MR. SNOW: Because we're not going to undermine -- the incentive is people are getting blown up every day and they feel it keenly...But for those who suggest we stay the course, I am not so sure that the current plan is achieving the objective:
...These are the people that are taking the hits. Even though we have increased U.S. casualties, the real casualties right now are Iraqi people, and that kind of bloodshed I think provides plenty of incentive for trying to suppress violence and secure the government.
Q But Senator Hagel said specifically that the American people can't be expected to continue supporting the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq if they end up in the middle of a civil war.Is the current plan working? what is the plan for extraction?
MR. SNOW: Well, I think the President has said all along that he understands that a war is something that is very hard for a nation. And, furthermore, the entire focus right now is not only to prevent a civil war, but to create a civil society.
Do you believe Tony when he says things like the the following?
Q Just one more on this. You just touched on it, Tony -- can you characterize the level of concern here about the scope of the U.S. casualties? Almost -- probably 60 by now, with some of the casualties that have come in, in the last couple of days, have died in October alone.More importantly, here's a fantastic question: Are we winning?
MR. SNOW: The President has said many times, each and every casualty, a death or an injury, is something that he feels keenly, and the American people should.
Q One on Iraq again. Sorry. Just the simple question: Are we winning?To be fair, Tony does have an answer later in the press briefing as to what the W, Rove and Co. strategy for winning is. See if you think the plan is an actual plan or just an "end state," that does not constitute a plan:
MR. SNOW: We're making progress. I don't know. How do you define "winning"? The fact is, in taking on the war on terror -- let me put it this way, the President has made it obvious, we're going to win. And that means, ultimately, providing an Iraq that is safe, secure, and an ally in the war on terror. And at any given time, as you've seen in previous wars, there are going to be spikes in violence. And it is natural for Americans who have -- really are probably the most empathetic people on the face of the earth, to feel deeply the loss of those who have given their lives in battle.
But on the other hand, there's also the absolute determination to make sure not only that those lives are not lost in vain, but also that a noble purpose is served, and that noble purpose continues to be and will be the establishment of an effective and secure democracy in Iraq.
Q But your strategy for victory is the same, and could you articulate that?
MR. SNOW: No, the tactics for the strategy -- victory is the strategic aim at which we -- that we are trying to accomplish.
Q And how do you plan to accomplish that?
MR. SNOW: Well, you plan to accomplish it by continuing to work in concert with the Iraqi government to do a number of things, and also with other multinational forces. One is, to continue to build strength and competence among the Iraqi military, and also within the government -- for instance, in everything from agriculture to energy to economic ministries. When Prime Minister Maliki was here with his cabinet, most of the conversation had to do with more mundane pieces of government, because even though you do have heavy violence in places like Anbar and around Baghdad, you also have a number of provinces where there is peace and people are trying to build new lives.
So what you have is a multifaceted approach that works with building an Iraqi government that is going to have, ultimately, the means within its -- well, the means and capabilities of providing security, to have an Iraqi people who support that government, to have suppressed terror so that these people can live their lives freely, to have created the conditions for a better life. The President often talks about, for instance, the importance of oil as a national asset that can be shared by all the Iraqi people and build a sense of unity.
So there is -- when you talk about something as big as this issue, it is not a one-sentence answer because you have to deal with economics, you have to deal with politics, you have to deal with geopolitics, you have to deal with the military issues. And in each one of those areas, not only are we constantly assessing and reassessing what's going on, but we're doing it in consultation with the government.
Q Sounds more like an end state, Tony, than how to get there.
MR. SNOW: Well, again, as I've tried to explain, I don't think there's a simple answer to it simply because you do have a lot of moving parts, and it is an end state. The end state is to continue developing that.
What are we doing? We're continuing to train the Iraqi military. There have been efforts to train and professionalize the police. The Prime Minister has already talked about taking efforts, and these we support, to go into the Defense and Interior Ministries to make sure that everybody working those ministries is contributing to security and not to terror. So we can start breaking it apart, but it will be a very long conversation because it does have a lot of different pieces to it.