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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  January 30, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm EST

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right across the bridge. >> how long have you lived in the united states? >> well, more than 20 years. accept that i'm only 23. >> do you miss home? >> yes, i do. i miss home a lot of in the role of the executive director as the tutu institute prepare and pilgrimage, i get to go home and take groups with me. > "made for goodness." :
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another important and terrific book. this is the third one that you come on the history of al qaeda and osama bin laden and if it's fair to say you've established yourself as a preeminent historian of the radical islamist movement and i find this book shows why because it's concise, i think it's really the best summary of what's happened since 9/11. but we start by asking a very basic part to answer a question which is what should we be
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calling the conflict about which you write the subtitle what do we call it? >> guest: first of all things to for those comments. i'm happy to have such a well qualified author like yourself has read the book and we are having this discussion. what should we call it is an interesting question. i think there is a problem about this conflict because as i say in the book president obama had an interesting question when he came into office which is how to define the war on terror and i think the liberal side of the democratic party and the europeans would have liked him to read it as a police action towards terrorists and that would have been 91 multiple levels. al qaeda has been at war with us since 1998 when the blow of our embassies in africa. they have done more like things for us to kind of pretend that
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it isn't war would be wrong. on the other hand president george w. bush by framing it as a conflict which he did nine days after 9/11 was to overestimate the problem. al qaeda isn't nazi is a more communism. i don't feel we've had the language to explain exactly because it is a form of warfare but the nearest form of warfare that in terms of the american historical terms is perhaps the war against the barbary pirates which is certainly a war but it wasn't an interstate war, and it wasn't to destroy the republic. >> host: in the one of the difficulties of naming it is they were not afraid to say that barbary wars or indy 500 in wars we were not afraid to say war, whereas since 9/11 we have been free to say islamist wars or the 9/11 on islami, of course what we want to avoid. >> guest: and president obama
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says it's a war against al qaeda and its allies and that is useful because this is just as fdr on u-boats who the enemy is and particularly because the al qaeda and its allies allows you to the allow yourself from al qaeda and we are no longer at war with you, so to the taliban never got around to saying actually al qaeda is a bad thing and 9/11 was a bad thing. they would be aligned themselves and no longer be yet format with them. i'm not holding their breath that they will. i don't think they are rational actors in the sort of kissinger moment they are not going to say most of what we thought was wrong i don't think they are going to do that. >> it's very rare that he would see that kind of moment in a low intensity conflict in a war against an inch insurgency or terrorist group is very rare
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like the japanese on the deck of the misery the instrument surrendered. it to say the course of a generation. >> guest: right. and so, i think al qaeda will. one of the best lines early on that george w. bush said i presume was written by mike anderson is that al qaeda izzie essentially at the dustbin of history, actually no, he said the unmarked grave of discarded lives. a was a great line and i think it's true. it is a set of lies essentially for a group that positions itself as muslims civilians and also with his losing the war of ideals and one of the points i try to make in the book is that support for suicide bombing, al qaeda is just tanking most muslim countries for the very good reason they look at this
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phenomenon more carefully and realized the ideologies that attacked us on september 11th, 2001 is the same ideology of sending suicide bombers in two hotels in jakarta or oil facilities in saudi arabia and in jordan and the list goes on and on. >> host: it's easy to see based on the evidence that you are putting of and indeed a number of people say what's the big deal. they are losing support in the islamic world, they are not going to topple a bunch of regimes across the middle east. they are certainly not going to establish the caliphate among the middle east so why should we care about them and devote the resources and attention that we have been devoting to them since 9/11? >> guest: yeah, well it's not a plausible argument. i don't share that view and i pretty sure you don't -- >> guest: it doesn't mean they are a threat of some form.
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it's come up reading the kind of threat. if you go back to christmas day, 2000 might come if they succeeded in blowing up the fight over detroit killing 300 mostly americans on board and more people on the ground, it wouldn't have any 9/11 event but it would of been a big deal and a crippling blow to the obama presidency. second, dealt a crippling blow to the aviation, tourism, international travel which is the lifeblood of the econ money, and we what have recovered, but it would have been a substantial problem. so they are capable of substantial losses, somewhat substantial losses. far from existential family of ron 9/11. >> host: its dhaka the post 9/11 response to read your critical elements in the bush administration policy for example you write the global war
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on terrorism framework propelled the bush administration towards disasters and entitlement in iraq which had nothing to do but was launched on the war on terror did the same time you also write there's little doubt that some of the measures the bush administration and congress took after made america safer. you cite for the simple the patriot act, the setting up of the national terrorism standard, the u.s. operation of foreign intelligence and some other things primarily in the security realm. so where do you come down bottomline on the bush administration to do they do more harm than good or good than harm? do they make american of the world safer in the end? >> guest: historians will be debating that. i think overall, the bush administration did a lot of things that made sense. but they also did some things like he didn't make sense. the invasion of iraq be essentially the biggest. >> host: we will talk about that in a minute. >> guest: i think the
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interrogations', i don't use the word torture in the book which is sort of floated. if you have any federal prosecutor or fbi agent who is life and bread, bread and butter is effective common on corrosive interrogation would have said this is both unnecessary in the legal i share that view. guantanamo didn't do much good obviously in the war of ideas but preaching the virtues of democracy and human rights in the muslim world that hypocritically seem to reserve the right to make for those purposes and the chapter i devote, you are a historian of small war in this country and the victory against taliban was one of the great unconventional victories of both the post world war ii time frame, but the same set of policies that allow us to overthrow the taliban failed completely at the bottom of tora
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bora. relatively small numbers of the forces on the ground working with the northern alliance failed at tora bora and bin laden and the top leadership escapes from tora bora. and again historians will be debating whether there could have been another approach. we don't know where bin laden is. we say he may be in the fourth frost frontier of pakistan or in virginia but it's not a very useful -- in tora bora we had his cordons down to one point from where he was and we had multiple radio intersects with his presence. >> host: i don't dispute with what you say about torah borut beano huge miscalculation. samore observations in terms of your position on guantanamo because the administration was in a very tough position where it faced either the proper process of setting up some kind of a new facility to hold
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terrorist detainee's indefinitely or else processing them through the criminal justice system and there are huge downside to processing them to the criminal justice system. where do you come down on that? do you think everyone should go through the normal criminal courts? >> guest: guantanamo is very complex. because there is the kind of the legal principles surrounding it, which eventually the supreme court found against quite a number of the claims for instance that they have no right to habeas corpus lawyers and these kinds of things come and then there were the people who were put in guantanamo, which these are two different things, and other people were put in guantanamo shouldn't have been there in the first place like the multiple fpi senior al qaeda experts who said we didn't get a lot of useful information. on the other hand of people like khalid sheikh mohammed who was in the cia's secret prison. what you do with tennis, you know, you don't pretend it's easy, and of course the obama administration has not had it easy, but as a general principle if we are sitting here in
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manhattan, federal courts in manhattan have a 100 per cent conviction rate for a terrorist. the, you know, the sebelius -- >> host: is also a lot of places because the government especially in the clinton at fenestration didn't think it had enough evidence for example before the secret indictment was delivered against bin laden they couldn't really move against them, right? >> guest: right. that is the very good point. they didn't really know enough about bin laden until the secret indictment came down and probably least 97. and a matter of fact that indictment is partly based on some of the things he said to us in the cnn interview that i produced in which he was citing violence against soldiers. look, i'm not pretending that this is easy, but i can think that -- i try to be fair to the vision of attrition. the context of these decisions was in the anthrax attacks after
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9/11, the condoleezza rice is quoted in the book saying after 9/11 the system was flooded with information about every possible threat so every 7 a.m. national security meeting was just a huge panoply of potential things that might be very bad that might go wrong and everything was sort of coming into the system and that was the context of which the decisions were made. i think that many of these decisions were wrong and it's not my opinion probably the supreme court's opinion or its with the bush administration eventually did because if you look of the bush administration the first time versus the second time it's really sort of night and day. >> host: it can't help you to do so by the courts but a lot of things they did have stayed in effect and has been endorsed by president obama. >> guest: that is exactly what i was going to say. it's not that the continuity is
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between bush terminal ii eda obama term that we are in. there is a lot of continuity, and in particular obviously in afghanistan, you know, not only continuity but decently the obama and fenestration doubled down and since we last talked about afghanistan, you know, i think there has been a huge underreported shift which is the december 2014. the republican president has said we are going to be four more years in afghanistan with a substantial number of troops and in fact we will be there after that as -- >> host: president mccain were sitting senator breaux, would be leading the opposition. >> guest: maybe not senator obama but the liberal side of the democratic party -- >> host: i feel would be central, based on his past record. beginning in the commanders seat he has a different position that lawmakers just don't have. >> guest: media of all obama he was always characterizing the
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afghan war and the iraq war as the wrong war. there's no debating the the liberal side of the democratic party would be very opposed if this were a republican president and because it doesn't fit with the narrative of the peace prize winning president on the democratic party, it sort of is not just the democratic party it is the press itself seems to have missed this. it's a huge story of a much bigger story than of the surge, the 30,000 troops which i get into in some detail in the book which was a subject of incredible attention at the time >> host: after the afghanistan what he's doing is courageous in terms of breaking with the dominant wing of his own party. >> guest: yeah, and he knows the american public has of course turned against the war, so you know, this is a political risk but part of it is a hypothesis. why i agree with you is if you
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look at the afghan pakistan problem in a serious way and are with the problem living with it for years as the head of restoration has general mcchrystal was asking for 40,000 soldiers of 2013, doubling the size of the afghan national security forces to be in the book i recount of the national security council meeting was greeted with horror because of was a severe case of sticker shock of how much this will cost. now we just sat the last couple of days the afghan national security forces are going to be doubled to 400,000. we are going to be there. we now past december 2014. so the things the u.s. military ask for in the meeting has been given more which is kind of fighting the ironic given the pushback of the time. >> host: it's still only 50,000 troops whereas mcchrystal had been asking for 40,000 as a medium option three
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>> guest: there was some 7,000 for nato. we just said the 14 -- >> host: it's not exactly disclosed. >> guest: he was asking 2013 and notes of 2014. i just think, you know, de -- the military kind of view of this and the administration view is closely aligned at this point. >> host: that is absolutely right. what's also interesting is the extent to which the arguments about afghanistan are similar to the arguments that were being made about iraq a few years ago because when we were in the middle of the iraq or not the critics would say that it's not winnable and we don't need to win because the real battle in afghanistan and now that we are in a afghanistan we are aware of the war is unwinnable. it's in pakistan, somalia, somewhere else. how do you respond to those criticisms? >> guest: and and there is a problem in yemen but that doesn't mean we should abandon
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the afghanistan pakistan is the central front for want of a better term. i mean, osama bin laden is there and al-zawahiri, al qaeda was founded in pakistan in 1988 in the northwest frontier province. this is an area that i know very well. westerners keep coming to the regions of pakistan and, you know, kind of subset of the argument that you're making or presenting is the idea that while because they are in pakistan we should be doing less than in afghanistan. >> host: a lot of people think we should focus on afton and rhetoric in pakistan. >> guest: we should do both. is short of an attack in manhattan as the tribal regions of pakistan. we can't send the ground forces. if such an attack happens i think the politics around that would change but we should be doing as much as we can in both
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places because we have already run the tape twice before. we've already done nothing in afghanistan and the past. in 1989 we posed the embassy to the george w. bush administration didn't to be enough because of the opposition of the nation-building post 9/11 and so, you know, we already know what looks like. it would be more persuasive if we hadn't already tried to do either nothing or direct flight. we've already done the approach and they were both found wanting, but i think that if a year from now or 18 months from now we are still in the same place a lot of people and putting yourself would have to say perhaps this isn't working for whatever reason. >> host: are you talking about afghanistan or pakistan? >> guest: mostly afghanistan. >> host: with about pakistan because it that we were on the right path. it doesn't mean we are going to prevail but we do have a
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plausible strategy and the resources to carry out. i am not so certain that is the case in pakistan. do you feel we are on the right track and if not where should we be going? >> guest: it's very difficult, but let me throw out because we hear so many of the problems in pakistan i will throw out some things that are quite promising. one, you have an independent press in pakistan. ten years ago you had the state tv. now you have got several dozens of those stations which are quite anti-american but also quite antitaliban and pro-democracy as a general principle. second, the lawyers movement which general musharraf, and third, the pro religious kaput taliban religious parties political parties had been an isolated in the polls in pakistan. pakistan does not want taliban against our rule. these pro taliban religious parties about 2% of the vote in the last election, so you know, there are some positives. the - courses there is a story
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in "the new york times" a few days ago about the assassin of the governor of print to -- punjab who was showered bredesen people who got musharraf out of power. they are pro-democracy but supporting a guy that assassinates one of the most important politicians in the country just on the basis that the opposition to the blasphemy law. >> host: and this isn't all the wild frontier. this is on the heart of urban pakistan. >> guest: right. that is worse. and so, people have been predicting a fall of pakistan for years and i have always been very skeptical. since 1983. pakistan has gone through much worse. they lost part of their country in 1971. they have lost or have strong three and half wars with india. the federal the existential crisis. >> host: the major foreign policy said they had made the wrong decision. >> guest: except in the united states and the essentially destroying the soviet union and
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afghanistan, and there was a good call. >> host: it was a good called in the fact they were getting most of their support in the other radical jihadists isn't such a good thing. >> guest: was a bad call. and, you know, they have had certain costs and aligning themselves in the united states. after all, the united states in this conflict because, you know, the united states caused the 20% reading in pakistan every poll going back years. the united states is unpopular, and so every government has to perform a fairly delicate balancing act. but yes i agree it is a cliche but to the war is mostly about pakistan's and i think if we had the conversation to years ago we would have been surprised with the pakistan military had gone in a serious way to fight the taliban and in southern waziristan but that may be the ceiling of with your prepared to do. in fact, in my view we are not
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going to get much more from them in. >> host: are there things we have that we are not using or things we should be doing? it seems like we've tried everything and at the end of the day we have little leverage over pakistan. >> guest: it is a country with no natural weapons and will be the largest in 2015. they have a 5,000 man army. we cannot boston around and we are naive to think we can. we have a better policy of pakistan on to important levels. under the george still you bush administration we turn people to pakistan, secretary paul and they were probably recalling on pakistan to do more. that was very counterproductive. they think they are doing quite well. they've lost more soldiers fighting the taliban than we have and nato, and afghanistan, and they say it's true. and secondly we are offering pakistan a long term strategic partnership and i think pakistan takes them as a friend, with
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some justification. and we need to try to get past that in our interest and their interest or more alive today than they were several years ago and so that is a good thing but we shouldn't expect miracles and i were the general i would be making a lot of the same decisions. he's going to be bordering on afghanistan and india, pakistan is forever. we are going to leave at some point. >> host: i have to say i'm a little disappointed but not surprised you haven't come up with a magic solution for pakistan. i wish somebody would figure out how to solve it. i've been looking for years and i haven't found anybody -- >> guest: let me tell you a concrete thing that would be good. 60% of the economy is a textile business. we have tough tax on the textiles with this country on the pakistani textiles their relatively high. though it be a substantial thing of course people in north carolina in congress and opposed to this but fixing some of the
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tariffs barriers on the textiles is the kind of thing you can concretely dubow would buy you a lot of good will, which i think will happen. >> host: i agree with you. i think it is a good thing it's not going to solve the problem. we hope to make it a little more prosperous and inclined towards radicalism. most of your book obviously is a history of the last ten years. let me get back to the history which is primarily about the bush administration and the responses to 9/11. we talked about the good and that the administration did in your view. should president bush be credited for the fact there hasn't been a major terrorist attack on american soil since 9/11? >> guest: sure but he should be discredited for a fact that 9/11 happened. this was the largest mass murder in american history. you know, president george w.
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bush and condoleezza rice and people in the administration were getting a lot of information about the possibility of a major al qaeda attacked. president bush took the longest presidential vacation in three decades in the summer of 2001 despite the fact he was getting information. condoleezza rice testified before the 9/11 commission that the government was a battle station between the summer of 2001. it wasn't. the historical record shows i did some very simple, just look at the public statements and private actions of all these people and the bush administration and in their private meetings and their public statements the threat didn't really register because it didn't fit with their world view. they were concerned with antiballistic defense and china and iraq and al qaeda didn't fit with the view. part is the had been out of office for eight years and they haven't processed the fact that in on state actor like al qaeda
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could be a serious threat. >> host: i think that is certainly a fair criticism but as you said, the other side is that after 9/11 the suddenly became three alarmed and some of which were highly controversial, some of which went overboard but a lot of which i would argue so it's like you would argue as well or pretty effective in al qaeda. >> guest: bringing it on the war of the fbi and the cia was long overdue. so the information gathered in the intelligence operation could be handed to law enforcement. these were sort of no-brainers but it took 9/11 for it to happen. there's an interesting thought experiment i don't do in the book but what would have happened if our core was in office on 9/11? my personal view is the democratic party would be out of business. >> host: there would be blamed for the attack. >> guest: it would have happened under their watch.
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it's a bipartisan failure. i think george w. bush, the administration comes for more criticism in my book but the administration didn't respond to the u.s.'s coal. mike sheehan who is the investor for counterterrorism at the state department did is we said after the attack what is it going to take al qaeda attacking the pentagon before we respond. so the lame-duck clinton met fenestration didn't respond to the call and then the new bush administration didn't respond partly because it didn't happen on their watch and they didn't commit osama bin laden certainly took some lessons from that. when they were preparing the 9/11 attacks, one of the things i try to save the book is that 9/11 was a strategic fill your for al qaeda. at the time it didn't seem like a big success the was a tactical success would not a victory because it didn't achieve the goals of the organization, but one of the things that al qaeda said post facto many years later
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was in fact 9/11 was cleverly conceived to get the united states to invade afghanistan, bleed them to death. this is a rationalization. what they really expected was the united states would pull out of the middle east. the saudi regime and the mubarak regime would then crumble and they would give the taliban democracy and the middle east. none of that happened. the lack of response meant they thought the only kind of response the united states would do this christmas of attacks or bombing runs on the training camps as they evacuated the training camp. they didn't prepare for an invasion of the country. they were surprised by that and so al qaeda now lost its base in afghanistan. they never recovered anything like it and one of the things when people say there's only 16 members of al qaeda in afghanistan and three injured 50 in pakistan, sure, that's actually true but it's also sort of irrelevant. there are only 200 members of
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the al qaeda on 9/11. it's always been a small group, and so what they had before 9/11 was a country at their disposal and they had thousands of trading, thousands of people going through training camps and to focus on the al qaeda is a mistake because every muslim terrorist groups and insurgent group in the world was either headquartered or had a major operation before the taliban and then of course al qaeda astana the apex of the taliban came back into afghanistan it wasn't just the al qaeda it would be an alphabet soup of mohammed that the more islamic liberation front. the list goes on and on. it would be kind of a welcome back into the fold. >> host: slightly. -- absolutely. what about the invasion to invade iraq. this decision to go into afghanistan. you are very critical in this book about the invasion of iraq
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and you even go so for to see why any rational standard the country didn't pose a threat to the united states. i agree with a lot of your criticism and i think that you are on the money in terms of the lack of preparation for the postinvasion phase and the way the bush administration to get off afghanistan to focus on iraq. i think that is true but i can't help thinking you were going a little bit far when you say there is any rational standard iraq couldn't have posed to the united states when this is a country weekend previously fought before there was a country that invaded two of its neighbors, iran and kuwait that has come to dominate the world, the supply of oil. clearly it had been and continues to be a strategic threat to the united states otherwise if of a we wouldn't of the no-fly zone. so are you really still confident that there was no rationale at all for toppling saddam hussein?
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>> guest: the stated rationale turn out to be wrong as you know. wmd was the big thing weapons of mass destruction. i don't deal with that well in the book because it's been dealt with elsewhere but i do go into some detail about the notion that al qaeda and saddam hussein were linked, and the reason that's important is you have to make several -- if it of using was going to be a threat he had to say several things not just one. you have to say the things you just said. you have to say that he had wmd, but because he didn't have the ballistic missile system to deliver these wmd to the united states you have to say he was linked to terrorists including al qaeda and he might get the wmd to al qaeda and one of the most persuasive element at the time when i saw secretary paul's of the united nations was the idea that he was treating them on the weapons of mass destruction. unfortunately that turned out to be the fruit of an extraordinary
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rendition. he was taken to egypt and ordered not to be tortured and he gave up all sorts of false information and that was even before powell made the speech the defense intelligence agency and others were saying he was probably lying. so the chain of logic that allows you to think that saddam hussein did pose a threat to the united states, the whole chain was long. host qtr knott he didn't have wmd or the al qaeda connection by the we are going far on the of the direction by saying he didn't pose any threat to the united states at all. guesstimated pence what you mean by threat to the united states. i am talking about a threat to the united states proper, i am not talking to american interest writ large. >> host: this was a guy we had to fight before because the fact he did for an american allies and the supply of oil. he wasn't plotting to attack the american homeland but he was plotting to undermine the american interest in the middle east.
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>> guest: , but i think historians will say he was pretty well contained. how was he going to threaten -- >> host: there is still an argument you could make about that because prior to 9/11 a lot of people felt that the regime was crumbling and he had the food program and a massive way. he seemed to undercut the national controls and degette pretty successful. >> guest: for his own benefit and his family but i think i was more of the cut success than a strategic threat to the united states. there's no doubt he was violating the terms of the agreement. his own people suffer tremendously as a result of the sanctions which he -- it was a move to this court sanctions if you recall would be a better target of the regime, but the history of the sanctions of the united states hasn't been one of great success. >> host: which is a case a lot of folks in the bush administration made for why we couldn't count on the sanctions
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regime to contain them. >> guest: but the other side of the ledger is the 4500 americans who are not coming home to their families, the 100,000 iraqi is by any estimate of died in the regime that has not been installed for the first time in that country. >> host: if you could have an argument about that. let me ask about i would ask if it is a pro i ron ne regime. no one can deny the 100,000 lives lost and the negative consequences that have flowed from that. is there, however, i wonder i think it is too early to judge the ledger because iraq is just starting to emerge in the democracy and we have to see if we will be stable to stick on the path of the moment, but the other thing is which i would like to ask you, what is the impact of the rise and fall of al qaeda in iraq because you go
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into some of that at think in the book. >> guest: it is a very big deal. al qaeda and iraq, which i know were put on before saddam the invasion of iraq, at a certain point came to control one-third of as you know, the country, and much of the sunni population recently under al qaeda. this is an insurgent group that controlled a lot of the population and territory, and then through their own mistakes it was almost sort of an attempted suicide because it was their own mistakes plus the sunni awakening plus the united states taking advantage of the awakening. >> host: if you're going to be critical of president bush i think that you have a right to also give him credit for in 2006 resource in the course of the surge and the decision to flood to the turnaround. >> guest: and i give him full credit for that. that was a decision that was taken by the time doubling down on a debt and the almost the
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entire foreign policy establishment people on the republican party, senator lugar -- the american people say, look, this is the argument that this was the most important -- iraq was the most important issue in his presidency. he was willing to do what it took but he made the right decisions, you know, the surge was not intuitive. when i say the surge it's shorthand for a lot of things, bringing petraeus, counterinsurgency strategy, taking a vintage of the sunni awakening, all of those things and turned it around. the caveat to this is more dangerous to be an iraqi civilian today than afghanistan. iraq, the scale was off the
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charts in the january of 07 you were 20 times more likely to be killed in iraq in january of 07 to be killed in a afghanistan today. so it was historic. we got the united states and various people got it under control. >> host: i totally agree with that. >> guest: one of their added thing, 4 million iraqi is have been displaced internal or external. even today very few of them have come back and that is the difference between iraq and afghanistan. 5 million afghan refugees left during the soviet invasion. about 3 million, 4 million burr were back. it is still calling people back because it seems unstable. afghanistan is calling people lacked in a different way. >> host: it has some degette destin doesn't which is the oil and you see a huge economic boom happening there but let me get back to the subject of al qaeda
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in iraq if i could for a moment because you're absolutely right how our invasion created an opening for the aqi to mushroom out of control and killed those thousands of people to have a horrifying campaign of suicide bombing to take control of the area larger than new england as you write in the book but at the end of the day, al qaeda in iraq was devastated by the combination of the device surge and the sunni a weakening. what is the impact on that because there is an anthology which has led to so many of the attacks in recent years that the united states a paper tiger with a reef horse you killick of americans and they go home and that didn't happen in the case of iraq. far from going home with a double down the and we actually manage to come live with succumb to the large extent to neutralize al qaeda in iraq. what is the and heck of that if any on the jihadists site ki? >> guest: one way of calibrating that is osama bin laden driven the iraq war when it was at the type often released tapes celebrity the
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success of the insurgents and he's gone completely silent on this issue because iraq, it was a strategic defeat for them. it was a big deal interestingly we are not seeing a lot of foreign fighter's training into the afghan war suicide bombers. that happened in iraq. it didn't happen in afghanistan. so i'm not quite sure why that's the case but al qaeda and iraq, i think that strategic defeat remained a problem because they could continue to be a terrorist problem. i take it has been a blow to the movement and what i say in the book is that if that strategic defeat was a harbor for al qaeda losing the war of ideas i think that it wasn't just the jihadis movement that al qaeda indymac its defeat the reasons for its
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tactics while it was actually in the power in some areas i think that sent a very, very strong signal that this is what al qaeda looks like when it controls territory faugh, and even a al-zawahiri in the famous letter essentially says a member of the televised the headings, stock, start beating more rationally, don't make the same mistakes of the television. so even within al qaeda itself, al qaeda and directed the extraordinary thing of damaging the brand. quite a feat. >> host: is that perhaps a positive that hasn't gotten the attention that it deserves? >> guest: i think it is a positive but it certainly wasn't intended. one of the things i try to say in the book, part of the arguments people like about iraq is the flypaper argument which is we are fighting them down so we don't need to fight them in boston. well before the war no one could
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sell the idea we are going to send large numbers of american soldiers to act as a sort of honey trap for al qaeda. a lot of them would then be killed and that is the reason we are doing the war. there was a post facto justification of why we were there. >> host: i agree that was made up on the fly as it were. but nevertheless, just thinking about what you said it strikes me that maybe that it sort of happen, no? >> guest: well, it did in some senses there is a kind of logical flaw with the idea of the way that was presented, not only the idea that was a post facto idea, they were not a finite group of jihadis in the world trying to find one place to kill. the iraq war expanded that group of people just in absolute numbers and. we look at the jihadis terrorist attacks around the world before and after the iraq war and they
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went up sevenfold and a lot of that was afghanistan and iraq but even when you take these out of the equation the wind up in europe and other places, so the iraq war was caused as the national intelligence estimate in 2007. so it put the wheel on the fire and gave bin laden late new lease on life, but al qaeda which is not a learning organization made mistakes in iraq that over time did it moly in iraq in the wider war. >> host: let me ask a question if i could to the osama bin laden motivation because in the book you describe large what he's doing towards the american foreign policy, the role of the plan in particular in these regimes, and you say that in all of the tens of thousands of ford's bin laden has ordered his largely silent about american freedoms and values which was a
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point that president bush went on and on about the freedoms, but tuesday he doesn't seem to care but the belief of the quote on quote crusaders and the focus was invariably on the foreign policies in the middle east. my question to you that is how do you explain this letter that you released addressed to the americans which cannot -- >> host: >> guest: i will tell you how come he didn't write it would go ahead. >> host: it was ascribed to him. let me describe it before you -- [inaudible] [laughter] the viewers out there may not be familiar with the letter of october 14th, they don't have a mental data bank for every osama bin laden plater fredenburg this letter was a tribute to him and released on the internet under his name said we are calling you is long addressed to the americans saying we stop your oppression, the homosexual of the, the gambling and using a
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lot of good stuff in there. but some reason he doesn't seem to appreciate. but go ahead. >> guest: with meek three-point about this letter. that is released on the internet under somebody's name there is no proof that he wrote the letter signed suspicious that the ghetto. some people familiar with his style say that it's not him. i think that it was his kind of an advisor to bin laden, the guy that took me to mechem bin laden. the group spent a lot of time in the west and understands us much better. they spent time in the united states and he doesn't -- one of the reasons he got 9/11 wrong is if he had spent more time he would have understood the united states isn't a paper tiger it wouldn't fold with the 9/11 attacks, and so that letter is just -- we have a lot of other things we know as bin ladens said because he just tends to focus on the foreign policy in
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the middle east. i would say he's changed in recent years under the influence in 2007 he mentioned he was reading a book by noam chomsky, trying to educate himself a little bit more. >> host: little book endorsement. >> guest: and he's probably not finding the right of first of all the time since noam chomsky is it a particularly useful guide to all of us, but he has stepped up also the themes to criticize us on kyoto and various others. >> guest: this is a relatively recent phenomenon. we interviewed him in 1997 and john miller of abc news interviewed him in 98 and he gave another interview to "time" magazine and was a bad foreign policy. where does the critique come from? it comes from his understanding of islam which i try to make clear in the book, not to include, to pretend that there is nothing to do with islam that
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the crusade had nothing to do with christianity. it wouldn't make any sense that isn't a critique of islam, it's that bin laden is able to take inanition for instance the verses in the koran that are not in the words of the prophet mohammed, it is the word of god, and so the koran is against infidels if they weren't paid taxes to the muslim rulers and they use these repeatedly. they see themselves as defending true islam. one of the reasons they are hard to detour they don't believe that god is on their side and defending the true islam which gives them stay in power. >> host: with a focus on the policy of the united states
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because i think when you say they are primarily opposed to the foreign policy that works on some people especially some isolationists and politics as well okay, let's make a deal. let's pull out of the middle east, let's take away their excuse for supporting but stop backing israel and doing all these things and won't be attacked any more. is that something that you believe to be the case? >> guest: we were attacked because of our foreign policies doesn't mean we should change it. that's my first observation. >> host: one important point. >> guest: on the issue of israel it is almost as dravidian the muslim world correctly feels our policy on the israeli-palestinian matter isn't even-handed, and certainly president truman recognized the state of israel in 47 this had been a large part of our american foreign policy but mainly this is perhaps not the place to get into a long discussion about the israeli
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settlement, but if there was one way of lowering the temperature in the muslim world fairly quickly, it would be if it were seen as more even-handed on this issue and that is something that our allies -- >> host: that's another discussion. that is true only if you think that the folks like osama bin laden have with the israeli settlements if you think they are really concerned about the post 1967 borders of israel as i would argue based on the statements they are concerned about the fact of the jewish state at all. >> guest: i agree and not talking about osama bin laden at all. i'm talking it is -- i'm talking if we are trying to lower the temperature in the muslim world with large the israeli-palestinian issue is absolutely critical for that. we can never satisfy them. the only way we satisfy is if we say that israel ceases to mixes and if every regime became taliban and that is not going to happen. so he's not satisfy the --
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satisfied. >> host: they are not interested in carrying out the oslo peace process, right? >> guest: absolutely not but we are interested in swing voters in the muslim world, trying to influence -- those are the people we are trying to reach and there are things we can do that can reach them. >> host: but in fact as you, yourself, say in the book the swing votes have swung against osama bin laden even though over the last very specific to the tactics of al qaeda and of the message of bin laden there is wholesale rejection by the people in the muslim world. >> guest: right, that's true although they still retain unfortunately bin ladens's favorable ratings in pakistan from 16%, however, 16% is still pretty high. >> host: that's the problem if you're talking about the swing vote. who can move the swing voters but obviously they will be
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decisive because it doesn't take that many people to carry out terrorist attacks. it takes a small minority devoted to bin laden and those people are out there. >> guest: that isn't an argument for doing nothing that affect the swing voters because yes, it is a small -- we are concerned but is a small group of people but let's take that group even smaller. let's take away the issues that motivate them. what's get away from the israeli-palestinian cashmere if it were some sort of settlement on that that would go a long way. it is a hard issue. >> host: again, i agree it would be great if it for a settlement of cashmere and the palestinian settlement but it doesn't seem like a short-term past that is great to be fruitful. >> guest: it isn't but that isn't an argument since these are two of the critical loads of this. if you could basically -- you are not going to solve is too large of a word but you could ameliorate. >> host: let me step back from the issues we are talking about
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and in the final few minutes to talk about you and your writing. tell me for exceed how long did it take to write this book? >> guest: i signed a contract at the end of 2004. and then i did -- >> host: that's a long book, a long gestation. the longest bouck process for the longest war. >> guest: it was critical of the longest dhaka by roche 240,000 words like it down to 140,000. but writing it, there's a book called the osama bin laden i know and that turned into a bigger project but if i hadn't written the osama bin laden i couldn't have written this book because that involved the looking at every primary source on bin laden interviewing his friends and family and his companions and the trinity that ever dealt with him. >> host: that is a great resource to revive the written on the guerrilla warfare and i keep referring to it because it is like a one-stop guide to what you need to know about him. >> guest: the book didn't sell
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particularly well. it was of specialists like yourself and so this book is more for the general reader. i try to integrate with i learned from that book into this book and so yeah it took awhile. but these books, it was -- i was trying to tell a big story and i don't like writing of the places i haven't been to submit to afghanistan many times, iraq, saudi arabia, egypt, the united kingdom, italy, a lot of countries that play a role in the , time and money away and as you know from writing books yourself, there is a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears and i have a full-time déjà so the book is dedicated to my wife because a lot of missed vacations in there. >> host: what were your chief resources? was interviews or were you able to get your hands on documents as well?
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>> guest: i enumerate in the bibliography of the interviews that i did, what we got -- this is in the first open source war and al qaeda. it's not a problem to get a hold of their statements. and then dug united states is -- >> host: they are releasing their private strategy memos. guest of the private strategy memos are in their statements as if a manager of the japanese had got on the 1937 and said essentially what they were planning to do. this is what al qaeda did before 9/11. >> host: hitler did that and nobody paid attention. >> guest: right. it was in line can, but nobody -- bin laden, there's a lot of information. before 9/11 was able to speak to bin laden, people around him. now it's harder. there are thousands of pages of interrogations' of people in guantanamo released from federal
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requests as multiple cases are very useful both in europe and in the united states i was able to draw on. there is a sea of available information about this group and i was able to draw on and in the congress has done a number of useful investigations and what really happened. and in fact also the u.s. military now we are getting the official history of what actually happened, so the official u.s. special forces history in the early part of afghanistan is there. a very rich resource. >> host: you mention to cut the book from to under 40,000 words to about 140,000 words, which i can say is a heroic leader. i'm curious what was in that missing 100,000 words and what are you going to do with that material? >> guest: i'm going to do nothing with it. it was the stuff i needed to get out of my system. as an author i continue to know
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a lot of things that the reader doesn't need to know. as important what you don't write is what you write, and i feel exorcising the best decision i made about the book was to cut it almost in half because i think it reads much better, the redundancy, the stuff is not as important, irrelevant, all that stuff just went to the waist, to the curb, and the was the right decision. >> host: you are a shining example of authors and others to follow your example. it will be hard to do however. what are you planning to do for an encore? perhaps that is unfair because you just have this book out and are not promoting it but do you have in mind your next project? >> guest: something about afghanistan and pakistan and obama. >> host: hopefully a story that will have a happy ending. >> guest: right. >> host: how long do you think we will know if it does have a happy ending? >> guest: you know, afghanistan in the 70's was a country at peace with itself and
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as they proceed tourist destinations in the go back to afghanistan that is a happy ending and that is not totally of the question. >> host: we might be leading a few years? >> guest: a few years. ten years from now let's go together. [laughter] >> host: thank you very much, peter bergen, and i can highly recommend your book which i think is totally a terrific resource and a terrific summary of what's happened the last decade, but also a terrific reading it and there is a lie would say understated british humor throughout which some of the very grotesque and reprehensible things you write about but never the less present them in a readable and interesting fashion to congratulations on a tremendous achievement. >> guest: thank you, max. >> we are here at the national press club talking with paul greenburg about his book, "four
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fish." can you tell us why are these four fish the last? >> when you look what we eat from the land we have chosen for mammals, cows, pigs, sheep and goats and you look at the birds, we've chosen for to eat, turkey, dhaka, chicken and geese, and now we are at the verge of choosing were going to be a domestic feed form of fish for the future of the ocean. and the choices that we make, which fish we choose to domesticate and leave witold will have huge ramifications for the future of the ocean. >> how so? >> if you look flexible at salmon, a very popular form of fish, salmon requires as much as three to 6 pounds of wild fish and seafood to grow a single paled of salmon so if we are going to take these little fish and feed them to the salmon we will end up depleting a large portion of the ocean and potentially causing the population decline of other fish in their place. so there are other fish out there that don't require those
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kinds of huge collections from the ocean, to lead the effort said was a vegetarian dish and is very sustainable fish and it's those kind of options that sort of thrown out as possible by it for going into the next fish of the future. >> are you advocating staying away from certain types of fish and in favor of others or just finding a different way to feed the fish we eat the most? >> welcome you know, it's a combination. a lot of it is better practices. farming salmon the way that it's done now you tend to farm where the wild salmon of living and so it is spread from the wild, you know, but there are ways of forming the salmon in a better environments owns the ocean entirely, but really a lot of it is about choosing the right species. another fish that is similar but works well is arct


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