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2005-06-16 10:20:00
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

Dr. Anthony Cordesman U.S. Speaker Program in

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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002542 



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Dr. Anthony Cordesman U.S. Speaker Program in
Iraq: June 3-11, 2005




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Dr. Anthony Cordesman U.S. Speaker Program in
Iraq: June 3-11, 2005

1. Summary: Dr. Anthony Cordesman of CSIS participated
in an eight-day speaker program in Iraq (Baghdad and Al-
Hillah) June 3-11, 2005. His program included meetings
and events with senior officials and opinion leaders from
all major ethnic and sectarian elements of Iraqi society,
and representatives of the full Iraqi political spectrum.
The discussions covered all aspects of Iraqi political,
security, energy and ethnic/sectarian issues. Dr.
Cordesman used his program events to provide his
perspective on how to best counter the insurgency in
Iraq, on building a viable state and society, and on Iraq
as an aspect of broader political developments in the
Mideast. He also used his discussions to plumb current
Iraqi views on the country's progress towards democracy
and the continuing U.S. role in that process. Because
Dr. Cordesman is so well known, this program had a major
impact in engaging key Iraqi officials and opinion
leaders at the highest levels, and received positive
Iraqi broadcast and print media coverage, with at least
seven press placements to date. End Summary.

2. Dr. Cordesman began his program with three full days
spent visiting Iraqi military and security forces,
accompanied by the U.S. military, throughout the country.
This comprehensive overview of the security environment
in Iraq included operational units as well as training
and command and control centers of both the Ministry of
Interior and Ministry of Defense, in addition to American
and NATO experts and advisers. This prelude to his
speaker program activities enriched and strengthened his
credibility with his Iraqi (and, likely, future American)

3. A short trip into the Red Zone to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs provided the first venue for a Cordesman
lecture. About 100 Iraqi officials, including the head
of the Transitional National Assembly's foreign affairs
committee, heard Dr. Cordesman say that the circumstances
in Iraq most resembled - at least superficially - the
U.S. engagement in Vietnam, with the huge difference that
both Americans and Iraqis have so far avoided the major
mistakes which doomed that conflict. There is a
alization that political means, not military measures
alone, will defeat the insurgency. Unlike in Vietman,
the Iraqi military and security forces that are being
built are not so dependent on American supplies and
weapons for their survival. These local forces are
getting stronger and better trained every month. The
Iraqi democracy is already more mature and successful
than anything in South Vietnam ever was.

4. But, noted Cordesman, major challenges remain:
ensuring that corruption is curtailed; strengthening
local government presence in the governorates; winning
over the people by ensuring full political participation
by all groups; and splitting the insurgency's base
between the disgruntled and the unredeemable hardcore --
are all urgent priorities. He added that Iraq will
succeed or fail by the efforts of the Iraqis alone;
America can and will help, but the final arbiters of
victory will be the Iraqi people.

5. Dr. Cordesman also discussed oil policy and how a
dependence on petroleum alone cannot build a prosperous
and stable Iraqi economy. He spoke as well about
domestic politics in America and the situation in Iraq -
how popular ambivalence about the American presence in
Iraq is matched by strong support for the U.S. military.
As with all his sessions, dialogue was lively and very
positive. He was treated as something of a cross between
an oracle and a rock star. There were many more questions
than could be answered before Cordesman's security detail
shepherded him back to the International Zone.

6. The same themes continued in the next event, a lunch
hosted by the Charge' which gathered a top level
audience, including the Ministers of Interior and
Finance, the National Security Advisor, the Minister of
State for National Security, and several key generals
involved in the ongoing "Operation Lightning" campaign to
weed out terrorists from Baghdad.

7. A follow-on press event with the Iraqi media,
covering the issues discussed above, has so far generated
seven very positive press placements: articles in five
dailies: "Al-Adala" (SCIRI), "Al-Furat" (Independent),
"Al-Mu'atamer" (INC), "Al-Manar al-Yawm" (Independent)
and "Kul al-Iraq" (Independent) and prime-time news
coverage on the leading "Al-Iraqiyya" television and
private "Al-Salam" TV (moderate Shi'a) stations.
Additional placements are expected in weekly and monthly

8. On June 9, Dr. Cordesman traveled to Regional Embassy
Office (REO) Al-Hillah, in Iraq's Shi'a heartland. At
the REO he spoke to an enthusiastic and varied audience
of about 75 local leaders, including five Transitional
National Assembly deputies, regional and local officials,
NGO activists, academics, journalists and several
Interior and Defense Ministry generals.

9. This event was a highlight of his program; his
presentation was extended by a lively dialogue that went
on for over three hours. Cordesman generously answered
each and every question, which ranged from security
issues (e.g., a plea for American heavy weapons for the
Iraqi armed forces; answer: in fighting an insurgency the
right tactics and training are more important than tanks)
to political developments (e.g., complaints about
American "coddling" of Sunni Arabs: "You talk about
Sunnis all the time; what about our rights? We
participated in the elections and they refused to"). In
Al-Hillah, as throughout his program, Cordesman stressed
the need for an inclusive Iraqi political process as the
key for victory against the insurgents.

10. Upon his return from AL-Hillah, Dr. Cordesman was
feted at a dinner hosted by former IIG Council of
Ministers Secretary Zuheir Hammadi. The attendants
included Minister of Interior Jaber, the head of MFA
Policy Planning, and other senior officials and advisors.

11. Comment: Dr. Cordesman was a superb, thoughtful and
comprehensive speaker who help us engage Iraqi officials
and opinion leaders at the highest level in dialogue on a
wide range of policy issues of highest interest to this
Mission. His graciousness and deep knowledge of so many
topics truly impressed his large and enthusiastic Iraqi
audiences, who navigated various security gauntlets to
attend his programs. Many thanks to IIP, NEA/I, REO Al-
Hillah, and Embassy Amman for helping make this program
happen, and especially to Embassy Kuwait for facilitating
his last-minute, middle-of-the-night transit through
Kuwait to Washington after he was delayed for two very
frustrating days at the Baghdad Airport in the grips of a
massive sandstorm.