Philip Mudd, former CIA official: There was no AQ in Iraq and there still isn't. AQ is a globalist organization that said, your target in Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, is outside your borders. It's in Washington and New York. What we had in Iraq was actually an adversary that said, we're not interested in going outside our borders. We're staying home. And furthermore telling AQ core, forget about your ideology, I'm going against the Shia. So we can use the shorthand of AQI, but I don't think they were there before, and they certainly weren't there during the war.
Hadley: I've got to say, I don't get that. When Zarqawi issues a manifesto, and hooks UBL to support him on the grounds that he's going to begin to establish the caliphate in Anbar, we see the plan. I mean, this is the part of establishing an al Qaeda control, which they do in Anbar. Sunnis decide actually they don't like it, and throw it off.
So you know, I get it. Al Qaeda always comes in in these situations. They're doing it in Syria. My only point is, they came in in a big way and a successful way, and they were to able to lead a movement that resulted in about 15,000 to 20,000 fighters and to say --
Mudd: I don't agree. People who said they were al Qaeda came in, people who, they wanted the jersey -- like me wearing a sort of, Griffin the Third jersey and say I'm on the Redskins. Well, I like the brand, but I can't play the game. [LAUGHTER]
Mansoor: One, al Qaeda in Iraq is what they call themselves. It wasn't a label applied to them. And two, they did have a plan for going outside the borders of Iraq. It was a written plan. It was, first establish a safe haven in Iraq, and then destabilize Jordan and Syria, use that as a base to conquer Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and then destroy Israel. And that was a written plan that they used.
Amb. Charlie Ries: The most important thing I learned in Iraq is that economics are not some technical problem, that it is about power, and it is political economics. And so it was really important for us to understand that.
Second thing, it seems to me, is that the biggest economic stimulus in Iraq was security. The economy in Iraq boomed when the security improved. And so, again, there's not one or the other. It's integral to the way that the society functioned.
I think that, in retrospect, the huge ERF [Emergency Response Fund] funding of 2003, the multiyear $20 billion, was as much a burden for us as it was an advantage. Because we had so much money, we had this desire to commit it and spend it and deal with all these problems. If we had less money, and we had a sense of more time, we could have done a lot better. We all know that we didn't spend anywhere near as much time getting Iraqi buy-in. The point that Eliot made about people in the water security plant -- there's a gazillion such examples throughout Iraq.
A point that I think was made earlier about whether there should be a civil military command, or that, you know, put the military in charge of all aspects of reconstruction from the rebuilding of the security forces to the rebuilding of the markets, in communities. I actually think that that probably is a bad responsibility for the military, because they are not trained for it, they don't necessarily have these kinds of things. But we are really badly placed ourselves, on the civilian side of the government, to undertake this. And we ought to develop the capabilities to be able to do this so we don't have to invent it all over again.
The problem is that, with the military, you develop military capabilities as a deterrent to security challenges you might face in the future. And so the more that you have them, you could always justify them as a deterrent to bad guys doing bad things. To develop this civilian reconstruction capability in an environment in which we really don't want to do this nation-building, it is very hard to get political support for it. I don't know that there's a permanent solution for that, because we're not building capabilities that deter something; we're building capabilities that people might feel would lead us to doing things that are otherwise not popular.