On March 22, 2017, I attended the Brookings Institutions to go see the seminar of the Interrogation of Saddam Hussein and U.S. policy in Iraq from 10:00 to 11:30. The featured speaker was John Nixon, who is known as a Middle East expert who served as a CIA analyst and moderator, Bruce Riedel. Nixon worked briefly on Capitol Hill and was hired as a leadership analyst for the CIA in 1998. While at the CIA, he worked on Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, and is thus one of the few analysts who worked on George W. Bush’s designated “Axis of Evil”. The meeting was held in a conference room where Nixon went over the findings and information on interrogating Hussein. “In order to able to interrogate Hussein, you have to live, breath, and known Saddam Hussein” (Nixon). When Nixon started working in Iran the only challenges he had was not knowing the languages and having to start building relationships and connections with the important people in the field due to the fact that everyone knew everyone. As the integration came to effect, Nixon finally got the chances to talk to Saddam Hussein. Nixon believes Hussein was willing to negotiate with the United States on its security concerns. Hussein persona was intriguing when he walked in a room; the whole vibe of the room changes. He would make jokes here and there, and try to create small talks towards the guards and Nixon. “It was almost like he was not the guest in this situation” (Nixon). He would often use this tactic to put two sides against each other instead of them focusing on the bigger picture which was Hussein. The guards would say “we’re here to ask the questions not you”. Certain topics that Nixon would bring up to Hussein made him less talkative and more secretive or he would even get mad at times. There were so many sides to him, Nixon and Hussein’s relationship was like cat and mouse basically. Hussain gave a lot of information as to why he “understand” his country a lot, Zionist concept, reasons, and invasions in his country. Nixon using make jocks here and there during the seminar, which I thought was cool, because of that fact that he did so many ruthless things due to his job, but it shows that he just like an average Joe. At the end of the seminar the moderator, Bruce Riedel introduces the questions and answers segment to the audience, where the audience asked many questions about the U.S. policy, weapons of mass destructions, Bush, and other topics. There was also a book signing with Nixon.
Monday, December 1, 2014 at 5 p.m. at the Atlantic Council. During my time at the Atlantic Council, I was very interested from the beginning on how the mediator of the talk with Dr. Gregory F. Treverton, the Chairman of the US National Intelligence Council, asked specific and more personal questions. The Questions were dealing with Iraq and Russia were on how things could have been prevented, or dealt with better as problems arose.
In the first section of the interview, Russia was the main focus. Not what was going on in Russia, but the United States’ relationship with them. The first question to the chairman was, “Should we have known where things were going in Russia? What is YOUR take? Take us back, and how you feel now.” The chairman responded in a very unique way. He referred to first the Cold War, saying that in 1989-1991 after long debates and a drawn out process, peace was finally found. Also, he talked about 9/11 and how there was a clear cut set of “instructions” to deal with the issue; go after the bad people. He stated that although maybe one geopolitical framework is gone, it is not being replaced by a new one, and the US was kind of dismissive of the subject. This in turn was seen as a “diss” to Putin, and since Russia was not as much of a power as they were during the Cold War era, the US jumped to new feelings towards Russia, and showed things will quickly change with time.
Other than Russia, the chairman was also asked about the United States and securities take on the ISIS situation in Iraq. “We failed to sense how fast ISIS would sweep across Iraq. Is there anyway this could have been different?” The chairman responded by basically saying it was not just the work of ISIS, but their success has and will continue to be partially on behalf of how fast Iraqi forces melted. Their will to fight could not be changed and disintegrated at the first sight of the conflict and violence going on. The US was wrong about their adversaries and allies in thinking that would want to fight to try and end the terrorism going on. Also, even with ISIS being careful not to unveil any important information, the violence and brutality came as a surprise to outsiders looking in on things such as the videos of American’s being beheaded. With all this trouble in Iraq and with ISIS, the chairman is certain ISIS will be caught up to.