This morning I was at the dentist for a couple of hours and had the opportunity to hear a good deal of President Bush's speech to the "Democracy and Security" forum at the G8 convention.
The speech was great rhetoric but completely disconnected from reality. He tried to tackle the questions of our Iraqi occupation, for which I commend him. Somehow, however, he was trying to connect internal democratic revolutions of the past with our violent, foreign occupation of Iraq in the present. It was a pretty speech, but vulgar in its absolute disregard for truth, reality, and reason.
Lets be frank about this. President Bush talked about East Germans defying communism by praying in their living rooms and contributing to the end of the Berlin Wall. Then he talked about humble organizers amongst dock workers in Poland bringing about the democratic revolution there. Those are great stories but they are basically the antithesis of what is happening in Iraq. This was not the Iraqi people standing up to tyranny and oppression. This was an outside force coming in to depose one tyranny and forecefully impose a new order. It is about the most unwise connection you could try to make.
I would love to know how these speeches get written. Does President Bush have a hand in writing these? Do they get vetted through any aides? Does the President ever sit in the middle of his own speech and say "OK, what??" Or do his aides cringe when he adds these kind of ideas and refuses to heed advice to cut them from speeches.
In contrast, I heard a fairly rational analysis from Tony Lagouranis on the radio as I drove in to work. He discussed his book on the questions of prisoner interrogation in the Iraqi war. It was not the disconnected stories (and red herrings) that the President was dishing out this morning.
Lagouranis was one of the first interrogators sent to Iraq. He quickly discovered that the architects of this war went out of their way to say that "the detainees that they had were not covered by the Geneva Conventions". His book discusses how the events at Abu Ghraib were often the rule and not the exception (even after the PR fiasco). He was deeply disturbed by his orders and continued to be disturbed when he got back to the states. He explains that many people that got rounded up for interrogation were ultimately proved to not be involved with resistance forces – but that so much harm was done to them in trying to assess them, that they left (if they left at all) as an enemy of our occupying force.
So he wrote a book to talk about facts and ask questions. I commend that. I think there are a lot of facts that need discussion and some difficult questions that need revisiting. If we are going to promote "Democracy and Security" in the world, lets actually do it, not just give pretty speeches about it to try to obscure the reality of our current actions.
Note: I am cross-posting this at a new blog site called "Politics in Plain English". I was kinda hoping this blog would turn into a "group" of Mormons pressing for peace, but since it's more just my own silly soapbox, I'm thinking that having "Mormons" in the title is kinda mis-representative and it would be better to just post over at my new site in the future. Also, the Cheney protests at BYU showed me that there are plenty of Mormons concerned about peace and US foreign policy and that they are discovering their voices just fine as well. :] Thanks though to anybody who's ever taken the time to read my crazy musings and/or post here. :)