Dateline: above the garage in Portsmouth RI, 21 June 2004
CNN is neat about putting out transcripts of appearances on their major shows. Here's the capture from my 25 May appearance on News From CNN (Wolf Blitzer's noon news show), which I blogged back then. I post it here simply to enter it into the record, knowing that some people might be interested in the text if they didn't happen to catch me.
NEWS FROM CNNCOMMENTARY: I liked this interview a lot. It went on for a long time, and as opposed to the last time I was on with Blitzer, he didn't interrupt so much. Big thing was getting on in first third of hour, so the time crunch wasn't so great. I did get in a bit of trouble for the statement about a "clean slate," meaning there was a call to the College from somebody important in DC complaining, but the Provost effectively ran interference on that, so I didn't catch any real heat. My PAOs were happy, saying I gave the essential "framing answer" regarding the election, and that that's perfectly fine for me as a government analyst.
The Fight for Iraq: Full Court Press; General Ricardo Sanchez Rotated out of Iraq; Interview With Author Thomas Barnett
Aired May 25, 2004 - 12:00 ET
BLITZER: President Bush's 33-minute speech last night disappointed some critics who say he didn't offer an exit strategy for U.S. forces. My next guest says American troops may never be coming home from the Middle East, and he also says no exit strategy may, in fact, be a good thing. Thomas Barnett is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College. He's the author of "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century."
Mr. Barnett, thanks very much for joining us. Why do you believe that U.S. troops may be stuck in that part of the world forever?
THOMAS BARNETT, AUTHOR, "THE PENTAGON'S NEW MAP": Well, I think you have to look at a global war on terrorism in a strategic fashion. And I think we have to do something that we as the American people have a hard time doing, and that is, think long term.
There's a variety of ways you can deal with a global threat vectoring into this country. You could try to throw up firewalls around the United States, try to keep them from entering. I don't think that you will accomplish much in that regard, and I think that you will disable our economy, probably pervert our society over the longer term.
You can try to go around the world and hunt down these terrorists as much as possible. But as Israel has demonstrated in their efforts in the West Bank and in Gaza, it's difficult to try to track these guys down. And what you tend to generate with their assassinations or the killings of these people is more terrorists over time.
So I think the strategic long-term answer is, we have to figure out what goal is of the Osama bin Ladens and the al Qaedas of that region. And my argument is, in effect, what they're trying to do is drive the West out of the Middle East so they can effectively hijack the Middle East out of what they consider to be a corrupt world system. That means, if we're going to win a global war on terrorism on the overhaul, we have to connect the Middle East to the outside world faster than they can disconnect it. And that's not going to be accomplished by June 30th, obviously.
BLITZER: All right. Well, let's get to the specific issue of the exit strategy. As you well remember, after Vietnam, General Colin Powell, among many others, said don't get involved in a military adventure unless you have an exit strategy for getting out. There is apparently no exit strategy right now. And you think that's good?
BARNETT: Well, I think the Powell doctrine really perverted our planning and our thinking about war by always putting out there this notion that as soon as we catch the bad guys or leave enough smoking holes in terms of the enemy, that we get out of there as quickly as possible. And I think that all that does is set you up by drive-by regime change in a global war on terrorism.
I think if you are really going to create successes, you are going to have to integrate the societies that are left behind once you take down the bad leadership, like a Saddam Hussein. And by focusing on an exit strategy, we basically field what I call a first-half team in a league that keeps scoring till the end of the game.
In the second half of this effort, we are under-funded, we are under-manned, we are under-equipped. And right now we're under the gun in Iraq. And that's a problem, because it creates, I would argue, with our troops on the ground there, a sense of strategic despair, that there's simply too many of the opposition to deal with.
We can't possibly kill or eliminate them all. And eventually our situation will become untenable, when what we need to create is a sense of strategic despair on the part of the insurgents. We need to have such a profound multinational peacekeeping presence that it's the insurgents who look around and say, my god, there are too many of these people, we can't possibly kill them all. Let's get out of Dodge.
BLITZER: Well, when you heard the president's speech last night, were you encouraged that he does have a strategic military vision to get the job done?
BARNETT: I think he largely bypassed that issue. I think what we saw last night was an enunciation of a political sort of withdrawal that allows us to claim that Iraq is once again politically in control of its country. But if you're not in control of the security of your country, you're not really in control of much of anything in Iraq. So I think what we saw last night was an attempt to make the American public feel confident about what is -- what is logically going to be described as a very long-term occupation on a military basis by describing it as a political withdrawal in time for an election season.
BLITZER: A lot of discussion over the number of U.S. troops in place in Iraq, whether there have been enough over the past year or so. What is your bottom line?
BARNETT: Well, my bottom line is, we needed to get -- we needed to make the deals to get a very robust multinational participation. Not just from a Europe, which puts in about 20,000, 25,000 when you add it all up, but we needed to get a Russia, a China, an India. We needed to get long-term strategic partners who are as incentivized, or, I would argue, more incentivized in a future stability in Iraq and a Persian Gulf.
It's China and an India that are going to depend on oil and energy coming out of the Persian Gulf far more than a Europe or the United States over the next 20, 25 years. There are deals to be made. We asked India for 17,000 peacekeepers several month back; we did not close that deal.
What have we've done since? Well, we've declared or made clear our intention of declaring Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally. I think we're sending the wrong signals to a Russia, an India, and a China. And if we the right kind of numbers there, it would be not more American, but more of those kind of country demonstrating clearly that the world is not going to leave Iraq.
BLITZER: I interviewed the other day the foreign minister of Pakistan, who made it clear that if there is a new U.N. Security Council resolution, it does have the international backing. Pakistan would presumably be willing to deploy troops, and maybe India as well. And that's what president is now pushing with the British government, a new U.N. Security Council resolution.
Will this set the stage for that kind of multinational force that you want?
BARNETT: I think the question is, how much is this administration willing to engage in the sort of horse deals and swapping that needs to be done to make these countries feel like they're getting some tremendous payoff from engaging in this somewhat risky activity on their part. I mean, there are deals to be made with Russia regarding their proposed entry into the World Trade Organization, or with regard to how they feel about NATO's expansion.
There are deals to be made with China, that is concerned about our plans for putting on missile defense shield in east Asia. And there are deals to be made with an India. The question is whether this administration is prepared in this heightened political season to make those kinds of deals, or whether this country would be better off after an election with a different administration that might be able to start with a clean slate and make those deals, which I argue we could have made months ago, but the price tags are much higher now.
BLITZER: Thomas Barnett, thanks very much for joining us.
BARNETT: Thanks for having me.