Hiltermann is not the usual tool we get on NPR. He seems thoughtful and informed on the Iraq disaster. Ydstie asked Hiltermann, "Are you concerned that American politics is now going to speed forward and require the withdrawal of American troops on a relatively rapid basis?" To which Hiltermann answers, "Yeah, that is a concern I have. You know, I was against the war, but now I'm against a precipitous withdrawal of American forces...created a huge security vacuum and you have to fill it lest the country and the region descend into chaos."
The report ended there, which I found pretty frustrating. Isn't that's where the piece should have started. I couldn't help but feel that Ydstie framed the report to simply end on a note favorable to the continuing occupation, but I wanted to hear what Hiltermann proposes as a way forward: How does he address the unpopularity of the American occupation among Iraqis? How does he see the occupation ever ending? What would he say to the Bush administration? etc.
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The second piece was a report from John Burnett embedded with US forces in an outpost outside of Baghdad. I have to give credit to Ydstie and Burnett for discussing how the administration's claim that Iraq is all about fighting al-Qaeda is misleading and simplifies a far more complicated situation facing US troops on the ground. Being "embedded" it's a limited report, but it was refreshing to hear NPR willing to air contradiction to some of Bush's lies.