Transcript from President Bushâ€™s 11/30/05 speech found HERE.
By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people. (There were about 100 attacks per day in Iraq during the month of October. One of the deadliest attacks occurred less than two weeks ago.)
And on the economic side, we’re helping the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, reform their economy and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. (Reconstruction in Iraq is costlier than expected, and officials are unsure how many projects will be completed. Also, high security costs eat away at reconstruction funds.)
In doing all this, we’ve involved the United Nations, other international organizations, our coalition partners and supportive regional states in helping Iraqis build their future. (Coalition members drop from a peak of 37 countries to 27. Coalition members are urged to postpone pulling out of Iraq.)
As the Iraqi forces grow in number, they’re helping to keep a better hold on the cities taken from the enemy. And as Iraqi forces grow more capable, they’re increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the terrorists. (Pentagon officials acknowledge there are significant gaps in the Iraqis’ ability to defend their own country.)
We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate and conduct fewer patrols and convoys. (The Pentagon increased U.S. troop levels in Iraq ahead of the October 15 referendum in which Iraqis approved a constitution, and the U.S. force peaked in October at about 161,000, the highest level of the war. After temporarily dropping by several thousand troops, the size of the U.S. force again is rising to help provide security for the December 15 elections.)
I want you to know that, while there may be a lot of heated rhetoric in Washington, D.C., one thing is not in dispute: The American people stand behind you. (American support for the Iraq war continues to plummet.)
So on the way home from work today, I was listening to Sean Hannity. During the course of what I heard during my commute, he talked about two things that made me want to shake my head and wonder what the Right is smoking some days–or rather, one thing he talked about and another was how he phrased it.
First, he was talking about the photo that is being circulated of Cindy Sheehan sitting in a tent before a book signing that is absolutely empty. I’ve seen two versions of this. One of them is simply a straight on show of her at the table with no one lined up and the other showed two other photographers taking a picture of her showing the entire tent being empty. Much has been made on many of the Conservative talk shows today about how no one showed up, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. First and foremost, don’t they have anything better to do than continue to hound this woman–especially on a day when she wasn’t out there making any more proclamations (many of which, granted, have been a bit idiotic)? I have a feeling these photos were taken before people came in and are now being used by the Conservative pundits to push that she’s abandoned or whatever.
The other was Hannity talking about a debate that was going to happen in the next hour of his show involving Jerry Falwell, another named participant, and ’some atheist.’ I realize that there are many people in the Christian Right who despise the overt push to secularize this portion of the year. Personally, I agree with them. There is absolutely no need to be so politically correct about things that you don’t feel you can say ‘Merry Christmas.’ I accept such greetings and salutations in the spirit in which they’re intended and don’t get my knickers in a twist over there. However, blatantly denigrating the position of the person in question is really not the polite thing to do. While Hannity might not agree with the guy’s position, he could at least give him a modicum of respect.
There is a good bit of call on the Right about how the Left doesn’t let the Right’s “agenda” be heard, and then they pull things like this? It’s hard for me to actually worry about defending the position of some people on the Right when they pull crap like this. I realize that hypocrisy is a human trait, but they could at least try to hold some manner of polite discourse on things. Of course, it takes all kinds in the end. I just wish those kinds would stop giving Conservatives a bad name.
There have been reports from various news sources that during the battle of Fallujah the US forces used non-conventional weapons. Some even accused that we used napalm or possibly chemical weapons. Pictures on Arab media showed bodies that looked like they had been dipped in acid, still wearing intact clothing that seemed to identify them as civilians. Such pictures had the Arab world asking if they had simply traded one brutal oppressor willing to use chemical weapons on its people for another.
Recently an Italian documentary showed pictures and testimony of the aftermath of Fallujah claiming that the US military had used chemical weapons, including white phosphorous, indiscriminately against military and civilian targets in the city. The military in Iraq denied the use of chemical weapons and the use of white phosphorous as an offensive weapon in Fallujah. White phospherous is primarly used as an illumination flare or to create smoke. The claim about not using white phosphorous as an offensive weapon though had to be recanted when an article in the 2005 March edition of the military journal â€œField Artillery Magazineâ€ was cited by a number of reporters. The article talked about the effective use of â€œshake and bakeâ€ missions on insurgent positions in the battle of Fallujah, these are mission in which a mixture of white phosphorous and high explosive rounds are used to saturate a location. Even a northern California newspaper, The North County Times, las year had published a report from an imbedded reporter who talked about a â€œshake and bakeâ€ mission done by the unit he was imbedded with during the battle of Fallujah.
The military has chosen to alter their statement after this embarrassment to include the fact that they had used white phosphorous shells as an offensive weapon in Fallujahâ€¦ but they had not targeted civilians with it. But by this point the damage is done, there are still those who are going to believe the initial reports that the US used chemical weapons. There are many who believe that the US tried to deceive the world by at first denying the use of the weapons, and that reduces the credibility of a military trying to win hearts and minds.
But I would like to just point one thing out. White Phosphorous is not a chemical weapon, the term WMD has been bandied about a great deal with the horrific pictures of its victims. But chemical weapons come in one of two types; they are either caustics or nerve agents. Caustics, like mustard gas and chlorine, cause chemical burns to soft tissues and death from blood loss and organ failure. Nerve agents, like Sarin and VX, are nerve toxins that block communication between nerve cells or destroy the nervous system and cause death from organ failure. White Phosphorous is an incendiary; it is a chemical that ignites at about 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and burns very energetically. When a white phosphorous shell strikes its target it explodes into a large cloud of fine dust particles. Each of these particles will ignite when it comes into contact with something that is greater than 86 degrees Fahrenheit, such as human skin, which averages at about 98.6 degrees. When the dust particles ignite smothering them from access to all oxygen is the only way to snuff them. White Phosphorous is an indiscriminate killer though, as the dust from the shell can travel up to 150 feet away from the point of impact (further if there are high winds). And its victims are quite horrific to behold as they look like they have been horribly burned, but their clothes and surroundings remain relatively untouched.
My biggest problem with this is not the fact that we used White Phosphorous munitions. The US is not a signatory to the 1980 incendiary weapons ban, and White Phosphorous is not identified as a chemical weapon in any of the chemical weapons bans that the US is a signatory of. My problem is that when challenged about this our nationâ€™s first reaction was to deny it flatlyâ€¦ even though there was plenty of evidence that was over a year old that had already been accessible to the publicâ€¦ our governmentâ€™s first reaction was to lie. If this was the first example of this then I could excuse it, but its not. Our government has had to recant foolish denials at least half a dozen times, and each time we do it the trust value of our leadership is reduced in the eyes of the Iraqis. It is no wonder that the newly elected Iraqi government has asked us to leave, and the majority of Iraqiâ€™s believe that attacks on our troops by insurgents are justified. The behavior of our leadership has been shameful, and bred distrust among the very people we were there to â€œliberateâ€.