Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle[s]

National Security Advisor handled gaggle duties yesterday and today at the NATO Summit.

We’re Not Leaving And The President Has No Plans

Q Will the President talk to Maliki about U.S. troop withdrawal in any way?

MR. HADLEY: I don’t — U.S. troop withdrawal? I don’t think so. I think what he will be talking about —

Q Will he talk about troop —

MR. HADLEY: — what he will be talking about is what we need — of the security challenges we face, what we need to do to meet those challenges. Again, Maliki’s focus has been on his forces and getting more control over his forces. We, obviously, have an important role to play in that. You have heard General Abizaid in his testimony talking about embedding and greater training effort and partnering with Iraqi forces. Abizaid talked about how that might even result in a temporary increase in forces.

But we’re not at the point where the President is going to be in a position to lay out a comprehensive plan at this point. The President is going to be listening to Maliki, giving Prime Minister Maliki some assurance that we’re going to develop this way ahead — that he and the Prime Minister are going to obviously develop this way ahead together.

The Pouty President

Q I have a question — it’s kind of a general question. You know, the election is over, the Republicans didn’t do well. Now he’s going — he’s got really high violence in Iraq, and then there are problems in Lebanon and Iran and Syria and North Korea and the Gaza Strip. What kind of mood is the President in right now about all these different problems around the world?

MR. HADLEY: You know him — he’s a very resilient guy. And, look, it’s a new Middle East that is emerging. And I think he sees it as a real opportunity, but also challenges. And it is both of those. And the task he’s given for himself and for the rest of us is how to take advantage of these opportunities to advance the war on terror, advance the freedom agenda, and, over time, bring real stability to that part of the region.

Yeah, here’s your “resilient guy” president crying like a baby in Riga, Hadley.

Obsession Continues…

It’s a Wivil Car!

Q Do you maintain it’s still not a civil war in Iraq?

MR. HADLEY: Well, it’s interesting, the Iraqis don’t talk of it as a civil war; the unity government doesn’t talk of it as a civil war. And I think the things they point to when they say that are, one, that at this point in time the army and the police have not fractured along sectarian lines, which is what you’ve seen elsewhere; and the government continues to be holding together and has not fractured on sectarian terms.

But, look, the point is, it is what it is. There is a high level of sectarian violence. It is a challenge for the Iraqis. It’s a challenge for us. We need to be talking about a way forward and a strategy for dealing with it. And that’s really what the President has been focusing on and where we need to focus — how to deal with this particular challenge going forward.


Q Can I just follow on — isn’t the President’s fear that were he to acknowledge that it is a civil war that there would be a further bottoming-out of public support? There certainly have been Republicans and others who have said the public would not stand by for U.S. forces to be in the middle of a civil war. So isn’t there a political dimension to this that nobody wants to admit, including the Iraqis, that it is a civil war?

MR. HADLEY: I don’t think Americans have any — I think they — through the media and other things, there is a high degree of awareness, obviously that there is a lot of sectarian violence. You know, you show it on your TVs and it’s in the newspapers. This is something that they’re well aware of and they’re obviously very concerned about it and want to know what our strategy is going forward, in light of this phenomenon — which has really served us, since February and the bombing of the Shia mosque.

So it is a new element on the security scene; it is a real challenge to the government; it is something that the government needs to address. The unity government is clear and aware of that. And it’s a big challenge, and people understand that. So I think people are aware, they’re concerned, they want us to work out a strategy with the Iraqi government that offers the prospect of dealing with this problem. And that’s what we’re going to try to do.

Q Can you explain how something that started in February is a new phase?

MR. HADLEY: I said it is a new phase that started in February, and obviously we have seen more of it in recent days.

Then there’s this bit from today’s gaggle.

Longer Stephen Hadley: I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

MR. SNOW: Okay. On that note, we will conclude this peripatetic press briefing, but there is one erratum, which is that Steve had —

MR. HADLEY: Peripatetic —

MR. SNOW: Yes, peripatetic, go back and look it up. The great philosophers would walk and talk, that’s how you got peripatetic.

3 thoughts on “Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle[s]

  1. …”the Iraqis don’t talk of it as a civil war”…
    …just guessing here, but I suspect that people who spend their days trying to keep from being bombed, rocketed, mortared, kidnapped, raped, strangled, shot, burned, mutilated, or beheaded probably don’t spend much time dwelling on what to call the circumstances they are in…

  2. >But we’re not at the point where the President is going to be >in a position to lay out a comprehensive plan at this point.
    And, pray tell, when **WILL* he be ready to lay out a plan?
    Tangentially, I think it was Will Rogers talking about the Korean war who said along the lines of, We say there’s no war, they say there’s no war, but the soldiers here say its the best imitation they’ve ever seen.

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