August 9, 2004: Headlines: COS - Swaziland: Journalism: Television: Military Affairs: Hardball Trasncripts: Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews interviews General Tommy Franks: [on Draft] The reason I say draft is, we may face a situation, as you know, in Saudi Arabia.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Swaziland: Special Report: RPCV Journalist Chris Matthews: Chris Matthews: Archived Stories: August 9, 2004: Headlines: COS - Swaziland: Journalism: Television: Military Affairs: Hardball Trasncripts: Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews interviews General Tommy Franks: [on Draft] The reason I say draft is, we may face a situation, as you know, in Saudi Arabia.

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Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews interviews General Tommy Franks: [on Draft] The reason I say draft is, we may face a situation, as you know, in Saudi Arabia.

Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews interviews General Tommy Franks: [on Draft] The reason I say draft is, we may face a situation, as you know, in Saudi Arabia.

Swaziland RPCV Chris Matthews interviews General Tommy Franks: [on Draft] The reason I say draft is, we may face a situation, as you know, in Saudi Arabia.


MATTHEWS: The reason I say draft is, we may face a situation, as you know, in Saudi Arabia.


MATTHEWS: If that country comes apart. If Pakistan comes apart...

FRANKS: Right.

MATTHEWS: ... God knows what we would have to do. But we may need a huge military in the next couple of years. What are we going to do about it?

FRANKS: It‘s possible. I hope we don‘t need a draft. I hope we don‘t.

I believe one of the greatest experiments—or the most—the great success stories we‘ve had in the military in 25, 30 years is this all-volunteer force.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but that was during peacetime.

Will kids—right now, I understand that the float, the people who have signed up on some piece of paper or shown an interest in joining the military, the people who have come into training and physicals, is pretty low.

FRANKS: But I‘ve gone through a time in the military coming out of the Vietnam era where the—where the view of the military was so low that you—we couldn‘t recruit then either. And so I think it would be a long time before we have to take a national decision to go back to a draft. And I for one hope it never comes.

MATTHEWS: What about the backdoor draft of holding these reservists beyond their tours?

FRANKS: It‘s a bad thing. And it talks to the structure of our current military.

What that says is that we have too many people, perhaps, in the wrong jobs in our military. And here‘s what I mean. We need—we know we need infantrymen. We know we need military policemen, civil affairs specialists and all that.


FRANKS: And we don‘t have enough of those. But, Chris, we may have too many of some of the other things that we do in the military. So I think we have got to shake it up down inside the military. And...

MATTHEWS: You mean the total force levels are adequate?

FRANKS: I don‘t know that yet. They may be and they may not be.

I was impressed by the fact that the General Peter Schoomaker, the chief of staff of the Army, has recently worked with the secretary of defense to get more people in the Army.


FRANKS: Now, I think that‘s a good thing, but I don‘t know how many total it‘s going to take.

I do know or at least I‘m satisfied that we do need to make some adjustments down inside the structure.

MATTHEWS: Do you think we‘re honest enough in the government in the United States in letting people know the cost of war? For example, I had one half-day over at Walter Reed. And it certainly blows your mind.


MATTHEWS: Not that the young guys—I‘ve said this before, who maybe have lost a limb, have lost a leg above the knee. And this guy, he‘s got a job to do when he gets home. He has got to make some money to provide for a family. He can make it because he‘s a gung-ho kid. He‘s trained and he‘s ready to go.

You have got a guy who has lost his sight, lost a couple of limbs, brain damage, a lot of that stuff isn‘t getting in the papers and people aren‘t seeing it. I said these numbers, this month—last month, 566 wounded last month in Iraq, 970 -- there‘s actually over 1,000 if you count this month, because we just lost some in August. We‘ve got people dead, almost 1,000, but we know that 1,000 figure. What about all these wounded people?


FRANKS: Oh, I think the more coverage that we get of them, Chris, the better off we are.

And here‘s why. I was just at the burn center down at Brooke Army Medical Hospital in San Antonio. You look at these young people who have been disfigured and all of that and you ask the—you know, if you could do it all again, what would you do differently? Would you join the military, not join the military?

And have a kid look at you and say, all I want to do is get back to my unit. And so more coverage of these wonderful stories, of these wonderful young people, I think, is good for the country, because, in fact, they are paying a high price, just as people in the military and because you‘re a historian—you know this, Chris. People in the military have been paying that kind of price for a long, long time.

MATTHEWS: But aren‘t there a lot of pencil necks out there that think about war as, we‘re going to take them out; we‘re going to use U.S. military power to its utmost? Isn‘t there an ideology out there floating around—it‘s in the government, too.


MATTHEWS: We‘re going to make sure we maximize the use of U.S. military power in the world, as if it isn‘t a human fact, it‘s a mechanical thing. We‘re going to hear this power. Don‘t you hear that in the articles and that columns that are written?

FRANKS: Of course I do. I hear it. I see it. I don‘t know how true it is.

I know that my experience over the last two or three years has not been by people pressing me to, you know...

MATTHEWS: To take chances that you shouldn‘t?

FRANKS: Absolutely not.

People tell me all the time, well, Bush was hard over. He was going to do it in Iraq and all that sort of thing. It may be true. But he knew I was in charge of Iraq and he didn‘t talk to me about it.


FRANKS: And so it‘s hard for me to identify with anything that is hyperbole.


FRANKS: You know, you see—what we see is, we see 9/11 on one hand, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Then we see the other side. And I think the life in America is actually somewhere in the middle of all this.

MATTHEWS: Oh, I agree. But I think—but with misinformation, not necessarily intentional.


MATTHEWS: If the American people had known before the war that there was no—just the facts, we weren‘t going to find WMD—who knows if it‘s there somewhere?


MATTHEWS: That we weren‘t going to find an evident connection to 9/11 by that country...

FRANKS: Right.

MATTHEWS: Would they still have voted for the war?

FRANKS: Don‘t know. I actually do not know. But that‘s a far cry from a question that says, since people were intentionally misled.

MATTHEWS: No, I don‘t know. I‘ve been in life long to know everybody is a mixed bag.


MATTHEWS: But the fact is that, when we went to vote and the American people had to choose, really, the members of Congress voted for the people right before the 2002 election. And they were jammed.


MATTHEWS: All right. You got any guts? And guys like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, we‘re going to war. I don‘t care what they say now. They said, go ahead, Mr. President. Do what you have to do.

FRANKS: Sure. Sure.

MATTHEWS: So they were forced politically.

But the question is, if we had the right information about WMD, if we had the right information about al Qaeda‘s role—I mean, about Saddam Hussein‘s nonrole in 9/11, would we have still said yes?

FRANKS: I don‘t know. But I am satisfied that having said yes has enhanced the security of our country. I truly believe that.

MATTHEWS: Do you think in all your meetings with the president you had a pretty sure sense of what drove him as a leader of the country, why he felt we had to go to war?

FRANKS: I think so, and I say that because the same intelligence information the president, George W. Bush, I was also looking at.

MATTHEWS: Right. And he was worried about us or he was worried about the region?

FRANKS: I think he was worried about us, actually.

MATTHEWS: Getting hit by Saddam.

FRANKS: Absolutely right.

MATTHEWS: Did he believe the nuclear piece?

FRANKS: I don‘t know that. I don‘t know.

I know that I believed that Saddam was working on a nuclear piece and I know that I—I‘ll tell you what I put a lot of credence in was the last report that the U.N. inspectors did. And I saw it in ‘99 when it came out and said that there are enough biologicals out there to destroy, kill millions of people that are unaccounted for.



FRANKS: Well, I‘ll tell you, that very much played in my mind as we

led up to this. And I fully expected that our troops were going to get—

were going to


MATTHEWS: So you weren‘t thinking about the geopolitical Mideast remapping.

FRANKS: Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS: You were thinking about threat to the United States.

FRANKS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: OK. Makes sense.

More with General Tommy Franks when we come back.

And if you would like to read an excerpt of his book, “American Soldier”—that‘s the name of it—go to Better yet, go to your bookstore and get the book.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: Coming up, General Tommy Franks on the future of Iraq; plus, the newest ads in the battle for the White House.

HARDBALL back after this.


MATTHEWS: We‘re back with General Tommy Franks.

Except for the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States has not had to fight a defensive war on our own soil until now.

FRANKS: Right.

MATTHEWS: As a military veteran and you look at the headlines the last couple of days, how do you read that defensively capability of the United States? Is it tougher to defend than to attack?

FRANKS: It is tougher to defend than attack, absolutely.

I‘ve told so many of my friends that we‘re—right now, we have a multiple choice quiz on our hands. We either fight them over here or we fight them here. And right now, if we choose to fight them over there, we‘re still going to have to protect ourselves here. And that‘s a very tough thing.

MATTHEWS: Where do we find al Qaeda? We lost them in Tora Bora, didn‘t we?


MATTHEWS: Where do we find them if we go looking for them?

FRANKS: I know a lot of them are dead, Chris. And a lot of them are, you know, behind bars someplace. And I‘m satisfied with that.

I‘m not satisfied with the fact that we don‘t have bin Laden, Zawahiri and some of those guys.

MATTHEWS: Mullah Omar. Don‘t forget him, head of the Taliban.

FRANKS: Well, I actually am one of those guys who—and I talk about

it in the book a little bit. I wish Mullah Omar was no longer with us, but

the fact is that he‘s no longer a player in the terrorist


MATTHEWS: What you have in your mind‘s yes as a military man, if you had to go teach a course on al Qaeda tomorrow morning, where are they? Are they in Germany? Are they here, in Brooklyn, New Jersey? Are they in—where are they, in England?


FRANKS: I think cells. I think


MATTHEWS: But how do you defeat an enemy that is like


FRANKS: I‘m nodding because I think that‘s where they are.

MATTHEWS: How do you get them?

FRANKS: You stay with it.

You remember when you and I talked one time in May, we talked a little Churchillian sort of thing, where he says...


FRANKS: Churchill during the dark years. He said, you never give in, never, never, never, never.


FRANKS: And I think what we have right now is a real tough hill to climb and we never give in. We simply cannot give in. We pursue these guys until we‘ve destroyed every last cell.

But to answer your question, the toughest thing will be to defend our own population while that‘s going on, toughest thing for us to do.

MATTHEWS: Can we—should we be getting tougher? FRANKS: In what respect?

MATTHEWS: Well, in terms of airport crackdowns? I mean, a lot of it gets very tricky ethnically and human rights.

FRANKS: It absolutely does get tricky.

MATTHEWS: But there are obviously—if we were a fascist country, we would be doing this a lot more sure-handedly.

FRANKS: If we were a fascist country, we would have already done it.

And you look at the extreme measures the Israelis have to take. You look

at the processes


MATTHEWS: Do you ever fly on Israeli Airlines?

FRANKS: No, but I know a lot about them.

MATTHEWS: Forty-five-minute interview to get on the plane. And they look at your eyes. They look at everything. They ask you your politics. They ask you everything. And they have a right to say no.


FRANKS: But, Chris, the heck of it is that if we were the day after 9/11/01 right now, you would see America answer that question one way.

But right now, we‘re almost three years post-9/11/01.


FRANKS: And America will answer that question another way. I for one hope we never have to become that invasive of Americans in order to protect ourselves. I hope we don‘t.

MATTHEWS: Well, so far, it‘s only taking your shoes off. We can live with that.

FRANKS: Yes, sir. I can do that.

MATTHEWS: But that‘s one of strangest things we do in this country.

FRANKS: Even cowboy boots.


MATTHEWS: Taking our shoes off every time we get on an airplane.

Anyway, General, it‘s an honor, of course.

FRANKS: Sir, it‘s an honor for me.

MATTHEWS: Good luck.

“American Soldier,” please buy it. I don‘t usually do this, but it‘s sort of patriotic, isn‘t it?


FRANKS: Thanks a lot.

MATTHEWS: What a great guy.

Anyway, no, I mean it. It‘s great literature, too.

When we come back, new ads in the battle for the White House, TV ads.

And don‘t forget, you can keep up with the presidential race on HardBlogger—I love that word—our election blog Web site. Just go to We wouldn‘t be doing this 10 years ago.

You‘re watching HARDBALL on MSNBC.


When this story was prepared, this was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

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