Another Times reporter has gone onto PBS's Charlie Rose show and suggested that putting more U.S. troops in Iraq may have a "good effect."
Furthermore, Sabrina Tavernise says an immediate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be an "unmitigated disaster." Below, an excerpt from Tavernise's lead-off interview with Charlie Rose (video available) Wednesday night.
Tavernise: "It's surprising, I know, because it seems like such -- you know, such an unmitigated sadness and tragedy for a lot of people -- you know, for the nation, for the people there, but, you know, it's really – it's really true that if you held an election tomorrow and you asked every single Iraqi, are you -- would you do it again? Would you have the U.S. do it again? You'd have close to 80 percent of the population, which is the Shiites and the Kurds, saying yes, they should.
"You know, there were mistakes and they'll make a lot of caveats, but I had a -- I went to cover the constitutional referendum, it was when Iraqis voted to accept the constitution that had been written by the politicians in Iraq, in Baghdad. And there were a bunch of Shiite sort of very poor fellows who had been brought out as election workers. They were running the polling stations, and they were in a very hostile Sunni area -- they were in Anbar.
"And I remember asking one fellow who was -- I don't know what his job was, I don't remember -- he was a janitor, something like that. I said, why did you come all the way out here? You know, you're leaving your family for a week. I think they were being paid 20 bucks or something -- it was very small -- to help run this -- this -- this election. What – what's in it for you? And he said, yes, it's dangerous, but now it's a useful danger, as opposed to under Saddam, when it was dangerous basically for no -- no hope for anything better. And I think for Shiites, that`s really true, that, yes, it's dangerous; yes, you can get blown up at a market; yes, there's all this violence, but at the end of the day, we're in power now and it's our show."
Charlie Rose: "Is there a sense that the surge will work or not work? Or that whatever happens will simply be temporary?"
Tavernise: "When you say work -- I think that the surge could definitely have an effect, a good effect, in the neighborhoods for bringing violence down. I think it could. I mean, I studied a number of different neighborhoods where the mere presence of American troops actually did bring down the murder rate. In one particular example, by about a third, which is significant, you know, significant. It's a lot of bodies that aren't turning up in sewers every morning. So that's not small.
"At the same time, I don't think that more American troops on the ground in Iraq is going to stop, you know, what is essentially kind of an historical process that has begun. I don't think that, you know, people are all of a sudden going to embrace each other and say, now we're brothers. It's just, you know, it's gone so far. And people, over the course of two years, essentially, having from saying, we are all brothers, how dare you even bring up the sect of my child and my wife, to we don't trust those people, they're Sunni. The Sunnis are responsible for all of these bombings. I mean, it's changed so much.
"That, I don't think, is something you can, you know, really have much effect on with setting up a roadblock or doing a sweep or -- you know, that –- that's going to be –- that's going to have to burn itself out. It really will.
"I think that American soldiers have a very important function in Iraq right now. I think that -- that if everyone left immediately, it would be an unmitigated disaster. Now, you know, there is some semblance of normal life that goes on."
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