President Bush evidently is fighting a very different war in his mind than the one that is going on in Iraq
Tonight on the News Hour, a discussion about the new US Iraq Commander, General Petraeus, with “two Army officers who have known and worked with him,” Retired Army Major General William Nash, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. And retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, author of two books on Army transformation, now an independent businessman:
MARGARET WARNER: Let’s look at Mosul more deeply here, because there he really — he had his men going into the neighborhoods, did he not, tried to use less force, more persuasion. He had, as I understand it, little precinct bases, much like — it sounds like what they’re hoping to do in Baghdad. One, do you think, at least that the — I think your point that, after it ended, Colonel Macgregor, it didn’t last — but do you think that the strategy and the approach itself worked? And can it be applied in Baghdad?
DOUGLAS MACGREGOR: No. First of all, in Mosul when he arrived with the 101st, there was no insurgency. That area was fairly pacific. I spoke with some soldiers in the 101st who’d been on patrol, and they talked about patrolling there over 30 days without any incident, until finally they were approached. And someone at marketplace walked up and, in perfect English, said, “Do you see a problem here?” And they said, “No.” And they said, “Well, then, why are you here?” The next day, they had their first RPG attack on the patrol. Soldiers said, “We were not attacked — we did not patrol because we were attacked. We were attacked because we patrolled.”
MARGARET WARNER: Take that to Baghdad now, because that’s what we’re looking at here.
DOUGLAS MACGREGOR: Well, if you go to Baghdad, and now you have an absolutely hardened population against you. We are hated in that country. The Sunni Muslim population has good reason to hate us, based upon how we’ve treated them over the last couple of years. But the Shiite population has joined that particular throng. We have no friends, if you will. Sending men with rifles in small numbers to go into these neighborhoods, to stay in these neighborhoods, is a very, very dangerous thing to do, in my estimation. We could end up taking very serious casualties. We don’t know. We can’t predict the future. But this is not the environment that General Petraeus found when he got to Mosul.
Jesus Christ!! There is nothing more “important at this moment in our history” than THAT????
BUSH: The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it’s time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad — and they must do so.They pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party — and they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad….My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching. If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime.A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict. For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective.Chaos is the greatest ally — their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America.To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger. (Applause.)
No further comment is needed.