AC: Who are the insurgents?
ANDERSON COOPER: Last week President Bush promised what he called complete victory over the Iraqi insurgency. But when we talk about the insurgency, what exactly do we mean? Joining me now to talk about how it's evolving is Michael Ware of "Time Magazine."
Michael, good to see you again. You wrote there's a struggle within the insurgency in Iraq. Talk about the possible shifts of leadership.
MICHAEL WARE, "TIME MAGAZINE": It's been strange bedfellows from the beginning, Anderson, out there in the insurgency, as we've seen a number of groups coming together in a rough alliance to fight a common enemy; that being U.S. soldiers here in Iraq. One of the leading divisions within the insurgency has been the secularists, the nationalists, who see themselves fighting a war of liberation. They consider themselves freedom fighters. Here they are going out there on operations with Zarqawi's fighters. These are people who are using the extreme form of tactics, who are hoping to bring about a holy war that will deliver an Islamic state. There is great friction between these groups.
Now a year ago, Zarqawi's people very much -- through money and through the momentum of this fight -- had the leading hand. We're now seeing that shift. More and more, as Zarqawi's people, mostly foreigners, were killed or captured or disbursed, they've been replaced by Iraqis. And these Iraqis have a much greater connection to their old comrades, still fighting for the Baathists or the nationalist insurgency. So we're seeing a recalibration within the insurgency right now.
COOPER: You've been reporting from Baghdad for a long time, taking a lot of risks. I want to read you something that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said today about the media and how they are portraying what is happening in Iraq. He said, and I quote, "One of the reasons that views of Iraq are so divergent is that we may be looking at Iraq through different prisms of experience or expectation. For starters, it must be jarring for reporters to leave the United States, arrive in a country that is so different, where they have to worry about their personal safety and then being rushed to a scene of a bomb, car bomb or a shooting and have little opportunity to see the rest of the country." The implication being, we in America are not getting the full picture because of what you and everyone else who is reporting there are only showing us the bombs.
WARE: Well, I'd personally like to invite Secretary Rumsfeld to come and spend some time here on the ground in Baghdad in what he would refer to as the Red Zone. Whenever Secretary Rumsfeld himself has visited Iraq, it's been well within the embrace of the U.S. military. He has been encased in the Green Zone. Let him come out and taste what life is like for the ordinary Iraqis. For the ordinary Iraqi, a few soccer balls, a painted school means nothing. When you cannot have confidence in sending your children to elementary school and that they won't be blown up, that government-sponsored death squads won't kick in your door at night, that you won't be caught in the crossfire of some awful battle. Let Secretary Rumsfeld come and live that life for a day and then let him talk about the positives that are being unreported. It would be an insult to the Iraqi experience to have it any other way.
COOPER: Because in your mind, security is the number one concern you hear from Iraqis on a daily basis?
WARE: It's not in my mind. This is their life. Security right now is all that matters to them. I mean, it's got to the point where security is well and truly above democracy or deliverable justice. These people just want to be safe. They just want the war to stop. And I have to say I've got a growing sensation that this is a feeling in which they are in accord with the American people. The American people, as the polling is showing, are caring less and less about indoctrinating the Middle East with democracy and they're caring more and more with just seeing the place stable, seeing it stop producing more and more Al Qaeda terrorists, instead of creating fewer.
COOPER: Of course, the question then is what to do. There has, of course, been talk in the United States of a pullout. Secretary Rumsfeld today said, quote, "In my view, quitting is not a strategy. Quitting is an invitation to more attacks and more terrorist violence here at home. This is not just a hypothesis. The U.S. withdrawal from Somalia emboldened Osama bin Laden in the 1990s. We know this: He said so." Do you think a U.S. pullout or setting a timetable for a pullout would be a victory for insurgents?
WARE: Well, a pullout right now is simply impossible, Anderson. There's no way that U.S. forces can withdraw. They've gone too far. The implosion that would happen in this country would have regional consequences and would erode American power. So what's the alternative? U.S. military intelligence tells me that there's been a long and painful evolution in their thinking. They realize that militarily, they cannot win this war in the time available, in the time that American public opinion will give them. So they're looking for a political solution, which is always the answer to an insurgency. What are they doing? America is looking to bring back the Baath party, the old Baath party -- not of Saddam, but the Baath party of Iraq. These are the former allies in the 1980s. They share America's concerns about Al Qaeda and Islamic extremism. The Baaths never had Al Qaeda here and they also share America's concerns about Iran. So Ambassador Khalilzad has said, "let's roll back the Baathification. It's gone too far. Let's bring back the army. Let's talk to these insurgents, these nationalists, and get them in the political process and back into government."
COOPER: Michael Ware, always good to talk to you. Thank you, Michael.
WARE: Thanks, Anderson.