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tv   Tough Sell  CSPAN  August 13, 2017 7:00am-7:57am EDT

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[inaudible conversations]
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>> members and guests tonight had the honor of introducing a friend and academic colleague who happens to be a best selling author, call miss, speaker, commentator, senior level management strategists are key has worked with presidents from here at home to south asia to iraq and for more than 20 years our speaker has provided strategic and crisis committee k should counsel to companies, policy organizations, government agencies, not for profits, advocacy campaigns and grassroots groups. he is served in many roles including executive director of the republican party in new york state, advisor to the us chief of protocol at the vatican, planner to the department of state of former presidents bush and clinton to the tsunami
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ravaged south asia and director of communication's for the environment protection agency. our speaker is currently an adjunct professor. a charter member of the board of advisors at college of liberal arts and sciences and a opinion contributor to forbes in the hopes of-- 47 months in 2004, he served as the senior press advisor to the coalition for iraq where he earned the department of defense joint civil service commendation. his experiences gained during those seven months form the basis of his book, "tough sell: fighting the media war in iraq". please help me give a warm welcome to best selling author tom basile. [applause].
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>> thank you. really appreciate that warm introduction and this is a wonderful turnout and i'm honored to be here with all of you given the state of new york city subway trains i said i don't know if anyone can make it tonight, but we have a great room and again it's a privilege. as you know ron is a pretty quiet guy, very modest, but for those of you that don't know he is tasks with some of the most complex security challenges facing new york particularly after 911 is a great public servant and someone committed to keeping this city safe, so thank you, ron, for everything you do. [applause]. >> i would like to take a minute if all of our veterans and those
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who served in the united states armed forces would just stand and be recognized. [applause]. [applause]. >> thank you for your service to the country and i would be remiss if i did not also thank ambassador john bolton, former us ambassador to the un to give me a wonderful forward for the book and i really appreciate his support for the book and for this important message. it's a great privilege to be here at this wonderful institution, the union league club of new york. 15 member-- presidents have been members of this institution since its founding. its members have played an important role in the national discourse on the wide range of issues and as ron mentioned they manage to construct a man--
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statue of liberty, so it's a great privilege to be here and it's fitting we are in this historic room to talk about tough sell-- "tough sell: fighting the media war in iraq" because this book is about history. how we make history and how that history is shaped and perceived not only by ordinarily people, but by people who have the great fortune in many respects of being thrust into extraordinary circumstances on behalf of our country. also, increasingly the business of journalism, technology and politics. how we perceive the iraq war today was shaped by those things at a time in history when we are seeing several profound shifts in the way people view the media , government and war is self. most common question i get is
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why do you write it, why did you write this book, why did you put it out now? first, the ships-- shifts i've mentioned in the government's ability or inability to counter that has ensured that the great work of thousands of americans who went over to iraq who sacrificed much and took great risk to create a better future for the country in many respects have been lost to history. second, if policymakers in today's day and age don't effectively articulate policy, manage their message and counter the editorial filter their will soon find themselves unable to access it-- execute and sustain the policy and in the case of our national security policy, that places america and the rest of the world at great risk. certainly what was lost in the wall to wall media coverage of the worst of the war was the
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very best of people. the real story about what happened during the critical first year after the fall of saddam hussein gives us a glimpse into the glory and imperfection of humanity as well as the very real evil that exists in the world and the face of god that can be seen even in our darkest moments. third, over the last number of years i have watched as the coalition provisional authority has been lambasted by the media so-called opinion leaders and politicians on both sides of the aisle in my view very and fairly. the civilian story and the story of that civilian coalition in the first year has largely never been a great vote-- focus of attention. what happened behind the scenes in the palace has really-- really been discussed. my perspective as a civilian bush appointee being thrust into the middle of the fight for the
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peace in the fight to committee about the war as well as the work of so many hundreds of my colleagues on a range of issues i felt the need for it to be told at this time. after all, our heroes in uniform are not really folks who purchase a weighted in that iraq mission. civilians played key roles often left unseen. of their boot camp was the battlefront, their bullets their expertise, digging up on their and it's my hope that by fairly evaluating the successes and the failures of the iraq mission, history would ultimately record the purpose of many civilians at the triumph of american spirit and sacrifice. the book is chronological and also very personal, so it tells the story from the day i got my phone call when i was sitting in my office on pennsylvania avenue and 10 days later sitting on my
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luggage and 130 degrees heat in kuwait waiting to go into baghdad and i kind of made up the fact i would only be gone for about four months and convinced my family it would be an okay thing to support. but, it's very personal and i thought about writing a straight policy book about public diplomacy, how you communicate about war in the age of 24 hour news, social media etc., but it seemed too impersonal. it almost seemed inappropriate given the work that was done because we were all so personally and emotionally invested in what we were doing and the environment was for into so many of us that not injecting a heavy dose of what it was like for me personally and going through that experience it just didn't seem authentic. i also one of the book to be accessible to a broad range of audiences, so i wanted to write it in such a way that it told
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the story and it was chronological and very, station oh, so there are plenty of stories. when you read the book there are plenty of stories about this guy who with no training on 10 days notice found himself in baghdad with no place in his vest and no weapons training trying to craft a message for missed-- middle eastern and western media about the work that thousands of americans were doing to rebuild the country in an increasingly dangerous environment. i talk about the brightly clad kurdish children running in the dirt being told by special forces member to remember to roll down the car window before throwing out the grenade. middle age contractors dancing at the now infamous disco. said children of the arabs and the victims of the gas attacks, seeing women draped in black at
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the mask read clutching the pictures and photos of their families dealing with death, dealing with rocket attacks, feeling real fear and of course seen glimpses of hope. those are all part of the experience, but embedded in the pages is also a running commentary and for the first time a real analysis of not just the news media and this is not a book that just beefs up on the news media and media bias, but political, institutional and philosophical challenges that hamper the administrations ability to-- what was really going on in a rock against the demands of the business of journalism. the lessons about fighting the media war are even more relevant today than they were then in our time of social media and fake
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news, cable wars and a president that were with the press and a press at war with the president. the indisputable truth in this is that the government still has to make policy. our communications change in our technology changes the way we talk to each other, the way our influencers try to influence policy. it changes, but at the end of the day the government so as to make a policy, executed and sustain it and that requires public support. what we experienced in iraq was an erosion of that support because of a failure to fight and win the home front war in the press. policymaking is now more than ever about our willingness to push back, her willingness to purchase a paid in that daily block and tackle on every
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medium, not just twitter against the business of journalism and increasing number of information sources of varying degrees of credibility here would we do this analysis, what we learn is that iraq was really a war within a war within a war. what we witness in the rise of al qaeda and the decision-making of the us in aftermath of 911 was a sharp departure from the usual warmaking paradigm. i believe we are still in many respects in a transitional phase as it relates to the way this country handles both its military and diplomatic strategy to account for the shift work of the administration of george w bush was the first such administration to deal with this paradigm shifts. the challenges were philosophical and compounded by this battle for audience mind chair at home. the tensions made the tough sell
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of the iraq policy even tougher. there was the philosophical war that we spent a great deal of time of the last number of years debating whether or not we should have gone into iraq, but the more relevant conversation for us and our country moving forward remains once you make the decision to the war what is the principal purpose or desired outcome and how do you get there you have several choices in the case of a rock. one, remove saddam hussein and leave, which i believe what you been a false choice. two, remove the leadership and grant some ex- patriot and post them with absolute authority trading one dictator for another. three, you attempt to secure the country and build institutions that could support not what some people have suggested some kind of american style democracy, but more the posted-- participatory
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structure. the coalition authority in iraq was developed to execute the third option and they tackled this extreme are with passion and commitment sacrificing much for their efforts largely going unnoticed as the security situation worsened due to the rise of al qaeda in iraq and sectarian violence and unfortunately a government that as the mission went on often failed to aggressively defend its own policy. the issue of competing philosophies was apparent virtually every day. secretary rumsfeld had a vision of high-tech smaller fleet footed military, but that happened to be incompatible with the mission we had at the time dealing with lawlessness and looters and insurgency in a civil affairs operations that needed to be done at the same time.
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on my first data rock either off the plane, put on my helmet, got in a bus and they said by the way the road between baghdad international airport and at the palace's close because there have been too many ied attacks on it and i said great this is exactly what i wouldn't see. first day i get it they tell me it's the road of death and it wasn't particularly a original name, but it got the point across we had a problem in securing the road between the airport and where our headquarters were. one of the ambassadors first conversation and i talk about the book was posing anonymous but astute question how do we get the us military to start shooting the looters because we needed to demonstrate that we were going to use force in order to ensure the country would be secure and restore some sense of lawful behavior. you also clearly had philosophical differences
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between the military and the state department whose foreign service officers while they clearly had their own important priority often didn't play well in the sandbox with the folks in the department of defense and also the bush administration appointees there is operationally the challenge that were a mess, the cpa was unique combination of the department of defense, department of state, nsc, white house, cia intelligence agency all operating under our feet at all times. it was a textbook lesson in building in a short amount of time and managing a bureaucracy. no one had really done this before. this impact on what i do for instance is part of being able to craft a coherent outbound communication strategy requires
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that for planning purposes you have good internal communication as well. when we give you an example. of the establishment of iraqi security forces is one of the most important things we try to do during the first year and the press were instructed in our progress. they obsessed over it. of course they didn't understand , report or seem interested in the complexity of trying to put cops on the street and build an army and various security forces, but getting the facts from the different parts of the operation was a difficult that at one point in one week the president, secretary of defense and ambassador or going on tv using different numbers. you have to have message consistency or you damage the credibility. the military also didn't have a tight rein on its people. i was shocked when data where it was military-- it was the
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military's policy that if a soldier was asked a question from the member of the press they could answer it, which pose a significant problem when you see a field commander doing an interview on tv in your office and they are giving incomplete information. young enlisted soldiers were a particular victim of the press who loved to ask questions about don't you miss home and don't you wish you were back with your family. it was a pretty disgraceful type of type of tactic on the media, but they wanted to get these young guys to say demands-- miss home. of course they miss home. when a soldier stops missing home and stops complaining about conditions, you may have a problem on your hands. you are supposed to do that. no one really wants to be in the desert. we were there to put ourselves
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out of a job. of course, you had the reporters themselves who had long decided that even the administration of the military had no credible the , so they crafted the story they wanted often without regard to the facts or sources. organizations also compete for resources and ownership and i'm sure you see this in your organizations in your businesses everyday and we dealt with that shocking-- jockeying for position in a rocket impacted our ability to connecticut about the war. having credibility to say i was there and i saw it with my own eyes was critical to being able to deliver the message back in the state and it very rarely happened. in 2003-2004 i worked on developing a certain operation and a hometown media project that booked soldiers in civilians both here and those overseas on local television and radio stations around the
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country to try to get the message out about what they experienced about their commitment to the mission and what was actually going on and we used a military deduction attachment in the country to use shoot footage of these folks doing their job, building a school, working together working together with it advisory council or just out fighting terrorists. we would package them up and send them off for distribution to television stations. white house couldn't figure out who take ownership of the mechanics. no one wanted to own that. would be the office of local communications, someone at the defense department or someone in the office of public affairs i should do this and no one could figure it out, so the program failed. the operational war was impacting our ability to articulate a better fairer more
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aggressive message about our progress during the first year, but the operational war to be fair was impacting the quality of the joan m-- journalism and by the end of 2003 the press corps in baghdad had pretty much been stripped. we always had a saying in the office that the one thing that all of the baghdad reporters had in common was that for the most part you had never heard of any of them. they had stripped baghdad bureau's leaving only a token presence in the bureaus and those personnel then were told they were not permitted to travel around the country. that meant they sat in hotels and waited for the daily car bomb to go off. they sent a crew out. they got their footage. daily to their footage on the evening news or 24 hour cable news and that became the story that we started to see and we started seeing that as early as the summer of 2003. then, there was this larger war
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perception. the white house is overreliance on the wmd issue as a justification for war to annoy her dark red ability with press and the public from the start. you have to couple that with newsrooms full of executive and editors who came from the vietnam era and the sad part of human nature and i don't know if it's developed because of our information system, our technology, but the sad part of human nature that will always be more interested in what went wrong and what to write and who died as opposed to who lived in achieved and you see how these battlelines come into specific relief pretty quickly we were dealing with the media that simply didn't believe the family said. it was hostile to the president and would report rumors on the street over the government's
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explanation for virtually anything. to make matters worse there were no senior staff members from the white house or department of defense public affairs operation at that any amount of time in baghdad well i was there. is public opinion soured the administration strategy was to limit the number of people talking about the mission rather than extending that universe and i think that's an important lesson that we can take them to the private sector that we can take into whatever fight we happen to be fighting for different causes and organizations today that when the going gets tough recorder leaned back isn't necessarily the answer to the problem, that you want to find ways to push through the filter. of course, lost in this complex set of relationships and the road-- this war within the war within the war was members of
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the coalition provisional authority together with our men and women in uniform did in those first 18 months to a functioning pluralistic month-- government albeit adolescents. a written and ratified war, a framework for free elections, establishment of new political parties, reopening of the central bank, stabilized currency. vastly improved healthcare system we could use that in washington today. framework for the return of the strong judiciary, reestablish diplomatic relations with come-- countries that used to be enemies. training of a new iraqi security force that began within weeks of creation of the seed-- hundreds of schools and government buildings rebuilt and by the time president bush left office the most liberal constitution in the middle east had been developed.
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systems had been created to facilitate an election in an incredibly challenging security environment that saw participation by more than a million people. of the economy of iraq had increased several times over under saddam hussein. 's life expectancy increased and security forces much to the surprise of many people in this country had secured much of iraq with ongoing assistance from the us. perhaps, most important al qaeda in iraq by 2008 beginning 2009 had been decimated. our failure to win the home front command occasions work to this day still in perils iraq more than any mistake or misstep that occurred in the war. of the erosion of support in the face of almost exclusively bad news and eight strategy from the
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white house to communicate about the war became untenable for president bush and inconvenient for president obama that inconvenience extended to how the obama administration dealt with isis to the detriment of matt-- now more than a dozen countries dealing with isis. information is power and perceptions created by the effective use of information become reality. those are inextricably linked to our ability to a public policy particularly when the policy will require significant time and cost. that will be critical towards pushing back against editorial filters on the right and on the left. intellectually dishonest reporting, fake news and uninformed opinions to enjoy
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what we do that the rest of the world is more accurately contextualized for america and lessons learned from our expense in iraq are critical to ensuring as a nation we will maintain the will to engage around the world, not just militarily, but diplomatically and economically as well using all of the great tools this country has at its disposal to exert its influence and values. when american-- we seek better security, better human health and we advance the tolerance of peace spirit it was an honor to serve alongside semi brave americans in uniform. it was an honor to serve alongside so many iraqis who made the ultimate sacrifice as well and of course civilians whose-- who continue to be unsung heroes and a cause that
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at its core and the most noble intention of giving people the ability to determine their own destiny. i thank you for your support of this book, this important message and i'm happy to take your questions. thank you very much. [applause]. >> members and guests, this is being recorded, so if you have a question and tom calls on you please wait for the microphone and then proceed from there. >> we are ready. ma'am? >> hello. i noticed on the front cover of your book that i just received and i'm very much looking forward to reading it.
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it's important topic right now it's only different ways, so thank you for being here. on the front cover of your book i think you have donald rumsfeld and this might be simple, a simple aspect of it, but i remember when the war first began donald rumsfeld said, this war is going to take a very very long time and this war is going to cost a lot of money. >> right. >> with the media said from that because he was admitting that it's an unknown and we don't know. we need to go ahead and invest the time and money, but there were media constantly repeated was the administration don't know how much it will cost. the administration doesn't know how long the war will take i
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mean it was such a distortion. is this a simple version of some of the difficulties that we experienced? >> i thank you for your question. i always use the president's speech on the aircraft carrier at the end of major combat operations and you all know now what was the famous part of the speech; right? what was in that speech? mission accomplished. actually was not in the speech. it was a beginner, in the photos if you read bush's speech and remember bush got it. he said if you struggle against radical islamic extremist after address the freedom deficit in the middle east and in order to do that, that's a generations long type of struggle. it is not clean. it doesn't happen right away and it's something he believes was worth investing.
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did they know how much it was going to cost ultimately? no, of course not, but everyone was clear that it would be a long fight. the media loves to conveniently ignore that and it's addressed to people that bush and rumsfeld sort of duped people into thinking we would go in and it would be like 1991 and it was going to be over in a few months one of the things after the mission accomplished speech we started getting in the office with reporters calling you up saying so tom, why is it taking so long to build military. now, mind you this is august 2003. we didn't take any prisoners. the military collapsed and we had to basically-- iraqis had a poorly trained, poorly funded army that had no officer corps because the officer corps completely dissipated, but by
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august they were saying why is it taking so long to get the judiciary up and running. why's it taking so long to get the sewage fixed in baghdad, why is it taking so long to get the lights back on? there's this sense of impatience -- you are lacking and i assume because how ridiculous it was and what i would say to the reporter i was like look, take us out of baghdad and put us in columbus ohio. how long would it take you to build a power plant in clovis ohio? under the best circumstances, what, five years? i mean, we are in new york city. there are projects that you invest in that developers are investing in that started investing 10 years ago and they are still not done, but
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according to the main stream press we were supposed to have everything finished and that was what they wanted, the narrative they wanted to try to drive and they did very successfully. the white house for its part after what happened with the mission accomplished banner really needed to beef up its efforts to find people in every way it could that this was going to be messy. it was going to be long and look, did they effectively anticipate the rise of al qaeda in iraq and foreign fighters and an insurgency? perhaps not. did they know how to-- decrepit the country was when we got there? perhaps not. we used to joke and say next time we invade a country let's invade a country that's not in shambles.
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that level of-- the level of unknowns were very significant and of course i believe we made a mistake by not having as many troops as we needed. the civilian leadership during the first year was very adamant that we needed more troops and this is sort of the war within the war. the civilian leadership in the military leadership at cross purposes on strategy. another question? >> i have a question relative to whether it was something discussed or if you have on opinion. early on in the war tommy frank seemed to be keeping the vastness army in place and working with the tribal leaders
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with the good old yankee dollar and we had not seen looting or breakup. wednesday sends over mr. bremmer and he breaks up the armor it seems like everything went to hell and that the situation worsened relative to the decisions made at this day and not defense. do you have any comment relative to that? >> i do have a comment and i think this is one of the things we will debate for a long time, but the fact of the matter is that in the first gulf war dead don't have have a number in front of me, but we took an enormous number of iraqi people. we were rolling through taking whole battalions of iraqi soldiers. that did not happen this time around and after the looting was allowed to happen he didn't have
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a place-- he didn't have a mechanism to-- you couldn't find people. you had no officer corps. the entire top echelon of the army they had 300 generals and they were all basically like political patronage jobs. all of those folks went away. you can't run an army with just infantrymen particularly conscripts, so what happened was in addition you didn't have resources to train them, in order to equip them. it was all gone and what bremmer did within the first two months, really that he was there was to graduate the first battalion of the new iraqi army, so the
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process of rebuilding the military and old way most of people that were subject to this under the rank of colonel all were able to come back and folks that were part of the iraqi civil service because you had to be a member basically to have a job. most of those people were ultimately retired and i'm not talking about a year or two years later. of the process moved quickly to evaluate these folks and put them back in jobs. we had functioning agencies, departments of the iraqi government and functioning, we had a functioning morality in baghdad within four months after the fall of the statue, so the process didn't move fairly
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quickly and that is something people never really realized in the other problem we had a baghdad was you didn't have police officers, so when we went into iraq the police departments in baghdad, the baghdad police department collapsed. we had to re- recruit people and retrain folks in a short period of time, so while we were trying to do the military end of it wheels of the deduced civilian security services as well and we were putting thousands of cops on the street by september or october and taking some of the burden off of our soldiers who didn't need to be traffic cops. they needed to hunt and kill terrorists, so i think there's a lot of misinformation about what's commonly referred to as the descending of the iraqi military.
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decant the stand is something that really didn't exist by the time without their. other questions? >> did the bush administration fully understand the tension between the sunnis and she has in iraq before they made the decision to go in. >> that is one of the things we had to deal with as we were-- obviously they were bringing ex- patriots and to try to help with negotiation process. from the administration standpoint during the time of the coalition i can't speak to the decision making process beforehand. i can speak to it happened when i was there in the governing-- appointment of the governing council which was a diverse group of men and women who were brought together to work with
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the coalition in july, so the statue fell in april. there was sort of a period where tim gardner was there and they were trying to put together some reconstruction effort. you had looting and wants bremmer got into the country they medially started working on issues at a greater speed and they were able to put together this governing council. there were obvious disagreements we had very experienced diplomats working to bring these different factions together to help create the transitional administrative law and ultimately the constitution that cover the elections. secretary and issues that exist in iraq have existed for centuries and they only got worse after the british came in
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and basically carved up the middle east. a lot of people don't realize that the map was drawn by a foreign power that came in and so there is to 1 degree or another sort of on unnatural union to all of this, but the one thing that brought everyone together was the fact they work resources of how do you divide up the oil resources and that is something we are dealing with today with discussion about iraqi and kurdish splitting off. there's the idea of who gets which will field and what amount of revenue and what forms a divided iraq would take as opposed to a united iraq, but i think when it comes to sectarian issues i think it's hard for us to understand. you know, the iraqis and anyone in the middle east and this is one of the reasons when we talk
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about islamic extremists there is a sense of history in the middle east that they have very long memories and they look very far into the future about how to take their society. i once sat with a gentleman who ultimately came chief justice and we are in this mom getting ready to reappoint some justices to the iraqi supreme court who had been thrown off the bench. they were almost executed by saddam, but he threw them off the bench because he basically wanted to dictate to them what their rulings should be in a murder case that impacted his son and these men who were in their 70s all came together and i was talking to this gentleman and i said there's a
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lot of work to be done to rebuild the judiciary kerry to remember iraqis were riding bongs-- laws, they were the original lawyers and he looked across the table through his thick glasses and said to me and he knew was a lawyer to and he said we have been there before and it was very striking because he wasn't talking about the pre-saddam era. he was reaching back to this great history that they have, this great legal history they have and there was a sense of confidence in his voice because he was looking at the future with this wonderful foundation of their past. as painful as in many respects as it can be and that's the way
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these folks approach their relationships. in some respects that can be a good thing because it gave them stamina. the media loves to talk about-- loves to suggest that not only were americans losing confidence in the iraq mission, but the iraqis really didn't want us there to begin with, not wanting your country to be occupied is different than not understanding the need for having troops there and not having a vision for what the country could be. i had a conversation-- i got to know him very well, the deputy mayor of baghdad and he went to divide one time and connect me and and said-- i said how was your trip and he said i am so angry and of course i'm saying to myself is he angry with us, is angry with me and he said i'm not angry with you.
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i'm angry with us. on angry with this idea that we allow this and i have seen the world now. i have been to europe and i have seen what other countries in the middle east have made them themselves and i'm angry at us for allowing this to go on for so long and that sentiment purveyed to the iraqis that i dealt with sunni, shia and one of the things to remember also about iraq and sectarianism in iraq, iraq was not a dry country iraq was a very liberal country where they had separation between the mosque and state, intermarriage of the different sect of islam. you could be living next door, you could be living next door to a sunni. saddam hussein's foreign minister was a christian.
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so, the idea of this overtaking of the secretary and is and that is always present, but has been amplified, i think by the influence of outsiders like iran and influenced by outsiders like those from al qaeda and other terrorist organizations and other radicals because iraq was not a radical country in that respect. saddam hussein started acting that way and sort of found religion after the 1991 gulf war because he wanted to be more relevant within the world of islam. he wanted to be able to attract more of those folks so that he could then use them to increase his sphere of influence. other questions?
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>> understanding the media reality, how a reliable way you say the us is partners today? , chip a hit did we take by again prematurely walking away from a mission, thinking about syria today? how bad is that in how much is the insurgency taking away because of the skittishness of the public and reliability of the news media to paint the picture. >> it's a good question and gets to this gentleman's question about what i was saying about the longview which some people may say, look maybe that's one of the reasons why this wasn't going to work because as a country we were not necessarily
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going to have the stamina to do this for the long haul, but it's -- it certainly did hurt our credibility. when you tell your enemy when you are leaving-- then when you not only tell them when you are leaving, but then when the general tells the commander-in-chief, look, you want to get out we will do what you tell us to do, but we really need 30,000 troops to stay in the commander-in-chief turns around and says no, we will give you 10 and the national security advisor goes on national television and says these guys from isis, don't worry about it. it's a jv team. on the last eight years during the obama administration we send every single solitary wrong message we could have sent to the people that one we were fighting, two we were trying to
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help and three who were lying in wait to exert their influence around the world. we are now seeing-- look, we have the soft underbelly of europe that is focused more on climate change then securing their own citizens. at some point we got it together we have an administration that is at least talking tough on terrorism and time will tell how the trump administration ultimately deals with these threats, ultimately sells it to the public as well because that is what we are talking about here. talking about not just having an idea, but being able to sell it in such a way that you can sustain the policy, but if malki, the minute we left malki said like i have to find a new friend and where did he go?
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he went to iran and he went to russia and both the russians and irani's have an enormous amount of influence now in the middle east and when-- we have virtually no friends and this is the consequence of people believing that the war was a fool's errand. this is the consequence of the folks not appreciating what we actually accomplished their, the litany of things i was talking about that we did, that we failed to communicate effectively here, so when someone at the white house says to me look we want people thinking about the economy and jobs and there's a presidential election going on i said you don't have a choice anymore to try to forget that iraq is going on. you have to push back and if you
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don't push back and you don't go around new york and washington and go around editorial filter to americans like the people in this room who are reasonable, who might agree with certain points, disagree with certain points, but who can be reasoned with about the cost and benefits of a particular strategy. if you are unwilling to do that then ultimately you know who's making your foreign policy? cnn or on the other hand maybe fox news or some website that no one has ever heard of that suddenly appears in your facebook feeds, so we do have to educate ourselves and we do have to make sure-- this is the challenge of our information age and comes with the responsibility and its importance that we take these
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lessons from iraq and we internalize them and we talk, we talk in real terms about what actually happened so that we can learn. thank you very much. [applause]. >> thank you. thank you. [applause]. >> thank you. [applause]. >> tom, on behalf of the union when president, mike sullivan who could not be here i would like to present you with the union league medallion as a sign of coming in joining us on this july afternoon. [applause].
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>> thank you. >> also on behalf of the military affairs committee and would like to present you with our military a fellow-- affairs challenge coin. [applause]. >> thank you. thank you. >> i think everyone of you for attending, but it would not be a military affairs event without continued plugs for our next event, so here is sort of paying the bills, skydiving august 18. we have a bunch of skydivers in the audience wearing wings. i see people looking at their feet not trying to make eye contact, but that's okay. to join us for jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and earn your wings giving you immense
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bragging rights at the main bar downstairs. on september 11, special day for the world, but a special date for our city especially. we will have a very special guest army lieutenant general kent who is commanding officer of all special forces and they are the units taking it to the enemy at this point on the war on terror september 11, and after that we have another special guest and special different type of plan. we will have the u.s. air force commander of the space command here, four-star general j raymond who will talk to us about stuff we usually don't talk about, which is plans on how they are getting to mars. when i say that, we had that conversation down in florida when i was there and he looked at me seriously, very humorous sky and look to me seriously and
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said ron, this really is rocket science that we are going to get it done. plans for trip to mars which is in its embassy, but should be very interesting. please clear your calendars for those dates and join us and again that concludes tonight's program and i thank you for coming to the program. the main bar is open downstairs. thank you. [applause]. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]


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