PJ Media

Austin Bay's Deep Background: A Blogosphere Panel On Iraq

As part of his ongoing Deep Background podcast series, Austin Bay hosts a panel of top Bloggers on the state of Iraq, five years after America’s ouster of Saddam Hussein.

April 12th Austin Bay’s Deep Background On Iraq


A transcript of Austin’s interview is available below:


With Guests:
Glenn Reynolds
Michael Totten
Bill Roggio
Jules Crittenden

April 9, 2008

Transcribed for use only by PAJAMASMEDIA by eScribers, LLC

MR. BAY: Welcome to pjmedia.com’s Deep Background. I’m Austin Bay, your host. You’ll find my website and blog at austinbay.net. You’ll find Pajamas Media at pjmedia.com, the blog collective of over one hundred of the most active and interesting web logs on the internet.

This week, a special program: Iraq: Five Years On. We’re recording this program on April 9th, 2008, five years to the day that crowds in Baghdad toppled Saddam Hussein’s Stalinesque statue.

And we’ll go straight to our guests, an infield’s worth of guests, third base, short stop, second base, first base. First, Bill Roggio of Long War Journal. Hello, Bill.

MR ROGGIO: Hello, Austin. It’s a pleasure.

MR. BAY: Jules Crittenden of the Boston Herald.

MR. CRITTENDEN: How do you do?

MR. BAY: Glad to have you, Jules. Michael Totten, michaeltotten.com. Hello, Michael.

MR. TOTTEN: Hi, Austin. How you doing today?

MR. BAY: I’m doing well. And Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. Hello, Glenn.

MR. REYNOLDS: Hi. Great to be here.

MR. BAY: Now here’s how I’m going to suggest we approach this very complex topic especially with four complex guests. Here’s my frame. Since August 1990, we’ve had five wars or five campaigns in Iraq. First of all, Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Second, the war of U.N. sanctions. That’s a slow war that began in April 1991 and continued until March 2003. Then from March to May 2003 or thereabouts, the war of liberation. From the late summer of 2003 until late fall 2006, we had the complex insurgency. Recall that Iraq’s democratic government only took power in May 2006. The execution of Saddam Hussein and the beginning of the so-called surge provides something of an in-point for this fourth phase, the complex insurgency. I’ll call the current war, the current campaign, Nation Building, though the popular name might be The Surge.

So, Bill Roggio, of Long War Journal, I’ve described a very long war starting August 2nd, 1990. Any problems with this framework?

MR ROGGIO: No. I think generally this framework is perfect. You know, people want to go back and forget that the — you know, that nearly a decade of sanctions were a complete failure in containing Saddam Hussein. Everyone gets wrong what the actual Duelfer report said about Saddam and the chemical weapons or his WMD program. He was building a covert capacity and trying to wait out the U.S. to leave.

You know — and in some ways 2007 here there also was sort of a war for liberation here as well. We, in the Iraqi security forces, worked to liberate Iraq from al-Qaeda in Iraq, wrest control from them in large swaths of territory in the center and northern parts of the country. But, yes, I would agree completely that this is a very good way of looking at this war.

MR. BAY: Well, the title of the program is Five Years On but I thought if we were going to talk about it, we ought to look at that you could be counting at seventeen or eighteen years.

Jules Crittenden, you’re certainly a veteran of the war of liberation. You were there in — what months were you there in early 2003, Jules?

MR. CRITTENDEN: Basically, in March and April there. I was attached to — as a reporter, I was embedded with the Third Infantry Division with a tank company that ended up leading the assault on the palaces. So when the big statue was pulled down, we’d actually been in Baghdad for two days engaged in moderate to heavy combat during much of that time. In fact, when that statue was pulled down, I was on the phone with my editor. And he told me this was happening. And I said well, we’re two miles north of there and they don’t know the war is over yet up here.

But, you know, I remember that time. You know, people think it was a walk-over. In fact, it was not. It was one of the bloodiest months of the war for the Americans and for the opposition forces at that time, some thousands killed. I don’t think we have a good accurate number on how many were killed in that time. But I also remember it kind of as a time of innocence. And something that comes to mind for me was sitting in the desert immediately prior to some operations with an army captain who has subsequently been back a couple of times. And he was saying at the time, you see these tanks, these Abrams tanks and these M-4 rifles? In five years, the Iraqi army, the free Iraqi army, will be driving these tanks and firing these weapons. And he was sort of envisioning a new kind of free Americanized nation, maybe a kite-flying nation, I don’t know.

But, you know, I had no idea what was going to come. And I don’t pretend to, at that time, had any idea of what was going to come, what we would see in the next five years. But I also knew that we were dealing with a complex Arab nation. And I said to him at the time. I said, you know, what we’re doing right now is the easy part. The hard part is what’s going to come. This is a — getting an Arab nation to really cooperate with anything like this is not going to be easy. And the United States government is like a super tanker. This job will require speed boats. And I think what we’ve finally seen in the last year or so is the speed boat being deployed in the form of the counterinsurgency strategy that’s in effect now.

MR. BAY: Well, Jules, you were there at the moment of euphoria when the statue toppled even though you said that you were still under fire, gunfire going on two miles away from the plaza. But you saw first-hand, and correct me if I’m wrong, first-hand people who were glad to see coalition soldiers there taking down that dictatorship.

MR. CRITTENDEN: You know, the day after that on April 10th, I could remember we were driving in an M113, an armored vehicle, we were sitting on top of the vehicle, and there were cheering Iraqis everywhere. And one of the GIs says, you know, it feels like a parade. It feels like I should be throwing candy. That’s what he said. Now, at the same time, we also saw people pushing handcarts loaded up with air conditioners and television sets and emptying out government buildings. That was immediately underway. As a matter of fact, on April 9th, the day I described, when I was hearing about the statue coming down and there was gunfire coming up the street. There were RPGs machine gunfire coming up the street from a mosque full of recalcitrants. There literally — I can remember looking up the street and seeing Iraqis with loaded up handcarts full of looted items coming out of alleys, looking both ways like they were waiting for the traffic to clear. And the traffic was all gunfire. And then they’d push themselves across the street with the looted stuff. It was — it was unbelievable to me the audacity of these people. And I think that one of the big surprises was we expected — these were people who were politically psychologically traumatized by the events of the previous thirty — twenty-five to thirty years under the Baathist regime. And we’ve seen that, in fact, they are a traumatized people, but at the same time, I expected a cowed people. And that’s not what we found.

MR. BAY: Michael Totten, first of all, I think you and Michael Yon have produced some of the war’s finest journalism. You’ve been in Iraq. You’ve been throughout the Middle East. First, tell everyone where you’ve predominantly worked in Iraq.

MR. TOTTEN: Well, I’ve been all over north and central Iraq. I’ve been to — in central Iraq, I’ve been to Baghdad, Ramadi, Fallujah and Al Karmah. And up north, I’ve been to Kirkuk, which sort of straddles the line between the Kurdish region and the Arab region. Kirkuk is not really fifty/fifty Kurdish/Arab but it’s slightly majority Kurdish. But it’s right there on the line. And I’ve also been up in the Kurdish autonomous region in all three major cities.

MR. BAY: Well, let’s pick up on something that Jules Crittenden said just a moment ago. He said the Iraqi people were traumatized but not cowed. Would you agree with that assessment?

MR. TOTTEN: Well, I wasn’t there when he was there so I can’t really — I can’t really talk about that era. But they don’t seem to be cowed. None of them seem to be cowed anywhere that I’ve been. So I mean, I can’t speak to the era that Jules is talking about but certainly now that’s the case.

MR. BAY: Well, let me ask you — I don’t know what this is, the trillion dollar question. Based on your experience throughout Iraq, central Iraq — I’m supposing Baghdad as well as Anbar and of course in Kurdistan. Was Iraq better off under the rule of Saddam Hussein?

MR. TOTTEN: No, I don’t think so. I mean, it was for some individuals. Those who were Saddam loyalists undoubtedly did better under the previous government. There’s no question about that. But these people were not the majority. For one thing, there were hardly any Saddam loyalists outside of Sunni Arab ethnicity and they’re only fifteen to twenty percent of the country. And then we’re still only talking about the elite of those people. So, as far as this country as a whole goes, no, it was definitely worse off under Saddam Hussein. You might say that the country was better off under Saddam Hussein before all these wars in Iraq started, before the Iran/Iraq war, before the invasion of Kuwait and the sanctions and all that. But it’s been a very long time since Iraq has been in a better —

MR. BAY: But the Iran/Iraq war started in 1980. And didn’t Saddam take power right there in the late seventies? 1979?

MR. CRITTENDEN: You know, I think that the — if I can interject one point, his actual taking power, you’ll recall, was a horrific event in the Iraqi parliament where he sat there and people were hauled out and executed. You remember the event I’m talking about?

MR. BAY: Oh, that’s — that’s on videotape, as a matter of fact. That Jules — is that Jules Crittenden adding that?

MR. CRITTENDEN: Yes, that’s right. Around ’78, ’79 and — I encountered in the time that I was there among the contacts I had with Iraqis, there were a number of people who were very specifically victims who came forward. Anywhere from, like, a colonel who had lost his job because he didn’t become a Baathist to a guy who saw — the guys I was with pulling down some other Saddam statue. He was ashen gray, he was weak and his friends were holding him up. He had just been released from Abu Ghraib. And — from Saddam’s Abu Ghraib. And he was looking around and he was saying this is like a dream. And he was clearly terrified because he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. And he had just spent the previous three or four months in the custody of Saddam’s, you know, intelligence services being worked over and electrocuted and that sort of thing.

MR. BAY: Let me get back to Michael Totten. Michael, I realize that this is one of those difficult broad questions, but based on your experience, the people that you’ve talked to, the people that you’ve written about — Five Years On, what are the Iraqis that you’ve talked saying about the last five years or about their hopes for the next five years?

MR. TOTTEN: Well, I haven’t actually asked them about what their hopes for the next five years are. And as far as what the last five years, it really depends on where in Iraq you ask the question. Up in Kurdistan especially, the last five years have been euphoric. I mean, that place is almost total security and a massive economic zone. And in Baghdad and Anbar province, it’s definitely sketchier. The last five years have been — I mean, frankly, a catastrophe to these people.
But, you know, what was going on in these places before was a catastrophe, too. Everybody that I’ve spoken to hoped, you know, that there’s some kind of normalcy comes out of Iraq in the future. But especially in the Anbar province. Nobody has good memories the last five years. Because it was horrifically violent in places like Fallujah and Ramadi. And it’s much better now. So what you really hear from these people out there is that thank God all that’s over.

MR. BAY: Glen Reynolds, let’s bring you in. Glenn, you’ve covered this war’s media and political elements as closely and acutely as any commentator. You know, I think the Bush administration did a terrible job with the information and — at least political information side of the war. Did they and, if so, why did they?

MR. REYNOLDS: Yeah, they did. And I think there are a couple of reasons for it. I think part of it is that they concluded early on that it was a game they couldn’t win, that the media deck was so thoroughly stacked against them that they were better off employing their resources and energies elsewhere. It certainly was a game that was stacked against them. And we’ve seen that over and over again from, you know, Eason Jordan’s admission that CNN actively covered up Saddam’s crimes before and during the war in order to get access to the various fake photo scandals and bogus news reports that we see on a pretty steady basis coming out of Iraq to this very day. So they had an uphill battle. Nonetheless, I think it was a mistake to cede the battlefield to the enemy which I think is what they did. I think that, you know, terrorism, as somebody said — it might have been you — is really an information war disguised as a military conflict.

MR. BAY: I did say that.

MR. REYNOLDS: If you opt out of the information war part of it, you’re really handicapping yourself. And I think it was also been quite damaging.

MR. BAY: Well, let’s talk about Abu Ghraib. Now I realize that Jules Crittenden’s on here and Jules understands the gunfire aspect. I spent a good slug of 2004 in Iraq. But looking at the conflict since March of 2003 — Abu Ghraib. Abu Ghraib still crops up in headlines. I saw Leonard Pitts had an essay on Abu Ghraib within the last week. How does Abu Ghraib rate, Glenn? Is that America’s biggest defeat?

MR. REYNOLDS: Well, you’ve got to realize that for a large part of the media, Abu Ghraib was a far more significant event than, say, the 9/11 attacks ’cause in the 9/11 attacks, you know, Muslim terrorists looked bad and Americans died. But in Abu Ghraib, all the iniquity that they had always believed was part of the American military machine seemed to have appeared tied up with a ribbon. It was a major defeat though — you know, and this is maybe where my earlier criticism of the Bush administration sort of cuts both ways. It was an inevitable defeat because they were looking for anything they could tie up in that package. And given the kinds of things that go on in war, they were bound to find something sooner or later. However, the Bush administration didn’t deal with it very well. And, you know, as usual, their strategy in these PR debacles has been mostly just to go hunker down and wait for them to go away.

MR. BAY: Well, Bill Roggio first and Jules Crittenden next on this. I’ll toss this up and if you guys want to cross-talk about it, great. What part does Iraq — and we’re five years from the war of liberation, as I called it. What part does Iraq play in the global war on terror. Bill, would you go first?

MR ROGGIO: Sure. Iraq plays an essential role in the global war on terror. And if you listen to Osama bin Laden and Aymen al-Zawahiri will tell you about Iraq, they have — Osama bin Laden has called Baghdad the epicenter of the war against the west. This is in 2005/2006 time frame. Zawahiri has called Iraq the central front in the war against the west. They believe it. They’ve committed significant resources, money, weapons, trained fighters into Iraq to kill or to disrupt the establishment of the Iraqi government. Al Qaeda believes it. We’ve captured or killed numerous mid-level al Qaeda operatives moving into Iraq. Abdul al-Habi is one who came in. We captured him as he was trying to enter Iraq. He was al Qaeda’s operations chief in northeastern Pakistan. He was an Iraqi himself. He had numerous ties with senior al Qaeda leaders. There’s no doubt that — you know, al Qaeda believes that if they can drive us from Iraq, they can drive us from any country in the Middle East and they can establish a foothold, a caliphate there and then continue to expand. Whether that’s realistic or not, that’s a separate question. But we have to look at what our enemy thinks about this and how they’re acting. And we need to understand that it needs to be counted. You can argue up and down for whatever reason whether you think it was good or bad to go into Iraq after going into Afghanistan. But to me, that point is moot. We are in Iraq now. Al Qaeda is fighting us there now. They’re committing their forces there. We must do the same. You know, not — of course, not at the — you know, not ignoring other theaters. And we need to take the fight to them and we need to drive them out of that country. And one thing I think people forget is that what we have now is a country that has seen what al Qaeda — you know, a central country in the Middle East that has seen what al Qaeda has to offer and they have rejected it.

MR. BAY: Jules Crittenden, what part does Iraq play in a global war on terror?

MR. CRITTENDEN: Well, I’d like to take one step back from what Bill was — I agree with everything that Bill was saying there. But when we talk about the issue of whether we should have gone into this war or not, some key points that would tend to support the idea of preemptive war are often overlooked. All the dynamics that were triggered by the American invasion existed before we got there. They were held in check by the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein but a blood bath was always in Iraq’s future. Because of the way that Saddam had used people and abused the people of Iraq, because of their ethnic make-up, the way that they had been pitted against each other quite brutally with a suppressed Shiite majority that had very strong ties to Iran, it was inevitable that at some point there would be a challenge. Saddam would die or there would be a challenge to Saddam and that place was going to explode. Now when that happened, you would have Syria involved. You would have Iran involved very heavily in that which creates a whole different set of regional and global problems because of where that neighborhood is, sitting on the world’s biggest oil supplies.

So what is happening now, what has been happening over the past five years, is more like a controlled burn. It’s horrible and it’s horrible to even — to talk about it in those kinds of terms. The fact of the matter is, imagine it without us there putting a lid on that and trying to guide it into a responsible modern kind of a scenario. That would have been happening without us present. Iran would be all over that place. Syria would be in there. And so you have to ask yourself, would that be to our interest or the world’s interest.

I think the other piece of it to bear in mind is yes, this is now a — you know, a major battlefield for al Qaeda. You know, a Pentagon report comes out a few weeks ago and everybody jumps on the no-direct operational links. But what — you know, between Saddam’s intelligence services and Iraq — or al Qaeda, excuse me. But the fact of the matter is that there were extensive communications between Saddam’s regime and various al Qaeda-linked groups. They were in communication. There’s also indications in there that they were funneling money to some parties. They had a common enemy which was us. They were both pariah state/organizations and I don’t think that Iran can be ruled out of that picture either because you have to remember that Saddam and Iran within two years of the end of their horrible bloody war cooperated when he hid his air force there from us. He flew it to Iran. They were welcomed there.

And so the notion that in the post 9/11 era absent the sanctions regime, which was collapsing thanks to our European friends, the likelihood that there would be some level of cooperation between any of those parties, all of which share us as an enemy, the Baathists, Saddam’s regime, Iran, al Qaeda, I think that’s an extremely high likelihood that that would have happened. So what we’ve ended up with — you know, preemptive war has been a highly controversial situation. But I think that Bush was right five years ago, seven years ago when he said we can no longer tolerate these kinds of situations. And in my view, the greatest failing of the last seven years was the failure to build up the military. In 2001, in October of 2001, they could have gone to Congress and said you know something, we’re going to war. We have half an army here, half a cold war army. We’re going to be using it. At that point in time, they would have had recruits lined up around the block. They would have had a blind check and we would not be facing a lot of the problems that we’re facing right now. But we no longer live in a world where we can tolerate rogue despots trying to acquire nuclear weapons cooperating as we now see that Iran is — the reports are just — you know, in the last couple of days we’re seeing that al Qaeda in Iraq is being accused by other insurgent groups of taking money from Iran. It’s not like they need to talk us into taking offense to al Qaeda. We already are. You know, where there’s smoke there may well be fire in that case.

MR ROGGIO: If I can interject real — two quick real points. I completely agree with Jules in that our greatest failure or one of our two greatest failures after 9/11 is the failure to double the size of the military. If we wanted to take on these responsibilities, we needed to be prepared to deal with them properly. And our military was and still is too small.

The second point is Iraq — and Jules alluded to this. What Iraq has done is it has exposed the leanings of countries in the Middle East, Syria and Iran. We know so much more about their intelligence operations based on our interactions in Iraq. We know more about the Quds force. We’ve taken them on. We’ve captured Quds force and Hizbollah commanders in southern Iraq. In Syria, we have a good picture of what al Qaeda’s rat lines are into the country and how the Syrian regime operates with them. You know, there’s no other way to know your enemy but to engage them. There’s no better way to know your enemy than to engage them. And that is one of the things that we’ve done in Iraq. Again, I can — you can agree or disagree whether you think Iraq was a good idea after Afghanistan. But we’re there; we did it. Our enemy is taking the fight to us and we have — know and learned a lot more about them in the last five years in Iraq than we would have just by enforcing or trying to enforce failed sanctions and a failed blockade.

MR. BAY: Let’s bring Michael Totten back in. And Michael, I want to pick up on something that Jules Crittenden said a moment ago. He talked about the United States as a common enemy. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s emir in Iraq in February 2004 said that a democratic Iraq was an enemy. And since, a democratic Iraq, a democratic federal Iraq would be a common enemy of the entire slew of characters that Jules outlined a moment ago, insurgent groups in Iran. Now, you’ve spent time in Kurdistan, Michael, sometimes called the Iraq that works. Does a federal democratic Iraq have a chance?

MR. TOTTEN: Well, it depends on if you want to include the Kurds in it. I mean, if the — if Kurdistan were to succeed, you would still have eighty percent of the people in Iraq just still existing in Iraq. And they would still presumably call the country Iraq. And the majority of the Sunnis and the Shiites do want to remain in the same country. But most of the Kurds don’t. Now, the Kurdish regional government is not talking about secession right now. But there was a non-binding referendum a couple of years ago in the Kurdish autonomous region and I think it was ninety-eight or ninety-nine percent of people who voted to secede from Baghdad. And there’s no way that this is going to be — this isn’t going to come up again at some point in the future unless a couple of things happen. The Kurds are going to have to continue to be unable to secede for various reasons, which exists right now, being that Turkey threatens to invade. They don’t have the infrastructure for a viable state yet. Also, Baghdad is going to have to offer the Kurds something that they can’t refuse, something that they can’t get on their own. The way the Kurds look at it now is that the Arabs of Iraq formally oppressed them, and committed genocide against them and the current state of Iraq’s South Kurdistan is extremely dysfunctional, much more dysfunctional than Kurdistan. And so they figure why should we stay in this ridiculous country. And unless the rest of Iraq offers them something, they’re not going to want to stay. And eventually, it’s going to come to a head. But Iraq could still exist without Kurdistan, theoretically.

MR. BAY: Glenn Reynolds, is the next big battle in Iraq the United States’ presidential campaign of 2008?

MR. REYNOLDS: It’s certainly one of the big battles. The upside is that it’ll be a year or so from now before the next president can make much of a difference which provides a certain amount of breathing space kind of no matter what. But I think that an awful lot of interested parties are watching the election. I think it’s going to be very useful for us over the summer. It’s not obviously going to be a Democratic walk-over. That’s going to encourage people to cooperate in ways they are more likely to do if they fear a McCain presidency is at least a realistic possibility. And I think, you know, the Democrats are kind of conflicted on the Iraq issues. It means a lot to their constituencies. It’s a big issue for them. But they miscalculated last year when Petraeus testified. You saw a very different tone that they took this time around. And they’re very afraid of Iran. They, in some ways, have never recovered from being seen as a party that favored defeat in Vietnam even though most Americans, by the end of the war at least, wanted the war to be over. They didn’t like the idea of people glorying in us losing. And there are a lot of Democrats right now who are visibly happy with the idea of a defeat to Iraq and that’s just long term political poison. So they’ve got to sort of manage to deal with that.

MR. BAY: Gentlemen, we’re coming up on time. Any last thoughts?

MR. CRITTENDEN: It’s Jules here again. The couple thoughts that I have is that recently we hit the gleefully reported grim milestone of 4000 American soldiers dead. It’s — politically, it is literally a bloody shirt that is waved. And what is shocking to me is the willingness of people to throw those sacrifices away. Of all those lives and the thousands more people who have been wounded, particularly the time when we see some fruit being born. You know, we see stability coming. We see Iraqis who are great pull for that kind of stability. And we see that this can work. And so the idea of wasting those American lives and all the Iraqi lives that were also lost in this process is unconscionable.

Beyond that, you were talking about — Glenn was talking about Vietnam and the consequences — political consequences to the Democratic party. I would add that people have been allowed to think that there were not broader global consequences to the abandonment of Vietnam. Abandonment does not happen without consequences. We saw what happened in Cambodia. But we also saw what happened in Afghanistan where an emboldened Soviet Union invaded — and they knew that we would not do anything serious about that. We saw what Iran did unchallenged to our embassy, to us. And the message that has been sent all the way down the line, Mogadishu, they’ve talked about this. Osama bin Laden talks about this that the Americans will run. Just wait. The Americans will run. You bloody their nose and they’ll run. And I’m not sure that a superpower can survive those kinds of self-inflicted blows repeatedly. And I look around the world today and I look at the people waiting in the wings who would very much like to be superpowers, China, Russia, even Iran. People who would like to be much bigger players than they currently are even if they can’t quite manage to be superpowers. And I don’t really want to see a United States that behaves like Europe. I don’t think that’s good for the world. It’s certainly not good for us.

MR. BAY: Anyone else? Short thought.

MR ROGGIO: Sure. This is Bill. I just returned from a couple of weeks in Mosul where the Iraqi security forces are in the lead fighting al Qaeda and this is one of a last — al Qaeda’s attempts to regroup up in the north. You know, we look at the U.S. casualties and it is terrible but we have to put this in context of past wars. And we also have to remember that the Iraqi security forces themselves are taking casualties depending on the month, two to four times that of the U.S. Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi police are standing up to groups like al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sunna and the Mahdi army and the Iranian-backed special groups. You know, we forget this. We think that there is just a U.S. war versus insurgents and we have a very real partner in this war. And, you know, what we gain from fighting in Iraq over the next five years and from the last five years, again, is just intelligence that is going to pay dividends in this very long war.

MR. BAY: Michael Totten, Glenn Reynolds, any last thought?

MR. TOTTEN: I’ll just make one quick point. This is Michael. That everything we’ve tried in Iraq has failed up until this last year with General Petraeus’ new counter-insurgency strategy. And it seems to me that once we finally figured out something that actually works in this country that abandoning it now would be gratuitous for one thing because it’s working and also very destructive because if there’s future trouble down the line in Iraq that we have to get involved in, we’re not going to be able to just go and resume where General Petraeus left off. Whatever we’re going to do in Iraq, beyond this we’ve ended it and the place goes to hell like, say, Gaza did after the Israelis left. We’re likely going to be stuck in a hopeless situation with Iraq in sort of the way the Israelis are with the Palestinians. And this is hardly the time to quit. If the surge strategy fails then maybe we can make the argument that we’re just going to have to let it go anyway. But until that happens, it just seems really stupid.

MR. BAY: Glenn Reynolds?

MR. REYNOLDS: Well, I think that’s right. And I think that — you know, Ann Althouse’s comment on Ted Kennedy after the Petraeus testimony was a year ago you wanted to give up ’cause we were losing and now you want to give up because we’re winning. There’s a common theme there. I think that it’s important to win. And my prediction for the coming year, which is something that I think Petraeus telegraphed a little bit in his testimony is to keep your eye on Iran. I think there is more going on with Iran under the surface than we’re hearing about and I think that’s likely to make the big news in the coming twelve months.

MR. BAY: Well, gentlemen, thank you very much. Jules Crittenden, thank you.

MR. CRITTENDEN: Thank you.

MR. BAY: Bill Roggio, thank you.

MR ROGGIO: Thank you very much, Austin.

MR. BAY: Michael Totten, thanks for being here.

MR. TOTTEN: Thanks for having me, Austin.

MR. BAY: And, Glenn Reynolds, as always, thanks for being on Deep Background.

MR. REYNOLDS: Thanks for having me.

MR. BAY: Until our next podcast, this is Deep Background at PajamasMedia.com and a special thanks to our producer, Ed Driscoll, another Pajamas Media blogger. Please visit Ed’s website at Ed Driscoll.com. For Deep Background and pjmedia.com, I’m Austin Bay.