Paegle criticizes, commends Bush’s Iraq speech

The new head of the Latvian Parliament’s foreign relations commission says U.S. President George Bush in his June 28 speech to America was wrong to link the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to the war in Iraq.

Vaira Paegle, elected chairperson of the commission on June 15, said in a statement issued by the parliamentary press office that Bush mentioned the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., a total of six times, while at the same time noting that Iraq is the front line in the war against terrorism.

“In my opinion, that was a tactical error that can rebound,” Paegle said June 29, “because the terrorism in Iraq is a result of the war, not its cause.”

(According to a White House transcript of Bush’s speech, which defended continuing the U.S. presence in Iraq, the president explicitly mentioned Sept. 11 five, not six, times.)

However, Paegle said the U.S. president was smart not to offer quick, new solutions to guaranteeing security and political stability in Iraq.

“(The American people) crave the truth,” Paegle said, “not the rosy outlook on life offered by (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld.”

Paegle, a member of the conservative Tautas partija (People’s Party), replaced Aleksandrs Kiršteins as chairperson of the commission after Kiršteins resigned from the post shortly after being drummed out of Tautas partija.

Born in Latvia, Paegle grew up in the United States after World War II but repatriated to her homeland after independence was restored.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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