Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent for The New York Times, spoke to students and faculty in Reeves Theater on Wednesday, April 11. Gordon’s discussion, “The United States’ Dilemma in Iraq: The Contradiction between Strategy and Politics,” focused on his assessment of the United States military’s role in Iraq, drawing from several trips he has taken there since the US elected to invade in March 2003. He also referenced his book, “Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq,” which he co-authored last year.
At the beginning of his address, Gordon stated that before the US invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi leadership did not see the United States as its primary threat, feeling instead that the threat was its neighbor and adversary, Iran.
Despite this miscalculation on the Iraqi side, Gordon said that the United States committed its own series of miscalculations which has led the country to its current situation.
Iraq now faces a context for an outbreak of civil war, mainly between the Sunnis and the Shiites.
Gordon stressed that the main factor contributing to this is that the US lacked the necessary forces in Iraq to deal with insurgency, and when it went into Iraq four years ago, it went in with only enough forces to topple the regime and not much else.
The United States has had to adapt its strategy and involvement. Gordon proposed that the by sending in the “surge” troops earlier this year and continuing through the first half of this year, the United States military was now on “Plan D.”
Presently, “change is a long-term proposition,” said Gordon. The problem, he believes, is the “mismatch between policy we’ve embarked on and politics.” This coupling of two incompatible ideas is a contradiction as pressure is constantly being placed on the military to show results, when the effort in Iraq, if it is to be successful, might not show many results, and especially not quickly.
While Gordon did not reveal what “Plan E” will entail, he said, “Whatever it is, it’s something other than withdrawal from Iraq.”
After presenting his thoughts, Gordon accepted questions from students and faculty in the audience.
Gordon’s visit was sponsored by Student Government, but the entire event was paid for by the New York Times because of SG’s New York Times Readership Program gives UT the opportunity to bring Times speakers to UT at least once a year.