Guests: Lawrence Korb, Werner Spitz, Phil Gingrey, Jack Jacobs, Pat Buchanan, Dick Collins
TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome to the show. I‘m Tucker Carlson. We get right to the top story of the day, the Iraq study group‘s final report, which was released this morning. It was almost as bad as the White House must have feared. In the words of the report, quote, “The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There is no path that can guarantee success but the prospects can be improved.” Here are some of the committee members earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE HAMILTON, CO-CHAIR, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: The current approach is not working. And the ability of the United States to influence events is diminishing. The United States has committed staggering resources. Our country has lost almost 2,900 Americans, 21,000 more have been wounded. The United States has spent an estimated $400 billion in Iraq and costs could rise well over a trillion dollars. Many Americans are understandably dissatisfied. Our ship of state has hit rough waters. It must now chart a new way forward.
JAMES BAKER, CO-CHAIR, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: Ladies and gentlemen, there is no magic formula that will solve the problems of Iraq. But to give the Iraqi government a chance to succeed, United States policy must be focused more broadly than on military strategy alone, or on Iraq alone. It must seek the active and constructive engagement of all governments that have an interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, including all of Iraq‘s neighbors.
LEON PANETTA, MEMBER, IRAQ STUDY GROUP: We have made a terrible commitment in Iraq in terms of our blood and our treasure. And I think we owe it to them to try to take one last chance at making Iraq work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Among the report‘s 79 specific recommendations, engage Syria and Iran, deal with the Arab-Israeli conflict, increase embedded troops, and reduce combat troops in Iraq, and support the Iraqi government, only if it makes progress. Here with the latest on the president‘s response to today‘s report, is NBC‘s News Jeannie Ohm. She is live at the White House.
JEANNIE OHM, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Tucker.
Well, not surprisingly the White House says, the president, and others in the administration are not going to be making any specific comments on these 79 recommendations until they‘ve had a chance to digest the report.
But in his afternoon briefing Tony Snow denied that this report was a rejection of President Bush‘s policy in Iraq, even though we heard such strong statements such as grave and deteriorating, that stay the course is not a viable option. What the White House is seizing upon is that the Baker-Hamilton group did agree with the U.S. policy goal that Iraq should be able to sustain, defend and govern itself.
The president earlier today, after meeting with all 10 members of the commission, he said that he would take their report very seriously. But he also indicated that he would not automatically embrace all of their ideas. It‘s something he reiterated a short time ago after meeting with members of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today the Baker-Hamilton Commission, the Iraq study group, put out what I thought it was a very interesting report. And there are some very good ideas in there. Not all of us around the table agree with every idea. But we do agree that it shows that bipartisan consensus on important issues is possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OHM: That‘s why the president, this afternoon, met with the different members of Congress, the leadership Republicans and Democrats, in the various committees, the Senate Armed Service Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, Foreign Relations and Intelligence. And afterwards the members did come out and say that they thought it was a very frank discussion with the president, and that it showed that he is open to working in a bipartisan way—Tucker.
CARLSON: Jeannie, are you hearing on background from administration officials which of the 79 recommendations the White House is likely to dismiss?
OHM: A lot of what people are already focused on is the whole notion of the report to engage with Syria and Iran. The president has been very adamant at this point that they‘ve already done enough talking with the countries; they need to see more action.
What was interesting that came out of the briefing, Tony Snow saying, it‘s unclear if the commission if they meant talk one-on-one with Iran or whether in the context of the regional talks or regional support group, what the commission is talking about.
But on the one hand, while the White House says, look, we‘ve not made any final decisions we want to get all the reports back in, including their own intentional reviews, the Pentagon report, before making any decision. They have made it clear that talking one-on-one with Iran is off the table for now—Tucker.
CARLSON: NBC News‘ Jeannie Ohm at the White House. Thanks a lot, Jeannie.
So which of the 79 recommendations likely will become reality, which will work? Joining us now, Larry Korb, he‘s a senior fellow that the Center For American Progress, he was assistant secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration. He was also director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Korb, thank you for coming.
LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Nice to be with you, Tucker.
CARLSON: How does this—the tone of this report struck me as strikingly critical of the Iraqi government and of its security forces, do I you think that‘s fair?
KORB: Very definitely. Basically, what they said is these guys have had almost a year to begin to make the painful political compromises necessary to create a unified Iraq. They haven‘t done anything. And unless you put pressure on them, they‘re not going to do it.
CARLSON: You have a “New Republic” piece coming out soon. We have a copy of it. Here‘s a line that you wrote that I thought was compelling. You write, “The problem with the 300,000 Iraqi security forces is not training, it is motivation.” How do you motivate those forces?
KORB: Well, the only way you motivate them is if you create an Iraqi nation that they‘re willing to fight and die for. The problem you have right now is the military that they have, basically, is organized, for the most part, along sectarian lines. And they‘re more loyal to their sect or tribe than the Iraqi nation.
So, when you tell one of the battalions you got to go to Baghdad. They say, no, no, that‘s not our job, we don‘t want to go in and fight the Sunnis in Baghdad, you know, we‘re Sunnis. Or we don‘t want to go and fight al Sadr‘s militia because we‘re Shias.
CARLSON: But as you point out in your piece, the Iraqi parliament was elected last December, it looks like a country. And in that time 12 battalions of our men have been killed due in part, you say, to the fact that the Iraqi government has done nothing to prevent their deaths; has done nothing to unify the government. What can we do to make it an actual country?
KORB: We can‘t guarantee it will become an actual country, but I would say you need to set a fixed timeline to get out, I would say 18 months. And say, look, in 18 months, we‘re going to be out of here. You have that time to make these compromises. If you don‘t, you‘re going to have to live with the consequences because we‘ll have to leave some day.
When we do, if they haven‘t made the compromises to protect minority rights, to guarantee the Sunni‘s a share of the oil revenues, if they haven‘t disbanded the militias, if they haven‘t balanced the powers of the central government and the regional governments, they‘re going to have a civil war again.
So they need to do that and the question is, what‘s the best way to make them? Now, I think Baker and Hamilton are correct, there is no guarantee that you can make this come out right, but you can minimize the chances that it won‘t by putting pressure on them.
CARLSON: Recommendation 22 is that the U.S. government make clear we do not seek to leave behind military bases in Iraq. It seems to me that after all these men killed, all the money we‘ve spent there, a military base would be the one good thing to come out of it. We have military bases around the world left over from World War II, 60 years later, why don‘t we deserve a military base?
KORB: Well, you don‘t want to have a military base in that part of the world, because if you do, you‘re seen as occupiers. You‘re seen as somebody there trying to despoil their civilization. During the Cold War, we basically did it in what we called “offshore balancing”. We never put forces in that part of the world, but we had Marine Expeditionary force and aircraft carriers standing offshore to go in, if with we were need. That‘s why we put the Central Command, which deals with that part of the world, in Tampa. Because we recognize that the president‘s non-Arab, non-Muslim troops in that part of the world can become a rallying cry against us.
CARLSON: Another recommendation was that U.S. economic assistance should be increased $5 billion a year, rather than decreased. The obvious instinct would be that since we‘re pulling troops out, would to pull back some of the financial assistance. Why should we keep throwing money at a country that‘s not working? That‘s filled with people who hate us and want to kill us?
KORB: Well, the fact of the matter is, though, is that if life doesn‘t become better for the Iraqis, they‘re going to continue to support these militias and they‘re going to continue even to support some of the insurgents.
I think it was a mistake on the part of the administration, the Bush administration, to stop the reconstruction. I mean, they should have enhanced it. Now, what they need to do is make it contingent, as the report says, on their good behavior, if you will, or moving in the right direction.
CARLSON: The most laughable recommendation, in my view, was clean up the Arab/Israeli mess. When was the last American administration that actually tried to do that, that pushed both sides equally, at least significant pressure on both sides to reach some sort of settlement? Was it Jimmy Carter? Did even he do that? Can we do that? Will we do that?
KORB: Well, I mean, Carter did it, Clinton did it, George Shultz did it, Henry Kissinger did it. I think the point they‘re trying to make there is that we need to be more involved in dealing with the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians. Because the people in that part of the world, that‘s very critical.
In fact, as Brent Scowcroft wrote in an op-ed in “The Wall Street Journal”, in the summer of 2002, basically people there were more concerned about that than the potential threat from Saddam Hussein.
KORB: So you can‘t be seen as not being involved there.
CARLSON: Everybody who spent 20 minutes in the Middle East knows that. But politically, if you say that, in the United States, you‘re attacked as being an enemy of Israel. Is there any political will to force even in the mildest way any kind of settlement on the Israelis and the Palestinians?
KORB: Well, I think we have, over the years. We‘ve put pressure on both sides to do what they need to do. When Baker was secretary of State under Bush 41, and President Bush said if you don‘t stop building these settlements on the West Bank, we‘re going to stop the loan guarantees. I mean, that‘s the type of thing that I think you can do.
CARLSON: Yes, and how did that work for President Bush? Do you remember?
KORB: Did not work for him well politically.
CARLSON: Did not work well at all. That‘s right.
KORB: No. But the fact of the matter is, I mean, whatever—regardless of what the situation, whether it‘s the situation between the Greeks and the Turks.
KORB: Or anything, you should do the best for the U.S. interests.
And I think Kissinger and Shultz were able to lean on both parties. President Clinton was able to lean on both parties. There are things that you can do.
KORB: Because all of those people really want this violence between the two sides to stop.
CARLSON: That‘s right. It would not only be best for us, it would be best for Israel. And I think clear thinkers understand that.
Mr. Korb, thanks a lot for joining us.
KORB: Thanks for having me.
CARLSON: Still to come, the ball is in the president‘s court at this point. Will he listen to a report that calls the situation in Iraq grave and deteriorating?
And with Hillary Clinton all but officially in the race for the White House
and she is ladies and gentlemen—is it too late to stop her? We‘ll talk to the one man who thinks he can do it, when we come back. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: That was, of course, Iraq Study Group co-chairman James Baker on what the report does not recommend. So is stay the course dead? And what happens now? Joining us to talk about that, Republican Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia. He‘s also a member of the House Armed Services Committee and has been to Iraq a number of times.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. PHIL GINGREY ®, GEORGIA: Thank you, Tucker. Glad to be with you.
CARLSON: How does the president respond to this? I mean, if you‘re George W. Bush and you stake not just your presidency but your legacy in history on this war, and your father‘s best friend comes back with a report saying the war‘s a disaster, how do you respond?
GINGREY: Well, I think the president responded in the appropriate fashion. He said every recommendation, all 79 of them, will be looked at. They won‘t necessarily be rubber-stamped.
I want to commend the Iraqi Study Group study group and its 10 members and the chairmen, Baker and Hamilton.
What we need, Tucker, of course, is the wisdom of Solomon to solve this solution. I‘m not sure we get that with this report.
But as the president said, we need to look at each and every recommendation and decide. We‘re not going to rubber stamp it, just as we Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the Congress have not rubber stamped this president or the current secretary of defense.
CARLSON: Well, what specifically? I mean, let‘s be very specific here. What do you think is questionable in this report? Which of the recommendations would you pause over?
GINGREY: And I‘m so glad you asked that. I would certainly take pause over sitting down and negotiating a peaceful settlement with Iran and Syria. There‘s going to be a price to pay for that. And I just can‘t imagine either one of those countries being interested in fostering our foreign policy and helping us solve a terrible dilemma.
There‘s going to be a price demanded. Whether Syria is going to say, “Leave us alone and let us continue to play mischief in South Lebanon with Hezbollah” or whether Ahmadinejad says, “Look, turn your back while we continue to develop nuclear weapons.” I mean, what are they going to demand in return? That really concerns me.
CARLSON: Well, it—here—here‘s the situation, as I think the members of the study group understand it. We‘re pulling out of Iraq. Everyone agrees with that. The White House tacitly acknowledges that‘s happening.
Once we do, Iran and Syria are bound—it‘s inevitable that they will move in to fill the vacuum left by us. So they are going to be players in a much more profound way than they have been for a long time, thanks to this war in Iraq.
The question is, do we help influence what they do after we leave or don‘t we?
GINGREY: I think we do, Tucker. And I think—I‘m not saying we don‘t talk to them. I‘m just saying we need to be very leery.
But you know, one thing that the Iraqi Study Group, as I read the summary, in regard to what they want to do internally. As you pointed out at the top of the show, I‘m a member of the House Armed Services Committee. And of course, Chairman Duncan Hunter is the gentlemen from California that has done such a great job leading that committee over the last four years.
And two months ago, 30 of us on the Republican side signed a letter that we sent to the president talking about the Iraqification of the country internally. And bringing those battalions, 33 of them are in provinces where there really is virtually no unrest. They‘re trained. They‘re equipped. Let‘s get them into battle. Because you know, we don‘t medals for combat training. We give medals for battlefield valor.
GINGREY: And that‘s what we need to do. And we can do that. And as the Iraqi Study Group says, we‘re not going to set an exact timeline. But maybe the first quarter of 2008, by that point, the Iraqi people and the government of Iraq will have their own military defending them.
And then, the Iraqi people have confidence in the government that they can defend them against the militia and the Ba‘athists and, of course, the Sunni extremists. We can get this done, and I think that‘s a good recommendation.
CARLSON: We, and by we I mean the neoconservatives, the administration, the U.S. government, have given the Iraqis a lot more credit than they deserve, don‘t you think? Our expectations for them, it turns out in retrospect, were way too high. We expected them to embrace democracy, to understand what representative government was and then fight for it. And they haven‘t, on either count.
Do you think it was a mistake to consider them our peers, as we did?
GINGREY: Well, I think they‘ve underperformed. I think it‘s fair to say...
CARLSON: Nicely put, congressman. Yes.
GINGREY: I think they‘ve underperformed. And certainly, the study group points that out. Secretary Rumsfeld points it out. Duncan Hunter, my chairman, has pointed it out.
And we‘re going to—the expectations—I remember when all this started. We expected them to be producing three million barrels of oil a day and use that oil money to lubricate the reconstruction of the country. None of that has happened. So yes, they have badly underperformed. Maybe we have had too much confidence in them.
But I think Maliki gets it now. I think he understands that—and in the report, the 79 recommendations, part of that was guidelines, benchmarks, if you will. I think we need to be careful, though, Tucker, on that. I don‘t think we should say or threaten if you don‘t meet these benchmarks, then we‘re going to pack up and go home and leave you stranded. That‘s a little dangerous.
But it‘s OK to say to them, “Guys, you‘ve got to make progress. You‘re not doing enough.” And let‘s get those Iraqis into battle, as Chairman Hunter has recommended.
CARLSON: Boy, I like threats. Threats work. But we disagree.
Congressman Gingrey, thanks very much.
GINGREY: Thanks, Tucker.
CARLSON: Coming up, Al Gore calls the Iraq war, quote, “the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States.” Could Mr. Hyperbole for once actually be right?
And with all of Washington piling on the White House over Iraq, why did the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a Democrat, choose this moment to call for more troops? We‘ve got that story when we come back.
CARLSON: What‘s the bottom line message of the Iraq Study Group‘s report? Is there hope? Joining me now, from Washington, D.C., MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan and, back at the MSNBC mother ship, military analyst and Medal of Honor winner, Colonel Jack Jacobs. Welcome to you both.
COL. JACK JACOBS, U.S. ARMY: Good to be here.
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Tucker.
CARLSON: We‘ll have much more time to talk about this in a minute, but briefly, I just want, if you would, each of you to sum up your responses to this. Colonel, when you read this, what was your reaction?
JACOBS: Well, there are two things that jumped right out at me, and that was despite the fact this was commissioned by the White House, this is a damning indictment of two things about the White House.
First, it said that its military policy stinks. And it also, in saying, Hey, you need to engage in Iraq—I mean, Iran—there‘s a Freudian slip—Iran and Syria. It said your foreign policy stinks, too.
And those two things jumped right out at me much more blatantly than the prescriptions for what ought to be done on the ground.
CARLSON: Pat Buchanan?
BUCHANAN: I think what struck me is how grim and dire and how the situation is grave and deteriorating, who this theme runs all the way through it. It is brutally realistic and brutally negative on the situation as it is now.
At the same time, the recommendations for policies, it seems to me, are somewhat utopian, in thinking that—you know, the situation is horrible, but when we move out all our combat brigades and we train the Iraqis to do what we failed to do, things will get a lot better.
It seems to me that is utterly unrealistic to hope for that. So put me down as a—as a total skeptic on the recommendations working out.
CARLSON: And you have this one recommendation, it‘s something that you‘ve been saying for a long time, to much criticism. And that is that we ought to engage Iran and Syria directly.
BUCHANAN: Well, I think the United States is a great power, the greatest on earth. We talked with Mao Tse-Tung. We even communicated with Stalin. But I think yes, we should be communicating with them. But I think the idea that Syria and Iran are going to step in and pull our chestnuts out of the fire is—is somewhat utopian.
CARLSON: It is pretty unbelievable, don‘t you think, Colonel Jacobs? Not just that we would talk to those countries, which I think is, whether you agree with it or not, it‘s not insane. You can make a rational case for it. But the idea that we‘re going to be rescued from this debacle by Iran and Syria, there are no words for that.
JACOBS: I agree with Pat. I think it‘s complete nonsense. That‘s why, in my mind, the whole thing breaks down into two completely separate exercises. Try to extricate yourself by improving the training of the Iraqis, reducing the footprint over time and all the rest of that stuff.
That‘s completely separate from you guys need to engage Iran and Syria because that‘s the only way there‘s going to be any way out of an enormous conflagration in southwest Asian generally.
I don‘t—I don‘t think the perception ought to be that Iran and Syria are going to be able to help us out of Iraq. I thin that it‘s a damning indictment of the foreign policy of the United States in the region.
CARLSON: I agree with that. Will you both stay there if you don‘t mind? We‘ll be back in just one moment to have much more on that subject.
Still to come, 79 recommendations later, what should President Bush do now that the Iraq Study Group report suggests? Is there any way to get out of Iraq?
CARLSON: Still to come, it may sound like a lost cause but we‘ll talk to the one man in America who sincerely believes he can stop Hillary Clinton. Could he be right?
And Britney Spears‘ latest childrearing troubles. All that in just a minute. Right now, though, here‘s a look at your headlines.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Margaret Brennan with your CNBC market wrap.
Stronger than expected November jobs growth weighing on stocks today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down more than 22 points. The S&P 500 down just short of two the NASDAQ, off by 6.5.
Crude futures slipping a bit today, down to $0.24 to $62.19 a barrel in New York trading, despite modest declines in U.S. inventory.
German airline Lufthansa placing an order for 20 newly redesigned Boeing 747s as well as seven Airbus A308s in a deal worth almost $7 billion, Boeing is up fractionally on that news.
Yahoo! shares down more than two percent. Investors, unmoved by Yahoo‘s executive suite shakeup, aimed at boosting shares and attracting new users.
And the latest Got Milk? outdoor ad campaign featuring cookie-scented bus shelters is toast after complains from anti-fragrance, anti-obesity and anti-allergy groups. Now, back to MSNBC and TUCKER.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: This is an utter disaster. This is the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States. And now, we as a nation have to find a way, in George Mitchell‘s words, to manage the disaster.
SEN. HARRY REID, (D) NV: The president has the ball in his court now. It is up to President Bush to implement the recommendations of this commission, the study group. And we‘re going to be watching very closely after the first of the year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Those were of course former vice president Al Gore and Senator Harry Reid not hiding their opinions about the war in Iraq and the president‘s responsibility to end it. All of it raises obvious questions, is this war the worst disaster in U.S. history? And just what will President Bush do if anything with the suggestions of the Iraq Study Group?
Back with me with their thoughts, MSNBC political analyst and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan from Washington and MSNBC military analyst and retired army colonel, Jack Jacobs. Welcome to you both.
Colonel Jacobs, one of the recommendations is to close permanently all military bases in Iraq, when we pull out, leave nothing behind. How useful would it be to the military to have a permanent base or two in Iraq?
COL. JACK JACOBS, (RET), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it would be useful. But it is more significant from the standpoint to have several there from the standpoint not only of operating in the region, we can go to other countries in other region. In fact we have long-term leases with other countries there. But it is more significant to keep a military presence there, a combat military presence there as long as we‘re actually going to be there training the Iraqis.
I can‘t imagine that we are going to be completely gone from there except insofar as one of two things happen, it is a huge success. And the Iraqi unified government, it becomes somewhat of utopia or an Eden there, and everybody is happy and then we‘re really going to leave and not have anybody there or ...
CARLSON: Are you holding your breath?
JACOBS: At my age, it‘s not a good idea to waste any breath.
And secondly, if it‘s an enormous failure, anything other than those two things, we‘re going to have somebody there.
CARLSON: Pat, do you think we have a moral right to have bases in Iraq permanently?
PAT BUCHANAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don‘t think we have any moral right to have bases in Iraq. The Iraqis don‘t want us there. But I do believe this. We have got that giant Green Zone, an awful lot of Americans there. You have got 1,000, I guess, civilians there, and maybe 10,000 contractors working in the country. And as long as these fellows are there, I think you have to have enough military force there to protect these individuals and to prevent their becoming hostages or being slaughtered.
BUCHANAN: But I think if you left one military base in Iraq, that could be like Ft. Zinderneuf in “Beau Geste”, as you recall, which was .
CARLSON: Den Bien Phu. Completely. That‘s an excellent point.
Colonel Jacobs, what position does this leave the president in politically?
And how do you think the Pentagon is responding to this report?
JACOBS: Well, that‘s several questions all in one. The Pentagon—this
isn‘t anything but Rummy time. So it is a great improvement. My guess is
and I do know for a fact there‘s been lots of suggestions from military leaders in the last six years to do things very much differently than what is being done. Perhaps they will - they definitely will get an ear now.
In terms of the presidential politics, I think it is a very significant point that you raise. Domestic politics figures very, very heavily in my mind in what happens next. Don‘t forget, one of the reasons that we‘re almost undoubtedly going to make a concerted effort to get out of there one way or the other is that we have an election coming up in ‘08. And I think both the Republicans and Democrats want to see that happen.
And I think that every effort will be made to follow as many of these suggestions as possible to the extent that they result in a reduced American presence there, which is important for both sides of the aisle to have happen before the campaign starts in earnest.
CARLSON: Do you agree with that, Pat? Do you think the president is going to use this essentially, though he complained about it this morning, he‘s going to use this as cover?
BUCHANAN: I‘m not sure of that.
I think looking at this, I don‘t see how we do not lose the war if this policy is pursued. Because I think it is rooted, the policy recommended is grounded in hope. And hope is virtue and not a policy.
And I think the president could reject some of this. The interesting figure for 2008 is McCain. Now McCain believes you have to have a surge in troops now, maybe a lot more troops, to win this war. If we start moving out, we‘re walking out into a defeat. It is going to be interesting if the president starts moving out and McCain‘s issue is mooted, in other words we‘re not going to give him the troops, he has sort of indicated Sunday I believe that he might himself start calling for a pullout. And it would give him grounds on which to stand to reverse his position.
CARLSON: It does—He makes a good point, doesn‘t he, Colonel Jacobs, John McCain at least as his current position stands. That a pullout is a defeat. And a defeat is bad, it‘s not good for our perception of power abroad and it‘s not good for the way Americans see themselves. It is a disaster. Shouldn‘t we attempt to salvage something out of this?
JACOBS: Well, that‘s a good point, but as Lewis Carroll once said, If you don‘t know where you‘re going, any road will take you there. It‘s vitally important for the national command authority to pick an objective, whatever it happens to be. I believe it has, I believe it has picked the following objective, get out of Iraq as best we can training as many Iraqis as we can so the place doesn‘t fall apart immediately. And if it does manage to hang together, all to the good.
But to withdraw in any case, I think that‘s their objective. If their objective is actually to defeat the bad guys on the ground, military people know how to do that. It means that we‘re going to have to commit far larger forces than we ever would have three years ago. We‘re talking about doubling the force now or even more than that. And we‘re not going to do that.
BUCHANAN: The colonel raises another point. The Israelis, when they pulled out of Lebanon, for example, they went out al at once. The reason is, you start dribbling out, and the enemy waits that he can inflict a real defeat on you and make it look to the world like you have been thrown out. I think if we start drawing down forces, and you‘ve got Muqtada al Sadr, according to this report has got 60,000 fighters and a real reason to try and engage in battle with the United States and look like a victor. I think if you draw down forces, you become more and more vulnerable and the situation more and more dangerous. So if you‘re going to go out and you think this thing might come down, the thing to do may be to come out more rapidly than more slowly.
CARLSON: Well, that‘s—Everyone remembers vividly, 31 years ago, those horrible pictures of the people clinging to the struts of the helicopters as they took off from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon.
Jack Jacobs, you fought in that war. Is that war instructive, in that once the United States pulled out for the government of South Vietnam, that government collapsed. What‘s to prevent that from happening here?
JACOBS: Well, there‘s nothing from preventing it from collapsing. Indeed, there is an argument that says there is nothing to prevent it from collapsing now.
And Pat mentioned Muqtada al Sadr, for my money, that guy has got, except for the United States Army, he has got the best army in Iraq. And he is a force to be reckoned with now and certainly later on.
The difference between Vietnam and Iraq, however, in terms of the extraction that you were talking about, is that by the time you saw those helicopters on the roof of the embassy in 1975, there was almost nobody left. I was one of the last military guys as an advisor to leave in January of ‘73. And there were very, very few people remaining in Iraq - that was a Freudian slip - remaining in Vietnam at the time. Right now, we have got 150,000 troops there. The question is how do you withdraw them safely and still try to train the Iraqi forces both military and police?
CARLSON: Pat, what do you make of this announcement today, or the news today that Sylvestre Reyes, the incoming a chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, a Democrat, chosen by Nancy Pelosi, is going to be calling for more troops in Iraq? He was chosen, probably as I understand it because he was perceived to be dovish on the war in Iraq, in favor of withdrawal, he didn‘t vote for the war in the first place. Why would he do that, and what is his political significance?
BUCHANAN: Well, I think he‘s probably an honest man.
CARLSON: That hadn‘t even occurred to me.
BUCHANAN: I mean, really, for a Democrat to come in and be in that position an in effect take a position which is very unpopular now, obviously shows the fellow has some courage, I think. I don‘t know whether he‘s right or not. But there are a number of people. I mentioned General Zinni, who was very much against the war, who now believes you may need a surge in Baghdad to stop this thing from collapsing on us. So Reyes may have that exact position.
As I said, I would think the fellow is being genuinely honest. Because when somebody steps out and is going to be hurt or isolated by his position, I think it generally speaks well of his courage.
JACOBS: Let me stick in here. I agree. And I think one of the things that is in his mind at the moment is the following: if we‘re going to increase the number of training teams and the number of advisors who are going to try very, very quickly to bring the Iraqi Army up to speed, which is something we should have done three years ago—don‘t get me started on that. That means that if we have the right force there now for protection it means we have to have a little bit of a surge at least anyway to compensate for the people we‘re going to draw off the line to start training Iraqis. We are going to have to have some increase in combat power to both train and to protect the force.
CARLSON: Jack Jacobs, Pat Buchanan, thank you both very much. I appreciate it.
BUCHANAN: Thank you, Tucker.
CARLSON: Speaking of savage battles, can Hillary Clinton be stopped?
If Barack Obama isn‘t up to the challenge we know a man who is. The Texas businessman behind the Stop Her Now Campaign joins us and tells us why Hillary‘s radical ideas could ruin this country. Coming right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: The president and the vice president, who will ultimately decide, as the president is fond of saying, he is the decider—about the direction to pursue going forward in Iraq. And it is quite frustrating to many of us to see the mistakes that have been made. Some of which you‘ve enumerated and to wonder whether there‘s any change that will be pursued by the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARLSON: Well, in case you forgot to TiVo C-SPAN, that was Senator Hillary Clinton at yesterday‘s Senate confirmation hearings for Robert Gates. While the senator from New York might have her eyes fixed on an ‘08 run for the White House, there are people out there who have their gaze fixed on taking her down. Thanks God.
One of those people joins us now. He is Dick Collins. He has recently relaunched www.stophernow.com. It‘s a Web site designed to expose what he calls the senator‘s ultraliberal policies. Mr. Collins, thanks for joining us.
DICK COLLINS, STOPHERNOW.COM: Thank you, Tucker. It is good to be with you.
CARLSON: So isn‘t Barack Obama going to do your job for you?
COLLINS: Well, I don‘t think so. Barack Obama hasn‘t run into the Clinton machine yet. And so I suspect the Clintons are going to find out everything about Barack Obama that we don‘t know and let everybody know about it. And you have got to remember this guy was a state senator 23 months ago and it‘s highly improbable that he‘s going to have an easy path to the White House. Nobody has ever gotten a Republican or Democrat nomination handed to him on a silver platter.
CARLSON: Right. Though senators very rarely—Last time a senator, of course, won the presidency was 46 years ago.
COLLINS: Senator Dole got the nomination in ‘96.
CARLSON: Of course he did. I guess that‘s exactly my point. Would you welcome an Obama candidacy? Would you back him? I assume you‘re a Republican. Would you back Obama over Hillary?
COLLINS: I‘m a Republican. And I would not back Obama over Hillary. They both represent the left wing, the ultra left wing of the Democratic Party. When Hillary Clinton talks about the Iraq policy, they always talk about change, but they offer no specifics. Hillary Clinton is an ultraliberal.
CARLSON: How are you going to stop her?
COLLINS: Well, we‘re going to do it in a different way. A lot of time these independent expenditures, like the ones set up by George Soros, they raise a lot of money from rich people around the country and they beat up their opponent. We want to define Hillary Clinton as the ambitious, calculating, tough politician that she is. When you get in the way of the Clintons, sometimes you get trampled.
But we don‘t want to do that in a mean-spirited, ugly way, we want to do it with some fun where you come away from our Web site with a smile on your face.
So we have devised a Web site where are going to have a Hillary joke of the day and a cartoon of the day or week, but the main thrust is the “Hillary Show” which is our animated cartoon, if you will, where Hillary serves as the Jay Leno or Johnny Carson and Howard Dean serves as her sidekick. They will interview people and in our first episode, she interviews John Kerry.
CARLSON: That sounds completely bizarre. Doesn‘t this—I‘m not in any way disagreeing with you. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton for the past 14 years of public life has drawn strength from people like you, from her enemies. The reason Hillary Clinton is popular with the left wing is not because she‘s the most liberal Democrat in the world, she‘s not, but because she‘s perceived as a magnet for right wingers whom the Democratic base hates. So don‘t you make her stronger when you attack her?
COLLINS: We may maker stronger in her primary. That could be so but Hillary Clinton is not a centrist Democrat, she is an ultra left wing Democrat hat believes in higher taxes, more spending. And I fear her own policy on national security, if you look back at Clinton years, it was particularly weak when we got attacked at the World Trade Center, the Cole bombings and our two embassies being blown up. We had virtually no response. And the bad guys look for what the response is. And when you do nothing to them, they think they‘ve got free reign to go after you.
CARLSON: How much are you going to spend on this?
COLLINS: Well, I don‘t know. It‘s like any effort. You start as a small nucleus and it goes from there. We‘re off to a great start. We doubled the number of hits on our Web site. We‘re doing it over the Internet. Then from there, we may end up doing paid commercials or more organizational-type things in eight or 10 key states that are going to make up the outcome of the 2008 election.
CARLSON: Boil it down more me. Politics aside—I may never convince you, but I sincerely believe and I‘m certainly not a Hillary backer. But if you put her positions against those of the other potential candidates on the Democratic side in ‘08, she doesn‘t come out more left wing. They‘re all liberal. They‘re Democrats. What is it about Hillary Clinton that makes you mad?
COLLINS: Well, she is a very calculating and ambitious person. And the thing about the Clintons is that they‘re very disciplined. They have determined what type of Democrat—what the positions of the democrat need to be in order to win the presidential election in ‘08. When Bill Clinton got elected in ‘92, he ran as a new Democrat. He dramatically moved left as soon as he got there. And his first two years were a disaster for his presidency. So I think she represents the left wing of the Democratic Party and she is trying to masquerade as a centrist.
CARLSON: Have you ever met her?
COLLINS: I have not. I had the opportunity to meet President Clinton one time. I was dating a Democratic fund-raiser and I said take somebody who wants to meet him and so she did.
CARLSON: What do you think of her husband? Do you like him better?
COLLINS: President Clinton left office with a disgrace—in somewhat disgrace. Basically, he‘s rehabilitated himself. Democrats think of him as kind of a loveable rogue. And Republicans think of him as a loveable scumbag. But the operative word is he‘s kind of loveable. Nobody trusts their 18-year-old daughter with him, but we just kind of like him.
CARLSON: I wouldn‘t trust my seven year old daughter with him. Mr.
Collins thanks a lot for joining us.
Well, Britney Spears is out drinking champagne and dancing on tables with Paris Hilton. Who is looking after the kids? Good question. And that‘s reportedly what family services would like to know. We‘ve got details. We‘ll be right back.
CARLSON: Joining us now, the subject of one of the Iraq Study Group‘s 79 recommendations, Willie Geist.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC PRODUCER: I am. I‘m lethal. I‘m dangerous, Tucker. The subject of our last segment, by the way, Mr. Collins, I hate to rain on his parade, but I‘m pretty sure an animated cartoon is not going to thwart Hillary‘s march to the White House. You think?
CARLSON: I don‘t think it is, no. It‘s not going to stop her in her tracks.
GEIST: Good detentions and I think he called Bill Clinton a likeable scumbag. Is that what I heard him say?
CARLSON: Are we allowed to say that?
GEIST: No, but I said it again. Tucker, even as you delighted in the glorious sight of Britney Spears frolicking with Paris Hilton until all hours of the night lately a small part of you wonders, who is tending to Britney‘s two baby boys?
Apparently the Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services is wondering the same thing. A source tells the “New York Post” Family Services are trying to set up a meeting with Britney to check on the kids although a new report says that just might be bogus.
Meanwhile, hanging out with Britney has inspired Paris Hilton to talk about her dreams of motherhood. Paris tells “Life and Style Magazine” quote, “It‘s been my dream to have four babies by 30. I look after animals so I would have a lot to give my kids.”
And we all remember how good she was with the animals. Remember, she lost her Chihuahua for a several weeks and was posting things. A Kinkajoo (ph), sorry, whatever it was, a dog or something.
I actually have on good authority someone I know and am close to in the world of P.R. who once received a phone call from Paris Hilton saying I left my dog in a limo last night, I don‘t know what to do. That‘s a true story. So maybe four kids in the next five years isn‘t a good idea for Paris.
CARLSON: Boy, Willie Geist. You don‘t just read the news, you report the news.
GEIST: No. I‘m totally piped in, it‘s good stuff.
Tucker, every time you begin to think Americans are passionate about sports, you see something like this. Believe it or not, this riot did not take place at a soccer match in Liverpool, it happened at a basketball game in Serbia Riot police with flare guns were called in to break up the brawl between opposing fans.
Rioters charged the court as you can see there. They threw flares at each other and they even hurled the very chairs they were sitting on.
Tucker, every time I see something like this, a basketball riot, a parliamentary brawl in Thailand, it reminds we in the United States don‘t care enough. He are not passionate enough. We don‘t fight each other enough. We just go through the motions. We need to see more of this kind of passion in the U.S. Look at that.
CARLSON: I‘m not sure. This calls into serious question whether democracy is something that‘s suitable for a lot of countries.
GEIST: That‘s a good point. I think everything in the Balkans is sort of a metaphor for something else. There is more than a basketball game going on there.
CARLSON: That is true.
GEIST: Finally, Tucker, a really sick story for you. A mother and her son have been indicted in Washington State on charges they faked the son‘s retardation for 20 years so the mother could collect disability benefits.
Rosie Maria Costello insisted for years that her son Pete couldn‘t read, write, take care of himself or even drive a car. Well, prosecutors used the video seen here to call her a liar. The first part of the tape shows Pete feigning retardation around Social Security workers. And the second part shows him contesting a traffic ticket with no sign at all of a handicap.
Prosecutors say Pete works as an auto repairman and lives with his girlfriend and her two children. This pair has made over $222,000 over the years. It seems to me it wouldn‘t be that hard to pull off and I think maybe the Social Security workers are the ones who are a little slow maybe?
CARLSON: I agree. He plays speed chess in the park on the weekends and subscribes to “The New Yorker.”
GEIST: That‘s right.
CARLSON: Willie Geist. That‘s our show for to day. Thank you for watching. Up next, “HARDBALL” with Mike Barnicle. See you tomorrow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.