Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Cong. Schakowsky “Cut and Run,” “Orderly Withdrawal,” or "Keeping Commitments."

Cong. Jan Schakowsky:...I think it is time to begin a quick and orderly withdrawal of our troops—

Jeff Berkowitz: What does that mean? When should the troops be out of Iraq?

Schakowsky: Soon, in a few months.

Berkowitz: They should all be out within a few months?

Schakowsky: Well, yes, I think that—

Berkowitz: How is that not “Cut and Run” ? I mean aren’t you
cutting and running because...
This week’s suburban edition of “Public Affairs,” features Cong. Jan Schakowsky [D- Evanston, 9th Cong. Dist.]. See the end of this blog entry for a detailed suburban airing schedule and for more about the show with Cong. Schakowsky. The show with Congresswoman Schakowsky will also air throughout the City of Chicago [in the regular “Public Affairs,” City of Chicago time slot] on this coming Monday night, February 28 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV].
Cong. Jan Schakowsky [D- Evanston, 9th Cong. Dist.] debates and discusses with Show Host and Executive Legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz the War, the meaning and application of the term, “Cut and Run,” the elections in Iraq, and Iraqi nationalism; Social Security reform, including “personal accounts,” rates of return and social security taxes; prescription drug benefits provided by the government, including issues related to government negotiation, price controls and drug innovation; the faces and voices of the Democratic and Republican Parties; Cong. Porter, Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator Obama, Senator Kennedy, Senate Majority Leader Frist, DNC Chairman Howard Dean, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Hastert and much, much more.
A partial transcript of the show with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky show is included, below.
Jeff Berkowitz: On January 25th [2005], you held a press conference, that was about a week before the election in Iraq…and, basically, some would say, the gist of that press conference is you were telling the United States Government to “Cut and Run,” [in Iraq]. Would that be fair?

Cong. Jan Schakowsky: Well, of course it is not fair because “Cut and Run,” is a really pejorative sort of thing that implies that cutting and running means that we are reneging on our responsibilities and it has a very dark view of what I mean when I say bring home the troops. I was opposed to the War of course from the beginning but my feeling now is that the President has left us with no good options and that the worst of those options would be to continue to have our troops in the large numbers, 120,000 to 150, 000, facing harms way, who knows how many would be killed—more than over 1400 have been killed, the 1.6 billion dollars a week that we are spending in Iraq, I think it is time to begin a quick and orderly withdrawal of our troops—

Jeff Berkowitz: What does that mean? When should the troops be out of Iraq?

Cong. Schakowsky: Soon, in a few months.

Berkowitz: They should all be out within a few months?

Schakowsky: Well, yes, I think that—

Berkowitz: How is that not “Cut and Run” ? I mean aren’t you
cutting and running because a country—if you commit to stabilize that country, to change the regime, to see that democracy emerge to see security [function in the country]—if you want to see all of those things happen and a year or a year and a half after you sought that, started that effort, you say, “Now we are going to be out of here in two or three months, isn’t that “Cutting and Running”?

Schakowsky: That is only if you assume that our presence in Iraq can achieve the goals that you outline and I think they can’t. I think that the insurgency has been fueled by the presence of U. S. troops. I think it is unlikely—I think Iraqis are pretty smart. I am not going to get in front of a U. S. soldier when bullets are flying, as long as U. S. soldiers are there.

Berkowitz: But [Iraqi combat deaths are approximately equal to U. S. combat deaths, and of course the Iraqi population is less than 10% of that of the U. S.]

Schakowsky: Can I finish?

Berkowitz: Yes, you may.

Schakowsky: I think that there is the beginning now of a political process, fragile though it may be and I think that that process will be diminished rather than enhanced by a major U. S. presence there. Now, will there be anyone there to help with reconstruction, to help with training? Maybe. But, it is not the kind of force that is there right now. And, so I think the United States should not “Cut and Run,” in the sense of divorcing ourselves completely from Iraq. We do have some responsibilities. But, those are now in the line of being able to provide the kind of reconstruction help, enlisting—the French Ambassador said they would be willing to engage in training--they are very good at it--Iraqi troops. That won’t happen while there is the kind of combat—

Berkowitz: Excuse me, but they would be willing? When are the French offering to start their assistance to train the troops?

Schakowsky: They are not willing to get into a ground battle of the sort that is being carried out right now. But I think they are willing—if we were to ask them, if there were to be an exit strategy and believe me, Jeff- though I have called for a rapid withdrawal, the American people are beginning to really get weary of this endless view of what is going on in Iraq and many in the Congress are beginning to get impatient that there is no plan for getting out of there…

Berkowitz: Was there a plan to exit from World War II before we saw the end coming?

Schakowsky: You know this analogy with World War II is just simply false and I am just not even going to get into that conversation.

Berkowitz: For any war. Are wars fought—Do people really start wars and get into them with a plan to exit, to get out?

Schakowsky: You know I am not even going to get into a conversation about World War—

Berkowitz: Not even the general concept of—

Schakowsky: No. And I think that—

Berkowitz: You would have supported the United States in its efforts in World War II.

Schakowsky: I supported the effort in Afghanistan

Berkowitz: But, to the point, you would have supported the efforts in World—

Schakowsky: Absolutely.

Berkowitz: So, you are not a complete pacifist?

Schakowsky: I am not a pacifist.

Berkowitz: All right, I just wanted to clarify that.

Schakowsky: I am not a pacifist.

Berkowitz: But, you said you wouldn’t take all the troops out. [You said] there could be a force, but nothing like the current force. How many troops would you leave in Iraq—

Schakowsky: I don’t, I don’t know how many could, would be used for the kind of rebuilding efforts that we say that we want to do and civil society kind of efforts and I don’t even know if we are talking about troops or some other kind of presence in Iraq. But, I am saying that the combat forces should be removed from Iraq.

Berkowitz: Does Barack Obama, the junior senator from the State of Illinois, agree with you?

Schakowsky: I don’t know.

Berkowitz: I would think you would talk with him. He is part of the Illinois delegation. Because I think the answer is obvious that he doesn’t agree with you. He said that during the [U. S. Senate] campaign and I haven’t heard him say anything-- [to the contrary since]

Schakowsky: You know, Jeff, I feel very strongly about this…my goal is to help move that debate in that direction and you know, we’ll get support when—

Berkowitz: Do you believe that if we leave, the insurgents will suddenly say, “Okay, we will work collaboratively, we will work to have a democratic country here.” They would say that they would drop their arms, drop their attacks and life would be good. Do you envision that [happening]?

Schakowsky: There are some very important experts that really understand Iraq—[and they say] that there is something called nationalism in Iraq, that there is a sense of identity as a country and that the possibility—

Berkowitz: I agree with you, and I am not even an expert

Schakowsky: And that the possibility of leading Sunnis, presuming- and I do- that the insurgents are not the majority, might be more inclined to engage in the kind of writing of a constitution [and] moving towards free elections.

Berkowitz: 58% of the country. Quite a turnout in Iraq just two weeks [ago] overcame the threat of violence [and] the loss of their lives to vote. That happened on January 30, that’s what I am talking about. I agree with you—there is nationalism [in Iraq]. These are people who sought to have a democracy—these are people who are willing to risk, much more so than in the U. S.—I don’t even know if we have that turnout- and nobody is risking his or her life [in the U. S.] to vote.

Schakowsky: Have you seen the 1967 article from the New York Times during the Vietnam War where they were, the United States—you could almost substitute the word Iraq for Vietnam. There was an election where 82% of the people in South Vietnam came out—it was, and the same talk about how they overcame this kind of fear. The war didn’t end until 1975.

Berkowitz: So, you would analogize the insurgents in Iraq to the North Vietnamese who were fighting a civil war then.

Schakowsky: All I am saying is that it is way too soon to say mission accomplished.

Berkowitz: Oh, I didn’t say mission accomplished. But, … I think even [Senator] Teddy Kennedy…said this was an accomplishment. This election. This turn-out. I am paraphrasing, but I think he was complimentary about what happened [in the Iraqi election].

Schakowsky: And, I, as well, said that I thought that this was the beginning of democratization and I think it is important--

Berkowitz: It is important. Expanding the discussion to the Middle East [In general, and] I know it wasn’t the major reason why the U. S. went into Iraq. The major reason was the threat of WMD. But, all along the way, people who supported that policy also talked about the importance of establishing a democracy. Not necessarily an ideal democracy, but something much more democratic than what the Iraqis had under Saddam.

Schakowsky: But, then the question is—

Berkowitz: Excuse me, let me just finish. As a model, so people in Iran and Saudi Arabia could look at that and say, “Why can’t we do that.” [A model] to the countries that we sometimes are allies with and have dictators there—we wanted to change that area of the [world] to make it safer for those people and over-all, safer for the United States. What do you say to that general argument?

Schakowsky: I would say that, while, of course we favor democracy in Iraq-- You are presuming that the U. S. presence, right now, in Iraq, and for the foreseeable future, has to assure democracy there. And, I am saying that I don’t believe that to be true.

Berkowitz: Well, foreseeable future, if it takes two or three years to stabilize, that is to allow Iraqis to build up their own troops, their own security, their own police and there is a gradual withdrawal, a gradual step-down, if that were to take two or three years—

Schakowsky: Or five, or more.

Berkowitz: Obviously, there is some limit. But, if you saw progress, as we seem to be seeing, might you say—is it possible—that you would be wrong to advise to “Cut and Run”?

Schakowsky: Well, maybe we ought to also ask the question of whether or not it is that American mothers and fathers want their children to go into this very dangerous situation where I don’t know how many died last week—it is not even on the front pages.

Berkowitz: Well, the total of troops in this effort, U. S. troops, I think who have been killed—

Schakowsky: We are talking about a couple a day. We are talking about a couple every single—
Cong. Jan Schakowsky [D- Evanston, 9th Cong. Dist.]., recorded on February 13, 2005 and as is airing on the Suburban edition of Public Affairs this week [week of Feb. 21] and on the City of Chicago edition of Public Affairs on Monday night, Feb. 28 at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21. See the end of this blog entry, below, for a detailed suburban airing schedule.
The suburban edition of "Public Affairs," is regularly broadcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 pm on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka.

The suburban edition also is broadcast every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 19 in Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Northfield, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wilmette and every Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. on Comcast Cable Channel 35 in Arlington Heights, Bartlett, Glenview, Golf, Des Plaines, Hanover Park, Mt. Prospect, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Schaumburg, Skokie, Streamwood and Wheeling.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at JBCG@aol.com