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Insurgency? What Insurgency?

Reported by Judy - September 5, 2006 -

George Bush tried to make Iraq look like the central front in the war against al Qaeda -- and to make it look like the U.S. is winning there -- during a speech broadcast Tuesday on Fox News' "Dayside," but he ignored the overwhelmingly non-al Qaeda nature of the insurgency that the U.S. is battling there.

Bush gave his speech before a friendly audience of the Military Officers Association of America, which could be counted on to applaud every line promising to stay in Iraq until "victory" is achieved and every line calling al Qaeda evil, as if Americans needed to be reminded of that.

He had some downright silly lines, railing at one point that since al Qaeda is evil, "It is foolish to think that you can negotiate with them." Who has ever proposed negotiating with al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden? Certainly not Congressional Democrats. They don't want to negotiate with him. They want to catch him and bring him to justice.

At another point, Bush warned, pointing to a 2002 document, that al Qaeda has a propaganda strategy to drive a wedge between Americans and their government in hopes of persuading Americans to pressure the government to stop fighting in Afghanistan. Bush's point was unclear. Few Americans are anxious to leave Afghanistan, which is more clearly associated with the war on terror than Iraq is. It sounded downright silly for Bush to be warning that al Qaeda might be running TV ads in America, based on a four-year-old document.

Bush devoted much of his speech to trying to tie the war on terror and against al Qaeda with the war in Iraq. He claimed that al Qaeda believes Iraq will be the center of a radical Muslim regime it wants to establish stretching from Spain to Iran so that is why the U.S. must stay in Iraq. Stopping the radical caliphate becomes yet another reason on the ever changing list of reasons for why the U.S. invaded Iraq.

During his speech, Bush never mentioned sectarian violence in Iraq, referring only to the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq. Nor did he attempt to quantify the presence of al Qaeda in Iraq. A quarterly Iraq index prepared by the Brookings Institute, however, puts the number of al Qaeda at only about 1,000, out of the more than 20,000 insurgents fighting in Iraq.

Based on these numbers, the U.S. could capture all 1,000 al Qaeda fighters in Iraq and have little impact on the level of overall violence. Until Bush faces up to the home-grown nature of Iraqi violence, the U.S. has little hope of making progress there. But Bush is trapped. If he admits most of the violence is sectarian violence and not about al Qaeda at all, he loses the argument that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. So he continues in his fantasy world.