Left-wing blogs loved it when CNN’s Michael Ware rebuked Senator John McCain a few weeks ago, after McCain suggested he could safely walk through areas of Baghdad. But this morning on CNN, Ware took dead aim at Democratic schemes for pulling out of Iraq, saying that debating a U.S. troop withdrawal was “delusional” and such a step would amount to “giving Iraq to Iran...and al Qaeda. That’s who would own it.”
Ware also provided an interesting insight into how the battle in Iraq has shifted from Anbar province and Baghdad, areas where the U.S. has built up troop levels, to Diyala province, which he described as “the new frontline against al Qaeda.”
Apparently Ware has no doubt that al Qaeda has made Iraq a central front in their battle against the U.S., and that the U.S. pulling out would hand al Qaeda a huge victory.
Baghdad correspondent Ware was joined on Thursday’s CNN’s American Morning with Kyra Phillips, who has also been reporting from Iraq for the past several months. Both were in New York and talked to co-host Kiran Chetry during the program’s 8am EDT hour.
After Phillips talked about how U.S. General David Petraeus is “a straight shooter” who has admitted difficulty in some provinces in Iraq, Ware focused on the fighting northeast of Baghdad:
“Diyala is now the new frontline against al-Qaeda. I mean, to be honest, it’s a tragically bloody affair. The brigade that was there last year lost 19 troops in 12 months. The brigade there now has lost 50 in six months.
“And you listen very carefully to what General Petraeus says, he says ‘This is what we would like to see, a representative government.’ When I was in Diyala province, I interviewed a two-star general on camera for CNN, and he admitted for the first time from anyone in the military that they’re now prepared to accept options other than democracy.
“Now this is what this war was sold to the American public on, yet they’re now saying democracy isn’t mandatory, it’s an option, and that they’re prepared to see a government that can protect itself, give services to its people, and it doesn’t have to be democratic. In fact, the general said, most of our allies in this region are not democratic. So that fundamentally addresses the root cause of why America says it went to war, and now the military is saying, well, we may not get there.”
Then, after talking about the difficulty of daily life in Iraq, Chetry asked the pair “would all of us, all the American troops pulling out, help the situation?”
Phillips and Ware both loudly protested: “Oh, no! No. No way!”
Phillips zeroed in on the problems a U.S. withdrawal would cause for the Iraqis: “It would be a disaster. I mean, I had a chance to sit down with the Minister of Defense, to General Petraeus, to Admiral Fallon, head of CENTCOM. I asked them all the question whether Iraqi or U.S. military — there is no way U.S. troops could pull out. It would be a disaster. They’re doing too much training, they’re helping the Iraqis not only with security, but trying to get the government up and running. I mean, this is a country of ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ there’s so much corruption still. If the U.S. military left — they have rules of engagement, they have an idea, a focus. It would be a disaster.”
Ware agreed, but argued that winning the war was in America’s best interest: “Well, even more than that, if you just wanted to look at it in terms of purely American national interest, if U.S. troops leave now, you’re giving Iraq to Iran, a member of President Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil,’ and al Qaeda. That’s who will own it. And so, coming back now, I’m struck by the nature of the debate on Capitol Hill, how delusional it is. Whether you’re for this war, or against it; whether you’ve supported the way it’s been executed, or not; it doesn’t matter. You’ve broke it, you’ve got to fix it now. You can’t leave, or it’s going to come and blow back on America.”