O'Reilly's evolving deadline on preparing Iraqi security forces
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly declared on the September 26 edition of The O'Reilly Factor that Iraqi security and law enforcement forces should be given "another year and a half" to prepare to defend their country by themselves. But this is a substantially longer time frame than O'Reilly proposed less than two months earlier, on August 3, when he stated, "I mean, within six months, they either do it or they don't. I mean, we can't be South Vietnamese [sic] all over again. Either you fight or you don't." In amending his deadline, O'Reilly neither acknowledged his previous statement, nor gave any reasons for setting the new, longer deadline.
Discussing the current status of the Iraq war with Fox News military analysts David Hunt and Bill Cowan on the August 3 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly set a deadline of six months:
COWAN: But I'd add one thing, if I could, Bill. When you talk about the Iraqi people, you're right. A lot of responsibility on the Iraqi people to change things. But they don't know what's going to happen. They're still not sure what side they're going to land up with at the end of the game here. And the killings, intimidation, fear, kidnappings of Iraqis, it's not something we talk about regularly here on the news, Bill. But my friends in Iraq say it's rampant.
O'REILLY: Of course.
COWAN: It's unbelievable. And you mention coming in here, the killings down in Basra. In Baghdad itself, Shiites killing Sunnis, Sunnis killing Shiites.
O'REILLY: But that's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about that American forces can't provide security for the people.
COWAN: Can't do it, Bill. They can't. Because the people are afraid. They can't provide it.
O'REILLY: So either the Iraqi forces are going to have to provide the security, and you guys both say they're not, or we lose.
COWAN: Bill, we are not on a good glide path right now. And it's going to be tough. And David's exactly right. When we're talking about pulling out, all the Iraqi people are sitting back saying, well, if they're pulling out, I better decide where I want to be.
O'REILLY: If they've got 90 battalions of Iraq troops, I mean, within six months, they either do it or they don't. I mean, we can't be South Vietnamese all over again. Either you fight or you don't. That's it.
But on the September 26 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly, challenged by Newsday columnist Ellis Henican, set a new, "fair" deadline of a "year and a half" for the Iraqis to "get [their] police and army up and running so that [they] can deal with the insurgency":
HENICAN: But don't -- don't -- let's do one war at a time. What do you say? Let me tell you, this whole notion of staying the course makes no sense unless things are getting better. This is like staying the course when the course --
O'REILLY: All right.
HENICAN: -- is off the edge of a cliff.
O'REILLY: That's not a crazy argument.
HENICAN: We've got to back off from that argument.
O'REILLY: Well, I don't know if we have to back off, but we certainly have to say to the Iraqis privately, not publicly, you have a certain amount of time to get your police and army up and running so that you can deal with the insurgency.
HENICAN: So 10 years? So what do you want to give them?
O'REILLY: Well --
HENICAN: We've given them two-and-a-half already. How much do you want to give them?
O'REILLY: I don't know. I think, to be fair, you'd have to give them another year and a half.
HENICAN: I suspect --
O'REILLY: I think that would fair.
HENICAN: I suspect that in six months, you're going to be sitting on this side of the table, joining me in this decision and saying, "You know what? This is just not getting any better."