It's November 29th of 2006 and Anderson Cooper is in Amman Jordan. The second hour of AC360 was a special hour devoted to the varying opinions of how to end the war in Iraq. We found a lot of the information interesting and relevant given what is currently going on in the region and how the war in Iraq effected U.S. relations with Syria and Iran... It also made us really miss Michael Ware and his fountain of knowledge on the region; and wonder why Nic Robertson hasn't been on AC360 Later. We think Nic would make a wonderful panel member when Syria or Iran or U.S. International Relations are topics of discussion, as would Ivan Watson.
ANNOUNCER: ...on the ground, but it may be no match for a militia led by perhaps the most powerful man in Iraq. Courting danger. Showdown with Iran and Syria. The White House calls them terrorist states. But to stabilize Iraq, will the president have to answer to their terms? Across the country and around the world, this is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Iraq: The End Game." Reporting from Amman, Jordan, here is Anderson Cooper.
Anderson opened the hour explaining the reason and format for the special hour which began with reports from John Roberts and Randi Kaye to get us up to speed...
Those reports were followed by....
COOPER: The president has his panel of experts to tell him what the next move in Iraq should be. So do we tonight. Joining me now here in Amman is CNN's Michael Ware; from Washington, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Bob McGinnis; and "New York Times" Chief Military Correspondent Michael Gordon, who's also the co-author of the book, "Cobra II," about the war in Iraq. All of you, thanks for being with us. (Before going to commercial there was a video clip of a then young Senator from the State of IL, our now President Barack Obama, commenting on the situation at the time.)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: For only through this phased redeployment can we send a clear message to the Iraqi factions that the United States is not going to hold together this country indefinitely. That it will be up to them to form a viable government that can effectively run and secure Iraq.
COOPER: Welcome back. Tonight, we are taking a look at the military options left for Iraq, the endgame.
Before the break, you heard why General John Abizaid believes that some form of the current strategy might still be able to bring victory and stability to the country.
Of course, that view is not shared by everyone, especially Democrats who will soon control Congress. Many of them and many Americans think it's time to bring our men and women home, if not all of them, at least some of them, as part of a timed withdrawal.
CNN's Gary Tuchman takes a look at that strategy.
And after Gary's report the panel was back fro more discussion ~
COOPER: The peek for Iraq was 160,000 troops. Now, at any given moment, there are roughly 145,000 U.S. servicemen and women in Iraq. For many, that number is way too high and the sooner our men and women come home, the better they say.
Not everyone, of course, sees it that way, including one of the possible front runners for the next presidential election. Senator John McCain, a retired U.S. Navy pilot and a prisoner of war in Vietnam says more Americans are needed on the frontlines. And he has company in that.
CNN's Tom Foreman reports.
After Tom's report the panel was back with more discussion ~
COOPER: Welcome back. Again, our focus tonight is Iraq, and what the next step should be. We have already looked at bringing the troops home, sending more in and staying the course.
There is another alternative being thrown around Washington, and it's based more on faith than force. To end the sectarian bloodshed, some say, the country has to be split apart.
CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports.
After Jamie's report the panel was back with more discussion ~
COOPER: When Saddam Hussein was toppled, the U.S. hoped his fall would bring peace to that country. Instead, another very dangerous leader has emerged -- Muqtada al-Sadr. He's a radical Shia cleric, influential, powerful and with a massive private army at his disposal. Perhaps the greatest threat in Iraq.
CNN's Nic Robertson has a profile.
COOPER: That is the startling statistic. Militias have penetrated some 70 percent of the Iraqi police. And given how vital the Iraqi security forces are for the country, it is difficult to imagine any new strategy for the war working if the enemy is at anywhere -- is everywhere.
There are tough decisions for the president, Congress and tough decisions for our guests again.
CNN's Michael Ware joins us now. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Bob McGinnis and "New York Times" Chief Military Correspondent Michael Gordon.
COOPER: Everyone has an opinion about what should be done in Iraq, what the next move needs to be. The truth is, there are no easy solutions, only hard choices.
And while we remember that, we must never forget that there are Americans risking their lives in Iraq every single day. Let's not forget their bravery and their hard work.
I'm Anderson Cooper from Amman, Jordon. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" is next.
We'll be back next week with the 10PM ET hour of AC360 from Amman Jordan from November 30, 2006; Anderson's last day of his trip. Hope you join us!
Anderson was in Cleveland last night, the keynote speaker for the United Way of Greater Cleveland's 100th birthday gala event. Following are a few photos posted to Instagram and Twitter.