July 14th, 2007
11:46 AM ET
11 years ago

Bush war strategy criticized by war veteran

(CNN) - An Iraqi and Afghan war veteran on Saturday took some potshots at the Bush administration's actions and strategies in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, saying the government "continually mismanages and degrades the military I have come to love."

"We need an effective offensive strategy that takes the fight to our real enemies abroad," said Brandon Friedman, speaking in the Democratic weekly radio address.

Politicians normally speak in the weekly address, but today, the Democrats chose a war veteran. Friedman served as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. He led a platoon in Afghanistan in 2002, commanded troops in Iraq, and was awarded two bronze stars.

Friedman argued for a swift political solution in Iraq, the removal of troops from the middle of Iraq's civil warfare, and more focus on the global war on terror in places like Afghanistan.

"President Bush is keeping our already-overextended troops in the middle of a civil war, instead of deferring to military leaders who agree that we need to transition the mission to focus on a political solution, not a military one."

He argued, like many war critics have that "the Iraq war has kept us from devoting assets we need to fight terrorists worldwide, as evidenced by the fact that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose and al Qaeda has been able to rebuild."

He commended Democrats "standing up to President Bush on Iraq", and urged Republicans with similar sentiments to "vote with the majority" on issues concerning Iraq.

Friedman said the Iraqi government "has met none of the critical political or economic benchmarks they set for themselves.

"It's past time for the transition to diplomatic efforts in Iraq that Democrats have long demanded."

In his Saturday radio address, President Bush reiterated the points he made earlier this week about the interim report on progress in the Iraq war.

The report, which included 18 benchmarks created by Congress, showed that only eight benchmarks have been satisfactorily reached by the Iraqi government, a number that Bush said "is a cause for optimism."

The eight areas included the establishment of joint security stations in Baghdad neighborhoods, and the contribution of $10 billion of Iraqi money towards reconstruction .

"This report shows that conditions can change," said Bush, "progress can be made, and the fight in Iraq can be won."

Filed under: Iraq • President Bush
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. sonny c. v.p.,la.

    What does he know?

    July 14, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. Ann Brunswick ME

    John Warner – War Veteran??? Perhaps at one time, but no more.

    John Warner is an 80 year old medicated old man, making policy for America – he should has resigned with dignity, instead he will be remembered as a doddering old fool.

    Richard Lugar – 75 years old medicated old man!

    I would not trust my 75-80 year old Great-Grandfather to make policy for America, would you?

    July 14, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Mary L. Tarrant

    President Bush must have destroyed brain cells that are needed to think and act rationally during his many years of intoxication. Or maybe he is still intoxicated. His Iraq war shows no sense of someone thinking rationally. The sad thing is our military and the Iraqi people are sufferring with their lives, limbs and blood. The whole situation is devastating to our country.

    July 14, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  4. BO Cincy, Ohio

    First off, Brandon, thank you for your service.

    I guess since Brandon is an Iraq/Afghanistan vet he is an expert at anythign relating to war. Well since I, like countless others, have the same qualificaitons, I must be an expert too.

    I am sorry that this former officer is so caught up in the DEFEATIST cause that he is unable to think clearly.

    Tell me, Brandon Friedman, who set the benchmarks?

    Sorry, Brandon, but you don't qualify as a military leader in the context you used (you are a leader in the military not a leader of the military) so don't try to quote our military leadership on things you are not qualified (not degrading you, just saying you don't get the same information nor do you have the requisite experience) to speak on.

    CNN, don't throw Brandon's bronze stars around like he is an instant rock star. It is insulting. It is a recognition, not a qualification. There are plenty of troops who did heroic things but didn't get a BSM. Don't insult them by using his BSM as a qualification.

    To those who are invested in our defeat, keep looking. You can always find someone who will smoke the same crack you are selling. But you are warned-the American people will not forgive, nor will they forget, what you have done and continue to do.

    Iraq is going much better than what you report on the news. (That isn't a platitudel; it is a fact.)

    July 14, 2007 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  5. Mike Green Sylva, NC

    Meeting 8 out of 18 benchmarks is not progress. The war is a terrible situation that has to end immediately. The PM of Iraq has said that the Iraq military (security force) is prepaired to defend Iraq and American forces can leave Iraq anytime America wishes. I agree with the PM. We should start redeploying troops to Afghanistan tommorow. There will be a blood bath in Iraq, without question...but that will happen if we leave today or 5 years from today. No more American blood should be lost in Iraq.

    July 15, 2007 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  6. Heather MCEwen, TN

    Finally, someone with the guts to speak up and tell it like it is. Remember 9/11 Mr. President? That happened on American soil. Lives were lost. Why is bin Laden still loose? But yet, we blaze into Iraq and find no weapons of mass destruction, faulty intelligence was given to those that approved your plan and should not be held against them in my opinion. Our focus should be on the terrorist and leave Iraq. And then bring our men and women home, Mr. President. Three and four deployments for an individual is disgraceful. Your prsidency will go down as the worst in history.

    July 15, 2007 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  7. Nique,, Florence, SC

    I've never been president so i obviously cant tell him how to do his job, but COME ON!!! We've been fighting for a lost cause!! I dont completely understand the iraqi government but im pretty sure they are capabable of fending for themselves. Its sink or swim. I think that they will swim and it may take a while, but peace is not the absence of violence but the presence of justice.

    July 15, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. Anonymous

    why in the world is bin laden still runnin around here makin tapes????? Wow, who knew people could actually get away with commiting one of the worst mass murders on american soil! Why did we go after Sadam again?? Im sorry..why did the president go after Saddam again? Personal vendetta maybe? I mean, if somebody tried to kill my father, id want to go after him to, but i wouldnt dare put millions of lives at stake.

    well, i wonder what country we're going to invade next!! How about Darfur? Oh wait, they dont have anything we want do they?

    July 15, 2007 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  9. Anonymous

    War...what a way to knock on the devils door.

    It sad knowing that my kids future is at stake and i havent even had them yet.

    July 15, 2007 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. Harris, Fayetteville, NC

    There are a number of valid points identified here. The problems facing the Bush administration stem back to prewar planning. A number of problem areas were identified, which included the Sunni-Shiite rift, the power and water infrastructures, economy, etc., all of which seemed to have been ignored by the administration. These reports were issued by various NGO's and CIA. Our governments failure has contributed significantly to the difficulties that the Iraqi government faces. It is time to focus on a political settlement to this war, however, pulling all our troops out is not a viable response. Too many politicians do not understand that a total pullout will be seen as a weakness, and you can be certain that this will encourage our enemies. It is sheer ignorance to think that extremists will not bring their battle here. Poor planning has made this a most difficult problem. It's time for our "presidential hopefuls" and other politicians to stop parading around the battlefield for snapshot opportunities and focus on workable political/military solution to this war. I think it can be won, though the two governments need to understand that concessions must be made on both sides.

    July 15, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. BO

    Dear CNN:

    It appears that you have made an error on your "CNN Political Ticker Blog." The error would be you removing the only response that took note of this faulty logic and false reporting in the "Bush war strategy criticized by war veteran" dated July 14, 2007.

    Don't give Brandon a free pass for his fallacious reasoning. Don't let your reporters/editors have a free pass bias either.

    I do appreciate that your writer qualifies who Brandon is by describing him only as "an Iraqi and Afghan war veteran." He wouldn't be closely affiliated to any political party now would he? You can't tell me you don't know who he is. If you have trouble, just use Google and it will clear it up for you."

    If possible, could you please write an article explaining why CNN goes to such great lengths to remove any posts that demonstrate the writers faulty logic, half-truths, and fabrications?

    Your own policy states "may not appear on this blog until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting." Well, since my post was on here previosly, I assume that it was fit for posting.

    Please respond to explain to me why my previous posting was deleted.

    July 15, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  12. EL Paso, TX

    I don't place much value on a platoon leaders comments as those are normally newly minted officers. At most this individual made CPT before getting out.

    Sounds like me when I was a young NCO, I thought I knew it all, but fortunately for me, I didn't allow myself to be used as a puppet and spew garbage.

    July 15, 2007 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  13. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Ann Brunswick ME ... John Warner, an 80 year old medicated old man, would have done better than Dubya!

    BO Cincy, Ohio ... yeah ... that war sure is going well! 10 BILLION dollars a month and 3,600 troop lives to NOT win a war vs a thrid-world country with 1/1000 the militry we have AFTER 4 YEARS OF TRYING!

    You're right, BO, the American people will not forgive, nor will they forget, what you have done and continue to do – supporting more americans dying for Iraqis who refuse to step up for their own damn country while their govt contemplates vacations cuz it's "too hot" for them to govern!

    That isn’t a platitude, it is a fact!

    BO ... hmmm ... maybe your post was deleted because you substitute chest-thumping patriotism for critical thinking and common sense?

    July 16, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Harris, Fayetteville, NC ... "Too many politicians do not understand that a total pullout will be seen as a weakness,"

    1) So THOUSANDS more american lives and TENS of BILLIONS MORE dolLars should be paid into a failing policy? You don't think the terrorists already see a weakness in the fact that we're still there, INCREASING TROOPS, over FOUR YEARS later?

    "and you can be certain that this will encourage our enemies. It is sheer ignorance to think that extremists will not bring their battle here."

    2) The 'gotta get them THERE before they come HERE' argument has already been proven faulty logic – just ask the British who had their subway bombed. And by the way, they already ARE here. If not, why are we dumping our shampoos at airports?

    "It’s time for our “presidential hopefuls” and other politicians to stop parading around the battlefield for snapshot opportunities and focus on workable political/military solution to this war."

    3) Wrong AGAIN ... it's time for the IRAQIS to concentrate on a POLITICAL SOLUTION and the IRAQIS to start joining the fight for their OWN damn country!

    We've already made OUR concesions and the time for babysitting has long since passed.

    See, it's people like YOU (who keep saying "we cant afford to leave"; "they'll follow us here"; blah, blah, blah) that only encourage their nonchalant atitude and make the Iraqi's continue to rely on US doing the dirty work for them. And you wonder why they're still woefully short of benchmarks? Maybe because they know that WE will keep doing the fighting and the dying FOR them as long as they consciously decide NOT to.

    July 16, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  15. Harris, Fayetteville, NC

    Rick, you shout too much and are overly emotional.
    As I stated, the problem started with poor planning. Anyone with a some degree of common sense would have foreseen the need to increase troop strength. The initial numbers were insufficient to handle the task of defeating the enemy, holding key
    terrain, and protecting the countries infrastructure. These were basic requirements needed to begin the process of nation building. Unfortunately, war and the rebuilding
    of a country does not come cheap, both monetarily and in the lives of those who fight.
    I realize they are already here. I understand that the federal agencies have their collective hands full trying to locate, isolate, and eliminate existing cells and support networks.
    I believe that it will get worse before it gets better. I also believe that if we leave Iraq in its current state, that it will be proven a victory to the countries that support the jihadist
    movement, and will further embolden them to increase their efforts to strike here.
    And no, I'm not wrong regarding the US/Iraqi governments working for a proper political solution.
    It's people like you who sit back and whine when the fighting gets tough and doesn't always go your way. Yes, this war should have been better planned, but it wasn't. The answer is not to tuck our tail between our legs and scamper home with the work unfinished. I anticipated it would take a minimum of five years to get an Iraqi overnment
    in place, and still longer to stabilize the population. You don't fight a war the same way you order your burgers and fries. You can't have it fast, and you can't always have it your way. Grow up.

    July 16, 2007 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  16. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Harris, Fayetteville, NC ... I'll say it again and maybe you'll GET it THIS time.

    "The answer is not to tuck our tail between our legs and scamper home with the work unfinished."

    The ANSWER is for the IRAQIS to reach a poltical solution and start governing and fighting for their own damn country – with the reality of us leaving if they don't.


    "I anticipated it would take a minimum of five years to get an Iraqi government in place, and still longer to stabilize the population."

    I (along with the people who RAN the war) anticipated that, vs a third-world country with 1/1000th the military we have and all the warnings beforehand of what we would face, that we'd be done by now. I'm still in "shock and awe" over how incompetently this war has been run.

    "You don’t fight a war the same way you order your burgers and fries."

    Tell that to Dubya and the congressmen who kissed his butt for the past 4 years – essentially giving him EVERYTHING HE ASKED FOR. And they STILL screwed it up because they have a guy running the war who 1) never saw combat in one because 2) his daddy got him a gig in a champaign unit of the National Guard 3) flying for Viet Kong over TEXAS 4) in a plane not suitable for combat in Vietnam before he 5) flunked a physical for reasons he won't disclose and 6) refused to re-take the physical so he could continue doing the job the military paid him GOOD money to do.

    "It’s people like you who sit back and whine when the fighting gets tough and doesn’t always go your way."

    The fighting in Iraq shouldn't be "getting tough" – it should be OVER by now! NOT still costing 10 billion a month and certainly NOT at FIVE TIMES the cost of Afghanistan.

    "You can’t have it fast, and you can’t always have it your way."

    Well, you CAN have it faster, efficiently, effectively, and ...DONE. Just not with Dubya in charge.

    "Grow up."

    Go serve. Maybe then you'll be a bit more emotional – when the life being paid as a price of the Iraqi’s non-commitment and Bush's incompetence is your OWN.

    July 17, 2007 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. JAF, LA, CA


    Do not abandon the Iraqi people. We have a moral obligation to stabilize that country.

    Do not let even more children die in a falied policy of retreat when we have the ability to stabilize that country.

    Save the Iraqi Children! Don't withdraw the troops!

    July 17, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    JAF, LA, CA .. how about we save the children HERE from living fatherless lives cuz their dads had to fight and DIE a war for people who didn't want to fight it themselves?

    The Iraqis are choosing to abandon themselves. And WE are paying for it daily.

    Either THEY step up, or WE come home.

    July 17, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  19. Harris, Fayetteville, NC

    I think we all agree that the planning was botched. You won't change my views and I won't change yours. We started this and have an obligation to see it through to successful completion. I have served and retired in '94. I've also worked the last 30 months in Iraq providing remote site and convoy security. I'm quite aware of the difficulties and complexities of this war.

    July 18, 2007 09:56 am at 9:56 am |