LKL: "...they are fighting for the mate next to them."
LOU DOBBS: Let's go to Michael Ware now in Baghdad, where it's about 5:00 in the morning.
Michael, first, thank you for staying up with us here.
And, secondly, how is this raw political battle over the conduct of the war there playing out amongst our troops and with the Iraqi government itself?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the immediate term, Lou, obviously, everyone's focus is on what's happening in the street directly in front of them, right now.
That can even be argued from, not just the troops who are on those streets, but even for the American commander of this war, General David Petraeus. I mean, his focus right now is nothing but securing this capital, Baghdad. He's not looking anymore than five or six months ahead right now. He needs to make this work, funding or no funding. No matter what the political, artificial debate back in D.C. is, he needs to keep his eye on this job.
However, the insurgents, al Qaeda and Iran, they would, too, certainly be keeping an eye on the machinations back there in D.C., again, not because it's going to play immediately into -- in tactical terms, or even in strategic terms. But it does reflect the broader strategic malaise that America finds itself in right now.
America, strategically, is not on one path. There is not even a clear strategy for people to cling to, and to know that that's what will carry them forward. And that's how U.S. enemies will use this upheaval. It's on the strategic level -- Lou.
DOBBS: And, Michael, of course, the Democratic leadership in Congress insists that the reason for this battle, this showdown, this contest with the White House is to serve notice on the Maliki government that it must get its government in order, must be effective in moving its troops and security forces and police into the streets of Baghdad and around the country, and taking control of security for itself.
Is it having, as best you can judge it, from those you speak with, both publicly and privately, that effect among the government officials you speak with?
WARE: Look, if Democratic members of Congress believe that their grandstanding over funding cuts and timelines and so forth is in any way putting real pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on a day-to-day basis, I'm afraid that they are most likely deluding themselves.
Prime Minister Maliki already knows he has got his last throw of the dice. President Bush has already made that clear. And, when you have a U.S. four-star here on the ground, in your face, not to mention such senior U.S. ambassadors as Zalmay Khalilzad, or now Ambassador Crocker, I mean, that's where you know the pressure applies, where they are telling you: "Buddy, this is it. You make it work, or you're gone."
It's been made very clear to Prime Minister al-Maliki, well before this congressional back-and-forth, that he was on borrowed time, and that America will be looking to different alternatives, if he cannot deliver. And, quite frankly, there's not a lot to suggest that he can.
DOBBS: Now from the broader strategic and tactical implications for us, let's go to that which matters most to nearly every America, I would certainly assume. And that is the morale of our troops, as this is being played out before them, this contest over the conduct of the war.
Again, as best you can judge it, the effect, if any, on the morale of our troops there.
Michael, can you hear me?
WARE: Yes, I'm sorry, Lou. There was -- no, there was something in my ear.
In terms of troop morale?
WARE: Yes. I believe your question related to troop morale.
In that regard, I mean, OK, sure, these kids sweating it out in these streets, these kids driving these Humvees that are just being torn apart by hidden roadside bombs, and these poor Marines out in the western deserts, who, right now, as you're sitting where you are, and here I am, at 5:00 a.m. in Baghdad, at this instant, are behind sandbags on the end of machine guns, waiting for potential al Qaeda attacks.
Now, they would be aware, in the general background noise, of what is happening politically. But, day to day, they are fighting for the mate next to them, for their brother in arms. For them, in this war, as in all wars, that's what it boils down to.
So, will it be a kick in the guts? Absolutely. But these kids will still tough it out, because they are doing it for the guy beside them.
DOBBS: Michael, thank you.