Monday, December 04, 2006

Ambassador Joe Wilson On Iraq

Former Ambassador to Iraq Joe Wilson was at FireDogLake this morning answering questions about Iraq. I was able to submit a question to Ambassador Wilson and have cut and pasted his response here (which includes my question at comment 15):

Joe Wilson @

Suzanne @ 15
Ambassador Wilson, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to meet with us. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Iraq.

Do you see any way out?

It is tough but I think that we should reshape the debate domestically from the terms currently in use (stay the course, cut and run; strategic redeployment, timetables, and withdrawal) to one in which we consider what it is we are asking our troops to do at this stage of the occupation and whether what they are doing is in our strategic of operational interest. If not they shouldn't be doing it. The military talks of deployments in terms of troop to task ratios and force protection requirements. We should too.
In short, we should ask the generals to justify the national security requirement of every task US troops are undertaking and if the case cannot be made they shouldn't be doing it. For example, a couple of soldiers were killed a few months ago, their bodies were mutilated and booby trapped. Jon Kyl argued that we should stay in Iraq to honor their sacrifice. I asked what were they doing that brought them into harm's way. they were guarding a bridge. Isn't it legitimate to ask whether it is appropriate for American troops to be guarding bridges this late in the occupation.
So, we should not put Americans unneccessarily in harm's way, we should not use American firepower to unneccessarily kill Iraqis, we should call on the President to actually take the advice his military commanders have been giving him that he needs to find a political solution and we should reinvigorate the middle east peace process from which we have been awol for six years. But make no mistake about it, it is a tough situation and will require a lot of what the president calls hard work.

Go over to the lake and read the post and comments. He answered questions for two and a half hours!

Ambassador Wilson is married to Valerie Plame, the CIA agent who was outted by the Bush Administration in retaliation for Ambassador Wilson writing a New York Times editorial questioning the President's inclusion of yellowcake in his State of the Union speech. Below follows a brief bio on Ambassador Wilson (from Christy's post introducing Ambassador Wilson):

From Amb. Wilson's Book The Politics of Truth, we find his long record of service to this nation as a diplomat:

1976-1978: General Services Officer, Niamey, Niger
1978-1979: Administrative Office, Lomé, Togo
1979-1981: Administrative Officer, U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C.
1981-1982: Administrative Officer, Pretoria, South Africa
1982-1985: Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM), Bujumbura, Burundi
1985-1986: Congressional Fellow, offices of Senator Al Gore and Representative Tom Foley
1986-1988: DCM, Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo 1988-1991: DCM, Baghdad, Iraq
1992-1995: Ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe
1995-1997: Political Adviser to Commander in Chief U.S. Armed Forces, Europe EUCOM, Stuttgart, Germany
1997-1998: Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council, Washington, D.C. (p. 451)

While Amb. Wilson was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Iraq, he was put to the test by none other than Saddam himself:

As acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the first Gulf War, he was the last US diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein, in 1991.

He very publicly defied the Iraqi strongman by giving refuge to more than 100 US citizens at the embassy and in the homes of US diplomats - at a time when Saddam Hussein was threatening to execute anyone who harboured foreigners.

He then addressed journalists wearing a hangman's noose instead of a necktie.

He later told the Washington Post newspaper that the message to Saddam Hussein was: "If you want to execute me, I'll bring my own [expletive] rope."

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