginning of participation in the global war on terrorism, this "invocation" of said tragedy, has nothing to do with our presence in Iraq. This same "invocation" would be appropriate in any speech, at any point in a global war on terrorism.

A speech given to those who are fighting a war, with no mention of the event--or events--which precipitated that war would be rather strange. Imagine a speech given to soldiers in WWII in which no mention was ever made of 7 December 1941. I can imagine a speech, given by General Patton, in which he reminds his men that "these Germans are allied with the sons o' bitches that attacked Pearl Harbor. Go get 'em. Go through their ranks like crap through a goose. Grease your tanks with their ****ing guts! And if you find yourselves getting squeamish about it, remember Pearl Harbor." What Bush did,though not as "colorful" as Patton's style, wasn't very much different.


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James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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