Here, the interviewer asked whether Greenstock agrees with the British Defense Minister that an orderly transition of power to the Iraqi defense forces is happening.
GREENSTOCK: Well, that's the process, but it's not orderly. There's no way in which the central government of Iraq can exert its authority over the whole country in the next year or two. This is going to be a long process of violence for many years to come. I don't see it being eradicated.
There are only bad options for the coalition from now on. This is what people have got to understand, that if there is to be a change of policy then a cost has got to be paid for bringing something new into the equation--whether that's a cost of talking to the neighbours of Iraq that the Americans haven't talked to up to now, particularly Iran but also Syria; whether it's a cost of putting more resources into the ground; whether it's the cost of, um, drawing troops back and seeing the comparative failure of Iraqi army and police, who are not yet fully formed...They're not going to take over the rest of the country without several parts of Iraq being full of violence....
INTERVIEWER: So when you say there are only bad options basically for the forces now in Iraq, for the coalition forces, are we therefore saying that the whole war, the invasion, was wrong, that it has been a failure?
GREENSTOCK: It's been a failure in holding Iraq to a secure and stable peace. It's another argument about whether we should have done it in the beginning...
Greenstock goes on to say that both Bush and Blair are to be held accountable for this war by their fellow citizens. He says there were so many mistakes made so early on that we're now going to pay the price for these, and he claims that he warned in 2003/ early 2004 that no further mistakes could be tolerated in Iraq without risking total failure.
In particular, he says that Paul Bremmer was warned by Greenstock's predecessor not to break up the Iraqi army; but his predecessor was not listened to because Bremmer was not in complete charge of the situation.
INTERVIEWER: Why was that?
GREENSTOCK: Well because the decisions were being made in the Pentagon and not on the ground in Iraq. We didn't have anybody in the Pentagon sitting next to Donald Rumsfeld. The channels of communication to Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld were not at all good. And Americans when they're under pressure make decisions as a superpower with America....
INTERVIEWER: So what you're saying is that the Vice President and the Defense Secretary of the US were taking the decisions, so not the President, not George W. Bush.
GREENSTOCK: They had the President's say so with them, but they were taking them, the tactical decisions, yes, the Defense Secretary.
He adds that the British government kept up pressure on the Bush administration to fix the "mess" in Iraq, but the Brits knew all along that there were not enough resources being put into Iraq for stabilizing the country, guarding its borders, guarding ammunition dumps, recruiting an army and police force. You can make of that what you will; the interviewer presses home the point that the British public was not told that information at the time.
Greenstock also predicts that there "will be a further process of breakdown" in Iraq hereafter, a fragmentation not into a few regions but rather into individual towns, neighborhoods, and even streets.
These comments are in direct contrast (intentionally) to the absurdly rosy picture that Des Browne, the British Defense Secretary has been painting on behalf of the incredible shrinking Tony Blair. Here is tomorrow's Guardian:
In an attempt to demonstrate that the British army will not be bogged down in Iraq indefinitely, the defence secretary, Des Browne, said yesterday he expected that Iraq's security forces would have the capacity within a year to take over from British forces, a point also pushed home by the Foreign Office minister, Kim Howells. Mr Howells said: "I would have thought that certainly in a year or so there will be adequately trained Iraqi soldiers and security forces - policemen and women and so on - in order to do the job."
Over in the Independent, however, there's a more sanguine report from Patrick Cockburn, who explains why Iraqi lives are already broken beyond repair.
Iraq is in flight. Everywhere inside and outside the country, Iraqis who once lived in their own houses cower for safety six or seven to a room in hovels....
Out of the population of 26 million, 1.6 million Iraqis have fled the country and a further 1.5 million are displaced within Iraq, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In Jordan alone there are 500,000 Iraqi refugees and a further 450,000 in Syria. In Syria alone they are arriving at the rate of 40,000 a month.
It is one of the largest long-term population movements in the Middle East since Israel expelled Palestinians in the 1940s. Few of the Iraqis taking flight now show any desire to return to their homes.
One measure of how little control the coalition forces have left in Iraq, even over the immediate areas they're stationed in, is the fact that by the end of last week there had been several military parades conducted by Sunni insurgents through the streets of Iraqi towns.
Gunmen staged military-like parades Friday in a string of towns west of Baghdad, underlining the growing confidence of Sunni insurgents in a part of Iraq where U.S. and Iraqi forces maintain a heavy presence and major counterinsurgency campaigns had taken place over the past two years....
Significantly, two of Friday's four parades -- in the towns of Haditha and Haqlaniyah -- took place within less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) of U.S. military bases, according to witnesses. There were no reports of clashes....
In the town of Haditha...dozens of masked gunmen riding in at least 20 sedans and pickup trucks paraded undisturbed in the heart of the town for about 30 minutes.
How much worse will things get in Iraq, before the Cheney administration faces up to its utter failure to achieve any of the grandiose goals it aimed for? Can the U.S. position in Iraq be more tenuous, when American forces do not even dare, or cannot be bothered, to march half a mile from their base to round up the 'terrorists' that we've been told this invasion of Iraq was all about?
I've said several times in the last few years, as the situation in Iraq went from bad to worse, that if we keep along the path we're traveling down, sooner or later we'll get where we're headed. And is there a shred of doubt any longer whence we began? If so, take a look at this short article in Newsweek (h/t to Litagatormom).
A new book by Tyler Drumheller, former chief of the CIA's European ops, describes how, the day after 9/11, a "powerful delegation from a very close European ally" visited CIA Director George Tenet at HQ. In his book "On the Brink," Drumheller says the foreign-team leader said "his government stood by us ... and that we could count on it for any and all support." But the foreign rep cautioned, "I hope we can all agree that we should concentrate on Afghanistan and not be tempted to launch any attacks on Iraq." In Drumheller's account, Tenet replied, "Absolutely, we all agree on that."
Rather remarkable that already on September 12, 2001 our close ally thought that they needed to try to derail the rush to war against Iraq. According to Newsweek, the delegation Drumheller refers to was from Britain and included the head of MI5, Sir Richard Dearlove, he of the Downing Street memo. Henry Porter has some choice things to say about that document, and about the abject failure of Britain to remove the disastrous Tony Blair from office, in today's Observer. It's a good read, and will cheer Americans who have been wondering how in the world George W. Bush has survived his many failures.