Tuesday, 21 March 2006

Dueling Speeches Across the Atlantic

Some interesting language used in today’s simultaneous speeches/press conferences by George W. and Tony Blair.

The US Media seems to have picked up mainly on the answer W gave to a reporter about how long troops will be in Iraq, saying, “"That, of course, is an objective. And that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq." This of course, led to today’s headlines of, “Bush: Troops to stay in Iraq through '08” in the US media. I’m pretty sure this headline will shock a lot of people across the country.

Bush’s statement, of course, is a fairly obvious conclusion. There’s no reason to presume troops will have left by 2008. In fact it’s hard to see how the US could possibly withdraw before then without leaving the country in ruin and chaos.

But White House officials, worried Bush's remarks would be read as saying there would not be significant troop reductions during his presidency, went into full-on disaster recovery mode, insisting that W meant ALL troop reductions, and by 2008 there probably will be only a handful of US troops in the country. Riiiight.

While W’s press conference was notable only for being a rare instance of this administration stating the obvious, Blair’s was interesting for the content itself. This was an impassioned speech that went well against the grain of current thought in Europe. Indeed, Mr. Blair acknowledged that "the majority view of a large part of western opinion, certainly in Europe” is and has been against the war. But Blair railed against that notion, delivering an impassioned plea for an activist foreign policy.

It was a really interesting argument, summed up well by this Guardian Article .

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