T Nation

Bush Reality Check

From TIME magazine:

Reality Check: George Bush

The Claim:
The difficulties facing the U.S. in Iraq are a product of foreign terrorists showing up to fight the America there.

Reality Check:
The U.S. military on the ground says that the overwhelming majority of the insurgents fighting the U.S. in Iraq are Iraqis, not foreigners.

The Claim:
Saddam Hussein “had no intention of disarming and was systematically deceiving inspectors.”

Reality Check:
The fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and the U.S. inspection team has concluded that no such stockpiles existed when the war began, suggests that Saddam Hussein had, in fact, disarmed.

The Claim:
“The A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice.” (Khan is the Pakistani nuclear scientist who shipped nuclear weapons technology to North Korea, Iran, Libya and possibly other states.)

Reality Check:
Observers generally concur that there’s no way Khan could have acted without the authorization and support of Pakistan’s military leadership, yet the U.S. accepted an outcome in which Khan received a slap on the wrist and wasn’t even made available for questioning by U.S. officials, nor was any obvious attempt made to hold his superiors accountable – perhaps because of Pakistan’s crucial role in hunting al-Qaeda.

The Claim:
President Bush says he tried diplomacy in Iraq, and went to war only when it failed.

Reality Check:
Numerous accounts from within the U.S. and allied governments suggest the Bush Administration had decided to invade Iraq even before it went to the UN in the fall of 2002, and had gone back to the international body only under pressure from moderates in its own ranks and from Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair. The termination of the UN inspection process had nothing to do with its progress; it was based primarily on the window of opportunity for an invasion presented by the seasonal calendar.

The Claim:
Saddam Hussein would have grown stronger had the invasion not occurred.

Reality Check:
The decrepit state of the Iraqi military, its negligible pursuit of prohibited weapons, and the widespread internal rot of the regime that emerged after it collapsed showed that, in fact, containment had succeeded in weakening Saddam Hussein – although an enormous cost to Iraq’s civilian population.

The Claim:
Bilateral talks with North Korea would be a fatal mistake that would precipitate the collapse of the six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Reality Check:
Some of the key parties to those talks, including China, Russia and South Korea, are in favor of the U.S. talking directly to North Korea in order to provide Pyongyang with security guarantees that would improve the prospects for success in the six-party process.

The Claim:
Osama bin Laden is isolated, and 75 percent of his people have been brought to justice.

Reality Check:
Bin Laden may have physically sequestered himself, but he remains considerably more popular than President Bush in most of the Arab world. And despite considerable success by U.S. intelligence and allies in Europe, the Middle East and Pakistan in rounding up Qaeda operatives, allied intelligence services concur that al-Qaeda’s ranks have swelled a lot faster than they’ve been denuded, particularly since the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The Claim:
A free Iraq will help secure Israel.

Reality Check:
The bulk of Iraq’s Arab majority, both Sunni and Shiite, hold the same hostile view of Israel as their brethren throughout the Arab world. While elements of one particular faction of the formerly exiled opposition (Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress) have suggested that ties with Israel could be established, there’s no evidence to support the claim that an Iraqi government reflective of the popular will would be any warmer toward Israel than any of its neighbors.

The Claim:
We have 100,000 Iraqi troops trained now.

Reality Check:
There are around 100,000 people currently recruited to various Iraqi security forces, although the number who’ve been fully trained is closer to 20,000. And the number on whom U.S. commanders believe they can currently rely in frontline combat situations against the insurgencies is thought to currently number no more than 5,000.

The Claim:
We have 30 nations in our coalition; our coalition is strong.

Reality Check:
There isn’t a single Arab country in the coalition, in contrast to the wide Arab participation in the Gulf War. And the U.S. and Britain between them provided more than 90 percent of the troops. Moreover, eight of the countries that initially joined the U.S. have since pulled out their soldiers, and more are expected to follow. Efforts to persuade Muslim countries to send troops have foundered.

Friday, Oct. 01, 2004
http://www.time.com/time/election2004/article/0,18471,703924,00.html

bump

Nice post Lumpy.

Speaking of TIME…

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
From TIME magazine:

Reality Check: George Bush

The Claim:
The difficulties facing the U.S. in Iraq are a product of foreign terrorists showing up to fight the America there.

Reality Check:
The U.S. military on the ground says that the overwhelming majority of the insurgents fighting the U.S. in Iraq are Iraqis, not foreigners.
[/quote]

Well, isn’t it non-Iraqi terrorist influence who is training the Iraqis on car-bombings and suicide vest usage and whatnot?

Why did he deny the weapons inspectors access, and prevent them from doing their jobs repeatedly? What did he have to hide? If I was in charge, I would seriously consider the idea of him still having mustard gas or sarin stockpiled somewhere. After all, he did kill 20,000 or so Kurds with that stuff, didn’t he? The fact that weapons inspectors didn’t find anything doesn’t mean squat. I could tell you to try and find a clean pair of socks in my room right now, and there’s no way you would find them. But I know that they’re right under the 5th pizza box on my dresser. :slight_smile:

What does this have to do with Bush? The last time I checked he was president of the US, not Pakistan. There are going to be rogue scientists all over the world who will want to make money from selling secrets. To infer that the Pakistani government encouraged this is silly. I’m sure that these “observers” that are mentioned would conclude that there’s no way I could chug twelve beers in twenty minutes, either. But I’ve done it. Do not underestimate the power of positive thinking.

Well, I HOPE that we had planned this eventuality well in advance. Did we invade Iraq based on a week or two of late-night cramming over a map? God I hope not. Saddam had this coming for years. He defied UN resolutions for years.

The sanctions hurt the civilians. The “negligible” pursuit of WMD is a very debatable point. I wouldn’t want that butt-munch to have even one bomb of sarin gas to give to his terrorist pals, would you?

I think that the point here in diplomacy is to not let NK muscle the other countries, or make it appear that they “forced” us into bilateral talks. NK is like a teenage drama queen showing off for the international prom. NK’s desire for getting “security” guarantees is basically an attempt at extortion.

Re-read the claim. It’s true. Osama’s bastards have been rounded up. Unfortunately, some other assholes decided to join up after we caught them. Osama is isolated. If he shows his face in my neighborhood, I will pop a cap in him.

So you’re saying that a muslim extremist Iraq with a dictator in charge has a better chance of helping us secure Israel, then? The fact that Chalabi has even mentioned starting ties to Israel is a step in the right direction to stabilizing the region. It’s more than Saddam would do.

Okay. Give us a friggin’ week. We’ve been busy for cryin’ out loud.

Our coalition is still strong. We are smacking our enemies up. This is not like the Gulf War, and that’s okay. The fact that there are no arab countries in our coalition doesn’t mean squat. We have eliminated a sponsor for terrorism. We are in the process of installing a new democracy in a region which has barely had a taste of freedom. It is so easy to criticize while the process is brand-new and struggling, but in twenty years this will be a different story. Don’t be surprised if Baghdad turns out to be a pretty awesome place to live.

Here’s one of my own…
The Claim:
TIME magazine is a balanced and responsible media outlet. They are carefully weighing the conclusions drawn by their contributors when they go to print.

Reality Check:
In a pinch, TIME magazine is most useful when I need something flammable to start my backyard grill. My neighbor also has a pet bird. Draw your own conclusions, please.

[quote]lothario1132 wrote:

The sanctions hurt the civilians.

Not as much as having their faces burned off with napalm or being crushed and then suffocated by the bricks of their houses falling on them, though, aye?

Re-read the claim. It’s true. Osama’s bastards have been rounded up. Unfortunately, some other assholes decided to join up after we caught them. Osama is isolated. If he shows his face in my neighborhood, I will pop a cap in him.

Bush let Osama get away.What a poor job the US military did going after Osama. Those troops in Iraq should have been in Afghanistan. America has commited more than 10 times the force to Iraq that it did to Afghanistan. Why? Bush and his cronies were never really interested.

[quote]deanosumo wrote:
Not as much as having their faces burned off with napalm or being crushed and then suffocated by the bricks of their houses falling on them, though, aye?
[/quote]

Nice imagery deano! Do you write for TIME? Hey, I’ll be the first person to say that the Iraq war is being mis-handled. I think we should have been much more aggressive with the bombing, and gone in with a hell of a lot more troops. As for the civilian casualties: I agree that a few of the “smart” bombs somehow went astray, and that’s a shame. Because those things are friggin’ expensive, and should be blowing the hell out of an enemy stronghold or something, not landing in some guy’s apartment. All in all, my point was that the sanctions were being circumvented or ignored by Saddam, and were only harming his populace, which he obviously cared very little for.

I would contend that Osama did not get away. The situation in Afghanistan is different than in Iraq. The territory is different, the local politics are different, etc. Don’t compare apples to oranges, my man. And did you just say that Bush isn’t interested in capturing Osama bin Laden? Hahaha that’s goofy, dude. Do I really need to point out to you why what you said is kinda dumb? I mean, I would expect better out of the guy who wrote so convincingly about walls crashing in on people to come up with better than “Bush doesn’t want to get Osama”. That IS what you meant, right?

Both sides are spinning - and I supposed everyone is surprised by such spin during an election?

http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/editorial/9819577.htm
(Registration required to follow link)

Posted on Sun, Oct. 03, 2004

Claims not always supported by facts

The first presidential debate provided an opportunity to judge the candidates side by side. Absent in the tightly controlled format - and in much of the coverage afterward - was an assessment of the candidates’ accuracy. There was much to assess.

For instance, Sen. John Kerry repeated the misleading claim that the Iraq war has cost $200 billion. As FactCheck.org and others have pointed out, the actual figure is less than $120 billion. Kerry arrives at the total by including money he expects will be spent next year and includes some funds that will be spent on Afghanistan.

President Bush also twice repeated a misleading figure from his stump speech: that 75 percent of “known al-Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice.” Administration officials admit this figure is based only on known leaders as of Sept. 11, 2001, however, not any who have joined the terrorist group since then.

Discussing what he says are successes in the war on terror, President Bush claimed that “the A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice.” A.Q. Khan was a Pakistani government official known as the father of that country’s nuclear weapons programs. He smuggled nuclear secrets to other countries, including North Korea. But as the Washington Post pointed out, he wasn’t “brought to justice.” He agreed to stop sharing nuclear secrets and was in fact pardoned by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and no one else involved in his network has faced charges.

Kerry suggested that weapons of mass destruction were crossing the border into Iraq “every single day, and they’re blowing people up.” But there is no evidence WMD are crossing into Iraq; Kerry apparently meant that terrorists were crossing the border, not weapons.

The two candidates had one of their few factual disputes when Kerry said that “the President actually cut the money” for anti-nuclear proliferation efforts. Bush countered, “We’ve increased funding for dealing with nuclear proliferation about 35 percent since I’ve been the President.” Who’s right? That depends on whether your focus is strictly on international nonproliferation efforts or not. The Bush administration has proposed cutting Nunn-Lugar - the primary government program for securing and eliminating nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in the former Soviet Union - by 10 percent in the next fiscal year. But the total nonproliferation budget for the Department of Energy has increased 75 percent while Bush has been president and is slated for a small increase in the next fiscal year.

Both Bush and Kerry attempted to score points with language the facts don’t support. Kerry tried to blame the President for fire houses closing in the United States: “What kind of message does it send to be sending money to open fire houses in Iraq, but we’re shutting fire houses who are the first-responders here in America?” But while the federal government does provide direct aid to the new Iraqi government, it provides only support grants to U.S. firefighters, and there is no evidence federal funding has played a direct role in any closings of fire houses funded primarily by state and local governments.

Bush tried to connect the recent terrorist atrocity at a school in Beslan, Russia, with al-Qaeda, who attacked the United States: “This is a group of killers who will not only kill here, but kill children in Russia, that’ll attack unmercifully in Iraq, hoping to shake our will.” But the terrorists who occupied the Russian school are extremists supporting independence for Chechnya. Reports indicate they have no operational ties to al-Qaeda.

If the first debate is any indication, the second will almost surely continue a disturbing pattern of playing fast and loose with the facts.
Ben Fritz, Bryan Keefer and Brendan Nyhan are the editors of Spinsanity (www.spinsanity.org).

And some more of what I will charitably call “spin” from the Kerry camp:

Rapid dishonesty online from Kerry (9/29)

By Ben Fritz

While the mantra for both campaigns this election season is “rapid response,” it might as well be “rapid deception”. John Kerry’s weblog, specifically designed to promptly respond to attacks by the Bush campaign, is a case in point.

For instance, in a September 26 post, the Kerry camp responded ( http://blog.johnkerry.com/rapidresponse/archives/002943.html#002943 ) to the assertion by President Bush ( http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=6334313 ) in an interview on Fox News Channel’s O’Reilly Factor that he would “absolutely” still do his famous carrier landing on the USS Lincoln following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government underneath a “mission accomplished” banner with a dishonest comparison.

The campaign wrote in its blog that, “Bush’s comment, echoed by Dan Bartlett again later in the day, puts him at odds with his senior adviser, Karl Rove. A few months ago, Rove, in a rare moment of candor, said that he thought it was a mistake to do that event and mislead the American people.”

But Rove did not say the event as a whole was a mistake and he most certainly did not say the President had misled the American people. "“I wish the [“Mission Accomplished”] banner was not up there,” Rove told the Columbus Dispatch editorial board.
http://www.jsonline.com/news/gen/apr04/222723.asp
“I’ll acknowledge the fact that it has become one of those convenient symbols.”

In the same post, the Kerry camp claims that, “Senator Lindsey Graham rebuked Dick Cheney’s frequent assertion that Al Qaeda is rooting for John Kerry. Appearing on a Sunday talk show, Graham said: ‘This idea that somebody said that Al Qaeda prefers Kerry over Bush, that’s way over the top.’” But the Kerry camp offers no evidence that Vice President Cheney has said that Al Qaeda is “rooting” for the Democratic nominee.

The Massachusetts Senator’s campaign makes another misstatement in its response ( http://blog.johnkerry.com/blog/archives/002946.html#more ) to a new Bush advertisement called “Searching.” http://www.georgewbush.com/KerryMediaCenter/Read.aspx?ID=3662 (FactCheck.org has analyzed how this ad takes some of Kerry’s quotes unfairly out of context.) The Kerry camp alleges that the Democratic candidate’s quote “I don’t believe the President took us to war as he should have” from an appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball” is taken out of context and notes that “[Hardball host] Chris Matthews Asked the President to Stop Using the Misleading Clip.”

However, Matthews has not called on the RNC to stop using that particular quote. Rather, Matthews has criticized ( http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5737964/ )(watch video in Windows Media format in middle of page) the RNC’s use of a different Kerry quote, when, in response to the question, “Are you one of the anti-war candidates?” the Democratic candidate said, “I am. Yes. In the sense that I don’t believe the president took to us war as he should have, yes.” Matthews was upset at an RNC video that stopped after “I am. Yes.” http://www.kerryoniraq.com/

In this case, however, the Bush campaign is using the very part of the quote that Matthews criticized the RNC for not using. Kerry’s quote is not out of context and the Kerry campaign is dishonestly using Matthews to back up the claim that it is.

Finally, the Kerry campaign has responded to another recent advertisement titled “Windsurfing” ( http://www.georgewbush.com/KerryMediaCenter/Read.aspx?ID=3622 ) with over-the-line attacks on the Bush campaign. The Kerry team released a statement by former Georgia Senator Max Cleland that read in part,
http://blog.johnkerry.com/blog/archives/002934.html#more
“I am appalled by this ad from the Bush attack machine and the way it plays right into the hands of the terrorists, helping them achieve their goal of dividing the nation. This ad is un-American and the president should condemn it in no uncertain terms.”

No matter how much Bush’s ad takes some of Kerry’s stands out of context, alleging that it aids terrorists in any way and is “un-American” is outrageous and unfounded. This sort of rapid response isn’t countering spin, it’s just adding more.

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
From TIME magazine:

Reality Check: George Bush

The Claim:
The difficulties facing the U.S. in Iraq are a product of foreign terrorists showing up to fight the America there.

Reality Check:
The U.S. military on the ground says that the overwhelming majority of the insurgents fighting the U.S. in Iraq are Iraqis, not foreigners.

[/quote]

Reality check for Time:

In addition to the al Queda element, who are foreigners, the Iranians are also causing trouble.

http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=418

Of course, there are a lot of Iraqis - predominantly the former Baathists and the Sadr forces - involved, but the foreigners are especially motivated and destructive.

Reality Check for Boston Barrister

The “overwhelming majority” of resistance comes from native Iraqis.

Any clue what “overwhelming majority” means?

Then you cite an article saying some Iranians are involved. 80 Iranians were picked up. Iranian officials may be involved, according to the sources cited. Iranians are being picked up entering Iraq with weapons.

How does that counter the claim that the overwhelming majority of fighters are Iraqis?

[quote]Lumpy wrote:
Reality Check for Boston Barrister

The “overwhelming majority” of resistance comes from native Iraqis.

Any clue what “overwhelming majority” means?

Then you cite an article saying some Iranians are involved. 80 Iranians were picked up. Iranian officials may be involved, according to the sources cited. Iranians are being picked up entering Iraq with weapons.

How does that counter the claim that the overwhelming majority of fighters are Iraqis?[/quote]

I know what overwhelming majority means, but it’s awfully hard to dispute a general contention like that when they have no figures on percentages.

Which, I guess, is why it was funny to see them “reality check” Bush in such a manner – no stats, no figures, just “overwhelming majority”.

ADDENDUM: BTW, saying that an “overwhelming majority” of the insurgents are Iraqis doesn’t even address what Bush said, let alone “reality check” him. If the foreign insurgents are arming and leading the Iraqis, they are indeed causing the majority of the problems, even if they aren’t a majority of the terrorists.

We could cut down or eliminate foriegn fighters from entering Iraq by (duh) securing the borders.

Of course, nobody at Team Bush prepared for that, and we are still not doing that. How did Bush expect to prevent foriegn insurgents from entering Iraq? By asking nicely?

It’s just another sign of Team Bush’s incompetence in fighting the war.

Some of you will say any foriegn fighters entering Iraq is good… we ‘fight them over there’. No, it’s NOT good. All that does is prolong the insurgency and raise the odds that Iraq is headed towards a full blown civil war.

Reality check for Lumpy:

We have a hard enough time securing our own border of California to Mexico. “Securing the borders, duh” as you put it, is much easier said than done. I will agree with you that Rumsfeld could have done about a ten times better job of conquering Iraq than he did, however. I can’t help but think that this should have never turned out to be such a mess like it is now.