Gen. Jones: US occupation of Iraq appears permanent
On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Tim Russert sat down with Chief Charles Ramsey, member of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, and retired USMC General James Jones, Chairman of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq.
Russert asks pointed questions about whether political reconciliation, or stabilizing Iraqi ground forces, is being seen the first step to handing Iraq back to its people and pulling American troops out; there appears to be a conflict among the insiders.
On the assertion made in the past by President Bush that the United States will "stand down" when the Iraqis "stand up," Russert asks Gen. Jones, in particular, a blunt question about the figure of an additional three to four years of American troops on the ground.
Responds Jones: "I think that's probably reasonable -- there's no magic formula here. It depends on the rate of progress. It depends on the international ability to convince Iran and Syria to help, rather than hinder the recovery in Iraq and that's not happening right now."
Russert cites a Washington Post Op/Ed written by current Commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, quoting:
"I see tangible progress...There are reasons for optimism. Today, approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers ... and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions. Equipment is being delivered. Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being reestablished."
"That was three years ago," Russert continues. "It sounds as if very little has improved since he wrote that three years ago."
"The missing piece is the reconciliation that the government has not been able to achieve," responds Jones, in defense of the column.
The national police, he says, need "reform and reorganization." They need to be better trained and have better access to equipment.
"The notion that we're not going to be there forever flies in the face of what we see on the ground," Jones adds.
The following video is from NBC's Meet the Press, broadcast on September 9.