The Long War Journal meets President Bush


Camp Liberty, Baghdad Province: This afternoon, The Long War Journal had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with President George Bush and a group of select military bloggers, which including Matthew Burden from Blackfive, Mrs. Greyhawk from the Mudville Gazette, Ward Carroll from DefenseTech, and Mohammed from Iraq the Model. Bill Ardolino flew in from Fallujah and joined me at the 3rd Infantry Division headquarters at Camp Victory to conduct a video teleconference with the White House.

The discussion centered around the war. After President Bush stated his vision on the scope of the war and the importance of blogs in providing an additional view of the conflict not often seen in the established media, the attendees were able to conduct a question and answer session with the President.

I posed the following question to President Bush: We are fighting hot wars on two major fronts: Iraq and Afghanistan. In both conflicts, there are safe havens fueling the insurgencies in these nations. The Taliban and al Qaeda have regrouped and built redoubts in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province and are attacking the Pakistani government and military, striking from their safe havens into Afghanistan. Syrian ratlines run into Iraq and feed al Qaeda and the insurgency. Iran actively arms and trains Shia terrorists, and is building Iraqi Hezbollah. Iran is also arming the Taliban in Iraq. With the current blurring of the lines between domestic politics and foreign policy, and the unwillingness of the American people to fight the current war, how do you get the American public to support the current and future conflicts?

President Bush recognized the serious problems that exist in Iraq and Afghanistan due to the outside influences of the governments of Iran and Syria, and the inherent dangers of the existing al Qaeda and Taliban safe havens in Pakistan. He stated the answer to dealing with the problems lies in diplomatic pressure on the Iranian and Syrian regimes and continued engagement with Pakistani President Musharraf.

On Iran, President Bush acknowledged the theocratic regime is fomenting the Shia insurgency inside Iraq. "There is no question explosively formed projectiles are funneled from Iran to Iraq. We're going to follow the advice of Ambassador Crocker," who stated "you're now on notice."

The diplomatic approach has not halted the EFP attacks, President Bush admitted, but he believes this has given the Iranian government pause. "We will continue to pressure these regimes," he stated. "Has it stopped the EFPs? No. Has it got their attention? Yes." President Bush also stated US forces are aggressively pursuing Iranian-backed Shia terrorists (the Special Groups and "rogue" Mahdi Army) inside Iraq.

President Bush said US, NATO, and Afghan security forces preempted the Taliban's much touted spring offensive in Afghanistan with aggressive combat operations. There was a "spring offensive of US and Coalition troops" that blunted the Taliban plans to establish safe havens throughout the country.

President Bush recognized the gathering strength of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan, but continued to pin hopes on President Pervez Musharraf. "Musharraf, in my judgment, is the best ally we have in Pakistan," while noting al Qaeda's command elements have been revitalized in the trouble nation. "Have they reconstituted in Pakistan? Yeah."

He stated Pakistan has been a steadfast ally in the fight against al Qaeda, and has worked hard to disrupt the terror group. "If you are number three in al Qaeda, you've had a rough go," President Bush said, referring to the numerous operations chiefs al Qaeda lost in Pakistan, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu al Libi. "We've been effective against al Qaeda's leaders."

The key to keeping the US public lies in national will. President Bush noted later in the interview that Americans continue to volunteer for the military, knowing the hardship the long deployments have on soldiers and their families. To continue the struggle, "We must stay engaged and not be fearful.   The US must be resolved" to continue the fight against the "extremists" threatening the United States.

Read President Bush's response to Bill Ardolino's question about the Iraqi government's support of the provinces, specifically Anbar.


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READER COMMENTS: "The Long War Journal meets President Bush"

Posted by The Chief at September 14, 2007 3:56 PM ET:

Did you ask about a "nucular" option? Dude, you ARE a rockstar. Great work!!

Posted by Jane at September 14, 2007 4:28 PM ET:

Oh I'm so jealous!!!! Good on ya Bill. Great Job!

Posted by Angel at September 14, 2007 6:56 PM ET:

You are a BLOG STAR in addition to a ROCK STAR.

Posted by the crog at September 14, 2007 8:12 PM ET:

I just have to say:

I'm so proud of you.
You are a Blog Star, a Rock Star and I can't
wait to see you.

Posted by Fight4TheRight at September 14, 2007 8:56 PM ET:

Bill,

Congratulations on meeting with President Bush! What an honor for you and what a testament to your devotion and hard work for the fighting men and women of this great Country.

Not to mention the hope you have given so many of us, your readers.

Posted by Mark Eichenlaub at September 14, 2007 9:09 PM ET:

Bill,
Congratulations. The hard work and dedication has paid off. I am really happy for you being able to meet the president.

You guys are really to be commended for such an honor.

Posted by Karen at September 14, 2007 9:15 PM ET:

Great post. Congrats on the meeting. You deserve it all.

Here via Blackfive.

Posted by RTLM at September 15, 2007 1:25 AM ET:

Keep safe in Iraq Bill. Sounds like we're approaching the next phase with Iran. But I've been saying that for 2 years.

Posted by thanos at September 15, 2007 8:36 AM ET:

Thanks for asking the key question Bill; I cannot say I was fully satisfied with the answer, but answering it fully would have shown our hand to the enemy just as the stakes are raised.

Posted by THE NAILGUN at September 15, 2007 11:04 AM ET:

Wonderful stuff Bill and a richly deserved honour. Lets hope this is just the beginning of a series of regular "debriefings" by the POTUS and his top people to Milbloggers. It just makes so much sense for them to do that.
The analysis will be far and away better than the MSM and the MSM are now going to have to come to the Milbloggers not the other way around for story sourcing and that should get the word out about the Milblogs more too.
The strategies to win the GWOT is going to be communciated a helluva lot better if the first filter is the milbloggers not the MSM.
Maybe the Whitehouse could line up say POTUS, Sec of Def, Sec of State, CIA director, VP on a regular basis.
Well done Bill and I just see positives all round

Posted by Freedom Now at September 16, 2007 7:39 PM ET:

Damn!!!!!!!!!!! You keep realizing the possibilities of blogging. What a fantastic acknowledgement of your work.

Thanks for the extra effort that you always contribute to the blogging community.

Cheers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Turner at September 16, 2007 11:41 PM ET:

I'm glad to hear about the President reaching out to you. Despite the limited nature of the bloggers audience, many of us are outspoken "opinion leaders" to use a little marketing-speak, and many ideas get off the ground that way.

One of the weaknesses of the support for American success in the GWOT is that it is promoted mainly on talk radio, which is dominated, by four or five personalities that suck up all the air-time. Other than a few short sound bites from the audience, it's pretty much four or five personalities hogging the opinion space.

You bloggers take more of a journalistic approach trying to soak in information and give it to us rather opining/lecturing us like talk radio. You don't try to coast on your own personality. You go out and seek, with little resources, and we're grateful that you're there. While I'm sure the President thought a moment or two about the effectiveness of meeting with such a limited circle, I think it was a wise and effective choice on his part, and it draws the spotlight over to your news style a bit. During WWII Ernie Pyle wrote for a newspaper, now his made his way over to the free speech of the internet ... in the work that you do.

Keep up the good work. For those of us who still believe in America's role as an unselfish purveyor of freedom your reporting is one of the best ways to track our progress, while the other outlets are busy selling ads with false drama.

Posted by RTLM at September 18, 2007 3:38 AM ET:

Great work.

Posted by Mr. Strong at September 21, 2007 9:47 PM ET:

Bill-
Wow Congrats on the interview with our Commander in Chief! My how far, wise and attentive you have become from that Mobile Assault Patrol you went on with me in the zero-dark-thirty hours into Huysaybah, in Al Anbar. Keep up the good fight.

Semper Fi
Jackal-4 Bravo

Posted by JG at September 26, 2007 7:11 PM ET:

I have been very impressed by your reports and incredibly grateful that there are now a handful of on site independent journalist who are dispensing accurate information on what is going on in Iraq. I am sure that it is equally gratifying to the Commander in Chief to have informed coverage coming out of Iraq. Thank-you so much for your efforts. Please stay safe!