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tv   CNN Special Report  CNN  June 2, 2015 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT

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if you're republicans, at least the top five right here, you're saying she is tough but beatable. >> thanks very much. that does it for us tonight. that does it for us. "isis: what should the united states do now" starts now. >> this is "the situation room" special report. the war against isis, what should the u.s. do now? the most brutal terrorists on the planet are killing their way into new corners of the world. isis fighters are slaughtering civilians, seizing cities, and recruiting americans to attack on u.s. soil. >> our coalition is on the offensive. isil is -- the defensive, and isil is going to lose. >> tonight, the war against isis. what should the united states do now? some of the best military minds convene in our situation room as a battle unfolds over the president's strategy and what could be done to reverse stunning losses. >> the iraqi forces just showed no will to fight.
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sgler we are neither degraying nor destroysing isis -- degrading nor destroying isis. >> how to defeat a traf enemy unlike any other, armed with a propaganda machine, intent on creating its own so-called islamic state. after so much blood and treasure lost in iraq, what should america do now to destroy isis? good evening, i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room here in washington. in iraq, syria, and beyond, isis is on the move, scoring stunning battlefield victories and committing savage atrocities twrfr goes. tonight -- wherever it goes. tonight we've gathered some of the top military and strategic minds, ton talk about the past now look at the state of the war again isis as it stands right now. to lay out what the united states and the world can do before isis extends its deadly reach. gathered here in our situation room, retired lieutenant general
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mark hurtling. he led the first armored division in iraq during the surge, later commanded the u.s. army in europe. retired four-star general carter hamm. he lead a brigade in iraq, commanded the u.s. army in europe, and later headed the u.s.-africa command. retired major general spider marks. the senior intelligence officer in iraq and commanded the u.s. intelligence school. retired four-star admiral william fallon, former head of the u.s. central command which stretches from the at least central asia. he flew carrier jets, led a carrier group, and commanded u.s. fleets. and former nato supreme ally commander, retired four-star general wesley clark. he served in vietnam, oversaw allied military operations in the balkans. he's a senior fell toe ucla berkeley center. gentlemen, i want to welcome all of you here to our situation room. let me begin, general clark, with a simple question -- can the u.s. defeat isis without committing more ground troops to
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iraq? >> i think the simple answer is yes. we have to find a way to do it. you can't panic, throw in u.s. ground troops. that's the way to lose this, by americanizing this fight. you've got to get the ground troops that are r thearmed, and they've got to find the will to fight. >> 3,000 troops there -- >> the local people have to fight. this is their fight. we've got to avoid losing in order to win. so no u.s. ground troops now. >> what about that, no u.s. ground troops? can the win without a lot more u.s. ground troops? >> the u.s. can, and in my view must win. i don't think -- i don't think that we can help the iraqis win without additional u.s. support. perhaps forward air controllers and the like -- >> snoum. >> i don't know -- i don't know. the number is sufficiently fragile that i think we're fast approaching a point that without the insertion of ground combat forces from the regional partners, u.s. or others, the
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situation might become vastly difference -- >> it sounds like you want more u.s. ground troops this. >> i think more support, for sure. forward air controllers i think an appropriate first step. i don't think we're yet at a point where we should consider ground combat forces. >> what do you think, admiral? more u.s. ground troops or not? >> no. no significant u.s. force increase. however, we can be more effective with select units. so we have air power, nobody else has it. special forces, second to none. they can be more helpful, but we're -- we don't -- we're not going to win this unless the people on the ground take this fight to isis. >> general marks? >> we must ensure baghdad does not fall. >> even raising the question about the capital of iraq, a huge city falling, raises fears and reminds people about saigon. >> there are discussions now the national security council
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talking about the options. the options are we can't allow that to fall. this cal fate that's been create -- caliphate that's been created cannot expand, cannot gobble up territory. this has to be contained. more u.s. troops on the ground now is not the solution. >> there shouldn't be center what do you say? >> we are a supporting actor in this. this has got to be the iraqi government that wins this. later on, something different in syria. we have got to provide more than just force and a military approach to this. it has to be governmental, informational, economic, and diplomatic. we've got to put more effort into this beyond just -- >> you have confidence in this iraqi government now is. >> no. i don't have a lot of confidence -- >> what makes you think the u.s. can win? >> i think you've got to work the iraqi government, and you've got to work the tribal leaders in anbar province and pull something together. that's what general hertling is saying about a broad approach. it's not just kinetic. >> we've got to force that to happen with the tribes, with the
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kurds, with the sunni tribes, with the kurds, and everything in between. there are 11 different states within iraq. none of them have confidence in the central -- >> prerequisite for succes here is political action by the government in baghdad to convince the sunnis that they'll have a stake in the future. >> hold on for a moment. i want you to stand byment want to get a brief -- by. want to get a brief on isis, the extraordinary way that terror group has held its territory and has spread. our chief national security correspondent, jim sciutto, is at the magic wall. jim i jim? >> this is the end of may, areas in red, isis control. yellow, isis support. the orange areas, where they've been able to carry out attacks. you see it extends from into iraq. extends down to jordan. general clark mentioned the threat to jordan. attacks in lebanon, also threatening saudi arabia. so key question -- has the u.s.-led air campaign, has the effort of kurdish and iraqi troops made a difference so far in changing this map?
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let's look to three months ago, february. if you can't tell a difference between those two maps, you're not alone. the maps are largely the same. again, this is may, end of may. this is february. the map largely unchanged. in fact, during that time, isis gaining some ground in ramadi. the oil refinery, maintaining their key base of support in mosul. let's look at the influence beyond iraq and syria. as they've held their ground there, they've gone to expand their influence throughout the region. you have presence and affiliate in libya, in egypt, in yemen, as well as areas of support in afghanistan and pakistan. they were able to carry out an attack in tunisia recently. this is the key concern -- does isis extend its influence into europe as you have returning foreign fighter there? they've already been able to carry out attacks in europe. and crucial concern for america, can they cross the atlantic and, in fact, you've had a number of arrest here. supporters here, the possibility of attacks, as well. during this time, it goes from a local, regional threat, to an international probable.
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>> thank you very much. how does the united states and its partners we'll do this rapid expansion of isis? it's rapid and continuing. they don't seem to be stopped at all, do they? >> the iraqi ground forces to date have not demonstrated an ability to stay and fight a battle and win. that has to happen if we're going to be successful here. >> as long as isis continues to achieve success, they become an inspiring element for extremists in other parts of the world. as far as subis haener africa, as -- sub-saharan africa, as jim laid out. while there is not ultimately a military solution, there is a military requirement i think in the near term to defeat isis, at least technically, to contain them, thwart them from expanding the territory they can -- >> there's a difference between -- >> hold on one second. >> be careful here. when they swept out of nowhere and took mosul, you'd of thought the sky was going to fall the
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next day. it didn't. now they did take ramadi, and it was a tough fight. that was a long fight. >> they certainly ran away, the iraqi army. >> they were hit by a lot of, norms explosions -- >> they were outnumbered. the iraqi army was in big numbers -- >> that's true -- >> in large numbers. >> we've got to get -- we, working together with the iraqis, have got to get that army ready to fight. it's too early to say that army can't fight. that army can fight. and the militias can fight. >> this has to have a neighborhood solution. you've got to get sunni arabs involved in this. clearly internal to iraq. you've got to get the sunni tribes to continue to engage. you have to have the kurds continuing to engage -- >> general, hold. on general hertling, all of you know because you all served there, as you know, the u.s. spent a decade arming, training, financing an iraqi military. when the u.s. pulled out, they had several hundred thousand iraqi military personnel
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working. why has that collapsed? >> you judge an army by two things, will and skill. our key contributions over that ten-year period was giving them the basic skills -- >> what do you do now? >> the will is the problem, it gets back to the political will that's associated with leading the force and the will of the leaders to treat the soldiers in the right way. on the maps were all places where there were failed governments, failed leadership, failed will to fight this organization. >> the president of the united states calls you into the situation room and says, general, what'ses the most important thing -- what's the most important thing the cuts do to defeat isis, you play? >> get the sunni tribes fight. >> ramp up support so they have the ability to fight. >> what does that mean, ramp up support? >> i think foreign air controllers, pre-precise, more effective air strike as a start. >> admiral? >> the most important thing is to get to leadership in baghdad.
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tell them to get off their tails and make a difference out in anbar. >> initially, keep isis where it is, some form of containment. long term, you've got to do everything that these gentlemen have said. >> all of the above with a focus on what admiral fallon said. we have not done diplomatically the thing we have to do to get the iraqi government supporting awful their peop-- all of their people. stand by. with few reliable allies on the ground, should the u.s. cut out the middleman? the central iraqi government, and arm the eneries of isis? later, he's known as the invisible sheikh. can the u.s. hunt down and kill the elusive leader of isis?
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for as the world keeps on searching for healthier... we're here to make healthier happen. optum. healthier is here. welcome back. we've gathered top military and strategic minds to look at how to defeat isis. there's a major air war underway right now against isis. no one believes air power alone will defeat the terror group. let's look at what the united states and its allies are doing now and what they need to do going forward. cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr reports. [ shooting ] >> reporter: after months of fighting on the ground and more than 3,000 air strikes over syria and iraq, the question -- how much is there to show for it? the pentagon and the white house are, as they say, fine-tuning the strategy. the u.s. commitment set out last year with problems from the
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beginning. >> our objective is clear -- we will degrade and ultimately destroy isil through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy. >> it seems to me that there was no plan to fully execute a strategy like this, to truly get to the destroy part. and that's a significant shortfall when it comes to executing a war plan or implementing a strategy. >> reporter: for months, the u.s. watched isis on the march, taking town after town, sinjar, mosul, and ramadi. the air and ground campaign really born from the horror of the killings of american journalists james foal oh and steven sotloff -- foley and steven on saturday love, and the mass atrocities isis inflicts on thousands across syria and iraq. but the pentagon immediately warned air strikes would never be enough. >> there's no air power alone
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solution to isil either in iraq or syria. >> reporter: the tactics to carry out the strategy and win, build a coalition, conduct air strike, and train local forces on the ground to do the fighting. from the beginning, most of the effort was in iraq. the u.s. believing it could work with the iraqi government. but when isis took over ramadi, that stunning statement from defense secretary ash carter. >> the iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. they were not outnumbered, in fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. we can give them training, equipment, we obviously can't give them the will to fight. the people who live in that territory, particularly the sunni tribes, they're the ones who have to get in the night and win the fight and then hold the territory after isil's defeat. >> reporter: and ash carter will also tell you he is not
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recommending u.s. troops on the ground in a combat role. wolf? >> at least not yet. thank you very much, barbara, for that. joining our group of experts, the former cia counterterrorism official, also served as fbi's senior intelligence adviser a decade or so ago. the u.s. basically bought off a lot of these sunni troops in anbar province and elsewhere in iraq. should the u.s. now be arming these sunni, moderate sunni forces fighting isis directly, or should it still have to go through government in baghdad? >> no, they ought to arm them directly. we've got a simple problem. that is, when we're dealing with a counterinsurgency campaign, we've got to drain the swamp of local support so isis can't operate. they're not providing governa e governance, they're providing intimidation. the message of the shia-led government in anbar is we're going to bring in sunni militias. you got to be saying, are you kidding me? one of the questions is do we keep depending on the shia-led government to provide military
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support to the sunnis? so far they haven't been very effective. or do we take an end around. i would argue go for the end around. we've already seen what the government brings to the table. >> well but don't let the government of baghdad fall. the key point is the -- >> the government in baghdad hates this notion of directly arming the sunnis or the kurds for that matter. >> they feel the threat. >> right. >> that's where you're going to the political side of this thing. when you say when, what does it mean? what you've got now is a sectarian situation that's so hateful and so fearful inside iraq that the idea that you could put this back together again if isis will go away, that's a really hard sell to the iraqi people. >> if you were still head of the u.s. military central command, what would you do? would you arm the sunnis directly? would you arm the kurds directly, or still have to go through baghdad? >> the reality is you got to deal with both sides. i would be very interested in putting equipment into anbar because the sunnis have to be the guys to fight. they're the guy that's are going to have the will --
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>> the prime minister says, you know what, you do that, i'm going to iran, i'm moving along the lines of nouri al maliki? >> i would say, okay, fine. we'll leave. and by the way, what happened in tikrit? it seems to me that the shia militias didn't do too well. they pulled them out and finally a combination of iraqi forces with the u.s. support took the town. these guys are not as good as they would claim they are. and the reality is, we can help them. but there has to be support coming out of baghdad. that's what's been lacking. >> i don't disagree. but when you look at this emerging cal fatal that isis has create -- caliphate that isis has created, the key thing is this is intergenerational. there's a lot that can be done, to general clark's point, that none of these solutions are shake and bake. none of these are immediate solutions. we tend to have a discussion of what can we do now, what is the immediate -- >> i think there's no immediate answer -- there's no one thing
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you're going to do. these guys are getting support from around the world -- >> which guys? >> isis. >> why? >> they're on a roll. the impression, look at these gory thing. they're great recruiting tools. they get bonked on the head a couple of times, i think that's going to back away. go back to 2007 in iraq. al qaeda was on a roll, v -- >> that was the surge. >> and then things happened. what happened behind the scenes? wasn't just the surge. it was what we were doing, and then it was the reality that the support that they got tacitly or otherwise went away. >> the u.s. was buying off these -- the sunni tribal leaders -- >> paying them. >> hundreds of millions of dollars, giving the tribal sheikhs cash, right? >> i not the key thing was that the troopers actually got cash. they got paid for their service. they didn't have any other jobs. >> you were in the cia. the cia was funneling money to these sunnis in anbar province.
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were they paying them off? what were they doing? >> i wouldn't say paying them off. you have a counterinsurgency capability on the ground. we keep talking about isis versus the government. if you look where counterinsurgency exceeds, somalia, places like north africa, because the local population gets tired of getting their heads cut off. >> would that strategy work looking forward? >> i think we have to find a way to again help the sunni tribes in anbar particularly mobilize and help them -- help the central government convey to the sunni tribes that, hey, this is one iraq. we're in this together. >> stand by. we have a lot more to discuss. we're only getting started. coming up in our special report -- [ gunfire ] >> know thy enemy. isis has been changing its tactics in the face of relentless air strikes. can military might defeat fighters happy to die for their cause? later, he's known as the invisible sheikh.
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we're back with our special report. top former military and strategic thinkers are here in the situation room. stand by. i want to go straits to iraq now. isis has its own version of
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shock and awe. ferocious attacks led by suicide bomber and followed by bloody atrocities arwa damon has covered this war from the start. she's this baghdad with a close look at the terror group's strategy. [ gunfire ] >> reporter: these are among the chaotic fine moments of the battle for ramadi captured on a cell phone. minutes later shouts of "no ammunition." [ gunfire ] >> reporter: and the unit is ordered to retreat by its higher command. the domino-like collapse of iraq's forces in ramadi is under scrutiny and investigation by the government. the battle for the city highlights how isis evolved its tactics. for weeks sending wave after wave of vehicles laden with explosives driven by suicide bombers. its weapon of choice -- unlike the days of the u.s. occupation
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here, often the ones deploy read unstoppable. isis has plenty of fighter willing to volunteer to deliver the deadly load. and iraq's security forces trained by the u.s. are plagued with logistical and leadership failures. unable to face off against isis tactics. isis are well-organized fighters, well trained. they have a doctrine in fighting that is difficult to defeat. head of the anbar provincial council says they are fighting to die, to get into heaven. and we are fighting to live so the next generation can live. isis is relying heavily on former regime army and intelligence officers that joined isis and were close to the inner circle of the regime, he says.
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isis fighting ranks swelled quickly. the organization easily capitalizing on the sunni population's grievances with and broken pledges of the shia-led government. he says the anbar council and tribal leaders asked for air strikes in the province last summer and pleaded back then for the u.s. and iraqi government to arm the tribes against isis. the americans are not honest, he says, they lost an important ally in the region, and they did not take advantage of this opportunity. iraqis will tell you the u.s. strategy is not failing here simply because isis is a formidable foe. the u.s. strategy is failing because america never understood the region or succeeded in iraq to begin with. and the u.s. grossly underestimated isis capabilities up until the fall of mosul. and as one former senior iraqi official was telling me, he is
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concerned that once again the organization's cape rablts being underestimated -- capabilities are being underestimated and not really knowing an enemy like isis could potentially have devastating repercussions beyond anything anyone could ever imagine. >> i know you've been listening to our military experts here in the situation room. what are they missing? >> reporter: here's how desperate the situation in anbar is -- first of all, the people in anbar, the tribal leaders do not want to see the shia militias fighting there. but at this stage, they are welcoming them. they know there's going to be a price to pay, but they have no other choice because they feel as if america has abandoned them already. america has abandoned the snun sunni tribes after n the past after they abandoned them and fought alongside forces because they didn't want to be ruled. they felt america withdrew and left them to the mercy of the
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predominantly shia government. they'll -- they feel as if america has neglected them by not coming to their assistance in the past. to rebuild ties, that will be fooitd vital moving forward -- vital moving forward if the u.s. is concerned about moving forward. the sunnis are willing to make a deal with the shia and iranians to save themselves from isis. >> arwa damon, courageous journal frist baghdad. be careful over florida. lieutenant general mark hertling commanded the unit in europe. and united states ambassador in afghanistan, in iraq, and at the united nations. ambassador, these isis fighters are no ordinary fighters. these are fanatics by and large. what do you need to do to defeat these fanatics? >> i think they are fanatics, but quite a number are professional military people who used to be part of saddam
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hussein's army. what's needed in my view besides the military effort that needs to be made to contain him so they don't move out of anbar into baghdad is that you need a political deal. and sometimes in a crisis that heats up, there is an opportunity. the opportunity is to -- more diplomacy for our senior diplomatic people to engage, stereo to get a settlement between sunnis and shias in iraq so the sunnis can be armed. ultimately they would have to defeat isis -- >> can regional partners of the united states, whether the saudis, jordanians, others in the area, can they help? >> they will have to be at the table, in my view. you will have to have the iranians ultimately, the saudis, and turks also at the table for a settlement of iraq and syria. isis is not only in iraq and being threatening now but also syria's a sanctuary for them.
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as long as that sanctuary is there, iraq will remain unstable. >> are these regional partners of the united states and some not partners like iran, for example, or syria, bashar al assad's regime, they going to help the united states? >> they're going to help themselves. the question to put together the right framework where they can help you and themselves. we'll not defeat them just with military power. what's emerging is let's get the sunnis engaged. let's get the others in the region engaged. let's be able to put the right diplomacy as well as the right weapons in to contain isis. and then squeeze it down. >> you heard arwa damon. she's been there for jeers and just came back from meeting a lot of sunnis, moderate sunnis who have, in her words, lost all confidence in the united states right now. how do you regain their confidence? >> time is one of our enemies. every day that goes by that isil is able to advance, take another
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town, take another village, conduct more suicide bombings, contributes to this nathalie of isil's invincibility. it is in america's best interest to help iraq. in this case, the sunni arabs of anbar to sometimy that advance. >> we have a lot -- stymie that advance. >> we have a lot more to advance. coming up, could isis be beaten without the help of america's two biggest adversaries? iran and syria could hold the dee defeating isis, but at what cost? should the u.s. work with the regimes in tehran and damascus? the leader of isis, he's known as the invisible sheikh. if the u.s. can find him and take him out, can it defeat the terror group?
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we're back with our military and strategy experts. also joining us, the former cia counterterrorism official, phillip mudd. should we work with bashir al defeat isis? >> no way. we've got to look at the objective. our objective is not simply defeateding isis, it's getting iraq to all the parties, the kurds, sunnis, and shia play together. i don't think they share that objective. th's why they're pressing for
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shia militiaing to into cities. we have an objective, that is to destroy al nusra and isis. it is ton keep in power a man who used chemical weapons against his own people. >> ambassador? >> we cannot fix iraq and syria so that conditions for growth of isis or successors will be -- will not be there. for that, we need the regional players. we need iran, we need saudi arabia, we need turkey. and we need a settlement, a compact among internal prayers, the tribes, kurds, she aas well as the regional players. i think that is the part that's missing. that has to be our long-term objective in order to defeat isis for the long term. >> admiral fallon, you headed the military central command. the great fear that a lot of u.s. experts has is, yes, iran will come in and help, maybe the syrians. but the end, if they do and do defeat isis, iran may emerge as
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the major strategic winner and be in charge not only of iran but iraq moving into syria, maybe into lebanon. have that huge arc. the u.s. loses, iran wins. >> arenaity is here that iran -- reality is here is that iran has a lot of challenges on its plate. regarding the idea that they are going to come in, and their army is going to take over and defeat isis, nonsense. >> they're in already -- iranian revolutionary guard, they're there. >> sure, they are. look at the record on the battlefield. they came in to tikrit, flag flying, we're going to fix this. they didn't. it turn out the iraqi army had to bail them out with strong support from the u.s. so they're a player, they have to be a player and a solution. >> you were the u.s. to work with iran to defeat notice is. >> no. i think we work -- i think it's one of the reasons why a multicultural, multiethnic iraq is so important. that does provide an element of balance in the region which is so necessary. >> what do you think? >> i don't think you.
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to work with iran or syria. but i do think you have to use diplomacy in this. and whether you reach them indirectly or not, you've got to somehow make them believe that our objective is their objective to some extent. got to figure out what they're trying to do here. now, we started with this -- what is winning? winning is not just getting rid of isis, winning is stabilizing this. isis is like a cork in the bottle. if you pull isis out immediately, you'll have the iranian threat, the turks will come in. the saudis are in danger. how do you pull this together? i like the idea of working with the sunni tribes, telling baghdad that we're going to have like a national guard in the sunni areas. they'll have to live with it until they strengthen the iraqi national forces. then the iranians have to accept it. but we're not going to accept a bashar al assad or iranian
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hegemony in the area. >> we're agreeing we don't want to cooperate. we don't want to cooperate. there's a realistic piece of this. that is we can't walk into baghdad and say you've got to get the iranians out. we're 10,000 miles away. the iranians are there including generals on the ground. >> not only that, but we're with to make a nuclear arrangement with iran which is going to -- first, it will give them money right away to cause mischief. secondly, it's -- at least as it's been explained to me, it sets a timetable in which they could -- >> this may be a time that iranians also may be concerned that maybe this is getting out of control. the usdaies have reacted to them in yemen. there's potential for escalation there because of the shia/sunni thing. iraq is unraveling. and iran controlling iraq is going to be very difficult to
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sustain. >> much more coming up. coming up, cutting off the head of the snake. the u.s. has a $10 million basis point on the head of isis -- bounty on the head of isis. in , bold isn't just a word. it's how we approach everything. hurry in for our new wood-fire grilled flat iron steak. or victoria's filet portabella. starting at just $13.99 for a limited time. we let the bold flavors of the outback. speak for themselves. outback steakhouse. done right. gummy multivitaminrst ever from centrum. a complete, and tasty new way to support... your energy... immunity... and metabolism like never before. centrum multigummies. see gummies in a whole new light. meet thsuperpower.ewest energy surprised?
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welcome back. we've gathered top military and strategic minds to take a close look at how to defeat isis. can the united states and its allies deal a major blow to isis by taking on its chief? our brian todd takes a close look at the sclefb and enigmatic leader that is the head of the islamic state. >> reporter: he's fully ascended to the podium. spoke softly, and sent chills down the spines of intelligence and military officials around the world. "you should take up jihad to please god and fight in his name." wearing signature black, flashing an expensive watch -- his sermon in mosul in 2013 was for an aberration for a man called the invisible sheikh, known to be obsessive about
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secrecy. >> this their are rumors this guy used -- there are rumor this guy used to cover his face even when meeting with his own people. somebody who took extraordinary precaution when was it came to his own security. >> reporter: baghdadi now has a $10 million u.s. bounty on his head. how does he manage isis? one hint comes from accounts of a period when he was actually in u.s. custody. at camp buka in remember, a u.s.-run prison of over 20,000 insurgents, al baghdadi became a trusted inmate by his american captors, allowed to roam freely around the camp ads an ambassador. -- as an ambassador. apew amed said he spent -- abu ahmed said he spent time with baghdady in 2004. he said baghdadi was a fixer who could settle disputes between competing factions. "he was respected very much by
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the u.s. army." baghdadi, he said, was seen as other detainees as clever, scheming, using a policy of conquer and divide to get what he wanted. baghdadi was eventually released. as he loved, according to the former camp commander, he had one last message -- >> he looked over to us. as he left, he said, see you guys in new york. >> reporter: now baghdadi is said to run isis like a combination of a mafia don and a see with spread sheets -- ceo with spread sheets on missions and assets. if taken out by the u.s.-led allies, could isis survive? analysts say as valuable as baghdadi is for the isis brand, the group would not disintegrate without him. >> even killing the leader of isis and its predecessor organization, al qaeda in iraq including abu musab al zarqawi, has not been able to significantly impact the organization. >> reporter: one key reason, isis has smartsly fanned out from its center of gravity in
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iraq and syria. it's taken its black market operations and diversified leadership structure to places like africa and south asia. analysts say a decapitation strike likely will not finish the group off. wolf? >> thank you very much. would it make a difference in el baghdadi is taken out? >> not unless you sustain this over time. this group has been around for a while. if you look at our successes against other insurgent groups, al qaeda's one example, and unless you sustain over time month after month, they will find somebody like shark's teeth to take over. you got keep going. >> you agree? >> totally agree. the deal that is important to focus in on is it frankly doesn't matter who the leader is because it will metastasize. we could take a chunk out of isis. but tell metastasize into something else. >> i think it's usually helpful to get rid of a leader, particularly some organization like this. you need to have followup. somebody's going to step up. if you start targeting the leaders and they go away, that's a good way to start making
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progress in this problem. >> how big a deal would it be if the u.s. killed them? >> it won't have any lasting strategic or operational effect. the world will be a better place without baghdadi. >> you agree? >> sure. but you've got to kill the idea. it's not just a person. it's the idea of what he stands for and what this organization stands for. >> one thing that's important that would be very helpful is a little bit of success. so someplace in this area, you made it to draw a line and need to win a battle. we need to pick a place, put a whipping on them, and show the world this is not some invisible machine that's going to keep rolling. i think that would be a good tonic to buck up troops in the field, people in baghdad, and maybe have some other people around the world. >> general, it's been a year now. isis has been in control of mosul up here in the north. the second largest city in iraq. city of nearly two million people. they're still in control. now they're in ramadi here.
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not far from fallujah. they're moving there. and the fear is they're moving toward baghdad with the suicide attacks using u.s. humvees, 2,300, that they captured in mosul now. they're moving in, they're going to scare the iraqis. how endanger sudden baghdad now? >> i don't think -- endangered is baghdad now is. >> i don't think baghdad is militarily threatened. it's too big. i agree the iraqis will sustain it. mosul, i served over a year in mosul. i know how large it is, that -- that's a bridge too far right now for the iraqi security forces. i agree with admiral fallon. anbar is the place right now to demonstrate to the iraqi security forces, the regional partners that this is not an invincible foe. they and must be stopped. >> general clark, you served in vietnam, right? >> i did. >> do you remember when saigon was too big to fall? >> i do. >> what happened? >> it femp i remember when the french said if they would just
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make a stand that the vietmen would go away in 1954. i think it's a good thing to get winds. we had a win in tikrit and erbil. somehow they've turned the moment up and kept it going. isis has. we've got to fight against the idea. we know we have to bring the sunni tribes into this. somehow we've got to get the iraqis back on battlefield. i hope we can do it without u.s. ground troops. >> do you have confidence in the iraqi military at all? >> i do. the make-up of iraq, it's 2/3 she amp we're talking about baghdad. baghdad has a huge shia population. we're focused on one province, a sunni majority province. if isis starts to move, i can tell you what the sheal start to say -- 2/3 of the country down south, they'll say ain't coming to baghdad. there will be a bloodbath. >> is this winnable, general hamm? >> yes, and it must be. >> why? >> again, this is not for iraq's sake. this is for our sake.
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it's in our best interests that this region be more stable and increasingly secure. >> all right. gentlemen -- >> this is not winnable. we focused on the threat in pakistan, somalia, northern nigeria. we can contain it, but we can't win it. >> these people have to twin. >> all time frames -- >> this is a long-term challenge. this is going to go on not a year, not two years, not ten years, 0 years. >> generations. >> that's why you have to be careful when you commit american troops that people understand this is a long-term challenge. going to have violence in this region for a long time. >> we could defeat these guys tomorrow, and there would be another terrorist organization that would appear. we'd have to roll back in. >> we have military capabilities without which the iraqis are not likely to be successful. we have the best military, we have capabilities nobody else has. they need to be applied with the iraqis. at the end of the day, it's people on the ground that live
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there that have to do this. >> stand by. coming up -- we've heard from some of america's top military leaders and strategists. next, we'll look at what we've learned.
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we have some of america's top military leaders weighing on how to defeat isis. and phil mudd is still with us.
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based on what you've heard tonight, what's the most important thing the united states needs do now to defeat isis? >> one, maintain military support for the government. do not draw back, but figure out a way, maybe independently, to get weapons to both the kurds, but also to the sunni tribes. two, on diplomacy, keep the pressure on baghdad to bring the sunnis in. have a reality check in washington, d.c., which does not do reality. the iranians are going to play, get over it. the final point is from the white house. americans don't know patience. minimum time frame for a counter insurgency like it, ten years, you got to give a message to the american people they're not going to like. we're 13, 14 years into this. another decade, maybe we make progress. >> with a lot of troops on the ground? >> no, we're looking at modest increases. people talk about forward spotters. there's a simple point. we are the supporting actor. we support the iraqi military one person does that, and that's in baghdad.
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>> thank you very much. thank you very much for watching our "situation room special report." i'm wolf blitzer. the news continues next on cnn. the long-time head of fifa caves to growing international pressure. and desperate search. time may be running out for any survivors aboard a sunken cruise ship in china. dangers in canada, hear from a tourist who survived an attack in the park where an american woman was killed. a warm welcome to all of our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm zain asher. >> great to have you with us. i'm john vause. this is cnn "newsroom." we'll begin this hour in zurich, switzerland. fifa president sepp blatter made a bombshell


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