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June 30th, 2008
02:40 PM ET

Was the Iraq war about oil all along?

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Iraqi flags flutter at a new oil refinery plant in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, central Iraq. Click the Play Button to see what jack and our viewers had to say. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to the real reason for the Iraq war, we've pretty much heard it all: First it was WMD, then it was about the war on terror and removing Saddam Hussein, then it was about spreading democracy. But it was never about the oil.

Now, as Bill Moyers reported on PBS: "...one by one, these concocted rationales went up in smoke, fire and ashes. And now the bottom line turns out to be ... the bottom line. It is about oil."

More than 5 years after the start of the war, the U.S. has lost more than 4,100 troops, tens of thousands more are wounded for life, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead, millions more are displaced, and the U-S taxpayer is stuck with a bill that could top trillions of dollars. And, what about the oil? Well, it hit a new record high today of more than $143 a barrel. Gas prices are up almost 38% from a year ago.

The New York Times reports that the Bush administration played a key role in drawing up no-bid contracts between the Iraqi government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq. Critics accuse the administration of making sure Western companies get this access in the country that holds the third-largest oil reserves in the world. For example, Russian companies with experience in Iraq were hoping for contracts, but they're still waiting.

The White House denies steering the Iraqis toward any decisions. A State Department official says its advice was "not binding."

Here’s my question to you: Do you believe the Iraq war was about oil all along?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Oil Prices • War in Iraq
June 11th, 2008
05:03 PM ET

Was Bush misunderstood on Iraq?

 President Bush says he regrets some of his rhetoric in lead-up to Iraq war.

President Bush says he regrets some of his rhetoric in lead-up to Iraq war.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Bush told the British newspaper The Times he regrets using phrases like "bring them on" and "wanted dead or alive" after 9/11. He says it made him seem anxious for war in the eyes of the world. The president says that in retrospect, he could have used a different tone from the cowboy rhetoric that sent the message that he wasn't a man of peace. Now he figures that out.

Mr. Bush talked about how painful it is for him to put youngsters in harm's way, but he said he doesn't regret invading Iraq. He insisted at a press conference today that removing Saddam Hussein was the right decision and made the world a safer place.

President Bush also said that Republican John McCain will have to distance himself from him. He called McCain an independent person who will make his own decisions. There does seem to be one avoidable similarity between the two, however. They both manage to put their feet in their mouths with some regularity.

This morning on NBC's "Today" show, McCain was asked, since the surge appears to be working, if he had a better estimate of when our troops might come home from Iraq. His answer: "No, but that's not too important." He went on to say casualties are more important, that there are Americans stationed all over the world but not in harm's way. My guess is it's very important to the families of the troops who are in Iraq.

Here’s my question to you: Do you think President Bush was misunderstood when it comes to the Iraq war?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: President George Bush • War in Iraq
May 30th, 2008
01:57 PM ET

Important for Obama to go to Iraq?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite worries on the home front about the economy, the housing market and record high gas prices... the war in Iraq has made it to center stage once again in the presidential campaign.

Turns out both of the likely candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, think the debate over the war can work to their advantage.

McCain has been blasting Obama about Iraq, criticizing him for making decisions without visiting the war zone since 2006. McCain argues conditions on the ground have changed drastically since then. The RNC says, "the fact that there are 2-year-old Iraqi children who weren't born the last time Obama was in their country raises questions about what he is making his decisions on."

It's part of a larger strategy to paint Obama as inexperienced. It's also pretty convenient to shift attention away from domestic issues – like the economy, energy and health care – where Obama polls much stronger than McCain.

Obama's camp now says the candidate is considering a trip to Iraq, during which he would focus on how best to withdraw U.S. troops, not reconsider whether or not they should leave. Obama suggests McCain hasn't learned enough from all his travels to Iraq, since all he wants to do is continue President Bush's war policies – even saying at one point American soldiers could be in Iraq for 100 years.

If elected, Obama has vowed to start pulling out troops immediately, with all combat brigades out of the country within 16 months. On the other hand, McCain says the U-S can't go until Iraqi forces have been trained and al Qaeda is defeated.

However, there's also a risk for McCain here: by talking about travels to Iraq, he reminds people about his infamous stroll through the Baghdad market last year where he returned to the United States and gave Americans a completely false report about how peaceful and secure it was there.

Here’s my question to you: How important is it for Barack Obama to go to Iraq?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: Barack Obama • War in Iraq
May 1st, 2008
05:54 PM ET

Can our mission in Iraq be accomplished?

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President George W. Bush addressing the nation aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln May 1, 2003. (PHOTO CREIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Mission Accomplished... so read the banner prominently displayed behind President Bush on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln five years ago today.

Bush appeared in a flight suit before a cheering crowd and announced "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended." I wonder if he would like to tell that to the families of the more than 50 U.S. troops who died in Iraq during the month of April, the deadliest in seven months. And this month’s first fatality has already been recorded.

The war is now in its sixth year. We have lost 4,064 troops, many of them killed long after the president announced that major combat operations were over.

Only the Vietnam War, the war in Afghanistan, and the Revolutionary War have lasted longer than the war in Iraq.

Tens if not hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and millions have been displaced. The Iraqi army which was supposed to be able to stand on its own by 2006, is pretty much worthless. During one recent battle more than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers simply ran away leaving the fighting to their countrymen and the Americans.

Today U.S. and Iraqi troops are engaged in fierce fighting against Shiite militants in Baghdad's Sadr City, a battle that began in March. More than 900 civilians and militants have died since that fighting began.

The White House admits that it has "paid the price" for the "Mission Accomplished" banner. But not nearly as high a price as the men and women of our armed forces.

Here’s my question to you: What will it take to accomplish the U.S. mission in Iraq?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: President George Bush • War in Iraq
April 25th, 2008
03:40 PM ET

Should the candidates be talking more about Iraq?

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A US soldier of 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, looks toward Iraqi soldiers pushing forward during a joint patrol in a market area in Mahmudiyah. Click the Play Button to see what Jack and out viewers had to say. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A new report out today from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

The Iraqi government is keeping thousands of dead, injured and missing soldiers and policemen on the payroll. Let me just run that past you again. The Iraqi government is using your money to pay thousands of dead, injured and missing soldiers and policemen as a way of compensating or caring for their families. This completely outrageous news comes from a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. It also says Iraqis have a shortage of officers and still rely on coalition forces for substantial logistical support.

The Iraqi army was supposed to be able to stand on its own two years ago. We're now being told they might get around to it by September of 2009.

This program to train Iraqi soldiers - and continue to pay the dead and missing ones - is costing American taxpayers $20 billion dollars. The report comes as Congress prepares to take up President Bush's request for another 108 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today is accusing Iran of increasing arms and training support to insurgents in Iraq.

These news items were not known when a new USA-Today Gallup Poll was taken that shows sixty three percent of Americans say that the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq. That's the highest "mistake" percentage Gallup has ever measured for an active war involving the United States.

Only Sixty-one percent of Americans in May 1971 said the Vietnam War was a mistake.

Here’s my question to you: Are the presidential candidates going to have to spend more time talking about Iraq?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • War in Iraq
April 10th, 2008
02:07 PM ET

Can anyone end the war in Iraq?

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Spec.Chad Owen of the 2nd Brigade 1st ID participates in a night patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. Click the Play Button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

To Americans who want to end the war in Iraq, a Democratic president is the only answer. Or is it? Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both promising to withdraw U.S. military forces from Iraq if either is elected. If McCain wins, forget about it. He says we might be in Iraq a hundred years.

The thing is it might turn out to be easier for McCain to keep us in Iraq than for Clinton or Obama to get us out. This George Bush abomination is now in its sixth year. And the quicksand just gets deeper.

Iraq is no closer now to being a true functioning democracy capable of providing for its own security than it was five years ago. And the outlook for meaningful progress is awful. Both General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker describe the country as being in a fragile state and warn that security gains could vanish if troops leave too soon. See Basra without the British.

Meanwhile, former Secretary of State Colin Powell says the next president will have to face the reality that the U.S. has to reduce troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, Powell warns that there will be limitations, “None of them are going to have the flexibility of just saying we're out of here, turn off the switch, turn off the lights, we're leaving. They will have a situation before them."

The unsettling fact is we might not be able to leave without either handing Iraq over to Iran or setting off a tribal war that will end in genocide.

Here’s my question to you: How likely is it that the next president, whether Republican or Democrat, will pull U.S. troops out of Iraq?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • John McCain • War in Iraq
January 11th, 2008
02:40 PM ET

Changing opinions on Iraq?

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Baghdad, Iraq (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some encouraging news coming out of Iraq, exactly one year since President Bush ordered an extra 30-thousand troops there as part of the so-called "surge."

A U.S. general says that the country's western province of Anbar, which had been a hotbed for Sunni insurgents, will be returned to Iraqi control in March.

He says it's time for the handover because levels of violence have dropped significantly and Iraqi security forces are now capable of taking over.

So far, 9 out of 18 provinces are back under Iraqi control. It's a process that's gone slower than what the Bush administration had initially hoped for, mainly due to the challenge of getting the Iraqi police and army strong enough.

Even though Anbar province will return to Iraqi control, U.S. forces will still stay there as partners with Iraq's security forces. Nevertheless, it's a positive sign when you consider that as recently as 18 months ago, Anbar was the stronghold of al Qaeda in Iraq.

And there are other positive signs: the number of U.S. casualties has been declining for months. In December, 23 troops were killed, that's compared to a death toll of 112 in December 2006. This isn't to say we're out of the woods yet: 9 U.S. troops lost their lives in just two days this week.

While there have been military successes, progress on the Iraqi political front has been slow to non-existent.

The progress being reported in Iraq may be responsible for this: While an overwhelming majority of Americans remain opposed to the war, it is no longer the number issue on people's minds. It has been replaced by the economy.

Here’s my question to you: Has your opinion of the war in Iraq changed?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: War in Iraq
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