This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 22, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: Well, think we have enough troops over in Iraq to take care of Iraq? My next guest says, think again. Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe of Arizona chairs the House subcommittee that controls U.S. foreign aid spending.
Congressman, thanks for being with us today. You know, we heard this beef, though, about our combat numbers being too light earlier in the war. That turned out not to be true. Isn’t this more of the same?
REP. JIM KOLBE, R-ARIZ.: No. It is a very different set of circumstances. It’s true, we were able to win the war with a minimal number of troops. But winning the peace is a very different kind thing. It is great that our aircraft carriers are coming home, the stealth fighters and a lot of the bombers are coming back. Those are not needed in this part of the conflict. But what we need now in the post-conflict time are people who are military police, are people who are carrying guns and maintaining order on the streets. You are talking about a country that is the size of California and almost the population of California. Think of how many state highway patrol and local police there are in that state.
KEENAN: So what kind of numbers are you talking about, it looks like we’re going to have about 150 to 200,000 troops in place in the next couple of weeks?
KOLBE: We will have, but the problem is we didn’t have them at the moment, at the time we took control there. And that was the problem. We didn’t get order early enough. We were very careful not to bomb hospitals but they all got looted. We were careful not to bomb the museum but it got looted, and similarly with the government ministries there. So we have a problem right now of maintaining order. And it becomes a vicious circle. If you don’t maintain order, there is a greater frustration, greater frustration leads to greater violence. That leads to less security. The problem right now is we can’t get the relief organizations in there, the humanitarian organizations that need to be there to provide humanitarian assistance.
KEENAN: So how many more troops do you think we are going to need?
KOLBE: I don’t know exactly what the number is, but it is good news to hear that more are on the way. I just think that a little more careful thought needed to have been given to this to make sure that the gap was filled. And unfortunately now we are scrambling to fill the gap. But I was told when I was over there that there are more than 1000 villages that have not seen the presence of a single U.S. or British military personnel in those villages.
KEENAN: Is that because the military effort went so quickly and so smoothly?
KOLBE: Well, it is partly because of that, I think, but at any point when you end the military part of the operation in any war that we have ever fought, following right behind that are the security forces to maintain the peace on the ground. And that is what we didn’t have there.
KEENAN: But now - OK, the looting has happened, it is subsiding, wouldn’t the best thing for us to do is give as many jobs to as many Iraqis as possible and get some money in their pockets?
KOLBE: Well, the thing we need to do - jobs are going to be down the road a little bit, the thing we need to do right now is deliver humanitarian assistance, that means getting the water turned on, getting the electricity turned on, getting the food delivered, getting drugs into the hospitals. You have to have electricity to have drugs there, putting cots and mattresses back in the hospitals. Those organizations that do that, organizations like Save the Children, UNICEF, World Vision, Red Cross, simply can’t go in yet because it is not secure on the ground. When I was there last week we sent our first disaster response team from USAID. And they had to be withdrawn at the end of one day because they were ambushed three times trying to get to hospitals in Baghdad to assess the condition of those hospitals.
KEENAN: So we have some reinforcements coming, 79 billion was already earmarked for this effort going into the war, how much more money do you think we are going to need?
KOLBE: I really don’t know. But it costs just as much to maintain our forces there - almost as much to maintain forces there in a peaceful situation as it does to maintain them in a fighting situation. I know that seems a little strange. But it is all the supply of carrying that stuff over there and maintaining them at that distance that is the real cost factor there. So it is clearly going to cost us some more, and it’s going to clearly cost more to do the reconstruction and repair in the country. And the $2 1/2 billion that we have so far is not enough. A lot will depend on whether some of that oil money is available for that.
KEENAN: And that looks like it is not coming nearly as quickly as we expected.
KOLBE: Not as quickly as we would like. Unfortunately the French and the Russians, I think, are playing a very cynical game by saying they won’t vote to lift the sanctions until there is proof given by the inspectors that there are no weapons of mass destruction.
KEENAN: All right. Thanks, Congressman.
KOLBE: Thank you.
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