Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bush tells half-truth, recants the truth part, lies about recanting

News outlets have widely covered Bush's statement saying "I don't think we can win" the war on terror. He later recanted that statement, claiming he meant that there would be no enemy surrender ceremony, but that we would win the war on terror.

The half-truth was in the use of first person plural tense. Had he said "I can't win the war" it would've been entirely true. Bush thinks terrorism exists because terrorists hate freedom, not because of root causes like the Arab-Israeli conflict and Western support for tyrannical Muslim regimes like Saudi Arabia. If terrorism has no root causes, there's no way you can defeat it completely.

The press is wrong in suggesting that he mis-spoke -- Bush said what his advisors have been telling him, but forgetting that he wasn't supposed to tell that to the whole world. The claim about it merely referring to a surrender ceremony is an obvious lie - the transcript makes that clear.

I have to soften this criticism of Bush in two respects, though. Kerry will not be much better than Bush on pushing Israel to be less oppressive of Palestinians. No politician seeking nationwide office will say that the security of individual Palestinians should be just as important to Americans as the security of individual Israelis - the fundamentalist Christian and Jewish lobbies are too important. But Kerry would at least try to push for peace, which is more than Bush has done.

The other concession I have to make is that Bush is at least talking about democracy in the Arab world. Not doing much anything about it, but he's talking about it, and in our condition of dependence on oil-rich Arab tyrants, talking is an improvement. Just not enough of an improvement.

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