A barren superfluity of words.
— Sir Samuel Garth, The Dispensary (1699)
A barren superfluity of words.
President George Bush never ceases to amaze with his clever way of using words to divest himself of thoughts. His most recent foray into the thicket of thought (where as usual he appeared to be slightly lost) came on the occasion of his September 13, 2007, speech about Iraq.
Ignoring the maxim that actions speak louder than words, Mr. Bush chose not to focus on the endless suicide bombings that kill and maim our fellow citizens who have been led by Mr. Bush, from the safety of the White House, to that hapless country to do battle with the enemy he created. He chose to ignore the fact that those doing the killing and maiming were reportedly locals who want Mr. Bush to go away and leave them alone. He chose not to mention the dozens of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed in the ongoing conflict and the millions more who have been made homeless and have fled their neighborhoods and their country in search of safe haven. Instead, Mr. Bush came up with a description of what he thinks the United States is doing in Iraq that must cause every dead conqueror whose historical reputation has been that of “ruthless” to envy him his speechwriters.
Describing the blind president’s vision for Iraq, Mr. Bush’s speechwriters coined the clever phrase “return on success.” “Return on success” does not, of course, come cheap. As of this writing it has already cost approximately $600 billion and another $200 billion is in the pipeline. In order to achieve the 2007 success, Mr. Bush has spent approximately $12 billion per month. Here are some of the human statistics to which “return on success” refers.
As of this writing almost 4000 United States troops have been killed and almost 28,000 wounded, not including those whose injuries are psychological rather than physical. No indicator of success would be complete without considering the Iraqis who are the chief beneficiaries of Mr. Bush’s success. According to the Brookings Institution’s “Iraq Index,” as of May 1, 2007, 2,135,000 Iraqis have been displaced inside Iraq and between 1.3 million and 1.75 million have fled to Syria and Jordan. (There are only a few thousand who have fled to the United States, but that is because Mr. Bush prefers for them to settle in countries other than the United States, since there is always a chance that a refugee who has been rendered homeless and lost members of his or her family to the war may demonstrate gratitude to Mr. Bush by becoming a terrorist rather than a refugee.) According to the Iraq Index, during the first four months of 2007, 90,000 persons per month were being displaced internally and abroad.
According to a report from CNN on July 30, 2007, 28% of the children in Iraq suffer from chronic malnutrition, 40% of the professionals living in Iraq before Mr. Bush’s success have left the country, and of the 34,000 of that group who lived there before the war, 14,000 have either fled or been killed. The good news in August, released after Mr. Bush’s speech, was that Mr. Bush’s misadventure resulted in the deaths of only 922 Iraqis that month, 922 Iraqis who would be alive today were it not for George Bush.
Having duly considered the foregoing, George “Pangloss” Bush, who lives in the best of all possible worlds (as, he would have us believe, do the Iraqis), said that ordinary life in that country was returning and pulling out now would cause a humanitarian nightmare, leaving it to the listener to come up with words to describe what has been going on since he invaded.
Ignoring the effects of his deceptively begun war, he said it was up to us to help Iraq “defeat those who threaten its future,” ignoring the fact that he is the man who set in motion the events that threaten its future.
To cap it all off, Mr. Bush placed a Panglossian gloss on the entire tragedy by taking off in a flight of rhetorical fancy, saying that Iraqi leaders had “asked for an enduring relationship with America” as though he were speaking of an infatuated couple after a one-night stand. And to add insult to injury he let it be known that he had accepted the proposal as might many a selfish lover looking for sex rather than love and concerned only with self-gratification, saying: “And we are ready to begin building that relationship in a way that protects our interests in the region and requires many fewer American forces.” It never occurred to him that the Iraqis might have an interest in how that “enduring relationship” was to mature. Someone should explain that to Mr. Bush and someone else should hire him a new speechwriter.