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Bush's PR difficulties with Iraq

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted September 15, 2003

"For a country right in the middle of World War III, we are awfully blasé about it. America is fighting against fanatics the world over who want to kill us because they think Allah wills it. In the face of that incredible danger, America has struggled somewhat, both here and abroad. After the great victory in Iraq, the occupation has been difficult and politics are making the fight even more tenuous." -- Bill O'Reilly's September 12th Talking Points from "The O'Reilly Factor", the Fox News Channel.

You would think that Americans would be grateful for the wonderful job President George W. Bush has done in the wake of September 11th, keeping our nation free from further terror attacks over the past two years. Unfortunately, public opinion indicates otherwise. According to the latest Gallup poll, the president's overall approval rating has slipped to 52 per cent. Why? Memories are short, and people are being swayed by an onslaught of hate-filled, anti-Bush propaganda. The incessant carping and trash-talking by President Bush's detractors are having an impact. There's no denying it -- the Bush team must contend with some significant PR difficulties regarding the Iraqi situation. And it's now pivotal that administration members staunchly combat the lies and disinformation being bandied about the public arena.

The left-leaning elites in both media and politics, aided and abetted by their cohorts, the phony-baloney "conservatives" that have labeled themselves the paleoconservatives, continue to viciously beat upon President Bush and the US efforts in Iraq. What is it with this "blame America first" crowd? Apparently, they get their cheap thrills by repeatedly denouncing President Bush and members of his national security and defense team as "neocon warmongers" and "American imperialists". How shall I put this delicately? They are not only spouting pure gobbledygook, but they're terribly unseemly! And the Lilliputians running for the Democratic presidential nomination, who are thoroughly entrenched in this Bush-bashing circus, are particularly disgraceful. My hunch is that the churlishness of these Democrats will eventually backfire on them.

American empire? What are they talking about? On the contrary, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has indicated that we don't want to add more American troops to Iraq because we don't want to create Iraqi dependency upon us. We're there to help the Iraqis establish self-governance and to stabilize the situation as we pass along responsibilities directly to them. Besides, the notion of imperialism is anathema to the American way. Currently, we're in the midst of training about 55 000 Iraqis in various policing capacities, with a view toward tripling that number by 2005. As noted by Iraq's civil administrator Paul Bremer, many good things are happening in the emerging Iraqi society that is essentially up-and-running with schools, hospitals and market places. And the nation's infrastructure, which was falling apart before the war, is now being repaired and replaced. The US is reaching out to international financial institutions to help pay for the rebuilding of Iraq. It's also anticipated that costs will be offset when Iraqi oil is freely flowing.

Moreover, the US is attempting to induce other nations such as India, Pakistan and Turkey to contribute troops, equipment and money. But these nations, as do most around the world, seek the patina of "UN legitimacy", which resonates among their peoples. When the causalities come - as they inevitably will - these leaders want to be able to say that their troops were fighting under the auspices of the global UN, not the US. In deference to these sensitivities, the Bush administration is seeking an accommodation with the UN as it crafts a resolution aimed at internationalizing the peacekeeping force. However, the UN is notoriously corrupt and incompetent, which certainly argues for US dominance over all forces in Iraq. Only weeks ago, the UN stupidly rejected US security for their compound in Iraq, leaving their facility vulnerable to a truck bomb attack that proved to be terribly tragic.

Bill O'Reilly is right. This "war on terror" is World War III, and we are experiencing a global jihad by fanatics that are bent on destroying western civilization and making pixie dust out of you and me. And Americans must stay focused on this "life or death" struggle now confronting us. Have the Democrats offered a viable alternative to tackling World War III? No, of course not, they're just engaging in gutter politics and sniping at the President.

Over the past three decades, the Islamic world has been systematically radicalized and we are now reaping the consequences. How do we prevail in this "war on terror"? Foremost, President Bush does not want this war fought in America. That's why we brought the fight to the terrorists' turf, to where they live and operate (Afghanistan, Iraq, the Philippines, etc.). Some are now dubbing Iraq "Jihad Central" since terrorists are coming over the borders to engage our troops. But better that these jihadists come into Iraq itching for a fight with professional forces, than coming to the streets of New York or Washington. Besides, it's more convenient to dispose of many of these murderous thugs in one place.

Radical Islam cannot be dealt with solely by military force since it's a mindset, a mentality. Therefore, we need to engage the ideological front as well. President Bush understands that we must facilitate democratization of Iraq and the Middle East in order to create a new synergy of freedom, hope, and opportunity. The $87 billion that Bush is seeking for Iraq is money well spent if it promotes transformation of a region that now spawns terrorists.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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