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THIS WEEK AT WAR
The Week's War Activities and Reporting
Aired December 2, 2007 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN HOST: Thanks, Wolf. This week was filled with pictures of progress. New hopes for peace in the Middle East. Refugees streaming back to a safe and secure Iraq. Democracy replacing military rule in Pakistan.
But what's real and what's just smoke and mirrors? We'll do a reality check on THIS WEEK AT WAR right after a look at what's in the news right now.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Tom. I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
Now in the news, new evidence that the U.S. troop increase in Iraq is having an impact. Iraq's Interior Ministry says war-related civilian deaths have dropped for the third straight month. Five hundred thirty eight civilian deaths reported in November. The lowest number in nearly two years.
Tens of millions of Russians voted in parliamentary elections today. Nobody has much doubt about the outcome. President Vladmir Putin's party is expected to win big. Many observers think that after Putin steps down as president in the spring, he will be named prime minister.
Two hours to go before the polls closed in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez is seeking constitutional changes that would make him more powerful and allow him to keep running for president for as many terms as he wants.
And delegates are arriving in Indonesia for a major UN conference on clay mate change. It starts tomorrow on the resort island of Bali. The UN official in charge says any agreement has to win U.S. support in order to work. More news coming up in 30 minutes. Now back to THIS WEEK AT WAR.
FOREMAN: Here is where things stand in THIS WEEK AT WAR. Just getting players in the same room has got to be a good sign for the Middle East peace process.
In Iraq, it's looking like another month of very low casualties. But on the campaign trail, it's unclear which of the candidates is still paying any attention.
In Pakistan, a very tentative up arrow as Musharraf gives up his military command.
And of course there is no upside to the wounds of war, nor for troops and not for the doctors on the front line.
That's how things stand and here is where we're going to find out what's coming next.
CNN International correspondent Jill Dougherty covered this week's peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland. We'll ask what to look for now that the speeches are over.
CNN's Morgan Neil who has been out on at least the somewhat safer streets of Baghdad. But can we depend on militias there to now keep the peace?
And Karl Penhaul in Pakistan where General Musharraf is now just President Musharraf. We'll look at how deep the fractures are in this crucial U.S. ally and what it might mean THIS WEEK AT WAR.
When I listened to the talk of peace in Annapolis, I couldn't help but think about this picture, Oded Baelti (ph) won a Pulitzer prize for this image of a single Israeli woman defying the power of a nation to protest the withdrawal of a West Bank settlement last year.
I keep a picture of this on a wall in my office. In so many ways, the Middle East has been the story of a few idealists, militants and of course terrorists blocking compromise.
So what's different this time? National security reporter Robin Wright is standing by at the "Washington Post." Aneesh Raman joins us from Tehran. And with me in our Washington studio is CNN International's U.S. Affairs editor Jill Dougherty.
And Jill, let me start with you. What is different this time? Anything?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: I think what's different is the parties have come together, roughly 40, 45 countries, organizations, in Annapolis, and they say they are going to move forward on certain tracks of discussions about the issues and they are actually worked out. They begin on the 12th of December. It will be meetings between the Israelis and Palestinians and another conference perhaps in Moscow. So it looks as if they have set the ball in motion once again, but we don't know where it's going.
FOREMAN: President Bush obviously has big hopes. He talked to Wolf Blitzer about it. Let's listen to that for a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Our message for the Israelis is that it's in your interests that your prime minister negotiate with the Palestinians. A democracy. I happen to believe it's in the security interests of both people to conclude this agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Robin, he may believe that, but do they believe that? Is there something fundamentally different? There is a lot of pooh- poohing of this conference earlier this week. But is there something fundamentally different afoot here that we don't know about?
ROBIN WRIGHT, "WASHINGTON POST": I think the atmospherics are different. I think the fact that you have everyone in a room without the kind of tension you have seen at earlier international conferences dating back to Madrid. So I think there is a real appetite. I think one factors they all share in common is this fear of Iran.
I think that one player who was not in Annapolis may have had as much influence as those, in the decision to get there, as those who attended. There is a common fear of the growing Iranian energy and momentum politically in the region and the fact that it's allies, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and Gaza, the Hezbollah in Lebanon and of course Syria, which is Iran's closest ally. Are all surrounding Israel.
So Israel has a greater interest of settling with the Palestinians now, as do the Arabs who are nervous about Iran's presence, for example, in Iraq. This growing Shiite momentum and so many of the Sunni regimes in the region gotten together with the Israelis in the United States to try to push for peace, whether it works is a different issue.
FOREMAN: Interesting you should bring up Iran, because certainly President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad there has something to say about it as he often does. He said, "We are disappointed that some fell victim to the sinister Zionist regime. They are mistaken if they thought that this summit will bring any achievements for them. It is impossible that the Zionist regime will survive."
Aneesh, you were there in Iran. A lot of the Iranian people certainly wouldn't share that view, though, would they?
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Iran, of course, among the people we speak to, just wants peace. It wants these crises that have plagued this country from the start, at least since the revolution, to be over with.
The Iranian position is how can you have peace between Israel and the West Bank? How can you leave half of the Palestinians in Gaza out? The issue there of course is neither Hamas nor its backer Iran recognizes Israel, so how do you bring them to the table?
But Robin hit it on the mark. A lot of these Sunni governments went there in part for peace, in part to counter Iran's threat and that is a risk. If traction doesn't come out of summit, Iran only gains.
Because the anger on the Muslim streets will only rise against those same government that went to Annapolis. They will be proclaimed as siding the U.S., as siding with Israel and that is the sort of rhetoric Iran's president loves to tap into.
The only real threat Iran had immediately was that Syria went there. But the Syrian Foreign Ministry pretty much put that to bed by calling them Tehran's ambassador in Damascus and said Syria already thought it was a failure and Syria only went there for the Golan Heights and Syria, despite its alliance with Iran, will always go in search of the Golan Heights wherever there is talk of a potential lasting peace.
FOREMAN: Jill, the problem has always seemed to be and seems like it could be in this case that even if all these people agree on things, but Iran doesn't agree and Hamas doesn't agree or Hezbollah doesn't like it, the people who weren't at the table will just start potentially lobbing rockets and making people say you can't trust the deal.
DOUGHERTY: That's always the issue. Because you can work out certain things on the big high level with people in suits, but when you get down to the ground, it's this lack of trust and one missile coming over from Gaza into the Israeli territory can blow up a lot of things.
FOREMAN: So Robin, how can that be stopped? And what should we look for? If we as normal people are saying is there any progress from this, what should we look for?
WRIGHT: I think one of the questions to what degree will there be some kind of terrorist spectacular to try to undermine this? The interesting thing is we haven't seen it during the conference there is a period of quiet right now. I think this is -- the next three months are really going to be critical in determining whether the Israelis and Palestinians can actually generate movement.
Seeing if there is interest in opening up a parallel track between the Israelis and the Syrians, whether there is a second international meeting held in Moscow as the Russians have proposed. That there is a window of three months and to what extent is there quiet on the ground.
I think Syria has a particular interest in seeing the international community deal with its own quest to return to -- to win the return of the Golan Heights.
FOREMAN: I want to get back to Aneesh if we can very quickly here at the end. Aneesh, you have been all over the region. What are people feeling like now? Because I keep getting a rumble that a lot of people in a lot of places seem to simply be tired as we are of the Middle East being such a hotbed.
Yes there are extremists who want to still win, but a lot of people are saying let's have a break from all of this. Am I wrong on that?
RAMAN: No, people are exhausted region-wide. The issue is the disconnect between the average people in a lot of these countries and the governments is only widening.
When you speak of Egypt, for example, rights there being rolled back. The U.S. isn't condemning President Mubarak, there is a great deal of perceived American hypocrisy. So on the streets there if fatigue for what's going on but there is no sense at all that America has the credibility on the ground to be the broker. And there is a fear that no one has that credibility.
So the people -- It's not just false hope. There is no hope. What they are waiting for is to see maybe just because of the exhaustion that there can be some moment to get peace at this time. But really, the fact that President Bush is trying to push it out here lacks a lot of credibility. It's someone they think coming too late for to the game trying to excuse a lot of anti-Muslim actions over the past seven years.
FOREMAN: Aneesh, Robin, Jill, thank you, all, so much.
Later, a new feature on THIS WEEK AT WAR. Flash brief. Everything you need to pay attention to next week.
We're calling it around the world in 90 seconds. And straight ahead, we'll discuss the presidential campaigns and how candidates are handling the war in Iraq now.
But first, a THIS WEEK AT WAR remembrance. Army Sergeant Steven Ganczewski of Niagara Falls, New York, was killed on November 16 during his fifth tour in Iraq while in Balad. Ganczewski was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment out of Fort Benning, Georgia. His parents say ever since he was a little boy, Steven always talked about joining the military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GANCZEWSKI, FATHER: Especially after he saw what happened with 9/11, that made it more imperative to him that he to do something to defend our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Steven married a fellow soldier last year and adopted her two-year-old daughter, and he was 22 years old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The message of these brave men and women who are serving over there is let us win. Let us win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Senator John McCain is adamant on how to handle the war in Iraq at Wednesday's CNN/YouTube Republican debate. But is the war still a pivotal issue in this presidential race?
Two of the best political team on television are with me now. CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash and senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Bill, it seems to me that all of the presidential contenders aren't quite sure what to do with the war right now because the numbers indicate the war is going better, but it's still very unpopular with the public.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It definitely is unpopular with the public. The opposition to war is as high as we have ever seen. It reached a peak, actually, at the beginning of November. One of the reasons why the issue is getting somewhat less central attention is that the Democrats are all basically in agreement. We got to get out. Their only disagreements about how fast and when. The Republicans are all in agreement we got to win, except for Ron Paul.
So when you don't have a big conflict among the candidates, the issue is just not going to get a lot of attention.
FOREMAN: Let's listen for a moment to what the Republicans said about it during this debate. Here is a sampling of their sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we can't do what the Democrats do. We can't put our head in the sand.
FRED THOMPSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's too many people in this country are vested in a scenario of defeat. I am vested in a scenario of victory and I see it happening there in Iraq today.
MCCAIN: I'm the only one on this stage that said we have to have a new strategy, and that's the strategy we're employing now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Dana, I can't help but think a lot of Democrats on the Hill are torn right now. They see the same numbers we do. They see us getting better in Iraq, and they must fear being seen as defeatists who are saying now that it's getting better, let's pull out. They know the public wants that, but at the same time they must be afraid of that.
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely.
And that's why you are seeing more than what they started to say in the summer. Which is, especially those Democrats who have actually gone to Iraq and come back with a report. They say the surge is working militarily, but -- they have the "but "right afterward. But politically, still a disaster over there, and that is why they are trying to temper that, really walk that fine line.
But there is no question it is very hard. Especially, Tom, especially because they have the intense pressure from the left, from the blogosphere, from protests at their offices, that they are still incredibly frustrated. Democrats have been in charge now almost an entire year and they really haven't done anything to change the course of the war.
FOREMAN: And yet there is still a lot of time, Bill, until the election. There is plenty of time for either this war to go very bad again or for things to go very well which at the moment is what they are trending toward.
SCHNEIDER: The American people have made up their minds about this war. And the news ...
FOREMAN: You don't think that can change?
SCHNEIDER: Not really.
FOREMAN: Once they were very much in favor of it. Why couldn't it change back the other way?
SCHNEIDER: Because I don't foresee a circumstance that will convince Americans to change their views that this is a war we should not be fighting and we should get out of there.
FOREMAN: You think it goes to the causality of it? Should we have gone in the first place?
SCHNEIDER: Yes. We shouldn't -- They have made up their minds, we shouldn't have gone in the first place, this war is not worth fighting, we should get out. People firmly feel that way, and I don't foresee that changing in the next year.
FOREMAN: What about the Democrats - excuse me, the Republicans up on the Hill right now. Republicans are aware of that, and yet some of them in a very heartfelt way feel like this could turn out relatively well, relatively, so what do they do now?
BASH: It's interesting. I tell you, back in August, I was up in New Hampshire with Senator John Sununu. Probably one of the most vulnerable Republicans on Capitol Hill and he said I am just - he's got the beginning of what we're seeing now. I'm hearing about immigration, I'm hearing about taxes, I'm not hearing that much about Iraq. And that is something that has really driven the debate in a different way for Republicans.
We were expecting an all-out revolt at this time among Republicans when it comes to the war. They are hearing same things Democrats are, Tom. They are hearing about other issues besides Iraq. So they definitely feel like they are taking a breath and they realize this is also playing out big time on the presidential campaign.
FOREMAN: What are you thinking, Bill?
SCHNEIDER: The precise way of saying that people have not changed their minds about the war in Iraq, and I think they are not likely to. But as Dana just said, other issues have emerged to compete for urgency. Most prominently the economy. People are becoming very worried, very upset about the economy. That is now competing as the number one issue with Iraq for attention of the voters, members of Congress are hearing that and that is also not good news for the Republican.
FOREMAN: President Bush mentioned the military budget on Thursday and what he thinks needs to happen. Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Pentagon officials have warned Congress that the continued delay in funding our troops will soon begin to have a damaging impact on the operations of this department. (END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Quickly, Bill, if you can wrap it up for us here. It does seem, though, when the president talks that way, Republicans may start sticking Democrats again as they have on saying you are weak on defense. Put the war aside, and we're making progress now, and you guys are weak on defense. You think that's likely?
SCHNEIDER: You can't put the war aside. The war is right there at the top of the agenda. Along with the economy. The war is there.
FOREMAN: But can they do that? Can you do as the president is saying, get serious about funding here. It's working, now, if it fails now, it's your fault.
SCHNEIDER: I think the Democrats are nervous about that, yes, they, and they are saying we've heard this many times, we're not going to fall for that again.
BASH: I think so too. But I think that privately some Democrats are concerned about the fact that they kept taking vote after vote after vote for everything from a plan to get out of Iraq to what they're fighting over now, which is the budget and at a certain point somebody will have to say uncle, and at the end of the day, they know it's almost always Democrats, and it will be probably again this time.
FOREMAN: Thanks so much, Dana and Bill, we appreciate your insights here.
Next, we'll turn from rhetoric to reality. The state of play in Iraq right now.
But first, a homecoming on THIS WEEK AT WAR. Over 1,000 soldiers from the Army's 2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division returned to a hero's welcome at Fort Drum, New York. This combat team has served a total of 40 months in Iraq since the war began. That's more than any other Army brigade.
Yet Colonel Michael Kershaw, the unit's commander said his troops are still focused on the mission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. MICHAEL KERSHAW, COMMANDER, 2ND BRIGADE, 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION: Obviously, have a lot of pride in this brigade and its soldiers and our efforts. Great pride in what we were able to accomplish from our country over in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: In the midst of their celebration, the soldiers and their families took time to honor the 54 comrades who were either killed or are missing in action.
FOREMAN: On Tuesday, Iraqis cheered as they loaded onto buses in Syria and headed back to Baghdad. Only a small part of what is being presented as a wave of refugees returning home. Is that what this is? Or is this a scene of desperate families that are being driven back into danger?
Morgan Neill has been watching the return of these refugees. He is in our Baghdad bureau.
And in New York, Bobby Ghosh, now the world editor for "Time" magazine, but for many years their Baghdad bureau chief.
Morgan, these folks who are coming back. Are generally happy about it? Generally nervous, what?
MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It tends to be a mix of all of the above, Tom. What you are seeing, is generally -- as we have heard this the clip at the top, coming from Syria. You've got about 1.5 million Iraqis that had fled to Syria, and we do seem to have crossed to the point where there are more Iraqis are coming back from Syrian then are going to Syria.
But the reasons for coming back are all over the map. The UN did a survey asking those coming back just why they are doing so and number one on the list was not improved security. It was that they were running out of money. Second on that list was that their visas were running out. Only after that do you see people saying they are coming back because of improved security.
When you talk to Iraqis who have done this, of course the reasons are a lot less clear cut. They tend to lump all of this together. I talked to a woman today for example who said she has come back from Syria, yes, money was tight there, it was hard to make ends meet, but just as important for her, she felt like they were ostracized in Syria, she missed her neighbors, she missed their way of life. So all of those factors factored into her decision, Tom.
FOREMAN: Let's take a look at the map and get a sense for people where this is all happening. This is Iraq down here, Baghdad. Here is Syria, the area they are coming back in from.
Bobby, when you look at that study by the UN, what does that tell you? Is there a real increased sense of security of Iraq right now?
BOBBY GHOSH, "TIME MAGAZINE": I think Morgan has it exactly right. I think there is certainly a sense that things are a little better in Baghdad than before, most of the people coming back as for the reporting that we are getting out of Baghdad are coming in because they are running out of money or overstayed their welcome. The country we need to look at is south of Syria in Jordan. That's where there are a million Iraqis, and they are the cream of Iraqi society. These are the upper middle class, the wealthy class, these are the professionals, the doctors, professors, architects.
Those are the people that Iraq needs most desperately. Those are also people with deeper pockets. Very few people from Jordan coming back to Baghdad. When that becomes -- goes more from a trickle to a wave, that's when we know things have turned a corner. That's not happening yet.
Those who can afford to stay away are still staying away. I still have friends who live in Baghdad who are looking to get out rather than stay back.
FOREMAN: Bobby, let me ask you about this. There is a study about the IED fatalities month by month for U.S. troops. In May, it was up to about 90 of. It dropped to 74 in June, 46 in July. On down to now about 23 IED fatalities by month for U.S. troops. Does that mean anything for people who are thinking about coming back? Do they pay attention to numbers like that?
GHOSH: Not so much. Because those IED attacks were primarily directed to American soldiers not at Iraqis. They are looking at other statistics, they're looking at the reduction in suicide bombings. And that's a big factor for an ordinary Iraqi. A big security factor.
They are also looking - there are no reliable statistics for this, but they are also looking at trends in kidnapping industry. It is an industry in Baghdad. And there are fewer kidnappings, when they hear of fewer kidnappings, that's a good sign.
They are also looking at sectarian violence. Sunni versus Shia, Shia versus Sunni. Those numbers have been coming down as well and that is gratifying, but on the whole, most Iraqis are also very conscious that these are all temporary declines. They are worried that this is all happening because there are 30,000 American soldiers in Baghdad. Those soldiers won't be there forever. When they have gone, will things continue to remain better or get better still or will they get worse?
And a lot of Iraqis think they will get worse and they are reluctant to come back home because of that.
FOREMAN: One of the things we've been hearing about and tracking a bit is through the military and State Department the notion that there are back door talks of some sort, whether they are going through intermediaries or what with Iran and with Syria and that things have shut down a little bit in terms of extra weapons coming in. Support from Iran coming in.
As General Petraeus said it about Syria. "Another factor, he said, has been unexpected robust measures by Syria to reduce the number of foreign militants crossing into Iraq to carry out suicide attacks." And he went on a little more with that. Morgan, is there any sense there that the outside influences have waned at all?
NEILL: Well there, is a sense that -- particularly in regards to the Syrian-Iraqi border in the past they have been able to turn this off and on like a faucet if you will. Extremists flowing in, and suddenly that flow dropping. We have heard from U.S. officials that the number of extremists that have come across that border in recent months has dropped. What they have been saying is it's not clear if this is a policy decision or not.
Now we've been hearing comments like this from General Petraeus. We heard this as early as April when already appeared that Syria was taking measures to tighten its border and of course Syrian President Bashar Assad has said for some time now that Syria has no interest on having foreign fighters on its soil as this poses a risk of instability to Syria just like it does to Iraq.
FOREMAN: And Bobby, I want to get back to you for final comment on that. Because I know have you some question about that that the idea that the borders are closing.
GHOSH: As Morgan pointed out, this is something that the trends rise and fall over the course of the year. It's gratifying that right now, there are fewer coming across the border, but it doesn't necessarily mean in December or January the numbers won't go up again. The main reason there is a reduction is violence, let's not forget, is that a large number of the Sunnis that were previously killing Americans are now fighting alongside Americans.
And a large number of the Shiite militias who were planting IEDs have decided for strategic reasons that it makes more sense for them to back off for the moment, wait for the Americans to leave and them resume their anti Sunni program.
FOREMAN: And with that, I'm afraid we're out of time. Thank you very much, Bobby and Morgan as well.
Next up, General Musharraf takes off his uniform and Pakistan appears to be heading for -- if not exactly true democracy, at least something a bit closer.
But first, our weekly look at the work of combat photographers. Like the Israeli woman resisting the police at the top of the show. Another example of the drama of defiance. Kalil Hamra (ph) took this photo in Gaza City as Hamas supporters protested the Annapolis peace conference.
And even as President Bush was speaking at the Naval Academy, Kevin Trayer (ph) showed the gap between policy and reality. This Palestinian man stands on top of the wall surrounding his West Bank village, calmly waiting for the coast to clear before he heads to Jerusalem.
A Shiite man sits alone amid the tombs in the center of what may be the largest cemetery of the world. This is the Valley of Peace in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf. Farma al-Marjani (ph) was the photographer.
And finally, Peter David Yossick (ph) was there as a soldier from the 101st Airborne searched for insurgents in a town south of Baghdad. A reminder, that for all the talk good and bad, if anyone still needs a reminder, in Iraq is the war is far from over.
WHITFIELD: Hello, I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
Now in the news, a court appearance for the fourth defendant in the shooting death of Washington Redskins football player Sean Taylor. Nineteen year old Jason Mitchell appeared before the judge over a video conference link. Like the other suspects, Mitchell is accused of murder and was denied bond.
The snow and ice storm that pummeled Midwest yesterday is now blamed for at least six traffic deaths. Some snow is still falling in several Midwest states, but the bulk of the storm is headed toward New England now where it could dump a foot of snow in some places.
And new evidence the U.S. troop increase in Iraq is having an impact. Iraq's Interior Ministry says war-related civilian deaths have dropped for the third straight month. Five hundred thirty eight civilian reports were reported in November, the lowest number in nearly two years.
More news coming up at the top of the hour. Now back to THIS WEEK AT WAR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: ... to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: This week for the first time, Pervez Musharraf took the presidential oath as a civilian. But in Pakistan's streets, lawyers continued their protest, the state of emergency may be over, but clearly the question of who will rule Pakistan is far from decided.
With me in Washington is Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistani ambassador, now chair of Islamic studies at American University. And in Islamabad, CNN's Karl Penhaul. And Karl, let me start with you. What is the sense on the ground there? Better days, or is it still mighty tense?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are seeing a lot of fire go out in some of those street protests. Those have tended over the last few days to become somewhat calmer, but the political turmoil is still far from over because of the position of the main opposition parties.
There really is a gap in credibility they consider between what President Musharraf says and what he actually does. Now, yes, he has set a date for the lifting of emergency rule, 16th of December, if he lives up to that. He has set a date for elections, January the 8th and he has indeed stepped down as head of the army chief as he pledged and has taken on the mantle of civilian president.
But what he hasn't done is reinstate those judges from the Supreme Court. That was one of the main moves he made when he installed emergency rule on November the 3rd. And so what the opposition party is calling into question is the very legitimacy of President Musharraf continuing as president at all. Because they say the legality of his reelection was taken by a partner Supreme Court where the bench was stacked with all his own allies, Tom.
FOREMAN: Let's take a look at what some of those opposition leaders had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QAZI HUSSAIN AHMED, JAMIAT ISLAMI CHAIRMAN: To all the opposition political parties to boycott these elections and launch a mass movement for the -- the restoration of the Supreme Court and chief justice and also the constitution.
IMRAN KHAN, PAKISTANI OPPOSITION LEADER: The complete consensus that Musharraf has to go, that Musharraf is now the problem. He cannot solve any problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Very strong voices, there, Akbar. What are we to make of all that? Musharraf has made some concession very late in the game here. Is it enough?
AKBAR AHMED, FORMER PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.K.: Not at the moment. The big news is there has been a transition from military dictator to civilian president. This is big because the former three military dictators, one was blown up in the air with the American ambassador, two were confined to their homes and died there.
So the fact that Muhsarraf has crossed over gives us a glimmer of hope, but he faces major hurdles. Nawaz Sharif, the head of the Muslim League has boycotted the elections. Imran Khan, the Jamiat Islami, and so on. The game now is with Benazir Bhutto. It is in her court. If she decides to boycott the elections, Musharraf's election will be in trouble. If she goes along with the elections there, are some hope.
FOREMAN: Let's take a look at the map, if we can, Akhbar and explain to me something I think we often miss here in this conflict. The map, we see Pakisdtan, India, Afghanistan, but this is the tribal map. Showing the tribal regions of the Pashtuns, Punjabis and so forth.
How much does this map matter more than the other one as we look at the future of Pakistan?
AHMED: Tom, this is a great question. Islam is a universal religion, like Christianity. But it's rooted in societies that remain profoundly tribal. Take a look at this map. Baluchistan, the land of the Baluch tribe, Afghanistan, the land of Avran (ph) tribe, Pashtuns, the Frontier Province we talked of the Tribal Areas. There is the Momonth (ph) Agency, named after the Momonth tribe, Waziristan after the Wazir tribe, Oruksay (ph) after the Oroksay and these are all tribal societies with a code of honor, hospitality, revenge.
FOREMAN: So when we talk about Musharraf trying to try to find his way through that or any politician trying to find his way through that. This is just as important as what we might traditionally see. We look at this and say, gee, just unite your country and whoever it is can be a leader. It's much more complex than that.
AHMED: Much more complex and it is a reality. People do define themselves on the basis of their ethnicity. This is crucial to understand African and Asian societies. Here in the United States, the tribe means 19th century tribes which are no longer with us in any real sense. In the Muslim world, they exist, they are real. Individuals define themselves on the basis of the tribal charter, and if you are off the tribal charter, in a sense you don't exist.
FOREMAN: So, Karl, with that in mind, is there anyone in Pakistan right now with this current state of turmoil who can really unite the country in a way that would make American leaders comfortable that this is a strong ally?
PENHAUL: Certainly what the U.S. administration has made clear, Tom, is that it would like to see some kind of moderate administration here in power in Pakistan. They like President Musharraf's firm hand. They have done since 2001 when he allied with the United States in the war on terror, but they also like the image that somebody like Benazir Bhutto brings to the table because she really does add to this veneer of democracy that does exist in Pakistan.
That said, on the ground, you have really got to look at what credibility somebody like Benazir Bhutto has with ordinary Pakistanis. She already served two terms with prime minister. Both those administrations were severely questioned because of the level of corruption. Some of those corruption investigations internationally are still going on.
Then you look at somebody like Nawaz Sharif, another of the exiled prime ministers who recently returned to Pakistan, and his administration also was severely questioned for corruption, and the sense on the ground from ordinary Pakistanis, while they brought some stability to the country, they really didn't bring any development and any progress to the people. So what is good for the United States isn't necessarily good for the people of Pakistan.
That said, there is really no grassroots leader who has emerged here. You see in the tribal areas up close to the border with Afghanistan, that some of the conservative religious parties have a foothold there, but talking to a military strategist, he said that isn't necessarily because the people in the tribal area are more conservative or more religious than elsewhere in Pakistan. Although quite probably they are.
But they tend to rally around those more radical elements because of the degree of poverty and also the perception that they have been let down by the central government.
FOREMAN: And we'll have to leave it at that. Thanks so much, Karl and Akbar as well, thank you for being here.
In a moment, the story of one doctor who learned the tools of war in the struggle to save lives in a combat hospital. Think about what they might be. And we'll tell you about this right after this.
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BUSH: As a leader of a rifle squad in Iraq, Corporal Dunham lived by the values he had been taught. He was a guy everybody looked up to. He was a marine's marine.
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FOREMAN: On January 11, President Bush awarded the Medal of Honor to Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, a young man who threw himself on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow marines.
Heidi Kraft attended that ceremony. She was a Navy psychologist in the Alpha Surgical Company when that young marine was brought in there. Heidi, thanks for joining us. Tell us what happened that day.
HEIDI KRAFT, FORMER NAVY PSYCHOLOGIST: We experienced a mass casualty that day, and Corporal Dunham is one of the young men that came in that day. He suffered a very serious brain injury and showed no signs of meaningful brain activity when we first got him in the door.
So he was in a place that we used where we could give people medication and support as we expected them to pass away there. And I sat with him, among others, and held his hand, and then something extraordinary happened. And he started squeezing my hand and responding to my voice and commands, specifically to squeeze at certain times. So his status changed. It was remarkable and really quite miraculous. He was really fighting to live. We Medevaced him out of there, and he made it all the way back to Bethesda, where his parents were waiting for him before he died.
FOREMAN: That's an extraordinary story.
KRAFT: It was.
FOREMAN: Is this a typical story of what you do in your role in a war zone?
KRAFT: Very different what psychologists do day to day, that's for sure. It was one of my roles amongst many others, but we did a lot in the way of medical support for our surgical company. Helping the patients with sort of cotside intervention.
FOREMAN: You mentioned before coming in, the meaning of the two rules. What are the two rules?
KRAFT: This is from "MASH." And the two rules are these are two rules of war. Rule number one is young men die. And rule number two is that the doctors can't change rule number one.
FOREMAN: Wow, it must be a very difficult thing. When you are there. I have heard doctors from war zones say the difficult thing is accepting that second rule.
KRAFT: Absolutely. Especially American providers who are used to having everything possible at their disposal. And never having to say, it's beyond our capability.
FOREMAN: And, yet, particularly in your role, when are you dealing with looking at the brain and what happens to the brain there, is an awful lot after action to be determined about. Let's talk about that a little bit. Much has been made of these closed head injuries in this war, and PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
FOREMAN: Do you see day to day this increased incidence of this that we see statistically?
KRAFT: We do. And I tell everybody that that's a good thing. I don't think there is more PTSD in this war than there ever was before, Heidi Kraft's opinion. But I think that what we have done is destigmatizing the act of asking for help.
FOREMAN: That's interesting. We have people on this show who said they do think there is more because of the nature of this war zone.
KRAFT: That's possible, of course. I wasn't in the Vietnam conflict so I can't speak intelligently to it.
But I think that what's different with these veterans than with Vietnam veterans, then with World War II veterans is that this military, this leadership now is saying it's OK to get help. So I think we're seeing people come forward in greater numbers, both active duty and in the V.A. system, which is good.
FOREMAN: What does that do to the doctors to deal with all of this? How do you sort it out in the field? Everybody is afraid at some moment. Everybody is upset at some moment. What is the difference between that and a serious problem that you must deal with?
KRAFT: We have an algorithm basically. We think of combat stress reactions, which are very acute.
And as you said, everybody has some sort of a reaction to a traumatic experience. Everybody does. Then it moves to that next level, where we say perhaps it was a combat stress injury, where there was a little bit more of a -- of an effect on the brain, on the functioning, on the personality and that person needs some acute intervention in order to get back functional in the field.
We see PTSD as a delayed reaction. PTSD needs to be at least one month after the trauma was experienced. The vast majority of people I took care of in the field weren't even close to coming to diagnostic criteria for PTSD. We see that at home.
FOREMAN: What effect did all of this have on you? Because it must be a very strange thing to deal with something that you're in the middle of as well.
KRAFT: It's the most challenging experience of my life for sure. And I think that gives you a whole new perspective on what your patients are going through when you are going through it as well. Obviously not -- I took care of guys that were out on the field and I wasn't there with them. The infantry, those sorts of roles. But the basic role of taking incoming artillery and being afraid of your life and the chronicity of being out there, the fatigue. So I think, it does -- it puts you in a challenging role, as well as gives you an instant connection with your patients. So there is sort of this instant rapport. They know that you know what you are dealing with.
FOREMAN: Certainly a very important role in this war.
Heidi has written a book that you really should know about. Heidi Kraft's book is called "Rule Number Two. Lessons I Learned in a Combat Hospital." It's a fascinating read. Take some. Check it out if you get a moment. Thanks so much for being here, Heidi. We appreciate your thoughts and your work.
KRAFT: Thank you very much.
FOREMAN: Coming up next, senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre will hit the hot topics to watch next week in a new segment that we're calling "Flash Brief." But first, a dispatch from THIS WEEK AT WAR.
Our story this week begins with this man, World War II veteran Wilson Voorhees who manned a gun on bomb runs over Germany until he was shot down and made a prisoner of war. His daughter, Valerie Finney is our I-Reporter. She says her father was the inspiration that led her to sign up to run computer networks in Baghdad's Green Zone and a feeling she clearly passed on to her daughters.
Candra (ph) did military intelligence in the first Iraq War and Dorenda (ph) has done two tours as an Air Force medic in Iraq, spending the first tour with her husband, Corey (ph) who is an Army sniper. Valerie says very proud of all of them, she should be, carrying on a legacy of a soldier who manned a machine gun against Nazi Germany more than a half century ago.
Remember, we would like to hear about your week at war. And it is easy. Go to cnn.com/thisweekatwar and click on the I-Report link.
FOREMAN: OK. This is "Flash Brief" where senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre takes a look at some of the things on the horizon for the next week in war.
And Jamie, we start off with China. They have denied permission for U.S. warships to visit Hong Kong. Big deal or not a big deal?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the U.S. military is down playing this, saying it's a low level mistake, but we're hearing of more ships and planes being denied access. It seems this is about Taiwan arms sales. This is one to watch.
FOREMAN: On to Iran. Your colleague Barbara Starr reported that the Revolutionary Guard in Iran has now taken complete control of the navy. What does that mean? MCINTYRE: Well, it means a more aggressive adversary for the U.S. in the Persian Gulf. It means U.S. patrol boats are going to have to be escorted with more firepower so they don't have a repeat of that situation back in March when 15 British were seized.
FOREMAN: The marines are now asking for fewer bomb-resistant vehicles in Iraq. This sounds like maybe good news?
MCINTYRE: The good news is peace in Anbar Province means the marines don't think that they need so many. It's expensive. The MSRP, tags, taxes, dealer preps on these things, a million dollars a piece, they can save 1.7 billion by cutting the order from 37 ...
FOREMAN: And that's without the CD player, and we actually had a case this week of actual uranium smuggling. What was that all about?
MCINTYRE: Well, this is scary. Three men in Slovakia arrested with a half kilo of highly enriched uranium, it can be used to make a dirty bomb. Making a nuclear bomb is hard, dirty bomb is not as hard. The good news is they were caught.
FOREMAN: And you'll be at the Supreme Court in this coming week. What's that all about? Just trying on robes or is something up?
MCINTYRE: No, something big. In fact, some people say this is the biggest terrorism case since September 11. The court will hear whether detainees at Guantanamo have the right to have their cases before a federal court. And as you said, I'll be there.
FOREMAN: That should be a fascinating story. Thanks so much for the "Flash Brief." Jamie McIntyre from the Pentagon.
Well, in just a moment, a segment that we're changing here. One we hope we can change forever. You'll see why. Stick with us.
MCINTYRE: For as long as this program has been on the air, we've done a weekly salute to some of those, like Staff Sergeant Martin there, who have fallen on THIS WEEK AT WAR. We can't get permission to get every soldier's photo, but we've worked hard to find enough to present a representative gallery of those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. This week, Staff Sergeant Martin's picture the only photo our staff could locate.
He certainly isn't the only one who died. And every death is a terrible tragedy for family, friends, and in a very deep sense, for our entire country. But I can't say I'm sorry we couldn't show more than one photo, and in fact I hope in some future program we can say that no one has fallen in THIS WEEK AT WAR.
Thanks for joining us on THIS WEEK AT WAR. I'm Tom Foreman. We'll see you next week. Straight ahead, a check of the headlines. Then, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT, James Brown, "Say It Proud."
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