Building Peace…Piece by Piece

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This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, September 9, that has been edited for clarity.

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JIM ANGLE, GUEST-HOST: Thanks for joining us.


ANGLE: Let me ask you first, the administration is obviously trying to figure out now how to accelerate this process. When you were there, what did you see? What was the one thing you came away with that was clear that needed to be done immediately?

HAMRE: We need to secure the country so we can provide electricity. It all comes down to electricity. That is the critical infrastructure that's missing, it's that which has been plundered. And without it, we can't get the economy going and cool off the cities and make people's lives happy.

ANGLE: But what's the problem?

HAMRE: Twofold. We've had Saddam loyalists (search) that are intentionally destroying thing and we also have big black market gangs that are plundering the copper from the electrical system; just stealing the wire in order to sell it in the salvage market.

ANGLE: So just plain old thievery?

HAMRE: Old thievery. This is economic thievery.

ANGLE: Now, what can the U.S. do at this point? Obviously we're trying to get more money from Congress, get more help from the international community. What will either one of those things do to help with this task?

HAMRE: Well, we need more security in Iraq. And the administration's right. We need to get Iraqis to provide security. Basic policing, that needs to be done. I say to people, we're spending $4 billion a month on an economy that is only $2.6 million a month economy in Iraq. So, we clearly can be hiring a lot of Iraqis to secure their own country for less than it's costing us to put troops on the ground.

ANGLE: Now, the administration is seeking $87 billion, both military and reconstruction over the next year, about 20. Looking for another 40 or so from the international community. When you were there, they weren't looking for nearly that much or expecting nearly that much from the international community? Were they?

HAMRE: No. I think they were less optimistic that the international community would offer up that kind of resources. But I think it is fair to say to the international community, you are just as dependent on our success, frankly, as we are. We have to succeed and you have to help us succeed.

Will we get $60 billion, $40 billion? Probably not. I think we'll get more than people think here in Washington. I also don't think you can spend $60 billion overnight in Iraq. You know, this is, as I said, only a $25 billion a year economy. There's no way you could spend another $60 billion on top of that in one year. Sensible development, very aggressive development of the electrical infrastructure and the oil infrastructure. That's going to take big money, but that will take some years as well.

ANGLE: Now Paul Wolfowitz (search) said today that what could happen here is that the people who send in money obviously would get more authority. They'd have some say over how that money is spent. Is there…there's obvious a concern about having too many fingers in the pie, too many hands on the steering wheel. Can you bring in international money; give them some control how it's spent without mucking things up in Iraq?

HAMRE: We cannot compromise in any way the control over the security structure. I mean we're…you cannot have two hands directing security for the country. I think an American leader could certainly apportion security responsibilities to others. But I don't think we can compromise that.

For economic development, of course we can. We can say we're going to turn over to people…we would like you to develop an electrical generation capacity in this town. It's over to you. You know, we'll supervise you. But it is your job and you tell us how it is going. Of course we can find ways to make that work.

ANGLE: You talked in your report when you came back in July about the time frame here, that things need to be done in a year, but that there was really a shorter period to win over the Iraqis. What do you mean?

HAMRE: The Iraqis now have gone for four months in an insecure environment and with a great deal of discomfort. I was in Iraq for five days and we had electricity for 18 hours total. And if you don't have electricity, you don't have running water in Iraq. That has been the norm. It's much better now.

ANGLE: And you can't run factories.

HAMRE: You can't run factories. The factories are cold. There's petty commerce that's developed. You know, people are retailing. But the economy is not really moving. So, we have got to get electricity and if without that, the public is starting to get disenfranchised. They lost confidence that we can produce. We still can win them; I never met an Iraqi over there who wanted us to leave. They did not want us to leave. They are afraid we would leave too soon.

ANGLE: Interesting.

HAMRE: So we've got to stay but we've also be more successful. And that means get more electricity flowing, and frankly, get more security in the streets.

ANGLE: And your sense is that can be done quickly enough to keep Iraqis on board?

HAMRE: We…yes. We're going to have to do that. I mean we don't have an option. We need to move very quickly and I think the secretary is doing that. He's getting much greater Iraqi civilian participation in security. We're recruiting modest increments of foreign support. We, frankly, need more. And the secretary, I think, is taking that step.

ANGLE: John Hamre, president of CSIS, former deputy defense secretary. Thank you very much.

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