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John Burns and Dexter Filkins of the NYT discuss Petraeus & Crocker’s testimony on Iraq (Charlie Rose)
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, April 10, 2008

Watch the whole thing here.

Some highlights-

BURNS: “I have to say, listening to General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, they were describing the Iraq that I know. I have no trouble with that. I found it very candid, very straightforward. The champagne bottle has been put back to the fridge.”
Basra Offensive:
BURNS: “[Y]ou had an Iraqi prime minister who, on his own initiative, decided to take the fight — and remember, the Iraqi prime minister from a Shiite religious party taking the fight against Shiite militias in the streets of Basra. … I think you`d agree, a year, a year-and-a-half ago, we would have never have anticipated Maliki doing anything quite so ambitious ...”
FILKINS: “[I]f you think back to 2006, when John and I were both there, my God, Baghdad was a state of nature. I mean, there were 40 or 50 kidnappings every day. You could go to the morgue in the morning and there would be 100 bodies hideously burned with acid, drilled with holes, everything that you could imagine. I mean, that`s what Baghdad was like in 2006. We`ve pulled back from that. And there`s a little bit of breathing room. And so that`s what — you know, I think now that`s what the urgency is.”
FILKINS: “When I was in Ramadi with your producer in August of 2006, Ramadi looked like Dresden in 1945. It looked like Grozny. It was absolutely leveled. And I remember there was a map in the headquarters of the unit`s commander. And they put little white flags every time they found an IED. The entire map was covered. I mean, some streets had 10 little flags on them. … And I just talked to a Marine colonel who was deploying to Iraq. And he said, ‘I`m taking over for a unit that had no casualties in Anbar province.’”
FILKINS: “In Haditha, they were — it was controlled for a long time by an Islamic emirate [AQI]. They used to do beheadings on the bridge every morning of collaborators, and the Americans didn`t even go in there. That was 2005. They`re having bicycle races there.”

BURNS: “An extraordinary thing that was described in that congressional testimony yesterday, I believe, was that during the Shiite pilgrimage to Najaf during the Ashura religious festival a few weeks ago, Shia pilgrims passed through Dura. Dura was Death Valley …”


“[T]here were Sunni families on the street offering them refreshment, offering them flowers as they went.”


“[T]he notion that you could put a Shiite pilgrimage through Dura, even a year ago, would be completely impossible.”
Al Qaeda:
Filkins: “[P]robably the most significant progress that has been made in the past year, is that al Qaeda has been significantly degraded.”


"I think the tribes... decided at one point they had enough.”


“[T]here`s [al Qaeda] documents that have been found [saying] The only way we can win this thing is to start car bombing Shiite mosques until there`s a backlash and then there`s a big explosion. … And they managed that. That`s what happened. They absolutely did it. And so, you know, now we`re trying to pull back from that.”

BURNS: “They now face the real prospect for all the triumphalism we`ve heard from Osama bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, as long as he was alive, about turning Iraq, certainly Anbar, into a new caliphate, and as a base for attacks beyond Iraq and the Middle East and, no doubt, further afield in the west.”

CHARLIE ROSE, PBS: “That`s not happening?”

BURNS: “It seems to me there`s a real possibility now that their Waterloo will be coming to Iraq.”
Sunni and Shia:
BURNS: “You know, I think embedded in that story is a hopeful possibility … The great majority of people, Shiite, Sunnis, Kurds, want to live together in peace. They want their fair share. …”


“[I]t`s possible that you can reach … a tipping point at which the real opinions of the people begin to make themselves felt.”


“[Y]ou`ve already begun to see some of that [with] the tentative move that Maliki has made towards reconciliation”


“There are some signs that Sunni and Shia are beginning in a very tentative way to try and accommodate each other again.”
Burns and Filkins are two reporters that Michael Yon found to be among the best that reported on Iraq from the MSM because they gave complete and fair renderings of what was going on there - the good, the bad and the ugly. Yon felt that way because in many cases he was at the same event they were and their reports, unlike those of many others, reflected what he had seen on the ground too.

Watch the whole thing - and then, read the comments under the video.

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Previous Comments to this Post 

I have kept myself informed since March 19, 2003, daily on the subject of Iraq by reading Tom’s Dispatch, TalkingPointsMemo,, The Nation, The Independent, Harper’s and Al jazeera
Oh good lord.

These people are a parody of themselves.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Surely, our own intrepid Iraq correspondent’s eyewitness testimony trumps that of Yon, Totten, Burns, and Filkin.

Right, Erb? Tell ’em.
Written By: rob
URL: http://
I heard Harry Reid out there today demanding again that Bush give defeat a chance. He was upset that Bush was delaying troop drawdown on the advice of Petraeus. And Reid took such an accusatory tone.

What a country where a sad sack like that can become the majority leader of the U.S. Senate.

Really, it gives hope to anyone. The kid who wets his pants while fumbling with his zipper. The young man who puts his palm on the grill instead of the burger. The college professor who can’t get a date with an English-speaking girl because she’ll understand what he’s saying.

Written By: Martin McPhillips
Iran’s state-run media have de facto confirmed that this was no spontaneous "uprising." Rather, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) tried to seize control of Iraq’s second-largest city using local Shiite militias as a Trojan horse.
Initially, Quds commanders appeared to have won their bet. Their Special Groups and Mahdi Army allies easily seized control of key areas of Basra when more than 500 Iraqi security personnel abandoned their positions and disappeared into the woodwork.

Soon, however, the tide turned. Maliki proved that he had the courage to lead the new Iraqi Security Force (ISF) into battle, even if that meant confronting Iran. The ISF showed that it had the capacity and the will to fight.
Look like al-Sadr was a mere spectator.
Written By: Neo
URL: http://

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