Winning the Peace in Iraq
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JIM LEHRER: Finally now, some perspective on today’s events in Iraq from: Senator Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, the chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Carter, now a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington; and retired Army General George Joulwan; he was supreme allied commander of NATO forces in the 1990s, when NATO went into Bosnia.
First, Dr. Brzezinski, Secretary Rumsfeld today compared the fall of Saddam Hussein with those of Hitler and Stalin, among others, does it fit?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, it certainly fits up to a point. All of them were dictators but there’s also an important difference; when Hitler and Stalin fell, the United States was at a high point of its international credibility. It really stood tall. Today we’re at the high point of our military credibility but sadly, we’re at the low point of our political credibility. Very few people in the world really feel comfortable with the way we did it particularly internationally and very few people are convinced we’ll exploit the victory to translate the military success into an enduring political success. There’s enormous skepticism and I hope we make an effort to overcome it but I’m not too hopeful.
JIM LEHRER: Senator Lugar, what is your view of that, comparing this with Hitler and Stalin, and what Dr. Brzezinski just said in follow-up to that?
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR: Well, of course the enormity of the wars involving Hitler and the Stalin situation are very, very different in many ways but I agree with Dr. Brzezinski that the critical point is the political future of the country, and the political future of the neighborhood, and really our future with regard to relations with all the countries around. The military execution has been brilliant.
And I think our prayer is that that will be matched by equal brilliance in terms of both the interim humanitarian aid for a lot of people who are suffering and will continue to suffer and for democracy building in an area that is not very hospitable to this. That will require careful, thoughtful planning. It may be occurring somewhere but I haven’t seen it. I don’t think many members of Congress have. We’re going to have to see it because we’re talking, I believe, about a long period of time, very substantial investments of money by this country and diplomacy that will be extraordinary in bringing other countries into the situation the proper way.
JIM LEHRER: General Joulwan, speaking as a military man, do you agree the hard work is now just begun?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Absolutely. I think it’s very important to remember given our past experience that the military can bring about an absence of war but what is going to be required are civilian agencies, international community to bring about the peace. We not only have to win the war, we have got to win the peace. That is going to take a concerted effort and that’s going to take time.
JIM LEHRER: I want to get to that in detail in a moment. But just on the military side do you agree with Vice President Cheney who said that this was “one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted?”
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: I do agree and let me tell you why because I’ve said it publicly as well. I think Gen. Franks’ decision to start early to take advantage of a situation that arose, I thought was extremely well done and shows the flexibility and agility of our force. We weren’t just sitting there. The way the third mechanized division, in particular, moved in bounds to get to Baghdad to bypass even though we had some resistance in the towns put enormous pressure, I think, on Saddam Hussein’s forces. We saw that.
And there was more resistance as General Wallace, the corps commander said, rightly said. He should be congratulated for that, and so I really think that the military campaign, this part of it, and the British move in the south, all of that I think was extremely well done and shows flexibility and agility of our force and the joint army- navy-air force-marines working together. I remember 20 years ago in Grenada that we had this complaint that we couldn’t talk to one another, we couldn’t fight together in the different services; that to me has been overcome in the war in Iraq.
JIM LEHRER: What is your thought about the military side of this, Dr. Brzezinski?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I think the military has been superb. There’s no question that today the United States stands tall — we to take on not only any other military power in the world, we could take on any combination of powers in the world and still prevail. And in that respect, as I said earlier, American credibility is just fantastically high. The real challenge now is political.
JIM LEHRER: You have already said – you have already weighed in on this, Sen. Lugar, that you thought it was brilliant but let’s pick up on your point that – in fact, you issued a statement today which you said, pretty much what you just said, that if the Bush administration’s explanation of its post war plans for Iraq were “not good enough” is what you said. What do you mean not good enough? What is it you do not know and the American people don’t know that they need to know?
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR: Well, specifically, situations of regime change have not led in recent history to democracy following. They have usually led to some fallback to a regime that was before the one being overthrown. To get into democracy at this point requires at least, I believe, a plan for how the Iraqi leadership is to be identified. Who specifically will select the leadership, how it will be integrated with General Garner and the Americans who are over there offering some interim assistance – how, in fact, we legitimatize the revenues that might come from the sale of assets or from the oil wells and some budget as to how this fits at all the needs of not only replenishing the problems or revamping the oil wells but also the needs of the Iraqi people to be fed and all.
I just don’t see at this point the budget, I don’t see the plan of identification of leadership that seems very satisfying. And I hope we will see it soon.
Having said that, somebody may have some remarkable plans, but at this point the American public generally is being given the impression Iraqis will be governing Iraq very shortly, after a small interim — we’ll be out of there — that the thought that this is a several year project involving billions of dollars — clearly there at all we’re going to be surprised.
And the backlash, if we do not really do that planning up front and give the expectations that are accurate is likely to be substantial as it usually is when resolutions come to bring everybody out, to get out, to move back to isolation. That really won’t work on this occasion I think without great dangers for the future in Iraq.
JIM LEHRER: Your thoughts on this?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, I very much agree with what Sen. Lugar said. It seems to me we face two dangers politically. One, we may want to bug out and just mention that. And the other danger is –
JIM LEHRER: Can we do that?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, I personally don’t think we can and I think it would be disastrous. But the other danger is that there is a crowd of people who are yelling “March on”. It’s the beginning of the Fourth World War on to Syria, on to Lebanon, on to Iran, on to Saudi Arabia — in other words, make the United States a protagonist in Middle Eastern conflicts and in fact, we will get bogged down.
What we need to do is what Senator Lugar said, and that entails gradually internationalizing the administration of Iraq. It means in time handing over power to the Iraqis, but getting the international community to help us financially in the recovery of the country financially. That means, in turn, we have to restore some degree of mutual trust and collaboration with the Europeans and to do that, we have to be serious about moving forward on the Israeli-Palestinian front, which the Europeans very much hope we will do and which they suspect despite our promises, we will not do.
JIM LEHRER: General, that sounds huge.
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Well, I agree with all of that. But let’s be more positive. In my experience this is the first time in recent history — before the war started we started to make preparations for after the war ended. Jay Garner, I know him –
JIM LEHRER: He is a retired army general, right?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: A retired army general and he has organized this for some time. And so we do have some organization now that we haven’t had before. Some might call it nation building, I call it security building. It’s very important how this comes out and it’s going take some effort by the international community, by the U.N. agencies and others. This team has got to be put together.
A civil military team that does mission B, which is the humanitarian effort while mission A is going on, which is the war fighting. That is what is happening now and slowly I hope it will evolve to where you have more civilian involvement than military involvement. That may take time, but we need to be in it for the long haul, whether it’s with all our military or with our civilian expertise.
JIM LEHRER: Let me ask you a more immediate question, a on the ground question – I notice there was widespread looting today in Baghdad. There’s all kinds of chaos, nobody is in charge and the American military seemed to not know, didn’t seem to take charge. Should they? How difficult is it now for the marines and the soldiers on the ground now to try to be cops?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Very difficult. Soldiers don’t make good policemen. I have said this in Bosnia. We do have military police — I would hope would get some international, armed international police at some point in there, but in this short period here the military has got to get some law and order, some order out of chaos and I think that will occur. We see that happening with the British in the south.
JIM LEHRER: What do you say to folks who say, wait a minute, how can we have liberated these people, how can we now arrest them for take a chair out of an office building?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: It’s much more than that. When you have this chaos, you end up having lawlessness. You have score settling going on, which will happen with the different ethnic groups. That needs to be prevented. This is a still a very dangerous situation to the troops and to our objectives that we have there. There’s going to have to be clarity here in terms of mission to our troops. Rules of engagement may have to change as you get into built-up areas. But the war is not over yet. You have to understand that.
JIM LEHRER: What do you mean? How would the rules of engagement change?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Well, when you are fighting a uniformed enemy in open combat as we have seen, as we have come up from Kuwait, they change differently when you get into a build up area — who you can fire at. It becomes an identification problem. You have to be very careful now, much more careful in terms of engagement and our troops have to be able to make that shift in terms of where they are now inside this big town of five million people of Baghdad. And so the rules do change.
JIM LEHRER: Dangerous time, is it not Dr. Brzezinski? I mean, you have been talking about the long run but the short run is difficult, too, isn’t it?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Of course it’s difficult but it’s also very complex. We have to deal with the short-term problems as the general as indicated. But we also have to address the longer range implications of what we have accomplished by this military victory in Iraq and what we aim to accomplish in the region and internationally, and this is where much more strategically minded articulation of the goals by the president, by the United States and the world is needed.
At this present moment I have the feeling that most people in the world feel uneasy about the way we proceeded with this war, this whole question of weapons of mass destruction, and so forth that Don Rumsfeld was a little uneasy discussing earlier in the day.
JIM LEHRER: Do you think we have to find some?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I think it would help our credibility if we did. After all, we did start the war because of that reason among others. But, beyond that, I think we have to convey to the global community that we use our power in a sense that engages others and creates things that are enduring and accumulatively effective. And here I don’t it was communicated out to the world.
JIM LEHRER: Do you agree with Dr. Brzezinski on that, that we have got a communications problem about what our purposes are in obtaining this victory, Sen. Lugar?
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR: Yes, we have an extraordinary problem. Dr. Brzezinski has already pointed out there really must be progress and leadership by the United States in the Palestinian-Israeli situation. Fundamentally that really clouds all of the issues as almost the 800 pound gorilla in public opinion in that area.
But, beyond that, as we begin to think about democracy, as we should, and that ought to be our goal, the uneasiness of all the surrounding countries is going to be palpable. These are not democracies. And our communication of what we’re doing in terms of the freedom of people, the freedom of expression and all has got to be communicated, but likewise our pragmatism — Iraq is not a country in which the various groups involved really like each other. We could have a debating society among Iraqis that are not really prepared to leap in and to govern in all the ways that we have talked about. That would be a mistake likewise.
So I think we all share the complexities of the future, but I would stress also every hearing we held in Foreign Relations Committee stress that the day after the fighting stopped, the problems in hospitals, the problems of feeding people and lawlessness would clearly be there. Our plan really has to encompass that. That is going to be the role of our people, whoever does it, for many, many days, long before we ever get to govern in situations.
JIM LEHRER: Is it your understanding, Gen. Joulwan that the military, with Gen. Garner and under Gen. Franks, is prepared to do this in the short run? That was part of their plan?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: That was part of a their and they have an integrated staff that includes State Department, as I understand it, State Department, and the Agency for International Development and others that are with them. I think they have to bring the international agencies into all of this and they really have to get organized. But that is part of our plan.
JIM LEHRER: Do you agree that we have to be careful with the word victory and be prepared to explain what it means to us?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: I believe so but I think we’re not there yet. And I would not get overconfident. There’s much work that needs to be done. I put myself in the shoes of those soldiers out there and I could tell you it’s not a cakewalk. It’s still tough some fighting that needs to be done.
JIM LEHRER: Okay. Gentlemen, thank you all three very much.