tv The Presidency Creating the Iraq Surge Strategy CSPAN April 14, 2020 9:24pm-11:19pm EDT
positions at department of state. he served as u.s. ambassador to england. and was price -- he has received several awards. distinguished civilian service from the chairman of the joint chiefs of chat. to my far-left we have general douglas e. lute, he's the permanent representative of nato, a position he retired in 2017, previously he had a distinguished 35 year in the u.s. army. he served for six years in the white house under both presidents george w. bush and obama, in 2007 president bush named him deputy national
security adviser. then we have professor brett h. mcgurk, he's at stanford university before moving to stanford he served as a the global coalition to defeat isis. he helped to build and lead and natural coordination. previously mcgurk served in senior positions in bush and obama administration's,. he is left several diplomatic --
he led talks with russia over the syria conflict. and finally the panel of discussion will be moderated by this professor, he is henry kissinger distinguished professor of distinguished affairs -- he is also a columnist for bloomberg opinion. he is the author and editor of many books, and what good is strategy and power and purpose from harry truman to w. bush. he served as the special assistant for strategic planning for 2015 to 2016. please join me in welcoming a distinguished panel of scholars. yes (applause) thank you very much, i would like to thank our host
for putting on this event. it is a lot of fun to get together with the folks who worked to bring this book to fruition and so many of the policy makers who share their time and insights with us. it is a pleasure for me to be here on the stage with three gentlemen who were not only importantly involved in the decision-making that led to the surge, and to its implementation, we are also very generous with their time and insights. the basic run of show is that each of them will have some comments, and i will ask a couple of questions from the group. then we will open it up to the group for general discussion. with that out of the way i will hand it off to derrick. , >> think you it is great to be here. thank you for us and you for hosting this. i want to say it is a pleasure to be here on this panel.
breton i have been running a composition to see who is the most hated u.s. government official in turkey, i will speak to myself, we where it is a badge of honor right now. i've had to yield my long crown in recent years to brett, but that is only a compliment to his great work. he worked as the coordinator for the isis campaign. i would also note there is a reunion quality to this. i was surprised we didn't get t-shirts that said 13 annual 13 year reunion. i think that highlights something that speakers in the first panel mentioned. the intensely human nation of the decision-making process, it is not often captured in
scholarly studies of this. the truth is a lot of us became good friends during this process. i can't see megan, but meghan i did not know each other, she was a cpa while i was in turkey, but during the course of this process we became friends. i think there's something about these governmental processes, when you're involved, as she said there are long hours but there are also a lot of time and political pressure, a lot of stress and managing all of this very difficult. i want to take my hat off to steve. he and i have known each other for longer than we would want to admit. if you go around and if there were a bubble over everybody's
head with their iq, you would be surprised at how high the average would be. you would go around the room and say, 1:29, 1:48, when 18. if you had their emotional iqs over their head, the answer would be much greater in variance. that highlights the difficulty of managing this. thanks first of all to meghan and peter, william and hell and jeff and timothy for managing this project to completion. i will convince when they asked me to do an interview i was skeptical. the project and the book is enormously useful, and a contribution to a historical record and to provide an early
assessment of the decision-making process and the search itself. i was also struck, i'm going to be leaving a little bit early, i have to catch a plane back to washington because i teach tomorrow, so i don't want my absence to be a political comment. because i was actually struck by the incredibly constructive, and measured criticism that they provided. i agree with some of it, i disagree with some of it. but what struck me consistently, a fundamental empathy, not sympathy, for the credibly difficult problems that the participants were wrestling with.
the constraints which they operated, with the difficulties of reaching a decision within complete information and under time pressure when lives were at stake. that is often missing. i would like to register that. i would go further and say, i think that it's important that to do projects like this on key decisions made in presidential administrations. i say that because speaking now, i had a misspent youth in academia, and spent the next 30 years in government, one of the things that strikes me is i now have a much greater appreciation of how documents don't tell the whole story. that is becoming more cute in
the modern era. the documents don't tell the whole story. there are two many of them. when the bush administration emails were excess by the national archives there were 2 million of them. the record is becoming too great for any scholar to actually get their hands around. because of the persistent problem of leaks, but also the increasing partisan nature of our politics and the criminalization of time to time of policy differences, documents are more self censored. people write them to the fact that they might be subpoenaed. emails which a lot of business, a lot of the business gets
transacted in emails, they're usually very cryptic and will be extremely difficult for historians to decrypted. there is a ton of stuff that goes on in phone calls that doesn't show up in a document. steve and i were talking about the fact that he and i had a number of phone calls frequently on secure lines in the summer of 2006 as we were wrestling with the fact that there were some folks in the department of defense who agreed with steve and meghan that we needed to have provincial reconstruction teams in iraq, just as we did in afghanistan. we had a boss that did not agree. none of that shows up in the written record. moreover, we frequently don't have a good record of briefings which are crucial.
principal officials being briefed, i have a very vivid recollection of -- on the day after the coup in moscow in 1991 after he was returning in from a fishing hole which he described he had to fly to and then take a helicopter and then a bus and then walk to. there is no record of that briefing. briefing is an art that not everyone understands. meghan and steve did a good job of briefing president bush. you never know how much time you're going to have, there is a great story about that which i will recount. from the reagan amethyst ration, the late frank used to tell that he was national security
adviser to president reagan, one day president reagan saw something in the daily brief about a guerrilla movement in mozambique, and he got interested in that. frank spoke to thank the senior director of africa, and said i need you to brief the president on this. he said how much time do i have? you have ten minutes. he went off and did the briefing, he saw someone in the hall later and he said i have the briefing and it is ten minutes. maybe you should cut it down to five minutes. he went back and cut it down to five minutes. run into him again the next day instead i have it down to five minutes. maybe you should cut it down to two minutes. he goes back and cuts the briefing. he sees them again in the hall the next day and says i have it down to two words.
he stopped and said, will give me the briefing. he said it sucks. briefings are extremely important. there are a lot of briefings that went on in this process at various points some that were part of the official u.s. government and some that were not. those are extremely important and need to be captured. i would like to nominate a couple of additional cases people might want to look at. one that came up a lot in the course of this project, is the original decision to go to war in 2003. i firmly believe that all the documentary evidence should be declassified, if ever there was a subject that is ripe for reverse nation, that is one of them. i hope it happens soon so that he can complete his book.
with regard to the search itself and this story told, here is some granularity from my point of view. the point of the of a d.o.d., and the office of the secretary of defense, frequently you will see references to say we could not do this or that because of opposition and osc. much as i think the vietnam era a lot of views of what was going on under the secretary in vietnam, then assistant secretary who was my predecessor because he was the undersecretary position did not exist at that time. there was not a unanimity view of ostp about this.
rumsfeld had very strong views, but there is a lot of us who had an enormous amount of sympathy with the idea that we need to change the mission from transition to protection of the population. it was not just me. a lot of people were sympathetic to this notion. there were a lot of back channel conversations going on. we try to help that process along. in september of 2006, we cosponsored with the state department a conference on counter insurgency, in which we
spoke specifically about that. i gave a speech about the importance of thinking about population security. but here i think, is what gets lost there's a lot of focus on the increase in numbers fire bug rates and how many we have. i don't mean to suggest that additional forces did not make a difference. they did. the commanders thought they needed additional forces. as secretary rice says in her interviews in the book, additional forces doing the same thing would not have made a difference. there is a chart in the book, if you look at the peak of number of boots on the ground in the surge in a seven, which peaked out one 65, we were almost at that in december of oh five when he we had arranged
for some overlap for the election in december of 2005. the number i think was less important here than the number ahead change in mission. that was the crucial thing that steve and meghan and brett and colleagues helped push and made all the difference. another person who doesn't get credit, is dave petraeus, in the counter insurgency manual which focused on population security and dave, along with jim medicine at 4:11 worth worked on that. the core commander who turns
this into operational art on the battlefield. i think that was noted and should be noted. it is not like a lot of people were not focusing on counter insurgency or coin as we like to call it, because everything the pentagon has to have an acronym, not everybody really spoke coin fluently. there are a lot of people in the government who spoke pigeon coin. for a lot of folks, the emphasis of the counter insurgency doctrine was not so much on the population security as it was on all of government part. we had lots of discussions inside the pentagon as we went through this particularly defense, a lot of senior leader
meetings. where was the rest of government and all of this? steve got pulled into some of those on occasion by secretary bronze filled. you sat through a lot of these as well. i came to loathe these senior leader defends conferences. almost inevitably we would have a review of what is going on in iraq and usually pretty quickly into it, and they would say the department of u.s. government is at war where's the rest of the government? they are not delivering for us. the inter agency is all screwed up. who in the pentagon is in charge of the inter agency process? and then they would turn to the hapless public secretary of defense. but we solved that problem with the surge. we sent doug over to the white
house to become the whole of government. as the czar to try to pull this effort together. it was a pleasure working with him. i will stop there and i think doug is next. >> thanks for our hosts and our panelists. as i read this book finishing it on the flight down from washington yesterday, i have a set of four observations that i want to share. some are memories, or flashbacks to a very intense period of policy making. let me share these with you. first one is about the president himself. i think the book and the
reflections of the 28 contributors reflect the power of presidential expertise. george bush in 2006 was not a new president, he was six years in into an eight-year administration, he had benefited from hundreds of in gauge knits on a rock. he knew iraq. the germans have a great german military,. that means a fingertip feel. he knew the texture of the war in iraq, he got this from literally of hundreds daily intelligence briefings. after 2003 most of them were dominated by the topic of iraq. he got them from probably 100 plus meetings of his war
council. he got this from hundreds of nightly briefing notes. these were famously called inside the national security council potus notes. for their iraq afghanistan, this was a daily chore. around 3:00 we put an all hands call, a squat of us who are dealing with iraq and afghanistan and we gather the most current developments and put them in a three page memo. this went on for years. he got this expertise from personal close engagements with all the participants in the u.s. team. but also with his iraqi counterparts. by 2006 when he was struggling with this question of violence that was spinning out of control, he was not an amateur on iraq. the power of presidential
expertise gets lost a little. it is not made as explicit as it should be in the telling of the story. but it underpins his ability to ask the right questions, to challenge the assumptions, and to nurse made this project to its conclusion. the other thing that was not there in the presidents office by 2006 was a sense of hubris. by 2006 three years into the iraq war, we didn't harbor starry-eyed visions of what was possible in iraq. we have been through that period. but the president was sober and prudent and experience in a way that brought a certain sense of
levelheaded, sort of humility to the decision-making process. we shouldn't miss that. this process could have percolated below any president but it was connected to a president who is increasingly an expert on the issue at hand. and he was humble about our ability to affect things on the ground. that sets the stage for the decision process. second observation, the process. it was mentioned earlier or that steve was the central figure on running a process on the national security council the war council. the deputies and the sub deputies also. one or two levels deep, into the national security tip bankruptcy. -- it was open, transparent and
based on trust. it is a very important and two little appreciated quality of a successful process. why is trust so important? it is important because it serves the president. it gives the president the full range of policy options when everyone trust that their voices will be heard. but it is also hugely important, for the next book. the implementation of the surge. a trusting decision making process, where everyone feels heard and respected, it enables success and execution. imagine a process that isn't trustworthy, a lot of backstabbing, a lot of second guessing, and his played out in the press, and how difficult that process would be to execute.
people who feel their not heard and take the teenage approach and say now i will be heard in execution process. there are insurgencies that take place. the surge decision did not have to deal with that. that was largely a product of the decision-making process itself. that kind of process, run by steve and nurtured by the president was very important to the success of the surge which is the next book. the implementation face. i saw this firsthand as a minor participant in the search decision but as a more central figure in implementation. my job as an implementer of the surge was vastly simplified and
enabled by the fact that it was the product of a trusting decision-making process. the process deserves attention. third point, it reflects on a subplot that will move in throughout the book. this is the plot between in a relationship between the security situation in iraq, and the politics in iraq. up to the point of the surge, roughly the first three years of the war and iraq, we had prioritized the assumption that improved politics, increasingly inclusive iraqi political process would deliver security. so in short, politics first. this had to do with turning sovereignty over to the iraqi government, holding elections,
forming governments, if we could get sunni shia and kurds to work together politically than they would have no reason to fight. we could contain any violence while the political process richard. by 2006 it was clear that the violence was overwhelming that approach. he was insufficient. the politics were insufficient to quell the violence and we were on a downward spiral. a piece of the surge decision that needs to be explicit, what it did was invert, it turned on its head this relationship between politics in iraq and security in iraq. the surge admitted that there is a security threshold that must be first obtained to enable the politics. in a way, we turn from politics
first two security now. security first. this played out in the year or so after the surge decision, we saw that once violence was quelled, prime minister melody was able to take some bold political steps. it was him after all that within a year marched on basra, on the who did he march? he marched on shia militia, his own political allies. when he went to quell shia prompted violence. it was within 18 months of surge decision that the same prime minister, signs the framework agreement with president bush. one of the last things bush did when he left office, in late 2008. that enabled u.s. forces to
stay for another three years. it was the prime minister who got the decision to two thirds decision majority in iraqi department. -- there is a bigger strategic move here, it's not just about 30,000 troops. it is about the inversion that put security first. there is a certain sufficiency, a certain requirement for security that then enables politics. i call that the security threshold. the fourth and final comment i have, a concern that we take a broader view of cause and effect when we consider the effects of the surge. we are probably all americans in this room, we have maybe
naturally, assumes that this bear came decision delivered a particular effect on the ground. that is a dramatic decrease in violence in months. in only a couple of months of the surge hitting the ground in iraq. i think it is worth thinking about. maybe this is along the lines of another book. thinking about the other effects that caused a decrease in violence, which are non american effects. let me list a few that come to the top of my head. first is the head of the satirists with his own militia, the gm was tucking to the sidelines. he took his shia militia off. that naturally had a suppressive effect.
on the sunni side, the sunni awakening predated the surge by about a year. well into 2006 you begin to get the swinging of the sunni arabs tribe. that was obviously before the surge. there is a sunni part. there is an argument to be made that a lot of the violence was beginning to burn out, that mixed -- had essentially been cleansed by the summer of 2007 with the last surge degrade arrived. that is not a very attractive policy option. to cleanse these mixed neighborhoods, but a lot had already taken place by the time the surge got there. finally i think we give too little credit, impact on the
major accelerant to secretary of violence. that was the jay saw campaign against zarqawi and al-qaeda and iraq. these were the folks who are pouring gasoline on the sectarian fires. all of these other effects, other causes, have a role to play in what they've had observed, when they went back on labour day weekend in september of 2007. that is two or three months after the surge arrived. a very short period, and they were able to say to congress and to the american people that we are seeing early signs of edgy crease in secretary violence. i'd be cautious among the historians in the room that we have this cause and effect relationship between the surge itself and what we saw on the ground. it is a multi variable
equation. i'm very honored to be here >> i am not in the book, despite many conversations, in 2015 i was spending a lot of our time in iraq with isis. the events of what just happened or particularly on my mind. this is very timely because it is about what can we do as a country. we talk about ends ways and means. the means are not just the brigades, what is our capacity for leadership. it is very troubling. i also talk about the cost of the surge. 1000 americans were killed in
the first year of the surge, i don't think we can ever forget that. something about these decisions, i talk a little bit about this in stanford, it's hard to even see them as comparable, but these decisions are the most important. they are the most consequential for our country, our history for men and women who volunteered, the. president bush felt that, i'm going to tell some stories the day after the speech announcing the speech what became if you put yourself in that time, we went to fort bennett and the president spoke with a number of americans who would be heading over to iraq. it was a pretty draining day, and we had worked on this
policy and i felt strong it was the right policy, and will talk about why, and even after all those meetings. we had president bush he went and spent an hour with gold star families behind closed doors. this was a president who was living and breathing, this war as he has written since he's been living with every day. but until the decision, it's fair to say, he is living it, he is breathing it, he is struggling with it, as steve saw every day, far more than i did in those days. but he wasn't really commanding the war. and it wasn't just the decision, it is how complete change in the management of the conflict in iraq. well let me go through a bit of my experience, so i'll be up on the web so you can see how it was on september 11th 2001, i
was with chief justice rehnquist, i heard about the attacks from him, i was asked to be a lawyer and have a nice career in the law which i really enjoyed. so that obviously changed the course of our history, and in 2003 i was in private practice and i got a call from a friend in 2003 former colleague of mine, who had just come out of an inter agency meeting. i don't know what it meant at the time. and they said they're looking for people to go to iraq to help with their political process, or constitutional process would you be willing to go? it was in the fall of 2003, for five months into the war, and i said yes immediately. i got to iraq, and in early january 2004, and as many people who went to iraq as during that period, it was pretty clear very early on, that we were into something we didn't fully understand we didn't fully anticipate, and i felt immediately that we didn't have enough resources to deal with this problem, from the
airport from the drive from the airport to, the coalition headquarters, it was a harrowing ride. the right of death. meghan and i worked on the political process during that year, and this was 2004, so a lot of major decisions had already been made. we made a lot of progress on the political process, we transitioned a we've set up a an embassy, an iraqi government. the politics were kind of working, but the violence was not getting any better. there was a debate as well a monk officials in baghdad, i witnessed as a young person, that was 32 years old at the time, about the debate that doug talked about. and the idea that politics would drive security gains, and those of us working the politics, were saying that no based on security, there is no politics. security problem is a security problem. in any event, meghan became a
senior director at the nsc, asked me to join her staff, i joined the white house in 2005. and i think it's safe to say, in our office we all spent a lot of time in iraq, that and we believe that there was this disconnect between security and politics. but they're always always is a hope, that there's going to be a constitutional referendum, that this will turn the corner, so there was enough to not really force a fundamental reassessment. i was also as a young guy as a director at the time, and i was always wondering how is the president seeing this? because what he was saying publicly, he wants to succeed. nothing more important. but it seemed we are so focused on transitioning to the iraqis, it was a policy career not really making any significant progress, my first time in the oval with him, the first time is in that meeting, i was shocked first of all, you
walked in the office for the first time in the oval office, your shoulders kind of snap back, i had never seen the president in person and you feel like you're kind of on a movie set. i've been there a lot now, with obama to, but he was so demanding, and like inquisitive of meghan, a ruthless inquisitor of the situation, like what's going on. i thought while this president, is not only living and breathing this thing, he's asking all the right questions, and wants to succeed. and as we got into 2006, in the situation and it deteriorated after s'more bombings, and that's what i think the historical record, i've been working on a book project for ten years on, this is someday this will come out, but the archives have been friendly with me, and i've gone back and look at some of the potus notes, and i got a couple of them, at least for my own use. they hold up. and we were reporting, this is a very serious situation that's
deteriorating. and steve would send those to the president every night, and sometimes he had handwritten nights in there, and the president would read them and he would put his handwritten notes. and he was getting somewhat different reporting stream from the ambassador in baghdad, and some of the commanding generals at the time. it was always a question of how does the president reconcile all these different streams of information, and i think that the way he saw, it as the commander-in-chief, and classical model, delegating to the chain of command, and i think that's the traditional model, that you know that's the first gulf war model. and steve push us very hard, to really look at everything, it became very quiet. and make it in myself, intelligence community, it was critical here. we had great inroads there. we became pretty convinced, after a lot of work, that we have to do something radically different. and that would require more
resources, it would require a very different strategy, focused on securing the population in key areas. and that would be costly. we would sometimes right reports, and go see steve had lee, and i remember steve said to us, once this is before we started the formal review, are you guys sure about this? and we said steve we've done the work, and we talked all these, people and this is months of work. we are sure. that and i never knew where you stood actually until the very end. because you held your cards very close, but the only time i ever heard steve say a bad word, he said you better be sure. because this, think of what you're asking the president to do. and he was right. and steve not only drove us, he drove the entire inter agency. once we began the review. so if we did this we were all certain that this was the right thing to do. and i feel that that was the right process. i've concluded after working through three administrations,
these decisions of warren priess, the model is the surge review. and it is the opposite of what we're seeing now. and the night the president made the speech, on january 7th we were in steve had these office, myself and i think megan, and we watched the speech on tv, and we have done a poll, about if the american people if they would support sending 20 or 30,000's troops, and i think it came back about 20%, it was a low number. and there was a poll that week, and i have to happen to remember that, that's how many americans believed in alien piloted ufos, and i think it was 10% more something. so it was a real unpopular decision. and when we watch the speech, it was a very somber speech, you might remember the president did it, i think the library room with the books behind him, and then the senators came out and they gave the reviews, and the reviews were pretty rough, and josh
bolton came in and he had been, with the president and said the president feels good about the process, he said thank you. and josh ed something to the effect, and the president is taking charge of this something to that effect i don't remember the exact quote, but the last two years, the president his first briefing every morning was on a rock, every monday morning for two years there was an nsc meeting on a rock. which was really extraordinary. from what i've been able to see, nothing is nothing comparable, other than eisenhower the way he ran the nsc. personal hands on management of this war, over the last two years. and that is why a lot of this succeeded. beginning in doug for the day to day management, constant engagement from the president, and in the region at times. this played out in a number of
ways. there is a time in a follower myself, and if you are the people decide we are done with it. and some iraqis want to go to -- . and we wrote a memo, it's time for malady to go. as if we could make that happen. and douglas absolutely right, the president asked us some hard questions. he asked us the hardest one, well who's gonna come after -- this. and we said well the iraqis have not figure that out. and the president completely shut down that entire conversation. but also with some of the iraqis who were maneuvering against him. that was the right call because had we lost, and we would've had six months without a government at a critical time. we had some issues with some of the commanders, which was tense, which the president helped manage, and finally the battle a basra.
and we went to that without really planning it. and for some reason, i think doug you may have been oversee, so i was minding the fort in the white house, and two people told me, you have to tell the president that -- get off more than he can chew he needs to get out of pause right and get back to baghdad. this is a disaster. and i walked in the oval office that morning with steve and saying here's the desperate situation and the president without even a briefing said you told everyone this cat morality is not going to go after the shia militias. and we are going to make sure he wins and that's what we did we sent forces down there and it was a key turning point in the campaign and that was not the advice of his senior people the sofa also this is an untold
story but a very smooth transition to a president who ran against the war and came in and you are there present obama said i don't want to mess this up which was a tribute to all the work that had been done. and we can talk about whether what's what's messed up but that's another story but the way this decision was made, the process and what it says about being a commander-in-chief what it says about the care, when you send young men and women overseas, i think it is an interesting debate that, had the surgery view, that happened in the run up to the war, how the war might have been differently resourced, differently managed. that's another question for historians. i wasn't there at the time. but it was a worthy project, and i'm happy to be here, i'm sorry i was not in the book, but i promise i will get my interview done. that so thank you.
(applause) >> those were very rich sets of comments, that triggered a bunch of questions on my part, i'm going to ask a couple of questions i had to do with process, a couple of questions i had to do with content, and then a question that has to do with outcomes, all of which the gentleman you gentleman have touched on a bit, and i'd like to go a bit deeper. the first question has to do is, what we are actually talking about when we talk about the surge review, because i think if you look at the book, and if you look at some of the interviews, for folks for folks who have not had a chance to take a look at it, when you talk about the surge review, they are sometimes talking about a few different things. so there was the formal inter agency review. which happened, late in the fall of 2006, under the direction of the deputy national security adviser. who reported to steve had lead. but that actually came relatively late in the game. prior to that there was a variety of efforts, to really
look at the iraq strategy in different parts of the government. so there was an effort to do this, within the nsc, there was an effort to do this at the joint staff, there was an effort to do this in other parts of the government as well. so i'm curious, because you three were all in different places within the bureaucracy. what level of visibility did you have, on the fact that there was this that happening at different places within the government with respect to iraq strategy. were you aware that it was happening? was the court their cooperation between different groups? they're thinking about the same questions, or is this something that remained pretty closely stovepipe until the formal inter agency review begin? it is a hard question. it is a little bit hard to answer for the reason that, meghan gave in her comments.
there was a lot of conversation and exchange is going on constantly about this set of issues. for instance, i was aware of the efforts in june to have the meeting at camp david. i will confess that i at that point was a little bit unsure after what happened in february at the mosque whether we really needed to change course or whether this was something that we could manage. in part because we had no governments in iraq, which was a big concern to me. i still think that was one of the major factors, we don't touch enough on it in the book. the absence of the iraqi government for from january until june might have been some might have been okay them with
the absence of the bombing, but once the bombing happened people feel that people have to protect themselves. it's at that period that you see the skyrocketing enrollment in various militias, particularly shia militias. win in june, as camp david meeting was happening, i happen to be in baghdad, i was with george casey win it's our car gets killed and we have a government in iraq. i think the natural tendency, that i had maybe this is a turning point. as brett just said correctly, there were a lot of times when people felt that we have a development word one was coming that is going to change the direction of this. you would have to go through that a few times and then
realize there is not going to be some day that is going to save us. we are going to have to do some things differently. we were very constrained. that was just the reality. i was aware that the council of kernels was going on, that was not something that people kept secret from us. i was having conversations, some with megan, i remember very distinctly having these devices, i don't know if they exist anymore, they were a video telephone we. i know very late in the day, quite frequently j.d. and i would talk about this. j.d. was saying we need to do something different, i said i agree with you, how are we gonna get there though? , he said we are going to work on some things.
i knew vaguely what was going on but i didn't know all the specific dimensions of it. >> it's a great question. the camp david meeting is interesting is that is when we thought, and this is reflected in the book, that that was going to be a key moment. hard questions were going to be asked. but it ended up being a cover to a secret trip to baghdad for the president. i have to say, nobody supported sending more forces to iraq. it was a very small number. some of the kernels but not the consensus, state department had a debate about clear hold bill in 2005 which would've been a counter insurgency thing that didn't go anywhere. the state department swung against any real talk of
sending more resources. from our porch it was frustrating. there were things outside of my purview, even next door to me, there are bills of military plans that we're looking and saying was this even feasible. i did not know that bill was working on that. there was a lot going on working outside our purview. they reflect our conversations national security advisers are having with our president, but from our perch we are doing the work is best we could. i think everybody was dealing with their own principles and views. it was complex. as it came out and everything came together, i remember meeting you doug, i said hey can we send more to iraq? you said you could, but you wouldn't have much of an army left.
the view was that, for those who might say we should send more forces to iraq that the risks might be taken on elsewhere in the world could be extremely high. from my vantage point, it just gets to how controversial this was and difficult. there is a lot going on, but there wasn't that much going on that would have led to this result until very late in the day that we have the formalized review. >> the short answer to this is that there was compartmented segregated approach is happening at different pockets of the bureaucracy. they did not come together in till the crouch hosted review in the last six weeks or two months of 2006. there was a reason that these were isolated and isolated. they were isolated within the bureaucracy. for example the joint staff
version of this review was this council of kernels. that is interesting but why were they kernels, they were kernels because there were generals above them that opposed a formal review of the status quo option to include a couple four stars. this was done as an off the chart, quiet, in the basement of the pentagon study among knowledgeable kernels but it was also reasonably deniable. it was isolated and segregated because they're anti bodies in the uniform military to reviewing a strategy that both the commander and the commander in iraq favored. i think the same is true, at state, and so forth. we had to get sufficient understanding of the problem, internal to these little pockets of the bureaucracy so
that the position of the department the, position of the joint staff, had sufficient gravity or maybe it was sufficiently organic so that it could be brought out into the open. that is what inside the joint staff the council of colonel stud. they brief the joint chiefs of staff, this is the committee of four service chiefs plus the chairman and vice chairman and this famous windowless conference room called the tank, the consulate kernels brief those guys. and that's when the serious conversation took place. that mimics her parallels the process elsewhere in the bureaucracies. they had to start at the grassroots level and become serious game of gravity and then be brought up to the tank. it was segregated nationally. >> just to add quickly, as i
recall bill looting study was one of the last big projects he did before he left that fall to go to the private sector. i found out about his study when he came to visiting at the pentagon and he was walking out the door and said oh by the way, if the joint staff tells you that we don't have any more grades descent to iraq, we do we have five more big rates. don't listen to them. that was in roughly about the same time that de niro came to see to become the core commander in baghdad under george casey, and he came to me and said i need more troops. he was then corps commander at fort hood. he said i think i'm going to need more troops.
this was after rumsfeld had resigned, but before secretary gates had been sworn in because he didn't get sworn in until he presided over the a and and graduation. so that's how all you folks in texas know how important that is. i was living in this uncomfortable situation where i had the outgoing secretary of defense and the incoming secretary of defense on the fourth floor, and i said i am very sympathetic to getting these troops but i have a secretary who is leaving who is against it. i have a new one who of not had a chance to brief yet. we will have to see where that goes. >> just because a couple of you have mentioned this, one of the very fine grain stories that emerges at this broader tail involves this question of whether there were additional troops available for the surge. what is remarkable is that you gets widely different answers
to this question depending on where you were in the government. the official d.o.d. answer is no, there are no troops available. but the nsc staff came up with a different answer. why were people coming up with different answers. was it based on different methodology, policy disagreements, was a based on assessments of how much risk the u.s. could take on in other theaters? what was driving these widely different outcomes? >> i think that is a question for the j three. this is a case where it is important to get inside the question being asked and probably assumptions inherent with question. at that time we had 15 brigades in iraq, tonight if ghana's end and we probably had 50 brigades
on the books overall. so if you simply asked the question, are there five more brigades available, you say there's 15 here, to hear, there's a few inquiry a, a few in germany, the answer is yes sure. purely mathematical answer is yes. the joint staff is working under an assumption, when we gave the answer that were out of troops, this use of that phrase may have retired the slits company. we said that we are out of slits and there were not five pervades available. i wear inception was that we were going to retain the basic operating principles of one year deploy and one here not deploy for upgrade. in order to set up that rotation schedule you needed three brigades to put one in iraq. you need one that was there,
one that was preparing to go, and one that just came back. you couldn't just change that simple rotation matt. when we said you're out, we were saying if you, it if you hold to the one year in of iraq combat and one out of combat, that we were in fact out. having read the book, what i should have said is here out if we stick to one year and one here for a particularly brigade. but if you change that math as we eventually forced to do, to sponsor the surge and kept u.s. troops in combat for 15 months and allow them to come back and allow them to come back and take a one-year break, so we went to a 15 12 rotation. you could squeeze the last five
brigades out of the structure. this is very much a question of probing the question being asked and making sure that you uncover underlying assumptions. if i had something i wish i could have contributed to a different book, early on in the process i said you can get five warmer grades, you could get 50 brigades if you want to send them all over there forever. and a world war ii model, but let's probably assumptions. but the joint chiefs were most concerned about, is that in this first war, with all volunteer of boris, all volunteers, no drafts. and it was largely a married force, a family based force, that violating the 12th in and 12 out model would have fundamental repercussions on the health of the force.
i am not sure that when we went to 15 months that we began to erode that confidence in the force. i think there is still a lot of research to be done about the stress, not just the surge decision, but sustained combat over these bin laden decade plus. on an all volunteer force. you see this with ptsd, retention rates in the services, and you see this by way of traumatic brain injury. exposure to multiple concussions, which is one of the most common effects on the battlefield. some of these long term physical and mental health impacts, it is related to imploring and all volunteer force that we have had for so. long
and the human experimenting, that's going on with this exposure, with this force to sustain combat. very gratefully in recent years, our numbers are much lower in the sort of combat situations. and in particular to bret mcgurk's, and his military colleagues, in the war against isis. in the fight against isis. we happened on a different model. where we don't have to americanize the effort. and we are not dealing with 15 brigades. or 20 brigades. we are dealing with much smaller, more sustainable forces. keyed to partnership. with capable indigenous partners. that is a very different model. that is not the model we are talking about here in iraq. we had very much american soldiers in the league. so the personal lesson for me is, probe the question. make sure you understand the assumptions that are based upon
the question at hand. the >> two quick points, global risk, is an interesting one, and i do remember discussions at the time with the president and the chiefs about you know the chiefs would say, you're taking a lot more risk, of potential if there's a conflict in korean somewhere else, in the president always made clear that we win the wars we are in. to help us stay out of future wars. he was clear on that, and it was priority setting. it's a conversation that goes on in any relationship between the chiefs and the president. on this last point that doug made, because it's in the news, the counter isis campaign, was deliberately and completely different, and we relied on local actors like in syria the local force, we built a force of 60,000 syrians, they took 11,000 12,000 casualties, we've six americans were killed in syria. and the cost u.s. taxpayer, the surge is about 250 billion dollars total, of and tire for
five years campaign a against isis. plus huge coalition sharing costs. which is why don't want to get off topic, but when president trump say he's ending endless wars, it doesn't make any sense, this is totally sustainable model. there is no clamor in congress, it was working, we were fighting, we were we were really spending much money or losing american lives so i think for the consensus, to build that there is a push back to this, that we can even do that. i think the repercussions are quite serious this is >> just a footnote, correct me if i'm wrong, we always talk about fire braids go into the surge. but that we also wield a rotary ring, that was like a brigade equivalent, so that is about six. >> this --
regiment comeback. -- >> so eric maybe this is a question for you, brett wasn't the only one who magic managed to dog us dodge us for this book. secretary rumsfeld is not appear as much as he, should or he said no actually not another of times for interviewing him. but his presence is here, so i think that the traditional narrative about secretary rumsfeld's, role is that he was an obstructive presence in the story. he was opposed to any change of strategy in iraq, and it was only when he was when he departed actually from the administration, that this change was possible. so given that you had a pretty good window, into d.o.d. thinking, given your perch, and your heading ostp. is that an accurate view of secretary rumsfeld's role, and if so why did he play this role, or is it mistaken in some way?
>> secretary rumsfeld, had a reputation for the riding roughshod, but's over his general officers in the pentagon. that and my view of it was slightly different, i viewed him as a kind of equal opportunity abuser. he didn't just rough up general officers, and doug had been on the receiving end of this, so was a dive multiple times. and that was his sort of mo. in reality the, at least during the time i was there, from summer of 2005 on, i never saw him overrule a four star. and in particular he shared, i think genuinely general -- view that it was our presence that was driving the animosity
among iraqis, and driving the violence, and we had to train and transition, and turn this over to iraqi's. and it occurs and it recur is often in the book, we have to take our hand off the bicycle seat, and let the rockies handles on their, own we can't do this for them forever, and he and general casey, all and other generals, all share that view. for those of us who ended slightly different view, that made life a little bit complicated. because as you know, you work for one secretary at a time. and i had to execute with the secretary thought was the right thing to do. now that didn't stop me from getting a copy of the counter insurgency field, and my admit i might minute system, had been a strategist, when he was running the training miss it
mission, he was in touch with petraeus, and i got this also so vice president cheney could read this, and i got -- who was an expert in insurgency, and gordon england, and first i got him to get me a copy of the classic book on counter insurgency, a french general who had actually fought in algeria, which had been reprinted. i got him to get it to me when i first got to d.o.d., in august of oh five. but then his book, on counter insurgency came out, and i had him take a copy over, and brief vice president cheney on that. so, some of us were trying to work, within the system, to try to get some of these ideas percolating, but we had to
abide by the secretary's view, and he came by honestly. the other view he had, was the one that, doug was just talking, about which was the health of the force. and the rotation base, and sustaining. it so he had his own good insufficient reasons, for the positions he took, but i had come to the conclusion that we were beyond the point where those views were going to get us, a successful outcome. this >> so one of the themes that has come up in a number of remark so far, and i'd like to ask about it more systematically, is a question as to whether the surge have to happen when it did, and had it or might it have come about earlier. this praise of what the surge accomplished, and i will ask about that in a session in a second, but put some of the things came around quite late in the game, and quite a bit of cost had been incurred, so what
i have been possible to come to a similar policy, with a similar outcome, six months earlier, or a year earlier, or even three months earlier. or did the surge depend on, that's a convergence of circumstances, that was only possible, at the very end of 2006 that? >> i am inclined to the latter, i think it's a hard question to really answer. but i am inclined to the latter. i think one of the things you have to remember, this is not address that much in the book, but the iraqi security forces we were training in oh four and oh five, we're they actually in 2003 in 2004, was not when paul eaton was handling the mission, was not trained to do any kind of internal defense or deal with internal security issues.
it was meant to be a mechanized army, that would protect iraq from outside predatory powers in his neighborhood, but not be available to do what, let's say saddam had had the military do domestically in iraq. and it was only when petraeus took over, and started to train a force, that was capable of that carrying out counter insurgency and counter-terrorism missions, that we would've had the iraqi partners to be able to execute the search. in my view. we needed to take the time to build up that iraqi force, which we could partner, because doing this by ourselves, that would have been not sustainable, thing not a sustainable thing. we had to do this with iraqis who we could passes off to, and i don't think the key iraqi counter-terrorism force, gets nearly enough credit, i mean
brett knows more about this and i do, but we fought those guys like crazy, and and when we tried to take iraq back from isil, and they carried on a normal and enormous amount of the burden. but you have to be their first, we are up around 3:50 doug is that right about 350,000 iraqi security forces, by the summer of 2006, i doubt if we could've done this with less than that. >> i think the interesting question is when do you, in any campaign strategy, when you know you have to adapt, but when do you have a process to adapt, and you can't constantly have constant reviews. it was a confluence of events in 2006, that kind of force this. i think it was pretty clear pretty early a, lot of these assumptions that we went interact with were not correct. the support of the local present the local population,
existing institution, and the spending of the army and everything else, i think a strategic review, earlier on, might not have led to the surge, but might have led to some adaptation. and from our vantage point, what was frustrating is that, the secretary rumsfeld, did have a broad mandate. up in the cpa area and others. i got the nsc, it was sense that the president had limited maneuvering room to adapt. this this was then reflected by the secretary defenses, that's the chain of the of command. so the president is either going to overrule or redirect his chain of command. and i think any, president and i saw this with obama too, not all the time but, you are delegating to the chain of command, these are your people, so the president to redirect, that that is an unnatural instinct for the president, so
when you actually adapt. the last two years once he did the surge, the president race season president, he's taking command of the war, we adopted a lot throughout the campaign. we made a lot of decisions. i don't think we would've had have succeeded the two years without that constant reevaluation with the president directly hands on management of the war. i concluded after three administrations, and i risk of repeating myself, if the president is going to send it is men and women overseas to be involved in a big war or a little war, he has to be directly involved in this. that you know he has a lot of things to do, but regularly briefed, and know what's going on, so what a crisis happens, he knows the situation, and he can adapt effectively. i think president bush did that quite well from the surge on. >> i think it was a combination of events, on several fronts, in 2006 that led us to look at this more fundamentally. first of all it was a spiking
of the violence, it was inflamed by zarqawi attack on the mosque, and you can plot secretary in violence, that but we did show some progress, in this after the 2005 iraqi elections, and then the al-maliki finally formed a government. i remember four months we didn't have an hour and iraqi minister of defense. how incapable is that? but he actually formed a government, and we thought we are still on track, with the politics first model. here you have a newly-seated government, he has representation across the country, and looks inclusive, and looks like we are on track. then you have this impact of, both the pack commanders, and the feeder commander, and the commander in iraq, to force our,
as we were very influential, saying stay the course. that we should continue to prioritize the military effort, the training of the iraqis. that started to fall apart, when we tried to send on three different occasions, iraqi brigades to do what the search eventually did. and that was secure baghdad. and with together forward, roman numeral one, and two and three, there was three iraqi efforts, or literally trucks and buses were supposed to transport iraqi brigades, to baghdad, to secure baghdad. and quell the second that the violence, but the buses arrived and they were empty. you had some fundamental events in the first sort of nine months of 2006 which conspired, to cast doubt on the current approach on the existing approach. and therefore they'd rather obvious that it was time to review the bidding. i hope you will ask us, a bit
more about this dimension of it. and in particular, if i were in your seat i would ask, why were the iraqi security forces after three years and billions of dollars in investment and such a central role in our strategy, we will stand down when they stand up. together forward one, two and three dependent on them arriving in baghdad. there's a big strategic lesson here which is beyond the scope of the book as our building as americans, our force structure, our marines in particular to build reliable, capable, indigenous forces on a timeline that is strategically relevant to us. i think if you look at iraq in the early days, iraq in the
later days, remember it was about a third of the iraqi army that crumbled in 2014 when al-baghdadi declared isis -- and you look quite frankly other capacity elsewhere. look at afghanistan, it is not a success story in terms of our ability to build indigenous forces. one thing i want to come out of this study is so what does this mean for future policy? >> this relates to where i want to go for my final question, and then we will open it up to the floor for questions. in the book we didn't explicitly seek to address the question of whether the surge worked, you can't really talk about the surge without getting at that question. and even today there are a wide
variety of answers which are reflected in the essays that people contributed to the book, everywhere in in -- from it was a six as, it was not operational stick to says, but a strategic failure, and different stray shuns between that. i'm curious how that review would assess that question. and what factors produced the outcome that you would attribute to the surge. it strikes me that if you look forward beyond the bush presidency, beyond 2008, it is clear that whatever games there were were not sustained. how should we think about the success of american policy in 2007 and 2008, and the relationship of the surge what comes later. >> how much time do we have?
i am in the camp of people who think the surge worked on its own terms. the list of forces that doug mentioned, i think you can't desegregate the reaction of iraqis from what we did. when you say that the taught us stood down, that is true because he was scared we were going to kill him. that is why he went off to study theology for the better part of two years. i think that was directly related to our decision to put additional forces in and to go after shia militias. the city awakening, we had that discussion before, the desert protectors who are out there you know was there anything we could do to reinforce this. until we actually went in and
put additional forces into anbar, if you talk to guys who are out there they were doing things like taking ten year leases. they had no intention of saying for ten years, but they are trying to convey that we were here, we will support you, we will change things around. this gets back to the question of leverage and the discussion about what kind of that we were making on malarkey. the question of, did he have sectarian instincts, did he have a circle of people around him that were counseling him, all these things he was all of the above. we knew from intelligence that he had people literally whispering in his ear that he should be more sectarian. we knew he had those instincts. on the question of iran we knew that he had had an unhappy
experience in iran, because he lived in syria for 20 years, but he was dependent on irony and support to stay in power. the point was i never understood one of conversations i had with the president and malarkey and i was off the corner with secretary rice with two former academics having an academic conversation about vietnam with the president came up. i said him mister president if you are thinking about getting rid of him i have three words for you, know dingy am. and he said that's what i think to. malarkey was able to do things there is a discussion earlier
of him going after the shia militias because we had the leverage because of our presence, and the role we plate is that among the communities in iraq, to get him to do things that he probably would not have done otherwise. to me the tragedy of the early exit in 2011 is that we lost that. what would have happened if we had stayed? we will never know. but we certainly got an incredible decrease in violence, and some progress on the political side. i think there's a good argument to have, we could've done more if we had stayed number in greater numbers. it was not just the question of would we stay on. all of us that were involved assumed that there would be some follow-up agreements including in iraq ease they
assumed also there will be follow-up. it is a process that whittled down, where i think malaki thought the juice wasn't worth the screens. that is why we end up on the path we went down. >> i think there is no question it worked. statistically, there is a chart that goes like this like a cliff. i completely agree with eric, there is a romanticism about the awakening. like they turned and revolted against a kyra. no, we were fighting with them, and we put the numbers in, significant numbers to make clear and that's when it really started to pick up. that was the waking that turned against acosta. we decimated al-qaeda in iraq because of the surgeon information that drove intelligence value. the whole thing fed on itself. the question is is this
sustainable, with the new administration. i lived through some of that. but there is a threshold question as our ability as the country, after regime falls, to come in and improve the situation. this is the question that is a threshold one. in 2011 was not just laid withdrawal from iraq, it was the announced u.s. policy that assad moscow. if you are in the region at that time created a fever in the region. foreign fires, jihadi,'s so many flowing into syria. there are money and weapons they were from all over the region. and then the assad regime, and this created this cauldron, the big lesson is to be very careful before a president declares a u.s. policy objective. very a bishops objectives in that part of the world are very
difficult to achieve. the surge gave iraq a chance to be involved in counter isis, which -- we built the campaign from the units that we have built during that iraq or, during the surge. we are talking about evacuating our embassy in baghdad. but it is because the units that we knew that were willing to fight and our special forces could get into bed with them, we are able to have some traction to begins club. i think it worked. it was costly and we can never forget that. what we can do is a country to sustain these things is the big question hovering over us right now. >> i am different on this front. something worked, we know by data that violence took a dramatic fall. the last degrade of the five in question here hit big that in
june of 2007, about 60 days later they are able to come back and testify in front of u.s. congress that they saw early indicators of a decrease in the violence. i'll tell you, there is very little you can accomplish in two months with additional five the grades. that leaves me to wonder, what else was contributed. something worked. it is a combination of the search, jay so molly, the awakening, jay sock, ethnic cleansing, some combination of those. as americans we should be cautious not to assign the greatest weight to the shiny objects. the shiny object here is a 30,000 troops discussed by the book. it had a role, i do not deny that. i'm not sure it was the
dominant role. to the extent that we might draw lessons from this experience for a future experience, we should be a little suspect of assigning to ourselves too much responsibility for a positive outcome. these factors were interrelated. but i don't think we actually have gone through the serious professional investigation of where the weight should fall across these factors. i suspect, i'm not a political scientist, i suspect that if you compared to the physical effect of the surge, to the psychological impact of the surge, which is we are not caving, we are not leaving, we are going to be with you, that was a good move going to the sidelines, we are not caving on this. that psychological impact, if we could measure it, it might be greater than a physical
presence of another 30,000 troops. which is only a 20% incremental change from what we had on the ground. a lot of variables, let's be cautious about signing cause and effect. some >> just to respond to that, i do think there was a metric for measuring the psychological change. it's one that i looked at very closely in those quarterly reports that we used to do for congress which was the tips coming in from a rockies about -- starting in late spring of a seven really go up dramatically and that is because of the psychological effect that you are describing. we >> have time for a few questions. stick your hand up and the microphones will find you and please identify yourself prior to your question.
>> my name is laura, it is but fascinating to listen to the process and how all the various agencies worked together and interrupted together to come up with what appears to be a successful solution. professor, you brought up the fact that this might be different and what we are seeing today in the current administration and how that is working. the hope would be that there are people like these organizations that work together to come up with a solution to leave syria. but it sounds like that not be the case. what do you see it as different today how the organization is working back when you made this decision on the search. >> thank you, i worked for two years on the trump administration. i defended that this station, the policies. i thought the first year when trump came in we had a decent
transition, a lot of continuity, strategic review. we did have three decisions for him to make, he made them, we executed. it actually moved faster. but, the nature of the president himself is what a lot of this comes down to in any business tradition. there is no process to make these decisions. the national security adviser try to establish a process but it did not connect to the president's. the president of the united states makes major consequential, historic decisions that harness our country on our certain path without any deliberation or consultation, with allies, with experts, with military commanders. it is happened twice now in syria in the last eight months. i am not a professor, i lecture at stanford, but i teach
presidential decision making him more time. i'm not an expert on this but we do a lot of case steadies. we look at eisenhower we look at the surge we look at all sorts of things. we look at korea. eisenhower said to paraphrase, a good process is not a guarantee good policy. but a bad process plus incompetence guarantees as a disaster right there now there is no process, plus i would say frankly incompetence. i cannot speak for domestic policies, but a national security making, there is no process. i am very concerned that it's going to get worse, because now our adversaries and our allies know this. i was in the middle east last week, and the anxiety is sky-high. so bottom line, the process that led to the surge, very difficult decision for a president, was serious, was extensive, it harnessed all the expertise of the u.s. government, and there is no
process now. on major decisions. and then the administration that you see everybody, i respect the people still in their, trying to catch up and make sense of the maelstrom, and make sure that decisions are thought through. but this is not how should work. >> thank you. >> thank you very much, to the entire panel this was a fascinating conversation, going mostly off of ambassador boots the question is comets, i'm going to create this question provocatively, it's about the agency, the ad agency of the iraqi government and participants, you have mentioned that malady, al-maliki, and is it possible that the actions, or the corporations of iraqi actors,
were as important if not more important than the actions of the u.s. government in the process of the search and you could say it's in its initial successes thank you? >> well i will just address it briefly, brett and doug can talk to greater length on it, i'm almost by definition, because their country, the what iraqis did, was the most important factor. i agree with doug that we should be humble about what we can do, but since we were there and we were able to play a particular kind of balancing role, the among the ethnic, and sectarian communities, i think that we can be disproportionately influential in how it came out.
>> yes iraqi agencies is really critical, if you are involved in these things. but we have to act militarily against those elements that were committed to the entire failure of the entire enterprise especially al-qaeda and iraq. if you have 100 carbon car bombs going off a month in iraq, there is not going to be much politics going on. so this gets to what we did against al-qaeda and iraq, and this is president bush again, his hands on engagement, before the surge he told the al-maliki hey, if we do this you are going after all killers. that means sunni and shiite. and we won't have any handcuffs if we want to go after on the shia side. and the al-maliki gave him that commitment and he lived up to that commitment. so the idea was security in key
areas and reduce the effect of those extremist actors on both sides. that were fueling the sectarian side of things. what >> i have learned in the last 15 years in this area in particular, that i've said is to be humble about what we can do and have a sensibility of have an idea of our ability enforced outcomes and try to adopt, and it's hard for an american right because we are so privileged we are so wealthy we are so powerful this is hard, but try to adopt an approach that defers to the local conditions ok to the iraqi conditions because in the long run in a long run it is their country. and it effects the organic to the al-maliki government. and it would be much more durable, unless weren't
colonization. you have to be much more durable than something we can impose from the outside. it doesn't mean we don't have a role, the classic case here is -- this is the high-end national counter-terrorism force, that is really unmatched in the world today, what stands -- did to form j sock into a hunting machine, is bigger than anything else in the world. and iraq did not get zarqawi, and african afghanistan or the pakistan didn't get anyone that was jay sock. but in the long run, i very much i'm in the favor of trying to find an advantage and indigenous answer here because those the ones that are going to be durable. >> can i tell one quick anecdote, so we are in iraq at the end of 2008 steve dug
myself and president bush and it's culmination that we're handing off the to the incoming obama administration, things are in better shape. the president had a state welcome he had a great meeting with al-maliki you and sign the security agreements, and we're all sitting on the side and when the guys stands up and throws to shoes at the president, and honestly it was such chaos in that small room, i when he stood up screaming, i had spent too much time in iraq i thought it was a suicide bomber. that was my first thought. and i thought my goodness, it ended up being two shoes only, >> the second one of which president bush almost caught and perhaps with the intent to throw back. >> but the president first was so gracious in that moment if you watch it, and then behind the scenes and calling everybody down, but the guy who threw the shoes, was taken out
back, and we could kind of hero getting whales on, by the iraqis. the and doug i think you had a quote in this book or somewhere i read, correct me but doug said something that we can do all we possibly can, and give these guys a chance, but iraqis are going to whale on each other. and there is an element to that that isn't that it really is up to the iraqis at the end of the day. but that moment with the shoe thrower, was quite a moment and i was sitting right next to doug when it happened. this >> is actually a funny story, it turned out to be funny, it wasn't funny at the time, but we are all sitting in the u.s. delegation, and brett and i, as low shuttle national security council staffers, we are at the end of the, row the president is up there, he is standing next to the al-maliki twin podiums, and the agreement was ready to be signed. so this guy throws shoes, sort of wakes us up, and he says i
think that guy just threw a shoe at the president. so meanwhile the secret service agent in charge jumps out, to interpose himself between the shoe thrower, probably not in the training, but and the president right protect the president. so the guy winds up, checking in throws the second shoe, but president bush, is directing secret service agent, just go back and be quiet. he only has to shoes after all. so he is now at out of ammunition, and don't make a bigger thing of this then needs be. as the secret service agent jumped out to get in front of the shoe thrower, he hit the boom mike, of the u.s. interpreter, who was interpreting in arabic, the boom like swings around and hits the most innocent person in the room, dana perry no, the press secretary in the eye. so the only casualty, aside from a lucky's ego aside from
al-maliki ego, is dana's. >> this is for brett, brett allred in the local news that the kurds affectionately referred to you as basically father of the kurds. and i'm sure that you are surely mist right now on all the matters that are going on the ground. but the rights of the human rights organization, that you extensively talked about in, the counter isis campaign, and recently it was overtaken by turkish forces, but they were reported back in the city. but one could you comment on that and second, if you could detach yourself as an american for a second, and give some type of a, well what would you do if you are general boss loom, the head of the forces on the ground how would you proceed forward in your relations with the regional actors.
the second question as well the you can then someone else can take to because your extensive work with turkey. >> it's a bit off-topic but, want to give it a couple of minutes, real quick i'm the, yeah the opposition forces that turkey works with, are interwoven with extremists groups, and extremists actors, and that kind of thing was the main highway that fed the war machine. at least to discuss this with the turks, and i talked about this on the record, she can go and read it, but the so that wouldn't particularly surprise me but, what happened today is, i really feel like we're living in 1921 or something, because putin and erdogan sat down with the map of the kurdish regions, and basically marked up. the so they're saying the assad regime will come back to the areas, and the russian and turkish turkish patrols will
given begin in five days in these areas, and this was all done in a room in sochi, partially the consequence of this decision that president trump made without any consultation or anything. but the kurds, and the people in these areas, these decisions are now out of their hands, and what he said is that the protector, of these areas, is now vladimir putin. and it's tragic. and so again, i believe that this will get worse. and we have collapsed our positions over the entire place over northeast syria, and we have built this over for years, and i think our influence now, is meaningfully direct the course of events, you talk about humility, now i think if you hear anyone in the u.s. administration saying we still have tremendous influence, they are cutting themselves. this is now in the hands of others, and the kurds and the other arabs who live in these areas, the and you know, the
fate is in the hands of other powerbrokers. >> and the iranians. that >> so, just two points on this, one there are some people who have been arguing, and some in the administration are arguing, that we have not really done right by our allies, in turkey. the and that the sdf a was somehow some alternative, to the work that brett did with sdf. but the events of the last two weeks, have completely given the lie to that. because as brett just said, these are in many cases, former jihadists themselves who are repurposed by the turkish government, for their own reasons. it's the reason why the at least on one occasion, maybe two that we tried to examine the turkish options, and concluded that these are not
the kind of people we wanted to go to war with, and fight with. the and the second point is, that somehow the turkish government was bound and determined to do this, there's nothing we could do to stop it. that i think is equally false, i do not believe that erdogan or anyone wanted to get into a fight with us. and had we made that point, clear to him, in the call that president trump had, on the six of october, none of this would've happened. all of us here have been through previous examples of this, where the turks were threatening to go in, steve may recall the black rain, operation which they wanted to do the right is we are going into iraq, president bush dissuaded them from doing that, and this was a we've been talking about this panel, to this panel about the exercise of presidential leadership, and use of presidential power, and this was in this instance i'm told sorry to say, it was an
abdication of both of those things. >> i think we may have time for one more question. >> on a light later note this, is for ambassador edmund, you just rent you mentioned earlier, that you bought a book, from a french general, about counter intelligence that, insurgents in no counter-insurgents, in algeria,. >> this is still a very sensitive topic, in france i actually have very good relations with my french counterparts, and in 2008, what we are having the counter insurgency conference, in germany, i asked my french counterpart, if they would like to comment, and do a presentation on their campaign and algeria, and he looked at
me and said, no no this scab is people know it's too sensitive to pick at, in france so yes his book was actually, he has more than one too, his books are really the lessons he learned as a french officer, in the losing effort the french wage to defeat the fall and insurgency in algeria and they still bear reading today. they are very powerful books, the longer one he did about the french and algeria has been reprinted by rand and you can find it online and download it. it has one line that i recall very well, i think it applies to us in this context efforts against terrorists and insurgents, if there is one area that we french were deficient against our
it's my pleasure to introduce the chair of this panel doctor william charles inboden at the university of texas and austin. he has, not unique but certainly worthwhile perspective, a dual perspective a person who has both studied decision-making in the white house and been part of the decision-making. he was an invaluable member