tv CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello CNN August 8, 2014 6:00am-7:01am PDT
isis, but in this case this morning, there was a clear artillery position outside of irbil, and that is what they went after. kate? >> barbara, thank you very much. barbara starr is going to continue her great reporting at the pentagon for us. you see the breaking news, the president approved air strikes last night, but now we have learned at least the very first of what would probably not be the last of those air strikes had been ordered and executed in iraq. >> two f-18s sent off the aircraft carrier "george bush." no small irony that the aircraft carrier named after president bush, that's how long we've been in this situation in iraq. stay with cnn for the breaking news and how effective it is. we'll get you to "the newsroom" right now carol costello. carol? >> thanks, chris and kate. "newsroom" starts now. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com good morning, everyone. i'm carol costello. thank you for joining me. we start this hour with breaking news out of iraq. the air strikes president obama authorized just hours ago have
now begun. let's begin with white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, what can you tell us? >> well, carol, what we can tell you is that in just the last several minutes the pentagon press secretary, rear admiral kirby announced on twitter basically announcing on behalf of the u.s. government that the air strikes have begun in iraq, rear admiral john kirby saying on twitter "u.s. military aircraft conduct air strike on isis, artillery was used against kurdish forces defending irbil near u.s. personnel." the last part is critical as we've been hearing from white house officials and the president said last night, when he sent those u.s. military advisers in to iraq back in june, he made it very clear at the time and officials have made it clear since then that were those u.s. personnel to come under threat, that the u.s. would launch air strikes or take action, and that is what has occurred. at the same time, the white house is making it pretty clear that they are also keeping a very keen eye on a potential
humanitarian catastrophe, really a real humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding and white house officials and administration officials right up to secretary of state john kerry are saying this could be a genocide those 40,000 some-odd yazi yazidis, the ethnic religious minority sect taking refuge in the mountains in northern iraq, they're trying to really avoid being slaughtered by isis fighters, who have said they have to convert to their form of islam or die. the white house is also saying that if it's necessary to take strikes against isis positions to defend those people, to end that siege, that that is also necessary. one thing that we should point out, it was on a background call with reporters here at the white house, senior administration officials were really describing this as a limited campaign, that this is not going to be a long, sustained campaign, but really carol, to be quite honest with you, there were some mixed messages in that conference call last night as to how long this
will go on. we should point out the president is scheduled to leave for vacation in martha's vineyard tomorrow, according to white house officials, that is still going to take place but he will be taking national security advisers with him on this trip to keep him up to speed on what is happening on the ground in iraq, and it is changing literally hour by hour, carol, and that may really guide what the president decides to do next along with the u.s. military, carol. >> all right, jim acosta, stand by. thanks so much. i want to go to kernel rick francona, our military analyst and also advised general schwarzkopf during the gulf war. how dangerous is this mission? >> i think it's the right mission. there will be an element of danger there but it's interesting that isis chose this target right after the president announces that we're going to defend irbil, they have artillery strikes on kurdish positions around irbil. it might have been a test to see if the president meant what he said and obviously he did because they're taking out the artillery now.
artillery is a good target to hit with the laser guided weapon, fairly easy target to hit and sends a message. this is i think the right move. >> let's go to barbara starr, pentagon correspondent. i was curious who weapons isis had to fight back. barbara, do you know the answer to that? >> by all accounts they have the artillery pieces and heavy weapons. the belief is also they may have some limited shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and rockets, whether they could reach to the altitude that u.s. military war planes would be flying at it doubtful at this point. what we know is two f-18s off the deck of the carrier "george bush" out in the persian gulf were patrolling over iraq, came in and had the mission to take out this isis artillery piece. as rick francona was just saying it's a difficult target set to be able to isolate and know exactly what you're hitting. there are so many civilians in the area. this artillery piece they could identify, they knew that they
say it was shelling kurdish personnel near where the u.s. personnel are and that was the concern, that's the president's red line, protecting u.s. personnel, diplomatic and military in irbil. i think it is very fair to say there are likely to be more of these so-called limited strikes because they have laid out two sort of rationales as of last night for doing them. protecting the u.s. personnel in irbil from the isis advance, but also potentially air strikes against isis, which is advancing on those iraqi minorities that are trapped up in that mountain area in northern iraq. you know, where does it all end? i think the calculation now by the intelligence community is going to be how much fire power has isis have, how do we get to their personnel, what are the threats they pose, all of these questions now being debated in washington, a real possibility of more air strikes to come. carol? >> when you talk about irbil,
u.s. consulate in irbil where these americans are that president obama is trying to protect. there's also 750 american troops on the ground in iraq, some of them are advising the rather inept iraqi military and the oats are doing what, barbara? >> there are a number of other personnel. you're absolutely right, back down around baghdad, others advising the iraqi military on this fight, a number of them at the embassy in baghdad conducting security, regular embassy missions, but also beefed up in recent weeks due to the security situation, there is another american military contingent at baghdad airport, also conducting security, and clearly ready to move all the capability to evacuate americans shall these american personnel out of iraq if it comes to that. the u.s. has been watching northern iraq and the isis advance for some time. irbil a bit of a surprise. they thought irbil was going to
hold with kurdish control, but they are watching down in baghdad as well. they know that isis continues to march towards baghdad and a good deal of concern to make sure everything is in place to protect the americans who are there. the linchpin for any military action by the u.s. is very likely to be the aircraft carrier "bush." it's got fa-18s on board, they can patrol 24/7 over iraq fully armed, in addition to reconnaissance aircraft, gathering intelligence, looking at where their targets are, looking at the where the threats are, and those fa-18s can move in very, very quickly to strike when ordered. so it's going to be the "george h.w. bush" aircraft carrier that is the thing to watch right now for any further action. >> all right, barbara, thank you. stand by. i want to go to paul crookshank, cnn terror analyst to talk about this brutal terror group isis creating this havoc within iraq. i have heard that isis has a
well-organized military per se, 10,000 soldiers. i've heard they're also well armed and well financed. how difficult will it be to contain them? >> extremely difficult, carol. they're not only advancing in iraq right now but also in syria. this is a stronger and stronger group. they have significant cash resources, tens of millions of dollars, thousands of fighters and they're really surging in these two countries right now. >> where are they getting their weapons? i've heard they've stolen american-made weapons from the kurds, the peshmerga, who were friends of the united states, frankly. >> absolutely,er this gating their american weapons given to the iraqi military, weapons that they've seized in syria as well, and they're using these now in this campaign. >> all right, i want to go to
matt howe right now, a former marine corps captain who served in iraq. welcome, captain howe. when you look at what's going on in iraq right now, what goes through your mine mind? >> good morning, carol. thank you for having me on. i think it's a mistake, and i think the white house and the president said it best yesterday when they said and the president said american military action is not a military solution for iraq's political problems, and what we see here is we see an organization isis that is being supported by the sunni population, and that's what worries me, it's not the fact that they've gotten these weapons from tiraqi army, they'e getting support from the sunnis. it's really the shia versus sunni, the kurds versus sunnis. my fear is this, when we enter this conflict and start bombing on behalf of the kurds or the shia, that plays into isis' pop
gr began da, the west being involved with the other sects against sunnis. we should try to separate the sunni population from isis. i'm afraid though by bombing isis, so by bombing sunnis, we are reinforcing that narrative, and we are pushing the sunni population further towards isis, making them reach out to them. we've seen for a long time the sunnis feeling disenfranchised, feeling marginalized in iraq -- >> matt i have to interrupt you for one second. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr got new information about the kinds of bombs we're dropping from the skies over iraq. tell us, barbara. >> carol, we're just getting word from pentagon it was a mobile artillery piece manned by isis outside of irbil and the two fa-18s off the deck of the carrier "bush" dropped laser-guided 500-pound bombs on the target, laser-guided, key words. that means they were directed
very precisely to this artillery piece. they knew exactly what they were aiming at, and they were able to aim with precision as the mun i muniti munition, the bomb is guided by layser er ter t er ter t er te. that is the way they'll avoid as much as possible the potential for civilian unintended civilian casualties in the area. i think it's also important to note, and it's an extraordinary moment in military history, the man who authorized this, pardon me, who gave the order for the air strike after the president authorized it last night, the man who gave the order this morning was, in fact, the head of the u.s. central command. he made the decision to strike, that is general lloyd austin, an extraordinary moment, pause about two and a half years ago, lloyd austin was the general commanding in iraq. he was the last commanding general in iraq. he was the guy who wrapped it all up with no anticipation that
u.s. troops would ever be going back there, even into the skies over iraq, so kind of an extraordinary moment. >> you're right about that. i want to take our viewers to northern iraq to ivan watson. we're about to lose his shot. ivan is at a refugee camp. tell us what it's like on the ground. >> reporter: carol, i'm actually in a church, st. joseph's church. it's packed with refugees, iraqi christians. amid this discussion, let's just show you what's at stake right now. this is a 40-day-old jeshua. he is one of an estimated 100,000 iraqi christians displaced people, refugees, with his mother itlas, and 2-year-old sister here. they have fled their home in the last 48 hours, and have spent their second night in this church. this is just one family. we're going to try to spin around and show you a little bit
of the scene here. there are hundreds of people who have been sleeping in the pews of this church, carol. this is of course a highly symbolic scene. we are in a place of worship. in this part of iraqi kurdistan i have been in a youth center full of thousands of iraqi christians. in the yard of this church, there are more thousands of iraqi christians. everybody tells the same story, that the kurdish peshmerga militia withdrew from their towns, a town called parakush, a town called hamdaniya and after they withdrew, these families literally had minutes to pack whatever they could, find whatever vehicle they could, and flee, and now they've taken shelter in the kurdistan region. the united nations says some
200,000 people have fled, and it's not just the christians. it's any religious minority that is not a sunni muslim, that does not follow this particularly violent and harsh interpretation of sunni islam of the isis militants. so we are talking about a massive displacement of people and the christian leaders we've talked to are warning of the threat of genocide, because the isis militants are only about 35 miles, 35 miles from where we are right now. so the kurdish leadership, the iraqi christian leadership, are begging for help from the u.s., begging for help to protect them from what is already a massive displacement of people that i'm only starting to get my head wrapped around, and as the isis militants come closer, the
scenes that we see right now will, i can assure you will just be a drop in the bucket. but this is a humanitarian crisis that has literally unfolded within the last 48 hours and will likely get worse if the isis militants can come closer to this kurdish safe haven. carol? >> ivan, do these people have water and food? >> reporter: there is some distribution of water, of food to people. they have shelter here. we're going to take you outside, this is just a church that we're in. again, it's just a snapshot of a much bigger problem. the temperatures out here are high above 100 degrees fahrenheit, so people are looking for pockets of shade. i've seen other people yesterday who were taking shelter in unfinished construction sites, in parking lots of gas stations,
and you see that the kurdish authorities are making an effort to help, but they clearly can't handle this, and fight isis militants who they say outgun them at the same time. so this is a really big problem. the aid drops, the humanitarian aid drops that have been going to reportedly tens of thousands of stranded yazidis on a mountaintop, that might be helping those people, but we're talking about a much, much larger exodus that has taken place here. the iraqi christians that i've been talking to have been saying simply they want to leave iraq. they want to go. they think there's no future in this country. many of them resigned to the fact that they think they'll never be able to go back to their villages and towns again, which isn't only a humanitarian disaster but a cultural one as
well. this is one of the most ancient christian communities really in the world, one that has been decimated by this latest eruption of violence. and the people we've spoken to, some of them have been fleeing now for the second time in the last two months first christians who fled the city of mosul which isis militants captured in lightning speed last june, they fled to nearby christian towns, which have then been captured within the last two days. so amid this discussion, there is very humanitarian elements, big humanitarian elements. these people simply don't know what they're going to do. they have arrived quite literally with the clothes on their backs. carol? >> ivan, the u.s. conducted air strikes earlier. did you hear anything? is it near where you are?
>> we didn't hear here inner beale. the kurdish leaders have welcome president obama's statement and they have openly calling for air support. they have openly calling for arms and ammunition to help them in this battle. so they are clearly it's a boost of morale to hear that the u.s. now has intervened militarily to protect this kurdish safe haven, the city offer beale, that now tens of thousands of people have fled to. they're just part of a much larger exodus of 200,000 people who have fled according to the united nations to the kurdistan region. so that will be a boost of morale and perhaps serve as a deterrent to keep the isis militants from pushing into this region, which has its own population. i'm told by the governor of irbil of some 1.8 million people. so again, it is a dire situation and the governor of irbil told
me himself the isis militants are 35 miles away from where we're standing. so he is saying the situation is critical, because this displacement that we're seeing, these people -- >> these people! >> reporter: -- again according to the you nations, some 200,000 people have been displaced in the last 48 hours. these scenes are nothing compared to what we would see if isis militants were able to break through more kurdish peshmerga front lines to break into the city of irbil. here's another room. this is a scene we have seen again and again, as we move through irbil, which has been taking in this exodus of civilians. there's not a plan that's been put together here. people are kind of just helping at this church out of the goodness of their heart.
so probably these people will be sleeping again on the floor here tonight, carol. >> all right, ivan watson, thanks for, it's just a sad look at what's happening in northern iraq, and colonel francona, i'm going to ask you this. so the u.s. trained the iraqi military. it's fallen, thanks largely in part to nuri al maliki because he flew othrew out all the trai general answer kept his own inept people in place. what will happen? the united states has advisers right there to advise this military that's seemingly helpless against isis. >> unfortunately there's no short term fix for this. there's a long-term fix, get the iraqi army reofficered again, get some qualified people in there, we could help with that, with more advisers, maybe even put some people in the active duty down at the brigade level and get them back on their feet, but this is node going to happen overnight. while you're trying to do this, ice sis keeping in advance.
so it's like you're trying to stop the flood while trying to patch the work. it's just too hard to do. so right now the air will have to make up for the ineptness of the iraqi army. hopefully they get enough air in to do that. air power is not the end game here. >> colonel francona thanks so much. i have to take a break. we'll be back with much more in "the newsroom."
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they move toward the city. we intend to stay vigilant and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in iraq. including our consulate in irbil, and our embassy in baghdad. >> as of this morning, we have taken action. it has begun. two american f-18 aircraft have dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece used by isis in northern iraq, this went down 6:45 a.m. eastern time, according to rear admiral john kirby, isis was using the are little tear to shell kurdish forces trying to defend irbil and of course that's where the u.s. consulate is and as the president said we're trying to keep americans safe in irbil, iraq. jim acosta at the white house has new information for us. tell us, jim. >> carol, we caught up with ben rhodes, deputy national security adviser to the president, just
talking to reporters on the north lawn of the white house. not something you see every day. the president did not make an additional decision to launch the strikes, the decision was implicit in his authorization to use the air strikes last night but what ben rhodes said that was very interesting is that isis shelling according to ben rhodes on kurdish positions around irbil trying to defend that city in northern iraq triggered these air strikes from the u.s. military and according to ben rhodes the military has been given "a green light" from president obama to launch air strikes on isis if they threaten irbil and the u.s. military advisers, diplomatic personnel with the u.s. consulate in irbil, or to break the siege at mt. sinjar, so it is possible that while we have already seen air strikes against isis positions around irbil, with he may see in addition to that, if you're hearing what ben rhodes is saying, additional air strikes to break that siege, to
assist those people, those people taking refuge on mt. sinjar in northern iraq, and that was basically all we got from ben rhodes. he was quickly heading into what he called a principal's meeting of national security advisers, the president's national security team. i'm sure this is at the top of the agenda at that meeting. in addition to that, we also heard from the national security spokes zwrn woman at the white house in the last several minutes that the white house is planning to send what they call a war powers notification to congress to inform leaders in congress that the president is now taking military action against isis in iraq. so the wheels are in motion, not only seeing air strikes taking place, more indications they may be coming and the white house is doing the legal requirements that have to be taken in order to make this really in xli compliance with the constitutional powers of the office, carol. >> which means they'll be talking to congress? >> thatthat's what that means.
in cases like this the president launches air strikes, the president said this last night, national security officials said this last night, if he launches air strikes, congress will be notified. he's been saying this the last couple of months, as you know, carol. lot of democrats up on capitol hill even some republicans have been saying we want to guard against mission creep and so in order to do that, they want president obama to come back to them at every juncture to keep them informed, keep them apprised of what is happening in iraq. obviously a lot of americans out there are deeply concerned about mission creep, that one thing could lead to another, and that you could have a protracted military campaign in iraq that is obviously something that a lot of americans don't want. that's why you heard the president say last night in his comments that he's not committing combat troops to iraq. officials have been very clear, no boots on the ground in iraq, and the president making it quite clear last night in his comments that he is not launching the united states into another military campaign, a long military campaign, a ground
war in eyeing riraq. they feel they have no choice at this point, carol, after the president committed the military advisers to irbil and baghdad he basically put u.s. personnel in harm's way and so to do that they have to be backed up with the force of the u.s. military, that's why part of this is taking place but something that was unforeseen is the humanitarian catastrophe, what secretary of state john kerry called potential genocide last night. they do not want the people on the mountain slaughtered so the president authorized air strikes to make sure that that does not take place and what ben rhodes told us a few moments ago the air strikes could still be coming, targeting isis positions around that mountain to make sure those people are not slaughtered, carol. >> jim acosta, many thanks. i know you're going to gather more information for us and we appreciate it. we'll get back to you. i want to bring in general spider marks, our military analyst right now, another of our military analyst, and talk about mission creep. general, are you there? >> i am, carol. can you hear me okay? >> i can hear you just fine. many americans are really afraid
of a sustained effort in iraq. they don't want to go back to war with iraq. the president doesn't either, it was just three years ago that he said we're going to pull all american troops out of iraq, and now here we are again. what's the probability that this thing might be going on for a long time? >> well, carol, what you do see is the very first steps of mission creep, if you want to call it that. clearly the challenge that we have is that we really didn't have a clear strategy to parting iraq. we departed iraq because we could not meet our own policy goals, which was to establish a long-term relationship with iraq. we couldn't get a bilateral security agreement signed, so we had to depart. we failed in our objective to try to establish that strategy. so fast forward three years, we now see what the results of that lack of strategy and real focus looks like. so what you see today, carol, is preservation. there are multiple ways to view
this tragedy that's taken place in iraq. i mean, ivan's reporting in northern iraq is heart-rendering, horrible to see the scenes and you say to yourself my god how did we allow this to happen? clearly isis is a radical, radical form of islam, and clearly they are supported, it's a sunni-based form of islam, and they're supported by sunnis only because they have no choice. in they don't, they die. what we see right now is what i would call simply preservation of what ifs. it's not what we anticipated. it's not what we want, but maliki and his government is the horse that we've ridden and we have got to make sure we cannot change forces in the middle , h the middle of this race. the reality is we're not going to fix the iraqi military now. we have to stand by iraq or there won't be an iraq as we know it. it will be thrown into maybe
three different countries. we'll have additional ungoverned space. it will be a horrible, horrible outcome if we don't to something now. >> i want to bring in colonel francona in once again and talk about isis and what it's managed to accomplish in a short period of time. it's taken over major cities, and one of the most frightening things it's taken over this dam north of mosul. now if it breaks the dam and the waters come rushing down into mosul, a half million people could die. >> i think that's a remote possibility, because if you look at what isis has done from the time they started doing this, they want to set up a state. they want it to be a viable state, and now they've got provinces that they've named all the way from a piece of lebanon all the way over to the gates of irbil, and as you watched what they did and we saw it on the map how they came down the euphrates valley and the tigris valley and going up a smaller valley to the east there, reach that little red arrow, those are the locations of all of the
power plants and dams, the hydroelectric power. they want this power so they can actually control the power in what they want to be their caliphate, their state. so i don't think they're going to want to damage what they've just taken, so but whoever is running isis knows what they're doing. if you look at any military planner and show him that map, that's exactly what that person would do. >> okay, so general marks, how can air strikes help iraq with that? >> well, air strikes are protecting forces that are trying to resist isis at this point. air strikes are simply a single capability that will hopefully provide a little bit of time, what we call time and space. rick is absolutely spot-on. you look at this in a military sense, and a good planner would say my goodness, it's unfolding in front of us, we've got to stop their momentum, get isis to
change what it is they're doing, and so air strikes hopefully in some degree will give them a little bit of pause. and it's also let's bear in mind, it is to ensure that no american soldiers are put at risk during this period, and they might be, based on where they are in irbil, what the current conditions are. >> you know, i'm just stepping back and looking at the big picture and what's going on in the world, right, there are many conflicts going on right now in the middle east, you know, also part of that iraq. where does the united states concentrate its efforts? is it iraq? is it israel and hamas? what is it? where do we concentrate our efforts? >> for me, well, if we are a superpower we've got to be able to do multiple taskings and address all of these issues at the same time. unfortunately, there's this convergence of crises that we're having to face all at once, but since we're not talking about
application of a lot of force in one place, this should be doable. we can work on the political front with gaza and do this limited military actions in iraq. and you know, just to reiterate what the general said, the time and space issue is very critical, and so we were talking earlier, what do we do to get the iraqi army back on its feet? if if we could blunt the isis advance, if we can blunt the isis advance into kurdistan, or the kurdish area, and down toward the airport, we might be able to get the iraqis back up on their feet but as it stands right now, isis is moving so fast, they're inside the decision cycle of the iraqi military. this is very dangerous situation, and i think the president was wise to order these strikes and give the flexibility to central command to do this. >> got you. let's head out to elise labott, our global affairs correspondent.
john kerry was just in afghanistan, there's a crisis there, too. >> carol, you look around the world, afghanistan and the killing of the major general, and you have ukraine, what's going on with vladimir putin, you have syria. you have iraq. you have iran. secretary kerry is really at this point drinking from a fire hose, if you will, kareening from crisis to crisis, even when he was in the middle of his trip to afghanistan, this isis and all of this happened with the yazidis. he's been all around the globe and he was trying to get a cease-fire in gaza. it's really just crisis to crisis, and the problem is, carol, that this doesn't allow for any kind of, you know, strategic vision, if you will, for the president or this administration. when you see what happened over the last 20 24 hou4 hours with president, this is the quift, decisive action that is not a hallmark of this administration. i think as the president has said and as secretary kerry had said it was a very limited action to protect a, u.s.er.
knell there, and also to prevent this genocide of the yazidis on the mountaintop. at the same time, when the president looks at some of these other areas, syria, for instance, iraq, some of its critics are saying and certainly a lot of republicans on capitol hill are saying if the president would have acted early on, maybe he wouldn't have to be taking these emergency actions. there needs to be more of a long-term vision for the region and for the crises this country is dealing with. >> all right, elise labott reporting live from washington. all of you stick around. i have to take another break. we'll be back with much more in "the newsroom." over 20 million kids everyday in our country
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the stakes for iraq's future could also not be more clear, and today's crisis underscores them significantly. isil's campaign of terror against the innocent, including the yazidi and christian minorities and its grotesque targeted acts of violence show all the warning signs of genocide. for anyone who needed a wake-up call, this is it. >> all right, u.s. secretary of state john kerry speaking this morning on the actions of this brutal terrorist group isis, who is attacking and killing anyone who is non-muslim especially christians. ivan watson in northern iraq showed us moving pictures of
200,000 iraqi christians who are displaced, tens of thousands of them staying at a church, trying to find safety where they can, very, very hot in iraq right now, the temperatures above 100 degrees. right now, these particular people have water and food, but it's very limited, of course, there are 40,000 people trapped on a mountainside in northern iraq, having difficulty getting any food or water at all. the united states did conduct one humanitarian air drop and they provided enough food and water for about 8,000 people, but that certainly is not enough, but the bigger news this morning is the u.s. did begin its air strikes in iraq, its targeted air strike. the president gave the okay last night that americans could go ahead and conduct air strikes, if americans on the ground in iraq were put in any danger. well, there is violence around the city of irbil, that's where the u.s. consulate is located, and that's where the targeted air strikes took place this morning. two f-18s dropped 500-pound
bombs on isis targets. we're going to talk a lot about that this morning. i have a panel of experts with us to help us understand this and to parse this out. matthew hoh, a former marine captain, he served in iraq and paul cruickshank is a cnn terror analyst. i want to start with you, captain hoh, because you served in iraq. you fought in iraq, that this is going on, how does it make you feel? >> well, you know, i have iraqi friends, not as many as i used to have, sadly, but as we're talking about earlier, to me this is a terrible mistake. if american bombs are the solution, iraq would not -- the situation in iraq would have been resolved in 2003. the same goes for afghanistan, the same goes for libya, the same goes for yemen, et cetera, et cetera. i think we need to realize, as the white house and the president said yesterday, this requires a political solution. by bombing the sunnis, and what we have here is a sunni population against the shia, and against the kurds. unfortunately the sunni have
aligned themselves with this horrible group isis, bus they have no other option. the answer is to somehow bring the sunnis back into the government. by bombing the sunnis you're only going to push them closer to isis. you're only going to make political reconciliation much more difficult and you won't find a solution. we found that solution, i was there in anbar in 2006-2007 when the violence dropped, when the sunnis aban donned al qaeda, and it was because of political action that was taken. we brought the sunnis back into the governmnt. we brought the sunnis into the iraqi army. i hear about how we have to help the iraqi army. the iraqi army is only a shia army right now. that is only going to fight the sunnis, if you really want to have a real iraqi army you have to bring the sunnis back into the iraqi army, otherwise i think we have to go back to what vice president biden said, he was wildly lampooned and lambasted for this a number of years ago the real possibility of seeing iraq split into separate regions based on
ethnicity. >> well, i hear what you're saying. the u.s. military is trying to do that, and it has advisers on the ground. high ranking americans have gone to iraq to try to convince the iraqi president to welcome in sunnis. you're right, he did and that's why the army is so inept at this point. we reached this crisis point, this isis group is brutal and it's intent on pop toppling the government of iraq and doing that through fear and terror brutal methods. how can you stop that now? you have to do with force, don't you? >> it's going to be very, very difficult, carol, and clearly the iraqi military is going to have to step up, the kurdish peshmerga will be part of this, perhaps the united states strikes can degrade this group to some degree, but this is a very powerful group entrenched on both sides of the syria/iraq border. it's got tens of millions of dollars. it's got significant amount of
weapons. it's got almost around 10,000 fighters and as you're saying, yes, it does rule through fear, through terrorizing people over that. the hope has got to be at some point a backlash against the group because of its brutality. we're not seeing that happen yet, carol. >> and matthew, since you've served in iraq and you know iraqis, why hasn't that happened? >> i don't think they've, what we have again is similar to what happened in o'03 when we invaded the country and as horrible as it is with what's happened with the christians now, i think fareed zakaria made an excellent point earlier this morning on cnn that this has been gun on for years and iraqi population of about 20 million, over the last 10, 11 years, we've seen 3 million to 5 million people displaced, 3 million to 5 million refugees in a population of 20 million, so you have had this huge upheaval that, of course, affects the political
order. so what we've seen here, i think, again, is that we've seen that isis is horrible. they're a group that should not have popular support, but they are receiving popular support from the sunnis right now, because the sunnis have no other choice. and that's what happened in iraq from 2003 to 2006. we took the side of the shia against the sunnis and that's the way the sunnis saw it. that's the way -- you know, when you work there, when you worked with the population, i was in the sunni areas, these people actually represented the insurgency, the same people we're working with representing the insurgency because they felt they were being usurped. in this case now many years later, they are back in that situation where they feel they have been disenfranchised, marginalized and isis as al qaeda in iraq was in 2003 to 2006 is their only source of support. in 2006-2007, what we did was we said look, we're going to bring you back into the government. we're going to bring your people back in the army with the sons
of iraq program. we gave the sunni areas back to the sunnis to control. and so i think you saw what happened, as you said, carol, over the last several years, that dissolved. maliki kicked the sunnis out of the army. the police went back to being shia thugs that were taken advantage of the sunni population and describing, this horrible awful group has momentum, has money, and they have got leadership, the sun any -- sunni is attached to them. >> my fear is by bombing isis, in effect, bombing the sunnis, you are pushing them closer to isis. again, we have to force the shia leadership, the maliki leadership to give concessions to the sunnis to bring them back into the government, to answer their grievances. >> i believe american official
have been trying to do that but nuri al-maliki has not been budging. i'll be back with much more in the "newsroom." when salesman alan ames books his room at laquinta.com, he gets a ready for you alert the second his room is ready. so he knows exactly when he can check in and power up before his big meeting. and when alan gets all powered up, ya know what happens? i think the numbers speak for themselves. i'm sold! he's a selling machine! put it there. and there, and there, and there. la quinta inns & suites is ready for you, so you'll be ready for business.
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american fighter jets have conducted air strikes over northern iraq over irbil, that's where the u.s. couldnnsulate is located. as you know, the president gave the okay to conduct air strikes if american personnel were in danger. i wonder about the timeline of this decision and why these air strikes took place just a few hours ago. barbara star is at the pentagon with more information. >> reporter: taking everyone behind the scenes, we can now tell you we know that discussions between the white house and the military began in ernest on wednesday about this mission, both the humanitarian air drops and the potential for air strikes against isis
militants. those discussions began on wednesday, went all the way through thursday around the clock and it was on thursday that essentially we are told the plan came together to do all of this and to be ready to go. general martin dempsey, chairman of the joints chief of staff involved around the clock between wednesday and thursday in pulling all of this together along with other military leaders and defense secretary chuck hagel who was traveling over seas. where do we stand now? officials are making it very clear we should potentially expect to see additional u.s. air strike against isis. they have combat air patrol up over iraq now. they are patrolling. if they find a threat that meets the threshold of the president's authorization, a threat against u.s. personnel and those protecting u.s. personnel, that's we saw today, if they see the iraqi minorities who are
trapped in those mountains in imminent threat, the aircraft in the sky will be ready to drop their weapons, to bomb targets. they are using precision weapons. expect to see more of that. that's what will minimize civilian casualties. they will not have to come back to the president for further authorization. he has laid out the parameters. the military has them. now they are working around the clock conducting those patrols over iraq, keeping an eye on isis. what they are hoping, and it is only a hope at this point, isis may be getting the message to back off, but a slim hope perhaps, carol. >> a slim hope. a question why season the military pulling the americans out of that consulate in irbil? >> i think at this point they are fairly satisfied they can be
kept safe. they can keep an eye on what isis is doing, but they can be prepared to evacuate them if they need to. >> thank you so much. the next hour of "newsroom" after a break. when sales rep steve hatfield books at laquinta.com, he gets a ready for you alert the second his room is ready. so he knows exactly when he can prep for his presentation. and when steve is perfectly prepped, ya know what he brings? and that's how you'll increase market share. any questions? can i get an "a", steve? yes! three a's! amazing sales!
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♪ ♪ good morning, to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. tharng very much for joining us. we're following two breaking stories today. first, in iraq, this morning, the u.s. launching air strikes to avoid what president obama and secretary of state john kerry have called a potential genocide. the goal to stop the advance of what's now being called the islamic state or isis, a group of sunni extremists spearheading a brutal campaign to take over the region and eliminate christians, other religious minorities who get in their way.