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tv   Meet the Presss Press Pass  NBC  November 2, 2014 11:30am-11:46am EST

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this is pretty -- this is press pass. >> taking a look at how we wage war in the modern age from the point of view of one soldier who studied it in the classroom. lieutenant colonel john nagle fought in both gulf cars. he is out with his own book "knife fight." he joins me now. the review of your book from foreign policy magazine had an interesting way of juxtaposing the issue of vietnam and you do
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it yourself in here is basically the u.s. army specifically and the military community overlearned the lessons of vietnam particularly that is how the first gulf war was fought but then under learned other lessons. how much of the counter insurgency manual basically comes right out of lessons from vietnam? >> an extraordinary amount of it. a whole generation of army officers. david petraeus who did his own doctoral work at princeton on vietnam. my doctoralal work at oxford led to my first book. the generation of army officers was fascinated by how the army had done so badly in vietnam, how the world's greatest power had been defeated in the small war. and so military successful
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political was lost. >> did we really militarially lose it? >> there is a story about a colonel talking about the paris peace negotiations and harry told the colonel you know you never defeated us on the battlefield and the colonel responded that may be true but completely irrelevant to what we are talking about. war is ultimately succeed or failed as whether the nations fail political objectives. we approached the war too much like a conventional war focused on killing the enemy rather than providing security in the villages which is ultimately what would determine where the people held their allegiance. >> the first gulf war was in some ways about overwhelming force. in this case overlearning the lessons of vietnam and it worked.
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>> it worked remarkably well. >> we had a narrow objective. >> on a political level it worked very, very well. one of the most interesting books on the first gulf war was called triumph without victory. ultimately our political objective was to prevent saddam hussein from presenting a threat. we expected the shi'a to overthrow him. they failed to do so in no small part because of the mistakes we made in the peace negotiations. so be accomplished our objectives on the battlefield but weren't able to convert them into political success and into -- i'm a big fan of st. augustine who taught us the point of war is to build a better peace. >> if you look at korea which is sort of the success but if we ended up in vietnam having the same fight. >> i think it could have been.
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having not completely succeeded in the first gulf war, desert storm, continuing a low level war, operation southern watch for the next decade and invaded in 2003 unnecessarily and very badly. iraq split in two, came very, very close to full scale civil war. it was then that david petraeus with the counter insurgency manual i helped write applied really for the first time in 100 years for the u.s. military real counter insurgency strategy on a big scale. >> it is interesting you say first time in 100 years. we used to dood this. >> students look at the campaign in the philippines after the spanish american war 115 years ago as a successful application of fairly modern counter insurgency principles. the marines did similar things
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in the so-called banana wars which we pulled out and had on our desks and used as source documents as we are watching the field manual 70 years later. there is nothing particularly new about what petraeus applied in iraq. it was lessons that we had intentionally stepped away from in the wake of vietnam. >> so the first time counter insurgency becomes sort of the choice, the strategy of choice here in washington, is it really after -- essentially is it fair to say rumsfield was fired because he didn't want to embrace counter insurgency? >> i think he was asked to leave for a number of reasons. he lost support in the military community. he was adamant we weren't facing a counter insurgency campaign in iraq. you can't cure your alcoholism if you don't admit you are an
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alcoholic. it is very different from a conventional war. the simultaneous change of command in iraq from general george casey to general david petraeus really did lead to an extraordinary change on the battlefield on the ground. i went to visit petraeus in iraq in the summer of 2008. and we had torn out all of the guard rails next to the side of the roads because they put improvised explosive devices that killed my soldiers. they were putting the guard rails back in. >> that is the whole idea of build. clear, hold and build. that is the montra. you have to hold it and build a better state and better society
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in the area that is cleared. >> let's take a break. we will be back with more right after this break.
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after filling out their hogan iquestionaire, aight. hogan was awarded an a- from the nra. but now he refuses to release his responses. the nra opposes comprehensive background checks. they want to weaken maryland's gun safety laws. even support letting suspects on the fbi terror watch list buy guns. on gun safety and terror, the nra is wrong. hogan gets an a- from the nra. on protecting maryland, we just can't trust him.
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welcome back to "press pass". we are joined by john nagle. so let's apply counter insurgency is obviously the best way to probably defeat isis. is it not? is there any other way to do
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this? >> so isis is a really interesting organization because it is not fighting right now exclusively as a terror organization. >> semi nation state almost. >> so they are leveeing taxes and refining petroleum products. they have become -- they have achieved the objective that we have been trying to prevent from happening since september 11. >> a safe haven. >> a state. with the resources of a state. these are guys that were so extreme they were thrown out of al qaeda. these are really bad people. this is a bad situation we find ourselves in. we are handicapped to buy an american allergy to large number of boots. >> it is iraq war syndrome. >> so ultimately i think we have the right strategy in iraq to defeat isis which is counter
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insurgency strategy. most of the ground forces, the ground fighting is done by ir i iraqis and kurds and free syrian forces but they will need americans to help them conduct. >> that seems to be our hiccup. >> that is the sticking part. the president so far has been unwilling to allow american forces to embed. that is limiting the effectiveness on the ground and limiting the effectiveness of the air strikes. >> let me take it from the perspective of where the worn out american public is. if the counter insurgency strategy is great as long as you never leave. that is your choice. counter insurgency never leave. and i will never forget the cover that said "iraq, the 51st state." >> let me push back a little bit. the same is true for
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conventional wars. so 75 years after world war ii we have american troops in the tens of thousands. we have american troops in korea. we don't have american troops in vietnam. >> not in combat. >> and ultimately the objective is to get them not in combat. we have the chance to leave american troops in a noncombat role in iraq. and that pull them out seizing defeat. >> for politics not just in this country but also in iraq. this is a case where i think the fairest way to look at it is all politics are local and everybody dug in their domestic political heels here. >> i think we need and should expect our political leaders and the political leaders of our allies and friends around the globe to be able to sacrifice some domestic public opinion in order to accomplish objectives in those states and the united
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states. >> civilian leadership in the military, one of the things you talk about is how to make the army a learning institution again. is the civilian military link -- broken is not the right word but does it need reforming? >> we had an enormously strained military civilian relationship during the middle years of the iraq war. we have remedied an awful lot of that, general martin dempsey, a man who understands absolutely appreciates his role, in my opinion, both to represent the military opinion and he has been pushing the president on boots on the ground a little bit. >> more than people expected. >> more than people expected. >> he is not somebody seemed to be saying -- >> he is a moderate reasonable man. when he says that i think people really listen.
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i think we have come, chuck hagel, an old friend of mine i think we have been lucky toyfzñe with gates, panetta and chuck hagel the right degree of balance of give and take with senior military leadership. i'm not concerned about that. i think there is always some degree of healthy tension. >> retired lieutenant colonel john nagle thanks for coming on "press pass." you can find this and other conversations on our website. we will be back next week. stay tuned for president obama's weekly address right after this. . until boom, it's bedtime! your mattress is a battleground of thwarted desire. enter the sleep number bed. right now, you can save $400 on the c4 mattress set. he's the softy. his sleep number setting is 35. you're the rock, at 60. silent night not so silent?


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