U.S. Is Out of the Fight in Half of Iraq, Gates Says

By Zachary A. Goldfarb
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the steps necessary in Iraq before Washington can begin to withdraw troops are "already happening."

"Eight provinces in Iraq are already under provincial Iraqi control, where there are either no coalition forces or they are ... not involved in combat," Gates said, adding that Al-Anbar province, once one of the most violent parts of the country, appears to be the next headed in that direction.

So "what we have is half of Iraq where the transition has already been made to a different kind of role or mission for U.S. forces," Gates said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

He warned, however, that "it may take a while" for the rest of the country to get there, noting that Baghdad and Mosul are still wracked by heavy combat. He offered no timeline for the complete transition.

Appearing after Gates on CBS, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) called for a more speedy withdrawal, saying, "What would happen is that the Iraqi government would take responsibility for its country."

"They would get a signal from us that they must now make the political decisions necessary to bring peace and reconciliation to their country," she added. "They have had no incentive to do that, because we are there and we're there in greater numbers. So the most important message is to them."

Daschle Addresses 'Guns or Religion' Remark

The national co-chairman of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign said that economically frustrated people are more vulnerable to the "divisive politics" surrounding guns and religion, as he tried to contain the simmering controversy over the Illinois senator's recent comments.

Obama said at an April 6 fundraiser that people who had lost their jobs might be "bitter" and "cling to guns and religion," a reference that former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (N.D.) described on "Fox News Sunday" as pointing to "those who use guns and religion, use faith and guns, as a divisive issue."

"When you're angry, when you feel disenfranchised, you're more susceptible to those kinds of divisive politics," Daschle said. "... [T]here is a great deal of anger out there, a great deal of sentiment that we've got to see change in this country."

Obama later said he regretted the use of the words.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), said he was not satisfied with Daschle's explanation. Pennsylvania holds a critical primary on April 22, and the state has suffered widespread job losses.

"That's not what people are talking about," Nutter said. "People are talking about, whether in small-town Pennsylvania or some of the larger cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- we're talking about real issues and real concerns."

He added, "So I don't know where this is coming from. I don't know what would possess Senator Obama to say this, because you won't see it, you don't hear it, in the course of dialogue of real people in these cities."

Meanwhile, former president Jimmy Carter, while withholding an endorsement in the presidential race, said that his family supports Obama.

"The only thing I know is that I have not made an endorsement, and don't intend to, until the time of the convention," Carter said on ABC's "This Week," adding, "So far as I know, all my children and grandchildren are supporting Obama."

Carter Defends Meeting With Hamas

Carter was also asked about his planned meeting with the leaders of Hamas, a Palestinian faction deemed a terrorist group by Washington, during an upcoming visit to the Middle East. The Carter Center monitored elections in which Hamas received substantial support from the Palestinians, causing a split with the U.S.-backed Fatah faction.

Carter said the meeting will be just one of several with leaders from different points of view and countries. He said it is hardly the first time he has met with Hamas officials, citing their ability "to play a crucial role in any future peace agreement that involves the Middle East."

"I think that it's very important that at least someone meet with the Hamas leaders to express their views, to ascertain what flexibility they have, to try to induce them to stop all attacks against innocent civilians in Israel and to cooperate with the Fatah as a group that unites the Palestinians, maybe to get them to agree to a cease-fire," Carter said. "But I might add very quickly, that I'm not going as a mediator or a negotiator."

National security adviser Stephen Hadley said on ABC that Carter is a "private citizen" and "we respect his views," but warned that "Hamas is a terrorist organization, and we don't negotiate with terrorists."

Carter also said he did not support a presidential boycott of the Olympics. President Bush has been under heavy pressure to skip the event's opening ceremonies this summer - as his counterparts in several European countries are doing - because of China's human rights record. Bush has committed only to attend the Games, and Hadley dodged questions about whether the president will be at the politically significant opening ceremonies.

By Post Editor |  April 13, 2008; 1:53 PM ET
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Comments

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Is there no way this meddler ex-president can be kept from interfering with American foreign policy? Can't the president put him to work building houses for the people losing their mortgages or something? Carter's spinelessness has done so much harm to this country he should be given a special award, probably by terrorists worldwide.

Posted by: Mary May King | April 13, 2008 5:07 PM

Thank God that peaceful, accomplished negotiators like Jimmy Carter are not, like the Bush administration, too arrogant and judgmental to visit organizations, leaders and countries that our IGNORANT administration thinks are "terroristic" because they do not share their views.

Hamas arose to resist Israel's illegal, immoral and brutal occupation of its land. The residents of Gaza endure almost daily (or nightly) attacks from Israelis using the warplanes, tanks and other sophisticated weaponry we give it the money to buy. Gazans respond with homemade rockets. The world screams for them to "stop the terror." I ask, which of these countries is truly terroristic????

Posted by: Bernice | April 13, 2008 5:59 PM

I guess after today, if there was any semblance of truth in that assertion, it is dead in the wake of over 1300 Iraqi soldiers and police who refused to fight. Who will fill that void? Let me guess.

Posted by: tydicea | April 13, 2008 8:01 PM

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HILLARY VOTED FOR THE WAR

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Posted by: - | April 13, 2008 8:06 PM

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HILLARY VOTED FOR THE WAR

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Posted by: - | April 13, 2008 8:06 PM

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HILLARY VOTED FOR THE WAR

.

Posted by: - | April 13, 2008 8:06 PM

"the wake of over 1300 Iraqi soldiers and police who refused to fight. Who will fill that void? Let me guess."

I suspect it will be more recruits from Iraq. The way to build an army is to recruit, train and test. Then get rid of those who can not function and train and test again. It works. When the process is over, the USA can draw down.


Sounds like a plan to me.

Posted by: Gary E. Masters | April 13, 2008 9:30 PM

Carter had his chance to destroy Israel. He does not get another try. Yank his passport for meddling in foreign affairs. He is RETIRED.

Posted by: red | April 13, 2008 9:50 PM

People who criticize Jimmy Carter reveal their naivete regarding foreign policy initiatives and negotiations.

Carter is able to engage various groups as an "unofficial" representative of the U.S., thereby giving political cover to the folks who are actually running the show. Carter will take the heat, but when he returns he will give both written and verbal reports to the State Department and others.

Hamas has offered Israel an indefinite ceasefire (or hadn't you heard?). Anyone who believes Hamas is completely undeserving of any kind of overture is living in some sort of black and white world that leaves no room for reality. Get off the high horse and let real diplomacy and real diplomats work.

Posted by: Tom Shire | April 14, 2008 1:37 AM

It's more than a little ironic, and hypocrical, for us to completely shun HAMAS, especially since they formed a democratically elected government -- based on elections we supported...well, until we didn't like the results. What version of "democracy" that is, I don't know.

Beyond that, terrorism was a key element of efforts by Jewish groups to end the British Mandate in Palestine, and without it the State of Israel almost certainly would not have been founded as soon as it was. Among many other actions, Jewish terrorists...under any definition of the term "terrorist"...blew up a wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in July 1946, killing 91 Brits, Arabs, and Jews, including women and children...and also assassinated a British minister. At least one acknowledged terrorist...under any definition of the word...even became prime minister of Israel: Menachem Begin. The fact that a number of Israeli leaders had been "terrorists" even seemed to be a point of pride...I lived in Israel in the mid-70s. Yet, I don't recall any US "horror" at dealing with terrorists, or a "terrorist" leader, at the time.

I certainly don't condone terrorism at all...and I fully support Israel's right to exist...but the debate over the situation would be a lot more factual, and realistic, if some attention was paid to historical facts and comparisons. The Jews were desparate (very understandably) for a homeland; the Palestinians are desparate for...a homeland.

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Posted by: votenic | April 17, 2008 2:08 PM

Who are we kidding... the arabs and palestinians have been rejecting two state solutions and breaking cease-fires since as early as the 1940's... People act like the UN took a country called Palestine and gave it to the jews to create Israel. Read some history... the Ottoman empire (controlled by the Brittish) was divided up and the state of Israel was created. 5 Arab nations immediately tried to take over Israel by force, and the young fledgling country defended itself. Hamas is a terrorist organization that promotes citizens to strap bombs to their chest and blow up innocent civilians who weren't even alive when the state of Israel was formed. get a clue

Posted by: Anonymous | April 27, 2008 1:10 PM

could someone ask elected and appointed leaders in Washington DC to go back and re-read history or at least talk to somebody who has some/any pre-bush admin experience in this sort of thing?

you have to laugh at recent comments along lines, "...US Is Out of the Fight in Half of Iraq, Gates Says

.."Eight provinces in Iraq already under provincial Iraqi control, where either no coalition forces or ... not involved in combat," Gates said, adding that Al-Anbar province..appears to be the next headed in that direction. ...He warned, however, "it may take a while" for rest of the country to get there.."

give us a break; US didn't realize at the time that we had been 'out of the fight' in more than half of south vietnam for a decade or more before we formally exited in 1975 - what we didn't understand was that all reduction in 'hostile incidents' meant was that control issue was no longer being contested because control of area in question had effectively been taken over by local guerrilla opposition in shadows.

why do today's clowns have to repeat same damn painful lesson represented by 58,000 US bodybags dragged out of vietnam; we've only dragged 3500 or so US bodybags out of this iraqi fiasco so far; why not exit now while we are comparatively ahead?

Posted by: ithejury | May 11, 2008 4:58 PM

could someone ask our elected or appointed leaders in Washington DC to kindly go back and read the history or at least talk to some folks with some (any) pre-bush admin experience in this sort of thing?

we didn't realize it at the time but the US was 'out of the fight' for a decade or more before we formally exited south vietnam in 1975. it turned out that all that some reduction in 'hostile incidents' meant was that the control issue no longer being contested in areas where local guerrillas had already effectively seized control and were simply hiding in shadows pulling the strings.

you have to laugh (bitterly) at such naive comments as: "..U.S. Is Out of the Fight in Half of Iraq, Gates Says ..."..Eight provinces in Iraq already under provincial Iraqi control, where there are either no coalition forces or they ..not involved in combat," Gates said, adding that Al-Anbar province, once most violent, appears to be next headed in that direction...He warned, however, "it may take a while" for rest of the country to get there,.."

"take a while" -- are u kidding? why do today's clowns have to painfully re-learn same lessons we learned by dragging 58,000 bodybags home from vietnam? We've only dragged 3200 or so bodybags home from this iraqi fiasco so far (with its fictitious WMD and 'reverse domino effect' rationale) - why not exit now while we comparatively ahead?

Posted by: ithejury | May 11, 2008 5:22 PM

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