Omar Al-Nidawi and Fred Kaplan

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Omar Al-Nidawi, political analyst and co-author of the blog "Iraq the Model," and Fred Kaplan, "War Stories" columnist for Slate, comment on Obama's latest speech on the war in Iraq.


Omar Fadhil Al-Nidawi and Fred Kaplan

Comments [48]

Billy Bob from nyc

What kind of jobs do they have in that there Taylor?

Sep. 01 2010 12:48 PM
Billy Bob from nyc

The question is a red herring. Most "wars" and questions of "winning" are when one army faces off against another across a dividing line, which moves, and eventually there is a surrunder. So your question about "winning a war" is a semantic disservice. What just happened here is different: the USA was on a policing mission, after the assasination of a titular head, which then became a defensive stance against a guerilla insurgency of loosely woven together adherents of a former dictator. Regarding Obama, he is the president, so if he inherits whatever this thing was, it is for him to say "over," regardless if he started it or not. He is the current steward and head of the US Military.

Sep. 01 2010 12:47 PM
gaetano catelli from greenpoint, brooklyn

ps: if there were a way of defending Western Civilization bloodlessly, i would be all for it. but, as far back as about 500 BCE when Persia (aka Iran) attacked Athens's then-nascent democracy, this has not been possible.

i hope someday that it will be possible to do so. but, that day has not yet arrived.

Sep. 01 2010 12:30 PM
gaetano catelli from greenpoint, brooklyn

it's nice to see how many WNYC listeners are still siding with gangsta regimes bent on destabilizing their own region and Western Civilization generally.

yet another reason i will soon be (permanently) relocating to Taylor, Mississippi, population (almost) 300 --,_MS

Sep. 01 2010 12:25 PM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Jgarbuz, to equate a Fascist German war machine that murder millions of Europeans to a tin horned killer like Sadam Hussein is absurd.
You and many other people do not want take reasonability for what an American government or policy making class dose in your name. To be patriotic is to agree and accept no matter how criminal it is.
Sorry, I am not that kind of patriot. The German public in 1940 saw themselves as being “good German.”

Sep. 01 2010 11:50 AM
A from Brooklyn

Another thing:

I clearly remember being ASTOUNDED when George W. Bush suggested there was a link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, and repeated this OVER and OVER again. I also remember friends of mine, community leaders, teachers, people I had previously respected, urging for WAR WAR WAR because of the FEAR OF WMD's in Iraq. So much was unknown at the time about that country, at least to the general public, that the politicians took advantage of the immense fear in the air after a shocking event like 9/11. Any thinking person who read ANYTHING about that group, and then read something about Saddam and Iraq knew there was NO CONNECTION. So let's have a program about how the country and it's citizens, including the normally street-wise and cynical New Yorkers, was TOTALLY SCARED into saying "Yes" to this adventure in a country that had little do with the situation. Let's remember, please, how everyone couldn't stop talking about the "What if" scenario, and how it built, and built, and built. Let's remember our OWN complicity in this war, whether Left, Right, Middle or otherwise.

Sep. 01 2010 11:39 AM
michael hippiewarrior from chelsea (manhattan)

i appreciate brian and his staff for letting me make some comments re. iraq. i wanted to continue discussing the issue of sustainability operations in iraq. the surge provided a great amount of support. it was effective, not because of size. coalition forces were able, in 07-08, to buffer iraqi military forces and positively influence iraqi paramilitary and police forces. iraqi al-hilla swat unit in the babil area is a great example of creating a solid local defense force to counter insurgents. it was not just oda (special forces, etc.) hunting down the bad guys/hvt types/ali babas/violent mahdi militia types/iraqi gangsters. the iraqis, from a local level, were able to engage
insurgents. so, to merely consider the anbar awakening and the pacification of baghdad as the signs of success in iraq is limited. civil military ops in many areas in iraq helped to deal with insurgents. another project that is not studied as an effective product of civil military ops is 'sons of iraq'. the iraqi offensive in the spring of 2008 to ward off mahdi militia and other insurgents provided confidence to many areas in iraq. bottomline, continue strengthening iraqi military/paramilitary via supportive roles. they have proven themselves in many ways, ironically. let those local forces deal with direct violence. american forces can be used to reinforcing a sound/humane military ethic for the iraqi military. provincial reconstruction teams can still be used to advise iraqis in rebuilding infrastructure. a disaster move that has not been studied was the end of niac (joint medical/humanitarian assistance site for iraqis) in winter of 2008. the iraqis were left with a weak ministry of health. these mistakes will cause incredible blowback and will limit gains made during the surge period. the battle is not always fought with a rifle or an explosive.

Sep. 01 2010 11:28 AM
A from Brooklyn

I found it interesting that an Iraqi "journalist" seems so nonchalant about all these refugees created by the war in Iraq.

Sep. 01 2010 11:23 AM

Should we apologize to Germany and Japan for all the civilian deaths we inflicted on them during WWII? They didn't kill a lot of American civilians.

Sep. 01 2010 11:03 AM

Victory? No. What is really needed is an apology.

We need to apologize to the Iraqi people for the actions of the Bush administration, for taking unsubstantiated "fabricated evidence" of WMD's as good cause to enter into Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. We not only had no business being there, we failed to create a credible post-Hussein plan. Rumsfeld gloated "We'll be greeted as liberators." For a few moments by those who truly hated Hussein, yes. But what about AFTER that?

So many deaths. Yes, the USA lost over 4,000 soldiers but the Iraqis lost hundreds of thousands. We destabilized a nation that was mostly stable, although ruled by the hand of a dictator. We gave Al Qaeda and the Taliban tremendous recruiting power. Borders became porous, to allow all kinds of insurgents to enter.

Obama was opposed to the war when he served as a senator. As president, he has too many political handcuffs on him to speak freely. He can't say what he really thinks of George W. Bush and the huge mistake he made taking US forces into Iraq. Thankfully he wasn't so out of focus to declare victory.

Anyway, this program is a good idea, but what are we trying to accomplish here? Various callers tossing out their views, substantiated or not, until we run out of time. What is the upshot? Is there any kind of analysis or summation to be made? I really wish you'd think about that for the format of your show, Brian.

Sep. 01 2010 10:59 AM
Norman from NYC

I agree with Robert that when Brian's middle-of-the-road liberalism drives you crazy, you should go to

Sep. 01 2010 10:50 AM
toni from nyc

History will tell..!!!
who writes the History Books etc.
you all know what hypes the History Books are.

the U.S. is subconsciously committing suicide, and i dont understand why.

Sep. 01 2010 10:49 AM
Norman from NYC

According to Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the real cost of the Iraq war is $3 trillion, including long-term costs like disability for injured soldiers.

Sep. 01 2010 10:49 AM
Jack Toolin from Brooklyn

Speaking of defining terms, what exactly was 'the surge?' Yes it was an increase in troops, but not often talked about is that it was also cash payments to opposition/insurgent forces that were opposing us, bringing them 'into the fold,' so to speak.

Sep. 01 2010 10:46 AM

Was it worth killing 650,000 German civilians, and an equal number of Japanese civilians to end WWII and get rid of Hitler and Tojo?

Sep. 01 2010 10:46 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

Yes Brian thank God for no Nelson Mandela in Iraq. He and his ANC sold South Africa to the IMF and the World Bank.
Watch the news that comes out of South Africa these day. 70% of the population lives in poverty.
Thomas Friedman always speak for and listen’s to the global exploitative class.

Sep. 01 2010 10:45 AM
The Truth from Becky

Excellent response caller Robert. Great analogy, you left Brian speechless!

Sep. 01 2010 10:44 AM
John from office

Where were all the critics, when Hussain created Mass graves, killed thousands, gased his own people. He ran a butchershop, but the liberal left never complained.

Blind Hypocrites

Sep. 01 2010 10:43 AM
Robert from NYC

Once again I refer you to this morning's Democracy Now for another perspective. It ain't pretty and then tell me if you think any of this was worth it. We should not only thank our soldiers for their service but apologize to them as well.

Sep. 01 2010 10:41 AM

Obama was correct in refraining from declaring "victory". Why should anyone else?

Iraq was a bloody mess, perhaps the largest international mistake the USA ever made. Saddam Hussein was a dictator that presented challenges to peace in the Middle East, but he was not aligned with terrorists who attacked the USA. We really had no legitimate reason to attack Iraq. There are numerous books already published that denounce it, backed by credible people who served in notable positions in the military or US government. Bush, Rumsfeld, Chaney, and Wolfowitz not only took on Iraq with no credible reason, they thoroughly botched the aftermath by not understanding the political nature of Iraq.

So, Obama was charged with cleaning up this mess left behind by the Bush administration. There is no good way to finish it up with any kind of declarative victory. We really should apologize for the blatant mistakes of the previous administration, and promise the Iraqi people that the USA will help them rebuild their infrastructures properly, something we should have done back in the Reagan years when we helped them push the USSR out of Iraq.

It will be up to the Iraqi's to declare victory, not us.

Sep. 01 2010 10:41 AM
Norman from NYC

200,000 Iraqi deaths if you take the New England Journal of Medicine, 600,000 deaths if you take The Lancet.

Sep. 01 2010 10:41 AM
Hugh Sansom

Almost entirely unreported in the US media is the lingering effect of widespread use of depleted uranium. The cancer rates in Iraq are through the roof. Staggering. And no mention in the Times or on NPR, WNYC, etc.

Sep. 01 2010 10:40 AM
The Truth from Becky

We can't save the world.

Sep. 01 2010 10:39 AM
Mike from NYC

What can "win" mean in a situation like Iraq? Kill everyone who might struggle against us? Take over the country and steal everything that we can and then go home? These are the old meanings of winning a war and are clearly obsolete in the modern world.

The opinion of soldiers can be enlightening about a specific action, but a soldier or line officer has only very limited view of any war and the profession of soldiering is so all consuming and requires such complete commitment that it is too much to ask them to consider the value of the overall strategy or goal of the war.

Sep. 01 2010 10:38 AM
Hugh Sansom

Gen. George Washington lost _most_ of his battles with the English! Losing/winning battles -- irrelevant as the North Vietnamese realized.

The US lost. What prestige the US had internationally (less than jingoistic Americans think) is almost entirely gone.

Let's not forget Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Fallujah -- US war crimes -- for which not ONE high-ranking American has even been investigated.

Torture at Bagram continues even if Americans don't know it and the Times and NPR refuse to report it.

The world knows this. The world knows that the US lied, murdered, stole.

Sep. 01 2010 10:37 AM
Lomassno from nyc

Can someone explain how 50,000 staying behind is leaving the country?

Sep. 01 2010 10:35 AM

did the surge work?
the iraqis had elections some time ago. they still have no government.

Sep. 01 2010 10:34 AM
The Truth from Becky

Brian, I am not sure what is wrong with you this morning....thank bush for what exactly? Please explain yourself.

Sep. 01 2010 10:34 AM
Rufus from MD

Excerpt of W talkin to Obama on the phone:

W: Bam Bam, jes between y'all and me, what are you gonna do when these wackjob jihadeez start offin' each other left and right?

Sep. 01 2010 10:34 AM

Can you ask the veterans what they think of the war as it's represented in the media vs. the war on the ground? Is it fair? Is it scraping the surface? Or is totally different to them?

Sep. 01 2010 10:31 AM
Vernon from Shaolin, NY

Obama was handed an exploding Pandora's Box & did as best he could. The Question of Victory is a Trick one; The Iraq War was never winnable by ANY foreign occupying power. How long were we suppose to stay? How much were we supposed to spend? How many more lives & limbs were we supposed to lose? History will be harsh on the entire enterprise.

Sep. 01 2010 10:27 AM
david from Manhattan


Why do you have to "thank" the troops and the service of soldiers? Do you do that to all your guests? Soldiering is a job, not a volunteer effort. If media are jingoistic how are we going to get reasonable reporting the next time another war is going to be advocated? You never hear responsible journalists, say on the BBC, praising soldiers or any other of their guests. The US media was complicit in providing the rational and convincing the populace of the need to go to war in Iraq, and each time you praise soldiers on air you continue the mentality that led to that war and that will lead to others.


Sep. 01 2010 10:25 AM
jane b. from brooklyn

This shouldn't even be a question. If the entire Iraq war hadn't been based on lies, if saddam Hussein had wmds and plans to use them, and we had found them, then it would be possible to sat we "won". Although in practical terms, we now have an unending military presence in an oil-rich region. Mission accomplished!

Sep. 01 2010 10:24 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

The result of America’s military adventurism is the destruction of Iraqi society, the death of thousands, economic collapse, political and social instability, a generation of children growing up with horrific violence need I say more.
The Iraq invasion and occupation based on a lie, with the agreement of large portions of Americans, will be remember by Iraqi’s as something akin to the Mongol invasion of the 13th century.
It will take generations to bring that country back to something that would look like a functioning nation.
This then is America's good works on the global stage.

Sep. 01 2010 10:22 AM
keith from NYC

We are less safe on our own land, in our own cities and towns... when the war machine has completely drained precious resources that we need to support our own internal law enforcement, firefighting, closed hospitals and schools. We fought this war at an enormous cost to the safety and security at home, not from the threats from terrorists abroad. We fostered our own demise.

Sep. 01 2010 10:22 AM

I recall during the weeks preceding the Iraqi war, stated estimates were that the US could suffer 10,000 GIs dead and countless more wounded. As tragic as it is, 4400 dead is considerably fewer than the number feared.

The objectives of the war was to remove Saddam and to rid Iraq of WMDs. As it turned, the WMDs were not there, but we did get rid of Saddam.
Ancillary reasons given for the war, was to liberate the Iraqi people from a vicious tyranny, and hopefully kick off a process of democratization that might spread to the rest of the Middle East. In this sense, that objective may not have succeeded as well as hoped. The hand of Iran, instead of being weakened was considerably strengthened instead. And the invasion itself did give the jihadists a recruiting tool.

In summation, about 40% of the war objectives were obtained, but it did not solve any basic Middle Eastern issues. As with the fall of communism, the fall of Islamism and tyranny in the Middle East will still take a long ways before any kind of victory can be declared.

Sep. 01 2010 10:22 AM
The Truth from Becky

Not original "BILL" - Don't know why everyone gets fascinated with my name but, choose your own thanks.

Sep. 01 2010 10:22 AM
BC Armstrong from Flushing

Given that virtually no one here ever mentions the countless (literally -- we never bothered to count them!) deaths of Iraqis and the gigantic refugee crisis it's created, it's simply obscene to be calling this a victory.

In no way do I wish to detract from the respect paid to veterans; however, I wish you just once would thank the Iraqis for THEIR sacrifice. Most of them, after all, were given no choice in the matter.

In regard to the veterans: I hope all this "thank you for your service" lip-service translates into actual attention to their needs as they return. Given our lousy track record in regard to Gulf War vets, I'm not optimistic on that score. The flag-wavers tend also to be cheap-skates when it comes to veteran's benefits.

The war is a victory for hypocrisy.

Sep. 01 2010 10:21 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

The caller Ben had about the best and clear-eyed analysis on the plight and subsequent fallout from the USA invasion of Iraq that I've heard in a while. Well done, sir!

Sep. 01 2010 10:20 AM
The Truth from Becky

Now you're getting it Brian, It was all "in vain". A son removing and old enemy of his father's instead of going after Bin Laden. You remember him right?

Sep. 01 2010 10:20 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

I don't think I can listen to the BL show anymore. If I have to listen to one more ignorant caller whose "authenticity" is more prized than his/her accuracy... Brian, you're a journalist, not a therapist. Stop asking people to call in and simply parade their ignorant assumptions on the air. Do your job and ask them to substantiate their assertions.

Sep. 01 2010 10:20 AM
The Truth from USA Bill

Afghanistan is the home of al qaida not Iraq

Sep. 01 2010 10:19 AM
whoindatgarden from Brooklyn

Why does it matter. Is winning justify the cost of lives lost on both lives, winning is not when you have a huge amount of debt caused by this war.
In the end this misadventure has not really had the impact it should have had.Generally when a war ends there is lot of economic activity after all the destruction,
We don't see much of that happening and thus possibly the war is not really over.

Sep. 01 2010 10:17 AM
The Truth from Becky

Good job caller: There was no war to win. Understand Brian? Better yet why don't you ask bush to explain it to ya, and ask him about the weapons of mass destruction while you're at it....jeez.

Sep. 01 2010 10:17 AM
The Truth from USA Bill

The question is a red herring. Most "wars" and questions of "winning" are when one army faces off against another across a dividing line, which moves, and eventually there is a surrunder. So your question about "winning a war" is a semantic disservice. What just happened here is different: the USA was on a policing mission, after the assasination of a titular head, which then became a defensive stance against a guerilla insurgency of loosely woven together adherents of a former dictator. Regarding Obama, he is the president, so if he inherits whatever this thing was, it is for him to say "over," regardless if he started it or not. He is the current steward and head of the US Military.

Sep. 01 2010 10:16 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

Victory of what? We went in because somebody made up a story about weapons of mass destruction. Our intelligence even reported that they could find no WMD in Iraq. If somebody can tell me what we were actually over there for, maybe I can tell you if we won or not. If this war was to save the Iraqi people from a tyrannical regime, then we should suit up and head to Sudan. Since that probably won't happen, then clearly, I am not understanding the true reason we were over in Iraq.

Sep. 01 2010 10:15 AM
Bobby G from East Village

GW Bush's entire foreign policy was a disaster. The cost for Iraq will be payed for a generation. Increased tension in the area was created by emboldening Iraq's enemies, Israel and Iran. The number one priority. getting Bin Laden and Al Qaeda was virtually ignored.

Sep. 01 2010 10:14 AM
The Truth from Becky

What are you talking about? The President never said the words "I Declare War" on Iraq either, why would he say mission accomplished or declare a victory? Doesn't make sense.

Sep. 01 2010 10:08 AM

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