President Bush’s speech at the Army War College on Monday night was the first in a series outlining the administration’s plans for ongoing operations surrounding the June 30 transfer of power in Iraq. Many American newspapers noted that the speech failed to provide any new details and did little to satisfy the skepticism of the American public= The following is a sample of editorial opinion from across the country.
Kennebec, Maine – Maine Kennebec Journal
May 26, 2004
“President Bush failed to give the nation what it was seeking Monday night.
“His speech, promoted in advance as one that would spell out the future of the United States involvement in Iraq, did not even come close to providing answers to the complex questions about this war. Instead of details, the president offered platitudes about staying the course.
“Iraq might have a new government on June 30, but nothing will change for Americans.
“‘History is moving, and it will tend toward hope or tend toward tragedy,’ Bush said. ‘We will persevere and defeat this enemy and hold this hard won ground for the realm of liberty.'”
“Fine-sounding words, indeed. But they offer no answers.”
St. Petersburg, Fla. – St. Petersburg Times
May 26, 2004
“President Bush’s five-point plan for bringing self-rule to Iraq was too vague and unrealistic to reassure Americans and win new international support.
“President Bush disappointed Americans who had hoped that his Monday night address at the Army War College would lay out a concrete and pragmatic plan for ending the U.S. military occupation in Iraq. Instead, the president’s five-point plan sounded more like a five-point wish list.
“Beyond his troubling lack of specifics, the president still shows no willingness to acknowledge the grievous failures of the past year and demand accountability from those responsible.
“Every sane American supports the president’s stated goal of building ‘a free and self-governing Iraq” and bolstering “the security of America and the civilized world.’ But this administration’s policies have brought chaos to Iraq and left our country more isolated and more vulnerable.
“The president plans to deliver several more speeches between now and June 30. Americans deserve to hear a more realistic plan for reversing those policy failures than they heard Monday night.”
Louisville, Kentucky – Louisville Courier Journal
May 26, 2004
“President Bush’s best chance to achieve a bearable outcome in Iraq rests on his willingness to acknowledge that terrible mistakes have been made and to present a coherent strategy to prevent a disintegrating mess from collapsing into utter disaster. Unfortunately, as he demonstrated again Monday night in a televised speech, he seems incapable of doing either.
“The President merely outlined familiar steps that his administration’s timetable for Iraq contemplates, with inadequate indication of how they might successfully be accomplished.
“Meanwhile, the President’s aversion to admitting error leaves him unable to reconcile the daunting challenges in Iraq with his ludicrously premature declaration of victory a year ago. He speaks of terrorists and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime, without noting the deep religious and ethnic cleavages that pose a greater threat of civil war.
“He insists Iraq must not become a base for terrorism, without acknowledging that the terrorists arrived after the American invasion, not before.
“The President plans five more speeches on Iraq before June 30. He will achieve neither the international cooperation nor the domestic support he needs if he does not drop the pretenses and speak truth.”
Albany, New York – Albany Times Union
May 26, 2004
“There are increasing signs that the Bush administration has finally realized it must reassess its policies in Iraq and take prompt corrective action. But the President’s speech, meant to restore public confidence in his handling of Iraq, gave no indication that he has a specific plan of action.
“For all of his expressed determination to stay the course in Iraq, Mr. Bush failed to answer the questions that are troubling many Americans on his ability to lead.
“[He also] leaves unanswered the question of how a new Iraqi government can root out the terrorists who have now flocked to that country to kill Americans. Will that require a long-term American military presence, then? Or is there an exit strategy? If so, what ends must be accomplished before it can take effect?
“Mr. Bush’s speech was the first in a series of weekly addresses on Iraq. Perhaps in time he will answer all questions that he avoided Monday. He should. Time is wasting.”
Norfolk, Va. – The Virginian-Pilot
May 26, 2004
“Americans are steadily losing faith in President Bush’s stewardship of the war in Iraq.
“If his speech to the U.S. Army War College was meant to rally Americans and bolster their faith, then it was a disappointment.… the speech contained little of substance to reassure jittery Americans.
“If the Army War College speech is a preview of what’s to come in the five weeks ahead, then it appears the president intends to say the same things as before, only more frequently.
“It’s becoming ever more apparent that America, the United Kingdom and a handful of other nations with nominal troop contingents in Iraq can’t do the job by themselves. The U.S. needs help and the president should ask for it.”
Minneapolis, Minn. – Minneapolis Star-Tribune
May 25, 2004
“Let’s be clear at the outset: President Bush’s much-anticipated speech Monday night at the Army War College in Pennsylvania wasn’t about Iraq. It was about the general election on Nov. 2…
“Throughout his speech, he continued his effort to wrap the war in Iraq in the war on terror. At this late date, just five weeks from the return of some sovereignty to Iraq, Bush refuses to acknowledge what is plain: The war in Iraq had no relationship to the war on terror; it was a distraction from the essential war on Al-Qaida and other terrorists who wish America harm.
“Bush spoke also of returning full sovereignty to the Iraqi people on June 30. He spoke of five steps necessary to make that sovereignty meaningful, but none of it is new; all of it has been known for months.
“The Bush team has screwed up from the get-go in Iraq, and no amount of feel-good spin will change that.”