Guest: Jay Garner, Thomas Friedman, John McCain
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: President Bush declares the election in Iraq a success, as Democrats go on the defensive, calling for an exit strategy just days before the president‘s State of the Union address.
Tonight, Senator John McCain on Iraq and the political background here in Washington.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews. We‘ll be joined by Senator John McCain in just a moment. And also this hour, General Norman Schwarzkopf will be with us.
But, first, we get the latest from Baghdad one day after the historic election in Iraq.
HARDBALL correspondent David Shuster joins us now.
David, your feeling. I would love to get this from you tonight, having gone through this moment of history. You‘ll be able to say you were there.
What did you see?
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, I think what was so remarkable is, if you look at today‘s news, you have an Iraqi interior minister already engaged in political positioning vis-a-vis the new assembly that‘s going to be formed. This is a guy who has his own political ambitions. He was the one who said today that U.S. forces ought to take off within 18 months.
Everybody knows that the Iraqi security situation may not be solved by then. And here you have a politician looking at the new assembly, looking at possibly wanting to be the president, the vice president, the prime minister, or a leader of some coalition, taking a hard line so that he can be more appealing to some of the more religious elements will be part of this assembly.
From a pure political perspective, that was fascinating. As far as the sort of the sights and sounds and the feel of it, clearly, Chris, there was such tension in the air leading up to this Election Day. Nobody really knew if there would be a bloodbath, how many people were going to turn out to vote. Clearly, it was a military success. The U.S. forces did an incredible job of making sure that voters could go to the polls.
There were lots of explosions. There were a lot of suicide bombers, but it was not nearly as awful as a lot of people had feared. And then, finally, when you see the courage of those millions of Iraqis that were going up to vote, even though there‘s still confusion about what the actual turnout was, just the pictures of jubilation and confidence that seemed to sweep the streets yesterday and again today, when U.S. forces were on patrol and Iraqis were coming up and thanking them for providing security, so that they could start this democratic process.
It really, really was just an amazing sight.
MATTHEWS: Anything different today about your own security, the security of the American community there?
In fact, Chris, there was a very stark reminder of just how dangerous this place is. Four Marines were killed today in gun battles with insurgents. And then there was the release of a videotape by Al-Jazeera that apparently had been shot by insurgents, claiming to have shot down that British transport plane that crashed on Election Day.
That was the worst single disaster, single loss of life that the British have had in this war, 10 people killed. And so it clearly remains a very dangerous place, not only dangerous for the U.S. forces that are on patrol, but also dangerous for all Westerners.
There‘s still today no way that any western journalists would be able to look you in the eye and say I feel comfortable walking down the streets. That does not happen.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, David Shuster in Baghdad.
Now Senator John McCain.
Let me ask you about how you feel about yesterday.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I feel wonderful. I feel that the Iraqi people, by going to the polls in the numbers that they did, authenticated what the president said in his inaugural speech, that all people seek freedom and democracy and want to govern themselves.
And there‘s a certain elitist attitude around this country and in Europe that somehow, because they are Iraqis, they don‘t want to choose their leadership and govern themselves. I think it is a direct contradiction to that.
But let me also add, it is the end of the—it‘s the beginning of the end. In other words, we have to do a lot of things. But it would have been the beginning of the end if—well, I guess I‘m all screwed up in my metaphors. What I‘m saying is, this is a first step that‘s a long process. You have just heard David talk about politicians positioning themselves.
MCCAIN: Security has to improve. There‘s a lot of things that can happen now.
Let me just add one point. What‘s the plan? You just mentioned in your opening remarks, the Democrats want the plan. The plan is simple. Beef up the Iraqi military and law enforcement to the point where they can secure the environment themselves and a gradual withdrawal, in my view, first enclaves of American military and eventual withdrawal.
But you cannot set an exact timetable for that, because you don‘t know how difficult it is going to be to put down this insurgency. But it is a marvelous and wonderful first step.
MATTHEWS: How does it work now? We see there‘s still an insurgency that is alive. But we also see a majority of the people, clearly, who want to vote and participate in democracy. Who wins, Athens or Sparta here? Don‘t the people who want to vote have to arm themselves sufficiently? I guess I‘m just answering your question. Arm themselves to be able to beat the other guys in the streets?
MCCAIN: Well, you know, the guys in the streets are obviously well armed, well equipped, well trained, fanatical.
What we did here was take first step in changing the dynamic, which was a losing dynamic, and that was insurgencies against U.S. military, into a dynamic where it is insurgents against the Iraqi government. We win if the dynamic is the second one. But training and equipping and making capable the Iraqi police and armed forces is going to be very, very tough.
And, in all due respect to the administration, I don‘t think that we‘re as far along in that effort as perhaps some people think. But I do believe that that is a vital and necessary ingredient.
MATTHEWS: Are we good at that?
MCCAIN: I think it is not so much that we‘re good or bad at it. You have got to get people who are motivated and also—I mean, suppose you‘re a policeman in Mosul. You go home at night and your chances are, you‘re going to be killed.
We‘ve got to—that situation is going to be hard. And we can improve it. But what we‘ve laid down is the predicate that Iraqi people want a government and to govern themselves, rather than want these insurgents, who basically want to go back to the old days or want to assume control in an anti-democratic, even fascist society.
MATTHEWS: Let me go through some tricky questions about the United States‘ role. And we‘ve seen demonstrated a commitment of the Iraqi people to some kind of democracy. They seem to want it by showing up and risking their lives, as you say.
Are we going to play a role in picking their leader or are we staying out?
MCCAIN: I think we stay out.
MATTHEWS: Like, Chalabi was on the payroll in this country for $340,000 a month up until last year. He seems to be the favorite of a lot of the hawks who support the war. Do you think they should play a role either through their good offices? Or should American as individuals stay out of this thing?
MCCAIN: I think the Iraqi people made a statement. We want to govern ourselves.
They don‘t want the Americans to interfere in that choice. Otherwise, we run the risk of an illegitimate government, which is what was the key and fundamental ingredient in losing the Vietnam War. The people of South Vietnam never believed that their government was legitimate.
MATTHEWS: Do you think they‘ll think their government is legitimate if the guy who was on our payroll until recently to the score of three-some-billion dollars a year win the presidency over there?
MCCAIN: I think that would be related to how many votes he gets. But if it is not U.S. interference, then they can pick whoever they want.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the recent problem we‘ve had with maintaining our fiduciary responsibilities over there. Nine billion dollars has been lost through the cracks.
I know there‘s a lot of money involved over there, something like $200 billion so far, maybe another 80 going on.
MATTHEWS: And 120 and 80 going in.
But how do you lose $9 billion? How do you lose it off the books?
MCCAIN: I don‘t know.
You know, we made many mistakes, and I‘ve talked about them on this program a lot. And I‘m not sure today I want to revisit all of them, because I‘m so happy.
MATTHEWS: How about the new—but the new problem is this $8 billion.
MCCAIN: Let me point out...
MATTHEWS: Nine billion.
MCCAIN: Let me point out that, after the war, the first responsibility was—after the “combat phase”—unquote—the responsibility was given to the State Department. Then it was shifted over to the Department of Defense.
Maybe that was part of the problem, is that there wasn‘t a good government kind of scenario there. But I think all that is going to be clearly investigated and looked at and find out what happened to sizable amounts of money, apparently.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the—well, you‘re a Republican. So I guess I can predict this answer. But here‘s your shot. Nancy Pelosi, people like that—Harry Reid, I should point out, is the one, not Nancy, but Harry Reid, the senator from Nevada, who is the Republican—or the Democratic leader right now, he‘s—as we said in the opening, already calling for removal of U.S. troops.
MCCAIN: I think their timing couldn‘t have been worse. Their timing could not have been worse than to say it on the day that the Iraqis display their desire.
MATTHEWS: Do you think they might be tone-deaf?
MCCAIN: I was going to say.
MATTHEWS: I was watching John Kerry yesterday. And he showed a lot of guts in the campaign. He‘s a pal of yours, even though different party.
MATTHEWS: And I thought that was the most off-key presentation I had ever seen.
MCCAIN: This is one day I would think where we would say, gee, this is a wonderful event. This really authenticates what America is all about, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians and vegetarians. Bring democracy.
MATTHEWS: He restrained his emotions pretty well, didn‘t he, yesterday?
MATTHEWS: John Kerry.
MCCAIN: I think so. I think so.
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you think of the Democrats sharpshooting now, saying come home?
MCCAIN: Well, I don‘t...
MATTHEWS: As a policy suggestion, is it something that we all want the world to know we‘re eventually coming home and we might as well argue about when or...
MCCAIN: Sure we‘re going to come home.
But the fact is that the key to it is not when the troops come home. It is when we stop reading—today, Shuster just reported four brave young Marines were killed. It is the casualties that creates the discontent amongst Americans. We‘ve been in Bosnia for, what, 10, 12, years, Kosovo for 10 years, South Korea for 50 years. Americans aren‘t upset about that.
But we have got to get the casualty rate down. And that‘s the transfer of well-trained and well-equipped Iraqis to handle the security situation.
MATTHEWS: Would you be happy—we‘ve been there to help get them democracy started. But would you be happy with that being the home of a U.S. garrison, like Guantanamo or Germany all those years, where we have 50,000 troops permanently stationed in that country?
MCCAIN: No. I would hope that we could bring them all home. I would hope that we would probably leave some military advisers, as we have in other countries, to help them with their training and equipment and that kind of stuff.
MATTHEWS: But you‘ve heard the ideological argument to keep U.S. forces in the Middle East. I‘ve heard it from the hawks. They say, keep United States military presence in the Middle East, like we have with the 7th Fleet in Asia. We have the German—the North Korean—the South Korean component. Do you think we could get along without it?
MCCAIN: I not only think we could get along without it, but I think one of our big problems has been the fact that many Iraqis resent American military presence.
And I don‘t pretend to know exactly Iraqi public opinion. But as soon as we can reduce our visibility as much as possible, the better I think it is going to be.
MATTHEWS: So no Guantanamo in Iraq?
MCCAIN: I don‘t see any reason for it. I believe that Iraqi military is going to have to require a lot of equipment and training from the U.S. And so that would require U.S. military advisers. But—and, by the way, they‘re going to be a pretty wealthy country. It‘s not that they‘re going to be on the dole.
I‘m still waiting for them to—remember the promise they would pay for the war with their oil?
MATTHEWS: I won‘t push that right now. It is so obviously not going to happen. Anyway, thank you, Senator John McCain. We‘ll be seeing you on State of the Union night.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And, coming up, will Iraq‘s new leaders be able to unite their country? Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf is coming here right away. He commanded U.S. troops during the first Gulf War. He has got some interesting things to say, I‘m told, about the Defense Department, including Rumsfeld.
And later, “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman will be here with his reaction to yesterday‘s election. He‘s also buoyant.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, General Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of Operation Desert Storm, on what happens in Iraq now that the election is over.
HARDBALL returns after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
General Norman Schwarzkopf led U.S. forces during Operation Desert Storm.
General Schwarzkopf, I want to quote to you something you said about the upcoming Iraqi elections when we spoke in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF, NBC MILITARY ANALYST: I think it would be a very severe body blow if one entire population like the Shiites refused to—or like the Sunnis—refused to participate in the government and refused to participate in the elections. That would be very, very tough on what we‘re trying to accomplish over there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So how did we do yesterday, given your bench—your baseline you set in November, General?
SCHWARZKOPF: I think we did all right. I mean, it is a shame, a real shame, that the Sunnis have chosen to exclude themselves. But, indeed, they‘ve excluded themselves, rather than somebody else excluding them.
At the same time, I think it is great to see that the Shiites have come up the way they have. I think that‘s a very pleasant surprise. And, of course, the Kurds have always been disenfranchised and now they‘re no longer disenfranchised. So, on balance, I think things turned out pretty darn well.
MATTHEWS: How do you project a one-day wonder? And it was certainly that, with everyone coming out, especially the Shiites, up to 90 percent turnouts in some places, and the Kurds. How do you project that forward to whether this country of Iraq will be able to support and really support when it come to the crunch a democracy?
SCHWARZKOPF: Well, that‘s the $64,000 question.
Of course, you know, they are being put into a position now where they have a chance to do that. It is what they choose to do with that position as they move forward and, of course, what happens to the Sunnis. They—they certainly aren‘t going to sit back and not be a participant if the other two parties continue to grow the strength that they‘ve grown now. So we‘re sort of halfway through the race. And it is going to be interesting to see what the final leg looks like.
MATTHEWS: You know, former Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir was a tough cookie. And she once referred to something as a new fact. And I love that phrase. Is there a new fact now in Iraq that they‘ve had an election and that changes things?
SCHWARZKOPF: Oh, I think so big time.
You know, when you look at the Kurds and you look at the Shiites, and these people coming out to vote the way they did, faced with the threat that they were faced with, and yet they went ahead and believed in the system and voted the way they did, is absolutely astounding to me. They showed a lot more guts I think than a lot of other people I know would have shown under the same circumstances.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the Iraqi—from what you‘ve been able to tell stateside, how do you measure the success of the Iraqi security forces in helping to turn out of this election?
SCHWARZKOPF: Well, I think that was a part of it. I think the fact that it exists now, not necessarily the way everybody wants it to be, but that is going to take some time. But it‘s just interesting that these people, in the face of death, in the face of being told that they would be killed if they participated, in the face of being told that they were going to be blown away and—at the voting places and that sort of thing, and none of that happened.
SCHWARZKOPF: I mean, it just didn‘t occur—is going to do nothing, I think, more than it will bolster them already in the position they‘re in right now.
MATTHEWS: Do you know General—do you know General Richard Kramlich?
SCHWARZKOPF: The name is familiar. But that‘s about it.
MATTHEWS: He‘s a Marine—he was a Marine general over in Iraq. And I was so impressed last week. He said to us on the program—I said, are you worried about people being able to not be bombed when they go to vote? And just like an iron man, he said on the show, no one will be blown up as they go to vote. There will be no bombing of any of our voting lines.
He just said that. And it turned out to be the case. So I guess something went right, in terms of the perimeters there, able to set up apparently multiple perimeters around these voting stations, General.
SCHWARZKOPF: Yes, absolutely.
And, also, it was sort of a timing thing. If you go back and look at the way things unfolded, people were very, very reluctant at first to go in and vote. And then, as the day moved on, more and more and more of them were going in to vote, to the point where they weren‘t concerned anymore about their own personal safety. They were involved in almost a crusade in the process.
MATTHEWS: Did you watch that Richard Engel report last night from NBC, where—we had it on our two-hour program last night, where they showed all the ribbon and everything and the whole setup. And then, throughout the day, it was like an old Andy Warhol movie. Nothing happened. They just watched the cameras on the voting station and nobody shows up.
And then, some time late in the afternoon, three people, three people, show up out of nowhere and they go to vote. And then 1,700 voted in that same booth. What did you make of that sequence of events?
SCHWARZKOPF: Well, you know, what‘s more astounding is the fact that the women led the way.
There‘s story after story that‘s coming out about the fact that nothing was happening and then, all of a sudden, a few women showed up. And then more women showed up and then more women, and then the men showed up, which I think is another astounding thing that happened yesterday.
MATTHEWS: Just like the guy who said, take me out to Sakkara out in the pyramids in Cairo one time. The camel driver saying, you ride like a woman. That‘s how he got to you drive faster, ride on the camel faster.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, maybe that‘s what happened over there. The men saw the women and said, we‘d better get out there.
More with General Norman Schwarzkopf when we return.
And later, “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman on what the election in Iraq meant to him for the chances of democracy in the Middle East, throughout the Middle East.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Norman Schwarzkopf, General Schwarzkopf.
I have got to ask you, that was interesting that we pointed out that the women voted first, sort of—like the canaries in the mine. And, all of a sudden, the men show up. That was interesting.
Let me ask you, as a military man, in all seriousness, as you watch this partisan debate that has already begun, with Harry Reid out there, the Democratic leader of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, others, calling for a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces, how do you read that as a military person, not as a politician?
SCHWARZKOPF: Well, I think it is dumb. That‘s the only—to come up and say that based upon what happened.
What happened happened because we did have military over there. And we were training the Iraqi military to do their job. But there‘s a long way to go there. So, to take the results of this election and the fact that we were temporarily allowed to have some sort of security arrangement that kept people from being blown up and shot and use that as the leverage to say, OK, now we ought to all go home, that‘s kind of dumb. That‘s kind of eating your Chinese meal from the very start and forgetting that you had a lot more to eat.
MATTHEWS: A short memory.
Let me ask you about the security challenge facing us today. People win elections. In this case, apparently 235 people have been elected to the new assembly, which is going to pick the new president and vice president to basically make Iraq into a democracy. They‘re rich targets now. Is that a difficult measure for the security challenge, for the Marines and the Army to protect the individuals like that, that many of them, over 200?
But the numbers are not as great as they—you perceive them to be. Again, individual security is not that tough a proposition if you‘re really armed for it, if you have got the proper arrangement, the proper transportation and that sort of thing. There‘s no doubt about the fact that they‘re going to become targets. But they were targets before. It‘s just the target area has shifted a little bit.
But our military is certainly capable of dealing with that.
MATTHEWS: Do you see anything? Maybe—I don‘t want to pressure you because I‘m asking you about buzz and what you‘ve heard. Is there something going on in the Defense Department right now, where Feith, Doug Feith, is leaving in a peculiar kind of announcement the president made, that he‘ll be leaving in the summer? They haven‘t moved to replace him and didn‘t say one good word about him. And he is undersecretary for policy.
And then you have got this continued sort of jingo-jango going on around Rumsfeld. Do you sense that the president is fully comfortable with the Pentagon leadership of the last year or so?
SCHWARZKOPF: I think the president is comfortable with it. Everything I‘ve heard him say indicates that he is.
I would say there are an awful lot of other people who are uncomfortable with it. And I‘m included within that bunch. I—there used to be a lot of teamwork that occurred at the Defense Department, defense level at the highest level. And everybody was mutually supportive of everybody else. And it was a team effort.
And I think that we‘ve shifted from a team effort down to an individual effort. And I don‘t think that‘s healthy. Personally, I don‘t think that‘s healthy for the overall conduct of business.
MATTHEWS: You know, we had Tommy Franks referring to Feith, who is on his way out—as the stupidest—I can‘t use the word—person he‘s ever met.
MATTHEWS: That‘s rather public when you put it in a book. It means it‘s always going to be in the library forever and ever when you make a comment like that in a book. And that‘s a lot of fun if you‘re not Feith. But it‘s a lot of fun if you‘re Tommy Franks.
But is there a division between civilian and uniform?
SCHWARZKOPF: Yes. There is indeed. And there always will be. I think that, sometimes, it gets—the civilians get carried away and want to meddle too much in the purview of what really should be the military purview.
Then, because—again, Defense Department is there for policy and not necessarily for execution. And then you have the other side of the fact, where, all of a sudden, you have politicians who are getting involved in, well, we ought to buy this kind of gun and we ought to buy this kind of airplane and they‘re the best kind and so on and so forth. And they cut the military, who really are—you know, I‘m not saying that they should be the final authority, but they know so much more about this level of things than the politicians do, that you ought step back, listen to what they have to say, and not just cut them off at the knees. And a lot of that has been going on, starting with the Shinseki affair and going on from there.
MATTHEWS: Yes, Shinseki said we need more troops. The president said, if you want more troops, just ask for it. And then the president said, you‘re gone, Shinseki. That was an odd set of circumstances.
MATTHEWS: That was an odd set of circumstances. But we all know that.
Thank you very much, General, for coming on right after the election, General Norman Schwarzkopf.
More on the Iraqi election with General Jay Garner, the former Coalition Provisional Authority administrator in Iraq, when we return. He was a big shot over there. And later, “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman, probably the best respected journalist on the issue of Iraq and the Middle East.
You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: This half-hour on HARDBALL, Lieutenant General Jay Garner, America‘s former civilian administrator in Iraq, and “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman on the next steps for peace in Iraq.
But, first, let‘s check in with the MSNBC News Desk.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Retired Lieutenant General Jay Garner was the first U.S. administrator to oversee the reconstruction of Iraq in the chaotic weeks following the fall of Baghdad.
Jay, thank you very much for joining us.
General, I want to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. Let‘s start with the good, yesterday‘s election in Iraq, your feelings. Having been there and risking your butt all those months and doing such a job, what do you feel about the elections yesterday?
RET. LT. GEN. JAY GARNER, U.S. ARMY: Oh, it shook me up. I think it was an amazing demonstration of courage on the part of the Iraqi people. And it showed the tenacity that our country has had in holding that together and what our men a women and armed forces have done to hold that together.
The picture of a woman walking down the street, demonstrating her blue finger and holding a child, demonstrating the child‘s blue finger, too, I think that was moving.
MATTHEWS: That was great stuff.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about knowing the rebels as you know them, the insurgents, they could be some nationalists or just Baathists. A few are outside, Zarqawi type al Qaeda bunch. Was that tactical? Why didn‘t they attack with full strength yesterday, do you think?
GARNER: Oh, I think you can credit the U.S. military and the—and also the Iraqi military that they‘ve now fielded for holding that off.
MATTHEWS: You don‘t think this is just one of these, well, we‘ll fight you at the time of our choosing and wait a week or two and then start picking off the candidates who won?
GARNER: No. I think that, if they could have gotten through, they would have done as much damage as they could have early on as the election started to prevent it for the rest of the day.
And you saw the groundswell. It started slowing them—it became a groundswell.
GARNER: So, no, I think they would have shut that off, if they could.
MATTHEWS: I know it was very impressive in that Sunni area, where nobody voted for the longest time and then three courageous guys show up.
GARNER: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: And then it was amazing. It was like a movie.
MATTHEWS: Like, all of a sudden, guts just on display there.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the—about the—some of the costs of this war. Now, this is sort of what I would call the bad in this questioning, you know, $120 billion so far, if you look at the number we‘ve been going through; $80 more billion, the president wants to spend. That‘s $200 billion. Is it worth it?
GARNER: Well, if we‘re successful, it will be more than worth it.
You know, think of having a democratic Iraq in the middle of the Arab Middle East. I mean, that‘s going to be a beacon of freedom and democracy that beams all through that area.
MATTHEWS: Do you think it is going to advertise democracy positively?
GARNER: I think the next 180 to 270 days will spell that out. And I think there‘s several things that have to happen during that time in order for us to be successful.
MATTHEWS: If this country becomes a truly elected country, like Israel, I guess that would make it the second elected country in that part of the world. Do you think it would pressure on the more moderate countries, by our standard, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, to let people vote?
GARNER: Oh, yes, definitely I do.
But I will tell that you, in that part of the world, you know, you have Israel as the democracy. And Turkey is a democracy. And as a matter of speaking, the three northern provinces in Iraq we call them Kurdistan are democracies, too. So there‘s already that little beam of light coming out of northern Iraq that the rest of them can look at and begin to shine with.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of the financial—another ugly question, before we move on. No, this would be an ugly, not a bad question.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of that $9 billion that fell between the cracks over there? We‘re paying the money for the reconstruction of Iraq and $9 billion is apparently unaccounted for. Your successor said that he thought that was a reasonable thing to expect, where you have these mixes of American and Eastern accounting methods.
And I‘m not sure the American people buy the fact that any accounting differential accounts for the loss of $9 billion or the fact that we can‘t account for it.
GARNER: I don‘t know how that happened, Chris. I...
MATTHEWS: That‘s a lot of money.
Yes. Let me defend Ambassador Bremer a little bit. He was there in a very chaotic time. And there were a lot of different accountants that walked in and out of that palace while he was there.
GARNER: So there was a lot of different processes and methods used. And so I think one day, we‘ll have an idea what happened to it. I don‘t think you could ever audit all of it.
MATTHEWS: Do you think he should have gotten the Medal of Freedom?
GARNER: Look, he gave 14 months of his life over there working 16 to 20 hours a day.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Yes.
GARNER: And Bremer is one of the hardest working guys I‘ve ever seen in my life.
GARNER: Sure, I think he should have. It was well deserved. The American people are indebted to him. And so are the Iraqi people.
MATTHEWS: OK. You‘ve handled those questions with a toughness I admire, sir, Jay Garner.
GARNER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Now let me ask you about the future. I want you to do some prophesying now, prophesying right now. We have a real election in December.
MATTHEWS: Which is going to pick a permanent government over there. Knowing the people there, as any outsider might know them, do you believe that the Sunnis can be cajoled, seduced, brought into this process, so that we can‘t have a—we won‘t end up at the end of this year with an election that only produced a Shia and Kurdish turnout?
GARNER: I think it is a greater problem than that, Chris.
I think what has to happen is three things, if you give me a chance to say what they are.
GARNER: The first one is, is I think the president needs to issue a strong statement to foreign states that are meddling inside Iraq. And, specifically, that should be aimed toward Syria and Iran, much like Truman did toward the communists in Greece and Turkey, we call that...
MATTHEWS: Right, ‘47, in 1947.
GARNER: Right, ‘47.
A second thing I think has to happen, as again happened in ‘47, the Marshall Plan. I think we ought to have a focused economic stimulus for Iraq that infuses money to the people, shares the oil revenues with the people, brings Iraqi subcontractors into the contracting work that we‘re doing and, most importantly, takes the youth off the street and employs the youth, just like Roosevelt did during the Depression with the Civilian Conservation Corps.
GARNER: And the final thing, I think, and if not the most important thing, is we need to be hands on to the degree that we can in the development of the constitution.
And, in that constitution, it has to embody minority rights, because if we don‘t have minority rights in there, then there‘s no basis for freedom. There‘s no basis for democracy or anything else.
GARNER: Now, Bremer did a good job of writing the transitional law.
GARNER: He had that in there. And if that is used, and we can get the words he had in that into the constitution, I think we‘ll be OK.
MATTHEWS: Do you think we might look a little bit suspicious if the men who wins the presidency is the guy we were paying $340,000 a month to up until recently, Chalabi?
GARNER: Well, that will be interesting. I have thought about that. I don‘t think he‘ll win.
MATTHEWS: But wouldn‘t that be nasty, if the guy that we had at the payroll at the Defense Department for all those months, $340,000 a month, ends up being the winner over there? It will look like we put him there.
GARNER: Well, I think we‘ll come back and say, well, we took him off the payroll in the summer or some time like that. But I don‘t know.
MATTHEWS: Well, that will make everything right.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about one fundamental problem.
We won the Cold War, I would contest, you might agree, because—not just because communism didn‘t work for the average person and it was a deceitful system, but the ones at the top did well, but because nationalism prevailed. People in the parts of Europe that were under communist power fought their way free, the Poles, the Hungarians, everybody.
Do you think we risk getting hurt the other way? As long as we‘re the occupying power in Iraq, can we win the hearts and minds of the people? Or do we have to eventually or fairly clearly and fairly early make the point we‘re getting the hell out of there, so they can have their own country?
GARNER: I think we need to make a point that we‘ll leave as soon as we have them capable of standing on their own. And that‘s the function of bringing back the Iraqi army.
GARNER: And, as we bring the Iraqi army back and we get the troop levels over there to where they should be.
GARNER: I would say up around 200,000 probably Iraqis and U.S. and Brits, then we think we should begin pulling the U.S. and Brits off the street, put them in a secure area.
GARNER: Let them be the—let them be the 911 force and put the face on the street as a face of the Iraqi army and not the U.S. or British army.
MATTHEWS: General, it‘s great having you on.
GARNER: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And it‘s great to meet you, General.
GARNER: Yes. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: You‘re very impressive. And I‘m glad to hear you watch HARDBALL.
GARNER: I do watch HARDBALL. Thank you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, General Jay Garner.
GARNER: Take care.
MATTHEWS: A longtime administrator of Iraq.
When we return, Pulitzer Prize-winning “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman is going to be with us. He‘ll talk about the future of Iraq. And he‘s about the best there is. He‘s also going to talk about the administration‘s goals for democracy throughout the Middle East.
And don‘t forget, sign up for HARDBALL‘s daily e-mail briefing. Just log on to our Web site, HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
MATTHEWS: Coming up, now that Iraq has held elections, what‘s the Bush administration‘s next move? “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman joins us when HARDBALL returns.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
“New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman has won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for international reporting from the Mideast.
Tom, a lot of people trust you, as you know, because you are a fair guy trying to figure this thing out. You were for this war as an isolated case. You‘re not a neocon. You‘re not a big ideologue about the situation. You don‘t have an agenda. But is—but is—I want to you troops try to give me an accounting of yesterday. Wasn‘t it surprise—was it a surprise to you or is it what you expected, a strong turnout by the Shia, a very, very strong turnout by the Kurds, small turnout by the Sunnis?
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: It wasn‘t a surprise to me, Chris.
I wrote a couple weeks ago, I did think the Iraqis would turn out in large numbers if they got the chance. And they did, because I do believe that there are two things that they were really saying. One, there really is an Iraq. There‘s a tendency here to say, it is Kurds, Shiite, Sunni. The country is much more knitted together than people realize.
FRIEDMAN: And, secondly, I just want to say this.
MATTHEWS: People come together to vote...
FRIEDMAN: But that—and they really do want to be free. And they really do want to repudiate these Islamist insurgents.
MATTHEWS: The Islamist insurgents are trying to do harm to any democratic process. Do the people themselves have a belief in democracy as a form of governor?
FRIEDMAN: I‘m not sure they really understand what that means. For them, it is a very basic thing. Will I be free? Will I be free to travel as I want? Will I be free to leave Iraq when I want? Will I be free to read whatever newspaper I want? Will my kids have a chance to be educated the way they want?
I think that‘s how they see democracy, not in the Federalist Papers sense, but in the sense of...
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s the Sharansky rule. Can you go downtown, stand in the public square and trash the government?
FRIEDMAN: Yes. That‘s certainly part of it.
But I think it is even more basic than that. It‘s the basic opportunity to feel the full potential of your life or your kids‘ life. I think that‘s how they interpret it. That‘s what most of Iraqis did not have under Saddam Hussein, except a minority.
MATTHEWS: What struck me under Saddam Hussein is the stuff you can identify with as a middle-class person in this country. You go to a restaurant and you have to avert your glance from one of his kids, because, if they catch you in the eye, right, they‘ll just have you killed.
MATTHEWS: Or if you laugh at the wrong time or what—that kind of frightening personal tyranny. Did that affect a lot of Iraqis under the old regime?
FRIEDMAN: Oh, yes. I mean, I don‘t think people realized. This was not a government. This was a criminal gang that had captured the oil tap in Iraq and used it for a monopoly of force over the country and any whim the they wanted.
Iraq, what struck me, being there, Chris—I‘ve been there four times since the war—it‘s so much more broken than people realize. What this man, what this family, did to this country in robbing the future of two generation of Iraqis is a travesty.
MATTHEWS: OK. The bottom line is, our troops have given their lives and have risked their lives by the tens of thousands over there. We‘ve lost 1,400 men and women and 10,000 injured—wounded, rather. Are they willing to suffer those kind of casualties to defend a democratic constitution, the Iraqis themselves?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think you‘ve asked...
MATTHEWS: Will they go to war and take tremendous casualties to make a democratic system work?
FRIEDMAN: You‘ve really asked the key question for me, Chris, which is, going forward, kind of what will consolidate this?
And the first is, what kind of majority do the Kurds and Shiites want to be? Will they be a fair one, one that is inclusive, or will they want to be a tyranny of the majority? I think it is going to be the former. I‘m more optimistic on that. And the second, if that is the case...
MATTHEWS: To clarify this, Tom, you‘re saying you believe the Iraqi people will make a commitment to a constitutional democracy?
FRIEDMAN: I think that they will. And I think you‘ll see the Shiites and the Kurds reaching out to the Sunnis, formally and informally, to take their basic concerns into account in the writing of the next constitution.
FRIEDMAN: Because this is the Shiites‘ first chance to rule an Arab state. And it means nothing if that state is ungovernable. And the only way it will be governable is if they take in the interests of the minorities.
MATTHEWS: You know, Capitol Policemen a few blocks from here would give their lives to protect the Capitol, because the Capitol is the symbol of our freedom. It is that visceral to these guys.
And you see that kind of commitment in Iraq in the near—in sometime in the near future to their new form of government, that they‘re willing to die to defend a system? In other words, if somebody tries to disrupt an election, somebody tries a military coup, that it will be resisted?
I think we‘re still a ways from that. You‘ve got to remember, in Iraq, we‘re not doing nation building, a la Germany and Japan after World War II. We‘re doing nation creating. What we, the United States, just did—and every American should be proud of this fact, whatever you felt about the war—we have just hosted the first attempt in the history of the modern Arab world for a group of people from that part of the world to forge a social contract on their own, not imposed on them.
That is a wonderful thing. I don‘t know if it is going to work. And, ultimately, it is going to depend on what Iraqis make of it. But that is a hugely important thing. I hope it works. But it is going to evolve. It‘s not going to be overnight they‘re going to say, OK, we have had an election. Now I want to defend it, OK? That‘s going to evolve. We‘re doing nation creating. That‘s what‘s so hard about it, not nation building.
MATTHEWS: What‘s the second election? I know the biggest knock against Third World dictators is they, yes, I‘ll have one election. We‘ll throw the Brits out in that election.
FRIEDMAN: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: And then I‘ll come in and I‘ll be like Jomo Kenyatta for 40 years or any other Third World leader, the good, the bad, some of them good. Are they—how will we know they‘re going to stick with it?
MATTHEWS: In other words, allow a rotten president to be kicked out.
FRIEDMAN: We‘ll only know if we have the experience of an India, 50 years of revolving power.
MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s beautiful, though, because they really do believe in democracy.
FRIEDMAN: Yes. And we‘re seeing the seeds planted there.
MATTHEWS: The largest Islamic democracy in the world is India.
FRIEDMAN: That‘s right.
FRIEDMAN: And we‘re seeing the seeds now planted of that in Iraq. I hope they take. I think it‘s going to be up and down.
MATTHEWS: My question as we go to break is, how—imagine there‘s two arcs. One arc is, we‘re selling democracy and it‘s democracy. People are buying it. And they certainly bought it this week. And they‘ll buy it increasingly perhaps by December.
The other arc is the natural tissue rejection that any people have to the outsider and which one of those arcs ends up winning. I want to ask you that when we come back with Thomas Friedman of “The New York Times.”
And don‘t forget to check out Hardblogger, our political blog Web site. Just go to HARDBALL.MSNBC.com.
I‘d like to do the math on that.
MATTHEWS: We‘re back with “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman.
You know, one thing everybody could do tonight is go to your atlas. No, I really do think I don‘t do it enough. And—because it‘s amazing how your mind doesn‘t always coordinate exactly what the map looks like. But we now have the fledgling democracy going on in Iraq. We have something of a fledgling democracy in Afghanistan. We have got an election being held in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem just now. And where does that lead us toward Iran? What does that got to do with Iran right now? Which, Iran may be the most dangerous country.
FRIEDMAN: You know, Chris, a lot of people said, wow, the Iranians are exultant. The Shiites have won in Iraq. I‘ll tell you who I think is the most worried government in the Middle East today.
It‘s the mullahs and the ayatollahs in Tehran, because they have now got a democratically elected Shiite government right next door, which is the real thing, compared to the phony Shiite democracy that they‘ve got in Iran. And I think they are very, very worried about this. People who think that Tehran is going to dominate Baghdad, I will bet any amount of money that is not going to be the case. It is going to be Baghdad that ultimately influences the events in Tehran. And that‘s...
MATTHEWS: So you argue that it is going to be like the Eastern Europe situation, Central Europe situation in the 1980s.
MATTHEWS: That people are going to get—it‘s going to—somebody once said to me that freedom is contagious. Do you believe it?
FRIEDMAN: Iraq is Poland, OK?
FRIEDMAN: And Gorbachev—and it‘s Gorbachev and the ayatollahs in Tehran.
MATTHEWS: Yes, the Hungarians told me that when they were—I interviewed them in ‘89. They said, what was changing them was watching...
FRIEDMAN: Yeltsin, you‘re talking about? Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Yes. They‘re watching Yeltsin stand up against the supreme Soviet. And they said, if he can do it, we can do it.
FRIEDMAN: Well, how about the next time Iran holds an election and they tell 150 reformers, you can‘t vote? Meanwhile, next door in Iraq, anyone who wanted could vote and run. I want to live long enough just to see that moment.
MATTHEWS: Tom, you know this. What kind of democracy do we have in Iran right now? They do have a civil government. What...
FRIEDMAN: We don‘t have—that‘s a fraud. It is not a democracy. A country where people want to run for office and 100 people, reformers want to run, and some small, unelected group says, you can‘t run, that‘s not Islamic democracy. That‘s not democracy.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you about the Sunnis. Let me ask you about our friends.
I think Colin Powell once said to me—and I hope this wasn‘t off the record—I don‘t think it was—that all those leaders want their kids to succeed them. It ain‘t complicated. You have got Bashar, Bashar Assad in Syria. You‘ve got the son of Mubarak, who wants to move in there, and his daddy does, too. You have got Abdullah, who is the son of King Hussein. You‘ve got Saif Gadhafi, who is the son of Moammar Gadhafi.
Everybody, they call themselves Baathists or presidents or kings. But all they want is their kid to get their job. What are they saying right now in the face of democracy?
FRIEDMAN: I think they‘re very, very concerned, because Mubarak‘s Egypt is going to have an election this year. And he‘s done a lot of reforms, I must say, in the last six months, in anticipation of this moment.
MATTHEWS: But his kid is still going to get the job.
FRIEDMAN: Well, it‘s not clear.
FRIEDMAN: But I think one thing that‘s very important that if—President Mubarak is going to run again for president. But he‘d better make clear I think for his own self-interest that this is the last time Egypt is going to have this kind of one-man election, that this election is a bridge to the future, to multi parties and offices.
MATTHEWS: Is it hard for the son of an American president who is a president himself to argue against primogeniture?
FRIEDMAN: Yes. I don‘t think it‘s a problem.
You know, I‘ve had Egyptian friends say to me, we would like to have Mubarak‘s son as president, but we want him elected the same way George W. Bush‘s son got elected as the son of a president...
MATTHEWS: Oh, that‘s sophisticated. So, they know he was elected.
MATTHEWS: They know it wasn‘t just a succession.
FRIEDMAN: Oh, they know. They know.
MATTHEWS: A smart guy, Tom Friedman. You keep teaching them.
Anyway, thank you, Tom Friedman. Too bad you can‘t speak Arabic.
MATTHEWS: Tomorrow on HARDBALL, we‘ll preview Wednesday‘s State of the Union address. That‘s going to be a big night. And veteran Washington journalist Bob Schieffer is going to be joining us. And then, on Wednesday, our live coverage of the State of the Union begins at 9:00 Eastern.
Right now, it‘s time for the “COUNTDOWN” with Keith.
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