Although Bush has two years to run and still has the power to embark on another war, his SOTU speech marks the point at which his presidency is effectively over, in terms of getting his programme through and being listened to on Iraq.
The Last Quacks of a Dying Duck
The extent to which the Iraq war has divided the US was fully exposed early today when George Bush appealed in his annual state of the union address for more time to turn the conflict round.
Although he has two years to run and still has the power to embark on another war - though that is unlikely - the speech may mark the point at which his presidency was effectively over, at least in terms of getting his programme through and being listened to on Iraq.
The other notable point from the foreign policy passage was repeated jibes at Iran, particularly allegations that it was heavily involved in Iraq.
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Bush Ratchets up The Rhetoric
“The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. But whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent, they have the same wicked purposes.
"They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale,” Bush said.
His warnings about the Shia threat posed by Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, represented an escalation of his anti-Iranian rhetoric.
In his 2002 State of the Union, Mr Bush branded Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an “axis of evil”. Last year, Mr Bush urged the Iranian people “to win your own freedom”.
But analysts came away sceptical that Mr Bush had won over his audience on the eve of a Senate debate on a resolution opposing the dispatch of 21,500 more troops.
Bruce Riedel, a former intelligence analyst now at the Brookings Institution, commented: “This was warmed-over ‘surge’ but with very little sign that it sold, including on the Republican side of the aisle.”
Hadi Semati, an Iranian analyst in Washington, said Mr Bush was more aggressive and confrontational in his language towards Iran and clearly had no interest in engagement.
Still, Mr Semati believed that direct military action against Iran was unlikely, arguing that the Bush administration was playing the “blame game” to cover up its failures in Iraq.
Ian Lustick, professor of political science at Pennsylvania University, said Mr Bush in the absence of progress had to evoke catastrophic images “that touches the chords of American people that they are trained to respond to.”
“I sensed in his voice a pleading aspect, a desperation,” he added. He said Mr Bush’s accounts of foiled al-Qaeda plots in the US after the attacks of September 11 2001, were old discredited stories with no evidence. 
"Fear & Terrorism" Bluster
Bush lectured to us at some length on terrorists, describing for us all the inner workings of their minds: what they want to do, what their motivations are, etc.
It is ridiculous for anyone, especially George Bush, to tell us the mental states of other people who he has never met. He does not possess telepathy, so why give us a bunch of made-up unprofessional guesswork in the middle of a State of the Union address? This was the sloppiest part of the whole speech.
Bush, the biggest spending president in history, did not miss the chance to call for more spending -- this time to fund so-called moderates and reformers in the Middle East.
That takes a lot of nerve, since Bush already funded the notorious fiend Ahmed Chalabi, who took millions in taxpayer money and then laughed about having fooled the U.S.
If the Bush administration is going to be so easily tricked, then please save the money and let reformers -- and double-dealing tricksters who impersonate them -- rise or fall on their merits, without taxpayer assistance.
Of course, in all his "fear and terrorism" bluster, Bush never once mentioned the Guantanamo concentration camp or the Abu Ghraib torture scandal -- it seems that charges of terrorism can go more than one way, but he did not dare to confront that openly and with candor.
Some words are even worse than empty. "America must not fail in Iraq" said Bush. But Bush did that years ago. Polarizing, killing, and torturing Iraqi citizens is failure. Let's say that again: Polarizing, killing, and torturing Iraqi citizens is failure, not success. 
The SOTU Bush Should Have Given
Don’t bother standing up or clapping, any of you. I already know who won the election, and I know how you feel.
I come before you tonight not to make amends, not to make it good, curry any favor or find any middle ground.
I am, more or less, a lame duck. You’ve had your 100 hours of party time. I know. I won’t get any legislation passed without some major ass-licking.
Maybe something on illegal aliens. That health insurance thing I’ll be talking about later tonight is pretty much for show. I know it isn’t going anywhere. A proposal to raise middle-class taxes for a healthcare plan you don’t even want? What was I thinking?
None of that really matters. Not now. Those are peacetime issues we’ve been bickering about for a long time, and I don’t expect we’ll resolve them anytime soon.
So what is the best thing I can do tonight? I can tell you the truth. What none of you want to hear. What you’ve been stopping your ears to. The ugly truth.
The State of the Union is a disaster. I did my best, but I made mistakes, and my best wasn’t good enough. 
Bush's SOTU Speech Highlights Crisis of US Ruling Class
The applause, backslapping and bathos that have become the norm for this annual political ritual could not mask the fact that the US political establishment is torn by deep divisions and bitter recriminations, with some of the sharpest opposition to Bush’s policies coming not from the newly empowered Democrats, but from members of his own party.
There is a general recognition not only that the American colonial war in Iraq has failed, but that the six years of the Bush administration have produced a colossal decline in the world position of US imperialism.
The “new way forward” spelled out by Bush in his speech less than two weeks ago has provoked mounting fears that the military escalation in Iraq, combined with threats against Iran and Syria, will only deepen the disaster.
Yet the reaction of Congress resembles the paralysis of passengers facing an impending train wreck: They know what is coming but can do nothing to avert it.
Fear of the consequences of Bush’s escalation is combined with even greater dread over the implications of US imperialism being dealt a decisive defeat in Iraq. 
al-Zawahiri Makes More Sense
Ayman al-Zawahiri on Tuesday mocked Bush’s plan to send extra troops to Iraq, saying he should send his entire army to be annihilated. In an online video message, the al-Qaeda second-in-command also accused the United States of being behind the deployment of Ethiopian troops in Somalia and vowed that Islamist forces would “break the back” of the Ethiopians.
“In his latest speech, Bush said in his ramblings that he would send 20,000 of his soldiers to Iraq. I ask him: why send only 20,000 soldiers? Why don’t you send 50,000 or 100,000?” Zawahiri said in the 15-minute recording.
“Don’t you know that the dogs of Iraq are impatient to devour the carcasses of your soldiers?” taunted Zawahiri, regarded as the ideological powerhouse of al-Qaeda who carries a 25-million dollar US bounty on his head.
“On the contrary, you must send your entire army to be annihilated at the hands of the mujahedeen so that the whole world will be rid of your wickedness.”
Zawahiri repeatedly ridiculed Bush’s plan for Iraq, as well as the US-led mission to rid Afghanistan of remnants of the extremist Taliban movement.
“Iraq, the country of the caliphate and of jihad, is capable of being a tomb for 10 of your armies,” the Egyptian-born surgeon said in the video, wearing his trademark white turban and black cloak.
“It is al-Qaeda and the Taliban, led by the emir of the believers, Mullah Mohammed Omar (may God save him), who have deprived the Americans of a safe haven in Afghanistan.
“Security must be shared: if we are safe, you will be too... If we are hit and killed, you will inescapably be hit and killed,” the al-Qaeda official said.
“Today, the duty of every Muslim is to bear arms or to support and serve those who bear the arms.”
Zawahiri also lashed out at Bush over the conflict in Somalia, saying Islamist fighters would “break the back” of Ethiopian forces backing government troops in the Horn of Africa nation.
“I announce the good news to Bush: he has bogged down his Ethiopian slaves in a real disaster in Somalia. The mujahedeen will break their back,” Zawahiri said.
“The Americans, who encouraged them on to their ruin and are giving them orders from afar so that they die in their place, will not even shed tears for them.”   Ewen MacAskill
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