March 17, 2003
Post-mortem on the speech

The first thing that struck me was President Bush's appearance—he appeared to be very tired, not surprising considering the circumstances. The speech was relatively short, and quite direct. He avoided directly referring to France, but his rebuke of "certain permanent members of the security council" was an entirely justified slap in France's face. His comment that the security council had failed to enforce the will of the world led to his comment that the US would do so instead, another swipe at the UN in general, and of the members of the security council that refused to support the US/British resolution (only Spain and Bulgaria had publically supported it, although it is likely that a few more nations would have supported the resolution, short of the nine needed to pass the measure).

The 48 hour ultimatum for Saddam and his sons finally puts an absolute deadline in place, although it remains to be seen when the attack will come. There is no doubt in my mind that an attack will occur, as Saddam will not back down at this point. He has nothing to lose by defying Bush, and nothing to gain by acceding to his demands.

Bush also had words for the Iraqi people, and for members of the Iraqi military. He made it plain to any who heard him that our quarrel is not with the people of Iraq, or with its military, but with its leaders, and that we will do all that is possible to remove the leaders without harming the people. His warning about war crimes trials will hopefully minimize the risk of commanders "just following orders" and using WMD against civilian targets, against US or US-allied troops, or against Israel.

The original Gulf War lasted 44 days, with only 99 hours of actual ground combat. This war will probably last longer, despite the superior munitions and communications facilities we now possess. Iraq is fighting on their own turf, and they have the additional incentive of having their backs against the wall; unlike in 1991, they have no place in which to retreat. However, while I have no doubt we will prevail, it is my fervent hope that it is accomplished with a minimum number of casualties, both to American and allied troops, and to Iraqi citizens and military.

(A transcript of Bush's speech can be found on MSNBC here.)

posted on March 17, 2003 08:22 PM


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