Return to Transcripts main page
THIS WEEK AT WAR
Week's War-Related Events Reviewed
Aired September 15, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR, THIS WEEK AT WAR: In the end, General Petraeus admitted that it was almost enough to make a person long for Baghdad. A week of high-tension testimony and criticism here in DC from all sides ended up with a few things decided. The surge will end. The war will continue and from now on, as one analyst said, it's David Petraeus' war. We'll look at what he's facing right after a look at what's in the news right now.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Let's bring you up to date on what is happening right now. About 150 protesters were arrested during an anti-war rally in Washington. The arrests came after people began breaking through barricades on Capitol Hill. Thousands of people had gathered for the protest, but they were met about 1,000 counter protesters who also gathered in the nation's capital today.
CNN has learned that one of President Bush's leading choices for attorney general is former Federal judge Michael Mukasey. The long- time jurist is known to be respected by some of the same liberal voices who led the charge against Alberto Gonzalez. An announcement could come next week.
The parents of a four-year-old Madeleine McCann are launching a massive ad campaign across Europe. It is aimed at keeping the case in the spotlight. The child disappeared more than four months ago in Portugal. The parents have been named suspects in the case but deny any involvement. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Now back to Tom Foreman and THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: I'm Tom Foreman and here is where we are going this week at war. Aneesh Ramen reports from Baghdad, where the situation is so bad, even the prime minister admits his government isn't working. What do the political factions need there to finally get along?
In Chicago, General David Grange looks at the very cautious, positive trends that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker presented this week. Did they make the case for a long war? We'll ask CNN senior military correspondent Jamie McIntyre about U.S. military and diplomatic policies that seem to be on a steadier heading but what new problems are on the horizon now? Elaine Quijano is at the White House. She reports on the war of words that still hangs in the balance. Will Congress find a compromise to force the president's hand?
And Nic Robertson is in Afghanistan, where the war on terror is looking grim, as al Qaeda is on the rebound. We'll ask why, six years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden is still at large and still running the show. All of that THIS WEEK AT WAR.
If there is light at the end of the tunnel this week, it is very faint and very far away. General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker were cautious and low key in their long-awaited testimony, but in the end, they recommended the U.S. stay in the fight in Iraq. We'll talk about political realities later on, but first, let's look at what they said was the reality on the ground and to help us in Chicago, retired Brigadier General David Grange joins us, CNN military analyst and with me in Washington, Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of Defense, now with the Center for American Progress. Let's kick off by listening to what the president said in his address late this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our military commanders believe we can succeed. Our diplomats believe we can succeed and for the safety of future generations of Americans, we must succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: So General Grange, it seems to be off the table now this notion of a precipitous or sudden pullout any time soon. What does that do to the military strategy?
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think the strategy all along was actually to redeploy some of these military units on a time line, even before this testimony or even before it was, maybe it was analyzed, when they just released the number of troops coming back, but it's almost out of necessity, by spring/summer of next year, you don't have forces that can rotate on a 12 to 12 month type rotation. You either have to keep the 15-month deployment with only 12 months to rest. If you want to continue it the way it is and the military, frankly, does not want to do that.
FOREMAN: Lawrence, let me ask you about that then. Was anybody listening to this testimony here? The Democrats didn't seem to want to hear it. If the White House is pursuing a course it was going to pursue anyway, what difference does all this make?
LAWRENCE KORB, FORMER ASST. SEC OF DEFENSE: Well I think the big difference was that the president, when he came forward with the surge, says give us six months and then we'll be able to make a decision. What has happened is after eight months, he's bought almost another 10 months to make a decision. So General Grange is right. You're going to have to take the troops out come next spring, whether you want to or not, but what he has done is, rather than being forced to take a lot of them out now, which a lot of people had hoped, he's able to stretch this out until next spring or summer, because General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker now are going to come back in March to give us an update.
FOREMAN: A lot of people, Lawrence, have wanted a withdrawal to start now. Some of the candidates are still talking about it right now. That does seem politically to be just off the table. So putting that aside, what would you like to see as this goes forward?
KORB: Well, I think, until you set a specific date to get out, you are not going to be able to get the countries in the region to work with it.
FOREMAN: It doesn't seem like it's going to happen. Absent that, what do you do?
KORB: Well I think absent from that, you just make sure, I would pass the Senator Webb, Senator Hagel bill which guarantees that you can't send the troops back until they've had equal time at home which will guarantee they will not extend troops from 15 to 18 months or not give them at least a year home in between deployments.
FOREMAN: Shorter rotations all the way around. Let's look at what General Petraeus' main points were here. He said basically the security situation is improving. Sunni and Shia extremists have been weakened. Counter insurgency tactics are working. Agreements with local tribes are reducing the insurgency and Iran is a major military problem. General, do you generally agree with that?
GRANGE: I do and I think that there's a couple issues here that we have to make sure we're accurate on. And that is, how long the reports, how long have we tried the surge? It depends how you count that and there's some inaccuracies, like I said, that's floating around and comments. One is, I believe, you don't count the surge really having the start time, where it has the effect it needs with the numbers and resources until around June 15th, because that's when you had the forces in place to actually do a surge comprehensively, the way that the plan lays out. So that's one piece. The other is, when you say I want the troops out of there now, I want them out or by the end of the year I want them all out, it's impossible to get the troops out for years. You can get a number of them out but can't get out the trainers, the over watch forces that provide security and it's going to take a good year just to redeploy. It's a massive undertaking.
FOREMAN: So Lawrence, if you were faced with that and the political realities here on the ground, what would you recommend? How would we go forward? We're in the fight. We're not getting out. What do we do?
KORB: Well, I think you can withdraw in a responsible way in 10 to 12 months, if that's the decision that you make. I would also say that, General Petraeus tried to make the best case for a situation that's not nearly as good as he said. For example, the number of overall casual civilian deaths in Iraq in August was 2,309. That was up from July. The one figure he left out, which is very important to the American people, American deaths this year are higher than in any other year and this summer was the bloodiest summer for American troops, going all the way back to 2003. My feeling is, unless you start getting out soon, your army is going to fall apart. The army is having a very difficult time recruiting the qualified people that they need. Last year, they had to give waivers to close to 1,000 people with felony convictions. FOREMAN: General, the backside of this, I guess, is that everything is being bet on this politically. If the Democrats managed to sweep into the White House and control the Senate and control the House, which some think they might be able to if this does not go well, as a military person, doesn't General Petraeus have to still be saying there is a clock on this and the clock on this is the next election?
GRANGE: Well, he's getting tremendous pressure on getting results before that political clock. There's no doubt about it. The Washington clock, you know, prevails. There's no doubt about it. See, this strategy that's in place now which I believe is working, though very slowly, gradually, you can't measure it for effect really until this next March report. It's been too early this September, this report, and so that's a good time to really kind of take a comprehensive look at it. I'm for getting troops out. Don't get me wrong, but in a responsible way, that was just stated. I still believe for another five years, there's going to be some type of American troops there, because of the importance of the region, because of oil, because of Iran and just because of that's how long counter insurgencies take, about 10 years, regardless of how we screwed it up, up front.
FOREMAN: Lawrence, I know you have more to say about that, but I also know we're out of time. I appreciate you being here, General Grange, as well.
OK, the plans of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are clearly the stuff of disagreement over here. In Iraq, they are quite simply matters of life and death. We'll have the view from the Baghdad streets in just a moment.
But first, we want to you take a moment, as we always do, to salute some of those who fell in THIS WEEK AT WAR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: America does not abandon our friends and we will not abandon you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: It sounds good, but are the Iraqis buying it and what are the chances of the real Iraqi government the president promised? Aneesh Ramen is standing by in Baghdad now. Arwa Damon is in Los Angeles joining us and here in the studio, Rend al-Rahim, the former Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., now a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace. Arwa, let me start with you briefly on a side note, why are you in LA?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well we actually traveled with Yousiff, the five-year-old Iraqi boy who was burned by masked men. They poured gasoline on his head and set him on fire. We originally reported the story about three weeks ago and now, thanks to really everybody's help, Yousiff is here in the United States and about to start receiving medical treatment, hopefully his parents especially hope so that he will one day be able to smile again.
FOREMAN: Terrific reporting, Arwa and really a heart-warming story. Let's turn to the subject at hand here, the government and the political realities on the ground there. Look at the map of Baghdad and Iraq. As we always do, we want to show you the Kurds tend to be up north, Sunni out here to the west, the Shia down in this area. What do they want? Look at the Sunnis to start with. Generally if you look at their government and what they think is coming up next, the Sunnis have three things they're after, power, protection and oil profits, a good share of those things. Rend, let me start with you. Can they get those things?
REND AL-RAHIM, U.S. INSTITUTE FOR PEACE: I would like to add a more general point which is access to resources and access to economic benefits.
FOREMAN: Because they really are out in the desert here.
AL-RAHIM: Well, yes, but remember this isn't a very simple picture, because there are Sunnis in other areas. There are Sunnis in Basra, for example. There's very large communities of Sunnis in Diyala. There are Sunnis in Baghdad. Baghdad is more or less half and half, although now...
FOREMAN: So if we say they'd like that access, what can they get in the big negotiation of this country?
AL-RAHIM: Well, they should be able to get oil resources. They should be able to get jobs. They should be able to get jobs in the army and the police particularly, in the ministries and so on and so forth. They should also be able to get allocations from the national government for infrastructure and capital investment projects in their region.
FOREMAN: When you say they should be able to, you mean that is politically practical or in a moral sense they should be able to?
AL-RAHIM: Desirable and it is practical but it is not necessarily happening and this is one of the reasons that the Sunnis are very upset and not trusting the central government as much as they can or as they should.
FOREMAN: Let's turn toward the central government. The Shia, who run that by and large what, do they want? A majority government ruled by them? For many of them, revenge against the Sunnis who ran the country for so long under Saddam Hussein and for some of them a theocratic state. Aneesh, what chances do they have of getting those things?
ANEESH RAMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Shia have of course the best chances of anyone in getting what they want. In a larger sense, what we're seeing here is two years into essentially a constitutional convention, a government that is still debating these fundamentals. None of the groups want to concede too much or demand too little. The problem is this is happening on a landscape of violence, of a people desperate for some change, and some action by their government.
The Shia, of course, are commanding in terms of what the government does. They have the largest bloc in the parliament. Their biggest strength is that they have those numbers. They're not as unified as they were before. The Sunnis on the other hand, their community is really up for grabs. (INAUDIBLE) the Sunni vice president is finding it more and more difficult to say he represents the Sunnis and the U.S. military strategy, we've seen, bringing up the provincial government in those Sunni areas has started to undercut that support as well so the Sunnis before they can get to the table to ask for what they want are still dealing with finding the right politicians that they can say legitimately represent them as a community.
FOREMAN: We don't talk nearly as much about the Kurds here, but let's bring them up at this point and talk about what they want, an independent nation of their own, parts of Turkey and Iran, quite frankly, to be part of that nation and the city of Kirkuk. Arwa, can they get those things? Is anyone talking to them about them?
DAMON: The Kurds wanted autonomy for quite some time now and despite what we will hear them publicly say and that is that they are Iraqis first, Kurds second, there really is this fundamental desire within every single Kurd to want to have their own country. Given Iraq's current landscape, it really remains to be seen. It is very likely that Iraq might end up splitting into three separate states, the Kurds in the north, the Sunni in the middle and then the Shia in the south.
If that happens, that is essentially handing the Kurds largely very much of what they dreamed of. They are perhaps in many ways the best off out of all three ethnicities. The northern part of the country is relatively stable. Business is booming in that area. It's becoming a tourist destination. So they have an infrastructure already in place, should they finally get their own state, but there are many political opponents in Iraq that are opposed to dividing the country. There is also, of course, the issue of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. There's meant to be a referendum there, Kirkuk, very important to the Kurds, also very important to the Arabs and many senior military officials fear that Kirkuk might actually end be being one of the major flash points in Iraq's civil war.
FOREMAN: Rend, you had spoken before about the fact though that although it doesn't look this way here sometimes, that there is still an Iraqi national identity.
AL-RAHIM: Very much so. And I want to say that neither the Kurds nor the Shia, nor the Sunnis nor anybody on the street that you meet really is calling for a partition of Iraq. In fact, the Kurds of course would like that deep down in their heart they would like their own independent state but they're vulnerable on this issue because of Turkey, because of Iran and they know that it's not really achievable. So in fact the Kurds are playing a major national role now in Iraqi politics, which is more than other politicians are doing, but the Shia and the Sunnis, whether we're talking about politicians or the ordinary man and woman on the street, they do not want to see partition because there's still a strong sense of Iraqiness. The fact is that the violence is what is creating this devolution or centrifugal forces and pushing people into their regions and into primary identities.
FOREMAN: I want to get back to Aneesh quickly here. Aneesh, why, under all these circumstances, can we not talk about something like a Camp David summit or a date in a court, where we simply say get the biggest players you can from these groups, bring them together outside of the country in a safe place and say let's have real talks about what you need to make a working government?
RAMEN: They did that August 26th in Baghdad. We saw the heads of the five major parties meet. Just before that, there was a disastrous landscape politically, very little hope this government could pull off a compromise. We heard from Ambassador Crocker in the past week's testimony put a lot of hope and faith into that meeting. But it really hasn't emerged as much more than a photo op. We have yet to see Iraq's parliament to take up any major legislation on any of these major issues and we heard from the Sunni vice president who was part of that meeting, that it was essentially like a wedding without a bride because the minority political parties, outside of that Shia group, the secularites, the Sunnis, to a small degree the Kurds, but they are in essence the king makers, they feel this government has not only neglected them, but has stood by while they have been intimidated, in some instances imprisoned by security forces and militia. They don't buy the legitimacy in the governing coalition right now and until that fundamental issue gets resolved, they can meet wherever they want for as long as they want, but it won't trickle down into actual action.
FOREMAN: Aneesh, Arwa, Rend, we're out of time but thank you for your insights.
Next we'll turn from politics in Baghdad to politics here in Washington, DC. Is the White House exit strategy simply to hand off Iraq to the next administration? We'll examine that in just a moment.
But first our weekly look at images caught in conflict, the work of combat photographers. Carol Prinslu (ph) captured the surreal nature of combat as U.S. soldiers shared the street with an Iraqi, so used to the danger, that he's simply watering his lawn in the midst of it.
After a car bomb killed two and wounded six people near a Shiite mosque in northern Baghdad, Hadi Misbaum (ph) framed this Iraqi policeman in the blood that was left behind. And a slice of life in a refugee camp outside Najaf (ph) in this picture by Allah al Margani (ph), he even estimates that 2,000 Iraqis abandon their homes every day to join the millions already made homeless by this war. Abby and Alex, Beaver walk through a forest of flags in Alwatona (ph), Minnesota. Alex Beam (ph) took this picture on Tuesday as 800 flags were arranged in a field of on honor, dedicated to Minnesota's veterans. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time to turn the corner, in my view, gentlemen. We should stop the surge and start bringing our troops home.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R) NEBRASKA: Are we going to continue to invest American blood and treasure at the same rate we are doing now? For what?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: There was plenty of hostile fire this week from both sides of the aisle, when General Petraeus testified to Congress. He appears to have sold his plan, but does he have the political support to carry it out now? CNN White House correspondent Elaine Quijano is at her post there. With me in the studio is AB Stoddard, associate editor of "The Hill" newspaper. AB, has anything changed? We waited all summer for this report. The Democrats' position seems to be the same. The White House is the same.
AB STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: On the surface for the moment, this is good for Republicans, because there's progress on the ground to report. There is going to be a pull-out of troops and officially now, the Democrats' timetable for withdrawal is now off the table. Beyond that, you heard the sound of nervous Republicans this week and they are going to begin voting with Democrats on these middle of the ground incremental measures, keeping the troops home longer between deployments, forcing the administration to come up with a withdrawal plan and changing the mission from combat to counter terrorism, and you'll see them coming with Democrats behind these measures, because they know as we head into campaign season, the rhetoric the Democrats are going to use about our depleted military and our vulnerability to future threats about whether or not we have a clear and achievable mission for our remaining forces in Iraq is going to resonate with voters.
FOREMAN: Elaine, does the White House care about that because I must say the president seemed to make it very, very clear that he is convinced that his policy in Iraq is right and he will pursue it throughout his administration no matter what.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's very true. I don't think there's any doubt that the president believes what he is doing and U.S. military presence there is part of a greater noble cause, his freedom agenda. But at the same time, politically, this is a White House that is well aware that, while Republicans maybe for now with the president on his Iraq policy, that unless there's some kind of sign at the very top levels in Baghdad that look, the surge has in fact produced the results we intended and that is the disparate factions in Iraq coming together, that Republicans are going to have a tough time continuing to stand with the president.
Effectively what we've seen, the president's been able to sort of kick the can down the road. We're going to hear from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker once again in March. That is why you heard President Bush in his address to the nation and we heard from General Petraeus and the ambassador of course laying out what they say is evidence of tangible progress on the ground. They know they're going to have to produce a lot of that more in the months ahead.
FOREMAN: But Elaine, isn't the White House just hearing from a tremendous number of Republicans who have to be saying, if this doesn't turn out well, this will be enormously destructive to all the Republican hopes in Congress, in the Senate, in the White House?
QUIJANO: Absolutely. But for now, at least, again, for now, in the short term, the White House believes that perhaps they turned a corner in that sense, because those Republican defections that we were talking about remember earlier in the summer really haven't translated now at this point into votes. Right now, the White House is quite confident that the general was able to articulate the case well enough that these Republicans have some cover that, they'll be able to look at the situation in al Anbar for instance and say yes, there is a fundamental change on the ground that is taking place, but again, when you look at the overall picture, including the White House's own benchmark report to Congress, where it said that nine, just nine of those benchmarks received satisfactory ratings, it is a worrisome prospect for Republicans. Nevertheless, the president thinks that the best way to move forward is to stick with General Petraeus' strategy.
FOREMAN: The public has made is very clear that they just do not trust the politicians in this. The "New York Times" poll shows that 68 percent of the people think military commanders have the best way to resolve the war. Only 21 percent say Congress can do it. Only 5 percent say the Bush administration. AB, to what extent are there people on both sides -- where are the moderates? I guess that's what I'm saying. Where are the moderates on both sides? It seems like they are being shouted down and intimidated by the very rabid pro-war and the very rabid anti-war.
STODDARD: The moderate Democrats are relieved that now this time line for withdrawal is off the table because it just doesn't have the votes. And they can move to these other measures they hope will attract bipartisan support and will try to put pressure on the president to come to a sooner drawdown, a more substantial drawdown of troops.
But you heard the moderate Republicans this week very nervous as I mentioned during Petraeus' testimony. Senator Elizabeth Dole announced after she heard that she's going to have to support more action-forcing measures. Senator Norm Coleman asked where's the light at the end of the tunnel? Senator John Warner asked -- I mean their biggest enemies are their own parties. A moderate says maybe we should work something out for the good of the nation, for the good of our efforts and they get eaten alive by their own wings.
STODDARD: Well, not on, on the Democratic side no more and I think, as I said, I think that Petraeus' plan will have a short shelf life on the Republican side as well.
FOREMAN: It won't be able to last that long.
STODDARD: There's too much political pressure for them to move to something in the middle.
FOREMAN: Very briefly here, how much back door work is going on now? How much do you have people who have of good intentions on both sides of the aisle who are saying we must find a way to come up with the real plan that says the political spoils have to be secondary to the right decision for our nation, and for the young people who are fighting for us?
STODDARD: Well, as you know, these conversations have been taking place privately all year. Senator Richard Lugar had warned the White House for months that he was going to express that he was skeptical about the war and then he did and he didn't see enough progress. These conversations across the aisle have been taking place all along and now because the leadership on the democratic side is trying to take a less hardened, more softened position, trying to modify their goals, those Republicans, those moderate Republicans who want to join with Democrats on more reasonable approaches will come out in public and out of the spotlight and I think you'll see much more bi-partisan approach to a resolution in the coming months than we've seen coming up to this big September.
FOREMAN: We'll see if any result comes out of all that. A.B., thank you so much. Elaine as well, thanks for being here.
That's how the political battle lines are set. Now, we'll talk about the real front lines, the military and diplomatic strategies needed to make this new U.S. policy a reality.
And later, the high cost aid by two critics of U.S. military strategy, all THIS WEEK AT WAR.
SUSAN MALVEAUX, CNN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Suzanne Malveaux. More of THIS WEEK AT WAR in a moment. First, a look at what is happening now. "The Times of London" reports former auto racing champ Collin McRae was killed in a helicopter crash at his base in Scotland. It is unclear if McRae was flying the chopper. "The Times" also reports McRae's 5-year-old son might have died in the crash.
More political division in Iraq. The Shiite bloc loyal to radical cleric Muqtada Al Sadr has announced that it is withdrawing from the alliance that leads the Iraqi government. That leaves the Shiite led-government led counting on the support of just 138 parliament members, 30 short of a majority.
And the streets of Taiwan filled with more than 100,000 people all wanting the thing, a seat at the United Nations. China says Taiwan is part of its territory and opposes U.N. membership for the island.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Now back to THIS WEEK AT WAR. FOREMAN: If one thing surprised people about Thursday's presidential speech, it was that the U.S. presence in Iraq will extend far beyond the presidency of George W. Bush, a long-term commitment like that in Korea.
What will this look like? And what are the military and diplomatic challenges ahead? CNN's Senior Military Correspondent Jamie McIntyre joins me from his Pentagon post now and over at "The Washington Post", Karen DeYoung, the "Post" senior diplomatic reporter. Karen, did America's diplomatic corps know this was coming?
KAREN DEYOUNG, THE WASHINGTON POST, SENIOR DIPLOMATIC REPORTER: Well, I think it's been sort of obvious in the sense they haven't given us any end date. General Petraeus said, at least in conversations with us, that he expected sustainability, as he called it, to arrive in Iraq in June of '09. There's no numbers about how many troops it will require to get there, whether that's a sliding scale, whether we go then into a different kind of force posture, so I think we just don't know. I think it's been assumed, but been very short on facts and on information about where we go after next summer.
FOREMAN: So what do the diplomatic folks say to the neighboring countries there? Do they now say get used to it, we're going to be here for 10, 15 years or what?
DEYOUNG: Well, I think there's always, it depends on which country you talk about. Obviously, the Iranians have said we want the Americans to get out. A lot of U.S. diplomats say privately the Iranians aren't so sure they want the Americans out right now. They kind of like them there as a whipping boy and they also are as nervous as we are about Iraq sort of falling into chaos. Certainly, the Arab neighbors -- Saudi Arabia, Jordan, they would like some kind of resolution, but I'm not so sure that they are as eager privately as they have for public consumption of wanting us to get out right away.
FOREMAN: Jamie, on the military front, what we're talking about here is what the president says he would like. Obviously, there are elections coming up and maybe what he likes won't matter if somebody else gets to the White House as the Democrats get more control. So, what does the Pentagon make of all of this? Do they see a clock running out at election time or do they plan for a many, many, many- year extended tour in Iraq?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN, SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the answer is both. They do see the clock running out. They see the patience of the country wearing thin, and they are planning for these, hope for significant troop reductions but as you can see, General Petraeus seeing the problems that the past people made with hopeful pronouncements about what might happen, is keeping his cards close to the vest. At the same time, the other part of that coin is, the U.S. is hoping it will have some kind of long-term presence in Iraq with a relatively small number of troops in sort of a benign environment. Maybe not quite like what we have in North and South Korea, where there's a demilitarized zone and a well-established border. But that's a sort of hopeful scenario for the future U.S. military involvement in Iraq, there at the behest and request of the, you know, independent Iraqi government, but as we've seen in Iraq, nothing seems to be going according to plan.
FOREMAN: Let's look at the map and where those troops are going to come out of. These are units we're talking about and how they would get out. And these are the neighbors around Iraq. Karen, what do these countries make of this withdrawal?
DEYOUNG: I think again that they again, for public consumption, they would like to see U.S. troops start leaving. At the same time, though, they, as people here, are worried about chaos in Iraq, which has seemed, over the past year, rather to get closer, rather than moving farther away. They don't want the place to explode. They don't want a civil war on their borders. They think it's unavoidable that they would have to get involved in some way, even more than they're involved now. I'm talking primarily about the Arab neighbors. So I think that they're very leary about a rapid withdrawal. They want things to be fixed in Iraq.
FOREMAN: Jamie, as the British troops have pulled back, there have been members of the Mahdi Army, one of the Shia militias saying 'look, we have driven them out, we have beaten them.' Do people in the Pentagon fear that, as we pull out, there will be a perception sold throughout that part of the world that we were just beaten and chased out?
MCINTYRE: Well, I think that's always, you know, there are always going to be those claims whenever the U.S. military pulls back from something just as what we've seen in the south. Although the British have made that calculation that when you're no longer really a moral part of the solution, you become part of the problem and once if the violence and the level of violence is directed solely against you as the occupying force, then prudence dictates you do pull back if you're trying to accomplish something. And of course, the goal all along was for the U.S.-British coalition troops to leave, but what the south illustrates, though, is sometimes it's a real tradeoff involved. You do lessen the provocation, but then you can unleash the forces of violence. And one of the things the U.S. troops are doing, for better or worse, is keeping a lid on some of the valence and we just don't know what's going to happen when they leave.
FOREMAN: Thanks so much, Jamie and Karen, to you as well.
Coming up next, a look at the War on Terror, a war the U.S. does not appear to be winning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Edelmiro Abad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maria Rose Abad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Andrew Anthony Abate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vincent Abate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laurence Christopher Abel. FOREMAN: On Tuesday in New York, they read names of the victims of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. It's now the fifth time those names have been read, six years of the War on Terror, but increasingly it appears that terror may be winning that the world is becoming a more dangerous place. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson joins us now from an extremely dangerous place, right on the Afghan border and with me in the studio, Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA counter-terrorism center. Nic, let me start with you. Why are you in the dark?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're in Nuristan, the Hindu Kush mountains very close to the border with Pakistan. We are surrounded by mountains on this forward operating base, we're at the foot of the mountains. This base is attacked on a regular basis. There is extreme light discipline here. We're not allowed to have lights outside because that would attract attack and that's the last thing the soldiers that this base need. They've been through enough attacks already, Tom.
FOREMAN: Nic, this is the place where the Taliban once held firm and set up a staging ground for Al Qaeda and at one point we thought they were just almost wiped out. How did we reach this point that the fight still goes on?
ROBERTSON: The Taliban's ideology, the radical extremist ideology never went away. Their support base within the (bastions) of Pakistan and the tribal area of Pakistan never went away. They regrouped and came back. They found funding from supporters within the middle east, from Pakistan, from the opium poppies that grow in Afghanistan and have taken the fight against the Afghan government. They've been able to entrench themselves and get a depth of strength and support outside of Afghanistan, inside that tribal border area of Pakistan, where the Pakistani government doesn't have full written control and it's allowed them to move back into Afghanistan, and they crossed the border not far from here with weapons and supplies, and they attacked soldiers at bases like this.
Let's look at the map real quick and see the area that you're talking about. Afghanistan over here, Pakistan over here. At one point, Robert, we really thought we had the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden all hemmed up in the middle here. But now look at the influence all around the world of where Al Qaeda is either making strikes or has support or is able to do things. How did we let it get to this point?
ROBERT GRENIER, FORMER HEAD, CIA COUNTER-TERRORISM CENTER: Well, I'm not sure that we let it get to this point. I think that we are the victims of circumstance. Nic was just describing the circumstance there in the tribal areas on either side of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It's a very hostile population. It is a population which has long been and still is under the sway of the radical islamist ideology; and unfortunately, the Pakistan government has taken a tactical move since September of 2006, to draw its troops back, hoping that these areas can police themselves. It simply a hasn't worked.
FOREMAN: What would work at this point then? Because obviously, we can't just sit back and say to Al Qaeda 'do what you wish.' Listen to this quote by Osama Bin Laden, he said "to continue to escalate the killing and fighting against you. This is the duty and our brothers are carrying it out and I ask Allah to grant them resolve and victory. It has now become clear to you and the entire world the impotence of the democratic system." Boy, that certainly sounds like just thumbing his nose at all of us.
GRENIER: Well, certainly he is, and of course this is propaganda and I think we have to interpret it as such; but in answer to your question, what is it that we can do about this? Well to permanently remove these safe havens in question along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is really the work of at least a generation. It is as much an issue of economic development and political development as it is of military or intelligence work. In the meantime, however, we and particularly the Pakistan government, need to put as much pressure on these people as we possibly can. We can't remove the safe haven. We can't entirely root them out but we can do a good deal more to make them uncomfortable, to make it difficult for them to communicate and to plan terrorist operations around the world.
FOREMAN: Nic, you're often reporting from dangerous places about the military part of this. What about this economic and political side of it, basically encouraging young people to not be part of this. How much do you see of that in very dangerous places like you're in now?
ROBERTSON: It's critical, the troops here tell us to them it's (inaudible) sometimes they say if they do reconstruction in the areas, that they're going to head into, and that's microhydroelectric power plant, health clinics, schools, that helps pave a more benign way for them. I've sat in recently on Shurah council meetings with elders and they say, 'hey look, we were against the Americans before they came here, we saw that they're trying to help and now we're with them;" and what we're being told by the soldiers here that in the mountains here, this remote area that even the Afghan government for decades hasn't cared about and looked after. But the local villagers are now saying, in some cases at least, where they feel strong enough that they're not going to tolerate these insurgent Taliban, Al Qaeda-type fighters coming through their villages and dominating the area, and they're going to stand up against it but it's incredibly tough.
Where are their weapons to do it? How are they going to do it? Well, the U.S. government and the soldiers are showing by their reconstruction that they're here to help and if they can get the people to buy into that message that they're beginning to do, then that denies, if you will, the territory to Al Qaeda. The guerrilla movement insurgency is a classic insurgency in this area, cannot exist if they don't have the support of the population, or they'll find it a lot harder. How are they trying to change the hearts and minds of the young children here? Some of the young children are taking into meeting. The U.S. troops are taking to meetings, encouraging elders to take into their meetings to talk about governance. So, they're learning it in school, learning it watching traditional elders discuss important issues. They're trying to change that generation, starting early, but it is going to be a hugely, hugely long task and there are no easy routes and in these mountains, it is particularly difficult. FOREMAN: As you said Robert, no doubt a generational battle against Al Qaeda. Thanks for being here.
You, too, Nic, we appreciate your time.
In just a moment, the father of all bombs.
But first we have a quick request, we want to show the human face of THIS WEEK AT WAR - the homecomings, the tough times on the home front and the slow times on the battlefront. Please help us do that by sharing your videos, pictures and stories. Go to cnn.com/thisweekatwar, and click on the I-Report link.
Now let's turn to some of the other hot spots in THIS WEEK AT WAR. Last week's unexplained air strike by Israeli jets into Syria raised new questions this week. CNN's Barbara Starr reported that U.S. officials believed the target was a weapons storage site. Other news reports say that Syria may be working with North Korea on a nuclear program.
And in Russia they set off a thermobaric bomb. That's a mist of fuel set off by a spark. It's comparable to a nuclear blast in many ways and the Russians called it the father of all bombs. Just an extraordinary sight there.
In a moment, a warning about Iraq from those on the front line.
But at first a WEEK AT WAR remembrance. Army specialist Jason Hernandez was killed last week when an IED detonated near his vehicle in Mosul, Iraq. His father, John Hernandez, a combat veteran and recruiter for the military said it was Jason's decision to serve his country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HERNANDEZ, FATHER OF JASON HERNANDEZ: It was his choice and I did not push him, and he did what he wanted and he knew what he was getting into, just like other families that have gone through, this is what happens, is all. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, he's still here with me.
FOREMAN: Jason's high school alma mater honored him before this week's football game with a moment of silence. The Streetsboro, Ohio, native turned 21 on the morning of that attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: We'd like to share a warning about Iraq that was written a few weeks ago but still seems relevant as the U.S. heads into what appears to be a long and very difficult struggle. The political debate in Washington is, indeed, surreal. To believe that Americans with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched, the authors of this commentary published in the "New York Times" were seven noncommissioned officers in the 82nd Airborne Division on active duty in Iraq.
This week, two of the soldiers who wrote this, Staff Sergeant Yance Gray and Sergeant Omar Maura died when their truck overturned near Baghdad. At the end of their critique of the U.S. military policy in Iraq, they wrote "we need not talk about our morale, as committed soldiers, we will see this mission through." Whether you agree with their position or not, they did just that.
Turning now to some of the stories that we'll be following in the next week at war.
On Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual general conference begins in Vienna, measures to protect against nuclear terrorism at the top of the agenda there. On Saturday, Iran begins it's celebration of sacred defense week, the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq War, a struggle that lasted for eight years and took the lives of an estimated half million people. And next Saturday, the U.N. General Assembly will begin discussions on the situation in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki is expected to attend.
Thanks for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR. I'm Tom Foreman. Straight ahead, CNN's special investigation unit -- Afghanistan: Lifting the veil.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com