THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PAT BUCHANAN,
GERARD BAKER, AND CHARLES PENA
TAPED: THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2003
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF AUGUST 23-24, 2003
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Join the military, see the world.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) The Clinton-Gore
administration has used our military too much and supported it too little.
More commitments, less resources. It is a short-sighted policy with long-term consequences.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let's check the current U.S. military
commitments of the Bush Administration. On its face, it appears that instead of reducing the global deployments of the U.S. military, President Bush has spread American forces more thinly across the world than ever before.
Take a look. Today the United States has forces in over 120 countries around the globe, chiefly these:
The Middle East and Africa: Iraq, 146,000; Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, 100,000; Egypt's Sinai, 800; Djibouti, the African nation, 1,000.
Central Asia: Afghanistan, 9,700, with more support troops in nearby Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
The Pacific: South Korea, 37,000; Japan, 45,000; the Philippines, 300. Special Forces deployments: Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Australia -- numbers classified. Informed conjecture? 600.
Europe and the Balkans: Germany, 13,000; Italy, 4,000; the United Kingdom, 9,000; Iceland, 3,000; Kosovo, 2,000; Bosnia, 1,500.
The near abroad: Guantanamo, Cuba -- 3,700.
What does this vast global deployment mean for military planners? It means that of the 33 active-duty Army combat brigades, only three are available for new missions.
Question: Long-standing military doctrine maintains that the U.S. is capable of fighting a two-front war. Given our current global
commitments, however, is that defense posture realistic?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, actually, we have a fight-hold-fight strategy
now; 1-1/2 war strategy. What you described there, though, is imperial
overstretch. The United States has a fully adequate military force to
defend this country and its vital interests. We do not have enough army
to defend an American empire, which is what we have right now. We have
a 20-division foreign policy and a 10-division army.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chuck?
MR. PENA: We don't even have a major enemy, such as the former Soviet
Union. We don't have two threats that we have to defend against. It's
time to get rid of our post -- our Cold War mentality and look at
defending the American homeland against the threat that really matters, and
that's the al Qaeda terrorist threat.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony? Did you memorize all those numbers, Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, not quite. But look, it's only imperial
overstretch in the sense that in 1942, we had imperial overstretch. The fact
is that the dangers have increased over the -- we became aware of them
September 11th. We're going after the terrorists and the countries
where the terrorists thrive. We are stretched thin, because the missions
expanded. And so far, the military has not expanded yet -- but it will,
I'm sure -- to meet the demands of security for America.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we overextended, do you think?
MR. BAKER: Well some of us, Pat, still believe that America's a
republic and not an empire, I would say, actually. But -- so, I don't think
that there are imperial commitments there.
As Tony says, the best way to defend the homeland is to engage in
forward defense. And there is no question that the principal threat to the
United States homeland or abroad -- its interests abroad at the moment
--comes from terrorism. The only way to deal with that threat is to
remove the threat, the specific threats that exist: the places where
governments that harbor terrorists, governments that produce weapons of
mass destruction, and that is going to require and aggressively forward
strategy for the foreseeable future.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who knows the math with regard to those 33 combat
MR. BUCHANAN: You've got 10 divisions, basically, John. I mean, what
do you mean, the math? Where they all --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I'm calculating 4,500 in a brigade.
MR. BUCHANAN: In a brigade? Well, I don't know that there are very
many left in the United States. I think you left out Colombia. We've
got people down there, too.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if you take 4,500 and you multiply it by three,
what have you got?
MR. BAKER: You've got 13-1/2 thousand. But what -- I mean, I'm sorry
-- there's -- no, but you've got total military -- a tremendous amount
of the problem at the moment is obviously the commitment to Iraq, and
that is going to be there for quite a considerable period of time. But
there's reasons for hope there, too, that that force will eventually be
internationalized and the U.S. won't be as committed.
MR. BLANKLEY: Let's not overstate. I agree we're stretched thin, by
necessity. But we are 1.4 million active, we've got another million in
the Guard and the Reserves. So, when you talk about 33 active
brigades, you're not talking about the entire pretty-quick capabilities, should
we need them somewhere else.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, here's the thing. The United States' military
forces, fighting forces, have never been better, sharper, crisper, more
firepower and all the rest of it. But you've got a teeth-to-tail ratio
here of still five to one, or seven to one, or ten to one. We don't
have enough there -- where we lack people, we can beat armies. But you
still need the same number of troops to pacify and occupy a country.
And that's what we've got to do right now. That's our problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't we cut the number -- why not cut the number
of troops in Asia?
MR. BUCHANAN: Listen, we ought to have brought them out of Korea a
long time ago. Korea's got an economy 30 times North Korea's and twice
the manpower. The United States should be over the horizon.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, if you -- we are moving that trip wire south,
it seems. But if you do remove the troops, or even move them south, are
you not opening up the opportunity for mischief on the part of Kim Jong
MR. BAKER: Well, you might actually be limiting his opportunity. But
see -- I mean, there is a problem there, which Pat points to, which
people have referred to as the kind of nuclear blackmail phenomenon --
nuclear hostage phenomenon; that U.S. forces in South Korea are, in
effect, nuclear hostages, because they can be, you know -- because they are
so close to North Korea, they can be hit at any time. Moving them out
of the immediate zone would be helpful, but I don't think that's going
to help you in dealing with the long -- with the bigger commitments.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about mobilizing the 300,000 Reserves and the
MR. BLANKLEY: The problem is the Guard --
MR. PENA: Well, John, I think what we need to do --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on.
MR. PENA: Sorry.
MR. BLANKLEY: The problem is the Guard is already being used a lot.
And if you keep overusing the Guard, at some point, people will stop
staying in. And it's not a long-term solution. It's, at this point, a
quick-fix solution if we need 'em, but we've got to restructure things.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chuck?
MR. PENA: We need to stop looking at the supply side of the problem,
how to get more troops into the fray. We need to look at the demand
side. We're overcommitted. And I don't agree with Tony -- not out of
necessity; out of choice. We don't need to be on the Korean peninsula.
MR. BUCHANAN: Right.
MR. PENA: The Koreans and the Japanese have strong enough economies
to fund their own military and defend themselves. Why are we in Europe?
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. PENA: There's no more Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact threat.
MR. BUCHANAN: John --
MR. PENA: It's time to reassess those commitments and pull back from
where we don't need to be.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, under the Rumsfeld doctrine, you've got to move
a lot of those German -- American troops in Germany to Bulgaria.
MR. BUCHANAN: We're just moving them around -- we're moving them
around on the chess board.
Why are you in Central Asia? If you have to go in and do Afghanistan,
go in and do it and come home. If you've got to do Iraq, go in and do
it and come home.
Tony, the threat is gone in Iraq. The weapons are gone.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's not.
MR. BUCHANAN: Uday is gone. Qusay is gone.
MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, come on.
MR. BUCHANAN: Saddam's gone next.
MR. BLANKLEY: Come on, look. Afghanistan has to be stabilized, Iraq
has to be stabilized.
MR. BUCHANAN: But give that to someone else!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, exit --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, we -- we're trying. We're going to bring
Italians, we're going to bring Poles in. But we can't just go in and get out
without getting the job done. We keep losing peaces. We need to win
wars and peace.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit. During the 2000 presidential campaign,
Republicans called the Clinton military a hollow force. Is the force hollow
today, or was it hollow even then?
MR. BUCHANAN: It is not hollow. It's a splendid military, one of the
finest we've had man for man. It is stretched too thin, John. We are
covering an empire. And as our friend says, we are a republic.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We don't have the troops necessary to maintain our
global commitments and preserve the two-war option, or even the 1-1/2 war
option. Isn't that true?
MR. PENA: That is true. And we probably don't even have much to be
able to do a one major war operation if we were faced with a major
threat, unlike the Iraqis, which were no threat at all militarily. So we --
I agree with Pat. We need to relook at the commitments. Not how do we
keep funding these commitments, but how do we pull back from these
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it a hollow force?
MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's not a hollow force. It's true that in the
'90s, we cut down very substantially in our size, anticipating incorrectly
that we weren't going to need the forces. And now, we're going to have
bulk up -- we have to keep our standards up. We don't want to lower
the standards of the men, either physical or mental. But we're going to
have to bulk up.
MR. BAKER: The bigger issue, I think, maybe also may be to look at
the types of forces that you have. I mean, I do think what Rumsfeld's
actually brilliant strategy for dealing with Iraq demonstrated was that
actually, you need far fewer forces to engage in the fighting than was
thought before. If you remember when we first started talking about
Iraq, people said we probably need 200,000, 300,000, maybe 400,000 U.S.
troops. In fact, we were 100 and -- you know, roughly 150 (thousand),
160,000 troops, and it was over with extremely quickly.
So, you were going to have -- you do need military transformation,
which limits the amount which -- because -- which is a recognition of the
fact that you have a much smaller number than are actually necessary to
fight many of the kind of wars that the United States might need to
But there is a problem with the postwar situation, and there does need
to be a look-at -- it's not even necessarily a case for the military.
There are other options that could be used. There are -- you know, to
do peacekeeping forces, which is not just the U.S. military. There is
the possibility of private forces. We haven't begun to look at the
possibilities that arise from that. There are a growing number of
companies that provide these kind of private security operations. It's that
that's the problem. You don't need people involved -- that many people
involved in the hot fighting. You do need a large number of people to
MR. BUCHANAN: That's exactly right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we do have a hollow force, and I say that on
the basis of not being able to sustain our global commitments and at
the same time being able to carry out a two-front war.
When we come back: How can the White House reduce the number of
American troops in Iraq?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Between Iraq and a hard place.
GENERAL ERIC SHINSEKI (former Army chief of staff): (From videotape.)
I would say that what's been mobilized to this point, something on the
order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a
figure that would be required.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DONALD RUMSFELD: (From videotape.) What is, I
think, reasonably certain is the idea that it would take several hundred
thousand U.S. forces, I think, is far from the mark.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN): (From videotape.) This idea that we will
be in just as long as we need to and not a day more -- we've got to get
over that rhetoric! It is rubbish! We're going to be there a long
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): (From videotape.) But no one back home
understands how monumental this undertaking is going to be, how long it's
going to take, how much it will cost, how many troops it will take.
The president needs to level with the American people about this.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The massive drain on military manpower is Iraq.
Instead of being greeted as liberators, American troops have been drawn
into a classic guerrilla war. The Pentagon now has some 150,000 troops in
Iraq. Plans to augment the U.S. force with allied troops were dealt a
setback last month when India refused the Bush administration's request
to deploy Indian forces to assist in the occupation. India's reason:
the Iraq guerrilla war. Until the U.S. quells the insurgency, allies do
not want to send their troops to become embroiled in the fighting.
That means American troops have to stay longer than anticipated.
Question: Why not just turn over the problem of maintaining security
in Iraq to the United Nations?
MR. PENA: Given the run-up to the war in Iraq, the only way that
we're going to get international cooperation so that we can get our troops
out so they're not being shot at and killed is to bring in the United
Nations, get international cooperation through a U.N. mandate. I'm not
the biggest fan of the U.N., but I am a big fan of making sure that our
troops aren't shot and killed in Iraq doing police --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's the fact that we have already
rejected that option plays any role in trying to get the United Nations in
now? The international community is quite pleased to stay out and let
us pay for the whole bill.
MR. PENA: Well, as well they should be, given the way they were
treated before the war. So, this is going to be a huge diplomatic problem
and job for the administration, to try and convince countries that they
snubbed early on to come in and pay the price after --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the moral of that story is be careful what you
wish for. You might get it.
MR. BLANKLEY: No. Let me make a point.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We got it. We kept the U.N. out, and now we want
MR. BLANKLEY: We don't want them in. And what my understanding is --
the Iraqi people don't want them in. They'd rather deal with one
force, like the United States, than the ambiguous bureaucracy of the U.N.
The U.N. is not going to come in in a leadership way. Other countries
are going to brought in: the Italian brigade, the Polish units. There
is going to be a diversification, but it's probably going to be --
continue to be under American supervision.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, it depends on what happens. If the United States
continues into a guerrilla war, losing one, two, three people a day,
the American people will demand our troops be brought home. The
president's going to have to eat crow either at NATO or at the United Nations.
You will have to get other people in there; you should get other people
in there, as we were saying before. Look, the United States troops are
combat troops, they shouldn't be occupation troops. Others should take
on that duty.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they're actually doing reconstruction. We
don't belong doing that over there either.
My question to you is, what about training up an Iraqi army?
MR. PENA: Well, that's what we're trying to do, but you need --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long will that take?
MR. PENA: Years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long will it take to recruit, train and field an
MR. PENA: Years. It will take years. These people --
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who knows? We could do it probably -- in about six
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a second --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But then what? Then we have to be able to trust
them, that there will not be any political mischief going on.
MR. BAKER: No, there will be -- there will be --
MR. PENA: That's if the --
MR. BAKER: John, John, there will be an international -- the force
will be gradually internationalized. And you all missed the point, which
is that we have already now got in Iraq the beginnings of the
institutions of a civilian government. The Iraqi Governing Council, which was
set up recently, is now starting to operate, starting to function. It
will be recognized; being recognized internationally increasingly. It
will be recognized at the U.N.
And that will start to ask for -- that will be in a much stronger position to ask for international support than the U.S. currently is, for the reasons that you said. And it will be that, whether it's through the U.N. or whether it's through some kind of multinational -- you know, multilateral force outside the U.N., it will be that that will gradually take over the U.S.-only role.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On this point of others coming in to help us, no one wants to move in that direction at all because there's a guerrilla war going on. Now, we have to foreshorten the guerrilla war, and how do we go about doing that, Tony?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well look, first of all, in the north and the south of Iraq there's not a guerrilla war. The guerrilla war --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well there we have the Shi'a problem.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, the Shi'as are doing just fine.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, the Shi'as are not doing just fine. They're --
MR. BLANKLEY: The area of violence is in that triangle northwest of Baghdad. The fact is that we are in a learning curve in occupying Iraq right now, and I think our people are changing as they're learning pretty quickly. They switched on the Iraqi -- only first they fired them all, now they're beginning to train them in. They were -- delayed the Iraqi Council, now they've brought them in. And I think we're seeing pretty good on-the-job learning. The doctrine of occupation and nation-building is just beginning now and it's a doctrine we're going to have to develop over --
MR. BUCHANAN: All right. But, John, the cause -- the cause of the war --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that those who fight the war, the fighters, should not be the occupiers because there are grudges on both sides.
MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We should rotate them the way we did in World War II.
MR. BLANKLEY: No --
MR. BUCHANAN: The cause of the war is the occupation --
MR. BLANKLEY: There's no --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat? Pat? Pat?
MR. BUCHANAN: The cause of the war, Tony, I believe now is by and large the occupation, the presence of Americans. The Americans humiliated --
MR. BLANKLEY: That's nonsense!
MR. BUCHANAN: I mean, why do you think they're shooting our guys? (Laughs.)
MR. BLANKLEY: These are Ba'athist last-ditchers. They're Ba'athist last-ditchers --
MR. BUCHANAN: They're not all Ba'athists. A lot of them are --
MR. BLANKLEY: There's no -- there's no evidence of popular support for this --
MR. BUCHANAN: Jihadists are in there. They're all trying to get --
MR. BLANKLEY: You've got handful who --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Also, you do have a Shi'a problem, a Shi'a problem in the --
MR. BUCHANAN: And you're going to have a Shi'a problem; you don't now. You will have.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You have muftees who are actively telling that the -- the Shi'as that the most religious and wonderful thing you can do is to get the American occupiers out.
MR. BAKER: Yeah, but that's not -- no, they're not being encouraged
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You've seen those -- the demonstrations are enormous!
MR. BAKER: Yeah, but they're not being encouraged to go out and fight the Americans.
MR. BUCHANAN: Yes.
MR. BAKER: They are saying the Americans -- what I do agree is the Shi'as do need a very clear signal about when the United States plans to hand over government to a democratic Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: How long will U.S. troops be forced to occupy Iraq? One year? Five years? Ten years? Fifty years?
MR. BUCHANAN: It all depends on the guerrilla war. If the guerrilla war stops, Americans could be in there a long, long time. If it continues, the American people in the coming election will say support the
troops, bring them home now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why don't you -- why don't you predict your own premises?
MR. BUCHANAN: I don't know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know you don't know. But what do you think is going to happen? The guerrilla war, you know, is going to go on for a considerable amount of time.
MR. BUCHANAN: I'm not an optimist like Tony. I think it's going to get worse.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's going to get worse. Okay.
In view of that, how long will we be in Iraq?
MR. BUCHANAN: There'll be a demand to come home next year.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chuck?
MR. PENA: I think you're looking at the hundred-year occupation.
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)
MR. PENA: We've been in Germany and Japan and Korea for 50 years after the peace. I don't see any difference in Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fifty years.
What do you say?
MR. BLANKLEY: I think the guerrilla activity is going to be degraded. I think we'll be largely out within 24 months.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?
MR. BAKER: Thanks, Pat and Chuck, for giving me a range between three and about six months and a hundred years! (Laughter.) I'm happy to put myself somewhere in there! But I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long will U.S. troops occupy Iraq?
MR. BAKER: About five years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is 30 years.
Issue three: Rumsfeld meets reality.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DONALD RUMSFELD: (From videotape.) You know, when September 11th hit, everyone said don't even try to continue transforming this department. Throw in the towel. Fight the global war on terrorism.
We had to keep trying. We have to keep moving the transformation of this building and this institution or we're not going to be able to do what we need to do in the 21st century.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sweeping strategic reform that will equip and transform our military to meet the challenges of 21st century warfare -- that's how it was billed. Then came September 11, 2001. In due course, the untransformed military was dispatched to Afghanistan, the Philippines, forward operating bases across Central Asia, and ultimately Iraq, where some 150,000 troops are now based, with another 33,000 in Kuwait, and will so remain for the foreseeable future.
Momentum for defense reform has lost ground on Capitol Hill. Instead of transforming the military, legislators want to enlarge the military, pressing Rumsfeld to ask Congress for more funds to do so.
What is your view on that, Secretary Rumsfeld?
SEC. RUMSFELD: (From videotape.) If at some point it looks as though what you suggest might be the case, turns out to be the case, clearly, we will come to Congress and ask for an increase. But at the moment, we do not see that that's the case.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What is meant by the tail-to-tooth ratio of the military?
Why have you all suddenly lapsed into extreme silence?
(Laughter, cross talk.)
MR. BLANKLEY: Tail-to-teeth is the -- tail-to-tooth is the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Get it straight --
MR. BLANKLEY: -- combat to support uniformed personnel.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excellent!
MR. BLANKLEY: The American ratio right now is about 70 to 30. The British are a little better, 60 or 65 to about 40. We can bring those numbers down, although sometimes they're ambiguous. What do you do with something like Signal Corps, which is support services, but is often actually in a combat zone.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What we're saying is that the teeth is the active military, and the tail is the administrative support, mostly administrative, fax machines --
MR. BAKER: Well, it's also complicated --
MR. BUCHANAN: One thing you've got -- problem America's got, we've got 70,000 women in the Army, I believe -- 15 percent. And they are -- (chuckling) -- with due respect, part of the tail of the Army.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you know what he wants to do, he wants --
MR. BAKER: You've got to factor in rotation, too. Because you can't have --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He wants to turn those jobs, those 300,000 jobs, over to civilians, and he wants to take that number and put them into combat.
What do you think of that idea?
MR. BAKER: I think it's an excellent idea. I think that is exactly the way to do it. The problem is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do they do that in the Empire?
MR. BAKER: Yeah, absolutely they do. We have the best in civil service -- we created the best civil service -- (inaudible) -- in the world.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, but do they rotate them into combat?
MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughing) (Inaudible) -- colonial -- (inaudible). (Laughs.)
MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) -- the United States. But nonetheless, you know, it got a letter better than a lot of other countries.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How would you feel if you were a soldier and suddenly you saw the fax machine operator from the Pentagon right by you defending your turf?
MR. BUCHANAN: Well, you know, look, you got to bring in --
MR. BAKER: I think he'd do pretty good the way -- (inaudible) --
MR. BUCHANAN: If you're going to change the teeth to -- you got to bring in combat troops, if you're going to -- and you can't replace --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, they'd have to be trained -- they'd have to be retrained.
MR. BUCHANAN: These supply troops can't be used as combat troops. Some of them are 40s and 50-years-old.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: By the way, did you know -- you mentioned earlier that it was a great success, this war. And it's true it was lightning quick. But the war actually started much earlier than is commonly known. For example, General Buzz Moseley, USA top commander for the Middle East, at a seminar of 300 U.S. and allied military officers in Las Vegas -- did you know about that?
MR. BAKER: Yeah, we knew that they were essentially in the -- enforcing the no-fly zones as they were last year, they were actually identifying --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, there is the euphemism of the century!
MR. BAKER: -- they were identifying targets which would certainly make war --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, under the guise of enforcing the no-fly zone, we were doing a lot of bombing over there, and we softened up all that territory. So when that huge column that we advanced towards Baghdad, which was -- which was, what, comparable to something in the Second War, it was so massive.
MR. BUCHANAN: It was like Patton going in there. But you're right, they bombed all the --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Almost like D-Day.
MR. BUCHANAN: They bombed all the communications in the no-fly zone.
MR. BAKER: Sure. Sure.
MR. BUCHANAN: Boom, boom, boom.
MR. BAKER: But it wasn't critical. It wasn't absolutely critical. It could have been done in the space of a few weeks, if necessary.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: With the spent forces having lived under sanctions for 12 years and beyond that, don't you think that you're exaggerating the brilliance of that war? With one year of preparation by softening up the targets, the airpower was crucial, was it not?
MR. BAKER: No, I don't think there has been an example in history where a country was able to mass forces, which amounted to probably a third of the size of the enemy, invade an enemy country, and occupy it within three weeks. This is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Very fast. We've got to get out. We're over time.
Multiple choice: Is the size of the U.S. active duty force: A, just right; B, too small; or C, too big?
MR. BUCHANAN: It's just right for defending our vital interests. It's too small to defend the empire, John.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Chuck?
MR. PENA: Too big. I think you can reduce it and still defend our vital interests.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?!
MR. BLANKLEY: It's too small, and probably by about a factor of 20 to 30 percent. We probably need a quarter million more active forces to meet the danger that the world presents to us.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you say?
MR. BAKER: I think it's the wrong question. I think the forces need to be transformed in a way. The size, in some ways, is less significant.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Redeployed?
MR. BAKER: Redeployed, but transformed. The type of force you have needs to be transformed, not necessarily made bigger or smaller.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think if we're doing to take on the world, the forces are too small.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Rumsfeld serve a second term? Very fast.
MR. BUCHANAN: If he wants it, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?
MR. PENA: Yes, he needs to see defense transformation through.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes.
MR. BAKER: I hope so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four: Not-so-far-North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) This is no time to stir up divisions in a great alliance. A strong NATO alliance with a broad vision of its role will serve our security and the cause of peace.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Keflavik Naval Air Station, just outside Reykjavik, Iceland, in the frozen waters of the far North Atlantic, is the scene of the latest challenge to NATO-U.S. solidarity.
SECDEF Donald Rumsfeld, unilaterally decided to remove four -- count 'em -- four F-15 fighters, five rescue helicopters, and two refueling planes from that air station, and it caused a major brouhaha. Under the
terms of a 1951 defense pact between Iceland and the United States, the Air Force and Navy stationed troops in Iceland to guard the North Atlantic seaways from Soviet submarines.
Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has viewed the Iceland mission as of little strategic value. So, in June, the Pentagon announced withdrawal of the planes.
Disagreeing, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson got the deadline delayed. "In an alliance, defense is not just about jets, it's also about perceptions, it's about good relations, it's about assurances," said a NATO diplomat. Iceland's ambassador to the U.S. thinks that Iceland could become a target of NATO's adversaries. "An enemy always looks for the weakest link," he says.
Iceland has threatened that if the planes do go, it might show all U.S. troops the door.
Question: It's all well and good to have a joke, as Tony is now, at Iceland's expense. But is there a serious issue here?
MR. PENA: Look, the need for NATO went out the door when the Berlin Wall fell. So it's time we cut our ties, let Europe take care of Europe. I hope this is a good first step for the United States.
MR. BUCHANAN: John?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it is an alliance, is it not?
MR. BUCHANAN: John, look -- look, I was there with Reagan at the Reykjavik and Keflavik Air Base. That was vitally important in the battle -- not only in the battle of the Atlantic, but the entire Cold War. I am a believer in tradition, and if you're talking about four aircraft out there and maintaining that, I have to disagree with you, I would pull the troops out of Europe, but Iceland is in the -- you know, the Eastern Atlantic, and it's -- I think we ought to maintain the tie.
MR. BLANKLEY: This raises a broader point, which is even if we need to move troops out of Germany or here or there, it has this political consequence and it delays, but I don't think finally deters, those kind of strategic decisions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that great alliances bind smaller and relatively defenseless nations with trust, and that's important? Don't you think the Baltic states that are going into NATO, don't you think
they're going to be watching this very closely, the way we treat and NATO permits us to treat this alliance that we have with Iceland?
MR. BAKER: But nobody is saying -- Iceland remains a member of NATO. We have an alliance which is there to defend them. Nobody is saying that if Iceland were attacked, the United States and the other NATO members wouldn't do, as their treaty obligations are, wouldn't defend them. The question is whether you actually need to have resources, valuable resources placed there. And the truth is, you don't. And it's much more sensible to have them placed elsewhere. But of course they're part of the alliance, of course, they're part of the commitment to collective security that the alliance represents.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: If the United States can't spare a dozen -- a half dozen aircraft, how reliable, then, is NATO, if that's going to be used as an index?
MR. BAKER: Well, all right, let me flip the question around.