John McCain, Michael Ware, Truth About Iraq

McCain is in Neverland

© copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Perhaps, I was not alone.  I stood watching the images and listening to the discussion; I was mesmerized.  Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain stood, straight faced, and stated, Iraq, specifically the Green Zone is safe.  Perchance the Wizard, the once magical McCain, is hiding behind the curtain, oblivious to the strife that exists daily in the world of Oz.

Michael Ware, Cable News Network Correspondent has spent more than one short day in the Emerald City.  He rebuffs the senior Senators claim.  The battle is on, or perhaps, it is only continuing.  Is the mission in Iraq accomplished or aggravated by the presence of America troops.  Stay tuned.

Wolf Blitzer, of Cable News network offered an introduction to his interview with the esteemed Senator McCain.  Notably, the Presidential candidate McCain ends his commentary by chastising the Journalist.

Senator John McCain [R], Arizona: You know that’s where you ought to catch up on things, Wolf.  General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed Humvee.  I think you ought to catch up.

After, this snippet, Wolf Blitzer resigns himself and remarks . . .

Still ahead tonight here in The Situation Room, our man in Baghdad wonders if Senator John McCain is living in Neverland.

We, the audience are then introduced to Michael Ware, war Correspondent in Iraq.  We hear him state . . .

Ware: To suggest that there’s any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous.  I’d love Senator McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.

The segment is followed by another.  The Senator suggests . . .

McCain: If I’m wrong, you’ve got a lot more problems than anything it does to my political reputation.

It seems we have trouble, right here in the Emerald City.  We also have deep dilemmas in the United States.  The divide in the States is evident to us, citizens of America.  However, what is a world away is less so.  Who might we believe, a beleaguered Presidential candidate, or the press, Michael Ware a Cable News Network Correspondent stationed in Iraq.

Our elder statesman loudly proclaims that a surge is and has been sufficient, that peace is found within the Iraqi borders, within Baghdad.  Yet, we watch as the United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-moon flinches in the face of bombing in the Green Zone.  We hear haranguing tales.  Still, a former prisoner of war declares, there is no need for distress.  Everything is working well.  There is no reason for concern.  Oh really?

I offer the transcript of the interviews, the intial discussion with Senator John McCain of Arizona, and the ensuing dialogue with Reporter, Michael Ware, postioned and holding on for dear life in Iraq.  Dear reader, you decide.

I’m Wolf Blitzer.  You’re in The Situation Room.  Tonight, Democrats say they’re taking a new step toward bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq.  The Senate voted 50-48 in support of a timetable for withdrawal of the U.S.  forces in defiance of a presidential veto threat, but some Republicans calling it a surrender date. 

The debate is weighing very heavily on the race for the White House and Republican Senator John McCain.  I pressed the Arizona Republican about his support for the president’s troop buildup and Democrats demands to begin a pullout.  But the Democrats, or at least some of them are saying, you know what, let’s say you’re right.  Maybe you give them another year, the Iraqis — it’s now year five of this war — give them another year to get their act together, strengthen their military, strengthen their police force, strengthen their whole political environment there and then you begin to leave.  Do you think they can get their act together over the next year? 

McCain: I’m sure.  I’m confident that they can to a large degree, but that’s like saying after the Korean War, after we had a cease-fire that we would immediately pull out.  We kept our troops there and we keep them there as a stabilizing force.  I think that there’s no doubt that we may require troops there for a long period of time, a long period of time, but at the same time we can achieve success and American troops withdraw from the front battle lines… 

Blitzer: How much time do you think, Senator, the Iraqis need to be really in charge of their own security? 

McCain: I don’t know the answer to that.  And when I venture a guess, then we have a date for withdrawal.  What I’m saying is we are achieving success.  The key to it is not U.S.  presence.  It’s U.S.  casualties and if we can keep U.S.  casualties down as we did after the Korean War, obviously, Americans won’t mind that and Americans have got to understand the consequences of failure. 

Failure is catastrophe.  Failure is genocide.  Failure means we come back.  Failure means they follow us home.  The consequences of failure that one of the most disingenuous — two disingenuous aspects about the Democrats’ position — one is what do you do if we leave?  What do you do if Iraq deteriorates into chaos?  And second, if you really feel this way, if you really feel it, then bring them home tomorrow.  That’s the intellectually honorable thing to do. 

Blitzer: Here’s the latest poll in the “USA Today”/Gallop poll asked about setting a timetable for withdrawal by fall of 2008.  Sixty percent say they favor such a timetable.  Thirty-eight percent say they oppose it.  You would be in the 38 percent.  Why is the American public or at least the majority of the American public disagreeing with you? 

McCain: Because the American public is frustrated and angry and saddened by our failure and mismanagement of the war for nearly four years.  And they would like to see us be out of there, but they also want us to succeed.  You know better than I do, it’s how you ask the questions in a poll. 

If I ask the question, if I can show you a path to success that involves maintaining a U.S. presence there for an extended period, you have 80 percent of the American people say yes, if we can show them path for success.  And Joe Lieberman could never have been reelected in Connecticut if it was as clear cut as some describe it that Americans just want us out.  Because his opponent, clearly that was his position. 

Blitzer: If the situation a year from now, Senator, is what it is basically today, what will that say to you?  McCain: It won’t be.  It won’t be.  It will be better or worse.  No military person… 

Blitzer: Well, what if it is worse? 

McCain: Then obviously we are going to have to examine a set of bad options.  But I’m confident it won’t be.  I’m confident hell won’t freeze over.  I’m confident we can succeed if we stay with this strategy.  And if I’m wrong, we have got a lot more problems than anything it does to my political reputation. 

Blitzer: Here’s what you told Bill Bennett on his radio show on Monday.  “There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today.  The U.S. is beginning to succeed in Iraq.”  Everything we hear, that if you leave the so-called Green Zone, the international zone, and you go outside of that secure area, relatively speaking, you’re in trouble if you’re an American. 

McCain: You know, that’s where you ought to catch up on things, Wolf.  General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in a non-armed Humvee.  I think you ought to catch up.  You see, you are giving the old line of three months ago.  I understand it. 

You certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media.  But I know for a fact that much of the success we’re experiencing, including the ability of Americans in many parts.  Not all.  We have got a long, long way to go.  We have only got two of the five brigades there to go into some neighbors in Baghdad in a secure fashion. 

Blitzer: Let me refer to a few of your colleagues in the Senate and the House.  Chuck Hagel, John Murtha, former Senator Max Cleland, the current Senator Jim Webb, they’re all like you, Vietnam War veterans.  You say this is potentially a worse situation if the U.S.  were to withdraw from Iraq as opposed to when the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam.  Why are — because they’re saying, just get out, basically, and you’re saying you have got to say.  Why do you think these Vietnam War veterans, decorated just as you are, disagree? 

McCain: Well, because I hope that all of our experience, knowledge, background, and decision-making is not driven by the experience of the Vietnam War.  I hope it’s an accumulation of all the training, experience, and knowledge I had, including 22 years in the military and 24 years in the Congress and the Senate.  But, look, don’t take my word for it that they’ll follow us home. 

Look at what they say.  Look what bin Laden says.  Look what Zarqawi says.  Look at what Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said at his tribunal down in Guantanamo.  They all say the same things.  Go on their Web sites.  They’ll tell you.  They want to follow us home.  We’re their enemy.  They’re the ones we want to destroy.  They win in Iraq the way they won in Beirut and the way that they won in Somalia, then they will be following us home.  Again, it’s not my stated — not from anything I’ve written or said.  It’s what they’re saying and writing.  (END VIDEOTAPE) 

Blitzer: So is Baghdad really getting safer? A very different view of the reality there from our own reporter on the ground who says Senator McCain couldn’t be more wrong.  Let’s go back to CNN’s Michael Ware.  (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 

Well, Senator John McCain states his claim and offers a defense against attack from the press vetted on the war-front.  You may have noticed this statement, embedded his ample and rosy assessment, “You certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media.”  I guess we do not.  It is difficult to imagine what life is like when missiles are whizzing overhead.  When bombs blast and that seems so ordinary that we do not move, though we hear the sound of a projectile hitting its target only yards away from our feet, admittedly, we do not understand.

However, we can try to imagine what life is like for those living amongst the barrage of bombs and the people as they panic in the streets.  The voices we hear that have firsthand experience may be working with the media.  Still, as the images race by on our screens, as we see the strife from a safe distance, we can only surmise, this seems authentic.  At least it does to this writer.  I believe a war Correspondent has more credibility than Senator McCain.  I wonder; has the Senator forgotten what it means to be on the front.  Michael Ware may wish he could.

Journalist Wolf Blitzer turns to Mister Ware and ask for his appraisal.  I watch as he introduces the topic.  I see Ware look on and listen to McCain’s words.  I witness his raised brow and I am anticipating.  Will this mainstream media reporter offer a stilted evaluation.  Will he underestimate so as not to upset Americans or the White House or will he do as he did.

Blitzer: Michael, you’ve been there, what, for four years.  You’re walking around Baghdad on a daily basis.  Has there been this improvement that Senator McCain is speaking about? 

Michael Ware, CNN, Correspondent: Well, I’d certainly like to bring Senator McCain up to speed, if he ever gives me the opportunity.  And if I have any difficulty hearing you right now, Wolf, that’s because of the helicopter circling overhead and the gun battle that is blazing just a few blocks down the road.  Is Baghdad any safer? Sectarian violence, one particular type of violence, is down.  But none of the American generals here on the ground have anything like Senator McCain’s confidence. 

I mean, Senator McCain’s credibility now on Iraq, which has been so solid to this point, has now been left out hanging to dry.  To suggest that there’s any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous.  I’d love Senator McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.  And to think that General David Petraeus travels this city in an unarmed Humvee?

I mean, in the hour since Senator McCain has said this, I’ve spoken to some military sources, and there was laughter down the line.  I mean, certainly, the general travels in a Humvee. 

There are multiple Humvees around it, heavily armed.  There are attack helicopters, Predator drones, sniper teams, all sorts of layers of protection.  So, no, Senator McCain is way off base on this one — Wolf. 

Blitzer: Michael, when Senator McCain says that there are at least some areas of Baghdad where people can walk around and whether it’s General Petraeus, the U.S.  military commander, or others, are there at least some areas where you could emerge outside of the Green Zone, the international zone, where people can go out, go to a coffee shop, go to a restaurant, and simply take a stroll? 

Ware: I can answer this very quickly, Wolf.  No.  No way on Earth can a Westerner, particularly an American, stroll any street of this capital of more than 5 million people.  I mean, if al Qaeda doesn’t get wind of you, or if one of the Sunni insurgent groups don’t descend upon you, or if someone doesn’t tip off a Shia militia, then the nearest criminal gang is just going to see dollar signs and scoop you up.  Honestly, Wolf, you’d barely last 20 minutes out there.  I don’t know what part of Neverland Senator McCain is talking about when he says we can go strolling in Baghdad.  (END VIDEOTAPE) 

Blitzer: And we have just learned that two Americans were killed tonight in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.

Swoooh!  A moment of truth, or so I believe.  We may laugh at the striking contrast in views.  People safely in the states might debate the conflict.  Perchance we can relax around our round tables or sit in Senate seats and muse, ‘What might we do?’  congress claims to care.  They are setting dates for an allied and American exit.  Still soldiers and civilians are slaughtered daily.  “Do we need more time to see if this strategy will work?” asks Michael Ware.  He rhetorically answers his own query, “No!”  Ware states, “It is in no one’s interest to change their minds.”  Perhaps, that is the problem.

You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.
~ Albert Einstein

The Truth About Iraq – Michael Ware – 6. YouTube.

Refer to references.  Is Iraq safe? . . .

  • Transcripts, Situation Room.  Cable News Network. March 27, 2007
  • U.N. secretary general holds talks with Iraq officials, By Sinan Salaheddin.  Associated Press.  USA Today.
  • McCain Claims, Bush Not Missing in Action ©

    Though I did not see or hear the dialogue, when I heard of it, I was struck.  Senator John McCain, a former Prisoner of War, admittedly, does not always agree with the President.  However, today, this compassionate conservative offered his support.

    In an interview aired on Fox News the Senator stated, “I have seen him, I have seen his care, and I have seen him grieve. And I’m sure he wouldn’t like to hear me say this, but I saw him afterwards. He was very, very grieved. And that’s the job of the President of the United States. He fully appreciates the tragedy of the loss of these brave young Americans.”

    However, Cindy Sheehan does not believe that Mr. Bush cares.

    • If you have not before, Please listen to Cindy and hear her plea.  Look into her eyes; see her face, her tears, and her pain.  Again, I offer the link to an advertisement paid for by the Gold Star Families for Peace.  I think this a worthwhile viewing.  The singular spokesperson is Cindy Sheehan.  She speaks to the President and asks him to care as he has not in the past.

    Mrs. Sheehan said the June 2004 meeting lasted ten minutes.  Mrs. Sheehan was among a group of families meeting with Mr. Bush and Senator John McCain.  She said of the President, “He called me Mom.”  She states, that felt disrespectful.  It created a distance and for this deeply grieving mother, for this person, Cindy, it was a show of insincerity.

    Mrs. Sheehan offered she did not feel as though she was a unique person to this supposedly compassionate man.  Cindy Sheehan wanted to have an opportunity to ask questions and to state her genuine concerns. This was not possible in the time or space allotted. Sheehan asserts reports of her sentiment and her appreciation for the “the gift of happiness,” were distorted.

    Please refer to the original reference, as published in TheReporter.Com.

    Bush, Sheehan’s share moments By David Henson/Staff Writer

    Mrs. Sheehan believes the Reporter article misrepresented her and her feelings. It put forth an image that promoted the Bush war agenda.  She states that does not want her story to be used as propaganda.  The President needs no more proses.  He has plenty advancing his intention to kill.  She does not want her words to be among these.

    However, the Sheehan situation is, in some cases, advancing the President’s cause.  People are pouring into Crawford; many are coming to express their disapproval of the Sheehan family.

    Matt Drudge,  a man considered to be an “Internet gossip” is also gaining greater fame from the Sheehan story.  Drudge is claiming that this protesting mother has “Changed her story on Bush.”  Media Matters for America challenges his assertion.  They are “Tracking a lie through the conservative media” and reporting on Cindy Sheehan “changed her story on Bush”?

    There are so many liesThere are so many “lies,” “tall tales,” and “truths” in the wind.  Mrs. Sheehan is only asking for an audience with the President, asking him to address some of these issues.  Yet, her request for transparency and compassion are denied.

    Mr. McCain speaks of compassion, his own and the President’s.  Yet, he states in this Fox News interview he has no memory of Cindy Sheehan.  This fascinates me.  Was the meeting so meaningful that it was not memorable and if so, can we trust his recollections of the President?  I would be interested in hearing Cindy Sheehan speak of the meeting again and this time, I would hope she would mention her impressions and interactions with Arizona Senator John McCain.  These might be quite revealing.

    Transcript: Senator McCain on ‘FOX News Sunday’

    WALLACE: Let me switch, if I can, to another subject: Cindy Sheehan, I suspect you know who she is?

    MCCAIN: Sure.

    WALLACE: The woman whose son was killed in Iraq last year, who’s now camped outside the president’s ranch. It’s clear that she has joined with some left-wing anti-war groups and has even taped a commercial, which we’re going to show later, in which she accuses the president of lying.

    Question though: If you were the president, would you meet with her?

    MCCAIN: I don’t know if I would or not, Chris, because he did already meet with her once, as you know. And that, I think, probably was sufficient. But this thing has blossomed.

    Look, I’ve been with the president of the United States when he has met with the families of those brave young men and women who have sacrificed. I have seen his compassion. I have seen his love. I have seen his concern. So any charge of insensitivity or uncaring on the part of this president, is absolutely false. He cares and he grieves.

    WALLACE: Now, I know you were on that campaign trip in June of 2004. Were you in the meeting with him when he met with Cindy Sheehan?

    MCCAIN: I don’t — you know, I don’t remember her, because there was a number of families. We sort of met separately, but I did see him encounter and try to do his best to comfort these families, and I saw…

    WALLACE: So when she talks about callous, jovial, acting like he was at a party?

    MCCAIN: I have seen him, I have seen his care, and I have seen him grieve. And I’m sure he wouldn’t like to hear me say this, but I saw him afterwards. He was very, very grieved. And that’s the job of the president of the United States. He fully appreciates the tragedy of the loss of these brave young Americans.”

    Does he?  Does Senator McCain?

    • Please read an excellent essay by Steve Soto, The Left Coaster.  He offers a comprehensive study of The Real Reason Why Cindy Sheehan Is A Threat To The GOP