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Engel: There Have Been Five Wars In Iraq And The U.S. Record In Them Is Just 1-4

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"Engel: There Have Been Five Wars In Iraq And The U.S. Record In Them Is Just 1-4"

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The Bush administration and its allies have repeatedly tried to claim that because of the surge, the United States is winning the war in Iraq. In February, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on The Tonight Show, “And by golly, they are winning, my friends. They are winning. They are winning.” Just this week, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) claimed that Iraqi opposition to a long-term security agreement with the United States is a sign of “success.”

McCain has visited Iraq eight times since the U.S. invasion in 2003, a fact that he likes to tout as evidence of his national security credentials. NBC correspondent Richard Engel, however, has logged more time there than almost every other tv correspondent over the past few years, surviving bombings and kidnapping attempts.

Yesterday on the Daily Show, he sharply disputed the right-wing claim that the United States is winning in Iraq:

STEWART: What’s our record in these five wars? [...]

ENGEL: Maybe we’re 1-4.

STEWART: We’re 1-4 now. What are the five wars?

ENGEL: The shock and awe — the invasion. Then the nation-building phase, which had mixed results, dissolving the Iraqi army. Then an insurgency, then a civil war, then the surge, where violence has gone down dramatically. We’re about to face a sixth war — the exit strategy — and we have to figure out how to make that one a success.

This morning on MSNBC, Engel said that while, tactically, the surge has had some success, “the larger strategic question of stability in Iraq is one that is still unresolved.” Watch his Daily Show and MSNBC appearances:

Part of the right wing’s arguments about why the United States should stay in Iraq is that if troops redeploy, Iran will gain influence. But as Engel said on MSNBC, Iran’s influence in Iraq is already “huge” because of the U.S. invasion, a point that has been underlined by Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen as well.

Transcript:

STEWART: How can you explain then that so few people have done what you have done? American correspondents, staying there throughout, really dedicating themselves.

ENGEL: It’s been very difficult. It’s gone on for a long time, and really, there have been five different wars in Iraq, and some people have been present for a few of them.

STEWART: What’s our record in these five wars?

ENGEL: It’s mixed, mixed.

STEWART: What are we, 3-2? 4-1?

ENGEL: Maybe we’re 1-4.

STEWART: We’re 1-4 now. What are the five wars?

ENGEL: The shock and awe — the invasion. Then the nation-building phase, which had mixed results, dissolving the Iraqi army. Then an insurgency, then a civil war, then the surge, where violence has gone down dramatically. We’re about to face a sixth war — the exit strategy — and we have to figure out how to make that one a success.

—-

HOST: What do you think the extent of the Iranian influence is?

ENGEL: Huge. Huge. Right now, the U.S. policy is to engage the Iraqis. To do a hearts and mind policy. Iran has been doing that since ’03, and they’ve been doing that very effectively.

FORD: The tactical success of this surge, versus the strategic. How do you gage it? We’ve heard politicians say there’s been incredible tactical advantages made, but if we pull back — there’s not been much made on the political reconciliation front. I’ve heard you explain, eloquently, the difference between Sunni and Shi’a and really the long-term challenge in Iraq. Combine those two and give us —

ENGEL: Tactically, yes. It has been a very — Our tactics in Iraq, or the U.S. military’s tactics in Iraq, have never been a real problem. U.S. forces wanted to topple Saddam Hussein’s government; within 21 days, they reached Baghdad and toppled Saddam Hussein’s government.

Now U.S. forces went in to try to reduce violence. They did. So what are we going to do? And the larger strategic question of stability in Iraq is one that is still unresolved.

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