CNN speaks with Fareed Zakaria about Iran’s role in Iraq – and former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s Iraq policy. This is an edited version of the transcript.
The irony is that Washington has tried for years to keep Iran out of Iraq. Is the notion of U.S. and Iran discussions desperation?
I don't think it’s desperation. I think it's unfortunate that it's happening in these kinds of crisis circumstances. But the truth of the matter is Iran has been influencing and supporting this government from the start. Many people believe that Iran has had more influence with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki than we have. Remember, al-Maliki is a Shiite, just like the Iranians. He lived in Tehran for many years when he was in exile from Saddam Hussein. And Iran has funded most of the major Shia parties.
So Iran already has lots of influence in Iraq. We don't have the ability to change that. The question we could ask is, are there some areas where we have similar or shared interests, such as keeping these hard line jihad terrorists out of the main population centers of Iraq?
I think we do. And let's remember that Iran and the United States similarly shared some strategic goals in Afghanistan. Iran didn't like the Taliban. We didn't like the Taliban. They kind of helped us when we ousted the Taliban in 2001 and 2002. So I don't think this is unprecedented.
The way the president frames it, Washington is backing this imperfect government in Baghdad against these callous, dangerous terrorists. And then you have others just saying, plain and simple, Sunnis versus Shiites, sectarian warfare. Terrorism vs sectarian – why is that distinction so important?
It's a good question. It makes you see how confusing and muddled the situation is. Because what we're looking for is the good guy – we're trying to figure out who are the good guys we support. It turns out there are no good guys in Iraq. The “good guys,” the government of Iraq, is itself very sectarian. It's a Shia government that has been oppressing the Sunnis. The Sunnis [involved] are hardline Sunnis and increasingly turning toward terrorists and jihadis, so they're clearly the bad guys.
But of course not all the Sunnis are bad.
Or all Shia. So what the president is saying is, if you guys can get your act together and create an inclusive government, we're willing to provide you with military assistance. We're willing to try and back you. But we don't want to do it in a context where we will be seen as just supporting one side in a civil war.
So I think the president is right to try to condition America's support on, at the very least, the strong appearance, if not the reality, that we are not picking sides in a sectarian war.
So you have a decade in Iraq, and it’s still broken. Is there anyone who supported the war who is credible?
Well, I think the biggest problem here is that the Bush administration, after the invasion, really exacerbated all the sectarian differences we're now seeing. So clearly, invading Iraq was a mistake. But my point is, in the first month after the invasion, when they were still declaring victory, the Bush administration disavowed the Sunnis and empowered these hardline Shia rulers.
So now it's a little odd for people like Vice President Cheney and Paul Bremer, the former ambassador of Iraq, to say we should try to get al-Maliki to include the Sunnis – you're the guys who put him in power in the first place. You're the guys who disempowered the Sunnis and created or exacerbated these sectarian differences.
So it was a very odd critique given that in many ways, there were key policies of the Bush administration right after the invasion that exacerbated these sectarian tensions and the civil war that we are now living with.
Are you surprised by the fact they're coming forward, penning these opinion pieces, coming on national TV?
Well, you would hope there would be some sense of being willing to say, look, we got some things wrong. And we got some things right. I look at my own experience with Iraq. I got a bunch of things wrong, I got a bunch of things right. But I think that the odd thing here is, all of history begins in 2011 for Dick Cheney, when Obama decides to have the troops withdraw. Forgetting the Bush administration actually negotiated the document that said all U.S. forces would leave Iraq in 2011. That wasn’t Obama. Obama simply ratified it and continued in that sense a Bush administration strategy.
So again, it's a sort of strange historical amnesia that forgets that it was George Bush who said all American troops would leave Iraq in 2011.
Dick Cheney should be gagged and muzzled! And permanant doesnt sound bad either! A blight on humanity and a very big embarressment to the people of the United States!
Thank you, chrissy. Dick Cheney is a national disgrace along with John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jim Inhof, and the list gores on and on and.............!
For forum visitors and others not familiar with my views and avatar, I, Joey, did not write that little thank-you note to @ chrissy for her imaginative recommendations regarding Cheney's sentencing phase.
To copywrited Joey: I think it is interesting that someone would choose to adopt your very unusual pen name, and then write opinions that are almost always the exact opposite of yours. Wny would someone do that, I wonder? Why not just choose his own pen name? Curious. Your comments, by the way, are consistently more subtle and more clever than his.
Similar examples are people writing in these threads as George Patton or Joe McCarthy, each of whom writes opinons far from what the original George Patton (an admirable man) and Joe McCarthy (a less than admirable man) would have written.
Why, @ Alan S, thank you!
You set me up swimmingly for a challenging day of teaching.
You know, I hadn't realized that my troll categorizes me with General Patton and Senator McCarthy, both famous, but I am honored.
Why does the troll do that?
I don't rightly know, but I am reminded of a song popular over twenty years ago. Its words included:
If you like my bo-
And you think I'm se
And you think I'm se-
I never have any desire to listen or read any about Dick Cheney. I do read about Bush however. But Dick? ... hmmm I rather laugh along with Sarah Palin ...
Cheney should be in jail.
All liars are jail baits; irrespective of party. If they have lied to more people; they are voting against themselves.
Amazing that the media still bothers with Dick Cheney.. It was in 1991 when Dick Cheney said: "I think it is vitally important for a President to know when to use military force. I think it is also very important for him to know when not to commit U.S. military force.... It would have been a mistake for us to get bogged down in the quagmire inside Iraq...." and then he went into Iraq and started a war.... why? In short, one answer: Halliburton. He was a CEO with Halliburton at the time and guess what? Halliburton stocks skyrocketed due to the war Bush and Cheney started. Cheney is a hypocrite and a liar. What makes him worse than Bush is the fact that he knew exactly what he was doing and he did it anyway! Bush on the other hand, didn't know what he was doing. Need I say more?
Your info on Cheney being the CEO at the time is incorrect. He had to step down and cut ties with Halliburton to avoid the obvious conflict of interests. This is a common practice for those who take up public office. This forum has increasingly become less about substance and has become more about personal attacks that are based mostly on emotions than critical thought/reality.
Retired, are you also aware that on 9/11, George Bush was in Washington meeting with his 20 year close personal friend Osama Bin Laden's father?
You do realize that they are both long time executives with The Carlyle Group, which sells weapons to BOTH sides in the middle east.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Bin Laden must have had a lot to talk about on 9/11 – profits for many many many years to come in the war they created.
Retired, if you persist in writing statements that are factually correct and inconsistent with hysteria, you could be banned from posting here.
retired...factually correct..but do you actually think when CEO's or other influential people step aside their influence is diminished. I think it is delusional to think so, owning stock and being in close contact with other influential people
scews the supposed buffering. As in the rich always act for the rich...no matter what!
@Retired Military: I stand corrected. So its a strange coincidence that soon after Cheney and Bush started the war with Iraq Halliburton stocks rose 5 times? It's also very common for political leaders to go against their own sage advice? Yet, even all the failures and disasters that the Iraq war brought to the US, Cheney is still advising to go into Iraq. Here's a further quote of what he said in 1991 (when he made perfect sense): What kind of government? Should it be a Sunni government or Shi'i government or a Kurdish government or Ba'athist regime? Or maybe we want to bring in some of the Islamic fundamentalists? How long would we have had to stay in Baghdad to keep that government in place? What would happen to the government once U.S. forces withdrew? How many casualties should the United States accept in that effort to try to create clarity and stability in a situation that is inherently unstable?"
I rest my case.
Dick Cheney is glad that Iraq descends into chaos. He re-emerges from oblivion. He will always be remembered for the 2003 invasion. But whether he should be blamed for the current chaos is another matter. Even if Saddam Hussein had been left , the Arab uprising would still have caught up with him. The Jihadists would still have thronged into Iraq and sowed violence.
You should join the military again. I think retirement has slower your brain logic. Yea he wasn't employed with Haliburton but you can be the made millions of dollars when he gave them a no bid contract. And they gave our American soldiers shores that instead of getting them clean, it got them dead. Thank you mr. Vp for taking it upon yourself to kill young Americans serving their country. Unlike you when Vietnam Nam called you dodged the draft. A good person to ask about war strategy.
Ok guys...Richard, you can keep your comments about me serving in the military to yourself. Just because you may disagree, there is no reason to make commentary like that, especially adding insult about my logic because you disagree with my post. I am not making outrageous or false comments. Nor am I shrill with emotions like many others. Cheney didn't award a no bid contract. He doesn't have that authority and that is not how it works in the federal contacting world. Comments about Cheney killing Americans are just flat wrong.
Ferhat: I think you have forgotten a few other facts. Both parties in both houses voted to go to war in Iraq. President Bush did not use Executive Authority, he did what is required and went to Congress. This wasn't done in the dark of night in closed session. The President went to the UN as well. He didn't have to, but he did. There are issues that we will never agree on. I served in combat in Iraq and understand the many complex scenarios that went into the decision to go to war. The administration also used intelligence reports from the Clinton Administration on WMD which helped build the case for deposing Hussein.
Electronic: yes, when CEOs change out the previous guy's influence is definitely diminished. Absorb no doubt. I have seen it in the corpr world first hand.
A common trends in all of your commentaries seem to be that some how Cheney and Bush did this on there own. That the rich always look out for each other. I guess the vast majority of Congress got rich off the war as they voted to support it. You can't change facts in good conscience, but you can certainly choose to ignore them.
@Retired Military: I think that you forgot why Congress voted to go to Iraq and I did not claim Bush used executive authority. Much of the evidence provided by the Bush administration including claims of weapons of mass destruction were all false. If you remember, most of the US population about 63% favored a diplomatic solution. And so, the US government engaged in a domestic public relations campaign to market the war to it's citizens and by 2003 most US citizens were then convinced that Iraq possessed WMDs. There were also false accusations made that Saddam somehow had ties to Al-Qaeda. Some of the most senior officials including Bush, Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld asserted these claims in public with full confidence, even while privately, ranking US military and intelligence officers were voicing doubts. At the very least, the Bush administration should've been more cautious in dealing with Iraq. Instead, they decided to go to war even while key US allies refused (France, Germany and NZ) who argued there was no evidence of WMDs. There were mass protests around the world (nearly 10 million people in over 800 cities). It is well known that the Bush administration had drawn up plans to use military force in Iraq before the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11. The Bush administration faced unprecedented opposition on the UN Security Council. The campaign of lies about weapons of mass destruction was required to sway public opinion. There is really no precedent in US history for the sheer scale of falsification engaged by the Bush administration, the Republican Party and the media.
Ferhat: There was WMD in Iraq. They were moved into Syria prior to invasion. They had help from the Russians. The French and Germans did not join the alliance due buying discounted (below market priced) oil from Iraq via the UN oil for food program. They were busted, cold handed. Money was the overriding issue for them. I am not claiming you said Bush used Executive Authority. I was simply making the point he followed the process. There was no campaign of lies, that is just false. The Congress voted 70% to 30% to go to war. Even Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, etc. all voted for war. Gen Powell also believed, based on Intel reports, that WMD was there...not lies. Today it was reported that ISIS now has control of WMDs that were in bunkers in Iraq. There were Al-Qaeda in Iraq. In 2003 we caputured the 911 master mind there – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was given asylum there under the table. They were also training in Iraq. This is not opinion, it is fact. It is always easier to see shortfalls when looking back in time. It is important to have prospective and proper historical context. Otherwise it's considered rewriting history.
best scenario!! iran to deploy irgc to iraq who are good moslems, iranian armed forces to stage a coup and remove the regime in absence of irgc and leave the good irgc moslems to stay where they belong,the arab moslem lands and leave iran to the iranians!
You are talking nonsense and you probably know it. Iran does not want to have anything to do with irrational Arabs.
If President Obama want peace in Iraq then they do not want to talk with Iran and they do not need Iran because Iran always want to destroy Iraq they both are rival countries Iraq and Iran and Prime Minister of Iraq is the Puppet of Iran so if President Obama want peace then remove Prime Minister and President of Iraq and put a liberal Prime Minster who work in the interest of Iraq and for Iraq people not for the Iran the Devil Country.
If you want a prove then ask 3rd time Prime Minster Nori Al Maliki the below mentioned points:
1- what he did for iraq and people of iraq
2- what development is going in iraq
3- why currency of iraq is not stable yet
4- Iraq is an oil producing country but still not stability
5- why kurds region are stable and more develop then iraq
6- why you support Iran
Iran is not evil country but Mullahs are.
Who cares? Your questions are all irrelevant. It is none of your business anyway.
At times,advertising slogans lose their power, so it becomes necessary to label a product "NEW" or "IMPROVED."
"It's Bush's fault," a slogan perhaps more powerful than, "the real thing," may be losing efficacy, and we hear that it was really Cheney's fault, because of stocks.
What ever happened to existentialism? It used to be all the rage in Greenwich Village.
All that aside Joey, you still have to admit that Dick Cheney and his right-wing henchmen ie; John McCain, Lindsey Graham. Jim Inhofe, just to name a few, are truly a national disgrace and need to be voted out of office. The fact that these unsavory people manage to get elected over and over again, shows just how much of a grip that ignorance and fanaticism has on this nation of ours!
Greenwich Village was bought up by the conservatives and existentialism was banned.
@JIF, the conversations on existentialism in Village was all over in the 80s. Quoting Kierkergaard and Sartre got old for me fast but there was no escaping it. That seems minor in comparison to what has become our day to day business with the Middle East. I can't see the avators on this electronic but the troll can't imitate you very well.
Aussi, @ dazzle, I consider you inimitable.
It is not merely historical amnesia, it is outright criminal lies by Cheney, who should be doing time in a secure, undisclosed, maximum security cell at Ft. Leavenworth.
Well said, snowyowl. Thank you for your input.
Amen, Brother, Amen.
Snowyowl: If Mr. Cheney should be doing time in prison, why isn't he? Because of the reluctance of Eric Holder and Barack Obama to do anything that would make Republicans look bad? Or is it perhaps because even Mr. Cheney's ideological opponents and greatest detractors, even though they are in control of the Federal government and particularly the Department of Justice, can't find any evidence of criminality?
Owl, sometimes people have opinions different than yours. In some cases your opinion may be correct and the other people may be incorrect. But that doesn't make them criminal.
Actually Guantanamo Bay would suit him better!
Thank you, Richard. I totally agree.
What's a disgrace is the media actually giving this excrement of a person any airtime! Again, the media is to blame for. NOT questioning the LIES back than .. was all about profit and covering a war than telling the truth.
What somebody needs to do is take his battery pack away. Hes so evil his heart has to be literally run by a machine he carries around like a satchel.
and meanwhile Biden's son profiteering robbing Ukraine... Cheney has good pupils
Cheney should take up art and stay out of politics. He had his turn.
iran dosent want to talk to usa usa is the enemy of islam and so is britian ireland dublin australia norway oslo israel all of these countrys are the enemy of islam and iran should kill its enenmys death cut down the irish ghanaian norweigan jewish filt h.
Your most recent post may embody the finest political satire since Chaplin.
You need to clean the sand out of your head, oh no leave because your head would be completely EMPTY if you did.
I think Dick Cheney should talk more.
It was the Cheney administration that signed the withdrawal of forces agreement to get ALL US combat troops out of Iraq by December of 2011.
Senile old war criminal. Take him out back like all old horses and put us out of our misery.
At least the 2 Bush War Criminals have the sense to keep their traps shut.
Checkmate the agreements can be changed based on operational needs. Zakaria you are not qualified to give an opinion end of story. You are JUST a commentator not a person who has been on the ground doing COIN.
Obama should have listened to the IC and DOD who said Iraq will crumble if we pull out. At that point Obama reminds Maliki who put him in power and that it in the regions best interest to maintain 3 battalions and a JSOC element of 7th and 5th special forces group guys to act as trainers and QRF for another 3-4 years until the Iraqi Army can stand alone.
True. However, the current issue is about how to handle what is happening on the ground today and how this Administration should handle this crisis going forward. The decision to not maintain a SOFA agreement is not the cause of the current crisis. Although it certainly exacerbates the dilemma. In the end, the best advice of those military leaders, and their troops that do the sweating and bleeding, can be marginalized by the civilians in charge who ultimately make "political" decisions which are often expedient. A short term political gain that did not address the second and third order impacts. That is where we are in Iraq today. Gen Mattis (USMC), former CENTCOM commander, was retired early as a result of his critical assessments of predecision policy matters. This is what Generals do at that level. Wishing away things that will impact your plan can be fatal. Again, current day Iraq.
Mr. Zakaria labeling Mr. Chaney's comments as "odd" is a bit like "Pot calling Kettle Black". However, having said that, what does anyone expect from a guy who hunts lawyers (or at least shoots lawyers)?
So, having learned absolutely nothing whatsoever, the US government will now proceed to prop up a horrible dictator's government on the excuse that the alternative is worse.
Because that worked out *so* well the other thousand times we did it.
Sly: That is an interesting hypothesis. However, I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories. I cannot imagine such acquisitions not being hyper-investigated by the media.
No conspiracy theories here – just pointing out that Bush was a long time personal family friend and business partner with Mr. Bin Laden.
Their company profited quite well from selling weapons across the Middle East. War sells weapons.
Ironic that Bush and Bin Laden were meeting IN WASHINGTON on 9/11.
A bit more info:
"George W. Bush's father was meeting with Osama bin Laden's brother, Shafig bin Laden, in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Washington, on the morning of 9/11. They were on Carlyle Group business just a few miles from where hijackers supposedly acting on behalf of Osama bin Laden would fly a plane into the Pentagon.
Recall that the chief financier of the so-called hijackers, Pakistan's Chief Spy General Mahmoud Ahmad, was meeting with Bush administration officials the week before 9/11. He also met with Bob Graham and Porter Goss on the morning of the attacks, who would later go on to head the first 9/11 investigative committee."
Sky: What/who is the source of the comments you are posting?
Sorry, should read: "Sly"
I think he's pulling it out his anal cavity and spinning it to his advantage..
Retired ... if you 'google' Ritz Carlton Bin Laden Bush 9/11 there are dozens of links. It was a luxury hotel convention, so no secrets. There is even a u-tube of the meeting. The Bush-Bin Laden business relationship goes back over 20 years – the President often dined at Bin Ladens home. These are not secrets. What The Carlyle Group does however is very secretive.
Only they know what was discussed.
The problem we have in this country today is we don't fight a war to win it we fight it politically and in the media. We sacrifice good American Military personnel for the whim of a few politicians. They all lack the knowledge and experience to delegate useful info to the President and in this case this President is too stupid to understand good intel if he heard it.
Magda Sorel and I are still waiting for the source to be published.
You cannot change the past but you CAN change the future! And if we were allowed a "do over" Bush and especially Cheney would not be elected! But as we are NOT allowed a do over no point crying over spilt milk! That being said the citizens of this country have learned to not believe ANYTHING this nasty little man has to say! And Prez Obama is making the best of a very bad situation...and we would do well to learn from that! Many of us have, others need to at least try!!!
And @ Richard...he is STILL making boatloads of money from those actions! Ya know what i think scares him and the rest of their party the most? That even with all the roadblocks and brick walls they keep putting in front of the POTUS...he still has not had any skeletons in his closet! They dont know how to act because of that!!!!
Sky: was hoping you would have provided specific author or news source. I am not inclined to necessarily believe most things that are found on line.
Sly: Sorry, the auto text likes Sky!
Even if we were to assume that Iran is truly ISIS’s implacable enemy, that doesn’t mean it would be a good idea for the United States to cooperate with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps — an organization that has been responsible for attacks against U.S. targets stretching back more than 30 years. We have seen in Syria how Iranian-backed forces go about putting down a Sunni-led insurgency. More than 150,000 people have already been killed in the Syrian civil war and millions more uprooted from their homes. The Assad regime has become notorious for dropping “barrel bombs” on civilians and even using chemical weapons.Iranian-backed groups used equally brutal methods in Iraq during the height of the fighting after al-Qaeda’s bombing of the Samarra mosque in 2006. Shiite extremists became notorious for kidnapping and torturing Sunnis. Those same groups stand on the front lines today of Shiite resistance to ISIS.
The United States would be making a historic error if it were to assist such an Iranian-orchestrated ethnic-cleansing campaign with air power or even with diplomatic support. Not only would this be morally reprehensible, it would be strategically stupid because it would convince the region’s Sunni Muslims that the United States is siding against them with Iran and its regional allies. This could lead Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to support extremists such as ISIS, further feeding the growing sectarian conflict across the region
Well conceived and thoughtful post. There are no easy answers and we must play the long game, not look for an expedient political out.
I see a clear mistake,was the SOFA agreement negotiable to allow residual forces to stay over in Iraq?Iraqi government said no negotiations US forces go out by the end of agreemeent.Ah! well though with an Obama
administration whom seemed not ready to push any overtime stay of US forces in Iraq.Al-Maliki and Iraq government
had a nice posture to push the hardline of cut out,get out,we don't want you in.This actual administration was going to give its little tap over the shoulders of Al-Maliki.Alright with us,we we want out as well.I saw no sign of a chance
missed when us forces were all withdrawn on the part of us government at the time!!Them had not pushed for it?It would have helped!!
Ah!Well! Iraq war a big mistake?Have we had another 9\11 since Iraq invasion?Nothing near 9\11!
9\11 happened under bush administration is clearly a mistake of thoughts!!When Al-quaeda first attacked was 1993,them went after the WTC for the first time as Robert Gates called!!What was president Clinton doing for the next 7
years or so,let's remember the 1998 US cole bombimg on US forces,where was Clinton?Over Al-Quaeda to prevent a bigger
attack?Yeah right!It's a reason actually we had a 9\11 after only 9 months into the bush presidency!!Remember Bush administartion had around 9 months to see it coming.Clinton administartion around 7 years!!
Extreme liberals don't see it that way though facts hurt a bit!!Final whether we can blame Bush for something that happened around 10 years ago. Say history had not begun with an Iraq invasion let's go back 20 years to the first big attack of al-quaeda on American soil.
Say we are not extreme liberals and keep an open mind!!9\11 meant afghanistan invasion it was bigger them two than Iraq invasion alone!!
So how come these WMD being moved to Syria with the help of the Russians was not known until you just now said it???? I would think either Bush or Cheney wouldve spilled the beans on that long ago. Especially when the UR was helping the rebels in Syria which just now happens to be ISIS!!!
The US i meant.
Anyone here who would take up for a war criminal like Dick Cheney needs to have their head examined. I mean war criminal since he was Secretary of Defense on Feb. 13, 1991 when the Amriya air raid shelter in Baghdad, Iraq was bombed by two American pilots, killing more than 414 innocent civilians!
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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Check out all of Fareed's Washington Post columns here:
Obama as a foreign policy president?
Why Snowden should stand trial in U.S.
Hillary Clinton's truly hard choice
China's trapped transition
Obama should rethink Syria strategy
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