tv Book Discussion CSPAN April 19, 2015 9:32am-10:22am EDT
>> it's just how can we do this in a more savvy manner. >> our time is drawing to a close, so i'd invite mark or general hamm or sean if they have any closing comments. >> sean, this is your show, so you start. >> thank you for being here. i wrote this book to let us peer beyond iraq and afghanistan into the future and i very much appreciate your attendance today. >> well, thank you, everyone for joining us. before joining me in thanking sean, general hamm and mark right outside please join us for a few moments afterwards for some light refreshments as we celebrate the publication of sean's book. [applause] >> booktv is on facebook. like us to get publishing news, scheduling updates, behind-the-scenes pictures and
videos, author information and to talk directly with authors during our live programs. facebook.com/booktv. >> elliot ackerman is next on booktv. the decorated afghanistan and iraq war veteran's book is a novel about an afghan boy who joins a u.s.-funded militia following the u.s. invasion. >> so our guest tonight is elliot ackerman. he's a decorated veteran of the united states marine corps and a writer whose work has been published in the new yorker -- which alone would be an accomplishment for me for the rest of my life -- [laughter] the atlantic, time and the new republic among others. mr. ackerman is also a contributor to the daily beast and a member of the council on foreign relations. he served as white house fellow in the obama administration, and prior to that he spent eight years as both an infantry and special operations officer. he served multiple tours of duty in the middle east and southwest asia. as a marine corps special
operations team leader mr. ackerman operated as the primary combat adviser to a 700-man afghan commando battalion responsible for capture operations against senior taliban leadership. he also led a 75-man platoon that aided in relief operations in post-katrina new orleans. he earned a silver star and a purple heart for his role in the november 2004 bat of of fallujah -- battle of fallujah and a bronze star for valor in afghanistan in 2008. he has earned a master's degree in international affairs from the fletcher school of law and diplomacy at tufts where he studied literature and history and graduated summa cum laude from there andfy beta phi beta kappa in -- phi beta kappa in 2003. he has completed most of the most challenging special operations training courses.
he is the recipient of the major general edward b. wheeler award for infantry excellence and "green on blue" is elliot acker match's debut novel and this evening we are very pleased to have him here to discuss it with you. so if you would come forward, please. [applause] >> thanks so much to the ivy book store for supporting this event. i'm going to read from the opening of the novel. many would call me a dishonest man, but i've always kept faith with myself. there's an honesty in that, i think. we are from a village which no longer exists, and our family was not large or prosperous. the war that came after the
russians but before the americans killed our parents. of them i have only dim memories. there's my father's kalashnikov him cleaning it, working oiled rags on its parts and the smell of gun metal and feeling safe. there's my mother's secret, the one she shared with me. once a month she'd count out my father's earnings from fighting in the mountains or farming. she'd send me and ali from our village to the large bazaar, a two-day walk. the bazaar sold everything; fine cooking oils and spices, candles to light our home and fabric to repair our clothes. my mother always entrusted me with a special purchase. before we left she would press an extra a copy in my hand one she'd stolen from my father. among the crowded stalls at the
bazaar, i would slip away from my brother's watchful eye and buy her a pack of cigarettes, a vice forbidden to a woman. when we returned home, i would place the pack in her hiding spot, the cradle where she'd rocked me and ali as infants. our mud-walled house was small, two thatched roof rooms with a courtyard between them. the cradle was kept in the room i shared with ali. my mother would never get rid of the cradle. it was the one thing that was truly hers. at night after we'd return from the bazaar, she'd sneak into our room, her small, sandaled feet gliding across the carpet that lined the dirt floor. her hand would cup a candle its smothered light casting shadows on her young face aging her. her eyes, one brown and the other green, a miracle or defect
of birth shifted about the room. carefully, she would lean over the cradle as she'd done before taking us to nurse. she would run her fingers between the blankets that once swaddled my brother and me, and finding the pack i'd left her, she'd step into the courtyard and i'd fall back asleep to the faint smell of her tobacco just past my door. this secret made me feel close to my mother. in the years since i've wondered why she entrusted me with it. at times i thought it was because i was her favorite. but this isn't why. the truth is she recognized in me her own ability to deceive. so that's the opening passage of the novel, and it's the voice of aziz, the book's protagonist. when i served in afghanistan, i served exclusively as an adviser to afghan troops around the
country. and as an adviser the afghan troops i was with, you know, we did the things that fighting men have always done, you know? we went on patrol together, we bled together, we mourned friends together. but when the war was over and my war buddies weren't a bunch of americans, they were a bunch of afghans. and upon returning home i knew i would never see them again. they weren't a bunch of guys i could call long distance keep up with on facebook or even get quarter beers with at the local vfw. and i began really writing this book in an effort to try to render their world and really as a last act of friendship as i was reckoning sort of with the grief of knowing that i would never of see them again. you know, it's difficult to really say where a novel begins because i think the process of writing, there's so much groping in the dark that accompanies with it.
as you begin the story, the opening often becomes the middle your middle becomes your end, and your end becomes your beginning. but for me there was one anecdote from my experience in afghanistan that i always a felt was sort of right out of reach. so i'd like to share that with you. there's a fellow who i advised in southeastern afghanistan his name was commander esoc. so when i was with esoc we lived on a very remote fire base as big as three baseball fields wired in with mud walls and conner is tee that. and about once every two weeks we would have an operational planning meeting and what it consisted of is i would go from my plywood hut, my hooch and i'd go to esoc's hooch and open
the door, and esoc had this lumpy sofa -- it was actually a love seat. i would flop down on it, he would sit down next to me. in front of us was a cheap wooden table and he'd put down a pot of chai lay out a pack of smokes, and the two of us would look at the far wall of esoc's hooch, and hanging on it were two things; a map and a calendar. esoc would stand up, smoking his cigarette and kind of approach the map, and he knew that part of afghanistan better than anyone. he'd been fighting there for almost a decade, and i'd ask him, i'd say so, esoc, where do you think we should go? he'd look at the map and the border where we were and he'd often point to one of the villages right on the border and he'd say, you know mr. elliot, we could go to the mangritay always good hunting. all right, that sounds good.
patrol up to mangritay we'd block up seven days ten days on our calendar, load up our trucks with about 100, 120 afghan soldiers, and we would drive up. 50/50 chance we would get into a gunfight up there and then we would drive can back down take a day to fix up the tires give the troops a day off. and inevitably a couple weeks would have passed and i would be wandering out of my hooch across our fire base to esoc's for the optional planning meeting. -- operational planning meeting. swing open his door, i would flop down on the couch esoc would come over, pot of chai pack of smokes esoc, well, what do you think we should do next? what's next on the agenda? and he would smoking his cigarette, come up to the map inevitably probably look to the next village south and say is you know, mr. elliot, always
very good hunting in rarakuray. so we would get in the trucks and roll on out. and in the whole time that i worked with esoc, you know, the conversation was never, you know mr. elliot if we hit them in mangritay, then we go south we can do one last operation and shut the door to the border the war will likely be won, i can go back to my fields, you can go get your master of fine arts, write that novel you keep talking about. you know it just it wasn't that tube of war. that type of war. and so what type of a war was it? and in the book, you know as much as a book about character and it's about his brother ali and the things aziz does for ali, it's also -- my ambition for the book was to try to render the afghan war in micro, to show some of the paradigms
that i saw playing out again and again, you know, valley to valley, village to village province to province and to try to tell a story that was accessible to people who hadn't spent time in afghanistan and that would allow them an entry point into a conflict that is off incredibly complex and difficult to understand. so in the segment that i read is the opening with aziz talking about his family and his participants and what happens shortly after that passage is aziz's parents are killed in the time after the soviet occupation, but before the americans invaded. a after they're killed aziz's brother takes them to another village, and the two brothers basically survive for four winters working as delivery boys in the bazaar there. and then on that fourth winter
aziz's older brother is horribly maimed in a bombing and finds himself in a hospital, and aziz has no idea how he's going to support his brother. he's recruited into a militia, and he goes to fought in the border mountains with the deal being that his wages as a soldier will keep his brother cared for in the hospital. and as aziz goes off to fight to not only support his brother but then also to get revenge for what happened to his brother, he gets sucked into an increasingly complex and elliptical war one that eventually he realizes is being fought for every reason but the ending of it. and the commander he works for a man named command or sabur, has envisions of building an outpost in a village called gamal, and the section i'd like to read next is aziz is sent by commander sabir to act as an informant, to gather information, and sabir's plotting how to build this
outpost. and aziz finds himself lodged with an old knew ya that deep fighter from the '80s, a man named munpaz and he's someone who lost a great deal in the war. and what i'm going to read right now is a little bit of his story. when my brother died he said, it was not in the war we thought we fought. we were mujahideen b and treated as heroes in this village our battlefield achievements known by all earning us honor, honor we became greedy for. this led to larger and more daring attacks. when the fighting slowed each winter, we'd grow impatient for it. the russians stayed on their bases, and it was difficult to strike at them. an informant of ours a man who like our father ran a trucking company, told us how in a few nights a russian convoy would pass our village along the north
road. eager as we were, my brother and i asked few questions. the operation would be simple. after curfew we'd bury a mine in the road and in the morning -- if the russians didn't show up -- we'd remove it. some days later in the darkness my brother and i chipped a ditch out of the processen earth -- froze p earth and slid the mine in. we cowerfully repacked the crumbled soil and went home giving the manner little thought as if we'd planted a tree and casually wondered if it'd grow. we slept soundly and early before the sun rose we'd return to inspect our kill or recover the mine. as we walked through the clear cold air the snow on the distant hilltops glowed with fire light. the mine had struck, and we approached the road ruing on great gusts -- riding on great gusts of enthusiasm, but still our situation was up certain. who knew if the russians had
sent anyone to aid their convoy. who knew if we'd come across any manic survivors. these were uncertainties we felt prepared for. we weren't paragraphed for what we found. as we crested the last ridge and glimpsed our kill, we saw only the beginning of our terrible mistake. tilted against its side is the carcass of a great steel beast of a truck but it wasn't russian, it was civilian and full of lumber that now burned in the pyre sparkling on the snow. we kept our distance but were close enough to feel the tour on our faces. we could see the cab and its white paint which curled to -- [inaudible] beneath the heat. behind a shattered windshield flames licked out an upright silhouette that burned with the dignity of one who met death immediately without pain and shock. and through this absence seemed strangely alive. i can't say how long we watched
the pyre. when we left, the sun still hadn't risen. but the silhouette had been consumed. op our journey -- on our journey home we said nothing, and tried to hide in our science. news of the attack spread. the truck had been from our informant's company, and the dead driver had been his employee. several days later my father and our village were called to orgun to settle the matter. the deliberations were short lasting but two days, and my father returned in ruin. both sides decreed that our father was responsible for our actions and that he must replace the destroyed truck and buy yet another to recoup the damaged cargo. in this our informant made out very well. for the first truck forced us to sell our home and the second wiped out my far's accounts,
eliminating him as a business competitor, and that's when we moved here. so muntaz's story as old mujahideen was similar to the american experience in afghanistan inso much as oftentimes the war was being fought for a more idea of reasons, none of which had any linkage to the larger objective. as we sit here and wars have gone on for 15 years 35 years in the case of the afghans, we have to ask the question why do these wars continue for so long. and in this book what i aimed to set out was to show some of the economies that exist around war. and i don't mean necessarily financial economies although those can often be parts of it, but the incentive structures that exist. many of the people who become influential and important in war, commanders and such, have been elevated by the or war itself.
so what happens when they have been in their station for so long potentially they have no incentive to end b the war, and those economies perpetuate it. so that was certainly a theme i was trying to get out in the writing of the story and i think that's a theme that obviously, mu next tsa -- muntaz. the book is told in the voice of an afghan, and it actually wasn't my original isn't in writing the book -- intent in writing the book to write it in an afghan voice. the early drafts of a novel had a construct where actually aziz walked onto a fire base and was telling his story to an american character who never made it into the book at the end of the day. and this american character was basically an intelligence officer. and the contract of the book kind of had a conradian build around it in so much it was the heart of darkness when marlowe
is sitting on the book in the thames recalling his time up the river. and the rhythm of the story, the cay department of it was one i'd become very familiar with working in the excellence field in afghanistan where i would inevitably be sitting on a fire base and i could almost set my watch to it. if i were to sit down to do anything, an after p began would show up at the door. so stack of pancakes in front of me, i'm about to talk a bite, afghan would have to see me. but the rhythm of those discussions where i would basically be sitting across the desk from an afghan who claimed to have information that was essential to me, that type of back and forth became almost like a song i could hear even after i came home. the banter of those conversations. so i initially wanted to structure the novel that way. but as i was writing it, that framework just wasn't holding up. and i had to ask myself, you know, why do i feel the need for
aziz to be telling his story to this american? why shouldn't aziz speak directly to the reader in and after wrestling with that question for a while, i realized i had built in that american character as a crutch and that if my goal for the novel was honest, to try to render the war as i thought the afghans saw it i should try to allow them allow aziz to speak directly to the reader, you know, and the end product is what you have in front of you. another thing that struck me, too, and it's struck me since leaving afghanistan, you know is, you know we think about these wars and how long they've gone on, and and as much as, again, that was something i was trying to get out in the book, if you think about it, in afghanistan right now there's been nearly 35 years of war. the average life expectancy for an afghan is late 50s, early 60s particularly if you live
outside kabul or in the provinces. so the afghans in their late 50s, early 60s right now were late teens, early to 20s when the soviets invaded in 1979. so in another ten years, by and large, you'll have a large segment of the afghan population that has died off that will be the only segment that can actually remember afghanistan at peace. what happens when nobody can remember afghanistan at peace? how do you arrive at peace? then the act of arriving there really becomes one of sheer imagination. but by that criteria, i think we also have to reflect on our own experience as americans in our wars which have now gone on for 15 years and if they progress much further the remembering of that peace will become more and more distant. and there's a certain point in the book muntaz brings a similar point up to aziz and he tells him to -- that the future is in
the remembering. and that's something i definitely saw and amongst my peers who were afghans who were men my age, they had no perform of afghanistan at peace. and i think it's a frightening thing that we might soon have no memory of our country at peace. and so at that point i'd like to read just one final segment and then perhaps, we can have some conversation. so this is when aziz first arrives in gamal where he serves as an informant. these are his reflections on that village. the night was cold and all through it i got up, stepped lightly over muntaz. once the last scrap burned out in the fire a chill set into my legs and woke me. i walked into the compound's dirt courtyard to wait for the dawn. as the early light came, i saw
how poor muntaz was. his home was nothing more than a small coop, the mud room we slept in and the four walls of the courtyard. a ditch ran beneath one of the walls and out back. dishes were stacked alongside it. this was the kitchen. past the compound were the mountains. it would seem these never ended, they were not enough to protect the village from the war but they were enough to preserve it, it and its traditions. and even as isolated as the village was, sprouts of progress had arrived. motorbikes, cell phones and a few homemade satellite dishes that perch ped from -- perched from rooftops all standing as messengers from orr, more modern worlds. but it was a false progress. it measured not movements forward, but the distance we would soon travel backward when
the war destroyed everything. so thank you. [applause] >> you say that we are close to a point where the afghans would not know peace because there aren't enough of them around to have experienced peace because of the russians and the war that's gone on for 35 years. so my question is number one, do the gavins deserve to live -- do the afghans deserve to live in peace in and number two -- let me, this is my wife who's telling me what to say. [laughter] and number two, if the answer is yes and then assuming that in 35 years they've always been put
upon by other peoples and assuming that this will continue, what role would the united states have to play in trying to bring about that peace, and how would you approach it? >> well, first of all i think, i think everyone deserves to live in peace. that's my humble opinion. you know, in terms of what role the u.s. is going to play in afghanistan, i think that the fate of the afghan people and the american people have been linked together based off of our involvement in that country for the last 14 years. and, you know, i don't suppose to know exactly what a quick two minute policy prescription would be to cure the afghan people of all their woes, but i think that a complete u.s. disengagement from afghanistan would wind up having seriously negative ramifications not only for the afghans, but for americans in the long term. we saw what happened after 1989 when the u.s. disengaged
completely we saw what happened in 2011 when the u.s. virtually disengaged completely from iraq. so we have models from other wars where the u.s. has left a presence, has brought some of these countries within its sphere of influence in a way that doesn't necessarily involve committing large numbers of troops to fight but just involves remaining engaged militarily to a certain degree but as long as that type of engagement continues, i'm actually optimistic about the direction of afghanistan. the people i talk to who are going back there -- i left in 2011 -- are actually somewhat optimistic that the center's going to hold in afghanistan. but only time will tell. >> but you wouldn't agree with the status of force? >> status of forces agreement? >> yeah. where you're keeping people there, and it has the flexibility to increase and decrease depending upon the situation on the ground? >> sure. i think that s.o.f.a. would be
appropriate in afghanistan. if you look at all the places where the u.s. has fought wars europe we've had s.o.f.a.s for years and years and it's worked out well. >> how you had a story in your head and then you set about making a novel out of it. >> certainly. i wish i could give you a very precise answer that showed me as a master craftsman. you know for me often a story will pop into my head, it could be a first line. i mean, i think i find myself approaching each project differently. off times that -- oftentimes that short line is a short story or wounds up being an entire -- or winds up being an entire novel. in the case of this book actually, the first line of this book was one from this american who i mentioned was originally in the frame and he in early drafts, had the first line of the book and i very quickly realized the book was about aziz. so it's a lot of groping in the dark for me, but i think -- ..
bit more from the perspective as opposed to a u.s.-centric narrative. but that being said one of the themes is moral relativism. the artists a lot of issues that we see in the u.s. whether it be corruption or insider attacks which bring on blue, green reversed an insider attack. it's when afghan soldiers kill an american adviser. those actions i think at face value we seem immediate, morally reprehensible to us as americans. why would someone do that? what drives someone to do that? i the just born as an evil person who is what is a system their operating them in come the vessel money or killing an american adviser the only choice offered to the. and ambition when you take one
of these attacks sort appealed all the way back. not a sport court but by the time the green on blue takes place, as a reader you might not agree with the action but at least you're able to see all of the decisions that lead up to it. this is what that character feels they have to do. if there is that understanding i hope a little bit of the bridge has been built. it doesn't have to agree with it but oftentimes how we deal with some of these issues of corruption or green on blue attacks. [inaudible] >> i think it's difficult to say because they're such a large swath of i don't think the afghan taliban like is all too much but --
[inaudible] >> and again it's very difficult to generalize about how all afghans feel about the u.s. occupation. some art infuriated about it. i think some have welcomed certain opportunities that have come up, particularly people in kabul. but again i think the afghan response the u.s. kind of clinics that were some people are up supporting the american sensitive about the as much as we look back at the russian expense in afghanistan, it's almost portrayed, it's all the afghans rose up against the soviet they didn't. up few segment supported the soviets and the soviets were incredibly progressive in terms of women's rights in afghanistan and education. they also killed a million afghans. it's a very complex editing the response to the american-led invasion is complex as well. >> when you were talking about
moral things that need to happen and decisions of governance and i kind of think of which were built on cultural things, in europe after the second world war there were similarities of past history most americans were coming out of that as basis. in afghanistan there really isn't the same kind of depth of basis. it's further apart. they are seen more as other than the europeans. we were in europe for a very long time. what kind of a projection do you give to maybe how long we would be in afghanistan? >> evening cultural factor in -- >> a difference in what was in europe, we had similarities better. >> i don't think the u.s. can
should try to create an afghan society that looks like a little america. that's not going to work. but i think there are obviously vast differences between afghans and americans and actually think though, we all know those. lucky toad put is a vast similarities and we often give them similar to short shrift and spend all of our time trying to address the differences instead of spend time cultivating similarities. i think sometimes cultivating similarities were able to look up and the differences don't matter as much beauty though they are still there. someone has someone who serve as a marine, soldier, what have you, there's a lot of similarity to the experience of soldiering no matter where you are. that was through the prism through which i became closer to
afghans. we were all sold in the same unit at its difficult to larger barriers between you when you're in a firefight huddled down behind the same piles of dirt there's some -- things become pretty insignificant pretty quickly. [inaudible] >> wonderful possibility for doing things that shouldn't happen, taking money to let something happen so forth and so on. if you are not working from a similar at least acknowledgment of the similarities, i think it might take longer. >> i never understood for until i had a daughter. i had a daughter on my last deployment. i thought a lot of hard things. i recognize the tough things to see, but they never will struck the same way until i could see
my own child in debt. i bring that up because i think many times more perpetuates that because of cost come ideology but because of a lost. when i had a daughter i could imagine what would be like like any parent can come to feel that in the pit of your stomach. i think what that would mean to me i was instead of an american soldier if i was in afghan soldier to even taliban if i'd lost a young family member. i would probably up in the mountains fighting until they killed me. and i think in many respects these wars perpetually because of that. by the same token you talk about issues of corruption. it's easy to sit back as americans to talk about corrupt afghans. if i had i have a young family. my daughter is now for an ahead. my son is three giunta said in afghanistan with all these uncertainties that exist around the idea trying to raise money and family in kabul or in
kandahar, what would mean for my daughter to grow up in kandahar what it would mean for education. let's as a mid-level ministry of the interior and a son opportunity to take money that would get me me and my family out of afghanistan to somewhere safe. i think it's difficult this agency was right or wrong. i can only talk about issues of corruption, understanding that many people are operating in a dynamic that is unfamiliar to us. the dynamic might do more to address these problems of corruption than sort of excoriating folks were bankrupt. that's my opinion. obviously, i wrote a book about agreed on blue attack so i feel that it's worthy to kind of examining these issues. >> in iraq and afghanistan why did you choose to write for such
a novel in afghanistan and not in iraq? >> i'm done writing on the iraq war, a short fiction that is set in the right. it wasn't a really delivered like i was sort of shutting an examinatiexaminati on of some the things that happened in iraq but i was or interest by a lot of the things that come up while i was in a pleasure to afghan troops and this story was coming at me. and a lot of times i feel as though, it's kind of like the story i'm writing will not be denied. so i wasn't shunning one person. this just happened to be the one that got my attention early on. >> could you talk more about iraq speak with sure. you have any good ideas? [laughter] spent you were there i wasn't. >> did you ever personally dodge
the green on blue attack or feel you were very close to having her life in danger through whatever gulf soldiers from afghanistan? >> i never personally dodge to one or had one take place were i work. but as an adviser yes coming something you knew was out there. they were happening while i was in afghanistan. one thing you could always tell some guys would wear like a small pistol in the small of the back. that was like a decision everyone had to make. the afghans and which advisor carried pistols and which ones didn't. you were unaware of it but at the end of the day as well, i mean you were a handful of americans out in pretty rough places shred of afghans. i think there's a level of fatalism that comes into the light of work that your consulate accessing over everything.
-- constantly obsessing over everything. >> you were talking about your being in consultation in your role as an adviser to the group and you thought that the afghan commander of your group might say we go here or here and then secure this border. would your role have been has been to suggest that your cell phone without have been -- >> sure, it would've been put as much as i told this story, the lack of a strategic threat, i didn't have it either. the militia worked with, basically employed all of esok extended family which they can a pretty significant individual in that community. but the same time for me working with that unit in a very remote and dangerous part of afghanistan professionally was good for me. being involved in missions that
were the most far forward with something that advanced micro and something i was drawn to and many of my peers were drawn to fix was much as i look at that and examine why did esok never speak in his grand strategic terms, why didn't i? i felt like we had more in common with -- and with general eisenhower. why is that the case and how was the war don't outweigh? what construct led to the? is something i try to examine in the book. >> could you describe a little bit about your think as a young adult and what led you to college, marines and how that all transitioned? it seems a little bit of an unusual path. >> i went into i did rotc at tufts university. i went in one of his 18.
1998, just before 9/11 and i had the sense that it wanted the job of making out of school, whether i was good my job or good at my job, didn't matter. i wanted a lot of responsibility at a young age and the third point i would make a vitiligo illegal is also the kid who never stopped playing with his g.i. joe's. i was always fascinated by the military. i see myself -- i came from a good family, loving parents i would actually university and had this since composed of the sense or is fundamental and human condition. it's always going to happen. as a 23 called when i came in from this abstract idea that there might be a war on if it happened, i felt again and aspect, it would probably be a platoon of 45 marines out there who would be led by someone. should there lieutenant be
someone who hasn't had all these advantages osha to be one of the -- that lieutenant will probably over the course of their time have to make a few informed decisions that will impact these guys. i just had an instinctive sense i want to be present for those decisions, and the way it into the world turned out, that's how my experience evolve. >> i have to question. the first one is related -- jefferson's of florida's you know, having of your friends in afghanistan read the book editors to what the responses are or and what else in afghanistan? >> i've had folks read in afghanistan. the winter but were not my friends i served with but they were basically -- all this line.
i ran it by some afghans make sure i had it right. there were many places i just slept in their words. if you read the acknowledgments in the book i don't suspect many of the afghans are probably going to be reading this. battle because they are not lovers of american fiction but because they're still engaged in their very remote part of the country. it would involve the book to the translated and find its way into bookstores in very very far-flung places. >> my second question is related to your experience as a white house fellow, i was just as can my husband and i enjoy watching a lot of tv shows, government unlike covert affairs the house
of cards or any of those and i'm curious someone who's been in the world a little bit how much of the they get right or the issues they get a lot right and accurately represent or is everything -- are can you best interest watch that stuff? >> yes. [laughter] went to work and intelligence eyed instructor used to say it were one-tenth as good as people think we are we would be really good. i think there's a lot of hollywood. i think working in the government anywhere where you are in the government it's a very large bureaucracy. but also during my military service, even doing some the things i thought were exciting can huge, huge drudgery associated with it. they would be moments from time to time i would be this and think this is pretty amazing.
i remember being at the northeast afghanistan once again with a group of afghan soldiers that we were advising. there about four americans and 200 afghans and we're doing a raid one night involved climbing some steep terrain and i was with the lead element, path finding out, paint on the side of this mountaintop with night vision goggle and every single afghan had an infrared light on events in detroit. it looked like a glowworm. i remember hanging off the side of this mountain looking down sprinkling through this valley and just it was really cool. but, you know there are hours and hours and days and days that work in drudgery in bureaucratic forms to fill out pics i think the television deletes all the real work and all you get is one
guy looking down in saying this is really cool. >> to what extent were the drug lords and their tribes boys à la mexico? >> sure. i think that one of the interesting dynamics in the afghan war, the poppy trade place there, and throughout the conflict there's been this attention what should the role of afghan and u.s. military be in trying to eradicate the poppy trade, and there's been an initiative to try to incentivize farmers who grow poppy which has been met with mixed success. it's a real challenge. you fly over afghanistan you see poppy fields for miles and miles and miles. but again those economies have huge force them to become lives of their own and they can be very for difficult undermine. i don't think anyone has yet to
data undermine the poppy trade. [inaudible] -- treat all the symptoms and everything that flows downhill from the? >> interesting idea. we tried with passengers down south. didn't work too well. -- we tried it with "fast and furious" down south. >> some of the folks are using them, are probably biggest supporters of the poppy field. but you haven't mentioned civilians. i think that's been one of to me as a reader, a newspaper, the hardest thing for me is to read all the civilian deaths that are occurring in that were. any comment on that? >> sure. i think that you come in both this were and iraq war many of you can in this novel are
civilians. the civilians trickled are rendered almost invisible and i think as americans we think what these two wars have made to us as a country and i assure you the atom bomb and the two countries, i don't think that can be underestimated. it would have such huge ramifications. seems like more of a distraction distraction. >> do you have any ideas on how that could be -- >> used in war? nothing, nothing no. that's war. it's very difficult. i don't know what to tell you. war is not a pretty thing. let's have less wars. [inaudible] >> in afghanistan? no i believe more fighters have been killed and civilians.