Sunday, September 26


Gen. John Abizaid on Press the Meat:

Tim: Respond to Hagel's "things are getting worse" comment.

Abizaid: We are in fact moving in the direction that will allow Iraq to emerge as a democratic and representational state. Our military activities there have moved it ahead, it's a tough fight, we shouldn't lose heart, difficult times. Think where we started and where we are.

Tim: Americans need a reality check this morning. They read "now 70 attacks per day" up from 40 before the turnover of sovereignty. Yet Allawi said the only place not safe is downtown Fallujah.

Abizaid: The reality check I get is from my commanders in the field, they're confident about our mission, we're under no illusions about "the entire country is stable" or "entire country is dangerous." We have moved very fast in building Iraqi security institutions that will be able to work with us to provide a stable environment for January elections. We'll be in good shape in time for elections. It is possible to have elections.

Tim: Classified CIA national intelligence estimate an accurate estimate of the situation in Iraq?

Abizaid: No, overly pessimistic. What people lack in the US is a face to face opportunity to deal with Iraqis. We should have faith in Iraqis and our own ability to help them achieve what they need to achieve. Iraq WILL emerge as an independent nation that will set the standard of good government in the Middle East.

Tim: How many foreign fighters in Iraq?

Abizaid: Probably below a thousand. Kind of difficult to know because some came to fight for Saddam at beginning of war. We sometimes have a tendency to look at Iraq and Afghanistan through a soda straw. While foreign fighters in Iraq are definitely a problem I still think the primary problem is deadenders from the former regime.

Tim: Why are the borders so porous?

Abizaid: Same thing as U.S. border with Mexico. Hard thing to do, to hermetically seal a long border. The key is not to secure every inch of it, key is to have better Iraqi border forces. Over time, and all of this is a matter of time, Iraqis and their neighbors will secure borders.

Tim: Turkish captive's comments. "Everybody around Mosul was helping." Can you win a war where the populace is aiding the insurgency?

Abizaid: If everybody in Iraq was part of the resistance, Allawi would not be pushing elections and people wouldn't be volunteering to fight in the Iraqi army. Drumbeat in Washington of pessimism doesn't square with the facts on the ground. We'll figure out how to defeat the resistance. The enemy wants to break our will and knows how to manipulate the media but they haven't won a single battle yet. The way is clear. Iraqis will take the lead in this entire endeavor and be victorious with our help.

Tim: Do Kerry's comments embolden the enemy and send the wrong message to the troops?

Abizaid: Debate in our country is what our country is all about. Debate is certainly a good thing for the region and for our people back home. I remain confident in our troops and the Iraqis and the rest of the Middle East. Is this fight in the Middle East worth fighting? Absolutely. We believe that by fighting out here offensively, by helping these people here, we've kept the U.S. free of an attack. Won't achieve perfect elections in Iraq, but they'll happen in most parts of the country.

By January most of the country will be under Iraqi security forces. American people need to brace themselves for a long war in the Middle East and central Asia. This is a war between extremists and moderates. Political and diplomatic power need to come together with military power to defeat this ideological movement. People in the region don't like it, don't want it to be successful, they need our help and that's what we have to do.

The most startling comment was Abizaid's cautionary, "The American people need to brace themselves for a long war in the Middle East and Central Asia because a battle is being waged out here between extremists and moderates."

Excuse me? Just how many countries is he suggesting we'll be invading in this long war in "Central Asia" -- is he suggesting that the U.S.A. will be fighting a military war against Islamofascists until they're all wiped out and the "moderates" win? Brace yourselves, folks. If GWB wins this election, it's going to be a long, bloody, protracted four years.


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