Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Four Wars In Iraq: An Awesome Michael Ware Interview (Tuesday's Second Hour)

Hi everyone. Hey, remember when a week or so ago 360 showed us some clips from an interview Anderson did with Michael Ware and I said I could have watched that for a whole hour? Well, ask and ye shall receive! Next I would like to ask for our government to be held accountable for every bad thing they've ever done. Or, you know, a pony. The hour kicks off with some stuff from last hour, but really this is Michael Ware's show. I remember when I first saw him on 360. Anderson introduced him as an embedded reporter and I rolled my eyes, preparing for the spin we always get. But then he started talking and I found myself saying, "who is this guy who is talking so passionately and saying things I know to be true, but have yet to hear someone on tv say? Because I think I kind of love him."

This interview is broken up into four main parts, but first we have a kind of intro where Anderson asks where the war is now. Michael says American commanders think it is in a dire, but not yet hopeless state. However, there has been no progress in any way. Anderson points out that Cheney was recently touting the democratic elections and Michael replies that they were surfaces successes and common Iraqis say they'd rather go back to the old way if this is what we call democracy. Then Michael lays out all the horrors that Iraqis go through that we have all heard before. Michael thinks that this focus on Baghdad comes at a great cost because al Qaeda is becoming stronger in Anbar Province. Anderson notes Anbar is about to get 4,000 more troops and Michael says that's a drop in the bucket. Michael informs us that militias own the south where Iran's influence is greater. He points out that critics may point to the area being stable, but that's only because coalition forces have basically given power to Iran. Michael says the surge is not a new strategy because the "new" tactics have been tried before in other places of the country.

On now to the first war, which is with the Sunni insurgents. Michael explains that by and large this was the war the US expected to fight. The insurgents started out small, but then emerged stronger. Michael says that with the disbandment of the military and economic opportunity taken away (thanks Bremer!) the Sunni's felt dishonored when they were just sent home and the US underestimated this sense of honor. Surprisingly, they weren't actually fighting for the return of Saddam. Nor did they initially support al Qaeda. In fact there was great friction between the groups. However, as the insurgents began to feel strain with finances and in other areas, al Qaeda got stronger to the point that they were able to take over areas. This then leads to Michael's near execution story, which I blogged previously, though I did miss this great quote: "There's so much that we're told by all sides. I mean, this is one of the universal features of this war as in all others, is that everybody lies." The first casualty of war is the truth.

Next up we have the second war, war with al Qaeda. Anderson wants to know what was really happening at the time Bush was primping under his "Mission Accomplished" banner. Michael notes that before the war there was an al Qaeda presense in the country by name of a group called Ansar al-Islam, but they were holed up in the north and were not related to Saddam. Michael was up there at the time with the US Green Berets that were fighting them and they all watched them just hop on over to Iran. They were not wiped out like Bush said. Man, why have we never heard this before? Anyway, then Anderson brings up Zarqawi and Michael notes that the US invasion gave him a battle to join-a battle where he made his name because before that he was nobody. "So in many ways, the invasion played directly into the hands of al Qaeda," Michael says. Lovely. I know I always like to help people who crash planes and knock down buildings. It's like we couldn't have made this worse if we tried. So okay, Zarqawi's whole plan was to make Iraq the new Afghanistan. He wanted to start a war between the Sunni and Shia, so that the Sunnis would wake up from their supposed slumber and then rise up and fight. Well, hey, mission accomplished. If he wasn't dead we could let him borrow Bush's banner. Anderson points out that really, this is a fight against Muslims that aren't radical enough. Michael tells us that al Qaeda has declared western Iraq an Islamic state to be ruled by Sharia law-a country within an American occupation. I tried to think of a little retort to end the segment. I don't have one.

On now to the third war, which is the civil war. So is CNN finally calling it a civil war now? Michael talks a bit about stuff covered in the last segment regarding waking up the Sunnis to fight. Then he mentions that commanders say it's good that the civil war is only in Baghdad, but really that's no success because Baghdad is mixed and a lot of other places aren't. Anderson wants to know if the death squads are controlled by the Iraqi government. "Absolutely," Michael replies. Anderson then asks what Michael does when he gets stop at road blocks run by Iraqis. Michael notes that basically you're always rolling the dice because you have no idea who those people are really going to be. No where is safe-you can even be dragged out of your home. This makes me feel very scared for Michael, but I pretty much was anyway. Anderson notes that the adminstration points to the elections and he wants to know if they have decreased the violence. Michael says no. In fact, the democratic process have fueled the conflict because the Sunnis see the US as entrenching Shia power and that's why ordinary Sunnis are turning towards al Qaeda-they feel they have no other choice. "And the true winners of the war so far of the invasion and the occupation, at the end of the day, are the Islamic extremists on both sides represented by al Qaeda on one hand and ultimately Iran on the other. They're the winners so far." Enough said.

Next the fourth war is covered (proxy war with Iran), but I've already blogged that, so we're going to move right into the end segment where Anderson asks about our options. Michael then takes much too long to answer, which makes my stomach sink. He doesn't see any alternative that isn't ugly and difficult. Two of America's greatest enemies have become stronger and he doesn't see how that can be rolled back. Anderson asks what would happen if the US pulled out and Michael says it will be a nightmare beyond almost imagination. He notes there really is no Iraqi government-just militia forces. "Do you have an answer?" Anderson asks. But Michael doesn't see any road forward that doesn't involve spilling innocent blood. Partitioning? Not a solution says Michael. Anderson then brings up the new strategy and wonders how long it will take before we know if it works. Michael says we don't need time because "it's clear and abundant now that the strategy as it stands is not working and will not work." "So the wars within the war continue?" asks Anderson. "The wars within the war continue," replies Michael. Okay, so, I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to go cry now. Seriously, that was an amazing conversation, but so unbelievably depressing. There's no way out and I can honestly see the US collapsing itself just like the Soviets did when they fought in Afghanistan. Big, big, sigh.

So...how would you fix Iraq? Because I'm sure we can solve it on a blog. Anyway, your thoughts on the interview?

24 Comments:

Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

Wow, yeah, I totally love Michael too. He's definitely unusual!! Right now I'm watching Anderson (Thursday) about how CNN's moron parent company is in trouble with that marketing campaign/bomb scare. Interested to see what you have to say about it tomorrow!

10:08 PM  
Anonymous ivy said...

Didn't Cafferty want Michael to be a president? Oh, wait, that's right, he's australian -) Michael is amazing, I saw him first time in July, when he was in Lebanon with bombs falling behind him, and I was like -- who's this guy? He drew my attention instantly, so I started looking forward for his reports.
What Michael had to say about the prospects of this war is depressing, seems to be quite a desperate situation... And bushco is seriously considering having a war with Iran some time soon?!

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Cheri said...

Why is the idea of diplomacy such a foreign concept to Bush? It is truly disheartening to hear Michael Ware's assessment of the situation because he knows what he is talking about and has no reason to spin the truth. I trust him and I keep hoping that he will come up with some great plan to save Iraq and the world and then they can give him the Nobel Peace Prize. But I really do wonder if the US was not so hated by the rest of the world, maybe we could get some assistance from other countries or governments that might be more able to help the situation in some way.

On a more serious note, the only problem with changing the laws so that Michael could run for president is that then Arnold would be able to run too and I don't think anyone wants that circus. But Ware in '08 has a nice ring to it.

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Bev said...

@Cheri
If Arnold can run for President with THAT accent I see no reason why Micheal couldn't...lol
The problem with getting any other country to help now is unlikely because of the way Bush has let the situation deteriorate.
Afghanistan apparently is getting much worse with the Taliban, we have quite a few troops there but our PM would never agree to Iraq now, unless it became a World War.
I wonder if Micheal has become an American citizen yet.

3:19 AM  
Blogger Cyn said...

When I saw the pieces of the interview last week, I was hoping Anderson would use the rest for a 60 Minutes piece. But getting the whole hour last night was fantastic. That hour ought to be required viewing in DC... Maybe Cafferty will send some DVDs to those folks.

And I find it unbelievable that there is no US publisher for Michael's book. Not yet, anyway. I think I may have a case of them shipped from Australia when they come out, and make them available on my site.

But no making him president -- he wouldn't be able to be honest anymore!

4:11 AM  
Blogger Christiane said...

Hi everyone, I´m confessing to be a Michael junkie... well anyhow... I think that interview is a seriously relevant piece that should be watched by everyone.

Thanks to Marie, we were able to upload it to our blog, so please feel free to pass it around to those who haven´t been able to catch it.

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Grace said...

I loved the interview. It should be required viewing by every member of Congress and the current Admin. Maybe Anderson could get Harper Collins to publish Michael's book over here.

@Bev neither Michael nor Arnold can run for pres you have to be a natural born American Citizebn can run for President

No person except a natural born citizen … shall be eligible to the Office of President."
—Article II, U.S. Constitution

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

President of the USA - a job many an intelligent person such as Michael might not want regardless of requirement or qualification. To say that the postion creates a two-edged sword would be an understatement.

Quick question. How would anyone know that someone is googling their name?

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Bev said...

@Grace
Thanks Grace I thought I had heard something like that but I thought Barack Obama was born in Indonesia, I'll have to google it, maybe he just went to school there for awhile.
Being a natural born citizen is as it should be I think.
I used to have a problem with Canada when I was younger because half of our Prime Ministers speak french better than English and in my ignorance I used to think, 'why don't they get a Canadian for PM....lol

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bev,
I don't think we have that law here in Canada. After all our first PM was born in Scotland and only immigrated to Canada , if memory serves me right, when he was 10 or 11.
BTW, how does one know if someone has googled your name or website?
Gissou

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

If you have a site tracker (I have two) it'll show you the "referring link" and that'll tell you say, they came to your site from Google.com and the search terms that they used to find your site. My trackers also tell the location of the server, the person's operating system, etc. Very interesting. And that's how I know it was CNN. First they came off an internal AOL commercial server from some weird version of Dr. Gupta's blog (I assume administrator or something), then they googled me. And then they proceeded to hand it out to all their work buddies because my hits suddenly tripled. Ah, popularity :)

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sharla dawn,
site tracker is by far the most outrageous voyeuristic "science" ever. We can't find a cure for the common cold, millions of Americans are without insurance and cannot afford healthcare; yet, if we google someone and look at their website, we likely remain anything but anonymous. Wow.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Bev said...

@anonymous 10:31
I don't think we have that law here either, all I meant was because of the French accent I assumed the person was from France. Pretty stupid eh???lol If we go to Quebec there's a lot of French accents & in many other parts of Canada as well.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous ivy said...

@chris -- Michael Ware junkie? -lol I'll have to admit you're not alone -) I don't think it's possible to be frank as Michael is and to be a politician.

@bev As far as I know Michael is australian citizen, you don't have to be american citizen to work for american company. CNN has plenty of reporters who aren't american and don't live in States.

@cyn -- no amercan publisher agreed to publish his book? Are they nuts? I'm sure a lot of people will buy this book. What I would like to see is a book promo tour. For one, that would get him out of danger for some time, for the second -- wouldn't it be fun to see him on Jon Stewart and silly talk-shows? Hey, and do you think less people would turn out for his book signing then for Anderson? Ha. He's one fascinating guy

1:19 PM  
Anonymous ivy said...

off top, somebody on ATA yesterday prompted that Anderson's original channel one report is on their site. I found it, it's about a Sarajevo girl writing a diary during the war, it's on channelone site Sad topic, but I have to say, it's funny to see young Anderson. Kind of cute, intersting seeing what he started from and where he's now.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

OH.MY.GOD. I just watched that video. It is SO BAD. I laughed like the whole time. Actually, the reporting wasn't so bad, it's just that Anderson was awful! LMAO! *how cute* I recognized his voice of course, but it really doesn't look like him any more!

4:07 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Wow. I spend the day at the office and come back and people are actually talking to each other instead of just me. Do you know I've been trying to get that to happen for like five months? LOL Talk away.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that, Ivy. One word: adorkable!

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Australian, and also a great admirer of Michael Ware. He is truly an amazing individual and great journalist. I was struck to hear new Sec. of Defence Gates himself pick up on the "Four Wars" theme. I think the only way I can describe the situation in which we now find ourselves in Iraq and indeed the region is by the use of metaphor: We in the "Coalition of the Willing" have stuck our hands into a nest of vipers. I think we are now beyond the stage of debating how we got into this mess. We have to find something that at least has the appearance of a solution, although clearly it will not look anything like a Jeffersonian or Westminster democracy. That notion was never going to fly. The British tried and failed in the 1920's for heaven's sake, in the days of Lawrence of Arabia.
I note that even Michael has no ideas about a credible resolution. But I am also convinced that however bad things look now if we leave Iraq in its present broken and failed state we will look back on these days with regrets of "if only" on our lips.

1:35 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@anonymous-I used to want to pull out, but lately I don't know anymore. It's obvious the region would implode if we did. However we can't keep this up because the US military is almost broken and the war is bleeding our country dry in every way possible (not to mention all the innocent dead Iraqis). The only thing I can even think of would be to reinstate the draft and then in a couple of years (once everyone's trained) go in there with a force of about half a million, crush one side of the civil war, and install a friendly dictator-basically what they had before. Of course this goes against abolutely everything I believe in. There just are no solutions. Your line about a "nest of vipers reminds me of this song about the US and the war:

United States by Seize the Day

4:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Eliza. I am 'Anonymous Australian'. My name is David Callard, and I live in Alice Springs, right in the middle of Australia. I posted as anonymous because this is my first time to use a blog and I am a little unsure of the technology! There are still a few of us Luddites left! Probably something to do with my age: 57! I have now established my own blog, and as soon as I figure out how it all works will get it going.
Thanks for the song. Admirable sentiments. For the time being I simply propose the following idea re Iraq. A study of M.E. history of course reveals that the post - Ottoman period is distinguished by colonial political constructs such as Mandated Territories and others. Some of these ideas date from the old League of Nations which were then inherited by the UN (I apologize for my greatly condensed version of history, but the info is out there for others to discover, which is what I seek to inspire here). Now of the various models available I tend to the idea of the Trust Territory or maybe the Protectorate. My idea would be that in the absence of any credible state apparatus in Iraq, political power be temporarily ceded to some kind of administrative body, importantly endorsed and probably run by the UN. Of all the bombings that have occurred in Iraq, maybe one of the most tragic was the destruction of the UN Headquaters. That bomb not only killed many good people like Sergio di Mello, it also killed hope. It would of course be essential to distinguish the past from the present, to make it absolutely clear that this idea is not seen as colonialism in different clothing, but a sincere effort at rebuilding Iraq. I am of the firm belief that nation building is a long term project involving laying the institutional foundations of democracy. Such a project will probably take a whole generation, or more. I see elections as the final symptom of a mature democracy, not the first. Now to the role of the US. I am not as critical of America as many. Yes, the US has made mistakes, some of them catastrophic, but I am inclined to the view that this is often the price of leadership. In other words, it doesn't matter who is in the driver's seat, the very act of driving is going to attract criticism from some quarters. If the people who are so quick to criticize were more prepared to accept some of the responsibility I would be more inclined to respect them. I think I can say that many Australians feel this way; we were critical of the invasion because many of us could see that the real work would begin after the 'shock and awe' the outcome of which, after all was a forgone conclusion. I felt at the time that the Neocon 'vision' of transplanting democracy into the M.E. was unbelievably naive. But, we are there now, we do own it and we have to try to make something better than was there before come out of it. My proposal is basically that if the international community steps up to the plate we all 'own it' and maybe we can still salvage some kind of victory from the jaws of the brutes that now terrorize the poor Iraqis. What does everybody else think?

11:06 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

Hi David. Blogging is easy. Anyone can do it-as evidenced by this blog. ;) If you want, the next time you comment just click on the "other" button and then you can type in your name.

As for the topic at hand, I'd love for there to be more international involvement, but I just don't see that happening because the US has burned that bridge. Besides, this administration doesn't want help and actually despises organizations like the UN. Their choice of John Bolten as ambassador made that clear.

The thing is, Bush doesn't want help. He's "the decider" and he wants to do things his way. A few months back a bunch of people with foreign policy experitise got together and formed the Iraq Study Group (ISG) to come up with suggestions on how to move forward. A big to-do was made and the findings were published in book form. One of their recommendations was more international involvement, but unfortunately, Bush has completely ignored all their suggestions.

This is why we criticize the adminstration. Yes, we're in Iraq now, but these guys have lied to us about everything. Literally almost everything (domestic issues too). You say mistakes are the price of leadership and that's true, but nobody ever should have been driving this car.

We should have been leading in Afghanistan where the real front on the War on Terror was, but instead we basically bailed out and unfortunately others have followed our poor leadership in that regards because NATO countries have been dragging their heels at adding much needed troops to the area.

And honestly after six years I no longer believe this adminstration wants what's best for the world anyway, nor what's best for Iraq, or even what's best for the US. I don't know how much you know about our country, but really there are two United States and they want what's best for the country they live in. They don't give a crap about the rest of us.

Thanks for your comment. I hope you come back.

3:47 AM  
Anonymous David Callard said...

Yes, it is truly astonishing that having made such a mess in Iraq, the Bush administration still insists that it knows what is best for the rest of us, even if we don't know it ourselves yet! The arrogance of the man is something to behold. I think he is confusing sheer bloody minded stubborness with visionary leadership: The two are poles apart. A very few hold a torch so bright that it truly does light the way out of the darkness, then there are those who blunder on regardless, all the while reaasuring us that things are about to get better. In other words, the bull is not stuck in the china shop, it's just passing through! I am old enough to remember the chants of 'JFK, JFK....' wherever the last great President went. Those were the days when all the world looked to America, when the inscription on the Grand Lady of Liberty Island and all she stood for filled us with inspiration. Bush said he had political capital to spend. If only he could have found a better way to spend it! But, I unfairly discount the impact of 9/11. I fear history may claim that ghastly day as the official start of WW111. No reasonable person denies the US the right of response to that atrocity. I still hurt when I hear Springsteen's 'Empty Sky'. But attacking Iraq? While there might arguably have been the potential for some sort of dynasty emerging in Iraq (Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay) they were all pretty well bottled up with nowhere to go, and the sad fact is that clearly we had nothing better to replace them with. No, the real WMD danger was always next door. That is a threat none of us can afford to ignore, but I certainly don't agree with Bush that there is no point in even talking to Ahmedinejad, however odious we find him. After all, to only negotiate with those we agree with seems, well, just plain dumb.
But I think the worst tragedy of all is that for the gazillions that have been spent on the clutter of warfare we could have built so many schools, hospitals, roads etc. That is the truest way to win hearts and minds. There must be some way to bypass these horrible tyrants and get to the people? Or as the song goes maybe I'm just a dreamer...
Incidentally, I see Ware is reporting on the latest embaraasment; the fact that it seems an ex Kuwaiti terrorist - Jmal Jaffar Mohammed - managed to get himself elected into the Iraqi parliament, and we have only just noticed.

4:39 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

David, I pretty much agree with all you've said. And yes, the key is winning hearts and minds, but unfortunately I think that war is over when it comes to the Iraqi people. At this point I don't even blame them for hating us. However, I think we still have a chance in Afghanistan with the people.

12:34 AM  

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