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THIS WEEK AT WAR

The Week's War Reporting

Aired January 5, 2008 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TOM FOREMAN, ANCHOR, THIS WEEK AT WAR: In Iraq: Suicide attacks are on the rise. Is al Qaeda coming back?
And: Kenya explodes into ethnic warfare. Terrible scenes of neighbors killing neighbors in one of Africa's most stable nations. We'll explain why all of this really does matter to you right after a look at what's in the news right now.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN: I'm Rob Marciano in Atlanta. Here's a look at what's happening in the news right now. Gary Michael Hilton is charged with kidnapping and disappearance of missing hiker, Meredith Emerson. Emerson was last seen on New Year's Day hiking with her dog in the North Georgia mountains.

And presidential hopefuls are doing battle tonight on the same stage. Democrats and Republicans are taking part in a televised debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, just three days before the state's politically crucial primary.

Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney are leading in the Granite State and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are in a virtual dead heat.

And a levee break in Western Nevada today sent a wall of frigid water gushing into a town affirmably. As many as 400 homes were cut off, dozens of residents were forced to flee and more than a dozen had to be rescued. No reports of injuries.

Those are the headlines. More news at the bottom of the hour. Now here's THIS WEEK AT WAR.

FOREMAN: Here is where things stand in THIS WEEK AT WAR. It's looking bad in Kenya as violence threatens to tear this crucial U.S. ally apart. The future of democracy in Pakistan is on a knife edge. There will be an independent investigation of Benazir Bhutto's death, but we don't know if elections will be accepted under President Musharraf. Suicide bombers are sitting harder in Iraq as al Qaeda strikes against coalitions' tribal allies. The mental toll on our women at war is getting worse as experts scramble to adjust their all- male treatment. And the results are in from the Iowa caucuses.

But we just don't know if the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will still be a factor by the voting in November. That's how things stand, and here is where we're going to find out what's coming next. Paula Newton is in Kenya where murdering mobs roam the streets. How did this peaceful country fall apart so fast? In Islamabad, Pakistan, Matthew Chance has been covering the continuing investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Will we ever know the truth here? In Iraq, Alphonso Van Marsh (ph) is watching as a resurgent al Qaeda turns their deadly tactics to a new enemy with all of the recent progress. The question remains: Can Iraq survive without U.S. troops? All THIS WEEK AT WAR.

On the frozen tundra of Iowa, the battle this week was in living rooms and church basements, but the results are likely to be felt on the real battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. So, what did Iowa tell us about the future of the war? Joining me from our New York bureau are two CNN senior political analysts: Gloria Borger and Bill Schneider. You both had a chance to look at how Iraq played in Iowa. Bill, what do you take away from the results?

BILL SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Iraq was a much bigger issue for Democrats than for Republicans. It was just right at the top of the list for Democrats whereas foreign (ph) issues for Republicans, and Iraq came out last. Republicans tend to feel that the surge is working, that President Bush's policy is paying off and they don't want to talk about Iraq. They think it's under control. The Democrats remain very angry about it, but it's not an issue that deeply divides the candidates. They all want to get the United States out. It's only a question of how fast, how soon. So, it wasn't so much an issue within the primaries.

FOREMAN: Let's listen to what both Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee had to say about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home.

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need more troops, not just because of Afghanistan and Iraq. Frankly, we need more troops because we've spread our military out too thin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Mike Huckabee was talking about the general idea there of needing more troops in the military. Gloria, let me ask you this. Even the Democrats who I talked to, all of them at the caucuses said that they know that getting out of a war is not as simple as just pulling out. This is going to be a big challenge, even if a Democrat wins.

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look at what's been happening in Congress, Tom. It's been a big challenge for the Democrats to try and get some kind of a troop withdrawal. But when you look at -- at the array of Democrats as Bill was saying, there are really sort of minute distinctions about how they would withdraw those troops. Someone like Bill Richardson is at one end of the spectrum who says, we need to get them out immediately. Somebody like Hillary Clinton is at the other end and says, you know, you need to keep a presence in Iraq and you have to be careful about how you draw down the troops. But as Bill was saying, the issue of Iraq is very, very important to Democrats, but it wasn't just positive in these ways because they all essentially agree and so, well, it will be a huge issue, however, as we head into the general election, obviously.

FOREMAN: Well, Bill, do you agree with that of being a huge issue? Because, one of the things I'm struck by is that among the top players on both sides, if you look at their plans, they all are leaning towards saying at some point we want to get out of there. But we have to do is in a smart way.

SCHNEIDER: Well, Gloria is exactly right. It will be an enormous issue, particularly if the Republicans nominate John McCain. He's an ardent support, he's really wrapped himself around Bush's troop build-up and it defines him as a candidate. And the differences between him and the Democrats are just immense. I would make the following prediction. The more it looks like the Democrat, whoever it is, is likely to win the election, then, the more Congress' nerve will be sealed up and they're going to resist and oppose the president. If they think we're going to elect the next president and we're going to pull the troops out of Iraq, they're going to give George Bush absolutely nothing. It will really build up their nerve.

FOREMAN: Gloria, do you think that the way that we progressed towards this election will actually affect how we fight the war?

BORGER: Well, I -- I sort of agree with Bill. I think it depends as you head toward the election, who looks like the favorite is and how Congress will then react to that. Because, don't forget, of course, you know, these candidates obviously have nothing to say at this point about how we fight the war. And I don't think any candidate, Democrat or Republican, is going to affect how George W. Bush decides to conduct the war. But, I do think a big issue that you will see in this general election campaign, even if the nominee is John McCain, the issue will be the competency of the way the Bush administration handled the war. McCain was for the surge. He was for a surge earlier. He was for a larger surge. He was for the firing of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. And if he's the nominee, he will continue to say that and that's the way he will distinguish himself from the Bush administration's conduct of the war.

FOREMAN: And Bill, let me ask you this one more futuristic question in all of these. Whomever the next president is, they're going to have troops in Afghanistan and they're going to have troops Iraq. Isn't that a tough way to start a presidency no matter whom you are? Because that's tough. You're in a war. It's unpredictable. You don't know what's coming next.

SCHNEIDER: Well, they -- that is true. Other presidents have done that. Eisenhower became president during Korea. Nixon became president during Vietnam with presumably, a secret plan, they never used those words but he was supposed to bring us out of the war. Look, there's a mandate. The mandate is end the war. Get us out of there. Americans have given up on this war. There's only a question of what's the best way to do it. Do you do it by increasing the number of troops? By increasing the force level and thereby, wrapping the thing up or do you do it just by pulling out? That's going to be the essence of the debate. But the idea that this has to end and end soon is clearly going to be the mandate even of a Republican president.

FOREMAN: Thanks very much Gloria and Bill. Two members of the best political team on television. Stick with CNN throughout all of the elections.

Coming up: The crisis in Kenya. A reminder as if we need one, of how blessed we are to settle our differences in political debate instead of on the killing fields. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: If you want to know why Kenya matters, you simply need to check out the neighborhood. Let's look that map. Here's Kenya: Democratic, prosperous, a strong U.S. ally. Up north, Somalia: Almost complete anarchy there with known al Qaeda hide-outs. In Ethiopia and Eritrea: Apparently heading for another war there. Sudan: We've heard so much about that where civil wars combined with a history of support for radical Islamists. To the west: We have the Congo's. Some five million people have perished in decades of war. And in south: Rwanda, where gangs rampaged through the streets in the 1990s, scenes that are terribly similar to what's happening in Kenya this week. So, Kenya is the pivot for all of this. And here's the situation as Paula Newton saw it on Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: These are the kind of flare-ups that have been happening all day. Government troops have been given order to show as much restraint as they can but they have been told to disperse the crowds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: CNN international security correspondent, Paula Newton is in Nairobi and with me here in Washington is Christopher Fumunyoh, senior associate for Africa at the National Democratic Institute. Paula, let me start with you. Is there any sense that the government there is getting a handle on the violence this weekend?

NEWTON: Not anytime soon, Tom. I mean, you just saw what was going on in Nairobi. This past week, we all also visited the edge of the Weeds (ph) Valley And Tom, that's where the ethnic tension has really been so violent. We saw for ourselves thousands of people escaping that violence. They have nothing to do except squat on the grass. There is not food, water, or medicine that they need. And in the meantime, Tom, the politicians seem incapable of actually coming to some kind of reconciliation.

FOREMAN: Christopher, the two big groups here in question, are the Kikuyus, which are in line with the president in effect and a part of his group. And the Luos who are the opposition. We're very concerned about what's happening with the presidency there. Are these groups, have they long been at war with each other?

CHRISTOPHER FUMONYOH, NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTE : You know, surprisingly, unlike in a number of other African countries, ethnic tensions haven't really flared before in Kenya as we've seen maybe in Rwanda or even in neighboring Burundi. And because the Kikuyus, the Luos, the Kalenjins, the Somalis, they all live together and so far, Kenya has always been shown as a stable country in which ethnic groups could co-exist and get involved in political activities.

FOREMAN: Well, let's talk about how they reached this point. We had the president, Kibaki, who won the presidency about five years ago, when he won the presidency, there was a great boom in the economy. Kenya started doing so, so well and yet happen? The sense that the riches were going to people in his group, Kikuyus and others of these 40 other ethnic groups who were being shut out to some degree. Now, they have an election. People feel he stole the election.

FUMONYOH: Well, interestingly, when Kibaki came into power five years ago, he and Raila Odinga were allies and they were part of this broad coalition for change.

FOREMAN: While, Odinga, the man who now most opposes him and says he must be kicked out.

FUMONYOH: That's correct. Raila Odinga and Kibaki were allies and they formed this broad coalition which had Kikuyus, Luos, and people from other ethnic groups to bring about change in Kenya. And unfortunately, the -- when the different parts in 2005 with the referendum that Kibaki tried to push through which Raila fought against and now in 2007, they had this very close election, very competitive. The outcome of which is now being contested.

FOREMAN: So, Paula, on the ground there, are the normal Kenyans, the people on the street that angry at their neighbors or do they -- are they being whip into a frenzy by leaders who will benefit from this conflict?

NEWTON: I think it is difficult to say where this stands, Tom and I'll tell you why. In terms of actually the way the country is divided, every region is a little bit different. I can tell you there have been ethnic flare-ups here in the last few decades. They simmer just under the surface, Tom. What this election has done and the reason that everyone here is so fearful is that it has really trigger a lot of that latent anger and rage and given others an excuse just to really go on a rampage and we are seeing glimpses of what is ethnic cleansing really and we witnessed it for ourselves on the ground this week in terms of the witness accounts we were getting. When you say everyday Kenyans, many of them are fearful. The majority want to see an end to this political impasse.

FOREMAN: Well, Christopher, this fighting is just devastating to Kenya right now. The economy, everything is just falling apart.

FUMONYOH: It's devastating because Kenya has never been through anything like this. You know, Kenya is the principal business hub for all of East Africa. And so, when Kenya in crisis, it sure to impact for countries from all the way from Egypt to the north, down to South Africa in the south and all of the countries in between. So the Kenyan economy is taking a beating but also Kenya is a country that is -- has been an ally of the United States in the global war against terrorism. We cannot forget the embassy bombings of '98 and '99. And so far, it's been a stable country. So, there's a lot of fear that if Kenya falls apart or if it's governed by a government that's viewed as illegitimate by a sizable population of the country, then, it's going to become difficult to keep the country together.

FOREMAN: And the question now: Is that capable of destabilizing even further a very unstable region here and a continent that's struggling?

FUMONYOH: Well, in many ways, Kenya was the firewall, as you said, with Somalia to the north and Sudan, but also with the Democratic Republic of Congo. And interestingly, a lot of refugees from these countries were residents in Kenya, took refuge in Kenya. And what we see today, paradoxically, is Kenyans crossing the border into Uganda and Tanzania looking for refuge.

FOREMAN: And Paula, time and again, you and I have talked about this -- the notion that when countries teeter into chaos like this, international security experts say this is bad.

NEWTON: It is those ungoverned spaces. When you start to talk about those border areas on the border of Ghana, on the border of Uganda as well, on the border of Tanzania, other places, some of which we have visited, yes. Because, we did not see a law and order. We did not see security forces being able to keep a lid on things there. And as you said, that is what everyone is so worried about because that's what leads to a power vacuum for them the terrorists can move in and operate.

FOREMAN: Christopher, very briefly, what should be look for in the coming weeks in Kenya if this is to calm down? What needs to happen?

FUMONYOH: Well, you know, with the situation like this, you kind of look for the silver lining. If you - if ever there was a silver lining in this is the amount of attention that Kenya is now getting from the United States, from the Europeans, from the African union, from people such as Desmond Tutu from South Africa.

FOREMAN: Can that pressure change the situation?

FUMONYOH: My sense, that pressure can bring down the political tensions and maybe create an environment in which the political leaders of Kenya can get together with the support of Kenyan civil society and Kenyan media to find a way out and a way forward for the country. Kenyans cannot afford for their country to slip away other African countries have gone in recent past.

FOREMAN: Christopher, thank you so much. Paula as well.

FUMONYOH: Thank you.

FOREMAN: Later on THIS WEEK AT WAR: Far too many of our American women in uniform are suffering from a toxic combination of battle stress and sexual harassment. And straight ahead: What are the chances for democracy in Pakistan now?

But first: As we always do, a look at still images pulled from the chaos. The work of the combat photographers all over the globe. It's New Year's Day in Afghanistan. And U.S. soldiers posed for a picture during a short break from the tensions of battle. Rafik Makmud (ph) took this photo shortly before the countdown to midnight. Hadi Misban (ph) caught another celebration in the Korari (ph) neighborhood of central Baghdad. As an unidentified Iraqi youth welcomed the New Year by dancing in the streets in a Santa Claus costume. A great picture.

As we just heard, the violence in Kenya does not discriminate between men, women and even children. Carol Crusoe (ph) took this hopeful image of a policeman escorting a man and his children away from riots in Nairobi. And finally, in the holy city of Naja, Iraqis prepared to bury the remains of a man killed in Diala province last month. Photographer, Ali al-Marshani (ph) has captured so many great images. He reported that the 22-year-old's body was not even recovered, so, only his head will rest in this dusty grave.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you see the - your very presidency as a source of instability in this country and would you consider stepping down early for the sake of the country?

PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN: No. If I agreed with you, I would have stepped down. But I don't agree with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The president of Pakistan bristled at the question of his stepping down when it was asked by CNN's Matthew Chance on Thursday as you just saw. But it's a question that is simply not going away. With me in the studio is Akbar Ahmed, former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom. And the intrepid Mr. Chance joins us now from Islamabad. Matthew, I want to start with you. Does Musharraf genuinely think he can stay in office amid all this pressure?

CHANCE: President Musharraf thinks that he's sitting pretty, Tom, in the presidential palace here in Islamabad for the next five years. But frankly, I haven't spoken to another person in Pakistan that agrees with him. This is a deeply unpopular Pakistani president right now. Many Pakistanis believe he's the one, because of his policies, because of his close links with the United States that has brought the terrorism to this country, the suicide bombs -- 19 of them in the past three months that have killed more than 400 people. He's blamed for being responsible, perhaps, or having a responsibility for the killing last week of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister. Corruption is rife. The economy is suffering. This is a guy who many people in the country don't like at all. And with these elections that coming up on February the 18th, is the return of potentially hostile parliament to power in Pakistan. He could face more and more pressure to step down.

FOREMAN: Certainly, international leaders think so to some degree. This report came from international crisis group on Wednesday said: "Stability in Pakistan and its contribution to wider anti-terror efforts now require rapid transition to legitimate civilian government. This must involve the departure of Musharraf." And on it goes. Akbar, do you think Musharraf can in any way stay in power?

AKBAR AHMED, FMR. PAKISTAN AMB. TO U.K.: Tom, it's very, very difficult. If elections go ahead on the 18th of February as he's planning to hold them and the party comes in, the two parties that are the two most popular parties of Pakistan, their first target in fact will be Musharraf. If he postpones the election from February onwards, he's in trouble. Because, there could be street processions against him. If he calls in martial law because there maybe interruption of law and order, collapse of law and order, he will be again marginalized (ph). So, he really is in a very, very difficult situation and I don't see him climbing out of it.

FOREMAN: And Akbar, is this something that he will try to hold on based on his past with military force or do you see him when the pressure gets high enough stepping down?

AHMED: I don't see him stepping down. His whole psychology, his history, has been one of a man fighting his way through. And this is going to be the problem because there's not going to be a graceful exit. And if there is dilemma, a terrible dilemma crisis, a political crisis resulting from the law and order and everything in Pakistan from now on will be seen in the light of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, which means high emotion, high anger and great distrust of Musharraf and his government. Then, I do see the army coming in. In that sense, once the army comes in, he becomes irrelevant.

FOREMAN: And Matthew, what are we hearing from and seeing from the army in the midst of all of this? They've been keeping something of a low profile. It seems.

CHANCE: They have been keeping a low profile in this very important period of volatility in Pakistan. President Musharraf announced the other day that he'd deployed elements of the armed forces particularly to the Sindh (ph) province in the south of the country to make sure that there was a more stable law and order situation there. It's also important to remember that, you know, of course, President Musharraf is no longer the head of the army. He's put his own people in charge of the Pakistani Armed Forces, but he doesn't necessarily exert the same level of control that he did just a few months ago when he was the army chief as well.

FOREMAN: I want to pick up on that theme on just a moment.

But first: Let's look at the widower of Benazir Bhutto. He's an investment minister in Bhutto's second government. He was and he spent eight years in prison on corruption charges. He's been making headlines now, Akbar, saying, sort of rallying people to say, we must move forward in the name of Benazir Bhutto and have an election where we overpower Musharraf. Is he a real player right now?

AHMED: Right now, he is the key player in terms of politics, Tom, because he now has inherited the mantle of the PPP, the most important and popular political party of Pakistan. He's highly controversial. He's volatile. He is highly visible. And he's vocal. And he has that kind of confidence. Well, he's from Sindh (ph). (INAUDIBLE) Sindh where he does have a base there at the same time. He remains controversial.

FOREMAN: And you're looking into the army to the general who was appointed by Musharraf to head the army, who's also kept a very low profile and you're seeing another seat of power?

AHMED: I'm seeing a very interesting contrast in style and substance of highly vocal, highly visible, General Kayani, the chief of Pakistan Army, invisible and low-key. And yet, the real power in the land because ultimately, ultimately, down the road, sooner or later, the army will be watching the situation.

FOREMAN: And you feel that Kayani is sending signals to people within Pakistan?

AHMED: Very interesting, Tom. For example, in the funeral event at -- in the Sindh, General Kayani sent a floral wreath for Benazir Bhutto -

FOREMAN: For Benazir Bhutto's funeral.

AHMED: Funeral. Now, this was in sharp contrast to President Musharraf, who didn't do anything like this. So, again, there is a signal that his policy is not going to be completely dictated by his friendship or alliance or relationship with President Musharraf.

FOREMAN: And, Matthew, our last question to you here quickly. In the midst of all this, is there a sense of how the United States' fortunes are rising or falling right now in Pakistan? Are we going to come through all of this turmoil with a friend in Pakistan or with people in Pakistan who do not like us?

CHANCE: Well, certainly the hope is that they'll come through this, you know, the states will come through this crisis in Pakistan with somebody they can work with. At the moment, they still see President Musharraf as their only gain in town in terms of the ability to fight Islamic fundamentalism, in terms of fighting the Taliban on the border areas and where an al Qaeda on the border areas with Afghanistan. Their other hope of course was Benazir Bhutto. I imagine the United States is now frantically looking around at the political scene in Pakistan to see who else they could come to depend on if President Musharraf is forced because of domestic pressure to step down from office.

FOREMAN: Matthew, thank you much, Akbar as well. We're out of time but we'll be back on that I'm sure in coming weeks.

In a moment, who is winning in the Pentagon's battle for Iraq? This is much more important than you might think.

But first, let's do as we always do and take a final look at some of those who fell in "This week at war."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: On Wednesday, relatives wept over the victims of a suicide bomber in Iraq. The attacker blew himself up in the midst of a crowd as they mourn a man killed by another bomber just days before. It's a cycle of violence that was getting better and now seems to be getting worse. Is this Al Qaeda fighting back against those who decided to support the coalition? Or is it a harbinger of what's to happen as U.S. troops head home? CNN's international correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh is in our Baghdad bureau. Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations is standing by in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. And CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre is at his post in the Pentagon. Alphonso, let me turn to you first. There's always great fear here that Al Qaeda is striking back yet again. Do we know who is behind this up tick in suicide bombings?

ALPHONOSO VAN MARSH, CNN, INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Al Qaeda itself according to people that we're talking to, our sources, you referred to a funeral a little bit earlier on at least four suicide attacks. It's December 28th, you mentioned this funeral where Al Qaeda suspect had actually infiltrated the crowd. But we understand that the suspect with a vest was actually the cousin of the man that the people were mourning. The message being that anybody who is going to support those trying to support and rebuild Iraq, well, watch out because Al Qaeda is looking out for you. And they will get you.

FOREMAN: I want to look at a graphic here and ask you a question, Stephen, if I can. On this graphic, the dark blue line up here showing the overall number of explosions in Iraq, which you see as steadily been declining, September, August down to December now. If you look at the number of car bombs, the red line, that's also down. But then you get to these suicide car bombs and suicide vests. The yellow and the blue lines down here and you do see them rising a bit down here at the bottom. It's not a really sharp rise. It doesn't seem big. It's nowhere near the highest levels. But, Stephen, what should we be making of this?

STEPHEN BIDDLE, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, those tactics are signature tactics of Al Qaeda in Iraq. So I think it's highly likely that those are the people who are causing those. I think surely what they're trying to do is to disrupt the process of local negotiated cease-fires that's been responsible, I think, for much of the downturn in violence that we've seen over the course of the last year. But this isn't new. I mean, there's a wave of it going on at the moment, but this is a phenomenon that has been ongoing ever since these negotiated cease-fires started. Al Qaeda from the beginning has been trying to disrupt this process by targeting those Iraqis who side with us and agree to lay down their arms. They're surely going to take us an opportunity to coming reduction in U.S. troop level, but it isn't a new phenomenon. FOREMAN: And Jamie, I want to turn to you about this question about the coming reduction in troop levels. Because that's where it gets tricky it seems. Because at the Pentagon, there are those who would say who want to get the troops back and settled down as soon as possible so we have a shiny army that's fresh army and ready to go. And there are others who say, no, the whole point is to stay, stay, stay and outlast your opponents.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN, SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is some tension on that front. Take the army chief of staff, General George Casey who was a former commander in Iraq. Right now, he's in charge of trying to get this battle-weary army back in shape. So, he wants to get troops out as soon as possible. And with the reductions in violence, that's what he's looking for. Meanwhile, General Petraeus who is in charge of the strategy in Iraq is looking at the kinds of trends that you've been pointing out and saying not so fast. We're not going to make a decision about further troop reductions beyond what we've already announced until sometime in March or April when we have a much better idea. And he's thinking maybe we may have to hold on to some of those troops, to hold on to those gains. You see that kind of tension playing out, the stress on the force plus the pressure to make the strategy work.

FOREMAN: Stephen, from your vantage point, which one of those sides would win in this Pentagon battle over this? The ones that say let's pull back and get ready for the next conflict or the one that says you must stay?

BIDDLE: There's a lot of pressure both within the Pentagon and elsewhere in Washington to take a peace dividend here. To realize the decline in violence, pull some troops back and take the pressure off the force. In a lot of ways in Washington right now, that's the easier argument to make. I also think it's a very problematic argument. If you look at the way the decline in violence has come about, I think central to that has been this process of negotiated cease-fire resolution, but those deals are not self-enforcing. If there aren't U.S. troops available to enforce the terms of those deals and keep those who have agreed to lay down their arms from taking them up again. I think you could very, very easily see something much like the levels of violence we saw early in the year 2007.

FOREMAN: So Alphonso, back to you, on the ground there. What do people think on the Iraqi streets right now? If the American troops start pulling out in big numbers soon, can the gains be held or will they be lost?

VAN MARSH: Well, it depends on who you talk to. I had a chance to sit down with General Petraeus a little earlier on. And he made a very interesting analogy about Al Qaeda's capability in this country. He said that even though Al Qaeda, its influence and activities have been greatly diminished, he likened them to a fighter on the canvas. A fighter who's able to get off the mat and actually deliver a powerful, lethal right-hand blow and one who shows it's capable of doing that again and again. So certainly there's a lot of caution there when you talk to people on the streets, of course, there's that nervous tension. Of course, almost everybody seems to hope that things will get better soon. Tom.

FOREMAN: Jamie, I want to get back to this question of what's going on at the Pentagon though. It seems like this battle has now been going on for years. This question of what kind of war are we ready for. I think that the long, dirty, grinding wars like in Afghanistan or Iraq are the kind of things that old military guys are going to say you can't build a career on that because it's long and it's difficult and it doesn't look very good.

MCINTYRE: You know, one of the problems is, as you pointed out, the changing conditions can be an argument for either option. If things are getting better, that could be an argument to either pull troops out or stay. Things are getting worse, that can also be an argument for either option. President Bush had made it clear that he wants to sort of stick with the Petraeus plan of keeping the maximum number of sustainable troops there as long as they're needed. So a lot of it may depend on who the next president is. And you know, just taking a look at the winners in the Iowa caucus, Huckabee has said he wants to sort of go with Petraeus and Barack Obama wants to start withdrawing troops, thinking that that will also create the impetus for peace. A lot of what happens will probably depend on who the next commander in chief is.

FOREMAN: And I think on that, we're going to have to leave it. Stephen, thank you. Alphonso as well and Jamie.

Coming up, trying to heal the wounds of a war like no other we've ever fought before. But first, our "Dispatches" segment. A look at your week at war. I-reporter Cindy Allen has two marines deployed in Iraq. And this Christmas, she couldn't be with them, but they managed to celebrate anyway. Her husband, Sgt. Michael Allen hitched a ride and met up with Pfc. Christopher Allen. They opened presents, had a holiday dinner and yes they even got to meet Santa Claus right there in the middle. Not sure who Santa was. They weren't able to be together for Chris' 20th birthday on New Year's, but they should be able to make up for it when they return next spring. Our very best to them. Remember, we would like to hear about your week at war. And it's really easy. Go to cnn.com/thisweekatwar and click on the i- report link.

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FOREMAN: It is a chilling phrase, rape by rank. That's when men who are supposed to care for their troops use the power of military command to harm them instead. Add this to the front-line battle stress that more women are facing in this war than in any other war the United States has ever fought, and you have to ask yourself a question. Are we ready to care for female warriors with invincible wounds? Joining me in the studio, Andrea Stone, a former Pentagon correspondent for "USA Today." She's been covering women in the military for more than a decade. And in Boston, Patricia Resick, director of the Women's Division of the National Center for PTSD, part of the Veterans' Administration.

Andrea, let me start with you. What are we talking about here? Why are women having such a difficult time coming out of this war? ANDREA STONE, FORMER PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT, "USA TODAY": Well, there's a lot more women in this war than any other war before. While they are technically barred from combat duty in the infantry and armored division, they have some of the most dangerous jobs in Iraq right now. They drive convoys, which are going over IEDs, those road- side bombs. They're going on patrols with the men because they are the ones who have to deal with the Iraqi women.

FOREMAN: So they're exposed to a tremendous amount of danger.

STONE: The same danger that the men are.

FOREMAN: What about the sexual aspect of this? What are we talking about?

STONE: Well, that's another layer that women have to deal with. The VA is reporting that 1 in 5, 20% of the women who are coming for help at the VA have some kind of symptoms of what they call now military sexual trauma, which means either they've had some sexual harassment or more seriously, have been raped or assaulted sexually, often by the people that they are serving with. And this would be fellow soldiers or as you mentioned raped by rank, which could be somebody up the chain of command. And somebody that's very hard to report about.

FOREMAN: Patricia, this is just a staggering number when I hear it here. That degree of this kind of problem. What do you make of that?

PATRICIA RESICK, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: We found out about that problem after the first Gulf war. And started addressing it back then. In the early '90s, we started providing services for military sexual trauma because we knew it was such a serious problem. But it's - I should also note it's a problem for men as well. Not as - to the same proportion, but in VA, it's to the same numbers. There's 20 times the number of men as women in the military. So the numbers are almost equal. We now have at every hospital in the VA in the country a women's mental health - or a military sexual trauma specialist who coordinates care and makes sure that the women, advocates for the women, maybe help somewhat benefits, accessing the best services. They should know who the people in the VA are who can provide the most up-to-date services, particularly with military sexual trauma people who specialized in it. There are specialized programs, both out-patient and in-patient. There's also other women program managers who help with other kind of issues that women might face. So, we have two women or two people that are serving in those roles. One for women's issues generally and then one who specializes in the military sexual trauma.

FOREMAN: I want to get back to Andrea. Andrea, it sounds though from your reporting that you're not impressed by this being nearly enough.

STONE: Well, it's interesting. I started covering these issues back in 1992 right after the Gulf war, right in the midst of the tail hook scandal which was very famous and brought attention. And I covered the Pentagon for many years and I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan and I was serving with women or covering women in Albania during the Kosovo War when there were a lot of women in the rear echelon. And then I went away and covered other things. Now I'm coming back to the issue and I'm really surprised that a lot has not changed. As a matter of fact, the whole term military sexual trauma didn't exist at least ten years ago when I was first covering it. It was not a well-known term, at least, you know, maybe in the medical community.

FOREMAN: Do you see these changes that Patricia is talking in the treatment of it or you simply are saying that's not enough either way?

STONE: I do think that there has been some advances. Back then there were no special programs for women and now there are. There was a special office in the Pentagon right now, just two years old, which actually tracks sexual abuse. Keeps the data and tries to deal with this issue. That's something that wasn't around a few years ago. So they are making efforts. But it's a very difficult thing to deal with. You know, these women, like women anywhere who have been raped, do not want to report this. And especially think about it, if you're reporting this to somebody who has your career in their hands. Basically, you're up the chain of command because the military is a hierarchy. I think one of the good things about the VA program is that everybody there is either, even if they're on active duty, they're wearing civilian clothes. There's no rank. Everybody can talk to each other. There's no captains and privates and there's not that structured there. So, I think that's a very good thing that the VA has over the military's medical treatment.

FOREMAN: And yet Patricia, I want you to wrap it up here quickly for us here for us, if you can. I would guess there's still that vestige, though. People that have been under the command of somebody else who have witnessed both traumatic things in war and perhaps experienced something traumatic themselves and how they were treated. It must be very, very hard to get these women to come forward and then to really help them.

RESICK: I think that's the case in the civilian world as well as the VA. I think it's very difficult to talk about these kinds of issues if you've been sexually assaulted. And I think people who have been a assaulted by an authority figure are going to have issues with trusting people that they view being in authority or working with the government or anything that's related to that. So, yes, it is overcoming a barrier for them to come forward and get treatment at times.

FOREMAN: Well, let's hope that folks can get plenty of help that they can. Patricia and Andrea, thank you both for being here to talk about this important issue.

FOREMAN: Coming up, "Flash Brief," what you need to know about the next week at war.

First, as we always do. Let's take a moment for a remembrance. Army Sgt. Brian Tutten was killed on Christmas day when a roadside bomb detonated near his unit in Bilad, Iraq. His body returned home to St. Augustine, Florida, on Tuesday. Tutten joined the Florida National Guard in 2002 and he was a member of the 82nd airborne division. His father-in-law says his son joined the army out of a sense of duty.

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GARY PETERSON, FATHER IN LAW: Doing this was a dream he'd had and he felt it was the right thing. And he felt in the long run it would make for a safer world for his children to grow up in.

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FOREMAN: Sergeant Tutten leaves behind his wife and two young children. He was 33 years old.

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FOREMAN: Time now for "Flash Brief," a quick look at all the things that will be coming up in the next week at war. Jamie McIntyre joins us from the Pentagon and there is a bombing in Turkey. Does this spell an increase of pressure between the Kurdish rebels and the Turkish government?

MCINTYRE: Well, I think so, Tom. I mean, one of the things that shows is you can't solve this kind of problem with military forces. Always a reaction. You need a political settlement and that's a long way off.

FOREMAN: North Korea says they told us everything about their nuclear program. We say you did not tell us. Who's right?

MCINTYRE: The U.S. says not really everything. In fact, one of the big bones of contention here is North Korea's assertion that it didn't have an secret uranium enrichment program. U.S. intelligence would counter that. And the U.S. is waiting for a full accounting.

FOREMAN: There are more investigation into the CIA interrogation tapes. The FBI is leading that. These are long-time rivals, the FBI and the CIA. Will there be any pay-back involved?

MCINTYRE: Well, there are open to pay back in the form of retribution but what it does show is that the FBI is being independent and looking into this because so many people ask for this - the 9/11 commission, congress, and others. There is a real possibility there could be a criminal activity in destroying those tapes.

FOREMAN: And a very serious matter. About a year ago, people are saying that these killings of civilians in Haditha, Iraq, were comparable to the (inaudible) massacre. A terrible accusation and yet now it appears that nobody will actually be charged for murder in that case.

MCINTYRE: That's right. The "New York Times" calls this, called it at one point the defining atrocity of the war. But what's turned out is that one of two things. Either prosecutors haven't been able to get the evidence to prove that case because it took so long for the military to pay attention or it's possible that this is just one of those bad things that happens in war. Mistakes are made. But the marines were doing the best they could. There are still some marines however facing charges, lesser charges, just not murder.

FOREMAN: All right. Jamie McIntyre, thanks so much for the "Flash Brief."

When we come back, a long-ago offensive in war that is still reverberating over the battlefield of Afghanistan and Iraq. We'll explain in just a moment.

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FOREMAN: There is no doubt that the current strategy has resulted in big successes in Iraq. But we should remember that this can evaporate very, very quickly. Forty years ago, this month, the United States was, if not winning, certainly not losing the war in Vietnam. Then came the Tet Offensive, when the North Vietnamese attacked more than 100 urban targets and they lost. They lost every battle. They lost 85,000 crack troops. But it did not look like they were losing. U.S. generals have been saying that the communists were defeated and on the run, and yet here they were, toe to toe with U.S. marines.

Weeks later, President Lyndon Johnson took himself out of the presidential race and the long, painful withdrawal from Vietnam began. So as we watch another unpopular war unfold in an election year, it's useful to remember we're not the only ones who study history. Not the only ones who know how a massive attack, even an unsuccessful one, can make a war unwinnable.

Thanks for joining us on "This Week at War." I'm Tom Foreman. I'll see you next week.

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