tv Charlie Rose PBS March 25, 2013 12:00pm-1:00pm PDT
into lebanon, and we're justan watching. and i think we're just watching because of iraq.e we look at syria, and we see iraq. >> there is a quotation from ambassador crocker one of our wisest diplomats who said in the end what we leave and what we leave behind will be much more important than how we came. we've been arguing about how we came, but it's really what we leave behind. that is the true test of thishi war. >> rose: the events and lessons of iraq when we continue.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: 10 years ago this week, the united states sent troops into iraq to remove saddam hussein as part of the r global war on terror, it wast side. it was the start of one of the longest and most controversial conflicts in american history. it lasted almost nine years. the iraqi y death toll stands at over 100,000. on the tenth anniversary of the war, many are reflecting on why it hammond, how it ended, and what it means for american foreign policy.me
joining me is michael gordon.jo he is chief military correspondent for the "new york times." his new book is called "end game: theis inside story of the struggle for iraq." i am pleased to have him here back at this table. welcome. good to see you. >> glad to be here. >> rose: this is, many are say, the detailed history from t the military point of view of the iraqi war. is that a fair assessment? >> well, it-- i started out to do, that but actually, i did a little more than that in this sense-- i had a coauthor, general trainer -- a >> who you worked with before. >> i started out to do a book on the surge which i had covered before the surge, during the surge, and after the surge, onng the ground in iraq, and i concluded you couldn't really evaluate the surge until youal knew what was policy was before the surge and you couldn't evaluate whether the surge worked or didn't until you found out what happened afterwards. it became kind of a political military. and one thing i did try to do which a lot of american authors
haven't done, frankly, is iha spent a lot of time talking to the iraqis, prime minister maliki, the head of the kurdishi reerkz the sunnis, insurgents, and trying to weave their perspective into it, because everybody forgets about them.ca >> rose: let's talk about the war in terms of how we divide if into sections.i first there is the lead-up. then there's the invasion. then there's the immediate aftermath of the invasion. then there's part a huge sectarian conflict between sunni and shi'a and al qaeda. then there is the sirnlg, and then there is the end of the war, and then the ramifications from the war. fair? >> fair. >> rose: leading up to the war. why did we go?ai >> well, the principal reason, i believe, is that the bushev administration really did believe that saddam was pursuing weapons of mass destruction. so did the c.i.a. and their view is that the
sanctions that had been hemming him in were beginning to fray.ee and you know there's been a lot of journalism saying the intelligence was concocted. it was actually worse than that. it was not concocted. >> rose: it was just wrong. >> it was just wrong, and it waw not only wrong during the bush administration, it was wrong during the clinton administration. if you look at theti intele the very end of president bill clt's administration, they were talking also about saddam building up his w.m.d.s. >> rose: what was the error ofwa intelligence? why did they believe that? >> it was a tbawrl off imagination-- it was a failure of imagination. i was writing about the intelligence at the time and i myself thought some of it might have been valid when i was writing about it. really what happened is saddam cooperated with a letter of the united nations demands. he let inspectors go here and there, but he never cooperated with the spirit of it. and he was trying to maintain ambiguity over what he actually had. because he was concerned, first
and foremost biran, which doesan have w.m.d., and he was trying to repress his own population. he had used poison gas against the kurds. he didn't want internal factions to know he didn't have it. he maintained a big of ambiguity about it. and even hans blinx wrote he thought he must be having something. the failure of imagination, the, cia and policy makers never asked themselves this question. gee, he's not fully cooperating. maybe he doesn't have it, but maybe he wants to us think he just might. that question was never posein the u.s. government or the cia, despite very smart people theyci have there. >> rose: then they launched thele invasion, and was immediately successful.an saddam went into hiding.dd what happened in the days after that, that made, for most of us looking at it, and for most analysts-- and you included -- serious mistakes?ys >> well, i was there for that part-- this enterprise as an
embedded correspondent, both in the command and on the ground.on and the expectation was-- theth americans essentially fought last war. they fought the 2003 war as if it was an extension of the 1991x war. they thought you defeat the republican guard pup go to-- you defeat kind of the conventionali forces. and then war is done, and we're finish people say there wasn't a plan. there was a plan. it was to hand over as quicklyan as possible to the iraqis themselves to take out driver, put in some new drivers into the vehicle, and let it go down the road. >> rose: that was rumsfeld's theory. >> it was also condi rice's. the institution would hold, we put new people in at the top. put we get to baghdad and
there's bedlam and it's chaotic and there's looting and there'so no order in the street, no military order, not civil order, and the institution rbt holding. >> rose: so the republican army had been disbanded, the ba'ath party had been disbanded. >> this was in before that. clearly this notion that it was going to be a turnkey operations we'll hand over to them. don rumsfeld, doug feif-- his deputy-- all believed it, turned out to be utterly infeesable. then president bush brought in jerry bremmer and the pendulum swung from one extreme to the other. it went from we're going tofr hd this over to them, get our troops down to 20,000 or 30,000d within a matter of months. i was in baghdad when tommy franks went to brief his own commanders on that. b i was outside the meeting roomrs in this big marble palace. it went from that to we're bringing in a viceroy. we're going to occupy the country. we're going to build it from the ground up. we're going to take apart their army, billed a whole new army. >> rose: and was in the change made by the president and
everybody in washington. >> well, it was-- i b would says it's a change the president presided over, but i'm not sure he himself fully understood just how much the pendulum had swung. so what happened is we went from we're going to hand it over want to iraqist tow we're going to be the overseers. and then the white house itself became nervous about this, andvo it swaing back toward the middle, and began to wrest backn more control and talked about putting iraq on a path toaq sovereignty. >> rose: and then iton evolved into the conflict between siewny and shi'as.ee >> there were some mistakes i believe made early on-- you mentioned some another the extensive deba'athification, disestablishing the army. the army had gone to ground and awol but the u.s. military wanted to recall it and they were having some success recall will it. >> rose: as i read, they said we'll help you. we want to be back on your side. >> the ci-- >> had a meeting in baghdad,
general mckernan, and they met with generals.nd they had a plan to bring them back. but this was in the phase when we were the occupiers. jerry bremer, we were going to build a new army, and they didn't want to do that. by dissolving the army and doing extensive deba'athification, they fed a lot of sunni resentment that would have been there anyway. >> rose:me and that didn't-- sort of rolled into the kind of conflict that made the war at its worse. >> and they also did another thing. for this book i uncovered as classified memo, which is actually in the e-book apendix, and there were people who said,x "wait a second, guys. why don't we try working with g the sunni tribes. there are people in the sunni tribes who want to work with us. of."or and they were putting up on ther feelers. and general burgess --el >> he wrote a memo to that effect. >> he wrote a memo on october 3
2003 to bremer's occupation authority in the military saying let's try working with the tribes, and there were people -- >> these were sunni tribes.>> >> sunni tribes in fallujah, an boor province, and there was awa colonel, carol stewart, who met with some of these tribes, developed a whole plan. we're going to bay pay$3 million. they were going to help secure the borders-- which was a big problem -- and the whole thing got knicksed because the people who worked around jerry bremer thought it wasn't consistent with their vision of a new iraq. it took three more years before the an barp awakening materialized. >> rose: characterize jerry bremmary contribution to alliz this. >> well, the man workedor tirelessly. there's no question about it. and he poured his whole life into the work for a year. but he had a vision of what to do in iraq that requiredat extensive american occupationam
and really more than even the white house bargained for. >> rose: he reported to whom? f >> well, that's a good questionl ( laughs ) >> rose: i know. >> when the whole thing was devised, the occupation was supposed to be under don rumed felled who was a strong-willed individual who didn't play well with others.n' and soon bremer became his own rumsfeld, and he became really a power unto himself and began to make decisions on the ground-- which the white house signed ofe on-- and eventually-- that was part of the problem-- he reported to rumsfeld, he report to the white house. >> rose: there was also chalabi. when did they know he could not deliver what he said he could deliver? >> president bush soured chalab> pretty early on, and i think-- it wasn't just chalabi. there was a whole collection of -- >> buter everybody thought he ws
playing one game, which was for himself. >> that's probably the case. he was very sort of suave individual who i think told a lot of the americans what theyin wanted to hear.ri >> rose: let's go to what happened in terms of the surge and look back over these years. the surge comes. it's recommended. many people are saying-- for george bush-- toay make that decision at that time when most people said it would not work, both inside and outside ofns government was a courageous decision. do you share that? >> it was a courageous decision but it was a belated decision. and what had happened was due to all these mistakes we talkedhe about, first of all, there were sectarian passions in iraq that became unleashed once saddam was gone. and the war between-- the civil war between the sunnis and the shi'a were really soaring out of control. i was in iraq fair lot of that period, and it was a horribled period-- bodies in the street. people would drill holes in
their head-- all of that. and it was really spinning out of control. and the americans had a strategy which actually made the problemc worse. the initial military strategy under general casey was to hand over to the iraqis as quickly as possible to shrinkas our footprt as quickly as possible, but theu problem was many of the iraqihe forces we were handing over to were infected by shi'a militias. so we were actually happening over, like the national police and the health ministry, and the interior ministry, to institutions that were exacerbating the problem and committing many of thean atrocities. finally-- and in-- this wasy- recognized. there was a study in 2005, a red team report, which i know in this book, that was done for the command out there. and they said, wait a second. this is not going to work. but that study was ignored. finally, at the last possibleno moment, just as about iraq is, about to go off the cliff, the bush administration comes to terms with the problem. and it was courageous in this sense-- the joint chiefs of staff were not in favor of itwe
initially. general casey wasn resisting it. he was the commander at the time. john abazaid, the central command, which oversaw the middle east, was also not for it. secretary of state condi rice was very strongly opposed to it and i accessed a transcript of the meeting at the white house where she voiced her view. she simply thought the opportunity to change things through military force was gone. all of her deputies thought. o >> rose: but it also should beug pointed out, as you will do, the notion that it was the combination of the surge and the arab awakening.at the sunnis were beginning toke turn on al qaeda, and those two things converged.h >> well, bush made a decision, supported basically by his own n.s.c. team, general petraeus, who was in waiting but had not yet been officially picked, andy ray odyearno was the number two command or the ground, and jack keene, who had been former vice chief of staff, who had been
working as interlock tour, going around and ashiewrpg the white house. i don't think when theyar made e decision the white house really anticipated that the surge would have this catalytic effect on the wakening.ic >> rose: it ended up, before the surge happened-- what was was there was an awakening in anbar, partly in response totl surge-like tactics, but it wassu confined to anbar, and what i saw in iraq in 2007 was american troops moved into south of baghdad, where american forces had not been for some time.t the tribal elements in these areas and former insurgents in these areas saw that they could work with the americans the way the anbary tribes worked with them and this regional alliance became a national alliance and eventually spread to baghdad.ll >> rose: so then bush-- there was an election in 2008, and barack obama was elected president.
he come spodz office with what assumptions about iraq, and how did his views on iraq play out? >> well, president obama, as a candidate-- and i interviewed him twice on iraq, single subject, as a candidate-- his view was he campaigned on ae platform of taking all of the american combat brigades out inn 16 months with a date certain. >> rose: okay, then he gets into power, and he withdraws the troops. and then there are negotiations to leave some troops, which yous you believe was a significantwa mistake, that negotiation failed. and so they did not leave five, 000, or 10,000 troops there. 1 what happened? >> well, first off, withha president obama, he really did not fulfill his campaign promisf literally of taking the troops out in 16 months.s he pretted much ended up takingly them out on george bush's schedule, the end of 2011. two, the other thing is what people don't realize is the t obama administration tried to de a lot more than just take troops
out. they tried to re-engineer the government of iraq and create a more inclusive government where prime minister maliki and his rivals shared power. president obama even called out the president of iraq, jamal talabani, and asked him to resign. so one ofla maliki's rivals coud take the post. none of that happened. their strategy bfs a lot more than taking troops out. apropos your point on the troops, the reason that was a big issue is when the american forces left iraq-- and i think they were thinking about keepinh only 3,000 to 5,000 at thaton point when the negotiations didn't succeed-- and they didn't succeed because of errors on both sides, the americans andbe the iraqis, miscalculations on both sides. but it had a real important strategic consequence. iraq's airspace now is ungoverned territory. nobody controls iraqi airspace now. had we kepttr troops we would ht had maybe six or 10 planes.
we don't have any aircraft thers and the iraqis don't have an air force. so what has happened isan weha opened up iraqi airspace as a conduit for iran to fly military supplies to syria, which they're doing on virtually a daily basis now in support of basharof al-assad, which was an inadvertent consequence.an but it stems from the fact that no forces were there to govern iraqi airspace.go second, if we had had even just 1,000 special forces there,st special operations forces to work with the iraqis special operations forces we would have been much more effective against al qaeda in iraq, which is largely defeated during the surge, but not epityler. al qaeda in iraq is now morphed into the anasra front, the primary jihadi organization in syria that is causing us so much heartburn. >> rose: okay, we want to talkch about that when we continue with this segment and some other people who have written about and were reporters there, including john burns, and fouad
ajami, dexter filkins, to talk about the implications also in this book-- and michael will stay with us-- having to do witl how do you measure the iraqi war after 10 years, 4,500 american lives, some 30,000 came home injured, $2 trillion, i think, is the number they put on it, correct? >> you can calculate it aboutn three different ways. >> rose: and 100,000 or more iraqis killed. we'll come back and talk more about that and what it meant fo american foreign policy going forward. we continue our discussion on this tenth anniversary of the iraqi war with the distinguished panel of people who observed and written about the war sinces beginning. from cambridge, glrngd john burns, the london bureau chief of the "new york times." in new york, michael gordon, chiefch military correspondent r the "new york times."
fouad ajami, a senior fellow of the hoomp institution. dexter filkins of the "new yorker" we hope will be joining us shortly. i go back to michael gordon.ly tell me what the judgment of history will be about our participation in the iraqi war. >> i think too much attentionwa has been paid to the decision tc go to war and not enough on the management of the withdrawal from iraq and where we go from here with iraq. because the story of iraq is not over. and we shouldn't just put thisov chapter behind us and say we're done with it. there were opportunities to be engaged with iraq by the u.s. government on the level of common citizens. there's a tbalt for influence in iraq right now, between the iranian, americans, the turkz, the saudis -- >> but we still have influence, you're saying? >> we still have influence. not as much as we used to, the game's not over, and it's in our interest to be to remain engaged in iraq and try to, to the best
we can, shape politics there and make it more congruent with our own foreign policy. >> rose: but i hear you saying were can't tell yet because we't don't know. is that what you're saying? k >> i think the judgment of i history say complicated one. i think that the invasion gavenk the iraqi people an opportunity they would not have had under saddam hussein or under his sons to build a different type of society. i think the invasion camedi at high a cost to the united states and the iraqis themselves because of the planning. i think was surge was ain necessary condition to reboot iraq and create conditions for its political evolution but nott a sufficient condition.vo and i think a lot still depends on what the united states does in iraq.en you know, our secretary of sta state, hillary clinton, went to iraq inst april 2009 and never went back. it was vice president biden's account. i think there has to be more sustained, systemic american involvement, and maybe pressure.
>> rose: meaning president obama gave to the vice president sort of a stewardship over iraq? >> right, and he made the assumption-- i have it in the book from a transcript-- that maliki would want us to say and that we would have some residual presence. i think-- one thing they found y little bit dismay go is everyone looks at iraq-- 4100 americans died, tens of thousandses were wounded and to just wash your hands saying we went theres because we thought there were w.m.d., and there were not i think is the wrong course. >> rose: john burns was thee. iraqi bureau chief during that war and he and i did 1,000 conversations during that time. john, looking back how do we measure our participation and the toll as well as what it might beth and what implication, if we had not gone. >> well, as one of the reporters who stood on the roof of the palestine hotel and watched that
first fiews laid of cruise missiles and bombs on the night of march 19, and saw some of my cloogz whooping and hollering, a sentiment which i could-- i could understand to some extentd because of the ghastliness of saddam's regime.ne and i think there was a sustainable argument that ridding iraq of that brutality, that murderous tyranny, if it could be achieved at an acceptable cost, would have been a good thing.od now, 10 years on, i have to say i see it rather differently. i look at those statistics that you just ran through, the numbers of the killed, iraqis, americans, the very high numbers of wounded, the gigantic cost, which weighs on me and i'm notwe even an american, every time i come to the united states and i think what one trillion or $2 trillion could have done to
alleviate poverty, to improve roads, to improve hospitals in the united states. and the conclusion that i'ved come to very reluctantly, i must say, because there was much about the american effort in iraq that i admired, was that is was mission impossible from the start. and why was that? because people like me who were there before the invasion were transfixed with the tyranny andf had failed to understand, as did those who advocated for the invasion-- which by the way i did not. it was not my job to do so-- had failed to understand that beneath brutality and tyranny there lay a deeply, deeply fractured, dysfunctional society, which was never going to yield to the administration's of an american occupation, however benign. and i listened with care to what michael had to say about theou
increasing sophistication and calibration of the american a military effort, and he-- i, like here, felt at the time of the withdrawal that it was a pity that there wasn't an american residual force there td attempt to maintain some kind op stability, but in the end, i've concluded that we've-- that's to say the west, the united states, the united kingdom-- had challenged history itself, history which has rejected any number of invasions going backf to the persians, macedonia, thes turks, the british, all of which have ended up literally buried beneath the sand of iraq. and i fear greatly that is whati will happen to the americanll invasion and history will probably conclude that the united states, a new world, which has always been first to try and encourage the growth of democracy and human rights and civil society, outside its own
borders now for 200 years, just took on an impossible task in iraq. it just wasn't going to acceptst that. and i would say much more likely than that the american-- tank american influence will be incremental improvements in what is now a pretty dire situation, is that it's very likely to get worse, and lead to civil war, and it's not even clear that the most fundamental issue:00 is who governs in iraq, the majority shi'a, or the minority sunni, it's not even clear that that's, a settled issue, and if isn't a settled issue, and the sunnise prevail in syria and back their brothers across the borders of iraq and anbar, you may very well see a civil war, at least as brutal as we were witnessing in 2007 at the time time of the surge. >> rose: we will come back to manies thof point. >> or beloved late friend
richard holbrooke once asked me. what did i think? what was my sounded bite about this war. i said we will did due course learn whether it was an open success or -- >> noble. >> he object toltd notification of noble failure.ct he said, "failure can be noble." i said i guess you are not a shi'a. we have a whole i history of noe failure there. in many ways, this was a 9/11 war. this was a 9/11 war. the decision was made in the aftermath of 9/11. i never was a weapons of mass destruction person. to be honest with you, never of i never thought there were weapons of mass destruction.re how i knew, this i don't have any idea why i knew it. to me this iraq war, operation iraqi freedom was a war of deterrence against radicalism. we had gone to war against afghanistan. but these were not afghans who struck american on 9/11. they were arabs.
someone drew the short straw. it happened to be saddam hussein. northeastern university, there are two -- >> it wasn't even the arabas world. it was al qaeda. >> yes, but there were-- reeb boys. i studied the biographies. i know the testimonies. there 15 saudis, one egyptian, one lebanese, two from the united arab emirates. i think there were a couple of images that framed war, april 9, 2003. the fall of the statue. >> and hate to again refer to something related to you, we did a program from washington that same very day about the fall ofy the statue of saddam hussein. that was one seminal moment for the arabs. another one was in december, some months later, december 13, i believe, once saddam was flushed out of spider hole and
the arabs could see the fraud of the despot, the bainality, ifau you will, and the cowardice ofnd evil. so i think it was not a very easy war we know.t and i think that my two colleagues have mapped out the problems. but i think there was something michael said which i sympathize with, and you could quote-- there's a quotation i like from ambassador crocker, a one of ouc wisest diplomats, who said in the end, how we leave and what we leave behind will be much more important than how we came. we've been arguing about how web came. but it's really what we leave behind. that is thebu true test of this war. >> rose: i think that's was john was talking about, john burns, what we leave behind, not what we came for.in >> the war has been a terriblehe disappointment in many ways. and you could-- you know, you could-- i suppose we have givenp liberty to the majority of the iraqi population. there's no doubt about that.e' >> rose: so noble in your
judgment, failure, or noble success? >> it's a noble war. i i don't think it's ado catastrophic failure. i don't think it's a brilliant success. i mean, i happen ton, for example, prime minister malikiis watching the lamentable leadership of this man, watching his-- you know, the aptied tighthas grown with the eating. he has become a real dictator.. it's not exactly what those of d white house thought well of the war would have expected fromll this war. but wars have these kind of ends. they have these outcomes that people can't predict.om they can't tell what will happen. >> rose: john, what wouldt. you say to the argument that he made? >> well, yes, i canth see the nobility. we set aside the w.m.d. argument. there was a strong element of nobility, much marked now, of course, by the people who oppose the war from the start and marched in there, thousands-- o was it millions-- through london, washington, new york, and elsewhere to try to prevent
it. there wasto a a nobility. >> and saw that nobility, and so did michael and dexter, in the way americans -- military and civilian-- behaved in iraq, which was not withed standing abu ghraib and the other grim episodes of the american occupation, was in the main-- i'll be marked for saying it by the critics -- a demonstration of just what a noble country thd united states is. but in the end, this was not about america or americans or american intentions. this was about iraq as fouad has said, a society we barely understood, which has its own reasons, its own rationale. iraq had in the american occupation of iraq the best opportunity that any middle eastern arab country has had, perhaps ever, to build a civil society, and it has not done sod
and that is not the fault of the united states. it's a very american thing, of course, to hook for fault. what did we do that didn't accomplish our objectives here? i remember general petraeus on one of his early tours saying-- he said it again and again-- as did general casey, by the way-- look, we don't want you americans to follow your instinct to do everything here.v let the iraqis do it. if they fail, we'll help them.if that ran counter to the instincts of many americane soldiers in iraq. but it was, if you will, emblematic, that plea from the generals, of a much, much deepeu problem. this was not about the united states. it was about iraq, and iraq proved to be resistant ultimately to what america hada to offer. it's a tragedy. >> rose: dexter filkins was one of your boys in iraq.
he has just arrived, now writes for the "new yorker "has been back, and i'm gog quote dexter-- welcome-- i'm gog quote him.- he said, "writing an online piece today in 2013, a decade later, is not fashionable toot suggest the american invasion of iraq served any purpose. it was born of original sin of lies and imagination. how many times have you heard that this week. there were 100,000 dead iraqis, more than 4,000 americans killed, and the bill for $1 trillion. the near universal certainty that america in iraq was bad is as widespread and unbreachable as the notion in 2003 that n saddamto go. what are we to make of iraqis, or torture chambers. where do we place them in our memory. how should they shape ourwh judgment of the war we made.f i say ask the iraqis.ma if anyone in this moment of american navel gazing can bezi
bothered to do so. the answers would be more surprising than the debate we're engaging in at home. welcome, and having said that, what were you trying to communicate to us?yi >> well, i-- yes, of course, it was a disaster. we all know that. but that's become something ofha an orthodoxy. it was only a disaster. and it was nothing else. and to suggest otherwise is heretical. and the truth is that the invasion of iraq and the occupation of iraq was a lot of things. a lot of things went wrong, and a lot of people died needlessly, and there was a lot of waste. but when you into a torture chamber, a durchlon run by saddam's guys, and you see what happened in those places for years and years and years, andes you see the things they did to, people and the lives they destroyed, you get another view.
the invasion of iraq, in addition to all the other things it did, was that it removed a very terrible leader and a very bad man who was responsible for a lot of crimes. and i guess that was just a plea not to forget that. >> rose: what do we make of theos idea that some people have said that it was to position ourselves within the middle east? >> well, i think there were people in the bushhi administration who thought that. i think paul wolf wit would have been a proponent of that, that you could create a democracy ino iraq and have a catalytic effect on the region. but, you know, before we go totally from one extreme to the other, that, you know, nothing-- that history has actually comeng to an end and nothing can change in iraq. you know, in the glass one-quarter full side, they had elections. the u.n. validated the results.
they weren't fraudulent. they were a lot more honest than they were in afghanistan. they have a parliament. the council of representatives. they passed a budget recently. there is political life in iraq. it's--y. it's-- whatever malikis an authoritarian figure but he's nothing like a saddam by anybody's estimation. so i just-- while there are reasons to be concerned in iraq and reasons to worry about the future, i don't think we should paint an entirely dark picture. and i think if you asked iraqis you'd get different perspectives. if you asked the kurds, i think they're glad there was the invasion. they have more autonomy than they've ever had before, having relations with the turks. if you ask the shi'a, they were empowered but there are probably-- despite the fact they're empowered, there are elements that resent the americans. resent the invasion because they were lodged from the top of the pyramid but theyt miss the americans, many of
them, because we're not there in a kind of protective capacity. i think there would be a wholee panoply of opinions in iraq about what happened there and what the state of the country is. >> rose: fouad where is iraq today on issues of the region--n syria, iran, others?on >> well, there is a view that in many ways that iraq is a kind of now-- that iran dominates the life of iraq. i descent from that. there was a view, for example, that of course this being af shi'a country, again, that ira iran-- i spent time in najif. i have been lucky to have seen sis tany. and trying to tell the iraqis what to do is like herding cats. these are a difficult people. the idea that somehow or another
are going to relent to the will of iran. i happen-- not that this meanspe anything-- but just to put it og the table eye happen to have been born in lebanon to a shi'a family and i think when i looked at iraq i had some sympathy for the shi'a and the suffering of the shi'a, under the ba'athist regime. so i think that, yes, there is some influence of iran, in iraq. and that has added to the h sectarianism of iraq in the region. but we bear a responsibility for that. the united states bears some kind of responsibility because had wete wanted to stay, had we left the residual presence in iraq, we might have been able t reign in that kind of tendency in iraq. but now, iraq has cast its fate like-- take, fog, the rebellion, which i think is one of theel great moment moments in arab li.
i think one would have wanted to see the iraq, which had been midwifed by a great liberalen power, we would have wanted to see iraq on the side of the syrian rebellion, against bashar assad. but i think the government of maliki has decided to see it again through the sectarian lens and has been willing to provide a kind of corridor for iran -- >> because of the relationship with iran? >> i think not just that. i think the shi'a political class of dour party-- that's a very special group of people around prime minister maliki because there are many otherer shi'a contenders who have no use for maliki whatsoever, i think the people aroundfo maliki have decided should the sunni majority in syria come to power, that that will actually alter the region of equation. that also plays on the mind of hezbollah and dexter has just been in lebanon and done a piecn
on hezbollah. it's the same logic. >> rose: pick up on that. >> it's moving supply thely beyond iraq. what worries me mostly about iraq right now -- >> there is always something beyond iraq. >> whate worries me about iraq s syria and what is happening inan syria and what is happening, asa far as we can tell, the sunnill rebellion in syria, which is a great thing, is basically restarting the political consciousness among want sunnis in iraq. it's not really restarting the insurgency yet, but you have a lot of cross-pol nizzation going on between the sunnis in iraq and the sunnis in syria. the sectarian sort of feeling, it's being driffen and fueled by the syrian revolt. we just saw the other day r members of the syrian army were freeing some rebels in syria. they crossed into iraq.
they called ahead to their sunni friend in iraq who killed them. and so it's-- the border there is starting to look very, very blurry. and i think the-- you know, the prospect of a sunni shiite war from the iranian border through iraq, through syria, into lebanon, the mediterranean, it's not all that difficult to imagine. >> rose: john? >> well, i agree. you know, i cannot claim to hav, a proper and full understanding of the long history of the middle east when i stood oner tt hotel roof and saw the first cruise missiles as the haringer, we hoped, over a better life for iraqis. but it seemed to me as timebu swore on it became more and more apparent that we needed to look at iraq in the context of history, in the context of the entire region, how that fault line, the sunni-shi'a fault line that has been there for 1,000 years runs right, like an arrow,
across iraq, and we weren't actually dealing so much with a shi'a majority and a sunni minority in iraq, but we were looking at two still deeply hostile community, shi'a to the east, sunni to the west. and the sunni 20% that they are population of iraq, have the backing, of course, of a much of the sunni world. that changes the whole equation. once that backing becomes much more targeted and it may very well do so, may already be becoming so as a result of theo syrian insurgency, so the situation in iraq will be further destabilized. b i'd just like to say one otherst thing, and that is that i think we need to be careful in what we say about maliki. from what i understand of the situation in iraq now, maliki is
bhking increasingly a kind of saddam light. nobody will pretend that he could or would intend to achieve the barbarity of saddam hussein. i agree with my colleagues. h that has to be kept in mind. that barbarity was revolting. was in a lifetime, my lifetime, my career spent in very nastymy places, iraq was a long way the nastiest of those places, saving possibly only north korea, which of course is an opaque society to us. but i think maliki with hisal secret prison, his arrests, his disappearances, his torture, his executions has strayed a long, long way from the kind of civil prime minister we hoped he would be. >> rose: 2014 is another critical milestone for the state of afghanistan. john, would afghanistan have, been different if the united states had not gone to iraq?
>> i think yes, it probably would have been. i remember a very senior defense department official, douglasfi feif, stand, in the garden of the american embassy in afghanistan within-- i dare say three or four months of thef overthrow of the taliban, so we're talk early 2002. >> and asked him what he envisaged being the maximumsa american troop strength required there afghanistan, and he said 5,000. well, we knownd now-- michael cn correct me-- it went up to whatt michael, was it, 130,000 at one point? in any case, it reached, if you will, soaf levels. but much too late.af by the time that the surge in iraq, in afghanistan came, the situation was so bad, that retrieving it was also of always going to be a very, very uphill struggle. so, yes, i think the decision to
invade iraq, which withdrew so much in terms of manpower and resources from afghanistan, did have a very deleterious effect a on the american enterprise inm afghanistan. >> rose: john, i have to saypr good-bye to you because i'm going to lose the satellite and don't want to cut you in midsentence or me. it's wonderful stee you again via satellite and hope to see you in cambridge or london and thank you very much for doing this today. >> it's a pleasure as always.is >> rose: afghanistan first, and then i want to come to thess fiewrpt of american foreign policy and how iraq andcy afghanistan, you know, have raised serious questions about what ought to be our role in the world. >> right. the arab world gave us 9/11. the arab of arab world is the heartland of islam. we don't-- there wasn't much to fight over in afghanistan. afghanistan was a place that a bunch ofis arabs jihaddists and
financiers hijacked and rented out. if you want to engage in the reform of the eastern world, the reform of the-- then hutow come into the heart as many of thew bush people would say the heart of the middle east, the heart oh the arab world. m so i think that that really was the battle. the battlet was not in kabul. the battle was really inat baghdad. >> let's go back to syria. here we have a humanitarian catastrophe. 70,000 dead, you know, which ish probably a low figure at this point. and we are, the united states largely sitting it out. we're largely watching from the sidelines as this happens.si and the longer this war goes on, the bad effects of that war are going to spread into jordan, into iraq, as we've already seen, spoa lebanon, and we're just watching. and i think we're just watching because of iraq. we look at syria, and we see iraq, and we see, look, if president obama looks at thates
and he says i can destroy that government, and then what do irn do? is it iraq all w over again? then i have to build a state. then i'm stuck there for 10 years. then i spend $1 trillion. then i have to put people on the ground. >> rose: and americaop is not without issues that it needs to address as well. >> yes, absolutely.el but i think the shadow of iraq is very much with us. s >> i think the pendulum swung from one extreme to another. president bush had two wars-- not one war, two wars simultaneously, iraq and afghanistan, each one extraordinarily ambitious in its own right. that could be described as ath strategic over-reach. now we have a policy that relieses heavily on armed drones, which can certainly kill this or that person in yemen opener some other part of the middle east, but it can't do anything to bring order to these societies. we could pick off our enemies here and there. so we've gone from being
overextended to being on, i think, raising the question whether we're uninvolved as dexter said. there's clearly a middle ground or a-- there are ways to influence, for example, the syria situation. this is what actually the obama administration is evolving nowe towards a policy they call arming from behind, where they're acquiescing in the arming effort of the saudis and kataris, and soon you'll see the british and friend p french but not doing it ourselves.h we have gone from being heavily engaged to being disengaged. and i think the pendulum has to swing back more towards the center given all the challenges in world today.al >> you can over-learn theou lessons of history. we have over-learned iraq. i mean we really have over-learned iraq. we go back oorm, it was said a while ago that the vietnam syndrome, the vietnam conflict, the vietnam syndrome was buriedi in gulf war one. now we have to bury the iraq
syndrome, i think, both my colleagues are on the mark one this, we can't always think that iraq is waiting for usk everywhere, and i think the lesson now in syria is to find a-- our moral and strategic abdication in syria is completely unacceptable. >> rose: i end this conversation with this question-- what should we do in syria? one by one. >> look, we're late. syria has -- >> what should we do now is the question? >> we have to--ha we have to arm the civilians. we can't say-- we can't say it's either boots on the ground or heads in the sand. and we've made twe can't doan this. we must have options. >> rose: and what kind of weapons do we arm them with? >> obviously, i think michael would know this better than thei rest of us, in the sense thatre you have to-- you have to make sure that the air force of the bashar regime is neutralized. that the heavy armor of the
bashar regime is neutralized. >> rose: what should we do in syria. >> i learned this lesson on youu show, i can do an analysis and not be an advocate. the obama administration is shifting slowly, i cover now the state department, secretary kerry.er and they've gonee from saying, you know, syria is the congo to saying no, we have to, as kerrye says, change assad's calculation. and when-- i was on a trip with him recently.wi we went to saudi arabia, and u.a. e., and he's talking about their efforts to armt rebels in an effort to change assad's calculation, and the reason this so concerns them is the posture of staying uninvolved has left the field to the most radical elements. so we're leaving afghanistan. , one hopes, without an al qaeda presence returning there. we're leaving iraq, really
without al qaeda in iraq being strong. butqa the emergence of a terrort state or a state which has broken into pieces that has aen terrorist component right on the board of border of israel would really be a terribly challenging situation. and so i think the americans are coming to it late, but they're-- they recognize that much of the problem. returning to iraq, the problem is iran, with maliki's concurrence, is arming the assad regime as fast as it can to counter this belated effort by the americans. >> rose: last word, dexter. >> well, i guess i'd phrase the answer in a negative way. i fear if we don't get involved more deeply in syria, then we are going to lose any leverage that we might have when assad falls. and he probably will fall at some point.ll and then what? the guys with the most guns are going to be the guys that get into power.
and is that going to be the bad guys or is it going to be our friends? and so i think that's the danger at this point. that's the choice. >> rose: and is it relevant that people who used to say this about the balkans, if you do not do something, history will judge you badly? >> well i think we learned from iraq that maybe that's not the case. i think-- i think-- you know, if we're talking about lessons i here, that the lesson of iraq may have been how badly an intervention could go iraq taught us one lesson. but i think bosnia taught us another one. that's been a pretty successful intervention. we stopped what was coming clos. to being a genocide there.ng that worked. bosnia worked. if we think about iraq, let'snk think about bosnia, too. >> rose: thank you, great to see you. thank you, john tbhark. cambridge. thank you, michael. michael's book "the end game" it is the inside story of the i struggle for iraq from bush to obama. thank you for joining us.st see you next time.
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