Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bush in the Gulf

REUTERS/Larry Downing

Not much to do but make a list --

With his favourite prop -- the troops in uniform, in Kuwait:

I appreciate what this Third Army did in World War II. I hope you do too, as well. After all, you're members of Patton's own. Played a vital role in the destruction of the Nazi war machine. They helped liberate about 12,000 towns; at least that's according to the history of the Third Army. From their noble ranks came soldiers with some of our nation's highest directors*

He meant to say "decorations" but he always has the corporate hierarchy on his mind.

The history will say, it was when you were called upon, you served, and the service you rendered was absolutely necessary to defeat an enemy overseas so we do not have to face them here at home.

Did we mention that he spoke in Kuwait?

When you get to emailing your family, you tell them I check in with you. (Laughter.) And you're looking pretty good. (Applause.) It looks like you haven't missed a meal. (Laughter.)

Just the light-hearted approach that a war which has killed 150,000 Iraqi civilians needs.

In Bahrain --

Your Majesty, I appreciate the fact that you're on the forefront of providing hope for people through democracy. Your nation has held two free elections since 2000 -- and in 2006, your people elected a woman to your parliament.

This is his briefing book talking point that he got mixed up with Kuwait, which has zero women MPs. Bahrain has infinitely (in percentage terms) more.

Back now to a brief session with the travelling press corpse in Kuwait --

Q What about the political benchmarks? Do those no longer matter?

THE PRESIDENT: Of course they matter. They matter to the Iraqis a lot. It's a sign of reconciliation. I just mentioned they passed a pension law, which, of course, got a huge yawn in our press. But that's -- well, that's okay. (Laughter.) We can't pass -- we can't reform our own pension system, like Social Security, but they did.

Social security reform and a civil war: exactly the same.

THE PRESIDENT: I think the only thing I can tell you we're on track for is to follow through on that which he [Petraeus] recommended last September, and that we'll be on track getting down to 15. And that's what we're on track for. My attitude is, if he didn't want to continue the drawdown, that's fine with me, in order to make sure we succeed, see. I said to the General, if you want to slow her down, fine; it's up to you.

Note that the policy decisions about Iraq have been completely delegated to a general -- yet any criticism of that general is declared off-limits. Bush's language is also strangely casual ("slow her down"), as if the general is driving a car. Or playing a video game.

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