tv Book Discussion on The Mirror Test CSPAN June 25, 2016 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
including his latest on american veterans returning to civilian life. that's a look at some of the author programs tv is covering this week. many of these events are open to the public pic look for them to air in the near future a book to be on c-span2. >> we are very pleased to have with us this evening can weston. ..
a in either iraq or afghanistan advising u.s. forces and working with local authorities and others. his service for which he received the secretary of state's medal for heroism was uncommon, not only for the about of time he was posted in iraq or afghanistan but also for the range of his contacts and the depth of his involvement with american troops and local civilians. his new book, "the mirror test: america at war in iraq and afghanistan" recounts his personal journey and also provides a close-up, greedy, emotional portrait of the wars that america has been engaged in now for well over a decade. kael has been critical of america in both conflicts and makes a point of highlighting the tremendous human costs of the conflicts, the dead and
wounded troops, and the meaning civilian casualties. he's haunted in particular by one u.s. military mission in iraq in early 2005 that ended in a helicopter crash killing 30 marines and one navy corpsman. he remains the single largest casual incident in either the iraq or afghanistan war, and one for which he feels personally responsible. kael reminds us, from the time of the book, through to the last page is, how important it is for all of us as citizens to reflect on what being involved in these extended wars has meant. his work serves as its own kind of meter test for americans, compelling us to look into come to terms as much as the wounded soldier with a disfigured face who views the damage returning
from war. so ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming kael weston. [applause] >> thank you, politics and prose, and for all of you who came out on a tuesday evening. it's been a while since i've been in washington, and i think you put me to the humidity test but the focus tonight is on a more serious subject which was just outlined. attest that we talked about in the book is a medical term, and i sometimes am trying to read my book that goes into more details about what a marine named aaron king to terms with after he was badly wounded by an ied in iraq but rather than read his words i would just urge you in the preface to spend a minute if i hope you have bought the book because he's as eloquent as anyone i think and what it means
to look at how poor has changed you personally and, of course, the point of the book is maybe to expand it a bit to our nation, and communications for that matter have been affected by decisions here in washington. i want to thank the veterans, recognize many faces here. you more than anyone, i included that in some of the wars as well, my dad and vocals, brother-in-law are all veterans but my service came in form of the state department. i would like to thank all of you readers. i think this book is a citizenship type test as well. it's not an easy book. it's not a quick buck. it's a thick book and as many people tell me it's a very heavy book. i don't think books should be anything other than all those adjectives. tonight it's not to do a monologue some going to open by telling you of the but more
about myself, the bio was appreciated. the real star is my first job at a dairy queen. i worked also cleaning toilets at one point, so i feel if you want to join the state department, you, too, can be a dairy queen guidance to represent the united states of america. probably some of those jobs i had were before working for -- before our government. the book itself, the structure, a book actually gets sold, i can talk to some of you after, but now is the time i think for people to continue to write about these wars. i don't think war fatigue is a notion that anyone other than iraqis and afghanistan and our veterans probably fully appreciate. so for all of the naysayers out in literary world about there's no for books, i still think that the best were books have yet to be written. the the c-span audience, keep on
writing because i tell my editor, publisher cannot, there's a lot more good right after i think they're prepared to make sure that we all read it. so what is the mirror test? if the medical term. we are to think the good overview, i won't repeat that but it's a national mirror test i think that cover to cover i'm presenting to a reader. and some chapters may be are easier to read than others but the whole journey through both wars i think raises questions that are veterans especially the afghani and veteran people deserve hard to think that. we are not just any country. we are still a superpower, and overstretched superpower but what we just affected millions and millions of lives. it's not an antiwar book. i'm not antiwar but i'm anti-wrong war. i try not to preach. i try to be an honest guy through the pages. whether i succeed or fail i will
leave up to you. the curtains that a pullback from some will get me in trouble probably especially in a capital like hours but i believe it was an honest obligation for me to do. i was in meetings and events that a lot of our veterans were not an. and again i tried to be fair. i tried not to do a drive-by book. i tried not to do any cheap shots. took a lot of editing to get some of those things out but i think by the end, we get. finally, on 1.4 i can get into the structure of the book, as an overview, why you i hope to read my book i tip my hat to veterans and other writers who have produced a lot of good literature already. there's veterans like philip, elliott, ibook is just one
part of the pile of books and there will be more that follow. summon a normally doesn't get shut out is katie schultz. she did a fiction book called the flashes of war, and i spent a lot of time with iraqis and afghans and i think she does a very good job for someone who hasn't actually been to war writing about war. with all that said let me get into the structure of the book. it's six or eight pages, 203,925 words, not that we recounting. my contract was for 100,000 words and to the credit of my publisher they let me go long your the first section is the wrong war, iraq. the second section is the right war, afghanistan. and the third section is home. probably my favorite section is the author, is the additional part which is after war. and i was interviewed this week
on radio and fresh air, asked me why i ended the book was not my words basically, walt whitman quote, the real war will never get in the book. i'll come back to that at the end of the 20 or so minutes that i got. i think the last 40 minutes i would rather have a q&a and i would ask some veterans to come up and share their stories with me. quick question though to lead us into that last part. went ice age united states of america today, what words do you associate with our nation? my mother was a fifth grade schoolteacher. she taught me the value of a pop quiz so i'm give you a pop quiz. don't have to write it down but i hope, think about some words that comes to mind the nouns, adjectives. we are not supposed use at first but whatever. any word that comes to mind. cannot ask a second part which
is what words do you think iraqis, afghans or non-americans associate with us today? have those words changed, are they the same, no right or wrong answer but i will probably ask some of you to help there, the end, tony award you associate with those and what words do you think they might? i would be negligent if i did ask the third question even that we are a day out from memorial day. what does memorial day mean to you? again i will come back to this end about 10 or 15 minutes. the themes of the book somewhat complicated. the weave of the book is like a tapestry. my editor and publisher were very good at presenting the image, and for anyone who's been in afghanistan you know the tapestry looks a certain way from far distance, but as you get closer you get to pick up on
how they weave the threads. i think over three years or four years of writing this book at your thinking about how to write the book, though we is complex but hopefully readable. it's been 15 years about since 9/11. i think it's time for our literature and for our nation more poorly to think about how these wars have started, how they were fought, the fact that they are still ongoing and what issues we have succeeded at. this is not a book that is just an indictment on the worst. i write about something stupid in afghanistan that we can feel good about but it's also a very frank look into the mirror and where the mayor is cracked, i try and show that we need to recognize that. u.s. power is not the same thing as abuse in foster i think the state department if anything taught me you can be powerful but not influential. that's another question i think that for our veterans, alex and
dave probably in uniform saw as well, just the could you carry a rifle does not mean you can always get your way. a big theme of my book is accountability. i think that these wars have not led to enough personal or more importantly national accountability. i believe that up to you about your politics are you choose to vote for, but at a time of ongoing warfare i would put that out there as the rule for all u.s. citizens to think about how are we doing our job holding people accountable for the decisions that we empower them to make? it's about reflection and reckoning, personal as well. of course, it's my story, my journey a lot of other stories in there. and then the biggie for education but i think the value of nonfiction is that you let other voices speak and you do your best to sort of step to the side. it unfortunate to have you read
the book by the end i hope it's not just a good journey but you've actually learned something and a big part of the audience that i wrote for was for students. not because i think my book automatically should be assigned every student across america but a really did as the seventh grade schoolteacher try and write a book for the student who on 9/11 was a teenager or younger or what a cousin who was in the military or in the state department for that matter. because that's probably all they've known that in the background is a rock and afghanistan and in the explosion and baghdad even becoming more and. final scene i will point out among all the others is that this is not an us versus them book. our instinct is to tell our story as americans and there have been some very good books that have predominantly focused on the american story at war. my book is going to widen the lens.
so you'll meet iraqis in afghanistan then you meet marines and soldiers. i together i think that's the most accurate mirror that will have on these wars. it's not an us versus them book entrance of the political side of the issue and the military side of the issue. the fact that i've got some military friends here i think hopefully a test to the fact that we did our best and places like fallujah and host and helmand. i think the tribal warfare that sometimes goes on in washington and conference rooms really undercut us over there on the ground. and some of those stories probably highlight that. it was not an us versus them framed with regard to the iraqi and afghan people. these are the people whose home front continue to be our war front. and i think as we read books and engage in discussions about these wars we should keep that in mind.
and i want to switch to the photos in the book. the pictures i think are very important part of the reading experience, and why do i say that? my editor and a great team up in new york helped me go through about 500 of my photos, and we boiled that down to 95, 90 of mine got in and we used about three or four department of defense photos. so those photos were specifically picked tv previews for the stories. because like all of you i always look at the photos first, and hopefully some of those photos will stay with you. a few. there's a photo of fallujah. today fallujah is being cleared as you probably have heard, again a this time by the iraqi government with our air power. you look at the photos of fallujah, they are pretty
devastating as far as destruction and a city that we didn't level all but i think during the battle we probably leveled about half of it, and dave, you may want to speak to that as a marine. there's a photo of an iraqi, again these are real people with real stories and real pain that has gone on since 2003. the potato factory, they asked me hard question about what went on there. let's just say that's kind of the hardest part of war which is what happens when you have a humanitarian situation in the health situation all at once with the bodies on the street and how we deal with it. the photo, department of defense photo, i want to put a face to the issue of what do you call whether enhanced interrogation or photo. that motivated the whole five
your project. i think that we get lost in the paper shuffle about what does enhanced interrogation mean? he was tortured to death. lots of green photos. my dad and all those were all in the army, but the tribe i spent most of my time with was the united states marine corps so you get to know i think the marine stories. a lot of photos of the afghan people because again i think at a time when the longes laws wern american history is going on and on and on, we lose sight of these were people that we have partnered with and we are still partnering with. the last photos i will quickly mention before wrapping up and having a q&a is i went to the george w. bush presidential museum and library. i did not know what i would see there, and i again, hopefully as an honest, trustworthy guide just wanted to how a president immortalizes or remembers his own role as commander-in-chief.
the japanese-american internment camp, i'm with her after let fallujah. why? i needed a big long road trip but i also think unfortunately the subject of how fear in a time of war sometimes brings out the worst aspect of the american character editing today that's particularly relevant. and then finally ground zero in new york city. i once lived in new york city for four years, and as a former new yorker i felt like i owned a little bit of that story. and i believe this book needed to end in new york. start in america, inc. in america, and the worst in between. so jason is a great marine and five it was different in both wars, india not i think we're looking for closure that we will never get in these wars but we went to the 9/1 nine 9/11 memorl together. if there's one part of my book that allowed me to put things in perspective i think it's a part.
so i opted not to read part of my but because you did great job talking about cannot emphasize this point hours of unabridged me, if you want more of me. the team in l.a. were incredible working me through the audio. i was in very good hands, but i will finally end with this questions i had. what words do you associate with the united states? if you could just raise your hand i will repeat maybe what those words are. just a few, then we will go to the second one. well-meaning. good contracted work i guess. freedom, good one. i heard that in the worst. powerful. any other words that you associate with the united states? naïve. guilty. i was naïve for sure.
self-serving. unsuccessful. these are all good works. now going to shift quickly to what words do you think the iraq and the afghan people associate with us. for that matter the japanese people, the danes, you know, the brazilians. dangerous. crusader, that's a loaded word but i'm glad you said it. there's a human else want to offer some words of non-americans you think associate with us? arrogant. my good friend grew up in norway, good work. anyone else? disappointing and -- sorry? leader. wrong. you guys need to all right books. no right or wrong answer but
i'lltell you, i heard great words to describe the worst under not so great words. i heard a lot about drones, a lot about freedom. i heard election. i heard abu grub. so the book talks but what that balance was in both wars in terms of how we do our -- how we view ourselves in that new. i like to avoid mayors because i'm getting older and all that when it comes to war, we shouldn't. so i think if the book succeeds you will see that kind a pretty good balance between what failed but also some the things that work there and i would say that iraq obviously outlived the worst battle of the war. my lens is very red. but in afghanistan there are still some stories and some experiences and some money resulted in some positive things. so the indictment i think would've been an easy book to write if i begin to be pretty balanced on that. memorial day and that it would open up to q&a.
i think we've got about 35-40 minutes. what this memorial day mean to you? [inaudible] >> the gentleman to provide talked about the citizens of memorial day that were not fair to the veterans come to the people who were in the wars. >> millions of people who served over hundreds of years. >> case of millions of people who served over hundreds of years. it's not just these wars. it's worth all the way back to the first club. good. what else? [inaudible] >> so for you it's a very personal family member. my great uncle i wrote about the other day was also in the battle of the bulge. survived the battle of the bulge
but did not survive the after war. anyone else want to take a shot at what memorial day means? [inaudible] >> very good. i'm glad you raised that. the cemetery at normandy. i've got a chapter in my book called cherokee, iowa. i am that chapter. i am just signaling there are very few nations in the world who still very your military overseas, and normandy is probably one of the most moving examples of that. and also gets to the influence because you we still have a lot of influence, powerful, but our story speaks to our strengths as well. i talk about that, that they did in afghanistan who e-mailed me when neil armstrong passed away i'm still moved by that. why? because i could hear about neil armstrong's african-american. i've got a lot of great friends, a lot of great family but my dad
was in vietnam when neil armstrong put his first step on the moon. now he looks up and sees drones or the moon and we need to think that what story are we telling to the world. what does memorial day mean to me? i will end and then asked three people to come up and help me. made before. it means accountability it means responsibility or it means fundamentally i think two is our commander-in-chief. not just our military's commander-in-chief, our commander-in-chief. i don't say that just because we are six months out from presidential election but when you go to a cemetery and you are visiting kia, killed in action from iraq or afghanistan i encourage people out in colorado and utah where i was on the tour before now to just wander around a bit, and it's amazing the number of other kia or other veterans you see from korea,
from world war ii, from world war i, even from the civil war which is another war that we don't have a memorial for action on the mall. do you know the other one we don't? world war i. we have a local memorial but there is a national memorial for world war i. there's also not one for the civil war of the national mall so i have a chapter where i walk you through the national mall. but i think, again this is just me, tribal and talking about memorial day, it's not just about the death in past wars and remembering the sacrifice today. it's about how many more tombstones are going to be there. because those decisions who becomes our commander-in-chief will affect i think whether those tombstones are more for the right words or more for maybe the wrong wars. so when i walked through the
graveyard, and i didn't do more than i ever wanted to, but in wyoming and utah and california, most recently i think okay, here's the sacrifice so far, and there will inevitably be future sacrifices. is the policy and all the policymakers going to be deserving of that future sacrifice? so i will leave it at that into double ask dave, please come up briefly. balin who was kind enough to let me use part of his journal in the book as one of i think the most important parts of the book. carter is also your who wrote a great book called war comes to culture. -alex if you come up is with her i would like to open it up to the veterans as well-vetted because i found in colorado especially people enjoyed not just hearing the former state department perspective. they also enjoy hearing from the veterans. why? because of the people who truly
are in the hardest parts of the war were not me and my colleagues. it was the veterans. so if you will come up. i am kind of ordering you. outlook, if you. i will hand it off to the whole panel. balin was a soldier in the army. is also a native westerner like me. we are both pretty blonde. dave is a southerner. i will tell him tell his own story. alex is also a southerner but i cannot hold that against him. if you have questions for the two marines and a soldier, please direct it towards them. if you have a question towards me, carter probably will not come up but he is a civilian. carter, come up. >> you will tell us solely from the book. my story is the story of kwanzaa there if you prefer something else -- >> okay. i will follow carter's order.
i will tell you once were from book at the we have 30 minutes to the good back and forth. i know why you picked it. the last -- last grand mufti and the story is about how our collaboration is the chapter the book called collaboration. it's not called partnership. it's not called teamwork. it's called collaboration for reason and i'm a student of history. what are trying to in the chapter, show the brave iraqis but also as was the case were carter was in afghanistan the people who stood with us, the people who for whatever reason cited that when the americans showed up they were going to collaborate with us. and what the cost of elaboration are as well as what some of us as were of the collaboration. he opted to not only collaborate with us but to take a very tough decision, many tough decision at a time when zarqawi was directly
intimidating him. i just picture that. here you've got kael weston, under age, underdressed state department guide meeting with you saying please help us. and then you've got zarqawi and his henchmen trying to strengthen you basically behind closed doors. and intimidate you. and that was his world. untouchable for a while but, unfortunately, not untouchable forever. of the reasons i think that is stored our especially tragic is that what we did, and i include myself in that category but also a delta force team. i've of our special operations forces. they have a narrow, important mission but sometimes this growth. my book gets into that i book gets into debt by helping a very fair and honest way. but what the queue with the effect was is that we made life a heck of a lot more dangerous for the last grand mufti of
fallujah to the point with the ambassador asked me who killed the sheikh. i said we did. so that's the sheikh a story. there are faces in stores that motivated public and have to say while i love our military at of general nicholson is an incredible marine leader, but he's a partner with me through many of the pages. the stories that we demand i think 608 page book from an incredible publisher is the iraqis and afghan stories. so thank you, carter, for giving me five more minutes on the. i will now open it up to all of us, and any question. a few will up to the microphone. i know that helps with recording. if you would rather yell at me, i will repeat it into the microphone. >> my question is actually for you. i'm old enough to be your mother. my war was vietnam. i was married to an antiwar activist, and i ultimately became a physician at bethesda naval hospital and a retired
only recently. so i have met lots of marines coming from the war zone. my question is, it appeared as soon as we got into iraq that no one in government had the idea what was in iraq or who was in iraq or what their history was. similarly with afghanistan. you in the state department, your whole function is supposed to come get people who know what's going on. the lesson from vietnam is it's not a good idea to support an unpopular government. you can't at the end of the day. that's why we're taking fallujah for the third time. and ramani the third time. you in those meetings, you said you were things that the people carrying the weight didn't hear.
so what did you hear and did they really, did they just know what they were doing but not communicate it to the people who make the decisions? >> read my next book because i'm going to tackle some of those. it's a very important question. my dad and uncles were in vietnam. my dad again was there when neil armstrong landed on the moon. added to make connections between my boat in vietnam. i think when richard holbrooke was criticized for bringing up his vietnam experience in this debate i think that was unfortunate and unfair. to questionable we didn't know. we didn't know a lot. and i didn't know a lot so i'm not here to just point fingers at my government out of work for an overall supported in my roll and codify big a number of times for legitimate reasons, but i think we were naïve and i have to go back to nine 9/11.
we were a fearful nation. when you are afraid, watch out. and my fear is, my real fear is that we continue to be a fearful nation. what was it that fdr said? the most beautiful way of thought but fear. instead i think few can become that virus that makes us would do things that we ordinarily wouldn't. i would go back to what happened on 9/11. we were at the height of our power economically. there was no such thing as an overstretched military empire. and our government at the time with american by income i loved richard holbrooke but he is on the iraq bandwagon. so was basically most of our media. where we? where we shopping, think about what going to war really means? so when it comes to accountability i include myself in the naïve. i think you mentioned naïve eventually question. and then what followed. ones were on the ground i think we all learned pretty quickly, and maybe a couple of the brains and soldier can tell you their story but i know them well
enough that were you being shot at? pretty quick. problem is if you're deployed in conference so i think your learning curve is not very quick. so we didn't i think communicate well internally and there have been some very good books written, these books have been good a sort of polling that big curtain back and showing that while our war cabinets were making decisions that tens of thousands of troop surges, that made we also, like you say, didn't understand the government we were supporting was the bigger problem and that the infighting in the government was a big problem. i will end with this. the chapter the problem was the hardest for me to do is one the centers and generals talk. it goes to your question about i think the political and military together. i also felt for our veterans and their families if they are owed an insight into when members of our congress particularly come to the war zone.
some of whom voted for the war, he voted against and what the actual do, what they actually say. automatic. >> it is a windshield. i have to be honest, they at least should have because a lot of their colleagues did not show a. that part of the book required multiple, multiple edits because i didn't want to be, i'd -- but i focus on a congressman raising dental readiness basically, keith at the beginning. i name them, indiana congressman eric and then i we've it through to john warner who let, helped lead the iraq war authorization, the amu f. at a show whether the republic a democrat, older generation, younger generation, veteran or not, that these wars did start to sink in and i think john warner comes across as really, there's a saying when the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.
we heard way too many parents but there were a few giggles. in that chapter i would just point out we try and show that disconnect. but also a learning curve because i think john warner represented in my mind someone who understood when the iraq war was not going well, he didn't just, he didn't jess sharp is not the kind of the bush white house was very worried when john warner start to say timeout. so i point you to that chapter. but afterward i hope you die because you've asked some fundamentally important questions because it would learn anything from vietnam? vietnam we had the draft and we've never had the draft for these wars and i think that also makes wars easier and makes it easier to continue from the politicians. thank you. other questions. >> how did you get into this? >> the question is, i want to
make sure the people can hear it on tv. she asked for an introduction for our veterans. i think it's a good idea. so, up. spewing this is exactly how he operates. kael will just ambush you, drag you along the your city in the back, about astro question-kael says come on the. they want to hear from you. no, they don't. i was -- sorry. so we are doing this solely out of affection for this man. i served with him as a marine. i was with another marine in the back. >> pod, come up here. >> you could stay there. we served together and there was this unusual fellow that i saw on the military base there he kept getting excluded from that shop all. they thought it was a contractor. by contractors need also t.
kael was always trying to include the perspectives from the lowest level, that there is lowest level, exactly as he is doing a. and i later worked with in in afghanistan as well. >> and you are a marine? >> a marine. >> i will just second that. good thing for kael have no problems speaking for people impromptu. i wasn't supposed be doing this at this time. i met kael what is going to school at utah state. i am one of his former associates. he was my professor. he was talking about the shenanigans we had in the middle east, lack of a better term. he was talking makes connections. innocent people that i know or he is an experienced with things i have. we talked afterwards and he was asking for some things, and i
just happened to have kept a journal when i was in the right. i don't know why to this day but i kept it. almost, daily. dependence on the days. i was involved in a mission that he was writing about that took place in sadr city, see was asking about and i said here's some journal entries, whatever, take a. i had no idea at the time that would end up in some book. if you flip to the end boat it's the soldier's journal. so that's an e-mail basically i said to him a couple years ago at this point, and i'm honored it's in there and -- [inaudible] >> i mean, really i just wrote about whatever was happening.
there is no come when i wrote it wasn't for a plan. it was just, i was young, 18 when i enlisted. i got out when i was 22 and i've never been to war before slava okay, whatever. i will write about it. for my own sake i've actually never gone through and we read it. it's been on my computer, a hard drive and on my google drive. gilad parts of actually ever revisited was one as big as some pieces to send them. what i read through it again after he sent a copy of the book just a few weeks ago. so there was no plan. it's just, and you can see that if you go through and you read it, mayors know it can to keep the grammar clean, to keep the language clean, or anything like that. so it's really rough to read. you will probably have to read it a couple of times spirit but that's what makes it so good, because i think, i'll save you a
little bit. the writing is what i consider to be pure writing. i'm looking back on the worst, wanted to make it work perfect and craft and all that crap we all doing right. but what baylen struggle with highlights is when walt whitman's is the real war will never get in the books. his journal is the real war. and what makes it so powerful is that the grammar, spelling out all my editors, are you sure do want to change that? no, this is a guy living in sadr city just explaining what they like is like. and i think that's what makes the book so powerful and it precedes them and friends comments about the 31, you know, my reckoning that will last as long as i live, about a decision that i would take back if i could, you know, in an instant and i can't. but that our family and friends are getting online and just humanizing the troops and their
friends and sons and brothers were killed and that helicopter crash. i think baylen is also him looking back at what was going on at the time. so there's reflection going on. it is like a mirror test your he was kind enough to let me use it, and hopefully if we sell a few books you will get your do. dave, you want to come up and introduce yourself as well? [inaudible] >> how much more time? i'm dave. i don't kael since december 2004 even though he doesn't remember our first meeting. we met in fallujah at the cnoc when we had the very first ideas informal city council meeting. we try to bring back together those tribal leaders, city officials that remain, one of the come back to the city after we finished doing what needed to be done at the time. when we needed to begin rebuilding and bringing everybody back into the city.
>> tell them more about your expertise. >> well, even though you speak a lie which doesn't mean you don't anything about the plan. no, how much you study it, no matter how much you think you understand it, i think kael said one time in 2006, you don't know fallujah unless you have been, well, for every year you were in fallujah you know 1% of what's going on. and i think that's pretty damn accurate. can i say that on c-span? we are good, we're good. i'm still activities like it away with it. but it's entirely accurate. it doesn't matter how many books you've read, if you understood the history of iraq, going back to the 1920s and even before that, before the partition, or the british mandate rather, post-world war i, it didn't matter. it helped you understand what's going on at the time, it helps you understand it today, but at the same time, we are americans, they are iraqis. they know what's going on in the
meetings of the meetings that occurred with the other individuals that were our collaborators. >> i will add a bit more about his biopic into was one marine or even american who the fallujah and would again to welcome moscow it's not me. it's dave meadows. and it shows you the value of an american who was wearing the uniform and a trained killer in an environment where the people knew him as the american who spoke their language. i didn't. my first impression was not very good. i have made up for in other ways maybe but my first impression was not what the state department i should be doing. dave, working with colonels and generals, was able to make the city safer for all of us. so until people another story to carter, who was a captain in eastern afghanistan, captain bar, and when i got there the afghans in one of our most difficult districts, the bar
district, kept on basically saying bar, r., bar. i said to this bar guy? they don't care about me at all. there was a reason why. is marine captain was legendary in eastern afghanistan. what the afghans did was drinking back. you know, bring the marines back liking. at the point general dunford was a think that wherever he is, promoting and bring it back because i have seen no one american could have such a positive affect any place where osama bin laden spent time. alex did some things in fallujah that he also will not talk about because he's half fumble, is that before the potato factory, alex with a civil affairs team had to do with the bodies. and that was even more difficult than what happened later. so he's very humble, mostly
humbled that he would never tell you the role he had was extended critical, and i whipped out on the civil affairs side, most marines are perceived as being trigger pores and there's a lot of great koreans who are trigger pores and there's also marines who are trigger pores but also civil affairs officer or a civil affairs nco. a lot of my work involved both sides can the trigger pores, the copy command, infantry company commander as well as a civil affairs officers. and then baylen, please redistribute i think it's the cleanest account of were i've come across, and he is definitely to humble to give himself credit but i think as the writing progresses in these wars, and to control the people watching, if you're a veteran living in iowa or illinois and you are not close to the publishing world, pull out your journal, pull out your original diaries because i get all of our wars have translated into
tremendous, tremendous leap powerful stories that come out over time. and i think the american readership is too willing to hear your stories. other questions? todd, you should come up here. no? okay. >> if i may. kael is not what people expect of a state department political adviser, and not now and not been. he was a peculiar political animal who buys old initiatives adopted by this tribe, the marine corps. he is unashamed of that, but he was never, i never thought he was co-opted. i never thought he wanted to be a marine. i never thought he wanted to be in the military. he was very probably a diplomat. my question to you, how did you do that?
this is not a how-to book, but so did go into the room with no money, he would walk into a room and three-star generals would ask them what to do. would listen to his -- very rare. so give us some pointers and some insight into that, please. >> well, you stick around the wars long enough you start to get bigger neighbor. i think about it a spin as the sum of some of us did, believe me i'm not going to do this. but a lot of people in the state department, foreign service, use the id tribes who have done also incredible work, is that war is to import i think on the front and to play games. and i think alex, you were there at one of the worst times in fallujah. i know the marine corps spoiled by the quality of the general shepherd i also know the generals were not behind closed doors plotting to kill everyone they had all the answers. in a place like anbar, fallujah,
helmand with the general nicholson, general dunford, general miller, i could go on, we were all trying to reach the best implementation we could. and i will not name is jenna but i will always remember all these generals and big one is like very high right now, which is all good. i'm in the wilderness in the desert but this general said we don't do this, do we? we just don't invade countries because we can. and that, it really stayed with me because of course i felt part of these wars evolved into go win the war, fight the war, escalate the war, and then come back and tell us how it's going. and so to your question about my role, i come from stock is military, and i give the policy should match the sacrifice anything the advantage of being on the ground is that you are
all being shot up together. and where the marines go tend to be the most difficult areas. so whether you are in command in general or a corporal, we all had the same objective which is to try to make these wars less read, to convict these wars less awful, to try to make these wars not as long as they have become very i think the people of washington have their own challenges and i shouldn't minimize that but i would rather -- because the marines did know what the state department was, but they were a lot of good team members who thought these wars from far away. >> so one of the questions, the lesson of iraq and afghanistan that should be applied to the conflict now i guess? >> the question is what lessons could we apply to the current challenge with islamic state?
that is a topic for another but i think it's a good question in that these lessons were hard. the cost in lives and limbs especially for the iraqi and afghan people still goes on and we opened the paper and your on the news about the car bombs have not into. i think someone mentioned we are on ground, whatever it is, in fallujah. the biggest lessons is how we as a government operates. the tribe in washington really undercut us for a long time. the people did not play well together in our capital and there've been other books that have exported those things. from my perspective in places like post, helmand and anbar, i would go back to look, who are the people on the ground that we are partnering with. i think the arrogance of the american way of doing business is there's no challenge too
great for us, or they used to not be. whereas i think the biggest lesson is that we need to invest in those relationships. we need to show them that the american power is not this. let's surge up and then drop down quickly, but it's more of an enduring role, and enduring partnership, an enduring presence. i think we've reached that point in afghanistan at the think the president obama's credit he's basically a thick acknowledging that he's not going to end the longest war in american history in his second trip and i think that is a very important lesson because i think the instinct in washington is to say the wars are kind of over, when they're really not that i also think that it goes to what is represented in fallujah. if you listen and speak happens often, the iraqi and afghan partners will tell you what you need to know. and i think carver more than anyone demonstrate that in helmand but we are about -- i
was bad because i couldn't even speak their language. i was always being filtered. that came at a price your may be the final point i would say with the islamic state is that the sunnis, that whenever down to a part of the map, i believed were willing to partner with the terrorists if they felt they had no future in the country. that said, the iraqi governing council legitimate concerns about the sunni population. so the argument to ambassador for and to ambassador negroponte at the time but especially ambassador for we need anchors in the region just as we have anchors around the world. and i think we may be are starting to put anchors a bit more deeply into the wars that we have not ended and that are not over. [inaudible]
>> -- and i will skip the rest. there were a lot of them. one thing i remarked upon overlong what is the inability to notice what's happened in the past when we start into vietnam, korea, you name it, and here we are today. it seems, is not a question of people not being smart enough. some of these people are summa cum laude at princeton or harvard law school but they don't seem to know that something went on before. is there any way in which you could, from your experience, suggest that we can't look overr our shoulder at some point? >> the question is, coming from a military background that you mentioned, why have we forgotten so much?
why is the amnesia like automatic. i majored in history. it was one of my double majors. i'm a big believer in reading the raw material and reading the stories that don't need to be sort of made current. i'll give you my sense of that. i'll go back to what happened on 9/11 but i think that what happened on 9/11 enabled quick decisions and quick thinking to happen. at a time when our checks and balances were out of whack. and i know you are formally in the media with the "washington post" and whatever the major newspapers were. so i think when we were struck, certainly agenda had the ability to track and more quickly than in hollywood. vietnam had huge lessons to the draft. top wing governments trying to work with local forces. my uncle who was almost killed in vietnam was doing exactly
what our special forces are doing that which is embedding is a pretty remote places. so the learning curve is still there but it took a long time to get there. i think that washington is always a short-term place. the cycle of elections, money. i don't want to shift this conversation but wars are a long-term endeavor and our long-term challenge. building partnerships like carter did take time. he spent two years in a little district that was very hot and very violent. we were never i think prepared to think long-term because of the incentive for short-term. and i think incentives in war are surge, spend a ton of money, say we're getting out, and handing off. because the shorthand is clear, hold, build, but the last part was clear, hold, build, transfer. we were very, very focused on here, it's all yours without remembering that we were the
ones in the case of iraq invaded not because we are asked to invade but we did. so i think the american instinct is to use our twitch muscles are not to use our marathon muscles which are a lot different than marine twitch muscles. what other questions? >> i don't like him speak to this but having represent the state department of curious, part of the intervention with military but also the development, the national development and you've got some good things about that and you also hear about tremendous waste in terms of the money that was put towards that. i just wanted to do something to speak to the benefit or speedy's the question is on we had kind of a political, diplomatic resources and tools. we had military which these gentlemen represent, and and what about development in usaid, the ngo type were? the most popular tool we have in
our cliché toolbox is what? do you think it's state department? do you think is the usmc lacks baylen, like an army soldier? know. what the iraq and afghan people toby always is we want to see the development. we want to see the projects that usaid and that your money is particularly well-suited for. the problem was is that it was an environment often where we were that we were still active combat zones. i think we were always hoping that it did not require infantry battalions and divisions at one point or people forget can we have a division headquarters and a marine expiratory headquarters always. went to the store just as three stars because the force level was so hot in western iraq. how many usaid wraps?
may be one, maybe one and a half. what ambassador negroponte semiology said two things, my boss. and he said kael, remember, when you meet the generals, tell them you work for me. and i now know why he said that because i love our generals but generals are used to saying -- they wanted to sort of direct me to places but ambassador negroponte was saying your life is through robert ford. the other thing he said be careful because he said in vietnam just like when holbrooke was there as they were not able to get, they were able to get out and about contrary to what was going on in western iraq. so to the final point, these wars were getting worse over time, generally speaking not getting better. and for usaid and to develop an arm who don't want to be bear hugging dave or baylen, you
know, our military, that was always going to undercut us. one final thing. imposed province we spend $53 million, give or take. commander dave adams and the team did an incredible job prioritizing u.s. money. $53 million went quite far. of all the schools we don't want to estimate, and i get e-mails from afghans adequate in the book, about half probably are still functioning which is not bad into easternmost edge of afghanistan. that means half have not but it's bang for the buck. the best money i think we spent in eastern afghanistan was $5000, and how much does it don't cost? how much does it take cost? how much does base salary cost. $5000 to do what? we basically provided taxi fare for all of the best students all across the province toet