Thursday, October 26, 2006

Matt 24 Watch, 4: The other side of the story on Mr Bush

Since deception and the stirring of unwarranted hostility against those who name the name of Christ are very much in view in Matt 24, it may be wise for us to take a look at the other side of the story on many issues in which we are led to take a hostile view of people identified as Christians.

Here, because of its notoriety and its frequent use as a benchmark for "progressive" thought in our region, I believe the case of the generally hostile and negative view of Mr Bush should be looked at.

For, since so much of the press we get on Mr Bush in the Caribbean comes out of the mouths of media houses that consistently fail the straight vs spin test, it may be worth the while to hear a little on the other side of the story -- the side we do not see headlined as a rule:

1] Pess Conference with questions and answers, Oct 25:

. . . as released by the White House, here

Interesting excerpts worth a thought or two, mostly on the Iraq situation:

The events of the past month have been a serious concern to me, and a serious concern to the American people. Today I will explain how we're adapting our tactics to help the Iraqi government gain control of the security situation. I'll also explain why, despite the difficulties and bloodshed, it remains critical that America defeat the enemy in Iraq by helping the Iraqis build a free nation that can sustain itself and defend itself.

Our security at home depends on ensuring that Iraq is an ally in the war on terror and does not become a terrorist haven like Afghanistan under the Taliban . . . After the fall of Saddam Hussein, a sophisticated and a violent insurgency took root. Early on this insurgency was made up of remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, as well as criminals released by the regime. The insurgency was fueled by al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists, who focused most of their attention on high-profile attacks against coalition forces and international institutions.

We learned some key lessons from that early phase in the war. We saw how quickly al Qaeda and other extremist groups would come to Iraq to fight and try to drive us out. We overestimated the capability of the civil service in Iraq to continue to provide essential services to the Iraqi people. We did not expect the Iraqi army, including the Republican Guard, to melt away in the way that it did in the phase of advancing coalition forces.

Despite these early setbacks, some very important progress was made, in the midst of an incredibly violent period. Iraqis formed an interim government that assumed sovereignty. The Iraqi people elected a transitional government, drafted and adopted the most progressive democratic constitution in the Arab world, braved the car bombs and assassins to choose a permanent government under that constitution, and slowly began to build a capable national army.

Al Qaeda and insurgents were unable to stop this progress. They tried to stand up to our forces in places like Fallujah, and they were routed. So they changed their tactics. In an intercepted letter to Osama bin Laden, the terrorist Zarqawi laid out his strategy to drag Iraq's Shia population into a sectarian war . . . . A military solution alone will not stop violence. In the end, the Iraqi people and their government will have to make the difficult decisions necessary to solve these problems. So, in addition to refining our military tactics to defeat the enemy, we're also working to help the Iraqi government achieve a political solution that brings together Shia and Sunnis and Kurds and other ethnic and religious groups . . . .

It's my responsibility to provide the American people with a candid assessment on the way forward. There is tough fighting ahead. The road to victory will not be easy. We should not expect a simple solution. The fact that the fighting is tough does not mean our efforts in Iraq are not worth it. To the contrary; the consequences in Iraq will have a decisive impact on the security of our country, because defeating the terrorists in Iraq is essential to turning back the cause of extremism in the Middle East. If we do not defeat the terrorists or extremists in Iraq, they will gain access to vast oil reserves, and use Iraq as a base to overthrow moderate governments across the broader Middle East. They will launch new attacks on America from this new safe haven. They will pursue their goal of a radical Islamic empire that stretches from Spain to Indonesia . . . . We must not fall prey to the sophisticated propaganda by the enemy, who is trying to undermine our confidence and make us believe that our presence in Iraq is the cause of all its problems . . . .

this is a different kind of war than a war against the fascists in World War II . . . This is a war against extremists and radicals who kill innocent people to achieve political objectives. It has a multiple of fronts.

Afghanistan was a front in this war against the terrorists. Iraq is now the central front in the war against the terrorists. This war is more than just finding people and bringing them to justice; this war is an ideological conflict between a radical ideology that can't stand freedom, and moderate, reasonable people that hope to live in a peaceful society.

And so it's going to take a long time . . . . The ultimate victory in Iraq, which is a government that can sustain itself, govern itself, and defend itself, depends upon the Iraqi citizens and the Iraqi government doing the hard work necessary to protect their country. And our job is to help them achieve that objective. As a matter of fact, my view is the only way we lose in Iraq is if we leave before the job is done . . . .

[I]t's incumbent upon our government and others who enjoy the blessings of liberty to help those moderates succeed because, otherwise, we're looking at the potential of this kind of world: a world in which radical forms of Islam compete for power; a world in which moderate governments get toppled by people willing to murder the innocent; a world in which oil reserves are controlled by radicals in order to extract blackmail from the West; a world in which Iran has a nuclear weapon. And if that were to occur, people would look back at this day and age and say, what happened to those people in 2006? How come they couldn't see the threat to a future generation of people?
We should ask whether this is a coherent account that meets the facts and issues adequately, and whether the alternative accounts do a better job. The fact that as a rule Mr Bush's actual case disappears from press accounts, save for soundbites used to feed the other story, may be a hint already, as to who has the better case on the facts vs who has superior media power.

2] More personal Conference with a circle of Conservative Journalists, Oct 25:

. . . as reported by Mr Barone here:
Like many others who have been with Bush in the Oval Office, I have found him to be much more articulate and forceful in that setting than he often is in press conferences or in taking questions from traveling reporters. The interview was on the record, so we are posting an MP3 audio recording (High bandwidth | Low bandwidth) of the whole hour . . . .

. . . . [Mr Bush] began the interview by looking ahead to what the Middle East will be in 25 years–and arguing that it will be in better shape than it might be because of what we are doing now [NB: this is out of order in the report] . . . .

He clearly sees his primary mission as protecting the American people from the terrorists who want to do everything they can to hurt and destroy us and our civilization. He makes the point that we ought to listen to their words when they threaten to kill us–even though our first instinct is to flinch and turn away from threats that, if taken seriously, are extremely disturbing. Later he returned to this theme. The September 11 attacks made it clear, he said, that we're at war, and we're still at war. These terrorists want to kill us and destroy our civilization, and they will use any excuse that comes to mind–Israel, the Crusades, and if not the Crusades then the cartoons.

"If this country lets down its guard, it will be a fatal mistake."

He then argued that we have severely hurt the terrorists–but that as long as we see victory as the absence of strife, the terrorists can convince us that we're not winning by random killing.

"If absence of violence is victory," he said, then nobody can ever make a claim of winning . . . .

We're now in the process of trying to convince [Arab leaders in the ME] and others outside the region that Iran's possession of nuclear weapons is of greater importance than other concerns they have . . . And we're trying to persuade others to convince Syria that it should stop supporting terrorists and destabilizing Lebanon. On North Korea, he noted that its announcement of its nuclear test has prompted some Japanese leaders to suggest that that country might develop nuclear weapons. He argued that if we negotiated with North Korea alone, the world would tend to urge us to make any concessions. I asked about the dangers of North Korea's proliferating nuclear weapons (citing a recent Rand study showing the effects of a 10-kiloton nuclear explosion in Los Angeles harbor) and biological weapons (citing a Popular Mechanics article on North Korea's efforts to weaponize anthrax, botulism, and plague), both referred to in my most recent U.S. News column. He responded by describing the 70-nation Proliferation Security Initiative–a huge multilateral initiative by this administration that is largely ignored by mainstream media . . . .

On the way out the door, I asked him what he had been reading lately. The answer: Andrew Roberts's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 (an advance copy, apparently) . . . Roberts's English-Speaking Peoples is an extension of Churchill's multicentury history that ends around 1900, and I expect that it will take Churchill's view: that the English-speaking peoples have over the centuries taken up the responsibility of expanding freedom and spreading democracy and the rule of law around the world. [Cf my remarks here on the roots of modern liberty.]

That is Bush's view as well, as I was reminded when I noticed the bust of Churchill as I was leaving the Oval Office.


I think we need to take a sober, second look at the situation and the implications of what we say and do today, in light of both sides of the question -- the one trumpeted to us every day by BBC, CNN, local media that take their cues from these sources, etc, and the side we usually do not hear much of; not only for ourselves but also for our posterity in the Caribbean and across the world -- over the next two generations.

Then, let us look very carefully on the tone and substance of the ways in which evangelical Chistians are being portrayed in the international and regional media as in effect a mirror image to islamist terrorists. Finally, let us take a sober look at the issues connected to the Islamist -- as opposed to "ordinary" Muslim -- approach to Islam and the "duty" of jihad, and the implications of the 100 year global subjugation programme embarked upon by the Muslim Brotherhood since 1982 -- bearing in mind not only the fact that the MB is a parent of Al Qaeda as we know it, but also suppressed news such as the rise of an Islamist "intifada" in France.

That second look may well put a very different balance on the issues than we have been wont to see. END

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