June 18, 2003 | Broadcast

Q&A With Jim Clancy

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voice-over): A U.S. soldier killed, another wounded in an attack in southern Baghdad. That followed demonstrations that saw two Iraqi protesters killed. The violence underscores the fact Iraq, under military control, is apparently uncontrollable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is now the new tyrant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They started picking up bigger rocks and throwing them at us.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Iraq remains a place with great danger in many places.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not at war with the Iraqi people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The evidence is that the coalition forces didn’t have a fall-back plan for the reconstruction.

CLANCY: On this edition of Q&A, the coalition can fight, but can it govern?


CLANCY: Hello. And welcome once again to Q&A.

In Iraq now, the U.S. military conducting sweeps to round up remnants of Saddam Hussein’s loyalists, but it seems wherever U.S. soldiers go, they’re encountering opposition of one kind or another.

Now a senior Iraqi statesman has said all of these military sweeps, all of these special operations, the interrogations, the arrests — all of it — part of the problem, not part of the solution.

And with us from Baghdad now is Adnan Pachachi. He’s a former Iraqi foreign minister and former Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations.

In your view, sir, what has gone wrong?

ADNAN PACHACHI, FORMER IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: I think it’s mainly the problem of law and order and the economic difficulties that the people have encounter in the last several months.

And as long as the economic situation is not resolved satisfactorily and you have a problem of mass unemployment, which has to be — has to be dealt with very quickly — because these two things are connected, law and order as well as the problem of economic privation and poverty and unemployment.

CLANCY: The military action that’s under way, Desert Scorpion, trying to found up supporters of the old regime, believing they’re behind the attacks on U.S. soldiers, they’re behind some of the trouble that has been caused for Iraqi civilians — is that well guided, well placed? Is that a good strategy?

PACHACHI: Well, obviously, part of the — of these actions are perpetrated by — by remnants of the Baath Party who have infiltrated some religious organizations, but, also, we should not forget that the frustration, the feeling of hopelessness, and the lack of progress in the security situation as well as in the employment situation, the economic situation, as a whole, has contributed to this feeling of disappointment and frustration.

CLANCY: Mr. Pachachi, is it time for the U.S. to say it’s a serious problem, the people don’t have any money, they don’t know what the future holds for them, start a welfare program even if it costs billions of dollars?

PACHACHI: Well, I think, for a starter, they should pay the salaries that people are entitled to. They should start a massive program of construction and other works to absorb part of the huge army of unemployed people, especially after the disbanding of the Iraqi army and other government departments.

And, also, the people have been insistently clamoring for an Iraqi administration so that the Iraqis would be able to deal with these problems because they are, of course, better acquainted with the problems of the country, and they are also in a position to understand the feelings of their own compatriots and the frustrations and the desires and aspirations of the people.

CLANCY: Mr. Pachachi, if I were to make you — and just talking, you know, theoretically here — make you the administrator tomorrow, what’s the first thing you would do? How would you change things?

PACHACHI: Well, the first thing I would do is really to reactivate the police force, bring back as many policemen as you can, and, also, perhaps…

CLANCY: Well, wasn’t that being done?

PACHACHI: Not enough. There are not enough policemen. And, also, to try to recruit some of — some of the young people and train them, but we need a large police force now, a police force that is armed and — with — with the necessary equipment to deal with any problems and, also, to be well paid so that they would be immune to any corruption or — we’ve had the problem before.

CLANCY: Would you…

PACHACHI: So the police is the first priority.

Secondly, we have to deal with some of the pressing economic problems, and — such as the stabilization of the currency and, also, the — trying to find work for people.

And you have to pay salaries to people, also. This is very important. People have been used to these salaries and pensions for decades now, and, suddenly, they — they find absolutely nothing to live on.

So these are very important matters — police, terrorists, and a massive program of construction to absorb the unemployed — and, also, you have to stabilize the currency as soon as possible, and Iraq has enough funds to be able to defend a new currency against any fluctuations and speculative pressure.

CLANCY: A final question.

PACHACHI: These things have to be done…

CLANCY: A final question then. As we look at it — and you’ve laid it out there rather simply — did the U.S. really have a plan, do you believe, when it went in? What’s your assessment of their plan or lack thereof over the last three months?

PACHACHI: Well, I must say that the main feature of the whole thing is that there has not been enough preparation, either for the maintenance of law and order or for the problems and difficulties that have arisen.

I think there should have been better preparation. They should have anticipated some of the problems that have occurred but probably not all. But I think the main feature is that there hasn’t been enough preparation.

That — they didn’t get enough knowledge of that, and there has been some confusion, too, about…

CLANCY: Adnan Pachachi.

PACHACHI: … what’s to be done.

CLANCY: Adnan Pachachi, the former Iraqi foreign minister and one of Iraq’s — we can fairly say this — elder statesmen.

We thank you very much for joining us on Q&A and sharing our views.

I want to turn now to Anas Shalal. He’s the founder of the Iraqi Americans for Peaceful Alternatives. And, also, to David Silverstein. He’s the deputy director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

And let me begin with you, Mr. Shalal. How do you assess U.S. performance in post-war Iraq?

ANAS SHALAL, FOUNDER, IRAQI AMERICANS FOR PEACEFUL ALTERNATIVES: Well, I have to agree with Dr. Pachachi. I think — I think what’s going on is total chaos right now, and we need to stabilize the situation.

We spoke to some relatives, we were able to get through, a few days ago in Baghdad, and they’re really painting a very dire picture of what’s going on right now in Baghdad. There’s no electricity. There is no food. Food is running out.

CLANCY: Well, there is electricity, and there is food.

And, David Silverstein, is this too much complaining about…

SHALAL: May I correct you?

CLANCY: … too little?


I think the first thing we have to do is set a base line. What are we really talking about? Are people in Iraq better off now under American aegis than they were under Saddam Hussein? The answer is clearly yes.

Are there a lot of things that need to be done along the way? Do there need to be improvements in the electrical system, in the water system, in the case of self-governance? Sure.

But in every other issue, in terms of security, in terms of burgeoning self-government, in terms of quality of life, and in terms of international cooperation, the United States government and its troops in the field are succeeding, and they’re doing so in wonderful fashion.

We owe everything to our troops. They’re courageous, they’re outstanding performers, and we should be grateful, and I know that the Iraqi people are grateful for their efforts in the field.

CLANCY: All right. Mr. Shalal, winning friends? Is that the reaction of the Iraqis? Do the Iraqis expect too much, or have the Americans delivered too little?

SHALAL: I would beg to differ with Mr. Silverstein. I think what happened is right prior to the war that was going to take place, many Iraqis were opposed to the war for fears that are playing out right now. And I think what’s happening is people are willing to give democracy a chance to burgeon, as the gentleman said, but I think they’re not willing to give too much time for electricity not to be on but for an hour and a half per day, for water not to be clean, that they have to boil, for things — for no courts, no law, no order, no…

SILVERSTEIN: I agree with — I agree with almost all of that.

SHALAL: You can’t buy a car. You can’t buy a house.

SILVERSTEIN: Let me cut in. Let me cut in…

SHALAL: You can’t sell anything. It’s a real big…

SILVERSTEIN: … and agree with some of that.

SHALAL: It’s becoming a real serious problem for the Iraqi people, and they’re starting to lose faith in the Americans.

CLANCY: All right.


CLANCY: David, you go now.

SILVERSTEIN: Sure. We’re two months into this program, two months since we won this war and liberated an entire people. The fact of the matter is — is that we’ve got a long way to go.

But let’s visit the issue of electricity and water supply and so on.

Electricity, for example, in the City of Basra — prior to the war, they only had four hours of electricity in any given day. My sources in the Iraqi reconstruction team tell me they’ve got it almost 24 hours a day. Baghdad — they don’t have complete electrical power supply, but they’ve got it a lot better than they did certainly during the and even in some neighborhoods before the war.

Sanitation — they’re up to about 80 percent of the water and sanitation supply that they need for that city to run the right way.

But let’s get to something really important. Let’s talk about security. The United States has paid the salaries and screened — importantly screened — for Baathists 8,700 police officers in Baghdad alone. They’ve got police stations that previously were closing. Now they’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The United States is getting the job done in cities from Baghdad to Mosul to Basra and everywhere in between. It’s not perfect. The Iraqis have a reason to complain here and there, but, by and large, are they better off now than they were under Saddam? Absolutely. And they’re the stewards of their own future. That’s the most important thing.

SHALAL: I don’t know — I don’t know where the gentlemen’s getting his sources, but I have to say that, in speaking to several people in Baghdad, it has been extremely problematic.

They were willing to give the American forces a chance, willing to make this work because, once the war happened, they were willing to at least see what the outcome is going to be, and, right now, they’re extremely frustrated because you cannot go with an hour and a half of electricity for two months.

I don’t care what David says. It’s still wrong. It’s inappropriate for people to have to live like that. It’s 110 degrees right now, almost 120 on some days, and we know we cannot survive for very long like that. The Iraqis…

SILVERSTEIN: Listen, Baghdad…

CLANCY: Let me…

SHALAL: … are not going to live…

CLANCY: Let me get in a question here because I want to take us in a different direction, talk a little bit about military security.

Human Rights Watch says if we all revisit Faluja, described right here on CNN and the rest of news media as a real trouble spot, we remember how it began. It began with a shoot-out when members of U.S. military force were inside a school. People came outside to protest. Rocks were thrown. The U.S. said shots were fired. We fired back. More than 18 people were killed or wounded in that one incident. There was another that followed it a couple of days later.

Now Human Rights Watch says, you know what, we took a look around, don’t see any bullet holes where the U.S. troops were, but we see a hundred or more on the other side, opposite them.

Mr. Silverstein, they’re charging literally that the U.S. — maybe there was a perceived threat from rock throwers, but disproportionate use of force. That’s what’s causing a lot of the problems.

SILVERSTEIN: Well, let — let’s take a look at what’s really behind those problems. You’ve got the actions of ex-Baathists, Syrians, Iranians, and Saudis, Wahhabis, extremists, who are there stirring things up, trying to get people to riot.

CLANCY: I think you’re going pretty far afield here because this was some people that were standing outside a school that wanted their kids to go back in…

SILVERSTEIN: No, I — no, I disagree.

CLANCY: … the school.

SILVERSTEIN: I disagree.

CLANCY: Well, wait. You can pull up everything from the region, sir, and try to get it in there. What you don’t want to admit, it would appear, is that a mistake was made.

SILVERSTEIN: No, no, no. Listen…

CLANCY: People overreacted with overwhelming firepower.

SILVERSTEIN: Mistakes are made. Mistakes are made, and, when you’ve got a scared 19-year-old with an automatic weapon who doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t know where fire is coming from in his direction, you know something, there will be mistakes made.

In this particular regard, did they use disproportionate force? We don’t know what kinds of forces were behind the protesters. We don’t know who was shooting at them. We don’t know…


CLANCY: … clearly there wasn’t much evidence that there was any shooting at all, but…

SILVERSTEIN: Human Rights…

CLANCY: Anas, back to you. Anas, pick this up.

SHALAL: Yes. There were many stories. I think the “Guardian” came out with a report a couple of days ago where it said that a family of shepherds were killed. There were many people — many innocent people that were
trying to put out fires in a field that were killed. Many, many accidents, so called, are really taking place.

We see that in the South where the British are patrolling, it’s not as bad as it is in the North. It is — it is less problematic. Maybe they have more experience. Maybe they know the area better. Maybe they’re more sensitive to the culture.

This idea of going into neighborhoods and calling people out of their homes and going in to do these mass searches is not winning any friends for the Americans. I think the Iraqi peoples…



SILVERSTEIN: Give an alternative. Provide a suggestion. What would you have them do?

SHALAL: First of all…

SILVERSTEIN: Would you leave them to the clutches of the Baathists, the Syrians, the Iranians, and the Saudis who are operating there?

SHALAL: I think, like Mr. Pachachi mentioned earlier, the idea of having 70-percent unemployment is basically a cauldron for trouble. The idea of dismissing 400,000 soldiers that were in the army and saying just go home is certainly — it’s an open — open recipe for problems.

CLANCY: All right.

SHALAL: These people need to be organized, they need to go back, and…


SHALAL: … for revenge.

CLANCY: David Silverstein, I want to give you the last word here.

SILVERSTEIN: Thank you. I think…

CLANCY: But I want to — no, wait. I want to direct it a little bit. Now…


CLANCY: … we’ve heard from both Mr. Pachachi and Mr. Shalal who’ve laid out very clearly, look, 70 percent unemployment. It doesn’t take an economic genius to figure out you’re going to have trouble — social, economic, whatever — in Baghdad. What should be done about it? Are people in Washington able to handle this, or should we call in the U.N.?

SILVERSTEIN: Listen, I don’t think the U.N. deserves any role in this whatsoever because it was the U.N. and it’s oil-for-food program that allowed Saddam to sustain himself for years and years and years. The documents are just coming out. That will be proven in short order.

But the fact of the matter is — is that we’re doing pretty well. We’re not doing perfectly well, but we’re doing pretty well. And we need to continue doing what we’re doing.

We’ve been there two months. To complain about unemployment and the fact that the economy in Iraq is not up and running, I think, is premature. I think it’s unrealistic, and I think, in the absence of any other suggestions, it’s a mistake to suggest that the American forces are doing wrong across the board.

We are accomplishing jobs, and Iraqis…

SHALAL: We absolutely…


SILVERSTEIN: Let me tell you one comment, what Iraqis are telling me.

CLANCY: All right.

SILVERSTEIN: My sources on the ground — they are deathly afraid — deathly afraid — that Americans and the American forces will withdraw too soon and allow the Baathists, the Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia, the Iranians…

CLANCY: All right. That’s it, gentlemen.

SILVERSTEIN: … and all the others to come to the fore.

CLANCY: I’ve run out of time.

David Silverstein and Anas Shalal.

Gentlemen, I thank you both.

SHALAL: Thank you.

CLANCY: We could really continue…


CLANCY: … this discussion, and I think we probably will one day soon.