I had never expected to discover that George W Bush had anything in common with Sir Thomas More, the 16th century Englishman who wrote the influential book Utopia about an ideal state. Yet the President's speech on Wednesday and the accompanying document, National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, revealed that Utopia is just what he has in mind for Iraq, which is defined as a land that “has defeated the terrorists and neutralized the insurgency”; is “peaceful, united, stable, democratic and secure”; and is a partner in the war on terror, an integral part of the international community, and “an engine for regional economic growth and proving the fruits of democratic governance to the region”. In this speech Mr Bush had to try to restore the American people's confidence in him after months of setbacks at home and in Iraq. Americans are beginning to see that Iraq is little different from Vietnam and increasingly they want out. But this week their President insisted that he would settle for “nothing less than complete victory”. If that victory is to be defined by the Utopian vision of a country “peaceful, united, stable, democratic and secure” it is probable that American (and British?) forces will have to remain in Iraq indefinitely. At this moment and for the foreseeable future there are few countries more warlike, disunited, unstable, undemocratic and insecure. It beggars belief that Mr Bush could speak in the optimistic terms he used on Wednesday. Even when he gave specific instances of the progress being made by the Iraqi security forces in maintaining order he deliberately overlooked the fact that many of the units of today's Iraqi military are the same sectarian and party militias that took over when Saddam Hussein was deposed and which owe allegiance to local leaders rather than any national authority. Even in Baghdad, Iraqi government ministers acknowledge that they could not hold the city without US support. On Wednesday Mr Bush delivered his speech at the Naval Academy where a disciplined audience applauded at all the right places. Almost all the President's major speeches are now made at military institutions rather than to possibly critical civilian audiences. Is this a sign that he has lost touch with reality and wants only to be close to people who will agree with what he tells them?


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