tv Discussion on U.S. Legacy in Iraq CSPAN August 22, 2018 4:30am-6:35am EDT
reforms needed to move the progressive agenda forward. happens tonight on book tv, television for serious readers. >> good afternoon. thank you for being here today. my name is timothy weinhold and i have the privilege to introduce officer travis morris, director of the symposium and the peace of war center to open the william b colby military writers symposium. doctor morris is an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice here at norwich. he holds a phd from the university of nebraska and ms in criminal justice from eastern kentucky university
and a ba in criminology from northern illinois university. he served as a ranger qualified infantry officer with the 10th mountain division, u.s. army and a police officer in lexington kentucky. his research interests include violent propaganda analysis, information warfare, comparative justice systems. he's published on the relationship between policing, peacekeeping, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency and has conducted research and yemen and israel. his recent book ideas kisses on how neo-nazi and violent jihadi ideologues have shaped modern terrorism. he directed the national championship team in the collegiate competition sponsored by the us department of state department of homeland security aimed at countering domestic and online radicalization. he leads students and conflict field studies to israel and macedonia. without further i do, doctor travis morris . [applause]
>> thanks tim, welcome. it's great to see everybody here and the panelists, thanks for being here, we are extremely excited. welcome to the 23rd annual william e colby writers impose him in vermont . this event is a signature event for norwich university's peace and war center and this symposium is unique and theonly one of its kind in existence at an american institution. over 23 years , this symposium has brought some of the most prominentmilitary , intelligence, international affair writers of our time to central vermont. this symposium is designed to educate, to enlighten, to challenge and to inspire and as always, this symposium is designed to be relevant to
each of you sitting out here and watching us online and has never avoided the hard issues central to our public's understanding. a bit of context for each of you that are familiar with the symposium. the symposium was conceived by founders we griffith and karlin does stay with the support of norwich president major general russell todd. this event was seen as a way to bring influential writers and their ideas and expertise to norwich university so in these past the folks honor a myriad of topics which range from psd to afghanistan to vietnam to the war's impact on families. this year our focus as youcan see in your program is winning the war and lost the piece : the us legacy in a rack. this is a relevant and current topic that for those of you that will be entering military service, this topic
will directly impact you. sitting before you we have some of the globe's leading authorities on the subject and i don't say that lightly. you are fortunate to have each member sitting on the panel and we hope that we appreciate each of you that may not be familiar with the backgrounds because of your majors but granted that weare very fortunate to have them here at this university . before i introduce the moderator i would like to recognize and thank several people who make this event possible. if you could please when i call your name, please stand. resident richard schneider and let's hold the laws till the end. interim president and ceo of the pritzker military symposium and library, john one . i'd also like to note the symposium is made available through the generosity of the military museum and the library, retired general gordon sullivan, class mcmlix, us army retired major general emeritus russell todd, 1950. i'd also like to thank all those of my supporters on and
off campus so that give them all around of applause, please. [applause] i would also like to welcome all of you joining us online, watching us from different parts of the globe in different circumstances and in different countries and to specifically we'd like to welcome colonel lawn rots and jerry morlock. before i introduce our moderator, a couple housekeeping issues i'm sure all of you have already done. first, make sure you turn off your cell phones or put them on vibrate. for our guests, tickets to tonight's inner, there's a venue change. for those that have attended
the past it's been in plumley at the national guard armory. there will be assigned to direct you where you need to go. after the panel, there will be authors signing books in the ballroom directly across from us at 4:30 so if you have questions, you'd like to buy and purchase the book which we would like for you to do, please do so. our moderator is sarwar kashmeri. he is an adjunct professor of political science and applied research fellow at the peace and war center and also a fellow foreman foreign-policy aficionado. he's an author and affairs commentator and is noted for his expertise on us eu relations as well as nato. the former international businessman has served as the communications advisor to several fortune 500 companies and he brings a global perspective to his work in us policy and national security. is that he is the author of
three books, america and europe after 9/11 and iraq: the great divide. he speaks frequently before businesses, foreign-policy initiatives and is also on television, frequent radio appearances and is a regular writer and you have may have read some of his work and not noted for u.s. news and world report. he is the author of the nato and eu defense policy intersecting trajectories and has written several publications for numerous articles and currently hosts the china and focused podcast series on us china relations for the carnegie corporation. join me in getting sarwar kashmeri a warm welcome. [applause] >> thank you professor
travis my mother always said when somebody says something nice about you, thank you and believe . thank you. [laughter] so good afternoon everybody. this is the second of the trilogy that professor morris and thepeace and war center have set up for this annual event . one the war, lost the piece, we talked about the post world war and this year we are talking about iraq, the legacy of iraqi and next year we will be completing that trilogy and talking about more of the future. so i'll introduce the panel in a moment but i did want to say that any one of these panelists would make an event a major event and to have all
four of them here together is quite a deal. so i wanted you to realize that and enjoy it and make sure you have questions because this is your chance to get all of the questions answered that you thought about as far as iraq.what i would like for you to do is, what i would like to do is talk to you a little bit about the atmosphere in the country when the iraqi invasion took place. i recognize many of the people in this room were in the first grade or second grade or third grade when the iraqi invasion tookplace. i recognize all of you from the playing field at kindergarten . how does this happen? what is this? some of you may think the iraqi invasion should never
have happened. others of you may think that it should have happened, but regardless of whether you think not, yes, you need to understand where the country was when all of this began and that's where i'd like to spend a few minutes on. and you know, it's almost a trite statement these days that 9/11 changed the world. you've all heard that. 9/11 changed the world, change the country, changed the world. what you are looking at is a view of manhattan a few days before 9/11. and you can see from the cockpit of this airplane that it's aimed rectally at the world trade center. and the world trade center is that rectangular squarish looking building straight ahead if i'm looking at this.
in the center is the empire state building and there are other buildings that go on, that is the world tradecenter and it was as beautiful a day as this one is today . my offices then were just a few blocks from the empire state building so we were i'd say roughly 6 miles from 9/11. it was a day just like this, beautiful. people going to work. and then planes commanded by terrorists who had taken them over crashed into the world trade center this is a shot a few minutes after . so there's office paper floating down. there's furniture floating down . this is from the southern tower and all hell would breakloose .
by the way, a half hour after this film was taken it wouldn't be paper coming down. it would be peoplecoming down , jumping out of windows to prevent themselvesbeing burned . this is a seminal moment that all of you need to keep in your mind. think about the impact. you can see the nervousness and the fright in the persons voices as they are talking about this. that's what it looked like after it was done .
every new yorker has their own story about 9/11, the world trade center. every american knows where they were. i do too. i'm my wife not far from the world trade center, we had our first dinner at the world trade center, we attended dinners at the windows on the world which was a restaurant on the top floor. i tell you i walked up as far as i could go three days later and i could still smell the debris from the world trade center. trucks coming in from new jersey carrying what remained of the world trade center out . and all i could think of was how could i go somewhere and strangle somebody with my bare hands? by the way, i've spent my life being trained, educated by just awaits no if i feel that way, others probably felt a lot worse. so that's kind of where this story begins . and i'm going to take you
just a little further in this . 9/11 happens, the country changes. two months after that, president bush sent a special forces team with a specially armed cia team to afghanistan and there's a wonderful book called the horse soldiers you should read. it talks about how within a few short months they put the taliban to flight. they had the first cavalry charge. all for an expense of $70 million. it sounds like a lot of money , but that's what it cost. and then some two years later, we change direction andinvaded iraq . some of the things i want to know from the panel are why did we do it? why did we have to do it? why did we change focus?
i'd urge you to keep thinking about your questions. we invaded iraq and it was thought it would all be over in two months. in fact, two months later, the president of the united states went on an aircraft carrier and said hey, it's over mission accomplished . herehe is . >>. [cheering]. [applause] >> thank you all very much, admiral kelly, captain
carter, officers and the sailors of the us abraham lincoln. my fellow americans. >> make your combat operations in iraq have ended and the battle of iraq, the united states and our allies, have prevailed. >>. >>. >> can i stop this? ready to stop it. thank you.so the war is over. the united states prevails. it didn't quite work out that way.
>> war in iraq will be over. as you know it's still not over and now we have a different president . i should add here by the way that the military did everything they were supposed to do. every hill the military was asked to take, they took. there isn't any question about the bravery, the training, the adaptability. and those that believethat the training and adaptability had not been at the level it was, the country would have been an even bigger trouble . so things and i want to learn today from the expert and so what happened? the military did their job, they better than they were asked to so what happened there weston mark let me turn to the panelists. for some of you it's your first visit. about norwich university wanted to make this a model
of the citizen larger college and so we have divers, a range of students, departments who study different subjects and what we thought of doing today is inviting six of them to come here from different departments at the college and tell you what they hope to learn from you. i thought that might give you some notion to think about so join us. >>. >> first up is mister elizabeth elms. she is majoring as a civil engineer and will graduate in 2018. >> imagine a world with no
police force or education system. for some, this is a reality that the iraqi people ack. between january and june 2013 alone over 2800 children were killed due to violence in the country. with us$180 million and funds only six out of 142 health clinics had been built and less than half of the us population can claimreliable access to potable water. that is 18.6 million people . one out of every few iraqis restoring infrastructure, not job construction or amending the constitution should be the government's top priority and so far the total reconstruction tab is climbed $45 billion but the country's ranking in education i am here to understand why after 16 years of american occupation, there's still
such a lack of social infrastructure in iraq. >> next up is mister benjamin: scott, a chemistry major graduating in 2019. >> as the naturalist charles darwin once said, it's not the strongest of species that survives nor the most intelligent. it is the one that is most adaptable to change. in science, adaptability is a key aspect of how we are able to make necessary changes to enhance and help for extended periods of time. as i have learned with the chemistry department at norwich, these areas are created every year to explain phenomenon from data. because of the advances in medicine there have been scores of american lives saved.
with the tragedy that befell the american people on september 11, 2001, the world changed. america went from a state of peace and stability of war and confusion . flooding was on hold all the people who had been considered known to them. with the war in iraq, entire generations have grown up with a major conflict being part of their everyday lives one way or another. every government in the united states needs to be able to adapt to the new circumstances. i'd like to learn today why the largest defense budget in the world, american policymakers have not focused enough attention on adapting to this new style of war. >> next up is mister spencer to have l, graduating 2018. >> hello norwich students, faculty and distinguished members of the panel. first i would like to draw
your attention to the monitors behind me. my reading of this picture, to children whose futurelooks unclear sitting in the rubble of their now destroyed city . no parents insight and no one to help pick up the pieces. these boys are living on the street which is an incredibly important unfortunate reality that600,000 iraqi children. as an english major at norwich i developed a sense of what elements make us human . this list includes romance, desire, identity, power and parenting. all attributes still missing from iraqi life today. i'd like to draw attention to arguably the greatest problem, the problem of children growing up in the world without knowing anything but the devastation and loss caused by the war in iraq so i am here to learn today how with a $650 billion
defense budget , the united states plans on caring for the mental health and well-being of iraqi children. >> thank you. next up is miss erin proctor, major graduating in 2019 . >> 500,000 us troops took part in the war in iraq and afghanistan suffer from ptsd. fortunately due to advancing medical care on the warfront, survival rates are increasing . leading to an emerging need for treatment ofpsychological injury. i'm a nursing major. we learn to look at people as a whole , physical as well as emotional. sometimes in war only physical is seen. the missing limbs and the massive stars but there is so much more to people than the physical . technological needs to be addressed and cared for as
well. but this does not just affect the soldiers that return. it affects all the people involved. i'm here today to ask why so many people are being left to fend for themselves and why we place more value on guns and ammo over the minds of those who wield them. >> last but not least, miss abby firm, physics major graduating 2019. >> show of people as one thing and only one thing over and over again. that is what we've become. african author rolando idg warns us of the dangers of accepting a single cultural story as an over generalization of a region, country or people. and how consequential virtual misunderstandings could have dangerous repercussions. this is especially relevant
with regard to those who come from a completely different social background like america and iraq. these difficult but imperative to understand the complexity of intricate global differences . and i will tear from the panel more on our own thoughts of the broad variety of human challenges they are familiar with and what in their opinion is missing in american doctrine overseas. how can we accomplish our goal without you losing the trustof the people we are trying to help . >> thanks very much. i've been so busy rehearsing the students that i forgot they need to also be rehearsing me and i conveniently forgot the bunker so let me invitemiss warmonger here, mechanical engineering major . >> sorry about that. >> it's okay. that afternoon. the car stops at a makeshift checkpoint, cutting across a moneyback street. a man appears, stops the car
and asked are you sunni or see you? the car driver answers on the man says don't answer, get him. the door swings open and outcomes five men to take his life. there's a moment of silence before a woman calls him in for dinner. this is an actual account from a reporter on the ground of one boy and five others, all between the ages of 6 to 12. three weeks prior, these boys had a teacher killed in the same way and thus began the engagement. not only did the children of iraq see iraqis killed by their own soldiers, they see the americans who seem to do the exact same thing. in fact, in your own childhood and your own parents and what i would like to know today is whether or not american soldiers need to be exposed to these situations before they enter another conflict . >> thank you miss bunker. it's time now for me to
introduce our panelists. i will then ask them a question myself and as soon as i start asking my question, it will be your queue to lineup before microphones that will be aced on the floor. their squares drawn by the microphones, if you would step into the squares when you see so you will be at the right distance. let me now introduce our expert panel. so to my left is mister saifaldan abdul-rahman. saifaldan abdul-rahman is vice president at iw g, a us firm providing consulting, logistics and construction work in iraq . he has held senior posts in the government of iraq, helped engineer rackselection law during the days of the
governing council, served as director general of the parliament research director at , participated in the negotiations on the status of forces agreement for the united states. next to him is miss emma sky. she is the director of yale greenberg world fellows, a senior fellow at the yale university jackson institute where she teaches middle east politics. she is the author of unraveling,high hopes and missed opportunities in iraq . she served as advisor to the commanding general of us forces in iraq from 2007 two 2010, as advisor to the commander of nato's international security assistance force in afghanistan in 2006, advisor to the us security coordinator for the middle east peace process in 2005 and is coordinator of kurt cook for the coalition provisional authority 2003
2004. next to her is mister andrew a savage who grew up in indiana, graduated from west point, served in the u.s. army, became an academic and is now a writer. he's the author of oracle author or editor of a dozen books, among them american empire, the new american militarism, limits of power, washington rules, breach of trust and most recently, america's war for the greater middle east, the military history. and then, mister allen king , an award-winning author on terrorism, 21st-century security matters, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, strategic cultural understanding and irregular warfare and the middle eastern geopolitical issues. he has advised congressional leaders, served as an advisor to leaders in the department of state and defense.
in july 2004, king returned from iraq after spending 16 months as a civil affairs battalion commander and then as the director of the office of outreach, coalition provisional authority in iran and iraq. he's the author of twice armed: american soldiers battle for hearts and minds. that is your panel and this is your chance to ask all those questions you've been wanting to ask. and as you lineup before the microphones, let me ask a question myself. i'd like to start with mister saifaldan abdul-rahman and go around the panel and ask that each one of you, the united states is an international power. the united states has interests all around the world but what i'd like to know from each of you is what
is the remaining national interest of the united states have in iraq? does it have any now? what would make a commander-in-chief send these people to a country? what is our vital national interest in iraq? so please, go ahead. >> thank you very much. it's a pleasure to be here at norwich university. this has been a great program. i've appreciated the questions we had yesterday. i think this is quite a challenging question but i want to revert back to something: powell said when asked about this particular situation. he talked about the pottery barn rule and that was you break it, you own it. and essentially, atthis point in time , that's it. we broke it. we are responsible for the initial and then the later situations, and that
essentially is one of the most fundamentalreasons why we own it and should own it . another economic component to this, and i think that this ties into some of my work personally, and you know it's been said we were there for the oil. i think that's a really simplistic argument and i think the way to look at it is oil is not necessarily what we want but what we need is to continue to have sustainability in the energy markets overall from an economic perspective and making sure we are still in the middle east plays a fundamental role in ensuring that stability in the energy markets because of the amount of energy in that particular region be it iraq or around iraq . >> thank you.
>> thank you, and it really is an honor to be here at norwich university. you asked the question about vital interests. and in the 24 hours that i've been here, a number of students have come up to me and spoken about israel and how they are going to field trips out to israel, palestine . and israel remains a vital interest to the united states and israel's security remains something that has never taken for granted. we can see in recent weeks the security threats to israel continues to change. before, it was very much a focus on terrorism. now the challenge is coming, a struggle going on between israel and iran. you see this playing out in the movements inside syria.
so israel remains a vital purity interest, a vital national interest in the united states. >> thank you mister bacevich i too am grateful to be here and atlunchtime , an additional reason why i'm so grateful, they gave us this little card and i am told if i go to the gift shop, i can get $50 worth of norwich /. it happens to be that i need a new sweatshirt and i will have before the sun goes down. so i would argue that we have no vital interest in this region. we have interests that are out far greater importance whether we are talking about addressing the implicationsof the rise of china , implications of climate change, growing threats in the realm of cyber.
but i think the reason we did what we did in the wake of 9/11 is that the 9/11 attack was a direct assault on a fundamental conviction held by most of our fellow citizens and is certainly sustained by people who work in washington and that fundamental conviction is the myth of american exceptionalism. that we are the chosen people. we are god's chosen people. we are the agents of history. history has a purpose and our responsibility is to bring history to its foreordained conclusion which will occur when the rest of the world believes what we believe. 9/11 directly challenged that notion. and therefore 9/11 required a
violent and concerted response to demonstrate that the questions raised by 9/11 simply were not true. at the concerted use of military power, not simply in iraq but in the places that were to come after iraq, we would demonstrate to ourselves and the rest of the world beyond a shadow of the doubt we are god's chosen people. alas, here we are all these years later . that effort to sustain this myth have not worked and i think really, the greatest challenge incumbent upon us today as citizens is to finally come around to realizing that that myth is a great lie and that trying to sustain those great harm to ourselves and indeed, in
places like iraq does great harm to others as well. >> i am so happy to be back in norwich, getting to see old friends and bases and i appreciate the invitation to return. i would tell you what we did in iraq was like getting a beehive and when the bees swarm we started to run and there was no water to jump into. i was here in 2009 and i got to tell you great war stories and i was told nothing ruins a great war story like eyewitnesses and i got two of them on the panel with me that share the same ground so the stories may not be as good this year as in the past but with all that said, there is an interest that we have a responsibility to area but i don't think as andrew pointed out, i don't think it's as
vital as some of the other interests going around the globe and china being one of those and while russia is a concern and the one that's pushing on us, particularly in the middle and syria is one that we have to worry about, we do have a responsibility to iraq. but we have to remember with all the stories and questions the students asked, it is now a sovereign nation and we don't get to just walk in and impose our ideas. we have to take from iraq what they want from us and that may not be what we consider in our best interest but one that we are going to have to learn to work with. >> the question i want to ask is about this so-called sunni shiite divide.
it gets headlines, everyone now knows about it but before 9/11 no one knew what a sunni or shia was much less what a rack was so now we talk about that divide. interestingly, three of these panelists with the exception of mister bacevich were all in iraq at the same time so some of their perspectives are formed in the crucible that they served together but what i'd like to ask is, sunni and shia live in iraq for years and years. there were minor tips here and there but there was no divide but some of the people i've talked to say the divide started when the united states overthrew iraq, the government in iraq and to form a new government and decided to have numbers of sunni, number of kiosks, numbers of kurds and injected this kind of religious, you will, interest in the governing bodies. so the united states
basically is responsible for creating this divide which was previously a tiff but not a divide. >> let me tell personal story to start this off. it's very interesting. my family is originally from mosul what you should have heard about because of isis. i'm on a sunni background and my hands happens to be married to a surgeon who is shia living in western baghdad in 2004, a place called amria and i was a sunni youngman who was involved in the government who had to negotiate with sunni insurgents to release
my aunts husband who had been kidnapped and threatened to be killed . they had been married for 25 years or whatever it was and you know, these issues weren't discussed in the household. when he approached my grandfather for my hands and in marriage, it wasn't an issue . but this is not to say that we should take the simplistic view that this divide didn't exist. i think the divide did exist, but it wasn't the primary identifier or the primary issue that people identified with in terms of their identity. the iraqi identity was there and the biggest evidence for that in my mind continues to be that if you ask, we always talk about the iraqi shia in iran but if youask the vast majority of iraqi shia in iraq how they feel about iran , you will hear some very interesting answers because they feel like they were treated very badly by the
irradiance and have a very negative view. and i'll end. i think we did amplify the division and we amplified very strange divisions on the governing council when we created. the kurds and the sunnis, we say we are creating this but the kurds part sunni. and even the shiite parties are parties that were from the outside of iraq were fostered outside. and the last thing i'll say here is the biggest, vast party organization, you know where it was? sadr city. the biggest, vast party membership was in sadr city, baghdad. this is history now, making me feel a little bit old but
sadr city was where moktadr, this was a very large shia population in baghdad. it's in the eastern part of baghdad and probably 95 percent of the population of that city was she off but there were they were the largest party that was essentially in charge of during his reign over iraq. >> there is a microphone on this side too. i'll ask one more question and we godirectly to the students and my question is this . why has nobody ever been held to account for these unending wars as they are called without results? why isn't anybody ever held to account?let me start with mister bacevich to
answer that and then the other two, miss skyand mister king can join in .>> i don't believe i have an adequate answer. i think the closest i can come is to say that within the policy elite, republican, democrat, in your professional military officers, the other people who make their living within the beltway, there is a common mindset. and the common mindset is one that believes without reservation that both that
the united states needs to remain the most powerful nation on the planet and also that power is measured primarily in military terms. so while it is true, at least in my judgment that the invasion and subsequent application of iraq, a particular subject of this panel were catastrophically stupid, nonetheless that stupidity stems from this common mindset. this collective you. so in our political establishment, national security establishment there is virtually no one who is willing to render a fundamental critique.
that is to say a critique that goes beyond what happened in iran to examine why we get to iraq in the first place. and as long as, i mean, there are people who offer that pretty but they are marginalized. they publish books and operands that don't get read and don't matter but there will be noaccountability . until there is a willingness on the part of the people in the political establishment to take into account the possibility that the fundamental informing our national security policy may themselves be wrong. >> miss sky, if you would briefly handle it and we would go to the students and i'll start with youmister king for an answer . >> in the uk in stark contrast from the us there has been a large public
demand for accountability. there has been an inquiry that was established published a year or so ago, they interviewed everybody involved in the run-up to the war, the decision-making and the failure of the aftermath. that report came out, was very scathing in its findings. the prime minister blair, he cannot show his face in public in the uk. there were demands from the public and also from politicians that he be tried for war crimes. that's not possible but that gives you an idea of the sentiment . the impact of the iraq war has really been our reaching. it has led to a trust, a
distrust of elites and their ability to make the right decisions. and the whole discussions in the run-up to exit. you heard people say why did we trust elites? it was elites got us into the iraq war, why should we trust their ability to make the right judgments? so although the inquiry was not able to convict people, that's not what it was set up to do, it certainly was there to make sure that everybody understood what went wrong and why. but then there's a public record on. has led to changes in the way the processes and policies are made in the uk. there has been a dramatic downsizing of the kurdish military. the british military will no longer be able to be involved in occupations overseas again. >> and the ghosts of the iraq
war linger on. and there was a vote in parliament over whether the uk should do anything about assad's use of chemical weapons. the and he is very aware that they had voted in support of the iraq war . they pointed against doing anything to stop assad using chemical weapons. in that decision in the british parliament had big effects over here and president obama i kind of got everybody lined up to respond militarily to the chemical attacks in syria. they withdrew that decision. following the vote in the british parliament. and did it off to congress knowing full well congress would never get around to making a decision on anything. >> let's go there and please
tell us who you are. >> comments, introductions, go ahead. >> i'm kennett master sergeant shane hutchins. so my question for the panel is the us has successfully rebuilt defeated nations before. given, and the limited amount of time and all the resources the united states musters, what's in your opinion would take to turn the turn iraq into a stable, prosperous democratic nation or is it too late for that at this point? having given over to self-rule, is that not unheard of anymore? >>. >> i think the first thing to realize is the us militarydid what it's designed to you to do. we decisively defeated the military of another country . we did not secure the victory , did not bring the resources
of the us to bear. to bring iraq around to be the nation that we envisioned to be. >> some of the mistakes we made were early on that we believe personae and democracy was the way. democracy isrelevant to what their society can take . the other thing is that we wanted to bring around an anglo-saxon capitalismeconomy and it wasn't designed for that . market socialism probably would have been better in that regard . it is a sovereign nation now and they are going to have to make their own decisions. we're not going to change it. the democracy they have is what they choose to have. how they decide to run their constitution or apply their constitution is up to them but we need to be there and be prepared to provide whatever assistance they think is necessary from us.
and realized that the influence of iran and other countries, turkey in particular right now up in the north is something that we have to take into consideration. >> i'd like one more panelist to answer that before we go to questions. >> i'm going to ask you to challenge the premise of your question. and the reason i ask you to do that is the question is are we capable of doing something? to make iraq a democracy or successful. you use the word successful democracy. i vote that down. >> i may have misquoted you. >> essentially you are going to have to reoccupy the country. as alan said, iraq is now an independent nation the premise behind the question is what we need to ask ourselves as americans and that is are we capable of doing that or are we simply trying to imprint our will or
what we perceive to be the proper country. >> on to that nation. or any other for that matter? if we look at our history, how many successful times, how many times have we done that successfully ? you know, there's a couple of them. but when you look at the vast majority of wars that we wage , in our history, those successful models start to look sparse. and i think that as alan said, we have to look at the full spectrum of what we are capable of doing and what we are not. we should be asking our military to become the one and only tool of diplomacy, nationbuilding, emergency relief. name it. >> thank you very much.
>> good afternoon, my name is gerald hickman. i apologize, my question will be geared more towards iraq but i look forward to look thinking towards syria. he is our country has become more measures. we start something and as you said mister king, our military is was intended to do. but we lack the convictions to finish our mission and follow through, whether that be, we create a power vacuum and then don't fill the vacuum and that the radicalization creates more problems for us looking forward, you believe we have any imperative whether that be a more romanticized notion that we should be global police and a tool for good. do we have any moral imperative to join conflict there as our president has bombastic we regarded . i don't really have a strong opinion either way, i believe that i'm not educated enough to form one so i like to know any of that. >> mister sky, would you like to go? >>.
>> i want to refer back to the last question as well because we are talking about 18 years after the invasionof iraq . you have to look at what happened during that period honestly think the iraqis are saying americans, please come back and give us democracy. they didn't exactly say the first time. so when you look today at syria, you have to look at where we are. and in the syrian war has been going on for six years. and you could say that war is pretty much come to an end now. >> why is it has lasted so long? it lasted so long because so much external interference from people in different countries. including us. we've given much support to the opposition so we could lose but we didn't get enough
support so it could win. so this civil war has continued for six years. you've got iran involved, russia involved, the gulf countries, turkey, everyone involved . half 1 million syrians have been killed. the population of syria is displaced from his home. so we are hardly at the position to start thinking about should the us invade or not? it's a discussion about should we drop a few bombs just to make ourselves feel, i don't know, some catharsis or something. when you look at syria today, there are differentoptions from where it was at a few years ago or four years ago . i think today, you just want war, the fighting, the killing to come to an end. >> so quinn research, i was born in 1998 and 920 years old so just over 85 percent of my life -- iq, i
appreciate that. but to the point, for over 85 percent of my life, our country has been at war so i'm wondering if any of you thought there was some imperative that we take action or whether there was a legitimacy that claims that assad did use chemical weapons on his constituents or if that was a rebel ploy to get us to be more involved. i do agree we shouldn't feel that compulsion to spread democracy at the barrel of a gun. i look for more narrative whether or not there is a legitimate reason for us to go. >> bacevich, you want to try that? i thought this guy was pretty concise on it. >> are you implying that i won't be concise? >> know, i thought you might be concise in the oppositeway . >> i'll dissent a little bit
i think with my colleague in his judgment of us military preference whether in iraq or elsewhere and the greater middle east . war is a political act. it really doesn't matter how many battles you win. victory requires achieving your political purposes. real victory requires achieving your political purposesexpeditiously and at a reasonable cost . >> ..
has not achieved its purposes. but your question i think on syria was really getting to the moral question. you made reference to a moral obligation, to the iraqi people. i must say i'm somewhat torn by that. but what i would say is to the extent that we have a moral obligation to syrians, then the action we take to equip that moral obligation should be action that address the problem. and the problem is the plight of these people who have been caught in this civil war year after year, hundreds of thousands of them displaced.
and it's beyond me how any military action undertaken by the united states, short of invading and occupying the country for the next several decades, it's the army have any military action can equip that moral obligation. what could we do? what can we do to address the suffering of the syrian people? oh, here's an idea. why don't we allow the displaced syrians to come to the land of the free and the home of the brave? we have a very big country. we actually could accommodate a couple more refugees from syria. and that would have a very direct, immediate and practical benefit to the people who have suffered. now, please raise your hand if you think that the majority of our fellow citizens would subscribe to a program of bringing several hundred
thousand displaced syrians to live in the united states of america. >> a show of hands. how many would believe that? >> two, three. that seems to be about right. like 497-3. >> and it is a time we will take to questions from you and you, and then try to field those. so you go first. >> that afternoon. i read your book, and in the first couple pages -- >> i don't want to be a smart alec, but which book? [laughing] >> first of all, it was the war for middle greater ease. in the first couple pages you decide, not decide, you say that the tactics and strategy of the u.s. armed forces going into iraq was originally they decided to uphold the law and wanted to promote the overall security of
the country. and instead we went in with kind of an opposite of that. we wanted to rescue hear you say that in like the first couple of pages. when i was reading that i thought about, i do make sense but i was wondering if you could elaborate on that just like the specifics. when i was thinking about it, if we're there to promote law and their two view the overall security of the country, isn't that rescuing it? it didn't make sense to a certain hang on a second let's take this question. >> class of 2019, junior, and my question really pertains to not the military standpoint of protecting iraq now. we are saying more of like turkey, i turkey and iran are basically trying to have this ideology of hate, put a proxy government, should i say come inside of iraq now to gain their
sphere of influence, should i say? i was wondering what is your concern with regard to this? i know for turkey, should i say, you have erdogan with this ideology of hate, it's go back to the same ideology where we should possibly bring a sense of the ottoman empire back. and seeing that iraq is in such a standpoint of the middle east deeply that something like this ideology will bring another conflict or different present inside the middle east on the global scale? >> i will let mr. bacevich and to the question about the book. you will have to buy five copies after his answer, and then mr. king, you can feel the second question. >> i also don't remember writing that, and have a feeling that if
i did i may have been trying to be ironic. let me try to get to i think the question though. the key point here is, in my judgment, we went to a work and a back not because iraq pose any kind of threat to the united states, we went to iraq, war with iraq because iraq was weak and vulnerable. we kicked the army around in 1991. the country been under strict sanctions ever since. although nobody was paying attention, the united states sometimes with british help had been bombing iraq through most of the 1990s on a persistent basis, not large-scale bombing, but basically iraq had become a very weak military power. so we invaded because it was weak.
we invaded because a coalition of neoconservatives and hard-core realists, people like wolfowitz would've been a neoconservative camp. people like rumsfeld and cheney would be in the hard-core realist camp. that coalition persuaded president george w. bush, who had persuaded himself after 9/11, and bush is a serious believer, persuaded himself that he had been anointed by god to transform that part of the world. so that coalition chose to invade iraq because they expected an easy win and expected an easy win and iraq basically to position the united states to increase our leverage, to increase our influence so they could move beyond the transformation of iraq, assumed to be easy in order to bring about change elsewhere in the region. now, was that result would have
been wolfowitz would've hoped, a bunch of liberal democracies, or whether result would've been, this is what cheney and run some would've hoped, basically american hunt yemeni. -- a yemeni. in either case the would've been great benefits to the united states of america. so the invasion of course, invasion is conducted using the most recent precepts of conventional warfare, emphasizing the use of precision guidance conditions with almost zero thought given to what us d happen after we get to baghdad. and we got to baghdad. it was really great. then everything fell apart. who is at fault for that? i have to say i believe the principal responsibility for that failure was the military responsibility. the senior officers planning
that operation didn't get any serious thought to what was going to happen once saddam hussein regime was overthrown. that been created the opportunity for all that ensued. >> i've got a follow-up to the question, because i was the first civil military officer in baghdad. the night that i arrived on april 8, 2003, they came up and said there is a reconstruction plan for baghdad. you have 24 hours to come up with a plan. so 5.5 million people with no civil society, no functioning government. i was fortunate that my mentors before, for the last ten years before that, had been military governors in world war ii and i have listened and labored over their stories. and i fell back on your stories and said in '96 hours let's focus on four primary areas, a look safety, fire and police, public health, hospitals, public utilities, electric and water,
and public of administration. call anybody back to work. we debated long that night about calling passes. in my argument was if they show we arestin. we did. number 26 on the deck of cards was on his way back to work and we arrested in 30 days we had 97 hospitals up and operating. we at 5000 policemen armed and back to work. we had 1500 firemen back on the job. 25 of the 100 emergency vehicles back in operation. and then they said stop, stop. we want to do a two week assessment. >> who showed up? >> the office of reconstruction, he american assistant. so they shop and they say we want to do this reevaluation. i can tell you where it's at today. and the only question that was asked of me and my head up, the question was how many women are on the police force?
that was the only question. i said i don't know the answer to that. i suspect a zero. that's the most important thing we've got to focus on now. we don't have a distribution system for food. we don't have the sewage working. water is not being properly taken care of. we don't have all these other functional things, and that was the only question that was of a concern. and that's what i say we didn't bring the resources to bear. we did the best we could do in the amount of time that we had. granted, a higher levels did not plan. with that being said, i will answer your question but a quick prelude to the. just a show of hands, how many believe the islamic state is a terrorist group? and that's why we lose our war. the islamic state is not a
terrorist group. they are an insurgency. insurgencies want to take over a government. terrorists want to change policy. obama fought the islamic state in syria as a counterterrorism operation. that was the characters and strategy, you kick indoors, taken to jail. counterinsurgency is you look them in the face, sheikh their hand and drink tea. it's a big difference. so for us we got to be able to -- i am. we got to be able to do that first. with you come every country is going to try to influence other countries, particularly our neighbors. we do it in mexico. we do it in canada. we still try to do it in the uk 1776. so iran is going to do it to iraq. and i will tell you a very, very senior official once told me, he was a shia and we're talking about the influence of iran, and
he said listen, you are going to leave. your history shows you are going to leave. and who are we going to look to? are going to look to our saudi neighbors for help? the only person we have to look to is to iran. and that's sort of where it was left at. sorry for the long answer. >> thank you very much. so i'm good to take two more questions. if you will, ms. sky, you answer the first one and -- soy, you will answer the second one. in the interest of time short question, short answers, please. let's start there. >> my name is chris, i'm a junior and i, too, and in the court. i'm going to talk about the questions is that there's a lot of cultural change in the younger generations, specifically like millennials era and that they grew up in a country that's always at war with the same people so there's always the same people in the news. a lot of apathetic individual
and a lot of people who care about it but a lot more that are used to or just have gotten fed up with it and kind of don't do much. what would you say to someone that doesn't care about the iraq mess? just sit in their mothers basement and play video games kind of thing. what would you say to them to make them care about this again, or should they not care? >> so, miss sky, you want to take this? >> can i make a stab while she is thinking about it? your taxes are going up. and oh, by the way, report to the draft board. a lot of people care. >> america has been at work as you said since were very young, but america is forever war and never win and it makes no difference to americans. it's only 1% that serve, tiny
and that is genetically reproduced. americans taxes didn't go up. it really makes no difference. they just say thank you at the football games, go first on to the planes, and that's about it. so you've got to wonder, what has happen that we have a whole war economy, that we can just keep going, that the outcome of the wars doesn't really affect most, vast majority of americans at all. jobs in every state are dependent on the defense industry. we are getting our diplomatic service, that's getting smaller and smaller and smaller, but the military budget and the military is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. i worried, the early question the said how are you going to use the u.s. military budget to build schools and iraq, or deal with mental health problems in iraq?
this is kind of getting out of control, and we are at danger of being forever that were and never winning, not really understanding what the future threats to us are. nobody is going to invade america. war of the future will be in cyber. if you want to attack america you take down the critical infrastructure. and so for you millennials, you've got to be asking questions about this. how did we end up perpetually at war? and that's the question you need to ask them why are we forever at work and why are we never winning? >> thank you. >> thank you. >> i'm a junior in the corps cadets. i see a lot of perils between the vietnam war and the war in iraq and afghanistan. the biggest one being it seems like we're fighting unconventional war with
conventional methods. with that huge success in afghanistan and iraq. you mentioned horse soldiers. i feel like we just keep repeating the same mistakes. i'm curious if we're ever going to learn and take of the conflict in a different manner. learn from our neighbors. >> i've got this question yesterday. you've got a great professor here that can probably answer it for you if you talk to david albright. but you know, are we ever going to learn our lesson? i think you all are going to answer that question, right? the fact that 15 years later, and by the way, for that young man whose birthday was yesterday, 20th birthday, three days ago and was the 15th anniversary of when that soldier started to put that american flag on the statue of saddam hussein, and then they
put the iraqis flag there after a statue came to have if you read the iraqis press, all of it was about that, and i challenge you to find articles in newspapers about that 15 years ago. because it was such an important date in our history now, but how much did you read about it? the fact that professor morse and this university put it on a panel like this and bringing you all to reflect, and bringing distinguished panelists to talk about this is a great way at least to begin to institutionalize some of that knowledge. and i think that's what really needs to happen is the institutionalization of the lessons learned. i'm not a military person. i was intrigued by the taps
ceremony last night, first when i i attended, so thank you for that. honored. but the question that i sent back to you all and to build leadership of military is, are we institutionalizing the lessons learned? and if we are not, why? because it seems like, we went through some of this in vietnam, right? we learned a lot in iraq, and if you speak to duke yesterday, , e talked about some of the units institutionalizing not the system as as a whole. i think that's very problematic. if you are allowed me to touch on the last question very quickly also on the turkey-iran question that was asked, i think this is a direct result of the almost fading of the americana -- tax americana and i think we'll look back at history we will see that this coming
timeframe, maybe this coming century is not our century. and the question, the challenge that we need to face is how we deal with that? because we are pulling back, right? if you look at our current administration and the ministry before that, a kind of saying that enough of the world. world, deal with your own problems. and the question now becomes is how do we deal with the challenge when we decide that we're we are not going to play anymore? good luck. >> thank you. good afternoon. i'm michael minard, freshman class of 1.1. my question is in america we often say we are a shining city on a hill, a beacon of freedom but there are plenty people that sit at the bottom until i i lok up and look at this great freedom. nations like iraq, syria, afghanistan sedan will be destroyed those nations and kids glad in the street and they see bomb trap of said property of the united states, is it
america's duty, is that america step to take care of this lost generation? let them come over and give them the childhood they never had? >> who would like to answer that? >> before i do. her yet. >> i'm actually going to offer you an economic answer. you know, andrew was talking about whether we want to bring syrian refugees here. let me postulate that, 150,000 syrian refugees from an economic standpoint are going to cost us a lot less than sending any bombs that cost us 1 million, i don't know how many million a piece for each missile or whatever it takes to send a carrier group, or whatever it may be. and i wonder whether we shouldn't start thinking along those lines. turkey has taken in 1 million refugees, i don't know what the number is. maybe more than a million.
germany has got a million. and yet if you look at the g20 economies, last year turkey had the highest growth rate of the g20 economies. it was 7.3%. their gdp growth rate. ours was 2.3. they had taken in a lot of refugees from syria. >> thank you. >> my name is ben ferguson. mr. king, you alluded to my question earlier, but to my knowledge the regional plan during the invasion of iraq was go in, disable, not disable the government or the military, get rid of a few baptists ministers, but for the most part leavitt functioning. in the state department came in and decide to tear it all down and built from the ground up. were there any positive outcomes from that choice short-term, and nowadays are there any, is
iraq's to feeling any repercussions, positive or negative from that choice? >> you want some a specific to answer that from the panel? >> anyone. >> there was actually a state department program called the future of iraq and then that bt together for a couple of years before the invasion. that got all of the world and found technocrats to biblical in and discovered in a box and fulfill the ministries. so the actual idea was it to take it all the way down, take away and start from the beginning. the way i i understood we're supposed be there for six months and it would bring in these technocrats, , transition out ad we would move on. iraqi people quickly made known to us that was not what they wanted and then things changed so that reconstruction humectant assistance as poker quickly went went away and the coalition authority came in with master brimmer picky takes a lot of
kicks for what he did but remember, as a follower there's always a boss and he was fulfilling whited, out of washington. he and i were together in october 2012, the question was posed in a forum like this come interesting thing you could dent different, what would that have been. his, was i don't think we shouldn't -- took a couple million people that have been trained to kill people and break things and set that up just to do that. then we tried to believe that the insurgency wasn't taken place, that what we're going to bring to them was so great that people would love us for it and it would take hold. so are the regrets, things the iraqis probably wish had not happened? there are some people that wish saddam was still there.
>> we are starting to run short of time, and our fearless leader here, president snyder, you person at answer to if you don't keep the proper time. some going to take two questions. the people behind, if you would just come up after the event, should the panelists will be able to answer your questions. some going to take your question, a quick one. your question, a quick one. and if you which is, after, please. >> i'm going, i've written, question, for real quick here why do u.s. leaders believe it is our obligation to vote for western politics on countries that don't want to adopt a democratic style of government? why do we use our military as a police force to protect countries that don't want our assistance? >> ms. sky, do you want to have a shot at that? >> that's a great question. i really good question.
yes, partly it's because the u.s. is all all-powerful, but o partly, you know, you think of all the problems internal to america, the problems that we don't deal with. so you can look at infrastructure, you look at gun carnage, all of this and you say somebody is killed by somebody who happens to be muslim, then all hell breaks loose. sometimes it's easier to deal with things overseas that it is to deal with things at home. we've always get people diverting attention overseas for whatever reasons. it's a way to drum up support domestically, and the fear of terrorism is blown way, way, way out of proportion. you are more likely to be killed by your sofa then you are by somebody who is an islamist
terrorist. more likely to be killed by a bee sting. so it is blown way, way, way out of proportion, and our resources -- so many resources are thrown at this thing that creeps a whole new set of problems. >> take your time. i was just look at my watch and the program, a fact, we are here and tell 3:30. so take your time and the people that were lined up, come on back. [laughing] sorry about that. go ahead. >> can i jump in a that? >> go ahead. >> how many of you have heard of dwight d. eisenhower? have you read his last speech as president of the united states of american? what did he warned us about?
>> military-industrial complex. >> the military-industrial complex. and i challenge you as cadets to actually think about that from a president celebrated military man who turned to civilian life and had this prescient look to the future of our country, and whether we need to act upon what president eisenhower was talking about back in 1956 -- >> sixty-one. >> sixty-one. the historian, thank you. >> so now that we have a few more minutes i do want to count all of you seem to be touching on the issues that the united states does not go to war or really find anything to be accomplished, gc if we go to work, keep the economy going or
the defense industry going. if that with things have come to? my describing this properly? am i asking these students to be thinking that this source they get into more important positions, i'm reminded of previous secretary gates who said why is it that we have more musicians in the army that we have foreign service officers in the diplomatic corps? defense secretary. go ahead. who would like to take that one? >> one of the reasons it's so difficult to come to grips with is penchant for war is there's a friday factors. it's not like there's one single cause and we can address that and the problem will be solved. but i think that one of the contributing causes is american history. american history as we choose to
remember american history, the pieces of american history we choose to either forget or place on the margins. i was born in 1947. 1947. both my parents were world war ii veterans, and lately i've come to reflect on the continuing centrality of world war ii as an event that continues to define our sense of who we are and the role we are to play in will. even our memory of world war ii is radically distorted. i mean, if you had to pick one country, you would say that's the country that defeated the nazis, who would that be? soviet union, right? this alliance we made with the mass murder, joseph stalin, was
crucial to bring about the victory against the germans. that's not how we remember it. we remember it, my parents remembered it, remembered the war as the absolute vindication of this country. this was when we demonstrated our capacity to liberate. and in the wake of 1945 we demonstrated our capacity we came to believe to democratize. our recollection of the postwar occupation of germany and japan is that we brought democracy to them. we don't credit them with have anything to do with that, even though it was actually their choice and their leaders who had so much to do with that. my point would be that here in the 21st century with all that has happened since world war ii,
certainly the man, the larger experience of the cold war with all the miscalculations and moral compromises, certainly the post-9/11 wars, we ought to arrive at a, historical narrative. it doesn't abandon world war ii. doesn't dismiss it as a non-event, but now places world war ii in a much broader context. and, quite frankly, a more complicated context. complicated both in terms of u.s. interests, u.s. actions, and the moral consequences that have stemmed from them. so we need to rethink our history. >> right here. go ahead. >> my name is isabel. i'm a sophomore, class of 2020. my question, , so we touched on the argument that the u.s. needs to fix what we broke in iraq, and that implies that we still of work to do that we still have to help iraq rebuild.
we've also touched on the fact that our other conflicts that are more pressing. and the question is come with all of these growing issues that some of your sayings are taking precedence over this conflict, what still needs to be done from us and what should we expect iraq to be held responsible for as we face these new threats to our nation? >> anyone? >> iraq is in a different place at the moment. it is heading towards elections may the 12th. it's a fundamental crossroads. it's the defining moment again for the country, similar to what happened in 2010. and there is still a threat from
terrorism. isis has been defeated but there are some aspects of isis around, but the bigger challenge is from the governance of the country itself. there's some corruption. it's one of the top five corrupt countries in the world. it's the most poisonous politics. so these are the issues that iraq is grappling with. that's a really difficult thing for outside countries to try and help. we have spent billions in iraq. in afghanistan we spent more than a marshall plan for europe. we're not talking understanding. we've spent billions in these countries, and why is this a little to see from it? partly because the way in which we spend money. there's a whole problem with how we contract. lots of problems. so a good question is why would you keep throwing money at stuff? what can we help iraqis with? there still some training that
is useful for their military forces. that training can be provided by u.s. forces, small contingent of advisors, or through nato. that's in discussion. there's also a useful role for american companies to invest, get the private sector going. that is really critical. it's going to come from businesses investing. i ran invest a lot. turkish companies invest a lot. you want the private sector to go that way. we are not in the business anymore of occupying that country or controlling anything. but there are useful things we can do to show that we are still helping, that we are useful. that helps balance i ran because iraq is a battlefield between iranians on the one in and the sounders on the other. they instrumentalize religion to try to fight each other.
so the u.s. just by training military, by eating companies to invest can help iraq move forward. iraqis fate is in iraqis hands. >> one of the speed is just a quick comment. >> i i want to touch on the economic issue. >> may i then, abdou? >> sure. >> just tell a moderator to give us some space here. >> moderator will give you some space for i will give you personal example because this is something i saw. in 2007, actually no, it was earlier than that. my partners, my business partners who at the time were not my business partners had a project to do a water treatment plant in sadr city, okay? this was a project that was u.s.
funded and that project was given, if i recall the numbers quickly, i may be off by a couple numbers but it's not significant, but if i remember correctly it was given to a u.s. company for something like $80 million. and that u.s. company contracted it to another u.s. company for something like 67 million. and that company contracted it to a kuwaiti company for about 48 million. and it contracted it to my business partners firm for 18 million. my business partner, the best material in, and it only cost 13 million. okay? so we went from $13 million all the way up to 80 to 80 somethi, which is what was billed to the u.s. treasury. this is a problem that we really need to dig out and face. part of what the response to it at the time was to look at some of this, the inspector general
for iraq reconstruction. that's a lesson that we need to learn. the other, i want to add if you ask any iraq you today what did the british leave for iraq? as bad as the british experience was with the iraqis, you know, but they will still recall fondly that the british left the railroads. asking iraqi and he will tell you the british left the railroads and iraq, they had this good feeling that this is something that is still being used today. ask any iraqi what did we as americans leave and iraq and you will not find an answer. that's a problem. >> mr. bacevich, the space is yours. >> so are the biggest focus on iraq so it's not surprising, the question comes up what should we be doing for iraq? but let me complicate the question a little bit.
because iraq is not the only country on the planet where we may have some unpaid debts. how do we establish priorities? in that regard, if the american people were willing to equip that responsibility, should iraq become in front of afghanistan? a catchy we destabilized back in the 1980s the or abandoned after the soviets withdrew? should afghanistan come before the central american republics which during the first half of the 20th century were effectively american protectorates where we threw in with corrupt dictators whose presence we felt served our interests? what did you read in the papers today about honduras or guatemala, or el salvador? do we have some responsibility
for that? how about the people of vietnam? if you read the papers you know in vietnam there still people regularly the injured as a result of unexploded ordnance, bombs that we drop that didn't explode that covered large parts of the country. what is our debt to the vietnamese? what is our debt to the native americans? may be that debt should come first. they were here first. we took their country. so i am not trying to suggest that we should not discuss seriously what our debt to the iraqi people may be, but i would argue strongly that that is a discussion that needs to be broadened. because they are not the only ones who have claims. >> thank you. right there. >> this is a question primarily directed to mr. bacevich. earlier on you spoke of the concept of american exceptionalism and how it is
gotten us into the situation we're in today, like iraq. what steps can be taken to challenge of this so we don't end up in future situations similar to where we are today? >> i think the first step that you should take, you young people, is to read the following book, it's called the irony of american history, published in 1952 by reinhold the board, theologian, public intellectual. most important book ever written about u.s. foreign policy. because it probes these internal ideological quads i religious origins of u.s. policy, and warns against them. so that's my answer. read reinhold need more and think about him. >> here. >> good afternoon.
lassa 2020. recent watched a documentary from 2007 called no end in sight which type of early days of the iraqi occupation. in it they talk about how while america was there and while there was no police or government official force in place, americans and the american government and military decided to guard areas like oil facilities and oil refineries instead of places like government buildings and national museums that help artifacts dating back to the early days of human civilization. in the early days of the occupation looting took place in many of these priceless artifacts were destroyed or stolen. this looks back at the idea of culture in the idea the iraqis looked at america is not there to maintain law and order but to maintain the oilfields. what was the impact of culture in the abandonment of culture for america in iraq and how can we fix this problem going
forward, if it ever present itself again? >> when we first arrived in baghdad, when i was doing the nightly news conferences that was the question that kept coming up. but i will tell you after having met the curator of the museum in anticipation of us coming, most of the artifacts were removed from the museum before we got there. speaking to the late others like 32 or 37 that were destroyed or stolen that were truly irreplaceable. the ones that were left behind were counterfeits. without them all all over the country afterwards. he had been marked. never counterfeit art that they take it out of the markets and the left them in the vaults. that's what actually was stolen. for us, when you get there and you have so many troops and then you have so many buildings and other infrastructure that has to
be secured, he got to secure what is the most likely to be damaged. we tried to secure the water sites and some of the police and fire areas that had the vehicles, but there just wasn't enough troops to go around. and i get beat up one night. on the news the sp, they said what reading about the weapons in the city? what he doing? i said, well, there's 7 million ak-47s in baghdad and there's 5.5 billion people, so if an asset every man, woman and child has one. what you want me to do? the guy said where did you get that information? i said i read in one of your newspapers this morning. he said we are not credible sources. [laughing] i said can i quote you on that? but afterwards when i walked out, one of the newscast me up and said what reading about the zoo? i said i going to go open the cages. two weeks ago back and forget what to do about the zoo. with 97 hospital upper-income no
blood or oxygen. people are dying and you are worried about the animals. so that night they came back and said polish officials say there's no blood or oxygen in the city. people are dying. we had a flood coming influx of blood coming into the country. so much so that it was sporting a new one way because we couldn't get it all. my boss appreciated the diversion but he asked me to talk it over with them in the future. but there was a plan, i was in touch with the curators of the museums and actually did confiscate some very valuable artifacts that dated back like 3200 bc were returned to them. so wasn't as many as was reported in the news. >> i'm going to disagree with you. we destroyed the place, we really did. from someone who had to work
from a very small office shared by ten people because the ministry that i was responsible for was burned to the ground, a ministry that had 168,000 iraq employees across iraq, across 63 entities, but what i would postulate, alan, is that it wasn't, there wasn't so much taken, why didn't we have handover of the u.s. government of all the artifacts that were taken, given to the iraqi ambassador a few years back? >> they were taken, don't get me wrong, but the curator had taken the majority of the most valuable ones away. we recovered though some him about three months after the invasion. >> but the other part of this is, if you go to the historic sites in babylon, unfortunately,
because of the lack of cultural training and having this wider view, our own troops were actually destroying some of iraq's historic sites, without realizing it. we had tanks rolling over places that were immensely valuable from a historic standpoint. and you know, isis did what they did in the north to finish it off, if you will come in destroying the mosque. but i think what it tells us is that we really need to have a better understanding of where we are going before we go there. and i want to just take a minute here because i think we are also being very harsh, and i understand that, that maybe the perception, and it's not to be harsh. it's so that we learn lessons,
right? as i said in one of the earlier comments, you all as cadets going into a military, you should be, as a military, only a certain part of the overall strategy of a nation in dealing with external issues. the challenge for you all as you matriculate into your different positions is to always ask yourselves, are my perceptions correct? or, am i just simply going along and not asking the right questions? >> so we've been listening to this really terrific discussion -- don't go away, , leisure finh with your question, okay. but what i want is a show of hands. how many people now after sitting an hour and half year believe the decision to go into iraq was the right one?
let's have a show of hands. seven? not very many. >> well, i think that's an unfair question, okay? >> ask the right question. >> why would you say right or wrong? if the question is for someone who's family suffered under saddam hussein, i would tell you that absolutely yes. but then the other part of that is, did we do it right? and i think that's where, again, it might be a challenge for use audience, but then i look at it from both of my identities, as an american and a someone who originally is from iraq. >> so then my question would be,
would we want saddam hussein back again? with the country be more stable? with the country be out of war? what do you think? what about the other three panelists? would saddam hussein be better for iraq today than what exists? a failed state, radicals running around, people getting killed. go ahead. i love to hear an answer. all three of you. >> i think you have to understand the rationale for the reason for going into iraq. the rationale for invading iraq was the premise that saddam had weapons of mass destruction. and in the panic state after 9/11 there was concern those weapons of mass distraction with fall into the hands of terrorists. that was the premise. now, you could ask how did we get to that premise. and when you look at the cia's own report on this which they made public years later was they
criticize themselves for lack of imagination. because saddam behaved in the manner that look like it weapons of mass destruction, everybody thought that maybe he did have weapons of mass destruction. but it was a deception strategy. he didn't want to get attack by israel or iran. but he assumed that the u.s. with all the income available knew that he didn't have weapons of mass distraction. so that was going on. but the reason for invading iraq, it wasn't a humanitarian intervention. it was because we care for the oppressed iraqi people. saddam had mass murder to speed for a long time. supported him to the iran iranq war when he used chemical gas against the iranians. no comment was made because he was our bad guy at the time. we had president bush senior call for iraqis to rise up after 1990 intervention in kuwait.
he called for iraqis to rise up and overthrow saddam. and they rose up, and saddam massacred 100,000 or so in the south, and the u.s. did nothing. so we didn't go there as a humanitarian intervention. that was not the reason. and so you can't say would we be better off with saddam or not. you have to have a reason to go to war. there is international law. >> so the question is what would've happened had we not invaded and saddam would of stayed in power. of course, the only answer is, who the hell knows? but posing the question seems to resume that saddam hussein, or
perhaps his sons would today, 2018, still be in power. that is certainly a possible outcome, but let us note that it is an outcome that in the sense denies any agency on the part of the iraqis people. assumes that no internal process could have occurred that would have overthrown the dictator. and that could have been the case, but on the other hand, we have seen in the not so distant past where people have risen up and overthrown the evil dictator. and i don't see any reason why we would necessarily assume that couldn't have happened in iraq had we not intervened.
>> i don't know what i can add to it. i do say in my book that i think going into iraq was the right thing to do, based on the information and the reasons we went. that would amend the question i ask him to think going there was the right thing? the question i would ask is you know why we went lex i talk about in the book, i was very fortunate, i caught people off the deck of cards, that infamous deck of cards the with the topmost wanted people. the chairman of atomic energy surrender to me. the ministry of international affairs research and development scientist surrender to me. i got to hear all these stories. emma is exactly right. what they told was the night that we went into iraq, the night we crossed the berm, chemical ali went to saddam and said uncle, what do i have? the infidels are typically said, get out of my office. he said no, although not this time. what do i have used for the
infidels that are here? where are the weapons? saddam dropped his head and said i don't have anything. he said i only told these stories because i didn't want iran and israel to attack us. he said we have nothing. so what he proved was he was a world-class topic interest, and we single sourced most of the intelligence that we had in that single source which i got to track down a lot of the stuff that is claimed even about the downed pilot speicher was not true. and he was getting paid for that information that wasn't validated and sourced. saddam needed to go. did we need to do it? that's debatable. but he was a terrible dictator and he killed a lot of people. i got to witness with my own eyes the horrors what he did in some of the torture chambers, and so i say yes, but we need to know why we went.
>> can i post a question for emma, please? with regard to question of -- with regard to weapons of mass to structure the famous meeting what was called the war cabinet when the chief, , was it the chf of mi-6? speaking with tony blair and other members of the cabinet stated that the intelligence is being fixed around the case. this is prior to the invasion. in other words, the seniormost members of the british government, not speaking to the press but behind closed doors, stated that they knew that the argument being presented by u.s. officials about weapons of mass distraction was not true. i just wanted to get an evaluation of the episode and its significance.
>> so the correspondent you are referring to said that the u.s. was cherry picking the information. there's that whole buildup to the war and that was context where that correspondence was taking place. because some will argue that there were efforts to try and prevent an intervention taking place by giving the weapons inspectors more time to prove that there were not weapons of mass destruction. but on the whole when you look at the intelligence community in the u.s. and in the uk, the overall assessment was that saddam had weapons of mass destruction. when you came to the argument that saddam was in cahoots with al-qaeda, which was also being put forward by a particular american senior american
official, that was dismissed by most of the intelligence community. they said that is nonsense. that is being politically driven. but what happened on the wmd side is a real lesson in confirmation bias. when the guy at the top says show me the evidence, then everybody down the line is looking for the evidence to pass up. and all the information that showed that the wasn't any didn't get past. so you guys would you think in the future when you have to send your commanders critical information requirements, be wary of confirmation bias. so don't just ask what you think, ask also what you don't think. so you can then ss was there evidence or not? but i think with this wmd it was confirmation bias, and even within the british system, even though the guy said they were cherry picking, then there is no doubt. when you look at colin powell's
testimony when he talks about that come he says he wished he had caviar to do what he said much more. instead to speak with such certainty -- and alan was referring to curveball, this great source, great source, he was like a fantasist and he was paid for by the germans are paid for by the rains. but he was paying, and interviewed him a couple of years ago and they said why the july? he said because -- why did you lie? he said i hated saddam hussein and i would do it again or anything to remove saddam hussein from power pics everybody was being played along, and there was a failures in leadership, failures in intel and failures in imagination.
i need to whine this out. lest we forget we had a great ceremony last night. the university students killed in the iraq war. any program, first page inside is a poem word from one of the most famous poems that is often right at military funerals. and i'm going to read it. if you like it, you can join me. they shall not grow old as the left grows old. age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn them in the morning, we will remember them. so i want to thank our panelists, are wonderful panelists for coming here today
his 45 minute event was part of the roosevelt reading festival. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon and welcome, everyone. my name is paul sparrow. the director here at the franklin roosevelt presidential library museum. welcome to the 15th annual roosevelt reading festival. it's been a great day so far. [applause] i wanted thank you all for coming. how many of your members, raise your hand. ok
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