Friday, August 10, 2007

Bayh on Iraq

The following is a partial transcript of the July 22, 2007, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace".

WALLACE: Let me bring in Senator Bayh.

Your view of this issue? Is Iraq the central front, or should we be focusing more and have we been distracted from Al Qaeda in Pakistan?

BAYH: We have a difference of opinion on this one, Chris. Iraq is not the central front in the War on Terror. As the National Intelligence Estimate indicates, it's Pakistan and Afghanistan.

We've got to finish the job in Afghanistan. We were attacked from there. And Pakistan is where the Al Qaeda leadership is reconstituting itself today.

So the unfortunate reality in Iraq is that it — actually, many of the experts who have looked at this believe that we are actually creating more terrorists than we're killing because of our presence in Iraq.

About 95 percent of the insurgents we're fighting in Iraq are Iraqis fighting over the future of Iraq, not these outside jihadists who are coming in.

And I guess the bottom line, Chris, is, look, we've spent four years, close to $400 billion to $500 billion, we've got 165,000 troops in Iraq, and our National Intelligence Estimate indicates Al Qaeda has gotten stronger.

The strategy is not working. We need to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq, but do it in a smarter way.

WALLACE: Senator Bayh, I want to follow up on this because you had a very different view about this issue just two years ago, and let's put it up on the screen.

You said then about Iraq, "It really is a central front in the battle on the War on Terror. And if we leave too soon, it would be a catastrophic event and it would be a major defeat for us, a major win for the terrorists."

Were you right then or are you right now?

BAYH: Well, I'd like to think I was right both times, Chris. And by the way, shame on you in having a politician have to see his own words. But accountability is important in all spheres, particularly ours.

Look, I think we've learned a lot over the last couple of years. And what we've learned most of all is the unfortunate and, in some respects, maddening inability of the Iraqi political leadership to get their act together.

And I think one thing that Kit and I would agree on here is that no matter how long we stay, no matter how brave our soldiers are, including his brave son, this ultimately is up to the Iraqis. They have to make the hard decisions to reconcile their differences or this is not going to work.

Now, two years ago we believed if we just stood by them, if we continued to encourage them, if we said, "Don't worry, we're here for you," that that would increase their security and they'd make hard decisions. That hasn't worked.

So what has changed my mind and many other people's minds, Chris, is that to give us the best chance of them making the hard decisions, we've got to take the crutch away. No more enabling of dysfunction.

We've got to tell them, "Look, you get your minds right, you make the tough decisions, or we're not going to do this for you anymore." That's what's changed.

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