Col. Austin Bay on progress in Iraq and Gen. Pace’s don’t ask, don’t tell comments.
HH: Joined now by Col. Austin Bay. You can read all of Austin Bay’s columns at Townhall.com. Col. Bay is also, along with me, one of the advisors to the Victory Caucus, which has got to get busy again, because of the latest Democratic defeatism, and a fine column, Iraq’s Accomplishments In Perspective, which is at Townhall.com today. Col. Bay, always a pleasure, welcome back.
AB: Thank you, Hugh, glad to be there, but I understand you’re not out in Los Angeles, you’re in Manhattan, beneath the Empire State Building.
HH: I am indeed in the Empire State Building, flogging A Mormon In The White House like books have never been flogged. I’m a little bit relentless about this.
AB: Good for you. That’s what you have to do when you’re an author with a new book.
HH: Now I’ve got to tell you, I thought this column today is extraordinary. I want to read one thing. It’s got a lot of history in it, I had Victor Davis Hanson last hour. Here’s a paragraph. “Al Qaeda’s now deceased emir in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, understood the stakes in Iraq. In a message to al Qaeda intercepted by the coalition in February, 2004, Zarqawi wrote that after the Iraqis run their own government, U.S. troops will remain, but the sons of this land will be the authority. This is the democracy. We will have no pretext. Iraq’s new army and police will link to the people by lineage, blood and appearance.” Your point, Austin Bay, is that our enemies understand the importance of what we are doing in Iraq, but our chattering class simply doesn’t.
AB: That’s what I say in the column, and I think that largely holds true, even though you and I are arguably members of the chattering class. I’m using the pejorative sense, which is, and what one obtains on the broadcast television and on the headlines of a certain major newspaper.
HH: Now any way to turn that around? CNN has a new poll out today that shows public support for the war, and optimism about its success, is at the lowest ebb ever.
AB: I haven’t seen the poll, and I’m not able to comment on the poll. I’ll just tell you the stakes remain as high as they were on September 12th, 2001. And really, the stakes were that high beginning sometime in possibly the 1960’s and 1970’s, and we just didn’t acknowledge it and weren’t aware of it. And I’m talking about the stakes, vis-a-vis the challenge presented by radical Islamism.
HH: And Austin Bay, how does that get turned around?
AB: No matter what a CNN poll says, or what the United States decides to do with its troops in Iraq, that challenge is there, and it’s…what’s fascinating to me is really how much the Iraqi people and the coalition have accomplished in the last four years, which is really what that column traces. Look at the history of Iraq, which is Mesopotamia, it’s arguably the source of history, if you mean literate history, history predating the ability to write, of certainly, as I put in the column, it’s the garden of city-states, it’s ostensibly the Garden of Eden, and it’s certainly similar in Western civilization, it’s, Mesopotamia was the home of Abraham, the great law giver. However, as I point out in the sweep of that column, the Middle East, predominantly Arab-Muslim Middle East, in the way I discuss it in the column, started becoming politically, culturally dysfunctional some time in, well, it’s a vast expanse, but you can argue about dates, 12th, 13th, through the 15th, 16th Centuries. And when you listen to bin Laden’s list of grievances, that’s where his grievances really began. And those are definitely at play in what’s the change, the war for choice as I sometimes call the war on terror, which is a war for choice between terrorists and tyrants, which is where the Middle East has been fossilized. People want to escape.
HH: Austin Bay, though, when you listen to the debate on the Hill, as it’s unfolding again, and you hear a Pelosi or a Murtha or a Harry Reid come out, and now they want a timetable to cut the funding and a mandate of withdrawal of July of next year…
AB: Well, it’s a mistake, Hugh.
HH: They’re astonishingly ignorant of these basic facts.
AB: Well, they’re also coddled, to a degree, because we have been successful, and they can play this divisive domestic game without having to fess up to the consequences. I think they read Bush very well. I think Pelosi and Reid, at a domestic level, are very astute. They know he’s not going to back out.
HH: Oh, and so you think they’re just, they’re taking the cheap shots because they know they can’t possibly…but what about when Hillary Clinton says if she’s president, we’ll be out of the war in January of ’08, of ’09?
AB: Do you believe her, Hugh?
HH: No, you can’t do that.
AB: She means January, ’09, is what you mean, right.
AB: Do you believe that statement?
HH: I think that she will have to do it, that I don’t believe that she’s sincere, but she will find that she will have to do it, because of their left roots.
AB: Well, then she’s locking herself into a losing situation. Then she will be saddled with that, if she were elected. I’m not so sure she’s going to be elected, Hugh. Do you think Hillary’s going to be elected?
HH: No. I think either Rudy or Romney beats her, hand down. I just…
AB: I think…I mean, what interests me, at least, is the emergence of Fred Thompson as a possibility as well. But as you may or may not know, looking at my website, I’m something of a fan of Giuliani’s, and have been for a long time.
HH: Yeah, good, tough guy, got an absolute riveting delivery, and a good story, and he’s got character when it comes to victory, and that matters a great deal. Now what about the Victory Caucus, Austin? I thought we needed that, and that we’d won the war, and only 17 Republicans defected. But now the Democrats are back. Do you expect that the public is going to have to stay organized and vigilant over the next 18 months?
AB: Hugh, every American citizen…we live in, well, okay, I know we’re literally a republic, but this is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. I mean, the people have to stay active, and the people have to engage this issue. And I’ll tell you what, liberty is at stake. The expansion of liberty is at stake. The long term strategic interest of the United States, the strategic security and safety of the United States, that translates at our level, the security of our families, and Iraq…Arabs have to have a choice, a real opportunity for a consensus government, so that they can police terrorists, and not promote them. And that’s what’s…we’re seeing that emerge in Iraq. It really is remarkable. That story doesn’t get told, because it’s too slow, and again, the domestic…it’s too slow for TV to tell properly, and obscure, and at the same time, though, the Democrats benefit from playing the Vietnam template, and that’s really what they’re doing.
HH: Let me ask…a quick subject change on you, Austin Bay, talking with Col. Austin Bay, and you can read his blog at www.austinbay.net/blog.
AB: Long retired colonel, long retired…
HH: All right, not long retired. I think you were in Iraq on active duty what? A year and a half ago?
AB: No, about two years ago.
HH: All right. Peter Pace is under fire today for declaring that sex outside of marriage, whether with another officer’s…another military person’s wife, or between two men is immoral. Should he be catching flack for this?
AB: Well, look, Peter Pace is entitled to his own moral views, and he’s entitled to speak them. This is kind of a…I don’t mean to sound like a shot at him, but I think his nickname is Peter Perfect. He’s certainly not politically perfect in the way he raised this particular issue. What’s at stake is not General Pace’s own personal moral views, but a policy, and this gets into the gays in the military issue, which is what I think the question you were leading up to…
AB: The policy of don’t ask, don’t tell, addresses issues of order and discipline. And look, don’t ask, don’t tell has been the U.S. military policy for as long as I am aware of it, and certainly during my 32 years active and…five years active, 27 in the reserves. That’s what the United States rule on that has been either de facto since I’m aware of the way the military operated.
HH: Do you have…ten seconds, Austin Bay. Do you have a high opinion of Peter Pace?
AB: I think he’s a very intelligent and able leader. I do not think he is forcefully grappling with our biggest strategic weakness there in D.C., which is trying to get the other government agencies on board in the war.
HH: You’re right. Col. Bay, always a pleasure.
End of interview.