Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Amy on CNN speaking about a recent deadly attack on US troops in Mosul.
BLITZER: Welcome back to the news from CNN. The high cost of war hitting — hit home today. Dozens of wounded American troops are now at a U.S. military hospital in Germany, while here at home prayers for those killed in yesterday’s attack in Mosul continuing even as we speak right now.
Joining us now with their thoughts on what’s going on, two guests. Radio talk show host and syndicated columnist, Armstrong Williams. And Amy Goodman, she’s the host of the radio TV program “Democracy Now,” joining us from New York. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Armstrong Williams, it looks like this situation in Iraq continues to get worse and worse every day.
ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It is worse. It’s sad. It’s reached an all-time low. I mean, what happened recently in Mosul was devastating, particularly to families who don’t know whether it was their loved one and then there were many that were injured. It’s a high cost for what we’re trying to do in Iraq.
And obviously, this president and his military has to do something to protect our men and women who are serving there. But it’s certainly not a reason to pull out. The United States have made a commitment. As General Wesley Clark just said, we must stay the course. Sad there will be many more lives lost, and I think it’s all leading up to the elections, which we could have armageddon before it ever takes place.
BLITZER: Amy, you think the U.S. should cut and run or stay put?
AMY GOODMAN, HOST, ”DEMOCRACY NOW”: I mean, we’re talking about a desperate situation right now. While the troops are in Iraq, they’re not being protected, and then you had — they said there were something like 30 attacks on this Mosul base, and yet still here are these people who were really — the soldiers were sitting ducks in an open tent. It goes to the incompetence, not of the soldiers on the ground, but right up the chain of command, why they’re not being protected, from national guard with their humvees not being protected right here, to the tent.
But it’s much larger than this. I mean, the number of soldiers who’ve been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have now surpassed 1,500 wounded and injured. We’re talking over 17,000 soldiers have been medevaced out, flown out of Iraq. It’s not numbers the Pentagon talks about very much. But these solders are not being protected. And of course, the Iraqi people are dying.
BLITZER: In terms of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, it’s over 1,300.
GOODMAN: But 1,500 in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
BLITZER: Well, I think you’ll agree, Amy — maybe you won’t — that the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are different.
GOODMAN: I’m talking about the number of soldiers who have died. But I would say, yes, in Iraq it’s over 1,300. And it is a very desperate situation, because as President Bush says, he is trying to bring democracy to the people of Iraq. I mean, just look at the example of Falluja. As we know from the Vietnam time, destroying the village in order to save it. The people seeing what has taken place there. Is this really helping the people of Iraq?
BLITZER: Armstrong, is that a fair comparison?
WILLIAMS: No, but it is a comparison — you know, many people are angry and upset about this war because they still don’t feel that we belong there. Obviously, President Bush was re-elected because the American people wanted him to complete this mission. I think the bull’s eye is on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
I think the president is correct in keeping him on board, especially given these elections that are upon us, but something has to be done. I’m certainly not advocating that the president gives him an early retirement, because I think he’s done a lot of good, but something has to be done because if this situation worsens, I don’t know how much of an appetite the American people will have for this.
BLITZER: What’s your recommendation, Amy? What do you think needs to be done in Iraq right now, given the situation as it currently stands?
GOODMAN: I mean, the United States should never have never invaded Iraq.
BLITZER: All right. We know. But what about now?
GOODMAN: And at this point, I think that the U.S. clearly — U.S. soldiers on the ground are only a provocation at this point. Iraq needs to be in control of its own destiny. We need a world community that is not increasingly angered by the United States. A world community coming to help Iraq, led by…
BLITZER: So what should the U.S. do?
GOODMAN: … Iraqis who are elected by the people of Iraq, not appointed, like people like Ayad Allawi, the unelected prime minister of Iraq.
BLITZER: So what do you want the U.S. to do? Let me ask you that again.
GOODMAN: I mean, the United States needs to leave Iraq. And the United States needs to leave Iraq now because the casualties are Iraqi and the casualties are U.S., but the U.S. on the ground in Iraq is only making matters worse.
BLITZER: You know, Armstrong, a lot of people out there, a lot of Americans agree with her. If you look at the public opinion polls, they’re not sure it’s worth it for more American soldiers to die for a mission whose purpose is unclear to them right now.
WILLIAMS: You know, I think the agenda of the United States and the purpose that we have in mind is certainly not the agenda of the people in Iraq. I think we underestimated these insurgents, I think the president finally acknowledged the kind of influence and the kind of power that they have there. We can talk about somebody having a backpack in Mosul that detonated, but it looks like a rocket that caused that kind of damage. .
BLITZER: We don’t know what is was yet.
WILLIAMS: We just don’t what it was. And I just think it’s something that we have to examine. I’m — as you know, I used to be gung-ho about this war, but as I continue to see the death toll and the fact that our men are sitting ducks, I mean, we have to examine our policies and we have come to the conclusions that are in the best interests of the United States in the long run.
GOODMAN: The American …
BLITZER: So you’re beginning to have serious doubts. Go ahead, Amy.
GOODMAN: The American people are coming to strong conclusions. The latest ABC News/”Washington Post” poll says 60 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with what Bush is doing in Iraq. The popularity of Rumsfeld has plummeted to 35 percent. And we can’t say enough about how bad the situation is when it comes to U.S. soldiers, military contractors, CIA, Pentagon involved in the torture of prisoners.
WILLIAMS: There’s something we forget that is equally important — far too many Iraqis have lost their lives than Americans. They’re paying the ultimate price. And there are many Iraqis, including Mr. Allawi and others, who want America there. They want them to stick by them. They do not want them to abandon the cause there. And to leave them in a situation like that, which is just the worst thing that we could do in our reputation abroad.
So it’s a tough situation, because the president has some very tough decisions to make over the next few weeks.
GOODMAN: I mean that runs counter to what people are saying on the ground in Iraq. I mean, you’re talking about a cross-section of Iraqi society that wants U.S. soldiers out. This is a very desperate situation. The figures at the Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Baghdad University study suggesting that more than 100,000 Iraqis have died with the invasion and occupation. You are talking about a population that may not agree on many points, but on the issue of the U.S. getting out, I think we are talking about most people, maybe not those chosen by the U.S. government, by the Bush administration, but by most Iraqis wanting the U.S. out.
BLITZER: Very quickly.
WILLIAMS: I think that’s an unfair comment. I think there are many Iraqis, I mean, not just those in the leadership, that wants the United States to stay, but as they begin to see the toll that it’s taking on their country, they begin to wonder if it’s worth it in the long run.
BLITZER: All right. Armstrong Williams, Amy Goodman, good discussion. Thanks very much to both of you for joining us.
GOODMAN: Thank you, Wolf.
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
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