Video: Looking at a year of Iraq sovereignty

msnbc.com
updated 6/28/2005 2:46:46 PM ET 2005-06-28T18:46:46

At 10:26 a.m. local time, one year ago on Tuesday, Iraq again became a sovereign nation.

At the time, President Bush declared it a day of great hope but also recognized the challenges ahead.

Those challenges remain, a year later.

Insurgent attacks remain at approximately 400-500 a week. As of Tuesday, 878 U.S. troops have died since June 28, 2004, more than the 856 that died in the first part of the war.  Some 220,000 Iraq forces were established in June of 2004 but many deserted mid fighting and 168,000 forces are deployed.

At the same time, an interim government has given rise to a successful election and a representative government now working on a Constitution.

MSNBC military analyst and retired Army Gen. Montgomery Meigs joined MSNBC's Amy Robach on Tuesday to discuss the one-year anniversary of a sovereign Iraq.

To read a transcript of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the link above.

Amy Robach:  One year ago when President Bush was announcing the transfer of power, he said this is an Iraqi struggle.  When you look at an average Iraqi, do you see a willingness to fight for their country still?

Montgomery Meigs:  Oh sure.  Even after a bombing in a place like Mosul, we see continued recruiting of people (to join the Armed) forces.  It's a very possible indicator of the Iraqi will.

Robach:  Are their lives getting better?

Meigs:  Well, I think so, it's getting better slowly.  Remember George Casey (commander of U.S. forces in Iraq), yesterday pointed out some very important pluses.  The enemy cannot hold ground, they cannot defend their safe areas, and they haven't expanded their territory of influence.  They have not been able to stop the political process.  Those are positives but there are some negatives however. 

Robach:  The insurgency is still alive and well right now in Iraq.  Are you comfortable with the U.S. military strategy right now at this point?  On one hand, it looks like we had some talks with these insurgent groups.  On the other hand, we're launching a new offensive today in Western Iraq. 

Meigs:  I think the military strategy is fine.  I think you don't have a problem with what the troops are doing on the ground.  From what I'm hearing they're seeing slow but very important progress and they're proud of that.  I think the political strategy hasn't been up to the military.

Robach:  Military leaders and administration officials have sharply criticized the media.  They say it's for pushing a negative image of Iraq.  It's swaying, they say, public opinion polls, which are certainly having an impact on, they say, our ability to fight the war.  Are you comfortable with the picture the American people are getting of this war?

Meigs:  I think we need to do a better job on the media of getting down inside the story.  In Afghanistan and Iraq, we need to try and get reporters outside to the battalions to see the war from the soldiers and young commanders perspective.

What are they going to see as progress?  In the case of Guantanamo, there's been a tremendous amount of progress made in the last two years and only now is coming to the fore because, A) The (office of the Secretary of Defense) is starting to tell a better story and B) The media really hasn't picked up on that progress. 

MSNBC Live with Amy Robach and Randy Meier can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m.-Noon.

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