Report on Iraq War Anniversary By NBC's Richard Engel Drips With Contempt

In a report on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War for Tuesday's NBC Today, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel was unable to conceal his contempt for the conflict: "Iraq's oil money was supposed to pay for the war. It didn't work out that way. From now on, the war set its own agenda, an insurgency erupted that became a religious civil war....Iraqis accuse the United States of invading to find weapons of mass destruction that were never there, and destroying a delicate religious balance." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Engel continued: "The [Bush] White House stopped claiming all was well in Iraq, and thousands more troops surged. The violence dropped, and Americans left. Nine years, almost 4,500 troops killed, 32,000 wounded, 130,000 Iraqi civilians killed. The cost, according to a new study, nearly $2 trillion."

Engel eventually mentioned the end of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime: "So what was accomplished? Saddam Hussein was removed and Democratic elections were held." However, he still cast that accomplishment in a negative light: "They got freedom, but they still don't have security. The car bombings are back, the Sunni/Shiite rivalry has returned."

The reporter then incredulously added: "Still, many officials from the Bush administration say invading Iraq was, even in hindsight, worth it."

Wrapping up the segment, Engel observed: "Ten years later, Iraq has yet to recover from the war, neither have many American veterans and their families."

On Tuesday's CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O'Donnell used the anniversary to tout new polling on the war: "And this morning we have a just-released CBS News poll. It finds 54 percent of Americans say going to war with Iraq was not the right thing to do; 38 percent support the invasion. Nearly seven in ten backed the war when it started."

Similarly on ABC's Good Morning America, news reader Paula Faris declared: "And a new poll, one decade later, finds 53 percent of Americans now believe that the war in Iraq was a mistake."

All three network morning shows linked bombings in Baghdad to the Iraq War anniversary. Today news reader Natalie Morales reported: "Deadly violence this morning in and around Baghdad marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq."

On CBS This Morning, O'Donnell identically noted: "A new wave of deadly violence in Baghdad today comes on the eve of the ten-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq."

On Good Morning America, Faris proclaimed: "And we do begin with breaking and grim news on this tenth anniversary of the Iraq war. There is chaos and carnage across Baghdad....It is a stark reminder that local and regional conflicts still threaten to tear the country apart."


Here is a full transcript of Engel's March 19 Today report:

7:17AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Today also marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Iraq, a bombardment dubbed "shock and awe." NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel covered it from the start, he's in Jerusalem this morning. Richard, good morning to you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: "Shock & Awe"; 10th Anniversary of the War in Iraq]                   

RICHARD ENGEL: Good morning, Savannah. We are in Jerusalem, where President Obama tomorrow will begin a visit to boost relations with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan.

For the United States, the war in Iraq began ten years ago, but for Iraqis, it never really ended. It began on a clear night, with military precision, as guided bombs brought shock and awe to Baghdad. U.S. troops charged up through the desert, and soon Baghdad was falling.

Iraq's oil money was supposed to pay for the war. It didn't work out that way. From now on, the war set its own agenda, an insurgency erupted that became a religious civil war. Sunnis versus Shiites, Americans now stuck battling to keep the two sides from killing each other, and U.S. Forces. Iraqis accuse the United States of invading to find weapons of mass destruction that were never there, and destroying a delicate religious balance.

The White House stopped claiming all was well in Iraq, and thousands more troops surged. The violence dropped, and Americans left, nine years, almost 4,500 troops killed, 32,000 wounded, 130,000 Iraqi civilians killed. The cost, according to a new study, nearly $2 trillion.

DR. NETA CRAWFORD [POLITICAL SCIENTIST, BOSTON UNIVERSITY]: What adds up over time are the veterans care costs with the way the economic costs sort of pile up and ripple through the decades.

ENGEL: So what was accomplished? Saddam Hussein was removed and Democratic elections were held. They got freedom, but they still don't have security. The car bombings are back, the Sunni/Shiite rivalry has returned. Still, many officials from the Bush administration say invading Iraq was, even in hindsight, worth it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There are always things that, in a big, complex operation like a war, that one looks back on and thinks should have been done better, should have been done differently. But I think that the fundamental decision that the President made to remove Saddam was sound.

ENGEL: Ten years later, Iraq has yet to recover from the war, neither have many American veterans and their families. A war that consumed and changed our nation's foreign policy, but that few Americans talk about anymore. According to a study, Americans will continue to spend billions of dollars a year to care for Iraq veterans. Savannah.

GUTHRIE: Richard Engel, thank you very much.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC