Pubdate: Mon, 29 Oct 2007
Source: Edwardsville Intelligencer (IL)
Copyright: 2007 Edwardsville Publishing Company.
Author: Norma Mendoza
Bookmark: (McCaffrey, Barry)
Bookmark: (Terrorism)


McCaffrey Speaks At SIUE's Arts & Issues Series

Drugs are funding the war in the Middle East, four-star Gen. Barry 
McCaffrey, U.S. Army (Ret.), told the crowd gathered to hear his 
discussion about the war on terror at an SIUE Arts & Issues 
presentation Saturday night.

"(Our government) has been willfully in denial of that reality."

He said the majority of the 44 recognized terrorist organizations are 
not funded by any communist state, but rather by the international 
crime of drug smuggling.

"If you want to make hundreds of millions of dollars, you get into drugs."

Despite the large amounts of money funneled into these groups through 
illegal drug operations, he said the terrorist organizations are 
badly damaged and intimidated. A recent offensive against them 
resulted in the most deaths since the Civil War Battle of Antietam, 
McCaffrey said.

"The first day of the Tarawa offensive wasn't as bad," he said.

McCaffrey, who is the president of his own consulting firm in 
Arlington, Va., was the most highly decorated and the youngest 
four-star general in the U.S. Army.  His 32-year Army career 
stretches from Vietnam to Desert Storm where he served as commander 
in chief of the U.S. Army.

McCaffrey had four tours of duty in Vietnam and was twice awarded the 
Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest military medal for 
valor. He also received two silver stars and three purple hearts for 
wounds suffered in combat.

He is currently an adjunct professor of international affairs in the 
U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. and is affiliated with NBC 
News as national security and terrorism analyst. He writes a weekly 
column about national security issues for the Armed Forces Journal.

McCaffrey said the United States is spending $10 billion a month in 
the Iraq war and another $2 billion per month in Afghanistan. He 
blamed the undebated and misguided strategies of former Secretary of 
Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his team of arrogant and inexperienced 
civilian associates in the Pentagon for the ill-advised war against 
Iraq and for failing to acknowledge the mistake.

He told the audience in the Meridian Ballroom of the Morris 
University Center that there hasn't been one strike within the United 
States since 9/11 although both London and Madrid have had major 
terrorist events.

He credited U.S. culture for allowing Middle Eastern immigrants the 
freedom to practice their family traditions and religion.

"They enjoy freedom of religion here and they are not bothered by the 
police," he said. "There is free education for their children, 
including for girls."

Some two million or more of Iraq's most educated professionals such 
as doctors and dentists have fled their country creating a tremendous 
brain drain that imperils the ability to govern. They were the 
pillars of Iraqi society and their absence is detrimental to the 
rebuilding of a civil society in Iraq, he said.

There is global animosity against the United States foreign policy 
and against the current administration.  Calling the situation in 
Iraq "a mess," McCaffrey said there is not likely to be any end to 
U.S. involvement during the remaining months of the Bush 
administration. Bush will get no support from the Democratic Congress 
and it is unlikely the Democrats' slim majority can force him to retreat.

"Whether the new president will be a Republican or a Democrat, he or 
she will have about a year to get Iraq straightened out before he or 
she will be forced to pull the plug."

He said it would be three years at best before things are under 
control in Iraq, depending on how painful it will be for our allies. 
Further, U.S. leadership needs to build an alliance with Saudi Arabia 
and other nations that have so far been uninvolved such as Japan, 
Russia and China.

McCaffrey, who has made several trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, said 
the U.S. Armed Forces cannot sustain the current rate of deployment 
as the military serves two, three, four and even five tours with 
little recovery time in between.

He noted other possible hot spots where U.S. troops could be called 
into action such as Korea, Taiwan, Syria, Venezuela, Darfur and Cuba 
after the death of Castro. He did not rule out Iran. He said the Army 
is already under tremendous stress and could unravel.

The National Guard forces are needed at home to deal with possible 
natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast and the 
fires raging through several states.

During a question and answer period after his lecture, McCaffrey said 
he tends to be very protective of the civilian contractors in Iraq.

"Without these contractors, the U.S. military operations would come 
to a complete halt," he said.  "The overwhelming majority of them are 
there because No. 1, they are patriots and second, it makes a lot of 
sense to have civilian companies with expertise running the technical 

He said he does not include Blackwater in that description.

A sergeant first-class in the National Guard told McCaffrey that he 
has been in Iraq two times and in his opinion, in addition to that 
war and the one in Afghanistan, there is a third war going on in this country.

He blamed U.S. media for focusing on the negative aspects of the wars 
and ignoring the positive.

"They over-analyze everything," he said. "And they are manipulating 
the American public against the war."

McCaffrey took time to thank him for his service to the country 
before telling him about his three tours of duty in Vietnam and his 
son who is now in Afghanistan.  He said there is always animosity 
among the troops against the media and our political leadership.

"The older I get, the more I come to believe that aggressive media 
are central to a successful democracy," he said, acknowledging his 
association with NBC News.

He said he met with members of SIUE's ROTC before his lecture and 
advised them to read a number of sources of news as well as 
editorials from the Associated Press and Reuters to get a balanced 
view of the news.

"The American people walked away from this war," McCaffrey said. 
"They are not being manipulated by the media, but think this war was 
a mistake. They think it was started under false pretenses and they 
have seen an administration absolutely refuse to accept the facts. 
They want no part of it." 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake