Video: Warner asks Petraeus if the war is making America safer

posted at 6:08 pm on September 11, 2007 by Allahpundit

Not to worry if you don’t have time to watch this now; Petraeus’s answer will be replayed endlessly tonight and tomorrow morning on the news. It’s an unfair question since he’s only trying to execute the mission with which he’s been tasked, but since Bush is relying on him so heavily to persuade Americans of the war’s merits Warner really had no choice.

Warner at least was one of the few people there who wasn’t auditioning.

The Times’s Baghdad bureau hit the streets today to find out what Iraqis thought of Petraeus’s refusal to recommend a drawdown beyond the 30,000 surge troops, which Bush is expected to confirm later this week. The verdict:

About 20 Iraqis of different sects and ethnicities said in interviews that they viewed the report favorably because it — or at least the parts shown on television in Iraq — portrayed the situation accurately and because it signaled that there would be little change in the status quo.

There is a rueful recognition of their vulnerability and that they must allow foreign troops to help keep order for some time to come…

A city worker in Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province, described his ambivalence in strong terms…

“The withdrawal of the occupation forces is a must because they have caused the destruction of Iraq, they committed massacres against the innocents, they have double-crossed the Iraqis with dreams,” said Ahmad Umar al-Esawi, a Sunni worker. “I want them to withdraw all their troops in one day.”

But, he added, dropping his voice: “There is something that I want to say although I hate to say it. The Americans forces, which are an ugly occupation force, have become something important to us, the Sunnis. We are a minority and we do not having a force to face the militias. If the Americans leave, it will mean a total elimination of the Sunnis in Iraq.

“I know I said I want them to leave, but if we think about it, then I have to say I want them to stay for a while until we end all the suspicions we have of each other and have a strong national government.”

I don’t know how to square that with the ABC poll from a few days ago showing 47% support (a plurality) for immediate withdrawal.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops in Baghdad tell CNN that they want U.S. politicians to embed with them to see what conditions are really like: “‘If you don’t come out here, then you really have no clue,’ says [Sgt. Antonio] Gonzales, a member of Task Force Justice, which is operating in northern Baghdad. ‘They don’t understand what it is [like] driving down the road and to wonder if you are going to get blown up or not.’”

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Damning.

Nonfactor on September 11, 2007 at 6:13 PM

I was just thinking – it is quiet, too quiet.

Al-Queda had abandoned camps. Then there was increased “chatter”. Signs of an operation? Some major bombings in Iraq soon after.

New Osama tape. Trimmed and dyed beard, and another call to convert. A message that does not mention Europe at all. Meanwhile a major 50 member cell thwarted in Germany. Hmm.

I maintain that these guys are punks. Today will pass without incident. I am wary of a major European strike.

Agrippa2k on September 11, 2007 at 6:18 PM

He also gave a couple of points to Sen. Amnesty Graham (I think) about why the mission was in our national security interest. Of course, that won’t be played. Oh well.

BTW-Now that he has given an answer that can be spun into a soundbite the left will like love, does that mean he’s not Gen. Betray US anymore but rather a brave truth teller?

Drew on September 11, 2007 at 6:20 PM

Let me check the tape and see if I can find the exchange with Graham.

Allahpundit on September 11, 2007 at 6:22 PM

Also Thune….he expands on his Warner answer.

Limerick on September 11, 2007 at 6:26 PM

I don’t know why this is so complicated.

For more than a decade, Al-Queda trained TENS of THOUSANDS of jihadi degenerates. On September 12 Al-Queda was more than just two stinky guys in a cave. Emboldened after the 911 attacks – THEY WERE COMING.

So do we chase them all over the world? No. We either find them and corner them (all of them), or you lure them to a killing field (all of them). Sorry Iraq, you are it.

Now TENS of THOUSANDS of hard core jihadi degenerates and wannabe retards are dead. USA Akbar.

“If you don’t make the right decision – make your decision right.”

Agrippa2k on September 11, 2007 at 6:34 PM

Bush to speak Thursday night

President Bush will address the nation about Iraq from the White House at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, the White House says.

Bush will give his response to the recommendations this week by Gen. David H. Petraeus about the speech with which to begin drawing down troops in Iraq.

Bush has indicated he will be deliberate about redeployment.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said at his televised briefing today: “It seems to me if you’ve got something that is succeeding, you want more of it.”

http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0907/Bush_to_speak_Thursday_night.html

bnelson44 on September 11, 2007 at 6:36 PM

Damning non factor.

Nonfactor on September 11, 2007 at 6:13 PM

Just Kidding. The response to the interview tells a different story. Or is the NYT not a reliable source? (ahem)

sonnyspats1 on September 11, 2007 at 6:41 PM

He answered the question. Warner was asking a political question, and petreaus gave him the right answer. he doesn’t know…simple.

Chudi on September 11, 2007 at 6:49 PM

Anybody else notice that there haven’t been any big attacks in Iraq while Petraeus has been in the US? Strikes me they would want to give the fools on the hill some amunition, “why General just today 10 billion people were killed in Iraq…”

Now, they had a big attack up north a week or two ago but they used to be able to knock off 100 people at a shot almost at will.

They may not be that sophisticated or perhaps their ability has been degraded.

Sometimes it’s the dog that doesn’t bark.

Drew on September 11, 2007 at 6:51 PM

Um, what’s so damning about this? Because he said, “I don’t know”?

Goodness – the man has a job to do and that’s what he said. That’s damning?

Ignorant asses everyone.

Editor on September 11, 2007 at 6:53 PM

He later expanded his answer to ‘yes’. I believe it was during questioning by Thune.

Limerick on September 11, 2007 at 7:05 PM

There’s definitely something in the Graham Q and A. I just went over to Kos to see how they were playing it (predictably stupid) and they have a bite from Evan Bayh where he references the General’s answer to Graham.

Drew on September 11, 2007 at 7:06 PM

So do we chase them all over the world? No. We either find them and corner them (all of them), or you lure them to a killing field (all of them). Sorry Iraq, you are it.

Agrippa2k on September 11, 2007 at 6:34 PM

Good point. The fact that Iraq is a “Killing Field” is a sad cold fact. Iraq is a magnet for terrorists from all over the world. Iraq draws them in and we mow them down. If we were not there then they would be here.Which is one unspoken reason why we must not leave Iraq until there is victory. Personally I think the reason we have not suffered another terrorist attack since 911 is because Iraq consumes their resources.

Guardian on September 11, 2007 at 7:18 PM

Not so much “Damning” Nonfactor …That question, from a military standpoint is considered to be above a General’s pay grade.

Same question, different scenario would involve the HOTEL-IMBEDDed reporter asking a Lance Corporal in a line Company (Infantry) “..how he thinks the patrol mission he just completed has mitigated Iran’s insurgency support operations in Iraq?” Huh…WTF? It is ABOVE HIS PAY GRADE, he is concerned with his mission, that patrol. Gen. Petreus is concerned with his AO, His mission, Iraq.

ColdBore76 on September 11, 2007 at 7:23 PM

So, which one is it Ahmed?

Should we stay are should we go?
If we stay there will be trouble.
If we go it will be double.
So, common and let us know.

And, Rock the Casbah!

Editor on September 11, 2007 at 7:40 PM

Um, Petraeus is Commander of Multi National Force-Iraq. Why would it be expected that he could answer such a broad-ranging question, with no clear answer, that includes considering other factors?

amerpundit on September 11, 2007 at 7:47 PM

Regarding the media, I’m sure they’ll repeat this clip over and over again, too. However, his total smackdown of Congressman yesterday, won’t earn air time.

amerpundit on September 11, 2007 at 7:48 PM

Dems scramble for Iraq strategy

bnelson44 on September 11, 2007 at 8:01 PM

AS for sending Congress to Iraq to embed with the troops I say “hell yeah”!! If that doesn’t get them on board to support the effort then nothing will.

Yakko77 on September 11, 2007 at 8:09 PM

U.S. troops in Baghdad tell CNN that they want U.S. politicians to embed with them to see what conditions are really like.

So when are the Senators and Congressmen started their embeds with the troops?

slp on September 11, 2007 at 8:42 PM

Ha!

Warner said “stragety,”; what a maroon…

Mephistefales on September 11, 2007 at 9:04 PM

“I know I said I want them to leave, but if we think about it, then I have to say I want them to stay for a while until we end all the suspicions we have of each other and have a strong national government.”

That would be about 3 days after time itself comes to an end.

MB4 on September 11, 2007 at 9:30 PM

AP writes:

I don’t know how to square that with the ABC poll from a few days ago showing 47% support (a plurality) for immediate withdrawal.

The simplest explanation would be that Ahmad Umar al-Esawi is in the 53% who do not want immediate withdrawal.

But let’s look closer.

Ahmad Umar al-Esawi first says “I want them to withdraw all their troops in one day.”

A few minutes later: “I know I said I want them to leave, but if we think about it, then I have to say I want them to stay for a while until we end all the suspicions we have of each other and have a strong national government.”

Perhaps part of squaring the circle involves entertaining the possibility that Iraqis may give answers to pollsters that they may not really mean.

We tend to so reflexively view everything from living in our own culture that we tend to forget that concepts like shame and honor play a very particular role in Middle Eastern cultures.

Let’s get a refresher from the late Steven Vincent, upon his arrival in Iraq:

On some level, many, if not most, Iraqis are ashamed that Saddam Hussein brutalized them — and even more ashamed that it took foreign troops to end his reign.

At a small social function one evening, I spoke to an Iraqi woman who expressed excitement over the fall of Saddam. Yet in almost the same breath, she declared, “I hate the Americans so much I fantasize about taking a gun and shooting a soldier.” When asked how she expected Saddam to fall without the hated U.S. soldiers, she looked at me miserably. “I know,” she said, “and you can’t imagine how that humiliates me.”

A waiter admonished me, as if I’d advised Rumsfeld and Bush: “You should have waited just a little longer. We would have risen up and overthrown him ourselves.” When I asked why the Iraqi people hadn’t toppled Saddam before, other Baghdadis claimed that the tyrant had support from “outside” forces — most notably, the Jews. Speaking of Iraq’s disastrous invasion of Iran in 1980, the piano player in my hotel confided, “You know, of course, that the Jews manipulated Saddam into attacking Khomeini in order to keep the Arabs down — and Israel on top.”

But if you don’t like the multi-culti take, if the US had been invaded and occupied for several years, I imagine we would be itching for the occupier’s departure — and probably angry with ourselves if deep down we knew we needed an occupier. We might be more open about it with a pollster, though, as Americans like to blab about their feelings to strangers, compared to other countries.

Karl on September 11, 2007 at 10:23 PM

Petraeus’ answer was right on. He’s trying to accomplish a mission that his commander has given him. He’s not in charge of wondering if he’s making America safer or not.

…and yes, this is all over morning tv.

jdpaz on September 12, 2007 at 10:47 AM