John Kerry was on CNN’s The Situation Room again today in an interview taped earlier in the day from Baghdad. Blitzer also interviewed Kerry on Tuesday from Jerusalem. Kerry is winding down his trip to the Middle East and is expected back in the U.S. tomorrow.
The interviewed touched on various issues happening on the ground now in Iraq, including the kidnapping of CSM reporter Jill Carroll (see my post here for Kerry’s comments), more suicide bombings and more deaths today and Blitzer asked Kerry if he felt the situation there is “getting better or is it getting worse?”
Blitzer tried to pin Kerry into saying that the Al Qaida was the problem in Iraq, the BS Bush administration meme. Kerry was not buying it…
“The fact is that Al Qaida is not the principal problem of Iraq. The principal problem of Iraq is a larger group of people who reject the current direction because of the shape of the constitution, because of a history of cultural confrontation, and because of their current fears that they are not going to be protected.”
Kerry also reiterated points made in his Georgetown Speech in late October about “drawing down the numbers of troops that we have here now,” and that he feels that “No number of troops is going to deal with what we have to deal with” in Iraq. “It is a political solution that is needed, and it is critical to get that in the next days.”
KERRY: They are greater in number, as General Casey indicated in his own comments — that the large number of troops is contributing to the sense of occupation, and it is in fact delaying the willingness of Iraqis to stand up.
I think it is critical to make it clear that this is the year of decision. And if we do what is necessary politically and we do what’s necessary economically and diplomatically, I am convinced that a huge number of our troops can return over the course of this year.
Now, President Talabani said the exact same thing to me. He believes that if they move forward in the way that he hopes to, that will be possible.
So I think that these next days are the critical decision days for Iraq. But I am convinced that, slowly and appropriately, on a results-oriented basis, drawing down our numbers of troops is the way that we are going to push Iraqis to assume the responsibilities.
They are increasingly doing it. And let me make it clear: There already is a redeployment of forces taking place here in Iraq, a withdrawing from some of the major urban centers, already a pushing of greater responsibility — and I think we need to continue down that road.
The main thing: No number of troops is going to deal with what we have to deal with. It is a political solution that is needed, and it is critical to get that in the next days.