tv Up W Chris Hayes MSNBC December 31, 2011 4:00am-6:00am PST
good morning from new york. i'm chris hayes. today is new year's eve. it is already 2012 in samoa. happy 2012, samoa. in syria, at least 35 people have been killed by security forces opening fire as protesters tried to rally in eye shot of visiting observers from the arab league. i am joined by joe sestak of pennsylvania, who commanded an aircraft carrier battle group in the run-up in the iraq war and rose to three-star admiral serving as the white house
director ofef heading the anti- unit. zainab shelby, her father served as sa dad's personal phi lot. phyllis bennett , matt a armla iraq from 2007 to 2009 and author of a book, kaboom. today is the last day of the legal framework where u.s. forces were permitted to operate in iraq. few mainstream media paid much attention to the troop's departure or the milestone that today represents. it will not be remembered and there will be no kiss in times square. no one, perhaps rick perry, seems interested in holding a parade. even the movies about iraq go
unseen. the staff and i spent the day deciding whether we should dedicate the show to the war in iraq. at the last of the u.s. troops crossed the border into kuwait, some of us weren't sure if the war warranted two hours of coverage, myself included. we started to talk about it. we couldn't stop talking about it. america's invasion of iraq dominated our last two presidential elections, redefined our military, reshaped our domestic politics and aur place in the world but despite all that, america is so eager to forget iraq that most of the republican presidential candidates are continuing to repeat it in iran and the candidate gets no credit for it while his broader military party goes unchallenged while those claim it is insufficiently muscular and belligerent. whether we like it or see it, iraq is still with us. it is hard to fathom how we will
escape it if we are unwilling to face it, face what it did to america and what america did to iraq. the worst of it, we never faced on our tv screens. as you are about to see, much of what we did see was disturbing and graphic. iraq continues to flaunt its hostility towards america and support terror. states like these and their terrorist allies constitute an access of evil. >> there are known knowns. there are things we know we know. we are also know there are known unknowns. there are some things we know we do not know. there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know. >> i don't oppose war in all circumstances but what i do oppose is a dumb war. >> less than a teaspoon full of dry anthrax in an envelope shut down the united states senate in the fall of 2001. iraq declared 8500 leaders of
anthrax. >> we stand here because our right to dissent and our right to be participants in a true democracy have been hijacked. >> could you give us some ideas of the magnitude of the army's force requirement for an occupation of iraq. >> something on the order of several00,000 soldiers. >> saddam hussein and his sons must leave iraq within 48 hours. >> the rescue of private first class jessica lynch of west virginia. >> that is at once a pathetic and symbolic representation of saddam hussein. >> major combat operations in iraq have ended, the united states and our allies have prevailed. >> the justice department is now investigating whether someone in the white house leaked the identity of a secret cia agent to punish her husband, former am
basd door, joseph wilson, for challenging one of the president's reasons for going to war with iraq. >> saddam was hiding out with this really hole in the ground. >> the capture of saddam has not made america safer. >> it turns out, we were all wrong probably in my judgment. this is most disturbing. >> most weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere. >> american civilians in iraq ambushed, shot, burned, and dragged through the streets. >> the four men worked for a north carolina firm, blackwater usa. >> i don't believe anything like that, of course, like those pictures happened in guantanamo but i don't know the answer to that. i hate to keep pleading ignorance. that's the reason why we need the general and others before the committee. >> i am humbled by the trust an the confidence of my fellow citizens. >> now, why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass?
>> as you know, you you go to war with the army you have. not the army you might want. >> people have come out just to celebrate the first time they are being allowed to vote in freedom here in iraq. >> they don't have what i like to call skin in the game. we are all affected. >> as the death count has reached 2000. >> we are losing on a day an average, 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. this is not civil war, god knows what civil war is. >> the world's second most wanted men, abu mu za has been killed. >> he suited up to go on a run with a young and cure age yulgus iraqi war veteran. >> saddam hussein will be executed before sunrise. >> at least 11 people shot dead. iraqi officials claim by blackwater guards. >> now, 4,000 dead, american
casualties of war. >> preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the united states. >> 23-year-old david hickman was killed been an explosive in iraq on november 14th, making him the last american soldier killed in the war. >> all the fighting, the dying, the bleeding, the building, the training, the partnering, all of it has led to this moment of success. >> a simple ceremony at the baghdad airport to case the colors and to mark the completion of nearly nine years of war. >> that's just a look back at the nearly nine years of war that we spent in iraq. some of the highlights and low lights i would say. as people who experience the war in a variety of different ways, i guess i'm just curious what your reactions are seeing all that footage. some of which was so iconic when it happened, the rumsfeld known/unknown moment.
the bush and the flight suit on the deck of mission accomplished. some of it was remarkable as a staff. we were sifting through a timeline to put together in the video of all these moments, the bombing of the golden dome in samaria which was the iconic moment that inaugurated the civil war, the shooting by the blackwater guards that had sort of completely faded in memory. i am interested in your reactions, phyllis. >> well, it is difficult to remember some of it. but i think that for me there were two things that really stood out. one was remembering the price that iraqis paid. i was glad there was mention of how many people were dying on a daily basis. the other was something that david kay said. one of the two main weapons
inspectors in iraq. he came back to tell the security council that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction and we needed a couple more weeks to confirm and finish our job. he said, we were all wrong. i kept thinking, watching that, we weren't all wrong. they were all wrong. there were people in iraq, the middle east, and across the world and here in the u.s. who were right, who were saying this is not a legitimate war, not about weapons of mass destruction. this is about power, oil, the expansion of u.s. control in the world. there were people saying that and the amazing moment of february 15th, 2003, when the world said no to war and the guinness book of world records said, between 12 and 14 million people came out in the streets to say no to this looming war. they were all wrong. we were all write. we were all write. the people in iraq were saying
the same thing. >> it always seems like small comfort. >> it is not comfort at all. >> it isn't. it makes it all more grotesque. >> yes. >> the best estimates and they are wildly ranging estimates in the total number of iraqi deaths, inaugurated by the war, different the iraq body collates news sources has the number between 104,000 and 114,000. shocking totals. >> your point about the weapons of mass destruction, i can remember sitting next while i was still in the military. weapons of mass destruction had not been found. sitting next to newt gingrich as he spoke to the defense university. afterwards, i asked him, what do you say now to the public? the answer was, we will give them another reason. so the cost also to us americans
the cost is not $1 trillion that has been spent up front but the cost of $2 trillion to our wonderful veterans that do serve us but that they have come home with post-traumatic stress disorder, to be homeless as a veteran, 2 out of every 5 veteran families have been on food stamps. this has been a tragic misadventure. the lesson cannot be forgotten that it is not just military advice that is most important in deciding whether and how to conduct a war, it is also how does it affect overall national security. do it and do it and do it rather than re-assess it. >> this point of military advice is interesting. i want to ask someone that served quite high up.
you are a three-star admiral in the navy. >> yes. >> one of the things we have seen in the years since the war began is this notion that we should listen to the jerrelgenen the ground. there is this question of whether we should be involved in the war. this tactical question of how to engage in whatever military work we are doing at the moment. what do you think the legacy has been coming out of this in terms of how we think about the politics of war, how we choose to fight it and not outsource the questions? >> this is one of the greatest lessons we have to walk away from this conflict with is that military advice is merely a piece, an important but a piece of how we go about the national security decision of going into war and how to conduct it. as some great military thinker once said, war is really politics by other means. it is why franklin d. roosevelt
kept his hand on how and when we ended world war ii. why general eisenhower said car rhea has to stop. why general kennedy said after the bay of pigs, i will never again take aboard solely the military advice and intelligence. the failure across the board in congress and the administration to say, how is this affecting our national security, our leadership in the world, our impact at home, how we could not defend south korea with our army? those aspects were totally missing. >> we are going to talk more about how the war in iraq changed us and how the war changed iraq right after this break. flattered when regenerist beat
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i want to play and we are discussing how the war sort of changed american politics and how we think about our role in the world. i think also how we think about military action and the degree of which it has changed the way we think about those things and what has remained unchanged is the most interesting aspect of the legacy domestically. i want to play this interview charlie rhodes did of tom friedman. this is may of 2003. friedman is talking about what is understanding and endorsing an understanding of the iraq war, that is a pretty shocking one, take a look. >> what they needed to see was american boys and girls going house to house from busra to baghdad and saying, which part of this sentence don't you understand? you don't think we care about our open society. you think this bubble fan tasta we are going to let it grow,
well suck on this. >> this is how america lost the war. this is exactly how america lost the war, u.s. soldiers, because they did go house to house in different parts of iraq and forcing themselves at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, violating any cultural codes of entering families, disrespecting this woman's privacy. this is how america lost the private individual citizen of iraq who at one point was supportive of the idea that someone can liberate us from saddam. that's how it was a 360-degree turnoff. >> was it possible to win. when you say this is how they lost, that suggestion that matt, what do you think, you were there having to do these missions, right? >> i think it is really important we don't box ourself into a win/loss scenario. this isn't world war i or ii or force on force. when i got there, most of the montage was the early years. i understand why but for example
when i got there in 2007 through 2009, simply pulling the country back from the brink of civil war was considered victory. people get hung up on the troop surge and the number. a lot more was going into the surge in terms of the sunni awakening and in terms of the sawa. >> explain what those two things are. >> the sunni awakening happened in 2006/2007 in terms of getting some of the sunni sheikhs out in the province to realize we don't really like the americans here but they are better than al qaeda. >> and realize with large payments and putting them on the payroll. >> that's related to the sawa guards known as pretty much a paramilitary, many of whom were former insurgents hired to perform additional security. is it dirty? does it fit into the clean narrative we view the war, the good guys versus the nazis?
no. did it work? tact tactically, yes. >> military can stop a problem. they cannot fix a problem. when you go out there, it is ultimately about the hearts and the minds. >> absolutely. >> the militaries can and do train to do that. by and large, it is the other elements of our national power working with other cultures that brings about a society that is stable. >> absolutely. >> it is right. it is not. i completely agree with you. it is not about win and loss in terms of military definitions but in terms of the hearts and minds of people. when america entered iraq and i was one of those people always against this war, there were lots of iraqis excited. president bush did not exaggerate when he said they
were welcoming us with roses. they thought we were going to have democracy and development. the first six months after the invasion, america had iraqis and then it just continued to deteriorate, a process of lacking in he discussion of hearing the local population and what they are saying. >> that's part of the problem. >> i just want to say, this gets to a very deep, important issue in terms of what we learned from iraq, which is, was it the fruit of a rotten tree or was it that the implementation went wrong somewhere? >> i think it was a rotten tree and it was implemented terribly wrong? >> i think the rotten tree part of it is crucial. >> i think zainab is certainly right. there were many iraqis that were thrilled at overthrowing a dictatorship. that's not something forgotten but not known across the united states. >> there is the iconic photo of
donald rumsfeld shaking hands with saddam hussein. >> providing the biological weapons program came from a country outside of washington, d.c. we bear a lot of responsibility. i this i that what is key here is that one of the big changes, one of the big lessons we are seeing now has been this transformation of how people in the united states have been willing, people in power, have been willing to give up on diplomacy, give up on international law, give up on the united nations in favor of unilateral military action, whether or not it is in the face of massive global opposition, which is what we saw in iraq. >> this is well taken. when i commanded an aircraft carrier off afghanistan, i had 30 ships. only 10 were from the united states. japan had left the sea of japan for the first time. we had greeks. we had led an international coalition when we were most strong. the overarching point to what
you had kind of brought up about iraq is that we normally go to war when there is a clear and present danger. there was really no problem to stop iraq. >> there was no clear and present danger. >> it became a tragic misadventure, militarily, because we divided our forces. on the other hand, we went into something that i think we created. without this, less than 10% of our troops were nonu.s., different than bosnia and the first iraq war. we are best served if the international community that we lead is with us. >> i want to respond after we take a break. >> you are absolutely right, after all those efforts have been tried. >> i will let you respond to that when we come back. intense shadowblast from covergirl. the news? it's eye shadow with primer built-in so it lasts! rich color that's fadeproof, waterproof,
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in which the status of forces agreement, the legal document that permitted american troops in iraq is operable as of tomorrow. that will no longer be the case. the iraq war will be -- the iraq war as such will be over. >> philli >> you were just going to respond as one of the key takeaways. >> i agree with joe that when there is military anything, it must be coalitions. what we've seen here is sort of the opposite of that. we had a coalition. they called it the coalition of the willing. we called it the coalition of the coerced. these were countries bought and paid and had no choice to join this so-called coalition. when what we really need and what was ignored and violated in you can ra and afghanistan, the question of international law. when the bush administration, number one, went to the u.n. to get permission in 1990 for d
desert storm, they bribed and bought and threatened their way into getting the votes they needed. it was legally approved by the u.n., one of only two way it is can be legal. bush ii, junior, failed to do that. it was part of when the u.n. was part of the global that stood up saying we are not going to be part of this towards power and oil. without u.n. permission, it was a clear violation. the u.s. said, we're doing it anyway. >> what are american domestic politics on this front like? it seems to me like they are unchanged in terms of near politicians? you were a politician. you are no longer. a recovering politician. >> this all has to be sold to the american voter. the fact of the matter is, you get -- if you go around and you say, what i want is for american
military power to be submitted to international law, you will not -- outside of certain precincts in which you and i phyllis, occupy. >> i think there isn't that much of a political appetite. i think appetites are created. one of the things we should not forget is that despite all the efforts in congress, particularly in the '80s, not when you were there, joe. i won't put this on you. in the '80s, there was a huge move against the united nations. the helicopters are going to invade montana. it turned out, there was some great polling work that was done. it turned out that the american people actually support the united nations, want the u.s. to be part of the rule of law, want us to be one country among many, not to stand like a col loss sis over the rest of the world saying international law is only for the rest of you guys. it is when it is presented to us as it was, for example, in afghanistan where we are going
to go to war or let them get away with it, people will say we are going to go to war. >> and doesn't the american voter want what's best for america, to be popular and healthy. >> i wonder how much the legacy of the war is to not -- how much we think of iraq as sue egeneral u us. we got off the well-warn path of upstanding american global leadership as opposed to being part of a story of american global leadership. >> part of that was because of the doctrine of preemptive war. >> preventative. it wasn't even preemptive. >> we have done surgical strikes on our own, such as libya in the mid '80s. to do a preemptive war that is
incalculable cost, and to have it as part of the international community as we did for yugoslavia and other places, having tried diplomatically, that is when we are better. if the conflict happens, we all own the aftermath, not just united states. >> so much of this is related to the all-volunteer force. it is less than .5 of 1%. whether t when the drums of war were starting to beat, generally speaking, it wasn't every voter, son or daughter, i promised you, had there been a draft, those soccer moms would have been rioting. there is a strong argument that iraq would not have happened with the draft. it is important that the all
volunteer force, because they are not your son or daughter, they are somebody's. the latest of these wars will be going on for many, many years. >> there is one more thing here. i hear lack of acknowledge from america. the president is announcing it is a success and we are exiting and everything is okay and it is not okay. this was a failure. iraq is destroyed. every aspect of iraq is destroyed. there is a lack of acknowledgment from america to say, we're sorry. from an iraqi perspective, it doesn't malt ter whether you are republican or democrat or bush or obama. as far as iraqis are concerned or the people outside of america, this is america, one country, one president to represent the population. no apology, no acknowledgment, actually nothing to say, you know what, we screwed up in iraq, big-time, big-time. that's my issue with this lack of -- with the packaging, everything is okay. >> i think those two things relate. these two points, because i think, matt, what you are saying
is part of why the end of the war has happened with such a sort of quiet and almost sort of shameful whimper, this thing has happened off in the corner. for the overwhelming percentage of americans, nothing changed during the war or after the war. people went about their lives, because they weren't serving. their kids weren't serving and their friends weren't serving. >> the first time in american history. >> everything sort of went about the same. the war is happening and the war is not. that also is the same thing that makes it hard for the country to face up to the war with iraqis. the investment was so minimal. phyllis? >> i think it is important partly because we also leave out the legacy that came before this war. this war just didn't pop up for the first time. we had gone to war against iraq in 1991. we had imposed 12 years of crippling economic sanctions that had shredded, shredded the social fan brick of what was once despite huge repression,
which zainab can tell about and has so passionately. a country where economic rights were largely implemented by most people. our responsibility there, i still hear the words of madeline albright, when she was still the ambassador to the united nations just before she became secretary of state when she was asked on 60 minutes about the 500,000 children that had died not at the hands of saddam hussein but at the sanctions we had orchestrated. she didn't defly it. she didn't say the numbers are exaggerated. she said, we think the price is worth it. that's when we also lost the hearts and minds that we may have ever scraped together somewhere. >> a translator and journalist in iraq right now. we are going to do that after the break. ok! who gets occasional constipation, diarrhea, gas or bloating? get ahead of it! one phillips' colon health probiotic cap a day helps defend against digestive issues
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joining us from baghdad is rasan agna, an iraqi that worked as an interpreter for the u.s. army and is now a producer for npr. for safety reasons, he did not wish to show his face. good morning. rasan. how are you? >> thank you so much for joining us. i really appreciate it. >> it is my pleasure. >> the first question we've been looking at what is being left behind in iraq. zainab says she was there two months ago. we were discussing about. it seems in a day to day level, there is a relatively low level of terrorist attacks or bombing or street attacks but the country does seem in political crisis right now. you have the prime minister accusing the vice president of being an insurgent agent and the vice president having to plflee.
what is your opinion on the eve of the new iraq? >> what's happening right now, it is nothing but reality. it is reality and nothing but reality. don't forget, we had the americans for more than eight years. they were doing their own rule, politics and security. what is left behind is reality to be handled by iraqis. the current political crisis is very normal in a place in a country to be left alone without any forces like the american force. everyone, insurgents, they are trying to have their own law. it will take some time. you cannot get rid of insurgents and militia men within one day or one month or even a year. it will take much more than this. you have to face it. this is what is left. the americans left us like this
and maybe it should take a little bit longer to organize things more and more. they left is with this bloody, violent reality. each side feels that strong. they have their own people. their army, their forces, their militia men, their groups. they want to not kill each other but rival each other in a bloody, violent way. people are falling victims of such bloody conflict. it is not correct. if it remains this way, it would be a bloody future. there are hopes, he can pe expe that this political crisis would come to an end. the end won't be an easy thing
to reach. it should go through coalitions, agreements, detentions of some people, like what's happening against the vice president. so many people in iraq, they say, well, it was fabricated by the prime minister. others were saying, no, it was true, because this guy had a history of doing car bombs and ieds or meeting some insurgent groups. it happened two or three years ago, there was a car bomb inside the green zone. some people say that the prime minister is doing the right, legal way to handle situations in iraq. if someone is doing prime bombs, they should be in a prison. others are saying, no, it is political targeting. you never know what is reality. you never know. there should be a system to work through. there should be a system in place. what's happening right now is that the reality is imposing such system. there should be a winner. there should be a loser. there is no way to have a
compromise especially in iraq as the country in the middle east. in the middle east, i don't believe there is compromises at all. there should be a winner or a looser, not like an american. you can rule a country through coalitions and agreements. here it is completely different. this is the mentality. this is the arab mentality, this is wait it should be. i think it will keep like this in the future. iraq is no different than other countries in the middle east. it has to be this way. there should be a loser. there should be a winner. i think right now with the current crisis, this one, it will come to an end but it is going to be a bloody, violent end in which the loser will be dead and the winner will take all. >> ghassan, just so the american viewers are tracking, what was crafted was various different posts in the cabinet. the dala party, the party of nuri al maliki, which is a
shyite dominated party, is the ruling party but the sunni coalition had different government posts. there is now a fracturing. he seems to be saying that there should be a coalition government. the only way to have effective governance is for one party where someone can be clearly in control of the government. zainab, you seem to disagree with that. >> no. i have a question for ghassan. you are saying at one point, you wished that america would extend its stay in iraq. what we have right now, ghassan, is a result of what america has done. i am just curious, what part, how are you optimistic, why do you think american can help iraqis get better governmental conditions than what we can do on our own? i agree it is messy. it is like every situation, we can get out of it. what makes you think america can fix it for us better than we can
fix it for ourselves? >> can i add one thing to that? >> this is zainab salbi and this is joe sestak. >> to some degree, what i might have been hearing is it is okay to change a one-rule dictatorship, saddam hussein, for one man, wrapped in democratic robe, a tyrant, under maliki, as i con sal dates his power under the interior and defense department and is not inclusive of others that can give us more strife in the future? is that what you are arguing. >> you get a chance to respond. >> well, that's very easy. for americans to look at this for americans to stay a little bit longer to help us reorganize things in a better way. it is just like a doctor who created a certain disease and infected a certain body with that disease. it is only that doctor, that can help that sick body to get rid of that disease. if you leave the body with that
disease created about i that doctor and go away, the body will be dead. what's happened right now in iraq is that we had the americans. we did not invite the americans. it was the iraqis that invited the americans to come to the country in this bloody, violent way. they came. it happened. they created their own system. so many people were linked to the americans. within one day, they are gone. iraqis may handle their own couldn't interest country, security, politics. they need more time for a special security, social syste , infrastructure. we needed some time, maybe some more time just to help this country, iraq, yes, the current government is doing its best. the challenges are so huge, so big, just like whatever you do. if you face one enemy, you put
ten other enemies on the list waiting to fight you there is not enough power foo fight 10 enemies at the same time. you cannot fight neighborsiing countries from one hand and enemies on the other. you have to handle economy and other things. it is almost impossible. just like iraq needed a secondhand to help it for a certain period of time. not to help it by interfering directly and on a daily basis with issues. americans will be here. they will be handling it. in case there will be a need for americans to help. so they should be present. right now, they are gone, being led by the shiite coalition. it's not opposition. this is one of the mistakes of the americans. they live here. there is no government that has
no position. right now, we have no position. we have two groups ruling this country. each is fighting with the other one to get a share of what's in this country. we need a government. we need an opposition. so whatever the government does, the position would be pointing at it right now. it is not the case right now. such coalition was imposed on the government by the americans. >> ghassan, i have to cut you off. i have to go to break. if you can stay with us, we will take a break and come right back after this.
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fever, best sleep you ever got with a cold...medicine. ♪ don't our dogs deserve to eat fresher less processed foods just like we do introducing freshpet healthy recipes of fresh meat and fresh veggies so fresh the only preservative we use is the fridge freshpet fresh food for fido we were just talking to former interpreter for u.s. army, now producer for npr in iraq. we had to let him go. he was saying the country is on the precipice of a dark future, i think he said, but maybe this coalition government is not in good shape. phyll
phyllis, you seem to have a strong reaction. >> you know, i think this is something we've been hearing from the beginning of the creation -- the u.s. creation of the iraqi government. because this government is a u.s. creation. this is not an indigenous iraqi government. when we used to be asked this question, well, what do you think is going to happen to the iraqi government if the u.s. pulls out in my answer was always, i'm not sure but i'm guessing it probably won't survive without u.s. troop support. if it doesn't that's okay because it means it doesn't have the indigenous credibility that a government needs. it's a creature of the u.s. occupation. it sdepdoesn't mean it's going e easy to create a new government. i don't know what that new government is going to look like. i can be pretty sure it will not be the kind of government i would want to live under. it will probably be a little more religious than i would like. i'm a secular jewish girl from california but i don't get to live there. it's not my country. >> i understand the caution caution general powell had, if you break, it you own it. however, after this period of time, there does come to the
national security interest where we began our discussion of saying, what the overall impact of continuing our efforts there? upon our army that has not trained to take it to a military perspective, in anything except countersurgericy in ten years. it cannot defend north korea, according to the joint chiefs of staff. in some degree it is in the hands of the iraqis to -- >> not to cut you off. one thing i found problematic is the notion of helping the iraqis was used for so long by sort of the neoconservative forces to be the justification for the war that sometimes i hear people justify our withdrawal from iraq, which is absolutely 1,000% the right thing to do, in these terms that are essentially, we've done enough for them, as if we sent 200,000 -- >> and they need -- and i we've -- i've argued that as to way we needed to set a firm withdrawal date, the maximum that samuel johnson once said, nothing like the prospect of a
hanging to focus your mind. i think eventually they have to focus on their issues. >> i agree. >> even though we went in in a tragic misadventure. >> we'll be right back. [ female announcer ] new crest complete multi-benefit plus deep clean. you feel it working, so you know you're ready for whatever the day brings. compared to ordinary toothpaste, you feel a deeper clean. up to a two times cleaner feeling. new crest complete. feel it working. yeah, our low prices are even lower. we need to teach her how to walk. she is taking up valuable cart space. aren't you, honey? [ male announcer ] it's our biggest clearance event of the year where our prices are even lower. save money. live better. walmart.
all right. we are discussing the legacy of the iraq war. trying to go through nine years of probably the single most -- i would say the single most consequential thing that has happened in american political life foreign policy over the last decade. and we're -- hopefully that's not an actual fire. just a bell. we're going to talk in a little bit we'll talk to general sanchez who commanded ground forces in iraq for four years. and i want to talk about one of the things that you touched on, matt, which is what these nine years have done to the american -- the people that fought the war, the cohort of
veterans of which you are a member, and also what is done to the american military and how we think about our role in the world. we'll get to all that. [ female announcer ] we were flattered when regenerist beat a $100 cream. flabbergasted when we creamed a $500 cream. for about $30 regenerist micro-sculpting cream hydrates better than over 20 of america's most expensive luxury creams. fantastic. phenomenal. regenerist.
possible. was the problem the implementation of how americans went about their presence in iraq, kicking down doors is one of the things that has been mentioned, or was it the fact that it's just an impossible situation in which to operate? matt, you were someone who was on the front lines of that. what was your experience, i guess, emotionally, psychologically, subjectively of being in the position of the power, the person with the gun, essentially, in that environment? >> yeah, i love they'rizing, but when you're there, you lose yourself in the action and you do the best you can with what you got. we truly became a jack of all trades, masters of none. one minute going on a raid, kicking down doors look for an insurgent and the next minute flipping a switch and realizing there's no insurgents here, it's all women and everybody put down your rifles, take off your helmet and try to turn on a little boyish charm because, yeah, you got the wrong house. >> impossible. >> it happens. it's terrible.
you know, 20 young americans, all of whom under 26, just trying to dot best you can -- >> who showed up at the house, presumably in the middle of the night. and keyed occupy adrenaline, thinking that on the other side of the door there might be guns, bombs, might be anything. the door comes down. it's a house full of women totally freaked out and wailing or -- who you told to get on the floor, it's protocol, right? or go in one room? >> yeah. it's just a matter of using as much discretion as possible. my platoon was lucky in that nothing went terribly awry in that. that's not always the case. it's just not -- you know, you're making decisions in a matter of seconds. it's so off -- so easy to second guess. >> what is that next beat like? what is the beat like in the moment when you think to yourself, okay, there is no
insurgent in this house. we are faced with, this is no threat, we've entered into -- >> for me in that situation i described, i thought of my mother. i grew up with a single mom. and thought, my god, you know, this is 90-pound woman. i can only imagine how we look like to her. i don't feel like ramboch but giant dudz in american uniforms with rifles look that way. you immediately try to put yourself out there as a fellow human being, to a limited effect. >> >> i think we should be so thankful for men and women like you, matt. but i think to your point, secretary gates said it well, anyone who thinks we should get into another intervention on the land mass of asia should have his mind examined. >> yeah. >> particularly for an occupation. because in the longer term, it gets to the point that while around this world, and you made this -- this issue, brought it up, is we're respected for the power of our military, the power
of our economy but admired for the power of our ideals and that slowly, particularly since we went there with almost a made-up purpose, takes the greatest strength of ours away. though i value we have men and women that sign up to serve us -- >> totally. america's biggest asset is its culture, and stands for music and democracy and the idea that you can build yourself from nothing and make yourself something. it's the possibilities are endless in america. that's what everyone wanted in iraq. so, it was an overpromise, underdelivered deal. it was, we came to america with the headline we're going to bring you what's good about america. so, that's -- from an iraqi perspective, wow, america came and they're going to do to us -- literally they were calling us the martial plan. so, from an iraqi perspective, and i want to take a second on,
that what happens when a soldier -- honestly, i personally put more blame on the attitude and the command rather than on the soldier, but what happens when the soldier kick the door out? you leave an iraqi family with no money, literally. i've interviewed so many families who have been raided, i guess, you know, i don't know what you call it, who are left with a door broken and no money to fix it. so, it was a complete -- it's like, we thought america was going to come and bring us electricity and fix the sewer system, water system, bring jobs, and none of that, none was addressed. we addressed military issues and we undermined what iraqis simply wanted. >> matt? >> well, concurrently, there's -- it's not black and white. concurrently if the soldier doesn't quick down the door and it's the house with a insurgent and he gets shot through the spine, paralyzed for life, it comes back here and lives the rest of his life in a military hospital. >> but there's a difference.
i'm sorry, matt. it seems to me that that's not the same thing. because you are part -- not you alone, but our military is an invading, occupying military in someone else's country. and we're -- it's not the same to me when we're talking about military casualties as opposed to civilian casualties. they're all tragedies. that's certainly true at the human level. but i don't think we can say that it's a 50/50 proposition. >> but the trade-off in this instance, in this thought experiment, which is very real thought experience because it happened over and over is the broken door or a person getting shot. >> it's not just a broken door. we're talking about traumatized children -- >> there's a way to deal with it. scent mean i'm interfering in military tactics because when i talk to soldiers in iraq, they
say, this is how we're trained. we're trained to be in a battlefield but consequences of how do you -- so it's not to interfere with your tactics it's how do you handle what happens afterwards. >> no situation is the same, though. we're falling into a trap of, this is exactly how it's going to be. this is one scenario. >> the question is not whether we want to have that capability. we may need it -- it's whether this was the right place in order to -- and the means by which -- >> is that the question or is the question that -- is the -- i mean, that is the interesting question. was this the right place for a kr counterinsurgency or should we not be in the position in the first place? >> we should not have been in iraq in the first place. >> absolutely. what we're seeing now, it's not only about occupation. i mean, we're giving the terrible experiences had you to go through, matt, and that iraqis went through for so many years, is one aspect of occupation. what we're now seeing, expansion of wars in that part of the world in the form of drone wars where we don't have boots on the
ground in any significant numbers, in all these countries from pakistan to yemen so somalia to others we're not even being told about that aren't acknowledged yet, where people are still being killed in sometimes significant numbers. but what we hear is, this is a great new way to wage war because we don't have so many casualties. leaving out the critical words, we don't have so many u.s. military casualties. we have plenty of casualties on the ground. >> but we have done this for decades. a tomahawk missile 20 years ago would go 1,000 miles. the issue is that there are times where lives have to be lost in the interest of americans' security, i would argue. >> but i'm not sure we've seen -- >> but you have that capability is not a bad thing. it again comes to the overarching issue, was iraq the right place for us? when it went a clear, i would argue, but a present danger to america or the world. >> absolutely. >> that's where -- i understand
what saddam hussein was doing. >> horrible. >> but that goes around the world. and the question is, how do you weigh the benefits versus the cost? that comes back ultimately to the political leadership. and the advice the senior military leadership gave or didn't give about the implications as general -- as you put out at the general of this, general did, he may have -- >> look what happened to him. >> that is correct. which is an overarching issue of how well was military advice proffered. >> we'll talk to the man who commanded coalition troops in iraq. [ woman ] my boyfriend and i were going on vacation,
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here to talk to us now is retired army lieutenant general ricardo sanchez who directed military operations in iraq after the collapse of saddam hussein regime. good morning. >> good morning. how are you? >> i'm good. i imagine you've been able to hear some of the conversation we're having here. maybe let's continue this conversation we were having about the -- about how you go about commanding an armed force in a country in the midst of a civil war, and an insurgency and an attempt to run an occupation that wins hearts and minds. how do you go about thinking about what your role was and how you balanced some of the kind of competing pressures on you that we were just talking about in that last segment of the safety of the men and women you were commanding but also that you are not really alienating the population you are supposed to be protecting? >> yeah, chris, that's an extremely difficult strategic
and tactical challenge leader and commander faces at every level. let me say one thing that's critical for me here. matt, thank you so much for your tremendous sacrifices and your leadership on the battlefield in iraq in the service of our country, because it was young people like matt that make all of the difference as to whether we succeed or fail in these types of operations. i think the difficulty that a leader faces, a military leader faces, is that in an insurgency or counterinsurgency environment, it is not the military element of power that is decisive. it is normally going to be victory will depend upon the effectiveness of the political element, the diplomatic, the informational element and definitely the economic element of power. in this case america failed to deploy sufficient capacity to be able to make an effect and have an effect on the ground in a very short time frame. >> general, isn't -- >> we struggled with that. >> part of what i think is so
striking about you enunciating is that is you came up through the military. you highest ranking latino in the history of the armed forces f i'm not mistaken. you spent your life in the military being a soldier and then a general. then you find yourself in a position in what is called for and what is asked are all the things not military. i mean, it seems strange to me when you talk about counterinsurgency, if you said to me, what i need for you is to do great work on coalition building among different sectarian forces and working on getting sewage treatment together, have i no training to do that, nor does any, you know, random american who is enlisted in the armed forces. it seems like there's a fundamental mismatch between what the goals are and what the tool is. >> no, actually, i think when you look at the history of warfare and our tremendous successes in world war ii and
korea, it was all of the elements of power being applied in a synchronized, coordinated fashion w some difficulties but nevertheless all of them deployed and employed with some sort of capacity that was appropriate to the condition that existed. in this case, we didn't do that. we were relying extremely heavily on the military power and men and women like matt to provide all of the different requirements to take care of that family after we had made a mistake, to ensure that the sewers and electric power plants were back online for way too long a period of time. we as a nation did not recognize that all of those elements of power had to be employed for a sustained amount of recoe.ized the capacity to do it effectively. >> general, i have phyllis benes, if you want to respond. >> sure.
general, it is begging the question. what we saw was only the military being used. only the military was the tool of u.s. policy in iraq. so, this notion, it's certainly true that people in the military are not train in how to get societiage system to work, electricity on, build coalitions in a civil war that didn't exist until we occupied the country. we should be very clear about that. but we also had a situation where congress, the administration, et cetera, were refusing to provide any money for anything other than the military. and we did not hear the military leadership saying, we're the wrong instrument here, folks. we should not be doing this because we're going to do it wrong. if you knew that your military was not capable of doing the things that you were being asked to do, didn't you have an obligation to say that to members of congress? >> oh, absolutely. i think those messages are being sent very clearly every time a congressional delegation came to
iraq. also it was being communicated at every level of the national decision-making process. it was very clearly recognized by our political and senior military leadership that this was the case. and the problem was that the nation didn't have the decision-making processes and the capacity within the inner agency to be effective in the time frames that were required. i think the issue that you surface is, you know, an issue that has really challenged retired military leadership. that is, do you speak out against administration policies while you're in uniform? and my answer to that is, absolutely not. there's a channel for doing that. and i think every military leader that's served during this war has done that effectively and at the level that was necessary. >> general, i have joe sestak here. >> although i would like to comment, general, on your last
statement, let me follow up on what phyllis said. to some degree by default the military has to do this job. i mean, there's more members in the military bands than in the foreign service of the state department. >> which says something about the country's priorities. >> absolutely right. but, former yugoslavia, the state department oversaw the aftermath of the conflict. would it have served this nation better to have a different leader there potentially who, you know, is more trained upon the cultures. having the military executed, would that have served us better? >> the history of war shows us that in the immediate aftermath of major combat operations. >> we need to provide the
military commander on the ground, the capacities across all the other elements of power with the right political advisers, the right economic and informational advisers to be able to secure and stabilize for a short period of time while the nation builds capacities to be able to transition -- >> but if it is about the hearts and minds should they have overseen that effort, the military that you only have the heft to -- to execute in the military? >> that's my point. you enable the military commander for a minimum period of time to allow the state department to come in and be able to assume those responsibilities with all the appropriate capabilities. basically what america this is
the military as its only major element of power that could effectively operate in that environment. >> jen sanchez, i'm going to ask you to stay with us. i'm going to talk about -- you've talked about the need for a truth commission on iraq and i want to talk about that, which i think is a very provocative idea after we take this break. et flu] i come in peace... i come in peace. but you go in pieces. [ female announcer ] you can't pass mom's inspection with lots of pieces left behind. that's why there's charmin ultra strong. versus the ultra rippled brand. so it holds up better for a more dependable clean. fewer pieces left behind. i go in peace. yes, you do my little alien. [ female announcer ] we all go. why not enjoy the go with charmin ultra strong?
free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. >> donald rumsfeld reacting to the looting that happened after the fall of baghdad, a paraphrasing of janis joplin. general sanchez, you have have -- you were the commander of the ground forces during abu ghraib. there was a lot of question of how it was coming, whether it was coming from rumsfeld and the d.o.d., something you have
essentially said the chain of command was not operating as it should have been at that moment. there was a lot of blame placed at your feet. i want to talk about what you learned from abu ghraib, first of all, and second of all, this notion of a truth commission for iraq, which is something you've enunciated before, what do you envision for that and why would that be a good idea? >> well, first of all, i think clearly abu ghraib was a strategic defeat for america that just provided for the rest of history an example of how bad the decision was for us to walk away from the geneva conventions. because that essential sli a point where america loses the moral high ground. and it is compounded by the fact that leadership of political and military do nothing to enable and resource the young soldiers on the ground in executing the interrogation policies that flow
or that result from having eliminated the geneva conventions. that is the core basis for my asking for a truth commission in a couple of different forums. because in we understand what happened to america at the highest levels, the highest strategic levels of decision-making, both political and military, i don't think we'll really understand how america lost the moral high ground. it's going to take us decades, if ever, for us to be able to restore that. i think abu ghraib is the point where three different entities come together, operating under different interrogation rules of engagement that create a condition that now is known all over the world. but america started torturing and abusing people in the late 2002 time frame because of us having walked away from the conventions. until we clearly understand what happened to us, in an objective fashion, we will not be able to
prevent this from happening again. i think the interesting thing and the irony is that the truth, as it has been laid out by multiple investigations, is that the naked prisoners that are pick toured in those infamous abu ghraib cds were never interrogated and never even targeted for interrogation. so, i think there is a addition a definite need for us as a nation, politically and military to understand what happened and why we did not have the moral courage to do what was right during the decision processes to walk away from the conventions. >> if i can follow up, the model, of course, for truth commissions is the truth and reconciliation commission committed in south africa in the wake of apartheid and that model has been used in several different situations, and
post-conflict rwanda, among others. reconciliation, when you think about that our involvement in iraq, do you think america owes iraq an apology? does it ever occur to you that there's some sort of formal way in which the government of the u.s. can essentially confront the fact that we invaded the country in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction that were not there in violation of international law, is it necessary there is some formal acknowledgment as a state to the iraqi people, to the new iraqi state of apology? >> well, i think it would be important for us to -- as a nation to recognize the fact that the pretext for going to war, at least the understanding of the conditions that existed in iraq were flawed. we have to accept the fact with
retrospective certainty we know that was not the case. i'll tell you, though, that as a division commander getting ready to go to war in early 2003, there was no question in my mind that that weapons of mass destruction existed, that we were going to encounter them once we arrived and got into major combat operations against iraqi forces. so, there's a -- there's a tempering of the criticism here, at least from my perspective having been intimately involved in it and in the immediate aftermath as we were searching, we were definitely convinced that we were going to find that wmd for about a three to four-month period. so, there's a balance here that we must maintain but, yes, i think there's a certain acknowledgment that has to come from the united states about the mistakes of going into this war. >> general, phyllis again. >> i'm curious about what you said about the geneva
conventions because clearly they were violated in a host of ways. abu ghraib was not the only violation and also not the first time u.s. troops -- u.s. policy included this kind of torture. if we look at vietnam and the tiger cages that we approved of. there's a long history, infamous history in the u.s. military but it is an important point. i'm curious. you said you don't think any soldier in uniform, particularly ranking soldiers have the right or should use any right to challenge publicly the political positions. but if you saw the geneva conventions being abandoned, didn't you have an obligation to make the question of the geneva conventions a much higher priority and even to raise, even if it was in a classified session of a congressional hearing f you didn't feel you could do it publicly, wasn't that partly your obligation at that time? i mean, i understand you're saying it now. that's useful. but, frankly, it might have been more useful when you were in a
position to do something about it. >> no, wait a minute. this kind of criticism is typically what comes from people that are not really informed as to what happened. i think if you -- if you look back at the history of what occurred in iraq, i declare the applicability of the conventions two weeks after assuming command. >> that's right. >> there was never a question that the forces under my command were under -- were operating under the geneva conventions. we aggressively pursued any violation or any indication or allegation of abuse or torture that had occurred under my conventional forces in every single unit under my command. the quiche is with the cia and special operating forces. yes, every time that one of these incidents occur that came to our command, we communicated that all the way up to washington. so, in classified forums, this was discussed and known. look, everybody knew, the
investigation results from abu ghraib were almost identical to the investigation results that had come from the investigations at bagram in late 2002 and 2003. what happened was there was just sheer neglect in addressing those in the early 2003 time frame, so we repeated all of those errors again in abu ghraib in the fall of 2003. so, that's -- this is why i call for the truth commission. yes, it was being done in a -- through the right channels, in classified forums and in discussions that were being held within the military chain of command. >> general sanchez, before i let you go, i want to get what your biggest takeaway, biggest lesson from iraq is. >> clearly, future war, when america commits to war, it has to commit all of its national
elements of power. we cannot commit just our military element of power. we have to have a coordinated, synchronized approach to achieving national security objectives. the first thing we have to fix is our national decision-making processes. we have a disasterously flawed inner agency process that does not allow for that coordination and synchronize to occur where victory is dependent upon a national military power. we have to fix that. we've seen it repeatedly in the past. these types of wars are not easy, they're not cheap and they require a strategic patience and commitment of national resources that is sometimes -- i think it's well beyond the capacity of
our national political processes to sustain. so, unless we fix that in the future, we'll continue to see these types of problems recur. >> retired general sanchez, former commander of coalition forces in iraq. thank you for taking the time to join us this morning. >> absolutely. have a great day. >> thanks. >> more about the legacy of iraq and the legacy for those who fought in it. oh it's clearance time! yeah, our low prices are even lower. we need to teach her how to walk. she is taking up valuable cart space. aren't you, honey? [ male announcer ] it's our biggest clearance event of the year where our prices are even lower. save money. live better. walmart.
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to spike during times of war as one would anticipate but not after 9/11. we now have a situation in which we have a very small percentage of americans fighting the wars and being deployed and redeployed. what do you see as kind of a legacy of that socially, culturally, in terms of the bridge or the divide between sorpt of the civilian life and veterans of military life. >> i think the legacy is still to be written. i think it's an important part of what america takes from these wars. you know, kind of an unforeseen by-product of the all-volunteer force was this disengagement and separation of kind of the warrior cast from the americans -- from the society that wrought it. so, you had young men and women go to these wars three, four times. only now are they coming back and reincorporate rating back into american society, 40,000 just this month returning from iraq. early signs aren't great. they're returning home to record
numbers of unemployment, 11% for iraq and afghanistan veterans, which trends higher than the national average. exploding suicide epidemic. more veterans committed suicide in 2009 and 2010 than actually died in combat 37 it's time for american society to practice what they preached the past 8 1/2 years. you support the troops, that's wonderful. more than a bumper sticker. how about you hire one. not out of charity. my boss said, very fond of the term invest in the next greatest generation. just like our grandfathers when they returned from world war ii and really helped shape, you know, the american economy with lessons they learned in the military in terms of responsibility, familiar -- and our familiarization with digital technology, it's quite an opportunity to invest in a young leader. >> you raised something that's something i've been thinking about and written a little about. you said support the troops. one thing that's happened is that the way we talk about the
troops, the glossy, fuzzy ads of people cheering in airplanes, yellow ribbons. there's an entire kind of genre of odes to the troops that seem to me the same side of a different coin of this distance. it's a sort of distancing kind of tribute. do you feel that? do you feel like that genre of putting troops on a pedestal strangely shows how distant the civilian populous is from the people that follow? >> i felt it personally. and i don't think people mean well. they want to shake your hand. but do you function as a cipher. people project, oh, you're a hero, you're a pawn. it's all very black and white. no, no, we're people too. we all all kinds of emotions and ambiguities. not only as people but from individuals in the service. you know, again, like it needs to be more than a handshake. it's time to make that jump. it's an incredible opportunity. you know, potential employers
might not be interested in how many combat patrols a young veteran went on. i think they would be interested to know as a young corporal they were managing $400,000 worth of equipment and brought it all home. their peers aren't doing that. at college. >> chris, i mean, the point to what you made is america did learn a lesson from vietnam. as our vets came home from vietnam, we kicked them to the curb without even a handshang. and i think there's due recognition they are heroic men and women. that said, we tend to forget, though, that the third of them coming home with post-traumatic stress disorder. are we going to address that issue, as harvard university said, is going to cost over $1 trillion. that's the issue. >> the fight on the home front is just beginning. >> what do we know now about what happened to the iconic figures of the iraq war. is this your normal? jamie lee curtis?? oh, hi, yes...wow, you really went all out on the decorations, huh?!
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in just a second i'll tell you where major players in iraq war are now but now it's time for a preview of "weekends fwit alex witt" and filling in is veronica de la cruz. >> will newt gingrich's cheerful moment help or hurt him? mitt romney's tax returns in an exclusive interview with nbc's andrea mitchell. times square on new year's eve, the final preparations are under way right now. there are one or two good reasons to believe that tonight's crowd could be the biggest ever. chris, you'll be there, right? >> maybe not. i got a show tomorrow morning. thanks, veronica. since we're taking a look at the legacy of the iraq war today, we thought we'd approach our "now we know" segment differently. one of our relationships of the war and aftermath is as a by-product of a collective social ptsd we no longer talk
about iraq very much at all. because of this we've allowed so many of the key figures who engineered the war, sold the war and oversaw the bloody quagmire to escape the sanctions. we thought it would be interesting to look at where some of the major and not so major players in our war effort and anti-war efforts are now. condi rice who war warned of waiting for the smoking gun to turn into a mushroom cloud returned to stanford university where these a professor of political science and senior fellow on public policy at hoover institution. she published a memoir called "no higher honor" that was a "new york times" best seller. february of 2011 donald rumsfeld released his memoir, received the defender of the constitution award at the 2011 conservative political action conference. jooutd judith miller's reporting of wmd played a key role in pushing u.s. to war. "the new york times" retracted much of her reporting and she's
at fellow manhattan institute. david addington, former chief of staff to dick cheney known as dick cheney's dick cheney and intellectual force as maximalist on torture is comfortably ensconced at heritage foundation where he's vice president of economic and domestic policy. cnn had them see fit to ask a presidential questions. wolfowitz, was made president of the world bank. his relationship with a subordinate ended his tenure there and now chairman of u.s.-taiwan business council and scholar. cindy sheehan, anti-war activist who camped outside george bush's crawford home after her son was killed in iraq, unsuccessfully chal ended nancy pelosi. she blogs now.
general eric sen seccy called out by donald rumz field after telling congress occupying iraq would require several hundred thousand troops is now secretary of veteran affairs. ari fleischer who told americans to watch what they say after 9/11 has his own company, cnn contributor and is advising the rnc for the 2012 presidential campaign. jessica lynch, army private captured by iraqi forces and rescued by u.s. special forces from iraqi hospital later said the hospital treated her well. she wasn't the hero described in the original press reports. quote, they used me to symbolize all this stuff. it's wrong. i don't know why they filmed my rescue. since her captivity she's had 21 surgeries, now with a 4-year-old daughter and received her college diploma. she hopes to be a teacher.
ken poll laac was bible for libl hawks and at brookings institution and was recently quoted in "the new york times" as an expert on iraq. scooter libby, a convicted per jur perjurier is vice president of hudson unit. doug fith is advising rick perry on foreign policy. paul bremer, disbanded the iraqi army, moved to vermont where he now paints landscapes of new england scenes. you can buy his artwork. what do my guests know they didn't know before the iraq war? i habe a cohd. yeah, i toog nyguil bud i'm stild stubbed up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't un-stuff your nose. really? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus liquid gels fights your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your stuffy nose. [ deep breath ] thank you! that's the cold truth!
any wmds. joe sestak, what do you know now or you didn't know before the iraq war? >> we didn't learn lessons of the vietnam war well enough. when i joined up as war was dwindling down in vietnam, the military leadership wanted to make sure that we regained the confidence of the public. if we went to war, they went with us. i think we did that. but they also wanted to make sure that the military leadership in the pentagon, not out there in the fleet, would make sure they gave honest, candid advice. so much that general shelton, president clinton's last term passed out a book, dereliction of duty showing how they didn't do it in vietnam. general pushed to the side. is that the lesson that our military -- how they proffered their advice, conscious of what may happen to them personally when that's the lesson we want to learn from vietnam our military leadership is one that gives advice about implications of war? i didn't know maybe we didn't learn that lesson well enough. >> what do you now know you didn't know before the war?
>> since 2003 there has been more than 100,000 iraqis killed, more than 2 million refugees outside of iraq. iraq has any ability to produce any food. they move from a food sufficient to a country actually food dependent. industry in iraq has been collapsed and destroy pd weapon leave today the country in destroyed shape with no vision for the future of how it can rebuild itself back. if america wants to engage in any part of the world, particularly in a part of the world that has economic interest, like oil, then it needs to engage in a different way. we would choose security because we don't have freedom. >> that's a grim lesson. >> one lesson, when we mobilize people in the united states and
all around the world to say no to war, even if we don't have the capacity to end or stop that war, it still transforms us into what "the new york times" had to admit was now the second super power. we have a huge responsibility to use that power. the one other thing i think we didn't know is that the cost of this war, just the war in iraq, not even counting the war in afghanistan, could have paid instead for hiring 11.7 million elementary school teachers. what's going to make our country safer. >> that's great. matt gallagher, what do you now know you didn't know before the war? >> they'll be debating was it worth it for decades. it will play out both in iraq and back here on the american home front. a lot of bad, ugly statistics out there in terms of ptsd and suicide and jobless numbers. those numbers are scaleable. 2.4 million americans served, less than 0.5% of 1% in these
wars. it's time for mesh society to practice what they preached and support the troops in practical, meaningful ways, invest in us and we won't let you down. >> matt gallagher, my thanks to former congressman joe sestak, zainab, phyllis and matt gallagh gallagher, getting an mfa at columbia in writing. coming up next is "weekends with alex witt." join us tomorrow, sunday morning at 8:00 when dave weegle joins us. until then you can find us at up.msnbc.com. have a safe and happy new year's eve. we'll see you in 2012 next year, tomorrow morning. [ female announcer ] crest 3d white was recognized
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