President’s Address to the Nation

President Bush gave an Address to the Nation last night taking responsibility for the mistakes made in Iraq and yet not only promising that we would win but asserting that we are winning.

This election will not mean the end of violence. But it is the beginning of something new: constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. And this vote — 6,000 miles away, in a vital region of the world — means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror.


Some look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude that the war is lost, and not worth another dime or another day. I don’t believe that. Our military commanders do not believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear the burden and make the sacrifice, do not believe that America has lost. And not even the terrorists believe it. We know from their own communications that they feel a tightening noose, and fear the rise of a democratic Iraq.

The terrorists will continue to have the coward’s power to plant roadside bombs and recruit suicide bombers. And you will continue to see the grim results on the evening news. This proves that the war is difficult — it doesn’t mean that we are losing. Behind the images of chaos that terrorists create for the cameras, we are making steady gains with a clear objective in view.

Glenn Reynolds makes the interesting observation that the president is “doubling down.”

Bush went out of his way to take responsibility for the war. He repeatedly talked about “my decision to invade Iraq,” even though, of course, it was also Congress’s decision. He made very clear that, ultimately, this was his war, and the decisions were his.

Why did he do that? Because he thinks we’re winning, and he wants credit. By November 2006, and especially November 2008, he thinks that’ll be obvious, and he wants to lay down his marker now on what he believed — and what the other side did.

It looks like the opposition is willing to see his raise and call him. For example, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi responded: “Tonight the president acknowledged more of the mistakes he has made in Iraq, but he still does not get it. Iraq did not present an imminent threat to the security of the United States before he began his war of choice.”

Interestingly, though, Sen. Teddy Kennedy sounded a more cautious note: “It’s wrong for him to silence his critics by calling them defeatists. Every American — including those that thought this war should never have been fought — understands that we have no choice for own security but to win in Iraq.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Moe Lane says:

    “It looks like the opposition is willing to see his raise and call him.”

    And someday I hope the President will explain to the rest of us his uncanny ability to keep getting his opponents to lead with their chins. 🙂

  2. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘”It’s wrong for him to silence his critics by calling them defeatists.’

    As if there was anything that actually could silence them. If they don’t like being called defeatists maybe they shouldn’t be cheering for us to lose.

  3. mal says:

    “There is a difference between honest critics, who recognize what is wrong, and defeatists, who refuse to see that anything is right.”

  4. DaveD says:

    I think Kennedy is probably wise enough to know that Bush actually gave a pretty good speech last night. It certainly should have pleased his core supporters. For those folks who sit on the fence and provide the poll numbers that wax and wane with Bush’s perceived competence my guess would be it was probably received positively. I haven’t looked for any polling on this so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  5. RA says:

    Polosi is the one who doesn’t get it. She has positioned the Democratic Party as the cut and run traitors.

    The difference between Vietnam and today is no one publicly criticized these traitors during Vietnam. Now children are mocking them.

  6. spencer says:

    Yes, I see the “children” mocking them every day at this location.