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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 29, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EST

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aspiring writers. i am also a member of the rock bottom remainders. double nepotism. my brother is dave barry, the lead guitarists, sort of. cathy, of course, the sound of the group. >> thank you both very much for your time. >> visit -- visit to watch any of the programs he see here on line. tech the author are book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page and click search. you can also share anything you see on book tv easily by clicking a share on the upper left side of the page and selecting the format. book tv strains live on line for 48 hours every weekend. the top nonfiction books and authors. book tv. up next marine captain thomas daly talks about his experiences during the first six months of
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the surge in iraq. he presents his book at barnes and noble booksellers in washington d.c. this is just over 30 minutes. .. >> what's the situation? i want to give you a little piece about the author, about myself. i'm going to tell you guys about the city of ramadi, the capital of anbar province, iraq. and can the book is separated into two different books. there's going to be the first half and the second half, and once we get into it, you'll understand what i'm talking about. i'll go over to the importance and lessons of rage company, and
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then i'll take your guys' questions, and we'll do a book signing after that, all right? all right, so rage company. it's anbar province, 2006-2007. elements of the 15th marine expeditionary unit are sent into iraq and spread across three cities, haditha, ramadi and -- [inaudible] this was kind of necessitated by an intelligence assessment by a marine colonel that said that anbar province was not winnable. he saw the situation deteriorating for the near future and success was unlikely. however, within the city of ramadi from november of march, 2007, the city went from averaging 31 attacks a day to less than one. so that's a pretty significant change. and the rage company's going to tell you about what happened, why that is, how it occurred and kind of give you the idea of how does that really tie into tribal warfare at its kind of, at its core. so before we get into too much
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about the book, i'll give you a little bit about myself, and my father was a career marine for 20 years. i grew up as a military brat going to military bases. i never spent more than three years in any one place. i went into the marine corps straight from the nrotc program in college. my career progression was that of an artillery officer. i went through, my first two years were training. after spending about six months in the fleet, i picked up with the 15th marine expeditionary unit as an attachment to second batallion, fourth marines. i was a forward observer which is typically a role of coordinating artillery, close air support, heavy machine guns. but when we actually deployed to iraq, i had a good conversation with my company commander about what it was exactly that he wanted me to do. in the urban environment in cities like ramadi, you're not really dropping a lot of artillery, you're not doing a lot of close air support. so what was it that this artillery officer was going to actually do for this infantry
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company was a question that was up in the air. and typically what happens is artillery officers become civil affairs, public affairs kind of handing out pamphlets, trying to interact with the local population. i didn't really want to do that. i wanted to do something that was a little bit more meaningful. so the infantry company level doesn't have an intelligence officer. and so an infantry company is about 200 marines. so for 200 marines there is nobody that's designated to handle intelligence. that occurs at the battalion level which is about 800 marines. so we decided that we were going to create my little forward observer team into an intelligence section. and as you go through the book, that really paid off. it made a huge difference. it's kind of the piece that, you know, you think about police work and a counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare, it really is about police work. but for every four police patrol officers you have in the field, you have two detectives who are
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sifting through all the material that those patrolmen are creating. now, within the military you don't have that. you have nine guys for 800. so that creates a problem for the dissemination of information and things of that nature. so enough about myself and my background. the city of ramadi. ramadi is the capital of anbar province, it's about 400,000 people. it's a very urban environment, very condensed. most of the houses are small fortresses, they have a courtyard wall. every roof has a retaining wall. about 2-4 feet high. and it, it's a very interesting dynamic. you'll see from chapter one from the onset seven minutes into that first patrol, there's a marine who's shot through the throat. and just getting that marine back to a combat outpost which, literally, they had walked seven minutes away from so they weren't that far, only about 300 meters, was tough.
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but it's because in the urban environment within iraq it's a very condensed fight. it's block to block, it's small fortresses, every single house has a court and a retaining wall on the roof, so it's literally fighting from little fortress to fortress. the insuffer gents in the city of -- insurgents in the city of ramadi, they were sunni. so you only had sunni insurgents. the interesting dynamic is that al-qaeda in ramadi was not that strong. it was saddamist insurgents. so al-qaeda was, basically, a foreigner just as much as we were. so when they came into the local populace, when they interacted with them, they were not seen as iraqis. they were seen as outsiders. so that kind of precipitated this when fox company or rage company as our call sign says actually entered the city of ramadi, we went to a population that was at odds with al-qaeda. now, granted, they weren't really helping america, but they were not helping al-qaeda either. so we kind of went into this
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opportunity, if you will, that a lot of people didn't really recognize at the time. again, this is the very early fall of 2006. so the first half of the book rage company actually arrives in ramadi in november. we conducted about seven battalion-level operations, numerous small patrols and what not besides that, but on our seven large-scale battalion-size operations you could describe them as conventional style operations. we were taking what we learned against fighting another military, and we were trying to apply it to a guerrilla movement. and the effects were pretty unsuccessful. you know, our planning for these operations would literally take about 36 hours. so for 36 hours we were on the base talking about what we were going to do. and then we went to the execution phase, the execution phase was no longer than 12 hours. so we took about 36 hours talking about what we were going to do for 12 hours. so from the actual interacting with the people standpoint, you're not doing much.
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and for those 36 hours while you're talking to one another about how you're going to coordinate your tanks, your aircraft, get all of your supporting elements in place, the enemy's out there, and the enemy is influencing the people, and you're not. so that also drove another thing. the people did not want to work with us because we were not the dominant force on the streets. the insurgents were. so when the people don't want to work with you, it's very hard to get intelligence about how the insurgents are. we would go out, we would execute these operations, we would bring back 20-30 insur jeants every time, but we had no real evidence these guys were doing anything wrong. granted, we had intelligence assessments that said, hey, this individual's doing something wrong, but unless we find actual evidence in his home like weapons, explosive material, ied-making wires, things of that nature, you can't prosecute him. you know, we were trying to institute a democracy where there had to be a preponderance of evidence to put these guys in jail. so without that kind of link to
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the populace that would give us the information we needed, we weren't putting anybody -- it was a catch and release program. we would grab guys out of their houses, bring them back, then we would watch 95% of them go back to the street. another problem was if you actually did try and prosecute one of these guys and they didn't actually get convicted, we would pay them $14 a day. so a lot of these guys, insurgents -- this was the interesting fact -- was almost every single high-level terrorist that was one of our targets, we had his picture in an orange jump suit. so he'd been captured and released. it was actually kind of a requirement within al-qaeda and iraq that in order to be promoted, you had to be caught by the americans and released at some point because almost every single one of them had that happen. the detainee process in and of itself was not success. , and it drew the actual civilians to not want to work with us as well because they just watched these guys go back out onto the street. all right, so that's kind of the
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first half. conventional operations against the guerrilla warfare, not really working. the second half of the book is a lot different, and you'll kind of see this. the first eight chapters are the first half, and the second half starts at chapter nine. at chapter nine something very different happens. this is the origins of the anbar awakening. so i kind of give you guys this story. i was actually running between combat outposts, just kind of doing some logistics movements, moving material guys around, bringing ammo out, and i got this call from the tactical operations center that there were 25 locals that wanted to help us out. you know, from a marine standpoint 25 locals, i don't really know what that means. so i got in my vehicles, i drove outside the base, and there's 25 guys all with kalashnikovs over their shoulders waiting for me to talk to them on the other side of the road. so, obviously, i put my gun trucks with all their machine guns on top pointed at these guys. i got out of the vehicles, there
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was one individual -- very tall, lanky guy -- standing out front. and he told me he wanted to cooperate with the americans. and from that point on all of our operations changed. the way we did everything changed. the battlefield changed. and these 25 guys we had some serious problems at first. these are 25 iraqis who were all saddamists, ex-insurgents. these were the guys i envisioned killing when i arrived in iraq, they were now offering to work with us. of so naturally, there were some problems at first. a lot of mistrust. no one really believed one another. you'll see in the books at times we had to lie to each other in order to get one another to do what we wanted. but the moment that we actually executed a mission together, it was very different than the first nine battalion-level ops we did before. we tried to spend time with these guys planning how we were going to use tanks, supporting elements, some engineering assets to clear the roads for us, and these guys were like, why would you do that?
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we know where you are, let's walk to their house, grab 'em, and we're done. you don't these to plan anything. very different. we wanted to start all our operations as soon as it got dark because, hey, we want to maximize the darkness so we can get as much done in one night as possible. and their response was, why would you do that? wait until midnight, they won't want to get up and run away, they'll be laying in be their beds by the time you get there. so we did that. in the first operation we caught 28 guys, 28 al-qaeda insurgents every single one of them prosecuted, local sworn statements from citizens saying this guy is a bad guy. this guy has killed local civilians. and they actually went and every single one of them prosecuted, turned in. but from that moment on the vocal population looked at us and said, hey, they are grabbing the right people. and when they had confidence in us, confidence in the iraqi government, the game changed. we couldn't handle the information they were giving to us. it was unbelievable.
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and so what happened was as we got more information, as we became more effective, al-qaeda became more brutal. and you'll see in the first eight chapters, a couple of marines are wounded, but we didn't lose a single marine in the first half of the book. in the second half we take three kia. the more effective we were against the enemy, the more marines are being wounded and killed. you've got to remember that warfare is an art, it's not a science. you can do all the right things, and somebody's still going to get killed. you can do all the wrong things, and nobody's going to get killed. so that's a very important point because, you know, a lot of times when i'm watching the news, it's very frustrating to see that we're losing our guys. but you've got to remember, is it for something positive or not? that's kind of a key point. we'll get into that later as to why i wrote the book. but as we became more effective and al-qaeda became more brutal, it kind of precipitated this population had to do something because al-qaeda was kidnapping local people, torturing them, beheading them,
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trying to figure out who these guys that were helping the americans were with. and the more they did that, the more they pissed off the people. so we had a group of sheikhs who decided they were going to revolt, and they got together with us. we provided them with weapons, and we coordinated a couple missions. it literally turned into a revolution where these guys just went with all out. went all out. as anbar province is a very dominantly tribal society, so the supporting of al-qaeda and the americans and the iraqi government kind of of fell along tribal lines. so you have one major, a couple major tribes in the anbar province, but within those tribes you have dozens of subtribes, and under those dozens of subtribes you have even more sub subtribes. once you get them all together on your side and they decide to do something, without question, it's going to happen. and so when they kind of threw their support behind us and against al-qaeda, you had all of these rural areas just all
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the, you know, historically-supportive areas of al-qaeda disappear. and that's really what the anbar awakening was in the anbar province. that's why you saw places like ramadi which were the deadliest places in many iraq go from averaging over 30 attacks a day to less than one. so the revolution that sort of curred where you had these local citizens hunting down al-qaeda guys in the streets was a story that didn't really exist out there. and even on the marines as we were sailing back from iraq, that story -- they didn't even really recognize it. you know, they kind of knew that things were getting better by the time we were leaving, but on ship and you're kind of reminiscing about, hey, you know, what did sergeantal qis give his life for? and you're thinking about the specific incidence. one marine was killed in a fire fight in an open field field, and you're wondering, all right, what did his death accomplish? if you take it into that isolated event, you can't say it accomplished anything because he died charging enemy machine gun
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position. there was no person he was trying to save, there was no heroic action that was occurring at the time. and so as these marines are coming back, they didn't really know the story. and i kind of took that as something that they needed to know. that was one of the driving impulses to write the book. but what made it really evident was as we were sailing back, i was watching cnn, michael ware. of this is a guy that i have the most respect for, probably, of all the reporters on the iraq war. this guy's been kidnapped by al-qaeda and lived to tell about it. but i watched michael ware talk about the success in anbar province as america hiring armed thugs to do the fighting for them. i started to think about that, and i knew three marines who died in be combat. not armed thugs. and i knew that we weren't paying these guys to fight for us. these guys were fighting with us because they hated al-qaeda. and that's it. we weren't paying them money. these guys were actually melting down gold so that they could pay other tribes to help them. stuff that had been in their
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families for hundreds of years, and they were just giving it up because they wanted to defeat al-qaeda. so there was this kind of disconnect between the mainstream media and what was taking praise on the ground. -- place on the ground. it's kind of one of those the reality of warfare. there's going to be a historical takeaway from the iraq conflict, but is that necessarily going to be what actually occurred on the ground? who knows? but that was really the driving impulse to me as to why i wrote the book, and it's really important because we are, obviously, in afghanistan. of and afghanistan is even more of a tribal society than iraq. and as we look forward to the conflicts of the future for this nation and you look at the conflicts we've really struggled with dealing with, they're guerrilla warfare. and you've got to look at, you know, islamic extremism within its context. it's very, it's all guerrilla warfare. and they've picked that because that's what they're successful at. and so it's kind of necessary for us to figure out how are we
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going to te feet this? -- defeat this? how cowe change the middle east? how do we change the interpretations of islam so that it is a place where america can feel safe? how do you win in the war on terror? can you win the war or terror? those are all questions that have to be answered by somebody. the war's got to end at some point, right? but as you look forward into afghanistan and we define our objectives, we have to realize what are we trying to do? we're trying to influence the people of afghanistan to accept democracy, their own version of democracy. and that's very tough. but you've got to remember that's all about the people. and if you look at the operations in the be first half of rage company, it wasn't about the people. it was about enemy. and that's kind of where they've got us. guerrilla warfare is about tricking western way of war -- it's a little different. they're trying to trick us into focusing on them. and you think about a conventional military, intelligence drives operations. and intelligence is always focused on the enemy.
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in this case, the enemy is al-qaeda in iraq. and the problem with that is really that the enemy is not the focus. the enemy is protecting the people. because the people know who the enemy is. every good insurgent influences the people. he terrorizes them, he kills the ones that are against him, and he forces all the others into doing what he wants. and so if you forget about the enemy and you focus on the people, they're going to tell you who the insurgents are, and that's the biggest problem that every counterinsurgent, like myself, has is figuring out who the insurgents are. that's really the key point. you'll see that in the second half of the book, and you'll see the game changer that occurred in anbar province in early 2007. so that's really the importance of rage company is understanding what took place in anbar province. and so with that i'll open floor up to questions. yes, ma'am. >> um, when you knew you were
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going to start to write, did you have any idea of your writing skill that you would be able to do this, or had there been some focus on english classes in the high school? how did that part of it evolve? >> that's a great question about -- for those of you who couldn't hear, it was about my writing skill and how as i was writing this book, how did i know that i was going to be capable of doing it? i was a european history major from the university of rochester. no professional writing background. as the intelligence officer for the company, i got every mission debrief, so i debriefed every patrol that went out. i was aware of everything that occurred. and so when it comes to actually writing the story, you'll notice that when you're reading the book it's very, there's a lot of quotes. i mean, i did some in the-depth interviews with the marines of the company, so this is really a story about the company. it's not my story, it's rage company's story. so i really tried to go at length to make sure it was as accurate as possible. and in order to do that, i had
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to interview a lot of marines, and you'll see the story actually jumps perspectives. you'll see it from my point of view, a lieutenant's point of view, you'll see it from a sergeant's perspective. and especially when a marine was killed in combat, i wanted to write from the on-scene commander's perspective. a lot of times i wasn't exactly at the scene. so i wanted to make things as accurate as possible. and i think that really kind of drove my writing style. because as somebody who wasn't a professional, you know, writing nonfiction it's a little bit easier because i can follow events as they occurred. you'll also pick up on that as you're reading the book. i wrote not only the events, but my thoughts. you'll see me second guess people but a couple of pages later i'm like, hey, you know what? i was in the wrong. in the reality, he was right, i was wrong. you'll see that very quick, chapter one, right away. i'm the new guy, i'm second
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guessing somebody who's been there for ten months, and it's very clear after a couple of pages that i'm the guy that's in the wrong. so -- but, yeah. no real professional writing background, just a european history major from the u of r. >> was there much editing from your editor? is. [laughter] >> i was kind of surprised. i expected there to be a little more red when i got it back. but, you know, they want to keep the voice of the author. but, oh, yeah, trust me. of i got a lot of of of anything, and i remember looking at it thinking -- because when you're editing, it's a matter of fact. they're correcting your grammar for syntax and so i'm reading it and i'm like, oh, i'm dumb. [laughter] but, you know, so it was interesting. definitely a lot of red. good question. yes, sir. >> what do your fellow marines think about you writing the book? >> that's a great question. all right, so a lot of the guys love it because this was really
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what they struggled with coming back from iraq. you think about it from the average lance corporal's perspective, they don't really know why they're doing a lot of the missions. they know their specific objective. hey, our target is this guy, he's in this house, let's go get him. but they don't really know the full context of what are we trying to do in the city of ramadi, what are we trying to do as a battalion, as a brigade? i really wanted to explain that to them, and that's probably the piece about it they like the most. i've gotten some criticism from other guys that were in different units. so as you can understand, combat is a very emotional experience, right? and so when i wrote my thoughts in the sequence that they occur and i'm saying that i didn't agree with somebody's decision, naturally, people don't like that. so i actually got a lot of criticism about stuff that i admitted that i was wrong. and people were just, they were getting to that certain point,
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but they weren't reading on. about me second guessing myself. and second guessing my own decisions. so it was, it was an interesting experience. but all in all, the marines of the company, they love the book. yeah. who else? yes, ma'am. >> can you talk about the image on the cover? >> that's a great point. all right, so this gentleman right here, this is another thing that i got criticism for. i got an e-mail from a fellow captain who thought that it was wrong of me to put a picture of myself holding a marine's 240 gulf machine gun. that's not me on the cover of the book. this gentleman is much better looking than me. but this is lance corporal michael d. shull. he was killed in iraq the same time i was there. he was in the haditha triad. this picture is from afghanistan which is interesting because the book takes place in iraq.
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and another neat thing is you see where it's kind of blurred out here behind the guy? those are all mountains. iraq doesn't have any mountains, so we kind of took those out of the photo. i was actually -- i didn't know who this gentleman on the cover of the book was. even after the book had come out, i didn't know who it was. so i flipped open the dust jacket one day because i'd gotten a question about, hey, who is that on the cover? is i decided, you know what? stop being lazy, figure this out. the photographer's name is there, ed derek. i looked him up, got his e-mail address, sent him a note saying, hey, your photo's on the cover of my book, could you tell me who this guy is? he sent me this note back about him and mike became really good friends in afghanistan, how he got to know him very well, got to know his fiancee and their child, and then he informed me that mike went back to iraq and that he was killed. and that he knew his family, and so that was really moving for me
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because this book is about what the marines in anbar province sacrificed their lives for. and i really think this photo of mike on the cover of the book -- even though we didn't do it by choice -- is supposed to be representative of that sacrifice. you know, you can see that his face is not visible. it's blacked out. and i think that's for a reason. because it represents all the marines who have given their lives in anbar province. i mean, that's a great question. what else? yes, ma'am. >> do you think you'll write another book? >> do i think i'll write another book? that's a very good question. well, considering i didn't think i was going to write the first one, i don't know. i don't know. it's got to be a cause that's worthy. so this was something that really, really spoke to me. it was an experience that kind of elicited a lot of emotion. it really was with something that i had to do.
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i didn't really think it was a choice. i need to have something else that's going to be similar. yes, ma'am. >> [inaudible] how quickly after you got back did you start writing or decide to write? >> that's a great question. i actually started writing right away. and so as the events occurred in anbar province, the marine corps has a formal process called after-action reports where you kind of jot down what happened and try and put it together as a lessons-learned type format. when i actually started writing, it was to do that, to write lessons learned about what occurred, how this revolution in the city of ramadi took place, what drove it. and as i was doing that, i kind of realized that, you know what? this is a great story. why do i have to make it an after-action report that's going to get filed away somewhere and not too many guys are going to read? and so i started writing chapter one, and i wrote chapter four before i got back to the states. we sailed back for about a month on ship, and i just took my time. it was the opportunity for me to just kind of sit there and
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write. and then work out, eat, sleep, write. that's all you do when you're on ship as a marine, eat, sleep and workout. i added writing to the mix. great question. yes, ma'am. >> you're going to stay in the marines or you're out of the marines? i was wondering what is the career track, whether you stay in or whether you get out? how do you use all this in the military if you get out? you know, what's -- >> yes. i'm actually out of the marine corps now, so i work for itt corporation. when i was in iraq it was all about influencing change on the battlefield. now in the corporate environment i am focusing on influencing change in business. so there's a relationship there. >> [inaudible] >> absolutely. >> i've heard sometimes they can't train in the military. >> well, what people in the military kind of fail to recognize -- and i'm one of them -- is that you have the ability to do a lot of things. it's very easy to get kind of stuck into your billet and
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really focus on what your specific objectives are. but if you take a step back and you look at the big picture and you try and influence the people instead of focusing on the enemy, you start focusing on the people around you, the citizens, your security, what jobs are they going to have, how are you going to feed them, it really changes the way that you conduct operations. and so i think that's kind of what the military is starting to do. you've seen it happening in iraq. we're taking that approach in afghanistan, and it is. the military is changing. >> but that's what you picked up in the military, which you've been able to bring over into what you're doing now. >> right. right, absolutely. >> big picture and the planning, strategy, forward thinking. >> yeah. yeah, it's kind of -- it's all about the process, right? so the process drives behavior. so our process in iraq was you think about conventional-style operations. we were clearing entire neighborhoods, right? so we would go out on a mission, and we'd say you're going to clear this neighborhood. you're going to search every
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house for contraband, and you're going to look for known terrorists. so we would kick down every door, and if they didn't answer the door and it was locked, we'd blow it down. think about that. every house in the neighborhood marines kicking it down, coming in, we're aggressive, we're wearing a lot of gears we've got night vision goggles, body armor -- pretty cool for me, i like it -- but you look at it from an iraqi's perspective, we're like aliens. they don't even have ipods. you think about somebody with all these cool lasers on their rifle, it's pretty foreign to them. so they're scared, right? so we kick in every door in the neighborhood, scare every single person in the neighborhood. but if you take a step back and look at what we did with these guys we called the scouts, we only went to the houses that had insurgents in them, we kicked down the door, we dragged them out, and we put them in jail. and they didn't come back. and then the people see that. hey, the americans know what they're doing now. give them all the information you want. it was very different. big change.
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yes, ma'am. >> do you think they need to do the same kind of thing in afghanistan, like employ those sheikhs or the tribal leaders in the afghanistan to be successful there? >> yeah, absolutely. you know, you look at afghanistan, we've put a lot of money into the central government. and that's kind of -- you look at what happened in the anbar awakening within iraq and general petraeus authorized u.s. troops to pay sunni iraqis to fight for us. so what happened was you had this revolution within the city of ramadi. then you had petraeus come out there, he viewed the results, he visited with the gentleman named sheikh saw tar who has also met president bush at one point. so he's sort of the first sheikh to step up against al-qaeda in ramadi. he's the one who declared this awakening. the guy had actual tv commercials. very charismatic gentleman. he was killed in september of '07 by an al-qaeda suicide bomber.
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but once we had the success and once we saw what was occurring, that's when petraeus instituted this sons of iraq program. and once he instituted that program, sunniss needed jobs. they didn't have any jobs. they had no -- future was bleak, especially within the government. and so when we started giving them these jobs to secure their own neighborhoods, you had guys lining up in droves. because they wanted to work, they wanted to make money. they wanted to have a wife and kids. and so when we started giving them a future whether it was securing their neighborhood or an actual job, things really turned around. and that's exactly what we need to do in afghanistan. but i if you look at iraq and afghanistan, the literacy rates among the populaces, extremely different. iraq fairly modern. very secular nation under saddam. afghanistan? hardly anybody there is literate. in fact, you know, a lot of my buddies when they're over there the only person that's literate
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is their translator. everybody else that they meet? not literate. so it's, you've got a very uneducated populace which really necessitates you having to interact with them and explain yourself to them. because we speak english, and they don't. so it's, it's very tough. and that's why afghanistan poses its own challenges. you know, the taliban. taliban used to rule afghanistan. you think about al-qaeda in iraq, they never ruled iraq. they were viewed as outsiders by most iraqis. the taliban don't have that problem. they've ruled that place for quite a while. so they already, they're kind of dug in. and so there's different challenges. you can't just say, hey, what we did in iraq we're going to do in afghanistan. but if you think about the principles of the conflict and understanding the needs of the people, that's what you can kind of transcend and apply to both. what else? >> [inaudible] >> yes, sir. >> describe the dynamics when you brought these scouts back to the marines that were at one
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moment knocking them down, now they're supposed to work with them? is. >> yeah. so back at -- let me kind of give you guys the situation. when i actually picked up these scouts like we discussed before, i was taking them out to combat outpost rage which was nothing more than an iraqi's home that we had taken over in this region east of the city of ramadi. and there's actually a map on the inside of the book if you wanted to take a look at where this kind of is situated, but this is the suburbs of ramadi, historically dominated by al-qaeda. before we set up combat outpost rage, there had not been a coalition outpost there ever. that was one of the interesting things about the surge was that we surged combat troops all over iraq. but getting back to your question, so the marines at combat outpost rage didn't realize that i'm bringing 25 iraqis -- all of them armed, none of them vetted as a, you
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know, loyal source -- they didn't know that i was bringing these guys back. and so i drive into the compound in the back of my seven-ton truck is 5 armed dudes that look like -- 25 armed dudes that looked like insurgents. i bring 'em inside the base, here's guys that we would have killed a couple days before, and now i'm bringing them inside our combat outpost so they can see where all of our weapons are, and can they can plan their attack, basically, from the inside now. so i bring them in, we put them all in one room, crowd them there, put a bunch of marines at the door, and then we go back and talk about it in many our operations center. here i've got all the platoon commanders telling me, what are you doing, man? what are these guys here for? they wanted to just kick them out right away. of don't even give them a chance, just kick them out. and eventually captain smith, who was the company commander, showed up. and he explained, hey, i knew these guys might be coming,
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we're going to try and work with them. so immediately the first thing that we tried to do was take away their weapons. that proved to be very problematic. so the first thing we did was we said here's 25 guys that want to help you, they hate al-qaeda, they're fighting al-qaeda themselves. we put them all in a room, and can then we walk in and say we we -- you need to give us your rifles. we want you to walk out there, go hunt down some insurgents where you're going to get shot at but you can't bring a weapon. so they, obviously, refused. they're fighting with us about we're not going to give us our weapons, we're saying, yes, you are, so it just kind of backfires. so when that happened we kind of took a step back. all the iraqis were saying we're not going to patrol with you, we're not going to do anything with you, we just want to go home. put us back on the trucks, drive us out of here, we're -- we've been gone too long, they're going to figure out who we are because we've been gone too long. these guys' neighbors are
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al-qaeda guys supporting al-qaeda. so they realize that if we do an op with them and we don't get 'em all, they're going to figure out, well, hey, who's not home? those are the guys who are probably with the americans. we ended up telling them we didn't have trucks -- we lied to them. they were right outside. they couldn't see outside, so they didn't know that. we convinced four of them to actually go with us. so once four of them said, hey, you know what? we're going to go with you, the rest of them were like, well, if we're going to be gone anyways, we might as well go too. so very quickly we had some of our guys drive the trucks back to base so they weren't there, and we went on our first op together. it was a very interesting dynamic that occurred where it almost didn't happen. it almost didn't happen. good question. anything else, guys? all right. well, if that's it, let's do
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some book signing. [applause] >> for more information visit the author's web site, thomas >> the problem with monopoly over the long term is while it start promising and results in the golden, often as it results in the golden age, over the long term entrenchment leads to paranoia, sag nancy and -- stag nancy and abuse over the long term. you know, cbs and nbc when they started had a lot to say for them. by the 1970s things had gone too far. and so what i guess i suggest in my book, a more modified version of my position is it is important to have the sort of structures that that can support quality things, but not at the cost of entrenching a monopolist for so long that they just lose
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any sight of what they have to do. and i think that's what happened with many of the media organizations in this country by around the '60s and '70s. >> well, get too far off question one is prescriptive and descriptive. i'll do the descriptive one first. you do a wonderful job in the book of describing this tragic process you just described briefly where a new communications medium comes along, all things are possible, there are these wonderful dreams of how fabulous it's going to be. the title comes from the now long forgotten period when there were such dreams about cable television, some of you may remember those days. and then inevitably the bad guys take over and get their happened on the master switch. how can that not happen again if it happens every time? is. >> journalists need to understand is the importance of creative destruction in the journalism industry. oh, we have to have a dynamic
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industry, we want to see companies die and be destroyed. journalists are afraid of death. [laughter] they have a poor relationship -- >> that's so unfair. [laughter] >> journalists and media people have a very poor -- i mean, look at these brands. new york times has been going for -- that's unheard of in other industries that have any sort of turmoil or natural market process. to have brands that last for hundreds and hundreds of years and have these dominant positions. journalists are exactly two -- what is needed in journalism is a little bit of creative destruction. and it's not comfortable, and journalists will be upset about it, but in the long run it will be good for you. [laughter] >> right, right. you're switching from descriptive to prescriptive. let's switch back to descriptive for a minute. >> okay. >> the model, i think richard would say this based on my reading of his book is, tim, you're dreaming. because, you know, any communications medium as
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powerful as the internet just cannot -- you, the, you know, liberal reformer, public interest advocates just cannot ever build a big enough fence around it to keep the process that's always happened in the past from happening again. so just as a practical matter how do you think we can prevent this process that you've convinced us is cyclical from happening in this instance? is. >> right, sure. this is -- the answer is related to some of my other work on things like net neutrality which is to say there always needs to be channels whether it's the internet or other channels where the new can challenge the old. where "the new york times" gets a run for its money. where nbc is suddenly facing off against youtube videos. and the problem -- i'll just go on the offensive and say the problem with the kind of worship of managerial capitalism in your book is it's too --
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[laughter] insensitive to the fact that managerial capitalism tends to make market entry very difficult. just put it that way. >> well, the problem with your argument, tim -- [laughter] is that there's no getting around the inevitability of the cycle. if i read your book, i would come away very depressed because every single case you tell is one in which you have these bold innovators with these great ideas who were stomped down upon by these sort of either money-mad or reactionary pollute accurates and then -- blew pluts and this wonderful idea's born in someone's garage or someone's attic and starts up again. and that just isn't so. there were major public policy triumphs. bell loses big time in the 19 teens. they don't get to control the telegraph as well as the
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telephone. that kind of separations principle that i think you write about so persuasively and movingly in if your final section. the radio act of 1927 keeps at&t out of the content business, content/conduit are divided there. if you had not had the studio system in hollywood which you have the coming together of the people making the movies and the ownership of the theaters, the united states might never have established a dominant position in the world film business. in the 1930s and '40s. the british, we have 80% of the world market. the europeans couldn't get their act together. we did, and that made possible the creativity that led to the self-sustained development of hollywood. >> if you didn't have the hollywood studio system, you also wouldn't have had the most heinous example of private censorship in american history -- >> that is a ridiculous claim, tim. [laughter] first, the most heinous example of --
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>> private censorship. >> what is -- >> let me explain. [inaudible conversations] >> tell the story, and i'll tell you why you're wrong. [laughter] >> thanks to consolidation of the industry into the hollywood studio system, a cartel of five studios or maybe it's six -- >> right. >> -- every -- the catholic church was finally able to enforce production code. >> uh-huh. >> and set up a system which you're familiar with and many people in the audience are where one man, joseph bean, had to okay every single film before it was made which is in first amendment terms called a prior restraint and so illegal if it was -- and let me give you one example. warner brothers in the mid '30s wanted to make a movie, wanted to make a movie is about the what the nazis were doing in germany. they were like, listen, this is bad. bad things are coming. joseph breen who described his job as shoving ethics down the throats of the jews -- that was how he described his job, i'm here to shove ethics down the
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throats of the jews -- vetoed the movie. it was never made. this should be intolerable to anyone in the journalism school, one man decide what -- >> it isn't one man. this is the problem with the whole book. these heroic individuals who arrive out of nowhere, the mogul makes the -- >> medium. >> look, the reason breen did what he did was because seven states were poised to enact codes of their own, and those states could have created a patchwork of restrictions on movies, and goodness knows what the consequences would have been. the studios worked with breen because it was an alternative to state censorship at the state level, and would have been reminiscent that per persisted right up to "the new york times." >> next, edward mcclelland, former staff writer for the chicago reader, reports on president obama's first campaign for the illinois state at that time senate.
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mr. mchell command profiles the then 35-year-old law professor as he canvassed chicago's south side and recounts the future president's early lessons in politics. edward mcclelland discussed his book as part of a panel that includes william jelani cobb and keli goff, author of "party crashing: how the hip-hop generation declared political independence." the hour and ten minute program takes place at the schomburg center for research in black culture in harlem, new york. >> i want to start by tackling one of the elephants in the room because i like elephants. and in all seriousness, i think that we would be remiss to not start the conversation by addressing current events which tie so closely to the books we're going to be discussing tonight. so i want to start by asking our panelists the following: a recent cbs news poll noted that
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while 90% of black americans have a favorable approval of the job the president is currently doing, just 37% of white americans do. so with those numbers in mind, i'd like to ask you both in completing your books how much do you think last week's so-called shellacking -- as the president called it -- can be attributed, a, to the president himself as an individual and, b, specifically to his race? >> or do you think it can be atranscripted in any way to either of those two factors? >> well, i guess i want to say, first of all, that it wasn't a surprise that the democrats lost. i mean, no democrat had lost for governor -- no incumbent democrat had lost for governor, for congress or for -- since 2004. so i think there was, it was time for kind of the wheel to turn the other way. i mean, people like divided government, and i think this is actually going to be good for
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obama. i think he needs a foil. john boehner is already talking about doing everything he can to reverse or slow down the health care reform, and so i think it's going to give obama a chance to go out there and say, look, we need to, we need to get together, and we need to work to defend everything that we've accomplished so far. and i also don't think it's pad for him to get -- bad for him to get beaten. every once in a while obama needs to be humbled. he's not a guy who's failed at much in his life, and when he lost to bobby rush in 2000, it really taught him who he was as a politician, and this may teach him who he is as a president. but, i mean, it's true, i mean, chicago is a place where he definitely still has some juice. i was at the rally on the saturday before the election when he asked chicago to have his back. and the black community really responded. the south side, the number z were up from the last midterm
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elections, and it was between 91 and 94% were voting democratic. >> dr. cobb? >> i think, one, i'd like to echo your sentiment about dr. dodson who i respect tremendously, whom i met when i was, i think i was maybe a junior in college. and i was working on some project, and he kind of came over and asked me what i was doing and offered some advice, and from that point to, you know, being a tenured professor at various junctures i've had the pleasure of interacting with dr. dodson. and i think that he has really, really provided an example of how our cultural institutions can operate and the important, the importance that they have and so on. i think that we should just acknowledge that. before going forward. regarding the election and, you know, the results of the midterm elections, i think there are two
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points. one, you mentioned the 90%, over 90% approval rating that african-americans have for him and the 37% approval rating that he has among the rest of america or white americans. i don't think those things are unrelated. [laughter] i think that in part because the 90% approval rating among blacks because he has such a low approval rating among very many whites. and what i mean by that is this: in the kind of ec cochamber of -- echo chamber of american politics when people saw an attempt to get health care legislation being maligned as reparations, being maligned as some sort of communist property or takeover, when people began showing up at town halls with weapons, you know, that summer, i think that conjured very powerful images to african-americans and a kind of almost kind of defense mechanism
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kicked in such that it became very difficult to examine barack obama in terms of our own priorities, our own questions. if you -- matter of fact, when i was in cairo about three weeks ago, and it was interesting because it wasn't simply a national dynamic, but it was international. i was talking with an egyptian gentleman who told me that in a very explicit language about his content for george w. bush. -- contempt for george w. bush, and then said, but i pity your current president. and i was curious about what he meant by that. he said, well, he wants to do good things, but they won't let him. and the they being either republicans or being white americans or being whoever it was, but this foil, again as you mentioned, is seen as kind of obama being the guy who wants to get something done, and there's, you know, the aligned kind of darth darth vadar forces of the republican party that won't met him achieve it. in addition to that about the
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question being how much is this attributable to race, i think part of this is, but i also think that another part of it is not. like, when you look at the kind of lunatic right or the far extreme, you know, the right that have gained such a foothold now, we've seen not just the tea party but, you know, the kind of birthers and glenn beck people and so on, and it kind of echoes in some ways, you know, the john birch society from the '60s, father cog lin of the 1930s who was the chief antagonist of franklin roosevelt trying to tell everyone that roosevelt was a communist and also a certain strand of goldwater republicanism that was really dying within the republican party until, until relatively recently. i think all of those things are combined, and then the active ingredient being this idea that there's this person who is not really american because of his background, his racial background and his, his upbringing.
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i think all those things are kind of combined in together. >> i want to say one more thing about white voters. white voters, especially blue collar white voters, they're probably the biggest swing voters we have in the country, especially in the midwest. i mean, in the midwest we have economic problems that are deeper than any politician can solve. and, but we continually keep firing politicians who can't solve them. i mean, the democrats lost four seats in if illinois, they lost five seats in ohio. i think it was five seats in if pennsylvania. so, i mean, i think this is a very volatile swing electorate, and they're going to go against whoever is in office. and it just happened to be obama this time. >> and i also think we should talk about, maybe talk about obama losing the independents which i think that's kind of a loaded statement because there are lots of people who are independent. technically, i'm an independent. i've never been a democrat except for 2008 when i became a
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democrat delegate for the democratic convention. and i promptly went back to being an independent. now, about 98% of the time i'm going to vote for democrats, but my personal belief is that the democratic party is taking black people for granted, and i never want to be on a roll as someone who's just counted in their corner, and i think there are many people who feel that same way about republicans. and there's a much narrower slice that may vote for a marijuana legalization candidate, whoever it is that you find interesting. >> and the polling shows that's actually 100% true. speaking as someone who did that this year because the rent is too damn high -- [laughter] >> well, i voted for the republican who is going to take obama's seat. and one of the reasons i did it was because he is, he and the tea party are very antagonistic with each other. i thought there should be one non-crazy republican in the
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freshman class of the senate. [laughter] >> i'm not trying to pick on you but, edward, i did notice you didn't really address the issue of of race in the question. was that intentional or because you think it's irrelevant? >> no, i don't think it's irrelevant. i tried to address the question of race when i talked about white, blue collar swing voters. for them i don't think it was specifically because obama was black that they were voting against him, i think they're just a very hard sell in every election, and they're the constituency that's really going to try to balance things out, that likes divided government and, you know, this is, this is a part of the electorate that's, you know, seen its economic power declining year after year. i mean, they're not tied to a particular party as a result of race in a way that maybe latinos and african-americans are. and so, i mean, they're more likely to be independents and swing voters. so it may be from racial, from the fact that they, there's not
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a racial black vote there among white voters. but i don't think they, i don't think that among most voters they were specifically reacting to the fact that obama's a african-american when they voted republican. >> let me throw this out here, i'm very curious because i'm already enjoying this conversation. i really struggled with analyzing this idea because we all know e that obama clearly won with the strength of white voters, right? >> right. >> it's hard to turn it on its ear and say the approval rating is attributable to the fact he's black when a lot of people voted for him. it's one of the few times in probably the last year or so that i agreed with something michael steele said which he was asked to immediately apologize for. he said, and i can't get the exact quote, but there is less room for mistakes when you are a black american, particularly when you're the first at something. it's sort of a like, we gave you the chance, but we see you messing up, that's it. and i think michael was speaking
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of himself, but he also said this is true of president obama. i think there's some truth in that. regardless of whether you're a african-american, whether you're a woman, i think there's a little bit of truth in that, and i'm curious to see what your thoughts are on that. >> with i think that -- i agree, but i also think there's another dynamic in the sense that this wind is partly self-inflicted -- wound is partly self-inflicted. i'm a historian, so i've frequently looked at the vast amalgamation of power and influence in the hands of a small number of people in the, you know, last decade, 20 years of american history and seen it as akin to, you know, the gilded age. the period in the late 19th century where you began to get, you know, amazing amounts of wealth and power, you know, in the hands of a small number of people. and, you know, out of that and the development of corporations and, you know, steel conglomerates and so on and out of that came the american labor
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movement and also came the movement, the antitrust movement, you know, which remember t.r., the trust buster and so on. the belief that there should not be that much power concentrated in the hands of a few people. if we were to kind of, you know, cut out the crazy element, you know, of the tea party, cut out the racial element, you know, of you get less breathing room, i think that what you would find is a big swath of the middle people who feel the way that many people felt in the late 19th century. there's too much power in the hands of individuals who, obviously, will not operate in the best interests of the public. and when barack obama was campaigning, that is something that he tapped into very astutely and many people invested a great deal of faith and belief in him for. and i think that there's a widespread suspicion that those forces remain by and large unchallenged.
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and so when people were upset with his pick of tim geithner, when people were upset with the belief that he had not gone hard enough on the banks and so on, i think that those dynamics are tied to probably there being less breathing room for him as an african-american, but it's hard to ferret out like, you know, what the active ingredient in this mix is. but i definitely think that's part of it. >> i think i can say anecdotally for some white people barack obama is white when they want to support him, and he's black when they don't like him. [laughter] i can tell you things i heard in 2008 hearing from people in bars. they'd come up to me and say, you know? he's really one of of us, you k? his mom was white, he grew up in a white family, so we can trust him. and then just a few months ago, you know, i was in this italian-american barbershop in buffalo, i heard someone usehe


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