In what was hailed as one of the most important speeches of his presidency, George Bush almost declared he'd be sending more troops to Iraq, announced a new bipartisan commission led by Senator Joe Lieberman, and almost declared war on Iran and Syria.
As was predicted, Bush did commit a further 21,500 troops to Iraq, while basically giving away his play book to the insurgents, detailing where these troops will be used, and the new command structure.
"The vast majority of them – five brigades – will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs."Bush also announced a new bipartisan panel that will advise the administration, and act as a channel to the Congress. The most prominent Democrat on this panel? Holy Joe:
"Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my Administration, and it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress."Also, Bush continued to show that he is "The Decider", and backtracked on his promise to actually work with the new Congress:
"In the days ahead, my national security team will fully brief Congress on our new strategy. If Members have improvements that can be made, we will make them. If circumstances change, we will adjust. Honorable people have different views, and they will voice their criticisms. It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed."In what may have been the most odd moment of the speech, it appeared Bush virtually declared war on Iran and Syria:
"Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity – and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.The speech was mostly a rehashing of the same rhetoric we've heard for the past 4 years, with only a few slight differences.
We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing – and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region."
There will be no bounce for Dubyah tomorrow, and this speech may have solidified his "lame duck" status.