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Saddam Hussein is Losing Grip on Northern Cities in Iraq

Aired April 10, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Another hammer blow to Saddam's legacy in Iraq. The oil-rich city of Kirkuk falls under coalition control as some of the focus of the war and the fears shift north.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The nightmare that Saddam Hussein has brought to your nation will soon be over. And I assure every citizen of Iraq, your nation will soon be free.

ANNOUNCER: A day after the jubilation in Baghdad, the capital still looks and feels like what it is, a war zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A man strapped with explosives approached a Marine checkpoint and detonated himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baghdad is still an ugly place.

ANNOUNCER: In the Arab world, these are the pictures of war that hit hardest and hit home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are our brothers and our families. I'm sorry.

ANNOUNCER: CNN live this hour, Judy Woodruff reports from Washington with correspondents from around the world. A special edition of "INSIDE POLITICS," the war in Iraq, starts right now.


JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Here in Washington, U.S. officials and other politicians are sending a variety of messages today about the war. In a taped address to the Iraqi people, President Bush promised that the nightmare Saddam Hussein brought to their nation will soon be over.

On Capitol Hill ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless American, land that I love.


WOODRUFF: House members sang the praises of American troops and their allies in the Iraq war in a flag-waving patriotic ceremony. More on that ahead.

And the Democrats running for president have been talking about military action too. We'll tell you who is expressing regret and who isn't.

Well, to Iraq now where it has been a day of a suicide bombing. And in the north, resistance on the one hand and on the other, retreat.

For the very latest, let's go to my colleague, Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Judy.

In addition to the continuing dangers in Baghdad, U.S. military officials warn Americans stale face organized resistance in parts of northern Iraq, including Mosul. But U.S. military sources say a major obstacle in Mosul soon will be removed. The Iraqi Army's 5th Corps and its commander are expected to surrender early Friday, along with Mosul's regional governor.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, another Saddam statue has fallen, and the city now is reported under coalition control. Reinforcements from the Army's 173rd Airborne have moved into Kirkuk.

Meantime, in Baghdad ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go home, Yankees. Go home. Go home, go home. Go on, go home. We don't want you.


BLITZER: An angry reception for some U.S. troops from people said to be human shields defending Iraq.

U.S. military officials say many parts of the Iraqi capital still are not secure. Looters are a big part of the problem, so are the last of Saddam's loyalists willing to give their lives in his name.

Let's go live to Baghdad where CNN's Christiane Amanpour is reporting from. She is standing by now live -- Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there was a suicide attack on U.S. Marines today here in Baghdad several hours ago just before night fell. The chief spokesman for the Marine 1st Division here told us that a man had strapped explosives to him, had approached a Marine checkpoint not far from us, basically in Saddam City, had approached a Marine checkpoint and had detonated those explosives. We're told that four Marines were injured. There have been conflicting reports over the last several hours about whether there had been any fatalities. But we are told that only four had been injured at this stage.

Now, there are Marine checkpoints throughout many parts of the city on this side of the Tigris River and, for the most part, what we've been noticing is quite warm reception by the people. People have been gathering around the U.S. troops and have been talking to them, chatting to them, climbing on their vehicles and Generally welcoming them, lots of waves and lots of smiles. But at the same time, there is a lot of looting, especially now not only ex-government officials' houses, such as Izzat Ibrahim who was one of the deputies, Saddam's chief deputy of the Revolutionary Command Council. His house was looted today.

And so was Tariq Aziz's. He was the former deputy prime minister and really English-speaki7ng face of Saddam's regime. He was visible on many, many U.S. networks and many, many negotiations with various diplomats. Anyway, looters went in their houses and took what they could. But more disturbingly for many people in Baghdad, there are hospitals, we're told, which have been looted of vital medicine and vital equipment needed to treat the wounded. And there are quite significant casualties in these hospitals since this war began. And many doctors are appealing now for help.

There are also we are told embassies that have been looted. Indeed, one or two may have been set on fire in some parts. And the Marines also contending with some firefighting parts of the city. Today, at a mosque, there was an engagement between militia members and the Marines. There were some casualties taken by the Marines. And also huge caches of weapons we are told and ammunition. And, certainly, over the evening hours we heard massive explosions in Baghdad, which were these ammunitions and weapons being detonated and destroyed by the troops here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Christiane, have you sensed as it gets darker and darker into the middle of the night over there, the streets eerily quiet, or is there any movement whatsoever?

AMANPOUR: There's not a lot. We are only really in one sort of area of the city, but certainly I know from talking to other people that most people stay in at night now because, firstly, there's no electricity, just spotty electricity, most of it from private generators. And we're not sure why that electricity isn't on. It was knocked out several days ago during the war.

We were told the Iraqis had turned off the electricity, but it hasn't come back. And that's troubling a lot of people here because it adds to the insecurity at nighttime. And, of course, we're being told and advised that at nighttime it's not really great to go out. We're right here at the Palestinian Hotel where there is quite a heavy Marine presence. But, in General, people are quite afraid of the night time. And this situation of some lawlessness and disorder at the moment -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Christiane Amanpour, live in Baghdad right now. Thanks very much, Christiane, for that report.

And by our count, 136 coalition service members have now died in Operation Iraqi Freedom -- 105 Americans and 31 British troops. At last report from Abu Dhabi television, more than 1200 Iraqi civilians have been killed and more than 5100 wounded. U.S. officials say thousands of Iraqi military troops have been killed and more than 7300 captured.

That's it for me, Judy. I'm going to take a quick break. I'll be back at the top of the hour. Much more news coming up, a special edition of "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Until then, back to Judy Woodruff in Washington -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Wolf. And we'll see you then.

Well, we know that Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. special forces streamed into the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk earlier today. They met almost no resistance from Iraqi troops. The Kurds later repeated the now famous scene from Baghdad by bringing down a large statue of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqis expected to defend Kirkuk are believed to have headed south to the Baath party stronghold of Tikrit.

CNN's Brett Sadler has more on the Kurdish advances in northern Iraq.


BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): American special forces speed into newly liberated towns of northern Iraq, catching sight along the way of Iraqi friends, not foes, on a road to freedom. This is the Kurdish town of Khanaqin, some 80 miles north of Baghdad, overrun by Iraqi-Kurdish-Peshmerga fighters under the command of a new face in town, Jalal Talabani, one of the top Kurdish leaders. Khanaqin was the first of the big northern towns to fall. Thanks, they say here, to President George w. Bush.

Remnants of the doomed regime fled the previous night. No one knows where they escaped to, and for now at least, they don't seem to CARE.

(on camera): Scenes of jubilation are being repeated in towns and villages throughout northern Iraq, once the capital Baghdad fell, the gravitational pull was simply too great. Saddam Hussein's power in the north crushed, his countless images machine gunned into oblivion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were liberated today by the power of the American soldier and the Peshmerga, the self (ph) second (ph) fighters to liberate Khanaqin.

SADLER (voice-over): It's a day to remember and record. With a parade of the conventional and the unconventional on an historic day. For decades, they lived under the brutal whims of a tyrant. It will take time to adjust.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I am -- I am dreaming.

SADLER: But dreams could turn to nightmares if law and order is not reestablished soon. A wooden coffin holds the body of an Iraqi Arab killed, it's claimed here, in a revenge attack by Iraqi Kurds. Old rivalries die hard in a country that's reeling from the tremors of change and the uncertainty that brings, even on this much celebrated day. Brent Sadler, CNN, Khanaqin, northern Iraq.


WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, in the central Iraqi city of Najaf, a prominent Iraqi Shiite Muslim leader was assassinated today. Seyyid Abdul Majid Al-Khoei was killed in an attack that began inside the city's main mosque, one of the holiest sites in Iraq. The cleric was the son of a popular Shiite leader who was executed under Saddam Hussein's rule.

The war in Iraq and its implications are being met with a mix of joy, fear and skepticism. Coming up, we'll go to the streets of Damascus where some may be asking, are we next?



WOODRUFF: The secretary General of the Arab League is saying that the Persian Gulf region is entering a phase, in his words, "of extreme tension and instability." Amr Moussa told CNN International today that that tension stems from fear that the U.S. will target other Arab states after Iraq.

Well, are those fears shared throughout the Arab world?

Here now is CNN's Shiela MacVicar.


SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The day began with a picture and a crowd outside Damascus University, a picture of an Iraqi woman screaming.

What do you think when you see that picture?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No war for freedom, war for occupation, you know.

MACVICAR: All day these pictures from Baghdad have played on Arabic channels and have burnt a hole in the heart of many people. What resonates here not pictures of some Iraqis celebrating, but the pain and horror they have seen over the last three weeks. By nightfall, people in Damascus historically no friends of Saddam Hussein had seen enough. In the old bazaar, television sets were turned off. Some people gathering with their friends told us they were so upset by what they had seen, that they could not talk to us.

We found Mohammed at his juice stand. He has an economics exam on Thursday but he told us he was unable to study.

MOHAMMED: I feel very, very bad, very bad feelings. I'm very sad. I'm Arabic and the people in Iraq also are Arabic, so they are our brothers and our families. So, I'm sorry.

MACVICAR: Is it the pictures you have seen of the children that bothers you the most?

MOHAMMED: Yes, there is a little boy, his head is exploded from the bombs and Americans weapons.

MACVICAR: And then there was this image. It lasted only a few seconds, but this picture is the image of what people here fear most, not liberation, but occupation of a fellow Arab state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they don't have the right to put the American flag over Iraq. This is my opinion. And I think the opinion in all over the Arabic world. It's not their right. It's not stable America. It's Arabic countries.

MACVICAR: Even pictures of jubilation in Iraq, even replacing that American flag quickly with an Iraqi flag have not so far shaken the view here that this war was wrong and will lead only to further disaster.

Shiela MacVicar, CNN, Damascus.


WOODRUFF: Well, from the Arab world to the western world, the turn of events in Iraq plays very differently, depending on which newspaper you pick up at the newsstands.

CNN's Richard Quest shows us what he found in world headlines.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: if the coalition had needed and desired a symbol of success on Wednesday, of course, they got it when they pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein in the center of Baghdad. And today is one of those rare days when just about every paper across the continent has the same picture on its front page, the statue being pulled down. In the case of "Le Figaro" from France, they've gone with the U.S. soldier putting the American flag on Saddam Hussein's face, not the Iraqi flag, which, subsequently, replaced it.

"El Pais" of Spain has the same picture on its front page with the U.S. flag. You have to go to the editorials, though, to get the nuances of what it means. Britain's "Daily Mirror," for example, which opposed the war, has the same picture with the U.S. flag, calls it the statue of liberty, and now says America must give Iraq real freedom. And that's something they returned to in their editorial. "We still don't know," says the "Mirror" if America will allow the Iraqis real freedom.

And until then, the White House's motives remain suspect." You can rely on the "Sun," which had supported the war to support the opposite point of view. The picture, this time the statue coming off its rampart, the statue of liberty it calls it. And the editorial says it's a political triumph for Tony Blair and George Bush, blocked by the treachery of the French, Russians and Germans. Even in apparent victory with the same picture, the papers continue their different tone.

Richard Quest for INSIDE POLITICS, London. WOODRUFF: Strong views from different papers.

Well, an international aid official says that in Iraq fresh drinking water is a critical need, especially for children. Just ahead, we'll talk about that with an official of the organization CARE.


WOODRUFF: The humanitarian aid organization CARE is distributing water in Baghdad and manning a repair team for water systems across the country. A spokesman for CARE says that fresh water is a critical need, partly because of a long drought. Well Aly-Kahn Rajani of CARE joins us now from Amman, Jordan. Mr. Rajani, what do you see as the greatest need right now for the Iraqi people?

ALY-KHAN RAJANI, CARE: From our reports on the ground, from our staff who's working presently in Iraq, the largest need clearly is access to safe, clean drinking water. Clearly, over the last few weeks, people have really suffered. And with the electrical grids being down in certain areas, access to water has become scarce if not completely nonexistent. Clearly, this is a huge problem from the health point of view that especially for infants they are not able to keep healthy and could face really life threatening problems like diarrhea.

As well as for the whole population, there's a concern that cholera could break out into an epidemic, as well as dysentery and other water borne diseases. Not to mention water is extremely crucial, even to use the food supplements that exist because they're dry food rations. And without water, people don't have anything to eat.

WOODRUFF: Well, from the Pentagon today we heard a fairly upbeat report on the progress being made to get water and other basic needs, food, health care to the people of Iraq. What is your sense of just how fast some of these critical needs are getting to people?

RAJANI: Right now, CARE International has a team on the ground who has stayed in Iraq throughout the entire war and is distributing water in three areas - in Tikrit, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Bhaghdad. And, in fact, have also been able to distribute a number of relief supplies in Baghdad over the last few weeks, as well, including relief kits, especially infant formula for children and a variety of different goods, including supplementary food packages, anything that can help.

And looking to the future, clearly there needs to be a safe and secure ground for aid workers to be able to come into the capital, especially, because the need is so tremendous there. When you look at the situation of hospitals, for example, they're overflowing with people. And there's a tremendous need to get clean water and relief supplies, because supplies are also extremely limited all over the country.

WOODRUFF: And what is to prevent CARE or other aid organizations from doing what they need to do? RAJANI: I think the largest concern, of course, is the safety and security in Baghdad, for example, right now. If our staff is not able to gain safe access into certain areas and not be able to help the people that desperately need it.

Clearly, the looting and the lack of security is a huge concern, and is really preventing people from delivering as efficiently and effectively the aid that desperately needs to get to these people. So I think the need for some order and some stability and security for aid to really be efficiently gotten into the country is extremely crucial. And despite having the team there, we need more support. We need more supply supplies in. And, clearly, that can only happen if it's safe to do so.

WOODRUFF: Aly-Khan Rajani of CARE, joining us from Amman. We thank you very much for talking with us.

And we'll just say, very briefly, at the Pentagon today, the point was made by General Stanley McChrystal that once they get the security situation under control, when they get to what they're call the death squads and other soldiers, Iraqi soldiers who pose a threat to the U.S., then they said they can focus on the looting and other internal security matters.

We're going to get an update on the SARS outbreak in Asia.

Plus, the latest war headlines when we return.

And U.S. Marines get acquainted with the people of Baghdad, a friendly gesture amid looting and hidden threats in the capital city.



WOODRUFF: Yesterday, there were scenes of jubilation in Baghdad, today, a suicide bombing and firefighters, grim reminders that, as U.S. Central Command put it, Baghdad is still an ugly place.

CNN's John Irvine has this profile of a city literally teetering on a razor's edge.


JOHN IRVINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Getting acquainted, very deliberately, the U.S. Marines are trying to strike up a rapport with the people who are now their responsibility.

But there are still problems bringing control to Baghdad, particularly at nighttime. In the pitch black of a city without power, these soldiers manning a roadblock became nervous.


IRVINE: When a car fails to stop, it's the cue for a violent gun battle. Bullets are sprayed everywhere. In parts of Baghdad that the Americans haven't yet reached, there has been looting. This man took the horse from a stable at the home of Uday Hussein, Saddam's eldest son. We found the house, a large, gaudy structure, a place that just a few days ago people didn't even look at for fear of their lives.

This indeed was one of Uday's homes. Here, the ruling family could look out over the Tigris. People have wasted no time clearing the house and wrecking what couldn't be easily taken.

(on camera): They haven't quite worked out just how to reach this will chandelier yet. But, other than that, they have stripped this place bare in less than 24 hours. Call it plunder, if you will, or perhaps payback.

(voice-over): These Iraqis were rifling a home of a senior member of the Mukhabarat, Saddam's dreaded secret police. It also seemed to be some kind of monitoring station. There was sophisticated equipment here.

In the basement, we found burning archives and evidence of electronic surveillance. This had been a nerve center for spying, a place from where the bully boys kept tabs to keep control.

(on camera): We're now in the bowels of a secret police monitoring station. Look at all this gadgetry, quite sinister really, part of the apparatus of Big Brother.

(voice-over): These people are stealing from a shopping center. It has become widespread, but it's not being done with total impunity. These thieves are trying to flee the German Embassy, having been shot at by a guard.

John Irvine, ITV News, Baghdad.


WOODRUFF: Some pictures.

Well, Laith Kubba is an Iraqi exile who has family members in Iraq. Mr. Kubba is a senior fellow at a think tank called the National Endowment for Democracy. He is also the president of a group of Iraqi exiles, a group called the Iraq National Group. He joins us now from London to talk about rebuilding his country.

Mr. Kubba, first of all, your thoughts as you've watched these scenes of Baghdad, the Saddam Hussein regime falling in the last day?

LAITH KUBBA, PRESIDENT, IRAQI NATIONAL GROUP: It is a huge sigh of relief, because it could have been much worse and Baghdad could have been a war theater with more destruction to property. And, obviously, there are four million people who could have suffered more.

So, there is a sigh of relief that it is not worse. But, obviously, there is a great, great concern about the scenes that you've been showing on television.

WOODRUFF: Are you talking to family members now in Baghdad and around Iraq? And, if you are, how concerned are they about the lawlessness?

KUBBA: Well, not in the recent three or four days. There are no phone lines to Baghdad.

In other parts of Iraq, I received with great sadness the killing of one close colleague, Saeed Abu Naji Abhuey (ph) in Najaf. He was not killed by former members of the Baath Party or the security of the army, but by just a local organized group. So those signs to me are worrying. People are sensing and feeling the lack of authority or the power vacuum and are testing it. And the more they test, the more I think they are claiming.

WOODRUFF: How difficult will it be to sort out who will next hold power in Iraq after this transition period, however long it is, where the U.S. is in charge?

KUBBA: Well, one needs to break down this process into various elements. Today, there should be an authority. And it's very likely that the U.S. and the British forces are the authority on land. And there ought to be administration. And this ought to be primarily by Iraqis.

But when it comes to government, I think we really need to map out step by step how to move from this power vacuum to the day we have elections. We need to involve the U.N. We need to involve all Iraqi forces in the country, outside the country. But we need to do it quickly, because every day passes by with this vacuum, it's going to spell trouble.

WOODRUFF: Well, we know, Mr. Kubba, there are several Iraqi exiles groups competing for influence. Is one of them going to have an advantage? And, particularly, I have in mind the Iraqi National Congress that Mr. Chalabi, who was assisted by U.S. forces in getting back into Iraq?

KUBBA: I think it's one thing to gain fame and access to Washington. It's totally another to gain legitimacy and functioning grounds inside Iraq. And I think plans must not be drawn in thin air out in Washington. It must really be drawn on the ground inside Iraq.

And there are 22 million people there. It's not a void. It's not a vacuum. And I think all plans must be anchored there in Iraq in its reality.

WOODRUFF: So does one group have an advantage over another now?

KUBBA: There are different groups who have advantage over others in different parts of the country. Unfortunately, we do not have a national group that can appeal to Iraqis as Iraqis within a credible voice.

This needs to be constructed, maybe through a conference to be held in Baghdad, where representatives from provinces all over Iraq need to participate, as well as political groups. But we do not have a single group, a single leadership or a single council yet. WOODRUFF: We're talking with Laith Kubba, who is the president of a group of Iraqi exiles. The group is called the Iraq National Group.

Mr. Kubba, we thank you so much for talking to us from London.

KUBBA: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

KUBBA: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Here in Washington, members of the House of Representatives come together to support America's armed forces. Up next: a live report on that ceremony and the latest efforts to pass a spending bill to pay for the war.



JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And there's even a measure to classify Alaskan salmon as organic food. Unless measures like these are taken out, House Republicans say they won't agree to the bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has nothing to do with the war. It could be taken care of in other bills in other ways. And we in the House are insisting that all this extraneous stuff be taken out.

KARL: But Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens is outraged at the effort to cut the special projects, telling "Congressional Quarterly,": "I'm just sorry we repealed the lost on dueling. I would have a shot a couple of the sons of bitches." The special projects have been inserted by both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. But Democratic leader Tom Daschle says he doesn't mind if they're dropped.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: We've had add-ons in the past. But if it takes removing them to get this job done, remove them. We've got to get this bill passed.


KARL: And there's also a deadlock on the issue of taxes and how much to cut taxes. Republicans cannot come to an agreement of how big the tax cut should be. So what they're trying to do is to pass a budget now without specifying how big that tax cut to be, leaving that debate to be done at a later time.

They think that, after several weeks, Judy, the president will be more popular, because the war will be over for certain, and he'll have time to fight for his full tax cut, which, right now, does not have enough support to pass here on Capitol Hill.

WOODRUFF: Yes, it seems the president's preoccupation with the war has had some effect.

Jon, I know you've been talking to a number of members today. Are the Democrats, and any of them who did not support the war, now expressing any regret?

KARL: Well, they're very eager to be out there supporting the troops, singing along with the Republicans at that event. But Nancy Pelosi addressed this question just a short while ago. Here's what she had to say.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I have absolutely no regret about my vote on this war. The same questions remain: the cost in human lives, the cost to our budget, probably $100 billion. We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less.


KARL: Now, Tom Daschle asked if he thought the success in the war, or the apparent success, was a vindication of the strategy pursued by the White House, a strategy he was often critical of. He said simply that history will determine whether or not this is a vindication -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jonathan Karl reporting from the Capitol -- thanks, Jon.

Well, earlier today, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared on the broadcast frequency that was once used by Iraqi state television. In videotaped messages to the Iraqi people, with Arabic subtitles, the two leaders promised to rid Iraq completely of the Saddam Hussein regime.


BUSH: The nightmare that Saddam Hussein has brought to your nation will soon be over. You are good and gifted people, the heirs of a great civil civilization that contributes to all humanity. You deserve better than tyranny and corruption and torture chambers. You deserve to live as free people. And I assure every citizen of Iraq, your nation will soon be free.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Our forces are friends and liberators of the Iraqi people, not your conquerors. And they will not stay in Iraq a day longer than is necessary.

I know, however, that some of you fear a repeat of 1991, when you thought Saddam's rule was being ended, but he stayed and you suffered. That will not happen this time. This regime will be gone and ended.


WOODRUFF: Those taped messages from Blair and Bush were the first of what the United States says it plans will be nightly broadcasts in Iraq produced by the Pentagon. Two wars -- I'm sorry. On the day that many Iraqis celebrated the demise of the Iraqi regime, some of the Democrats running for president here in the United States discussed their opinions on the war. All nine Democratic candidates attended an event sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund. Five of the nine opposed the war and they continued to defend their views.

Howard Dean said the cost of this war will be high.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to contain Saddam. We should have contained Saddam. Well, we've gotten rid of him. I suppose that's a good thing. But there's going to be a long period where the United States is going to need to be maintained in Iraq. And that's going to cost the American taxpayers a lot of money that could be spent on schools and kids.


WOODRUFF: On the other hand, Senator Joe Lieberman, who voted in favor of the war effort, he went so far as to say he wished that he had served in the military.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did not serve in the military because I had two different kinds of deferments, or exemptions. One was because I was a student. And the second was because I was a parent. And do I regret it? I do. I wish that I had been part of that service.


WOODRUFF: Obviously referring to when he was a young man.

Well, in his first major appearance as a candidate, Senator Bob Graham of Florida said the war in Iraq will distract from the overall war on terrorism.

Two wars fought, two regimes destroyed, Afghanistan and Iraq: What has been learned so far? We'll have a report.


WOODRUFF: Having defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan a year and a half ago, U.S. troops have now unseated Saddam Hussein's regime, or most of it, in Iraq. The two countries are similar in some respects and very different in others.

Our political analyst, Bill Schneider, reports on the challenges faced by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, we all remember the Taliban. Iraq is the second regime change the United States has brought about since 9/11. Now, is Afghanistan a blueprint for Iraq?


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In some ways, Afghanistan was easier to deal with than Iraq. The war in Afghanistan was far less controversial. Afghanistan had an organized political opposition ready to take power. The U.S. didn't have to run the country.

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: Part of the brilliance, if I might say, of General Franks' plan from the beginning was to keep the American footprint small.

SCHNEIDER: In Iraq, the U.S. will have to have a bigger footprint. The biggest difference? Just about the whole world is with the U.S. in Afghanistan.

PHIL REEKER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: President Karzai has put together a government that now interacts constructively with the 60 nations of the international community assisting in Afghanistan's reconstruction.

SCHNEIDER: There is no global coalition in Iraq.

On the other hand, Iraq is more modern, better educated, and wealthier than Afghanistan. It has oil, the second largest proven oil reserves in the world. Afghanistan has had some success, with the beginning of economic and social reforms in place, especially for women.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Two million refugees have returned to Afghanistan, which is probably the world's best signal about whether Afghanistan is a place that has a hopeful future or a dire one.

SCHNEIDER: The biggest problem in Afghanistan is security. The Karzai government lacks support in large areas of the country. Terrorists cling to the Taliban and al Qaeda are regrouping. Americans are still being killed in Afghanistan, two soldiers just last month.

The problem is one that could be repeated in Iraq. Once the issue disappears from the front pages, the U.S. loses interest.

HAMID KARZAI, INTERIM AFGHANISTAN PRESIDENT: If Afghanistan is reduced in attention, the very fact for which we began the campaign against terrorism might see a difficulty. We need to finish the job. Afghanistan is not yet out of the woods.


SCHNEIDER: With Saddam Hussein out, it may be hard to sustain American interest in Iraq. What happens if Americans working to rebuild Iraq become the targets of terrorists or if the American people start asking, why are we rebuilding Iraq's economy? What about our economy? -- Judy. WOODRUFF: And, Bill, some people have already begun to ask that question.

SCHNEIDER: Exactly right.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Just ahead: It is difficult enough to be fighting a war, but the families of those in the conflict have to fight their own battles against fear and worry.

We'll be right back.


WOODRUFF: Over the past few weeks, we've heard from many military families that watching the coverage of the war in Iraq can be a mixed blessing, easing their worries in some ways, but raising them in others.

We want to check in on some of the loved ones left behind at Camp Pendleton in California.

And that's where we find CNN's Charles Feldman -- hello, Charles.


And I have with me here Lori.

How are you, Lori?

I'm going to cut to the chase. Your husband is somewhere in Iraq, but you don't know where.

LORI BROWN, WIFE OF U.S. MARINE: Don't know where.

FELDMAN: And you talked to him as recently as when?

BROWN: Sunday.

FELDMAN: OK. And he's OK, I presume?

BROWN: Yes, he was doing fine Sunday.

FELDMAN: Now, what is it like? The past two days, it must be difficult, because, on the one hand, you have the good news about what's happening in Baghdad, but yet, of course, there still continues to be fighting. The war is not over. What is it like emotionally for you?

BROWN: Extreme highs and lows. There is nothing left in the middle. It's just, you're either so happy because you hear from them and everything is fine, or it's extreme low because you hear of another death, even another death at our area. No matter where the guys are from, or ladies are from, that are getting killed, it's still hard on us. It's too close to home. FELDMAN: OK.

Now, Lori, you can't see this, but hang in there with me. We had reported earlier a tape of some of the children whose parents, whose fathers and in some cases mothers are overseas. And they were making some Web cam messages back to their parents. And, at some point, when they can check in their e-mail, they will be able to get these messages from their children.

Let's listen to what some of these kids had to say.


CHILDREN: Go, Marines! Go, Yankees!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I miss you, dad. Happy birthday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said, I miss you. I hope you come home. And Good bless America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love the Marines and we support...


FELDMAN: All right. So, those are some of the kids and their Web cam messages to their folks in Iraq -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: It's something else hearing from those kids.

All right, Charles Feldman, thanks very much, at Camp Pendleton, California.

Well, that's it for this special edition of INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff.

And just a reminder: We want you to stay tuned tomorrow. I'll be in Houston, talking to former Secretary of State James Baker.


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