The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Sage advice from the Prez

February 29, 2008

George W. Bush had this exchange at his press conference, February 28, 2008:

Q Mr. President, Turkey’s ground offensive in northern Iraq is now a week old with no end in sight. How quickly would you like to see Turkey end its offenses, its incursion? And do you have any concerns about the possibility of protracted presence in northern Iraq causing further destabilization in the region?

THE PRESIDENT: …I strongly agree with the sentiments of Secretary Gates, who said that the incursion must be limited, and must be temporary in nature. In other words, it shouldn’t be long-lasting. But the Turks need to move quickly, achieve their objective, and get out.

Q But how quickly, sir, do they need to move out?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, as quickly as possible.

Q Days or weeks?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as possible.

Here’s John McCain on the US attack on Iraq, back in 2003:

“It will require a commitment to do what is necessary militarily, to deploy as many American forces for as long as it takes, to ignore the political calendar and to trust Iraqis with a greater degree of authority to manage their own affairs,” McCain said.

How long might it take? By 2008, McCain said that the US could spend “maybe 100” years in Iraq.

Of course, President Bush eventually expressed the same sentiment as McCain about Iraq: “as long as it takes.”

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.