Michael Ware


TWIP: "We all wish there was a magic wand that could be waved over this blood-soaked country..."

Length: 3:52

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Michael appears on This Week in Politics to discuss the realities of whether the government in Iraq fears a US pullout and questions why no one is talking about Iran.

TOM FOREMAN: Who would have believed a year ago that the war in Iraq would have been anything but an albatross around the neck of the Republican candidate? But John McCain has made Iraq the keystone for his presidential campaign. And it could be what puts him over the top.

Is all this due to real changes on the ground in Iraq or just smoke and mirrors?

There is no one who cuts through the smoke better than CNN's Michael Ware. He joins us now from Baghdad.

Michael, the Democrats continue to say, look, we need to get out as cleanly as we can. The Republicans continue to say, we need to stay until the job is successfully accomplished. Is either one possible?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a very difficult question to answer, obviously. But the short answer is, no, not without some significant change. Any sense of withdrawal is just beyond the pale. I mean, we all wish there was a magic wand that could be waved over this blood-soaked country and fix all that ails it, but I'm afraid that just doesn't exist.

For right or for wrong and for whatever reason, America began this war. And one way or another for America's own foreign policy interests, and for those of this region and the Iraqi people, America must bring it to some kind of resolution. Now, should it be continued in the way that it's going now? That's a matter also of great debate.

In many ways, America's never really fought this war. It's always done it with its arm tied behind its back. And with the surge or without the surge, there's still an 800-pound gorilla in the room that's yet to be addressed, and I've yet to see America establish a coherent strategy to tackle. And that's the fact that Iran all but owns this country.

It certainly has greater influence. This government is much more closely aligned to Iran. And Iran strategically is using this country as a quagmire to punish America, to torture its great enemy, being the U.S., here on one of its own battlefields close to home. So none of these policies that I'm hearing espoused address the underlying true dynamics of this war now.

FOREMAN: One of the things the Democrats are saying is that they think the only reason there's any political progress, slow as it may be in Iraq right now, is because the Iraqis fear that a Democrat will take the White House and will pull out. Is that true?

WARE: Look, anyone who postulates in that fashion honestly must be dreaming. Now, this Iraqi government might know that it doesn't exactly have a handle on everything. But to be honest, I think this Iraqi government is more afraid of American money pulling out than it is of American troops. I mean, particularly if you talk to the hard-liners in this government who were trained, funded, indoctrinated and continue to be supported by Iran.

Let's not forget, many of the major factions of this government -- certainly the most powerful ones -- and their paramilitary wings continue to this day to have connections to Tehran, if in fact those parties and organizations were not actually created in Tehran, while in exile from Saddam's rule.

So these people, if you speak to them -- like the ambassador from Iran here in Baghdad -- say, "America, get out of the way. Give us the security file," as they call it; basically, "Give us the responsibility for security. Let us fix this. And if you won't give us the weapons we want, Iran certainly will."

So the threat of a U.S. troop withdrawal is not as real as perhaps many people back home in the States would like to believe -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Thanks so much, Michael Ware, for that update.