Join the conversation on Twitter/Instagram: @jockowillink @martyrmade Jocko and Darryl Cooper discuss the “beginnings” of the war on terror.
this is the podcast formerly known
as the thread with daryl cooper
and me jocko willink and we are
re-releasing these
this original series or the original
episodes in this podcast i guess it's
more than a series because we're going
to keep doing it
but we had to rename it it turned out
that there was already a podcast called
the thread which i didn't check or
google or look didn't know it was a
and the people well there's another
and so they came at us with cease and
desist letters and legal action and all
that stuff which is fine because they
own the name
so we needed a new name we bounced
around a bunch of ideas
and landed on the jocko
unraveling podcast why did we pick that
one is why did you pick giaco well it's
real easy i own that name
no one can trump us or
you know threaten to sue me for using my
own name so we are protected there
and unraveling because the intent
is still the same as the original idea
behind the thread podcast
what we're going to do is unravel what
is happening in the world today and get
to some of the root causes
and maybe even if we don't get to root
causes we at least get a better
of the world by unraveling what we see
and it's also not only
because we're unraveling things and
looking at them
in a more granular level there's also
obviously another
meaning to the word unraveling
it means things coming apart
and well the world and
specifically humanity in many ways like
human life
life they're similar
humanity and human life are similar in
they can both be incredibly durable and
and resilient but they can both also be
fragile and you can have
one man be shot 20 times
and survive and walk away
and someone else can catch a random
piece of a ricocheted bullet
a tiny piece of a ricocheted bullet and
and society and humanity
can be kind of like that sometimes it
can survive
all kinds of turmoil and chaos and then
in one instant
one event can change it forever
or can at least dramatically alter its
it can cause things to unravel
so we started off this podcast and the
first what is it the first number of
what seven the first seven
the first seven of these that you will
listen to if you haven't listened to any
of them yet
we dove deep into the iraq war
and i guess we kind of fell into that
you kind of gotten a kick you wanted to
go hard right
mm-hmm i figured it was a good way to
start so so daryl wanted to go hard
which which makes sense because he had
his own
experiences he had his own knowledge he
had obviously read and studied and
was was deployed over in that region
and then on top of that you know he knew
where he wanted to know about my
perspective on the ground and so the
first of these
seven we we go deep deeper than
i think we'd plan to may have veered off
the course
the original intent of this podcast
which is sort of to bring
things or to look at things that are
happening today
but at the same time you know
every it's okay because everything's
related and and the better that you
understand specific events
in the past the better you understand
all events and the better you will
the way things unravel
so with that this is an interesting
scenario that's unfolded that you and i
are sitting across from each other
at a table i talked about this a little
bit when you were
just on my podcast the jocko podcast
about how we got here but just to
just to kind of review how we ended up
here you have a podcast called martyr
yes in my opinion um one of the best
podcasts there is
and i
have a problem with
i have a problem with the educational
system in america
that problem is kind of based on the
fact that people
don't tie or teachers and when i say
educational system i'm talking all the
way from
the time you go to whatever kindergarten
college which i didn't go beyond college
but the whole time
you're getting all this information but
all the information is disconnected
in other words there's no thread that
ties it all together when the reality is
as you know and as i eventually learned
everything actually is connected
everything is connected
whether it's science or math or history
literature or politics
it doesn't matter you take any of those
things and there is a thread
that ties it to everything else this is
human history and we miss that
and it makes it for me it made it harder
for me to
to understand things at a deeper level
because there's no
context around them right you're just
getting like oh here's a chunk time
you take this history class about this
part of american history or this
part of european history or this
scientific period gets passed
and you're just learning these chunks
but they're not not connected so you
i never felt like i developed as much
until i started to fill in these gaps
and you take that we roll that one step
and you look at our news media today and
they take these they take the events
that are unfolding around us
and they give me to you very
with very little depth occasionally
you can get to two dimensions on a
subject here there
but they certainly aren't taking the
events that are happening today
which all have threads that lead into
history that give you better
of the things that are unfolding before
our very
eyes so you know
since i'm a listener of your podcast
you're a listener of my podcast i was
actually on your
podcast one time we we did a we did a
menage a trois podcast with you
and me and danielle
and that was that was really cool i
enjoyed doing that
but i eventually said hey man do you
want to do you want to do something
where we talk about
what's going on in the world right now
and we dig deeper
and we pull the thread on how
events got to where they are what do you
i think it's necessary yeah you know you
talked about the news media when you
have no context
it makes everything a surprise
everything that happens is just a
surprise 911 happens and it's just
a surprise who are these people nobody
knows it's just completely
out of nowhere and that leaves us
vulnerable to
anybody who comes along and says they've
got a story that explains it
you know and sometimes the people
sharing those stories have
agendas sometimes they don't have all
the facts and
um like you said everything's connected
you can you can
take any event you know we could say
what is world war
ii well it happened between 1939 and
1945 well did it
or did it start at the treaty of
versailles and then if that's the case
does it go back before world war one
and what about the ending point did it
end in 1945 are you sure
how how far out does that go you can
take that all the way out to adam and
eve if you want to
figuring out how to draw those lines
could be difficult but um
but that's what it's about figuring out
how these things connect to the world we
find ourselves in now so that
when things happen it's not such a
surprise and you're not so vulnerable to
people peddling stories
with an agenda behind them yeah and then
as we were having these discussions
some things were kind of in our face a
little bit about
well solimani had just been killed we're
talking about iran
we're talking when you're and if you're
going to talk about iran you absolutely
have to talk about iraq you have to talk
what unfolded there with
isis and then where did isis come from
and and then again
now now this is exactly where it all
starts it's like oh you start to pull
the thread on this
and you say to yourself okay what
is really going on at a deeper level
when we start to pull the thread and
you kind of came back at me after we
talked about a couple different topics
we could go through and you came back to
me and you know you said hey man
why are we even playing around here
let's talk about let's talk about iraq
and go through it with a level of detail
so people have some real understanding
of what's
of what has happened there and what our
involvement there has looked like and
what led to our involvement there
and i started kind of filling in some of
the blanks that you had about
things that i had seen and and then you
started saying oh wait you were there
for this oh wait you were there for that
and then it kind of just builds a story
around itself and you said let's
let's do some let's do that and i said
yeah cool sounds good
i i will say and you and i have agreed
to try and put some constraints around
in terms of time you and i both have
ridiculously long podcasts
um you know my longest is five hours and
25 minutes i think
i don't know what you what's your
longest close to seven
you have which one was seven no the last
one was like 640 i think
oh that was a good one um
yeah so you and i both said okay we're
not gonna do this and you and i
clearly both have a propensity to
just go and so we're going to try and
well we'll we'll keep this to about an
hour and then we'll just
we'll just go to the next topic and in
another episode so that way people can
chunk it up and don't have to worry
about trying to find where it is on the
on their on their podcast platform
and trying to figure out where they left
off etc etc
and plus to give us just a natural sort
uh guard rail of you and me going
completely um into the
17-hour zone yeah let's do it
so when we talk about iraq where do you
want to kick this thing off
you just gave me the starting point i
wanted actually which is
talking about isis coming out and how to
most people
where did isis come from they came out
of nowhere right came out of the chaos
of the syrian civil war
for all anybody knows i mean that's
really the way it was portrayed is this
just this group rises up out of the sand
and comes into iraq
and they're creating all of this chaos
and most of the public
they came out out of nothing right like
a spontaneous
right a spontaneous group appeared out
of nowhere is what it appeared to be a
lot of people
i will say that
i believe the term islamic state
began to get used just
after i left on my last deployment i'm
going to say 2007 is when i believe they
started to use the term
islamic state that is correct yeah yep
but who started to use that term is the
point right yeah that group didn't come
out of nowhere
and you know by the time isis comes
around most of the public
in the west is kind of disengaged from
iraq they've moved on they don't want
anything to do with it this is when
president obama's in there and he ran on
getting us out
you know and for you know when when
you're part of the public getting the
narrative the way they were getting it
it's understandable why they were just
like why are we here enough is enough
uh get us out of there and that's where
we were at by the time isis came around
the majority of americans at that point
could have cared less who was
controlling fallujah
or ramadi or anything like that um
isis got our attention though because
this group came out of nowhere
and they seemed to be
engaging in acts of violence that were
so over the top and so barbaric that
that people thought that this nothing
like this had ever happened before
that's what people thought i mean
because they didn't you know again
coming back to the to the history in the
context of it
in august of 2014 you know they're
turning on their tvs are going on to
websites and there's an australian
who's traveled over the middle east with
his seven-year-old son
and he's putting up a picture of his
seven-year-old son holding up the head
of a syrian soldier
and people are saying wait a second now
this is something different
right a few days later isis releases a
featuring jihadi john speaking in
perfectly plain
english threatening the camera with the
knife and then sawing the head off of
american journalist james foley and
this starts to get people's attention
right the group starts releasing
all of these propaganda videos these
slick propaganda videos
there was of course the famous one with
the jordanian pilot
that had gone down that they captured
that they burned alive in a cage
they're filming themselves they're not
hiding this they're filming themselves
throwing homosexuals from rooftops
how much of this as that's unfolding
how much of that is
the modern day
24 year old social media
uh uh egocentric me me me
hey if i'm gonna go out and do jihad i'm
gonna take pictures of it
yeah yeah i think that's probably you're
onto something there i mean because they
there were videos before but now you can
get famous
you know you can get famous and it's pr
probably got something to do with the
step up and school shootings and
everything as well
you know it's it's a way for somebody
with no identity
and living in a world where it seems
they don't have any ability to exert
will on the world
you know nobody notices them you're just
a nobody what you're gonna notice
you're gonna notice this was the
of making these videos okay so we have
we have some
element of this is just the new world
this is social media
i want to be famous it's about me i'm
jihadi john
with uh with the where was he from the
accent british and uh but do we know
where he's from in britain
i'm sure we do i don't so here's this
guy and so
i'm gonna get famous that's part of it
part of it had to be hey we're gonna
recruit to get people down here
which again what if what did what it
who are you recruiting that's that's the
question if we're sawing off people's
heads on camera
who are we recruiting i well we know who
we're recruiting and it worked
tens of thousands of those people
responded to the call and those people
were living
in our societies before before they went
down to raqqa they were living in our
i mean there's here's here's like one
that uh
i haven't watched too many of their of
their videos but i've watched some of
them just to try to get an idea
and there was one that stood out where
it takes place in an old broken down
amusement park
and it's got a bunch of kids executing
there's one where a boy who is hardly
big enough
the the gun that they give him is too
big for his hand
right and he shoots a kurdish prisoner
in the head
there's another one where they've got a
prisoner tied up
on like a broken down carnival ride and
they give this kid a big old knife it's
way too big for him and he climbs up on
this thing and murders this guy
there's one like well choreographed
scene where
this kid is walking through you know
those like uh those plastic
ball pits they got this kid walking
like this dusty ball pit and he gets
there and somebody hands him this big
and he kind of closes his eyes and looks
away and blows this dude's brains out
there's other videos where
they've got kids executing other kids
if you got kids killing people in an
amusement park
you're doing something very different
than just saying uh
you're sending a very specific kind of
message about what kind of people you
are and who you're trying to attract at
that point right
i mean this isn't just you know the kids
are in on the jihad too they're doing
this in an amusement park that is a
level of depravity that's
that that take you know that seems to
take things to a new level right
seems to that's kind of where i wanted
to go with this is
uh maybe the slick production values
were kind of shocking
to people like you to some of my friends
who were in
fallujah some marines and and others
that i know
but the level of violence that these
people were exhibiting
was not a huge surprise um because
you've seen it before
most of americans had not seen it before
and i think that people don't realize
that there's a thread
not not just a tenuous one a very direct
thread connecting the individuals in the
from al qaeda in iraq the people you
were fighting in ramadi that we were
going after in fallujah no4
right on up through the islamic state
these are the same people
some of them swap out we kill the
leaders and people step up
but these are groups that have gone
through name changes
and then you can take it back further
and it's not just al qaeda in iraq a lot
of these
people are former baathist and iraqi
army soldiers
officers people who were regime
loyalists and so i knew
i knew a lot of people who would have
this attitude of like well look i was
against the iraq war
george bush is a war criminal and so is
dick cheney the whole lot of them they
should all be in jail
uh but isis is this is something
different we really got to do something
about this
and they don't realize and and it's not
their fault because this is just not
this was not how the narrative was
presented to them they don't realize
these are the same people
doing the same things that we were
in the war in the early days and the
people who were actually running that
country before we went
in and i think that's something that's a
connection just does not get made for
most people
and i wonder if they really understood
that that these isis people especially
after 2010
isis after 2010 was almost entirely run
by former
saddam regime loyalists okay and so
these people
were running that country before and if
you knew that
if you understood that how do you feel
about going in
and i get it you know from a strategic
standpoint or whatever
you can have reservations you can't
clear up every evil in the world but i
wonder i think a lot of people would
maybe consider it differently if they
understood that
and um yeah it's a tough message to get
out to people and i don't know why it
didn't get out
more clearly during the war well it was
uh i guess it was good rebranding
right it's good rebranding i had uh
um at echelon front i had i got an
offer to work with a company they said
want me to do a keynote speech
and the the the name of the company was
some real
i didn't recognize it you know i said oh
you know what what's the company uh
whatever the name of those brand x or
whatever some just
didn't didn't strike me in any way and
you know they wanted me to come and do a
and you know so my my um director of
operations jamie said oh we got this
company they wanted to do keynote and i
said okay
let me let me take a look let me see who
they are and it was a giant tobacco
company and it was a company that had
changed their name whatever five years
ago three years ago
and i said oh no i'm not doing that
and the thing was like you know it's
good branding they
i didn't know who it was and that's
uh who was doing that branding though i
i i know a marine who was in fallujah
who told me he didn't do this himself
but he knew the people who did
um that there were torture rooms that
they found in that city by the smell
for sure and that and that you would
walk into houses that looked normal in
normal neighborhoods
and i remember reading this one marine
major talking about how you would wander
through this normal house and you would
open up a door into a bedroom or garage
and it was silence of the lambs in there
so who's who's doing that branding like
that's what you know
like who is hiding that from people and
i don't know if it's hiding i don't know
maybe they thought it was just too
gruesome and we don't want to
put that on them i don't know well i'm
i'm saying the rebranding done by the
by the perpetrators themselves in other
words you know
quote changing from insurgents to
al-qaeda and iraq to isis those are
those are changes that got made along
the way and there's also there are also
um you know groups where a group would
grow and people they'd take on new
members that came from the other group
and so
it's the same group of people with a
different name and maybe a couple
different leaders here and there but
it was it seemed like one of the reasons
that people said and you actually you
actually just said this minute ago you
got isis came out of nowhere you you
just got done saying
you know isis has been around for a long
time and then you in your own you know
you just we're telling the stories today
i people were shocked because isis came
out of nowhere even you just
i meant that was the perception yeah the
first that's the perception but i mean
even you just said isis came out of
nowhere you had literally just said
isis has been the same group of people
and then
you know you're making the point that
isis came seemed to come out of nowhere
but i'm saying look these
these groups changed their names
and when you changed your name and they
changed their look too right they went
to this you know they made a flag a new
and they carry that flag and then they
put on the all black outfits which
well quite honestly insurgents a lot of
times sometimes they wear black but a
lot of times they were just wearing you
know the
the tracksuit was that was the kind of
typical uniform
or a dish dash or whatever so there was
some branding that happened
that i think helped confuse
the rest of the world in cutting that
subconsciously that they didn't couldn't
make a connection that this group
this is the same group of people but
even at the time
when the war was going on i i know that
back here at home
the reality of
think about when uh i'm sure this is
personal for you a little bit
but um when uh
the movie american sniper came out and
you had this huge
obscene push from certain quarters of
the media and other places
that were just just going hard at chris
because he called you know he used the
word savages and stuff like that
like he's calling iraq he's savages
that that makes sense if you have no
what you guys were dealing with over
there and most people don't they don't
realize like
that you know the iraqi insurgency isn't
it was not the same it was not just some
resistance group
that there was a level of of of
and violence and evil that had taken
root over there
um that was that it was really unique in
a lot of ways
except that you know it was what you see
from isis only they didn't cut the slick
yeah for everybody and to that point i
um chris kyle calling the enemy in iraq
was not just chris kyle that was me that
was everyone in task unit bruiser that
many of the people over there and you
know i've i've gone back and forth with
people on this and
and one of the things that i've said is
you know someone say uh isn't it
to label the enemy in this way
and i said we didn't need to dehumanize
enemy they dehumanize themselves that's
what they did
the the actions that they took uh were
were beyond comprehension
beyond and you know just before just
before i showed up in ramadi there was
a guy that had been helping the
coalition and he was working with
i think he was working closely with the
task unit that was there before us but
it might have been one of the one of the
adjacent units
but uh the insurgents found this out and
they they skinned the guy alive right
you're rolling in there and you're
thinking yourself
okay this is who we're dealing with
these aren't these aren't humans these
are not humans
you don't skin someone alive if you're a
freaking human being that's not what you
and so we knew out of the gate that's
that was like our in briefing
to ramadi here's who you're here's who
you're going to be dealing with
and knowing that you know i think maybe
you go into
a fight go into a war and you know
somewhere in your mind that
you know you're a soldier soldiers get
shot you catch an ak round you get blown
up by an ied
whatever i remember reading in
uh i think leif told the story in
extreme ownership one of the times where
him and another guy i think just a
marine they ended up getting separated
from the group for a while it's near the
is our eod guy yeah and yeah that's what
it was and uh you get separated things
this is a place where you know you can
kind of handle catching an ak round
where if you get wounded and they get
their hands on you alive
your suffering is going to be limited by
their creativity and that's it
yeah and that's those that these are the
kind of people that you're that you're
dealing with
and then the thing you have to remember
is that their creativity as
i'm sure we'll get into it's not their
on-the-spot creativity it's it's
creativity that's decades of experience
on how to torture human beings to death
um in 2008 i was uh there's this jihadi
message board it got shut down like
later that year but it was kind of the
most popular one at the time
and after the ambar awakening um there
was a
that's all they were talking about right
that the people of ambar were traitors
apostates for so so this is a this is a
a message board on the internet yes that
you would go on
and read what these savages were saying
they would talk to each other
um some of them were just supporters
from around the world um
others you know supposedly were over
there but these were all people who were
on that side
and they were talking about it in that
manner and um there was this one
about what had happened in ambar after
ramadi had fallen
uh you know from their perspective
fallen and
you know uh people are complaining about
the people of ambar all this and one guy
steps in and says don't worry
you know yes we've lost this but we've
got a long time horizon and there's
nothing to worry about
as long as our leader abu omar
is here with us to lead us abu omar
uh died in 2010 when we took out mostly
leadership of isi
he was replaced by abu bakr al baghdadi
the leader of isis that everybody knows
who went up the steps of that mosque in
most school and you know announced the
islamic state there's a direct line of
succession going back there
and you can take him from from abu omar
you go directly back to zarqawi you know
these are the same people
in 2004 you know this is stuff that i
didn't know
until maybe a handful of years ago that
in 2004
the stuff that they were finding in
fallujah right where they would go into
these torture rooms and find people
chained to the wall with their legs
chopped off that had happened while they
were still alive
um you know just people mutilated and
beaten to death that's not even worth
mentioning that's just
everywhere um you know people who are
who are found alive just incoherent from
and starvation who are booby trapped you
know to blow
up if anybody comes and tries to help
them and
none of that kind of stuff you know all
i heard coming out of
especially first fallujah watching most
of our news media
is that we went in too hard and you know
mattis and the rest of the marines
bit down on their you know mouthpieces a
little bit too too hard and went in
there and tore the city up and killed a
bunch of civilians that's
the narrative that got back to us yes
that's interesting
and you know i think that uh yeah it was
only in like maybe the last handful of
years that i
and so who's in charge of al-qaeda in
iraq at that time that's sarkawi these
are the people
right these are the insurgents and
they're doing all the things
that you know that that now today when
you know it's isis we say this is
something different we have no choice
but to act
and uh and you can trace that directly
back who were who were people who ran
um you know people who ran for isis who
ran the uh
ministry of finance the military
the security ministry the interior
ministry these are all former baptist
saddam regime guys okay the saddam
provided you know most of the nco type
guys most of the junior officer type
you know in their organization that's
who these people were
and like you said there's decades and
decades and decades of experience
in torture you know the the the
the iraqi uh insurgency is uh
it's it's it's very interesting and
different because you go back and read
go back and read general like voenjap
the vietnamese general and
you know they would talk a lot about
like we don't have
supply trains logistics trains we don't
have factories like the state does we
don't have any of that support structure
they have the ultimate weapon we need
the people right and we got to make sure
you read mao's stuff and he says look if
you got to go into somebody's house
roll up your bed roll when you're
finished and close the door behind you
gently when you leave and don't lie to
the people they got to know that we're
on their side
the iraqi insurgency was not looking at
things like that
you know these were first of all a lot
of them are foreigners
and second of all they're coming from a
place where if you don't do what they
say you're an apostate anyway
and they felt justif and a lot of them
were former regime guys saddam guys who
had been used to for decades
ruling that country through pure
brutality and terror
and it's not a matter of getting the
people to believe that they're on that
you're on their side and fighting their
war it's that
you better be afraid of us and the
americans can't protect you
and uh you know that's the mentality
they brought to these people
and whatever some of the iraqis may have
thought of the americans early on and
maybe they you know
there were some who said yeah somebody's
coming and fighting for iraq or whatever
it is these insurgent groups
they learn pretty quickly um they
learned pretty quickly what these people
were about but
by that point you know they were cowed
into submission for the most part
yeah well the the yes and
that's what's that's what's hard because
when you're in a struggle for power
the benevolent way is
obviously better but you have to have
the you have to have benevolent
and you have to have power like you have
to be able to back it up
and then you have to have the
willingness to back it up and then you
have to have the understanding that you
back it up in the right way
so it's really the uh fighting that war
with those rules is really really hard
the other side that just is going to
rule through fear
that's that's an easy that's how long
does it take to come up with the
the concept of operations for that 15
how long does it take to come up with
the concept of operations to do this in
a benevolent way
and then you get into the ground truth
of how does an american differentiate
between when they go into a house
between someone that's from syria
and someone that's from you know
wherever in iraq
the answer is they can't it's very very
difficult now
once we were working with iraqi troops
they could do it
but when we first got there the first
well the first three years
that's that's a it's a it's a shit show
and we just don't have the capability of
going into a building or going into a
neighborhood and figuring out oh this
guy's from syria
but this guy you know and i always talk
about how long does it take
how long does it take for you to tell
that someone is from
the the north or the south you know
someone says
if someone says hey how you all doing
today it's like oh okay you're from
cool got it if someone you know comes in
with a strong new england accent you you
know that
if you ask them what they had for
breakfast you know and they say grits
cool you know they're from the south if
they say bacon and eggs you know you
know what i mean like you can figure it
we couldn't do that and so now you're
your force just kind of blanket
applying your force but at the same time
you're trying not to do that
all the other side's doing is just just
applying force that's what they're doing
and their only mission is to make
everyone so
fearful they win that war they win that
because of those reasons look good i
believe wins
in the long run but when you go into
that situation
then you've got you know americans that
are trying to figure out who's who
and they're trying to assemble this
thing you know
they're trying to uh they're they're
trying to build
a doll house right they're trying to
build a doll house
trying to get these little pieces
together and it's delicate
and that's what you're trying to do
meanwhile the only
thing the other people have to do is
smash the dollhouse that's all they need
to do just smash it
it's just that much easier and to let
every single person
know that if they somewhat just pick up
a hammer or a chisel to help you build
it then their whole family is dead
murdered yeah this i mean it's it's a
it's a it's a group
whose goal was chaos
and death you know it was it because
like you said they don't have to do
anything other than make this place
impossible to live in you know under the
under the idea that
that will cow the population that will
eventually get frustrated
and and leave and um
you know i want to talk about the regime
a little bit too because you'll have a
lot of people say okay
okay so isis and al qaeda and iraq those
we can connect that threat that's fine
and yeah there were some there were a
lot of bathurst and iraqi officers in
these groups and everything fine
but we created the circumstances for
those things to arise because we went in
there and smashed the iraqi state
and created this chaotic situation um
and look as we'll get into in future
episodes i think that
um especially at the civilian command
level there were aspects of the planning
that were criminally stupid and
criminally negligent
in a lot of ways it was not handled well
in those early days
right um but as far as the idea
of going in there like we you remember
uh we'll get into that i want to yeah
i want to interject this yeah it's
really hard
to predict what is going to happen
and doing something stupid making a bad
is something that can happen in war war
is so dynamic
so if if someone makes a bad decision so
the statement that you just made uh
there are some criminal negligence in
the planning
okay here's why i will
push back against that i figured we'd
get into this a little bit well here's
why i'll push back against it
you make and then i'll and then i'll
come to your side a little bit
you make a mistake okay look
what you do when you make a mistake and
you see things are going bad you say hey
i picked the wrong strategy this isn't
working this is what i'm doing correct
as far as i'm concerned when you do that
and you take ownership of your decision
and you recognize that it's not working
i i i
you got redemption from me and you're
gonna adjust
that's okay the problem that i ran into
or the problem that i have where the
where where the negligence comes in
is oh i made this decision it's not
going well
uh i'm gonna keep going with the same
decision i'm gonna keep pushing in the
same direction i'm gonna keep trying the
same strategies and tactics over and
over again even though it's not
getting better and in fact i'm gonna go
in that direction so you know i'm sure
we'll get into what those decisions were
but my biggest problem with the way
things unfolded
wasn't that we as a nation
our leaders we as a military not that we
made a bad plan it's that as the plan
was executed things didn't go
the way we thought in some cases
and that's gonna happen and we go oh yep
okay cool look didn't
we didn't expect this okay let's adjust
we didn't say that
we didn't say that it took us too long
to figure that out
and there's a bunch of reasons behind
that i mean i mean one of the reasons
i'll throw out right now is
the way the military currently you know
world war ii when you went to war
guess when you were coming home when the
war was over yeah
you know for the marine corps and like
special operations
marine corps six-month deployments
special operations
you know four to six month deployments
again there's variations in that
army year you know sometimes they get
stretched out
the army the army could do some
deployments you know they'll go they'll
12 months 14 months 16 months and then
at the end of that you're going home
and all of the continuity and all that
look you you and i can spend you know
two weeks
doing a turnover but at the end of a
14-month deployment there's no possible
way i can give you the information that
i have in my head
so you get fresh blood coming in they
get turned over the strategy they look
at the strategy they say
you know okay we'll try we'll try to
we'll do better
and they keep trying it so that's where
i have a problem with leadership
in any in any situation and there were
military people who tried to push back
though and they were getting blocked a
lot at the political level and that's
what drives me crazy
yep absolutely true absolutely true
there was
there was absolutely people that kind of
fell on their sword as well
to to say hey we're doing this wrong you
know this is
this is class attack worth right this is
about face uh
as the full bird colonel the youngest
colonel in the army at the time
saying hey or not at the time but he was
the youngest colonel that had been
selected to colonel
and and now had been a colonel for
several years but for him to say
hey if we don't change the way we're
doing this we're gonna lose
and he got drummed out of the army that
was it game over you know he was out of
the army after
and he was the most the most decorated
one one of the most decorated
soldiers officers military men
in the army and he
and and that's something else we can
talk about because
when is it the right time to do that
when is it the right time to
to to say you know what i'm not gonna do
this anymore i'm gonna go to the press
and talk about this
because then you lose all your influence
right because he was going to be a
division commander next once your
division commander all of a sudden
you're controlling
you know 15 10 15 000 troops and you're
controlling all giant area and you can
make some real
adjustments to the way you're
fighting the war well guess what
he didn't do that and he fell on his
at the end and lost all of his influence
and by the way that ward he fell on the
sword it didn't help
the war kept going kept going and now
you know of course we look back and we
see that
we see that people like mcnamara and
they they they
did not see a
they did not see a victory out there on
the horizon
and they barely even saw a a an
honorable departure
like we knew and we kept going
and so yeah there's there's definitely
i'm sure we'll get into that
um as we as we discuss this subject
let's talk a little bit more uh while
we're still in this episode so we will
get into all that um
i want to talk a little bit more about
the regime itself um
people have an idea that iraq that under
saddam hussein was a tough place to live
um i i don't think people quite you know
they think he's a dictator
yeah he executed his political opponents
assad's a dictator too
you know he's even a baathist dictator
very similar i don't think they're that
i think that assad is a dangerous brutal
guy i think saddam
was one of the unique characters in the
20th century i think he was a psychotic
paranoid on the level of somebody like
stalin and that if he would have had
those kind of resources he would have
the same things that stalin had done and
one of the one of the best windows into
is looking at the way that he let his
sons run around that country
um cartoonish cartoonish
uh stereotypes of what like the gangster
boss's son
psycho son is like right you can't make
it up from a b movie
you know that kind of thing and um
when you hear about somebody like uday
hussein making a sport
out of going to going to weddings of
regular people
and deciding that he likes the way the
wife looks
and having his men escort her to the
back so that he can do what he's going
to do
and the husband shoots himself at the
wedding because of the dishonor
or lets it happen because
everybody knows that if you resist your
whole family's dead
and you can't go tell the government
he's the he's saddam's son everybody
knows what he's doing
everybody knows that this is a an
kind of known part of that society
where there's nobody to appeal to um
it gives you some some bit of a window
into what that regime was
really like um yeah and
uday was so bad
that he he basically worked himself out
of a job
because he was the older son and he was
so absolutely reprehensible
in his activities you know and that's an
activity like
you you kind of threw it out there like
you know this this happened this one
time no
that that was like what he did yes go to
a wedding take the bride
take her away rape her
and then you know walk away and that
kind of stuff really wasn't what cost
him his job either or his position like
what cost him his position was doing
that kind of thing to important people
you know he got married to some of
saddam's closest advisors daughters and
then he beat the hell out of him things
like that that's really what
you know what what got him in trouble
all the other stuff
you know that stuff was par for the
course i mean the state department
uh just known documented methods of
brutality under that regime crucifixion
hammering nails into people's fingers
and hands
amputating this is gruesome stuff but
genitals and breasts with electric
carving knives this is stuff that's
you know um you've
we've all heard of the rape rooms that's
not made up by george bush
you know taking people's daughters wives
raping them in front of the parents and
family members
you know to get them to talk to get them
to confess
so that they when they would be executed
yeah you know we um
my first deployment to iraq when we
rolled in you know we were
right in baghdad international airport
that's where we were staying
and formerly known as saddam
international airport
but there was uh a couple of his
palaces and you when you'd walk through
them you could go to you could go to
rooms where the stuff took place you
know where they had the hooks
hanging from the ceilings the drainage
holes in the bottom
uh you know implements of torture
and you know you you get that you walk
into one of those rooms
and of course i mean we're all um
whatever we all got a dark side and
and so you know somebody say hey did you
see the room over it whatever whatever
castle it was and
no i haven't said let's go look at it
okay cool so you know you go over there
you walk in there and you're
you're you know you're you're
four you know obnoxious gregarious
seal buddies and you you walk into that
and it's just quiet and guys who are
pretty comfortable with violence by guys
that are completely comfortable with
violence and death and the whole nine
yards and you walk in there and you're
all right this is one of the ones i like
sickening use on some of my liberal
um is uh
what he did at the end of the gulf war
um like a lot of people don't know today
by and by about three to five times the
largest oil spill
in history was not an accident
as he was retreating out of kuwait he
just opened up all the oil pipelines and
let it spill out into the persian gulf
you know partly because he wanted to
block an amphibious landing but really
just to be an asshole
um something like that though to do
something that catastrophically bad out
of spite
it it it shines a little more light on
you know you can you can kind of apply
you know weapons of mass destruction
these guys aren't suicidal right
i'm sorry is it if a guy is creating by
a factor of three to five
the largest oil spill in human history
just out of spite because he's getting
run out of kuwait
lighting all the oil wells on fire so it
was just an environmental disaster with
the skies blackened for
god knows how long you don't know what
that guy's gonna do you know you don't
what that guy's gonna do
that tends to make dent a little bit
sometimes because that's an
unpredictable character
you know i mean not to mention just what
he would do when people
you know we can think talk about the
individual actions the brutality the
um you know when he was worried about
the kurds when he was fighting the
iranians in the late
in the late 80s you know he used
chemical weapons to kill thousands and
thousands of people on population
he's just dumping chemical weapons
dumping like
cocktails too yep from what i remember
it was like
vx gas sarin like all combined together
yeah hey i'm not really sure what i'm
doing but i know this is going to kill a
bunch of people
so yeah that you know and i'm sure this
could just ignite
the the the
the masses the hordes to talk about the
wmd thing
uh because rolling into this thing
you know i can't believe we fell for
that like this guy was saying it
this guy headset it his own jet like we
intel sources reliable sources that were
like oh yeah he's got him
his own sources his own generals that's
what i'm saying reliable sources that
that said yes he has him because he
wanted his neighbors to think
he wanted everyone to think he had him
and guess what he did a great job of
convincing everybody including us
and sure hindsight's 20 20.
um the bush administration made a big
mistake by
putting all of their money on that yeah
you shouldn't have done that
because there were when you get into
what was going on in that
regime there were plenty of reasons to
go take that dude out
and um and it was just it was a
marketing mistake you know they
shouldn't have done it they shouldn't
have just put all of their chips on that
one thing you know um and it's
unfortunate that they did and i think if
they hadn't done that then the
war itself might have unfolded a little
it would have given them liberty to try
to win the war in 0-4 and o5 rather than
sitting back and trying to avoid
casualties for a while um
because they were worried about losing
support once it started to become clear
maybe we're not going to find these
things you know i think they didn't know
what to do exactly
so um there is
uh there is this this account that i
wanted to read to you actually
um by a saddam nuclear
engineer who was married to a woman from
canada it's the only reason he made it
out alive
but he was taken prisoner and uh
you mind if i just i want to read his
account to you because it's pretty
what what this place was about
his name is dr sharasthani
in 1979 there was a backlash by the
regime in iraq because of activists in
the shia community
by the summer the regime had started
large-scale executions and mass arrests
this is right when saddam took over in
1979 so they don't exactly know what
this guy's about yet right
i voiced my concern about human rights
at atomic energy meetings
i knew i was very crucial to their
atomic energy program i thought they
would not arrest me for voicing my
i wanted saddam to know what i said i
was wrong
a little earlier the regime had arrested
and executed one of my cousins
allahistani he was on his honeymoon and
had only been married for 14 days
he was not associated with any party he
was arrested in the street and taken
away from his wife and sister
and his wife and sister were brought to
the torture chamber to see him
they had given him a hideous torture
they had filled him with gas through his
rectum and then beaten him
they threatened his young wife in front
of him and then they banged his head
into the wall
so hard that the wall was shaking and
then they killed him
by this time saddam was president and he
came to see us
and he told us that he was going to
redirect us at the atomic energy
that we were going to work on what he
called strategic projects
until july 1979 we had been involved in
purely peaceful applications of atomic
energy i
and my colleague dr ziad jafar were
saddam's two advisors
we were reputable internationally
trained scientists we were also close
i discussed this with him i said if
saddam wants military applications
there's no way i can continue with this
at that time we didn't take it seriously
because we knew iraq had limitations
i assumed i would just be thrown out of
the organization
they came to the atomic energy
organization when i was talking to the
board of directors on december 4th 1979
they said could we have a word with dr
hussein hussain sharasthani's
name as i stepped outside they put
handcuffs on me
shoved me into a car and took me to the
security headquarters in baghdad
at security headquarters they took me
into the director of security dr fidel
who was later executed by saddam he said
that some people who had been arrested
and brought to the headquarters had
given my name
i denied any involvement in political
parties i said i was a practicing muslim
but that i had never taken part in
subversive activities
then they brought me to a man i knew
jawad zubaidi
a building contractor he had been so
badly tortured i hardly recognized him
joad said i know dr hussein he comes to
the mosque and takes part in our
religious activities
for them religious activities meant
anti-government activities
they said to me better tell us all
you'll regret it
then they took me to the torture chamber
in the basement they blindfolded me and
pushed me down the stairs into the
it was a big room my hands were tied
behind my back and i was pulled up into
the air by my hands
after five minutes the pain was so
severe in the shoulders that it was
then they gave me shocks on sensitive
parts of my body
by the end of the beating you were naked
there were shocks on my genitals in
other parts of my body
after 15 minutes they came to me and
said sign
i was in a very cold sweat they know
you'll faint
they brought me down and gave me a short
rest i fell asleep for a few minutes
but this went on day and night day and
it went on for 22 days and nights
four of them did it in shifts barack
who had a phd in military psychology
from moscow was standing there
at one point he said look dr hussein
i'll tell you what your problem is you
think you're smart enough and we're
you may be smart in your own field but
we know what we are doing
just tell us what you know and get this
i knew saddam he knew me but this could
happen to me
i remember once saddam said to me you
are a scientist i am a politician
i will tell you what politics is about i
make a decision
i tell someone else the opposite then i
do something which surprises even myself
the torture techniques in baghdad were
routine and varied in severity
the electric shocks could be everywhere
but sometimes they would burn people on
the genitals
and go on burning until they were
completely burned off
they did the same with toes they
sometimes beat people with iron on the
stomach or chest
but with me they were very careful not
to leave any sign on me
i saw one man and they had used a hot
iron on his stomach
they used drills and made holes in bones
arms and legs
i saw an officer nakib hamid
and they dissolved his feet in acid
there was another torture where they
would put sulfuric acid in a tub
they would take a man and start by
dissolving his hands
once the founder of the dawah party 41
abdul saheb was totally dissolved
barack said to me have you heard about
this is where we dissolved him
in the final stages of torture they have
a table with an electrical saw
they can saw off a hand or a foot the
majority talk
the people who have refused to talk are
exceptional adnan salman
ahead of the dawah refused to talk he
was brought in i saw him
and by that time they had a lot of
confessions by other men who had been
adnan solomon was a teacher i had not
knew he was prepared
he told them my name is adnan salman i
am in charge of the dawah
party and none of these people are
responsible for our activities
these will be my last words to you you
will never extract a single word from me
they brought three doctors and told him
and told them that if adnan died under
torture they would be executed
he didn't unders utter a single word
sometimes you would hear the doctors
so scared because they could not bring
him back from unconsciousness
i was in another torture room and could
hear everything i was in abu ghraib
prison when i heard adnan had been
he had not died under torture one
prisoner told me
he was 17 and was the youngest prisoner
and so they made him sweep the corridors
of the internal security headquarters
every morning at seven o'clock
he saw a peasant woman from the south
with tattoos he said
a woman from the marshes with a girl of
ten and a boy of about six
she was carrying a baby in her arms the
prisoner told me that
as he was sweeping an officer came and
told the woman tell me where your
husband is
very bad things can happen she said look
my husband takes great pride in the
honor of his woman if he knew i was here
he would have turned himself in
the officer took out his pistol and held
the daughter up by the braids of her
hair and put a bullet into her head
the woman didn't know what was happening
then he put a bullet into the boy's head
the woman was going crazy he took the
youngest boy by the legs
and smashed the baby's brain on a wall
you can imagine the woman
the officer told the young prisoner to
bring the rubbish trolley
and to put the three children in it on
top of the garbage
and ordered the woman to sit on their
bodies he took the trolley out and left
the officer had gotten to the habit of
getting rid of people who were worthless
now i know that
i know that there are questions about
the iraq war
about how we went about it about whether
it was a good decision
about how things went in the end when we
but killing certain people getting rid
of certain people is a good in itself
and there were things going on in that
country and people doing them
that that the world is a better place
for not having them around and this was
a systematic this was a regime
of isis this was if people say what if
isis won
what if they actually had their state we
know what happened this is what happened
and i think people really need to ask
people can have honest debates about
whether it's the role of america in the
or whether it's strategically viable or
you know
good for us to go intervene in things
like this
but you're talking about a level of evil
here that had taken possession of a
that is really extraordinary you know
it's not just a dictatorship
it's not just an authoritarian
government this is a level
of evil that had taken
those people in that country by the hair
and uh
you know however the thing played out
and whatever reasons were given in the
press for why we went over there
we tried to get those people out of that
well yeah
we tried i think um
probably a good place to wrap it up yeah
we can move on from all the all the
ugliness into
some of the actual history here possibly
uh yeah let's wrap this one if
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