State of the Union 2006

Last night, President Bush delivered his 2006 State Of The Union address. Lubos Motl thinks that Bush is a genius (or rather, that he was “shining”). JoAnne at Cosmic Variance don’t seem to agree. What do I think? Well, if you can’t guess it, read my comments below…

I found the following statements most interesting:

Abroad, our Nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal – we seek the end of tyranny in our world. […] Dictatorships shelter terrorists, feed resentment and radicalism, and seek weapons of mass destruction. Democracies replace resentment with hope, respect the rights of their citizens and their neighbors, and join the fight against terror.

No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it. And one of the main sources of reaction and opposition is radical Islam – the perversion by a few of a noble faith into an ideology of terror and death. Terrorists like bin Laden are serious about mass murder – and all of us must take their declared intentions seriously. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East, and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder. Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world.

America rejects the false comfort of isolationism. We are the Nation that saved liberty in Europe, and liberated death camps, and helped raise up democracies, and faced down an evil empire.

And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory. First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased, and the insurgency marginalized. […] Third, we are striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy. Iraqis are showing their courage every day, and we are proud to be their allies in the cause of freedom.

Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal. But that brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In less than three years, that nation has gone from dictatorship, to liberation, to sovereignty, to a constitution, to national elections. […] I am confident in our plan for victory … I am confident in the will of the Iraqi people … I am confident in the skill and spirit of our military. Fellow citizens, we are in this fight to win, and we are winning.

With so much in the balance, those of us in public office have a duty to speak with candor. A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our Iraqi allies to death and prison … put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country … and show that a pledge from America means little.

The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions – and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.

In recent years, you and I have taken unprecedented action to fight AIDS and malaria, expand the education of girls, and reward developing nations that are moving forward with economic and political reform. For people everywhere, the United States is a partner for a better life.

It is said that prior to the attacks of September 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. […] So to prevent another attack – based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute – I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America. Previous presidents have used the same constitutional authority I have – and Federal courts have approved the use of that authority. Appropriate Members of Congress have been kept informed. This terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al-Qaida, we want to know about it – because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

Our economy is healthy, and vigorous, and growing faster than other major industrialized nations. In the last two-and-a-half years, America has created 4.6 million new jobs – more than Japan and the European Union combined.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. Here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.

The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly 10 billion dollars to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources – and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

We must also change how we power our automobiles. […] We will also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn but from wood chips, stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.

[…] I propose to double the Federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next ten years. This funding will support the work of America’s most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.

We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations.

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research – human cloning in all its forms … creating or implanting embryos for experiments … creating human-animal hybrids … and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos.

A hopeful society comes to the aid of fellow citizens in times of suffering and emergency – and stays at it until they are back on their feet. So far the Federal government has committed 85 billion dollars to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. […] In New Orleans and in other places, many of our fellow citizens have felt excluded from the promise of our country. The answer is not only temporary relief, but schools that teach every child … and job skills that bring upward mobility … and more opportunities to own a home and start a business. As we recover from a disaster, let us also work for the day when all Americans are protected by justice, equal in hope, and rich in opportunity.

Not the worst speech by President Bush, I must admit. And actually I agree with his point that further investment in the physical sciences is of most importance for the progress of society.

However: what is the clear plan for “victory” in Iraq? Does victory even seem possible? Within ten or twenty years? Is it a sign of victory that car-bombs are exploding almost on a daily basis? That thousands of American soldiers (and an unknown number – orders of magnitude higher – of civiliens and soldiers) have died in Iraq since then invasion? Are the Iraqis really happy about the presence of the Coalition? What is the relation – if any – between Iraq (Saddam Hussein) and bin Laden? Didn’t actually the US support bin Laden during the war between former Soviet Union and Afghanistan? Was the surveillance program, that supposedly has helped prevent terrorist attacts, really legal? How can they avoid wiretapping ordinary Americans? If for example on of my friends in New York accidentally calls al-Qaida instead of his mother? Shouldn’t the Government increase funding for particle physics (which does not seem to be the case according to JoAnne at Cosmic Variance)? Does Bush know where nanotechnology and supercomputing originated from? Are the 10 billion dollars spend since 2001 on developing alternative energy sources worth mentioning? When the cost of the war in Iraq so far is more than 238 billion dollars and counting? When the defense budget for 2006 suggested by Bush is around 439 billion dollars? Are the 85 billion dollars commited to the people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans then worth mentioning (when it could take decades to rebuild New Orleans)? Are the one billion dollars spend each year on preventing HIV/AIDS (and Tuberculosis, and Malaria)? 

The full text of the Presidents speech can be found here.


2 Responses to State of the Union 2006

  1. Great Post, I knew there was going to be a ton of coverage on this topic so I could not force myself to listen to Bush on TV.

    OffTopic Response –
    “BTW: how did you make those three tablets on the top of your blog? (I was thinking about having something similar)”

    I wish I could take credit for the Look and Feel of my WordPress.Com theme, but it is just a built in part of the theme “Contempt” that I have selected. There are a couple of other themes that have the tab menu style across the top.

  2. Observer says:

    Commenting on the message that President Bush delivered: Once the terrorism has set in a place it is almost impossible to get rid off it. So that promise is pure rethoric. As far as I can see it is another vietnam in the making

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