Why We Lost: Retired U.S. General Calls for Public Inquiry into Failures of Iraq, Afghan Wars

November 12, 2014
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Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger (Ret.)

served 35 years in the U.S. Army before retiring in 2013. He commanded the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team in Iraq in 2005-06, the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad in 2009-10, and the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013. His recent book is Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, a retired three-star U.S. general who helped command troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, joins us to discuss his new book, "Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars." Bolger writes: "I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism. It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. So do my peers. And thanks to our problem, now all of America has a problem, to wit: two lost campaigns and a war gone awry." Bolger is now calling for a public inquiry along the lines of the 9/11 Commission to look into why the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone so poorly.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The United States marked Veterans Day on Tuesday with a series of events nationwide. Speaking at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said honoring the nation’s troops includes questioning the policies that send them to war.

DEFENSE SECRETARY CHUCK HAGEL: The wall reminds us to be honest in our telling of history. There is nothing to be gained by glossing over the darker portions of a war, the Vietnam War, that bitterly divided America. We must openly acknowledge past mistakes, and we must learn from past mistakes, because that is how we avoid repeating past mistakes. The wall reminds us that we must never take the security of our country for granted, ever. And we must always question our policies that send our citizens to war, because our nation’s policies must always be worthy, worthy of the sacrifices we ask of the men and women who defend our country.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel yesterday. Well, we turn now to a retired three-star U.S. general who helped command troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger has just published a book titled Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. He writes, quote, "I am a United States Army general, and I lost the Global War on Terrorism. It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous; step one is admitting you have a problem. Well, I have a problem. So do my peers. And thanks to our problem, now all of America has a problem, to wit: two lost campaigns and a war gone awry."

AMY GOODMAN: In a piece published this week in The New York Times headlined "The Truth About [the] Wars," General Bolger called for a public inquiry, along the lines of the 9/11 Commission, to look into why the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone so poorly.

To find out more, we’re joined by General Daniel Bolger, served 35 years in the U.S. Army before retiring last year, commanded the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team in Iraq, 2005 to ’06; the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad, 2009 to ’10; and the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan from 2011 to ’13. His military awards include five Bronze [Star] medals, including one for valor, and the Combat Action Badge.

We welcome you to Democracy Now!

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Thanks very much, Amy, Juan.

AMY GOODMAN: How did the U.S. lose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: I think that the simplest way to say it is that we misapplied the forces of our armed forces. We didn’t use them in the way that they’re trained and prepared. You know, Senator, now Secretary, Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, like his brother, served together in the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam. His statement there is a very powerful. You’ve got to have a public debate before you commit American military forces. We did have that after 9/11, but it was very rushed. We had that again in 2002 before going into Iraq. We never continued the debate. The initial phases of both wars went successfully from a military standpoint, but we never followed it up by having a discussion: Is it appropriate to send thousands of young American men and women into foreign countries to go house to house and try to sort out who’s a terrorist, who’s a villager? That’s something we tried in Southeast Asia, and it didn’t work. And yet we repeated it once in Afghanistan and then again in Iraq. And that’s very disturbing, and I think that led directly to our failure in both campaigns.

AMY GOODMAN: The surge in Iraq?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: The surge in Iraq was a—the word is what it means: A surge is a temporary measure. And it was a temporary increase in troops. The best way I would sort of use an analogy is if a patient is ill and has a fever, you can give them a lot of aspirin and bring the temperature down, but when you stop giving the aspirin, the underlying fever is still there. So the surge in Iraq gave some temporary relief—and we did a surge in Afghanistan, as well, in 2009, '10, ’11—but it wasn't permanent, and it didn’t solve the underlying problem, which is to say that both countries have an insurgency, and the solution to those insurgencies, if there’s going to be a solution, rests in the hands of the Iraqis and the Afghans.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But the enormous amount not only of casualties that occurred on the U.S. side as well as the Iraqi side in the war, and then this enormous buildup of an Iraqi army trained by the United States that then essentially disintegrated with the rise of ISIS, how did that happen?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Well, we shouldn’t be surprised by that. The old Iraqi army—we had fought them twice, in '91 and 2003—they also disintegrated when we came into contact with them. ISIS had a similar experience. It takes many decades to build a decent army. And a few years of training, a couple days at the rifle range, some marching around is not going to do the trick. We've had experience building armies in other countries—I think particularly the South Koreans, who did not do all that well in the Korean War in 1950 to '53, but now have an army capable of defending their country and, in fact, going around the world and doing United Nations missions. South Korean troops served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and served with distinction. But that was an effort of decades. And it does not require hundreds of thousands of troops. It doesn't require fleets of jet bombers. It requires a small number of trainers and a long-term commitment to a solution that the people of that country, the Afghans and the Iraqis, want.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, you state in your book that the United States military is essentially not prepared to mount counterinsurgency wars. Conventional wars is one thing, but the counterinsurgencies is a whole other world. Could you expand on that?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: I could. I think our challenge is—we’re very good at conventional wars. In fact, we were so good at it that myself and other commanders thought, this time we’re going to fight Vietnam and get it right, because our quality young men and women, so brave, so tough, so well supported by the American people with equipment, training and their families—we thought this time we’re going to pull it off.

And we missed the fundamental strategic error of that thought, and it’s an error based in arrogance, hubris, whatever word you want to use. And that is, by their nature, when a country is having a problem with rebels or with insurgents, the solution must lie with the local people. The solution will be partially political in nature. There may be a violent component to it. There may be deals cut. But it’s not something that hundreds of thousands of American or Western troops can solve, no matter how well they’re trained at military skills. So I think we missed a fundamental strategic point there.

And I know I definitely blame myself. I am concerned about my own failings in that area, because I studied Vietnam in the Army War College and in the other Army schools. I knew what we had done wrong there. And in my arrogance, I made the error, along with many of my peers, of thinking, well, this time, because our troops are better, we might pull it off. It doesn’t change the fundamentals on the ground.

AMY GOODMAN: You have called a commission to look at the flaws of what happened—you’ve called for a kind of commission. In June, we spoke to Richard Clarke, the nation’s top former counterterrorism official. He said he believes George W. Bush is guilty of war crimes for launching the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He served as national coordinator for the security and counterterrorism during Bush’s first year in office. He resigned in 2003 following the Iraq invasion. This is a part of his response, whether George Bush should be held on war—should be tried for war crimes.

RICHARD CLARKE: I think things that they authorized probably fall within the area of war crimes. Whether that would be productive or not, I think, is a discussion we could all have. But we have established procedures now with the International Criminal Court in The Hague where people who take actions as serving presidents or prime ministers of countries have been indicted and have been tried. So the precedent is there to do that sort of thing.

AMY GOODMAN: Richard Clarke went on to say that then President George Bush had wanted him to place the blame for 9/11 on Iraq.

RICHARD CLARKE: I resigned, quit the government altogether, testified before congressional committees and before the 9/11 Commission, wrote a book revealing what the Bush administration had and had not done to stop 9/11 and what they did after the fact, how the president wanted me, after the fact, to blame Iraq for the 9/11 attack.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Richard Clarke, former top terrorism—counterterrorism czar. Your response?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Well, I would tell you, I don’t know that war crimes or that is in order; I don’t have enough knowledge about those aspects. I will tell you, though, where Richard Clarke is on very firm ground is the seriousness and the importance of a public hearing as to what went wrong in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

You know, if you go back to the Korean War, that I mentioned earlier, in 1951, there were major hearings. We called in MacArthur, who had been fired by that time, the general in the theater—he came and testified; Omar Bradley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Dean Acheson, the secretary of state—pretty much everybody but President Truman testified in front of those congressional hearings. Senator Fulbright called similar hearings during the Vietnam War. And in that case, the field commander general, William Westmoreland, did come back and testify.

Where are those hearings on this war? Where is the similar event? People like Richard Clarke need to be called in so that they can explain fully what they know, and then it can be corroborated and put to the full light of day, so the American people then can say, through their elected representatives, "Hey, we think this is a good idea. We want you to stick with it and train these guys," or, "Hey, this has not worked out. Let’s do something different." But the key thing we need is a public hearing. The last public vote on war or peace in Iraq or Vietnam was in October of 2002 with the use of authorization for use of force for Iraq. Other than that, there’s just been the annual budgets. And despite a lot of rhetoric, every year that budget gets approved.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask about the whole issue that you raise not only of what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, but how the branding of the war on terrorism has expanded to so many other countries, some of which Americans don’t know anything about. You mention that just the label, Operation Enduring Freedom, there was an OEF in CCA, in the Caribbean and Central America; OEF-HOA in the Horn of Africa; OEF-K in Kyrgyzstan; an OEF-P in the Philippines.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Yes.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Given the fact that so many Arab and Muslim countries have now been targeted for this expansion of our war on terrorism, how do you, as a general, as a military man, deal with this perception, growing perception, in the Arab and Muslim world that there is almost a civilizational battle—

AMY GOODMAN: Crusade.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —between the West and their region of the world?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: It’s obviously a great concern. And remember, we should not forget, when we speak of this as Americans, the primary victims so far of the war on terrorism in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaign have been the Iraqis and the Afghans. We’ve caused some of that. We didn’t mean to. I can tell you, we tried very hard to prevent civilian casualties, but when you use modern weapons, you can’t always be that careful, and especially when you’re trying to pick out an enemy who’s wearing civilian clothes. It’s just very difficult. The enemy has also inflicted casualties on their own populations, and these are civil wars, in many ways.

So, the primary victims of this war on terrorism numerically have been from the Arab and Muslim world. You would think there would be common cause, that we could get together and find some ground where we could agree on who is the enemy here and what to go after. And that’s where I think we’ve really had a challenge, because we don’t hold those meetings, either. We tend to—we tend to stay very focused on threats to the American homeland—I’m glad we are. I don’t want to see another 9/11 here or any attack like that. It’s horrific. But as a result, we end up in a lot of places with our intelligence entities and with our special forces chasing a lot of people.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have to be retired, General, to say something like this?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: No, and I’m glad you ask that, Amy. Believe it or not—and Secretary Hagel is a good example of that. When we close the doors and have a meeting in the military or with members of government—I met with Secretary of Defense Hagel; I’ve met with his predecessor, Secretary Panetta; his predecessor, Secretary Gates; his predecessor, Secretary Rumsfeld; you know, Secretaries Rice, Kerry, etc. You know, we get to have our say with all those people. And when the door is closed, we can be very honest about what we think or don’t think. But there is a tradition of civilian control of the military in the United States. And when the decision is made, you salute and carry out that decision. Once the door opens, that is the decision that you carry out to the best of your ability. And if you can’t carry it out, then you have to do like Richard Clarke and say, "OK, I can no longer work in this organization."

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Can you talk a little bit about your personal experiences as a commander when—particular incidents that really drove home to you the failures of our policies and of our efforts in those areas?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: When I was first there in 2005, in the spring of 2005, in Iraq, my duties involved going out with both U.S. and Iraqi forces. And I would go out into the villages, and it was very obvious, almost immediately, that as much as we’ve tried to develop intelligence and tried to figure out who’s who, you’re going into a village where the notification of the target individual you’re looking for says "40-plus-year-old male, name is Mohammed." Well, in a village of a thousand people, there’s 500 people who could answer to that description. And you’re trying to sort out, so you’re going into homes, you’re going into marketplaces, you’re going into schools, trying to figure out who’s the enemy. You don’t speak the language, so you’re working through your Iraqi counterparts in all this.

And it became painfully obvious to me that—that is, the armed forces of a superpower, if this is what we were reduced to, we were following the wrong policy. This was not a fight that we should be doing. And it’s a—I think it’s a very legitimate fight for the Iraqis to determine the future of their country, or the Afghans. We can help them, but they have to take the lead. And I believe when they take the lead, what we’ve seen is they use a much larger political component. They cut deals. They make arrangements. They bring people in. They don’t feel like they have to hunt down and kill everybody.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to a piece we did yesterday. Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro did this film, Body of War, about one young man, a veteran named Tomas Young—

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —who died this weekend. This clip goes to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner of 2005. It includes President Bush joking about the missing weapons of mass destruction. This is what it is.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Those weapons of mass destruction got to be somewhere. Nope, no weapons over there. Maybe under here.

AMY GOODMAN: There you have it. There you have it, President Obama at the White House—President Bush—

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: President Bush.

AMY GOODMAN: —at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, joking in 2005, as thousands of U.S. soldiers were dying because the pretext was weapons of mass destruction, looking under the tables of his Oval Office, saying, "No weapons there, no weapons here."

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Yeah, well, I mean, that’s—you should never joke about serious business like that. That’s obviously some poor judgment on the part of the president to make light of that. But I—

AMY GOODMAN: But he’s expressing a profounder truth, as well, even if he is laughing about it.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: To a degree. And I think we need to remember that, you know, whatever we think about the going into Iraq, there were a series of votes in the U.S. Congress, going back to the early ’90s, and in the United Nations, that identified Saddam Hussein as a problem for multiple things. The chemical weapons program was one thing. The New York Times has recently, in a very good article, explained his residual program that did exist. I saw it when I was over there. There were both nerve gas and mustard gas rounds that were still there. They were not modern, they were not in great shape, but they were present, and the enemy did sometimes use them.

AMY GOODMAN: And that the U.S. helped to provide him with.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: During the '80s, yeah, when they were fighting the Iranians, helped to provide the technology, for sure. But with that in mind, the other things that Saddam Hussein had, you know, on his ledger that we shouldn't forget, tremendously dangerous to his neighboring countries, had invaded several of them, including Iran and Kuwait.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. supported him in—with his war in Iran.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Well, in Iran, yes, but certainly not in Kuwait. I mean, that was the reason for the first war against Iraq in ’90, ’91. But he had done that. He had obviously killed a large number of his own civilians, to include using chemical weapons against both Shia Arabs and Kurds. And it followed the Gulf War with a repressive campaign against the Marsh Arabs in the south and the Kurds in the north. And then the other is a connection to terror and terror groups, that was not inconsequential. I mean, Abu Musab Zarqawi, who was later the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was already leading Ansar al-Sunna in northern Iraq in 2002, before we came in.

AMY GOODMAN: But this was Kurdistan, which the U.S. was supporting, the northern—northern Iraq.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Well, we had an arrangement with Kurdistan. But the other thing I would mention, Abu Abbas, the mastermind of Palestinian Liberation Front, the death of Leon Klinghoffer in 1985 aboard the cruise ship, Achille Lauro, he was a guest in Baghdad.

AMY GOODMAN: But President Bush saw that it didn’t fly to use other examples. The imminent threat to the United States, what they settled on, the reason the U.S. invaded Iraq, was weapons of mass destruction, because that could hurt people in the United States. And that proved to be a pretext and a lie. My question—

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Well, I don’t agree that it’s a lie. I mean, that I can’t go with, because there were weapons over there. I think we misunderstood the scale of them. "Lie" would imply that the president or somebody knew there was nothing there and said, "Well, let’s say we do it anyway." And I haven’t seen any evidence of that.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, what about Richard Clarke saying, right after 9/11, he bumps into Bush in the White House, and Bush says to him, "We’ve got to get Iraq," and he looks at him like, "What are you talking about? They have nothing to do with 9/11"?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Yeah, there were similar statements in Bob Woodward’s book, you know, Bush at War, where—same things, where—the initial question. Part of it was because Iraq was on our threat radar. What the United States knew about Afghanistan in 2001 was very minimal. We did know about Iraq, and we knew they were trouble.

AMY GOODMAN: Just last week, I went to Vienna, Austria, and I interviewed Robert Kelley

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: —who is a former director of the IAEA for the Iraq Action Team—

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: —what is known as a U.N. weapons inspector. He expressed regret over the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying his team’s observations on the ground in Iraq went unheeded by U.S. officials.

ROBERT KELLEY: I feel very bad about what happened in 2003. It’s extremely embarrassing that the country ignored the people who were in Iraq making the observations and didn’t take us into account. And when the U.S. sent this team in, two months after the war or so, the leader of the team, after two months, quit. And his statement was: "We were all wrong. They had no weapons of mass destruction." Well, we weren’t all wrong. The people who were in the field were saying there’s nothing there.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Robert Kelley, former director at the IAEA for the Iraq Action Team, what we call a U.N. weapons inspector.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: Saying they weren’t there.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: No, I mean, again, residual program was what existed, several—as The New York Times pointed out, several thousand rounds. We certainly saw the remainder of that. I mean, when I was in Baghdad, they were still removing yellow cake uranium leftovers from the Tuwaitha plant, the old Osirak plant that the Israelis had bombed in 1981. So there were pieces and parts. And intelligence work is never—is never complete. I think one of the things that we’ve certainly got to remember is the atmosphere of the time. I mean, one thing that interested me when I was researching the book we’re talking about here, the vote for the authorization for the use of force in Iraq in 2002 was even more decisive than the one in January of ’91. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Hillary Clinton supported it.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Among others, you know, John Edwards, you know, the current secretary of defense, as well.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to—

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Or secretary of state, rather.

AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to the next question, we’ve got to break, but we’re going to come back, and Juan’s got a question for you. Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger is our guest. His book is Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. He served 35 years in the U.S. Army before retiring in 2013. We’ll be back with him in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Our guest is Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger. He has written a book called Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, served 35 years in the U.S. Army before retiring in 2013. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, General Bolger, I wanted to ask you about a couple of other strategic decisions of the United States in both Iraq and Afghanistan: in Iraq, the decision early on not only to topple Saddam Hussein, but to basically purge all Baathists from the government and military, the result being basically a disintegration of governing structures in the entire country and now the virtual dismemberment of Iraq as a functioning state. And also, in Afghanistan, going in after al-Qaeda and ending up, for 10 years, fighting the Taliban—

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Right, who had never attacked the United States.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Who had never attacked the United States. And could you talk about both of those?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: I will. In the case of Iraq, misunderstanding of the history of Iraq, the role of the Baathist Party, false analogies of what he had experienced going after the Nazis in occupied Germany or imperial Japan, going against the imperial government remnants in 1945—didn’t fully understand that the Baathists and the Sunni Arab population, a big overlap, and that those were all the technocrats, those were the educated folks, those were the people who not just ran the police, the military and the intelligence services, they also ran the power, the water, the education system, the hospitals. And so, when you go in and sign a blanket order and say, "Well, these people can have nothing to do with society," not only have you disenfranchised and essentially created the core of what will be the insurgency—the insurgency, by the way, that still provides a core of fighters for ISIS to this day—the other thing you’ve done is you’ve basically chopped out modern society for the rest of society that had depended on these guys to keep the lights on, to keep the roads clear, to keep all these other things done. Not well thought out, and as a result, very difficult to reverse. And one of the things—in this case, we were a victim of our own success. Sir John Keegan, the British military historian who recently passed away, he commented in his book on the Iraq War. He said, you know, we talk about disbanding the Iraqi army. The Iraqi army had already disbanded itself in the face of the U.S. invasion. So we would have not just had to, you know, kept these people in government; we would have had to call them back, make sure they—you know, figure out who was who. It would have been quite a process, and it was not something that we thought out at all.

And then you go to the other country, Afghanistan, you know, you correctly said, the people who attacked us on 9/11 were Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network. They were resident in Afghanistan, but the Taliban that ran Afghanistan, although a pretty unsavory group and trouble in their own right, their dealings and activities were all within their own country. They were not an international terrorist group. But to get to al-Qaeda, we felt like we had to go through the Taliban.

AMY GOODMAN: Fifteen of the 19 of them were from Saudi Arabia.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Very true, exactly right, because al-Qaeda, international terrorist group. And from an individual, Osama bin Laden himself, from Yemen, although a Saudi family, resident for a while in Sudan. He was an international businessman. His father was a very famous and well-known and wealthy construction contractor.

AMY GOODMAN: General Bolger, what if war was simply not an option? What if it was off the table?

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Well, I’ll tell you, Amy, that’s one thing that always needs to be brought up when we make discussions, decisions about should we go to war. There always needs to be a voice that says, "What if we just don’t do this?" And the military people sometimes have been that voice. You know, very controversial figure in the war, although I admire him a great deal, is General Colin Powell. He was that voice in the first Gulf War, based on his very difficult experiences in Vietnam. He had been an adviser to Vietnamese forces. He had been with the Americal Division at the time of the My Lai massacre. You know, he knew what he was doing. And he was the guy counseling the first Bush administration, saying, "Be careful about this. Think hard about this. Don’t go to—you know, do what you need to do." By the second war, he’s a voice crying in the desert, and nobody’s listening to him.

AMY GOODMAN: You rarely hear the questioning generals, people like you, when it comes to actually making the decision, in the media. You rarely hear them. You hear a lot of generals. You don’t know about their connections to military contractors and how they’ll benefit personally financially.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: I have none.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think there’s a problem with that? That if someone is in the military and is being interviewed, they should—you should hear, "They work for Boeing," "They work for Lockheed Martin."

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: I think that degree of transparency is important in our society. And I can tell you this, from any other line of work, they would certainly identify what the guy was doing for a living. I can tell you where I work: I work at North Carolina State University, and I’m an adjunct professor, and I enjoy teaching history to the men and women who go there.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And this whole issue of the—we’ve seen off and on over the years the problems with the contracting of these wars, of the private contractors—

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Sure.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —that come in and make huge killings off of the military, servicing the military, off of the presence of the military in these countries, that they, in essence, fuel political support for the war. And we’ve just got about 30 seconds.

LT. GEN. DANIEL BOLGER: Yeah, certainly, there’s that aspect. And I think, in a comprehensive look at the war, that’s got to be one of the things we look at. You know, why are these contractors there? Did we form our military incorrectly that we have to buy all these contracts to do the job?

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much. General Daniel Bolger has been our guest, lieutenant general, who has written the book Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. He served 35 years in the U.S. Army before retiring last year.

I’ll be speaking at Maplewood High School tomorrow night, Thursday night, at 7:30. Check our website. And on Saturday, I’ll be in Berlin, Germany, at Campact’s 10th anniversary. Go to democracynow.org.


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