tv PBS News Hour PBS June 22, 2011 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: president obama mapped out a course tonight for bringing 33,000 u.s. troops home from afghanistan by the end of next year. good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the ewshour" tonight, we have extend excerpts of this evening's primetime speech at the white house. plus, analysis from ruth marcus and william kristol. >> woodruff: then, we examine the obama administration's record on climate change as former vice president al gore criticizes the president's failure to take bold action on global warming. >> ifill: from rhode island, paul solman reports on the risk
to retirees and taxpayers alike when billions of dollars from state pension funds are tied up in the stock market. >> we'd be asking people, do you want to pay higher taxes in order to avoid taking the risk in the stock market? i think most people would say no to that. >> woodruff: and we continue our collaboration with "the economist" magazine to highlight the art of filmmaking. tonight, jeffrey brown talks to "my perestroika" director robin hessman about children growing up as the soviet union fell apart. >> for every individual, it was a complicated process and still is today. there are many conflicting feelings on the changes and the effects of those changes on their everyday lives. >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> i mean, where would we be without small businesses? >> we need small businesses. >> they're the ones that help drive growth. >> like electricians, mechanics, carpenters. >> they strengthen our
communities. >> every year, chevron spends billions with small businesses. that goes right to the heart of local communities, providing jobs, keeping people at work. they depend on us. >> the economy depends on them. >> and we depend on them. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: it's been nearly
ten years since u.s. forces went into afghanistan, after 9/11. tonight, the president announced his plan for winding down the u.s. role. he spoke in a nationally televised address, from the east room of the white house. here is some of what he said. >> by the time i took office, the war in afghanistan had entered its seventh year. but al-qaeda's leaders had escaped into pakistan and were plotting new attacks. while the taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive. without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commands warned that we could face a resurge in al-qaeda and the taliban taking over large parts of afghanistan. for this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions i've made as president, i ordered an additional 0,000 american troops into afghanistan. when i announced this surge at west point, we set clear objectives, to refocus on
al-qaeda, to reverse the taliban's momentum, and train afghan security forces to defend their own country. i also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to draw down our forces this july. tonight, i can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. thanks to our extraordinary men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. as a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer. fully recovering the surge i announce at west point. after this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as afghan security forces move into the lead. our mission will change from combat to support.
by 2014, this process of transition will be complete and the afghan people will be responsible for their own security. we're starting this draw down from position of strength. al-qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. together with the pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al-qaeda's leadership. and thanks to our intelligence professionals and special forces, we killed osama bin laden, the only leader that al-qaeda had ever known. this was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. one soldier summed it up well. the message, he said, is we don't forget. you will be held accountable no matter how long it takes. the information that we recovered from bin laden's compound shows al-qaeda under enormous strength. bin laden expressed concern that al-qaeda had been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that had be killed, and that al-qaeda has failed in its effort to portray america as
a nation at war with islam, thereby draining more wide spread support. al-qaeda remains dangerous, and we must be vigilant against attacks. but we have put al-qaeda on a path to defeat and we will not relent until the job is done. of course, huge challenges remain. this is the beginning, not the end of our evident to wind down this war. we'll have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we've made, while we draw down our forces and transition responsibility for security to the afghan government. we do know that peace cannot come to a land that has known so much war without a political settlement. so as we strengthen the afghan government and security forces, america will jo initiative that reconcile the afghan people, including the taliban. our position on these talks is clear. they must be led by the afghan government, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful afghanistan must break from
al-qaeda, abandon violence and abide by the afghan constitution. but in part, because of our military evident, we have reason to believe that progress can be made. of course, our efforts must also address terrorists safe havens in pakistan. no country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists which is why we will press pakistan in securing a more peaceful future for this war torn region. we'll work with the pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism and we will insist that it keeps its commitments. for there should be no doubt that so long as i am president, the united states will never tolerate a safe haven for those who want to kill us or elude us. tonight we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is
receding. fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm's way. we ended our commission in iraq with 100,000 american troops already out of that country. and even as there will be dark days ahead in afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. over the last decade we have spent over a trillion dollars on war. at the time of rising debt and hard economic times. now, we must invest in america's greatest resource, our people. we must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industries, while living within our means. we must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy. and most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. for our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong, no hill is too steep. no horizon is beyond our reach.
america, it is time to focus on nation building here at home. >> woodruff: now for some analysis of tonight's speech we're joined by ruth marcus, columnist for "the washington post" and bill kristol, editor of the weekly standard and we thank you both for being with us. so ruth, let me start with you. did the president make the case for the pull out of those surge forces that he put into afghanistan over a year ago? >> well he made a case. i'm not entirely sure that he either convinced those who would like to see more troops gone more quickly or all troops gone as quickly as possible, that it makes sense to stay the course to the extent that he wants. and i'm not sure that he managed to convince those who think that he ought to have listened more to the generals who wanted more troops for longer. i'm not sure he's nullified them either. he's in a place with president obama right in the middle of
those two forces would >> woodruff: how do you see it, bill kristol. >> he makes it clear he wants to get out of afghanistan and accelerated the withdraw of the surge forces, made it more -- more quickly than people anticipated. this was a lot of talk he would withdraw all the surge forces by the end of 2012 and i think the military commanders. thinking that would mean more risk for the commission, thought that was doable because they were given the 2012 fighting season. so they could really finish the work in the south and move to the east. now with the september deadline with the withdrawal of forces, without practice you won't be able to row teeth people in june july etcetera. they're giving up an awful lot of 2012 because the president says it's been successful. what he's saying is all that counterinsurgency trying to create a stable afghan, the jihadists interest in the range, he really backs away from those in his speeches. it was positive for the region.
we're not going to let al-qaeda have a safe haven and that opens up, if you're a critic then, if you think counterterrorism is enough instead of counterinsurgency, why doesn't he have0,000 troops. just use special forces and forget about all this attempt to really fight a war there. >> i think the point about the 70,000 troop is a very important one which is this is not a choice between having all the troops out of afghanistan by the end of 2012 or the fall of 2012. you can have an argument about when the fighting season begins and ends and how much marginal difference it makes to have that extra time of more troops there. but at the end of 2012, there will be 68,000 troops in afghanistan when president obama took office, there were 32,000 troops. that's still a very large force. >> woodruff: is there a contradiction, though, ruth, in saying we've done a good enough job, we're going to bring these
surge troops home, these 33,000, but there's still a big job left. he talked about the challenges that remain, so we need to have twice that many troops, more than twice that many troops to fit in there. >> there is an inherent contradiction in setting a withdrawal timetable and saying we will not relent until the job is done. that's just sort of baked into the cake of the afghanistan policy. it's not a new one, it was what was laid out in 2009. the argument is if you set a withdrawal timetable, you sort of energize the afghanis to get their act together and be able to do it for themselves. the counterargument to that is you energize the al-qaeda elements and other insurgencents to just wait you out. now they know wait the rest out until 2014. >> woodruff: did the bill describe t progress we've made. he talked about we made progress
to al-qaeda, we went to pakistani and found al-qaeda. isn't he giving the united states enough credit for what has been done. >> he could have, quite honestly. it's a pretty amazing achievement by the u.s. forces accompanying the u.s. president speaking to the nation could take pride and give the forces credit for it. he gave a couple nice sentences about the troops but a lot is thanking them for their sacrifices and drawing appropriately on the wounded and on the killed. he didn't dwell quite as long on the achievement of the u.s. forces. this was more of a pivot by the president about the withdraw from afghanistan. he had an agreement with nato or the afghan government. there was a plan, a campaign plan. we would do the surge, keep a good number of forces while drawing down gradually. then there would be more of a draw down in 3013 and by 2014 the plan was to turn over security to the afghan forces. now he's accelerated that plan quite a lot. in you're actually taking
charge, you set a different number forces and very much less flexibility how to deploy them. >> woodruff: he's got more ambition. >> it's unclear why he now thinks we can accelerate that much unless he's changed the going -- goal posts and i think he has. we're going to deny al-qaeda a safe haven, these the goal. no talk, very very little thank you about the broader strategic interest that certainly bush identified, that's one thing. and that sentence right at the end of the excertain we -- excerpts, it's time to take care of our home. if you want international development and foreign aid, i think this sentence is going to be thrown back at him by people in congress would >> woodruff: and u.s. will be still spending billions every informant. >> it's hard to keep it straight. absolutely and the degree to
which financial considerations are influencing and to some extent driving these decisions can't be overestimated. the pressures that the budget negotiators feel the pressures that are brought to bear by politicians who are talking about spending these billions slicing them out of the program. the president did a similar pivot in the west point speech where he talked about time to sort of rebuild at home. this was even more direct because the frustration level has grown and the sense of the real need to deal with the deficit has grown. >> woodruff: let's talk about the reaction going forward. there was some reaction that republican presidential candidates on the hill and you had jon huntsman the republican agreeing with nancy pelosi that more needs to be done. what the president said tonight, does the calm the growing debate
out there about this war or does it rile it up or is it right where it was before this speech? >> his policy's not going to be reversed from either side in congress so i think after a few days of criticism and worry and warning and lament from both sides perhaps it's not getting out fast enough or putting the mission at risk by getting out too fast, i suppose the debate will die down. that will depend on things on the ground. i worry the most that this could snowball. there's nut much -- >> woodruff: what do you mean snowball. >> nato allies could say he's excelling his withdrawal let's accelerate our withdraw. afghan and those in pakistan who might want to work with us look at this speech and see boyhe's getting out of there faster and there's one or two sentences about a permanent relationship with afghanistan. there's not a lot of forward leaning talk about how we'll be there supporting our friends, we have broad interests in that part of asia.
i would worry honestly that this is read around the world in that way. then at home, at least among republicans, there will be a little bit of a sense you're not fighting this to win, let's just get out. this in between path is not sustainable. >> woodruff: ten seconds, do you agree with that it could snowball. >> i'm not sure about the allies, i think in terms of national dialogue here at home, i don't think afghanistan, unless something terrible happens is going to be front and center in the political debate, it's going to be the economy, and i wouldn't say stupid. >> woodruff: gee, what makes you say that. all right. >> because you're so smart. >> woodruff: ruth marcus and bill kristol, we thank you both. >> thank >> ifill: still to come on the "newshour": a report card on the administration's environmental record; state pension funds at risk in the markets and growing up as the soviet union fell apart. but first, with the other news of the day. here's hari sreenivasan. >> sreenivasan: nato is showing the first signs of a possible split over the mission in libya.
italy called today for a halt to military action. foreign minister franco frattini said the fighting needs to stop, to allow access for humanitarian aid. he also said civilian deaths from nato air raids should be investigated. france and britain rejected the appeal. the british insisted the alliance is holding strong. a security court in bahrain sentenced eight top shi-ite activists and opposition leaders to life in prison today. the court action stemmed from pro-democracy protests this past spring. we have a report narrated by jonathan rugman of "independent television news." >> reporter: this was the pearl roundabout, the symbol of bahrain's largely shia uprising against the sunni monarchy. >> we want freedom! we want a true parliament! >> reporter: but there was no revolution here. it was brutally quashed. today a military judge in battle fatigues sentenced 21 activists to long prison sentences, eight of them to life. guilty of plotting to overthrow the government with foreign
help, presumed to be from iran. all but one of the guilty men were from the island's shia majority. hassan mushaima, a well-known opposition leader faces life in jail. in bahrain's shia villages, more protests after today's verdicts. this one was contained by police. last night, protesters were calling for the royal family to be overthrown, despite promises of national dialogue due to begin on the first of july. how can you have dialogue says this leading bahraini refugee in london who in absentia today was sentenced to life. >> these despots and regimes and tyrants, when they are throttled by the will of the people they just throw out such statements but they don't really mean it. >> reporter: next week sentences are due to be handed down on scores of doctors and nurses who treated the wounded. they stand accused of inciting
revolt. >> sreenivasan: the shi-ites sentenced today will have 15 days to appeal. in china, renowned artist and dissident ai weiwei was released from jail today. he had been arrested in april after strongly criticizing the ruling communist party. ai returned to his home in beijing late at night, but he said he was on probation and could not talk. state media said he confessed to tax evasion-- something his family had long denied. police in northern ireland are blaming an outlawed protestant group for two nights of sectarian rioting in belfast. it started late monday, in the run-up to a holiday when protestants march across the region. armored police vans filled the streets tuesday as hundreds of masked rioters threw bricks, fireworks and gasoline bombs. at least three people were shot, but none of the injuries were life-threatening. the city of minot, north dakota began to flood today as a bloated river poured over its levees. at the same time, thousands of people poured out of the city for the second time this month.
even before the souris river the river threatened to engulf bridges and roads, cutting off whole areas and forcing some 11,000 people to evacuate minot by nightfall. >> just waiting. >> sreenivasan: nearly 500 north dakota national guard soldiers were on hand to help, providing traffic control. time was of the essence in one neighborhood where the only road in had already been inundated. >> the first time they came by they said a levee had been broke that the dike had been compromised. so, we needed to get out as soon as possible. >> sreenivasan: the souris, which flows from canada into north dakota, has been bloated by heavy spring snowmelt and rain. earlier this month, the river than an inch shy of the historic flood that swamped the city in 1969. 10,000 residents were evacuated,
then allowed to return only to be told to leave again. >> about two weeks ago, we had a big crew here, moved everything out, and then started moving back in this last weekend. now we're moving it back out again. >> sreenivasan: on monday despite warnings, some held out, sandbagging through a downpour in a last ditch effort. >> you don't know. it might be enough to save one house, two, even a whole neighborhood. you don't give up. >> sreenivasan: the u.s army corps of engineers was working, too, trying to shore up flood defenses where it could. but it may all be for naught. forecasters project the souris will reach an all-time high by the weekend, eclipsing records set in 1881. and, it's not expected to recede until mid-july. the federal reserve has dialed back its growth forecast for this year and next. the central bank announced the lower estimates today. it said some problems-- like supply chain disruptions from the japanese tsunami-- should begin to dissipate. but fed chairman ben bernanke
said other problems could be around longer than anticipated. >> maybe some of the headwinds that have been concerning us like weakness in financial sector, problems in the housing sector, balance sheet and deleveraging issues, some of these headwinds may be stronger, more persistent than we thought. >> sreenivasan: also today, the congressional budget office warned that the national debt is on pace to exceed the value of the entire economy by 2023. the report came as congressional negotiators are struggling to craft a sweeping package to cut the deficit. and on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average lost 80 points to close at 12,109. the nasdaq fell 18 points to close at 2,669. federal regulators have given a new safety endorsement to silicone gel breast implants. the food and drug administration reported today there is no evidence they lead to significant health problems. it did acknowledge that many
women will have to ha the implants removed within ten years, when they rupture or cause scar tissue. the f.d.a. review was the first since sales of silicone implants resumed in 2006. they had been banned for 14 years over concerns about possible links to cancer and other illnesses. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: now, to the politics of climate change. former vice president al gore, writing in an upcoming edition of rolling stone magazine, takes president obama to task in an article titled "climate of denial." mr. gore writes: resident obama has thus far failed to use the bully pulpit to make the case for bold action on climate change..." he goes on to argue that the president "...has not defended the science against the ongoing, withering and dishonest attacks." gore's article has forced a largely internal debate into public view. we get three takes on that, from glenn hurowitz, who works on environmental issues at the center for international policy. daniel weiss, the director of climate strategy at the center for american progress.
and ken green, who studies environmental policy for the american enterprise institute. glen hurowitz, is al gore right? >> he is right. unfortunately environmentalists got the sense that president obama was not fully fighting for the climate and for the urgent environmental needs that we have during the debate over climate legislation when he cut side deals with the oil industry, the coal industry, the nuclear industry without getting anything in return in terms of a commitment to support a cap on pollution or investment in clean-energy jobs. that was rumor that he was seeing other people but we really got confirmation when he embraced a broad agenda of drilling for oil offshore in the gulf, now looking to do in the very sensitive ecological areas in alaska. we saw it when he opened up huge areas for coal mining in wyoming it's about 30 times the amount of coal mining as clean energy that his installation has installed.
he's also stalled clean air act that will have benefits and are aimed at protecting public health like mercury, smog and soot so there's been a real series of attacks on the environment coming from the obama administration and i'm happy to see vice president gore take a leading edge on this. >> ifill: you any president is getting a bum rap? >> i that glenn is looking at the glass seeing it one quarter empty when it's really three quarters full. president obama has done more to reduce global warming pollution and other toxic pollutants than any other president. we've gotten $90 billion invested in clean energy as part of the recovery package which created tens of thousands of jobs. we have the first improvement of fuel economy standards since 1987 that will save close to two billion barrels of oil and reduce global warming pollution by nearly another billion tons.
where we've been disappointed is in his inability to help get 60 votes in the u.s. senate-- a supermajority-- for a program that would reduce global warming pollution and remember this took place in the midst of the worst economy in 80 years. there's never been a major environmental law passed with unemployment above 7.5%. unemployment last year and the year before when he was trying to pass this law was, you know, a fair higher than that. >> ifill: ken, are we even having the right argument. >> i agree a little more with dan here. i think president is getting a bum rap. i wish he'd been less active on climate policy but i think it's clearly a pre-election... >> ifill: why? >> i think a lot of policies have been bad and will portend worse for an economy already barely in recovery and is staggering along in its recovery such as letting the e.p.a. regulate greenhouse gases. i think it's clearly a political move to set the stage, the left environment stage, for the 2012 election.
they're taking out the position on the environmental side, al gore being the leader of that position to draw the debate in that direction. i think we'll see that throughout as we approach from election you'll see that on both sides of virtually every issue, staking out the extreme to make the medium look more reasonable. >> ifill: should there be a political calculation involved in this? >> if there is a political calculation involved it argues very strongly for standing up to the polluters, investing in clean energy and programs like reforestation and public land protection. the reason for that is... >> ifill: something you said the administration isn't doing. >> something which the administration has not been doing enough of and in many cases i disagree ken. it was disappointing to see him not fight hard for climate legislation but what really hurt was using his administrative power to open up vast areas for new coal mining. but i think reason where politics comes in is environmentalists are really disappointed about what president obama has been doing and they're now up for grabs. they won't turn out for polls or
we'll see what happens on the republican side but the reality is it's going to be... the number-one thing that will decide this selection if economy and if president obama isn't making sufficient investments in clean energy and ecological restoration he's not going to be able to generate the economic growth and job creation that we need. every dollar invested in wind power and solar panels and reforestation creates two to three more jobs than investing in fossil fuels. >> you're missing the point here. the difference between president obama and vice president gore can be measured in inches. the difference between those two and the republicans can be measured in miles. in 2008 president obama and then senator mccain had essentially the same position to reduce global warming pollution. in the coming election, it's very possible that the person running against president obama is going to deny climate since. they're going to deny that a problem exists let alone have a solution to solve it.