Friday, May 15, 2009

Thomas Ricks: Obama Only Now Realizing How Screwed He Is On the Iraq War

Thomas Ricks, Pulitzer Prize winning military journalist, who has written two best selling books on the Iraq struggle was on the Huge Hewitt Show yesterday. Transcript. Audio (see May 14)

Hewitt is a Pro-Bush hawk, and a leading defender of both the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. It took some nerve to have him on, and it makes for fascinating listening. Here are some highlights:

HH: What is your assessment of Pakistan right now, Thomas Ricks? Over at your blog at Foreign Policy, which is, you have a caption – Pakistan: Have I Seen This Movie. What are you talking about?

TR: I’m talking about Algeria, commando raids that the French did in Algeria in the 1950s, which are captured in that movie, Battle Of Algiers, were tactically productive, but strategically counterproductive, that is they had some battlefield success, but it undercut the political will to do much there. And the French ended up losing the war. The Pakistan military strikes me as being very much on the same course, which is they don’t want to do counterinsurgency, they don’t know how to do it. Instead, they’re going in and whacking people in neighborhoods, they’re antagonizing the locals, they’re losing support, and increasing support for their enemy Taliban.

This is timely for me. Last week I wrote a review of the film, read it here: Battle of Algiers

TR: I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I’m just telling you the fact of the matter is twice now, the military has confronted him and made him throw out existing positions that he has taken. He campaigned on getting a brigade out a month in Iraq, every month, for the first year he was in office. Almost the first thing he did when he began talking about Iraq was throw that campaign promise overboard. Now I’m not saying I agree with it or disagree with it. I’m just saying that a lot of people voted for him to do what he promised to do. It’s a bad thing, I think, if a guy gets elected on one thing and does another thing. On the other hand, I do think yeah, number one, Obama is a strategic thinker, and is willing to make short terms course corrections to achieve a long term goal. And second, I think he’s only now realizing just how screwed he is on Iraq, that this was the biggest mess in the history of American foreign policy, invading Iraq was the worst decision in the history of American foreign policy, and it’s going to take him years, and it’s going to take the president after him many more years to clean up the mess that George Bush made.

HH: Of course there’s a counter-argument to that, but I’m running low on time....
Great comeback Hugh.

If you have the time, give it a listen. It's very interesting.

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