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4000 U.S. dead, 100,000 Iraqi dead: “But what about the progress?”

CNN Newsroom

Aired March 23, 2008 – 22:00 ET

(Update: official transcript at link above, and commentary below modified to reflect this)


I caught the tail end of this replay at about 1:55 AM. The headline at the bottom of the screen was: “Breaking News, 4,000 U.S. Dead In Iraq.”

As usual, whenever there is mention of American deaths in Iraq, I always stop to listen for mention of the Iraqi death toll, which I rarely hear of. This time however, it was mentioned. And fortunately, and as usual, Michael Ware came through to give us earfuls more about the situation.

Panelist Martha Zoller thought that we should be talking about something other than our responsibility for the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi’s (as well as our own), a typical conservative response. Most enjoyably however, Ware, who is based in Baghdad, eviscerates the notion with damning insight.

Transcript after the fold.This is my transcript from before the official version was posted on CNN. The nuances included here may be a bit more irritating to read through, but I find that overall it makes the read a bit more juicy.

MICHAEL WARE: …and to now have, the 4,000 American dead, really is, a chilling moment. [RICK SANCHEZ: Let me ask you Michael] One wonders…

RICK SANCHEZ: Michael I just want to interrupt you for a moment, because it–since-since we’re talking of numbers, I want to ask you about something that, rarely is, talked about on network television, in the United States, and that is, the 4,000 American’s is serious enough, but is it your understanding that the number of dead Iraqi’s, would what—double, triple, or what would it do, what is [MICHAEL WARE: Ugh!] that number, [MICHAEL WARE: Ugh.] do you know it?

MICHAEL WARE: [sighs] Well Rick, no one can give you a figure, of the number of Iraqi souls, that have been lost in the five years so far of this, conflict, but, it’s exponentially greater than two, or three, or even ten times, this terrible number of American [RICK SANCHEZ: Hm] casualties. We’re talking, we’re talking about, on conservative estimates, between 80,000 to 100,000 Iraqi’s, have lost their lives, and that’s not to mention—more than 4 million Iraqi’s, are displaced from their homes. 2 million are lost, here in Iraq, wanting to return home. 2 million more-plus, are beyond this country’s border, and there seems little hope that any of them to return. And the entire social fabric, of this country, has been torn asunder, with a gru–a legacy of this war, that is now divided along sectarian lines, Sunni vs. Shia, when it never was before—not even under Saddam. So the impact, and the toll, that this conflict has taken on this country, is almost immeasurable. Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ: Michael, if you’ll allow us for a minute, I want to bring Martha in. Martha, you’re shaking your head while you’re listening to Michael’s report. Is it because of a disagreement?

MARTHA ZOLLER: It’s–I really do disagree on–on some of the issues. And I’ve been, not as long as Michael has been in Iraq [RICK SANCHEZ: Right.], but I’ve been there twice. I have been in–seen provincial areas, and in many of the provincial governments, the–they are functioning. Baghdad has continued to be a problem, but better. And I just think that’s the story that’s not being reported…

RICK SANCHEZ: …That it really is a success, is that what you’re saying?

MARTHA ZOLLER: That the provincial governments are functioning the way they should, in most cases.

RICK SANCHEZ: Michael, how about that—that the provincial governments are now, functioning much better, and in many ways, the way they should be functioning?

MICHAEL WARE: Well there’s a number of things we can say about that. Certainly, on paper, there is a thin, veneer, of success, in the fact that the provincial governments, or some of them, are operating in the way they are. But let’s look at it this way, most of those provincial governments are operating in that way, because they’re so heavily supported by Iran. We’re talking about provincial governments, in the south, where there’s very little Sunni / Shia divide at all, because it’s a largely, exclusively, Shia population. Where, they’re ruled, by political parties and paramilitary factions, either, created in Iran during exile from Saddam, or which have been created after this conflict began, by Iran’s Quds force, or other political organizations, within Iran.

The other provinces that are functioning so well, here in Iraq, are the Kurdish regions to the north, where they essentially have a parallel government, to the central government in Iraq. They have their own territory, their own parliament, their own representatives, for defense, and foreign affairs. So there’s a duplication here. They’ve only recently been able to grit their teeth in the Kurdish north, and fly the, Iraqi national flag, rather than a Kurdish flag. So yes, in one, very limited sense, they are operating, but, come on, let’s look at the realities, they’re consolidating their power [MARTHA ZOLLER: And what about Anbar though?], weakening the central government, and…

Anbar province–Anbar province is in the control now, of the former Sunni insurgency, with whom, they’ve cut a deal with the Americans. They are functioning, but it’s run by the Iraqi Islamic Party, which has ties to Al-Qaeda, and which can barely deliver any kind of services, or distribute the budget that it has. So there is progress, but let’s look at it, in the big picture, in it’s true context.

RICK SANCHEZ: Michael, we are out of time, thanks so much for hustling to the camera and bringing us this live report.


Re provincial governments:

MARTHA ZOLLER: And I just think that’s the story that’s not being reported…

Touche’ Martha. And to take it a step further—above and beyond even Iraq—clearly the real story here must be with all the unjust wars that aren’t even being waged.  


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