tv [untitled] June 24, 2011 3:31pm-4:01pm EDT
of obama's pullback from afghanistan are becoming more and more clear are you satisfied that it's legitimate or is it just all about domestic politics the united states obama is trying to satisfy public opinion without alienating the military all that much because it's still open ended even what we've heard about these plans american and nato troops will be in afghanistan for a very long time. well i wouldn't quite put it that obama is trying to satisfy public opinion in a sense opinion in the united states on afghanistan is way ahead of president obama in terms of the desire to withdraw our troops i mean the latest pew poll shows fifty six percent. to thirty eight percent want to withdraw our troops as soon as possible only thirty eight percent are interested in keeping troops there until the situation is stabilized quote
unquote so i mean that's really you know it's not that obama is satisfied in public opinion what he's doing is primarily satisfying the interests of the pentagon in the military they have gotten most of i would say eighty percent of what they wanted whereas the faction in his administration was really concerned about the cost of the war got very little of what they wanted alexis and i'm going to you in london what is obama's priorities then because a lot of people see this is this kind of smoke and mirrors that it's not really a real drawback at least at this point because. drawing the number of troops is still there's still really very few deadlines out there and maybe that's done it on purpose we can talk about later in the program but is this more driven by domestic politics and what's really happening on the ground in afghanistan well sure i mean i think the drawdown is actually slightly virtual drawdown and it has to be just in twenty three thousand self because after that after that withdrawal there will still be more troops in afghanistan than when obama took office. but i think it's
heavily steeped in domestic political considerations i mean as as gareth has pointed out you know americans are way ahead of this but i think it's a very convenient time out today after the killing of bin laden i think it's very convenient time for him to associate reduction of troops with success in the counterterrorism strategy. and afghanistan but what's confusing and what's very indicative of this short term sort of policy is that western democracies and satisfying because it's issuances that the aims have been shifting constantly since success in winning in afghanistan is meant very different things as we've gone along i mean to begin with. and the americans were very much focused on counterterrorism and i south was focused on sort of counter taliban when obama came into office we started talking much more about counterinsurgency petraeus and his boys brought their lessons from into afghanistan and so we switched more into
a steep counterinsurgency role and now because we've had success with bin laden we switch back into counterterrorism success it's really i think it's more indicative you know terrorism to go to sam and i find it really kind of remarkable just only a few weeks ago a month ago depending on who's saying what the succession afghanistan was and now as we get to obama's speech and the details of it they're saying there's a dire need not to pull out of mean what's going on here again it's more smoke and mirrors i mean. we don't seem to have a clear picture of what game is in afghanistan and is closer we get to it the more the military is pulling back. well i don't consider pentagon's position all that perplexing i mean the two positions. seem to be mutually exclusive but actually not there have been a significant amount of progress since the troop surge about
a year eighteen months ago and there has been a significant increase in the training of afghan forces and also the afghan police but at the same time what the pentagon and what bob gates and general petraeus are all concerned about is that they want to draw down but they don't want to draw down that precipitous now if you listen to some of the points that president obama made last night my understanding was that he was just going to announce that he was going to withdraw around thirty thousand troops total by the end of next summer but i thought he was going to leave the rest of it pretty flexible and of course a few months after after the drawdown of the thirty thousand troops there will be the elections so then afterwards he has sort of a more political leader way but i was actually. pretty impressed that he did
something that he didn't really have to do which is he determined the time when the entire drawdown of the of all or most u.s. troops and every. turn to for indeed we've heard different dates when we had candidate obama and then president obama and now if i go back to gareth one of the things i find interesting as well is it going so good to defense gates also said that the u.s. is involved in. negotiations with the taliban what does that mean is that it mission of defeat of how to get out now and not dictating what kind of security range will be in afghanistan when quote unquote american troops leave. well not really i think the negotiating ploy of the united states at this point is to in a way have it both ways on one hand you know they're suggesting to the american people that we're really in the process of getting
a political settlement here and we've succeeded in getting talks started of course that's not really true they've had preliminary contacts in which the taliban have made it clear that they're not going to sit down with karzai regime particularly when the united states is not offering a timetable for withdrawal and so on the other hand what's going on is the united states is trying to put pressure on the taliban to accommodate u.s. interests the u.s. position that the taliban should reach a settlement with karzai while the united states continues to have troops there to provide you know what they were guard as an insurance policy that's really not a viable position no independent analyst of the war and of the taliban regards this as a realistic negotiating position and so there's really kind of a flimflam going on with regard to these negotiations or these talks with the
taliban in a lexus i mangle back to you in london why in the world are the taliban want to sit down with the united states and its allies and negotiate any kind of agreement when they can just wait them out they've done a pretty good job for ten years. well i think there's also quite an interesting distinction to be made which is that western democracies particular although i start contributing nations continue to talk about withdrawal of combat troops first is that withdrawal of training operations and moving more combat troops into training operations. secretary foxx said here last week that he said oh well we aim to keep many more combat troops and play and see if i survive and placates back and forth between the pentagon and the white house does the taliban make such a distinction saqlain. yeah not ready they don't make a distinction so. so i mean you know the fact that we pull off combat troops means our soldiers aren't in aunt in danger anymore well in theory but i mean as as some
of the training operations it can be just as dangerous if an afghan opens fire on training them however the taliban makes no such distinction so i think what we've been negotiating with the taliban for some time what's interesting is why this is been announced at this moment sam alexis makes a very good point here i mean you maybe the united states and nato think of to make a difference between troops in the n.g.o.s but the taliban sees this is an occupation nonetheless i mean what would what difference would it make to them they're just going to build this target these people as well i mean they're not going to make a distinction they haven't made a distinction. no i think. one point that's very important to keep in mind is the taliban is not one individual or one entity there are many different entities within one big call the taliban are i think a more accurate. phrase for a good be the taliban movement and what i think can be clever about this strategy
of opening talks or even showing the willingness to want to talk to some elements within the taliban is that it can immediately create a fracture within taliban because they will likely be individuals within taliban who i mean you know the u.s. is suffering from a war fatigue the taliban are too it's not like they're robots and they just enjoy this decade long flight and they're ready with to go for another decade and surely when they see an opening some of them when they see an opening to have some sort of a dialogue or become part of the political process yes the radical ones will always be radical but it is actually a chance i think to shave off. people from the taliban and create fracture within a group without always remained very cohesive and with just a quick point we saw the fact of the strategy also in iran where it which is my area of expertise when when the when president obama expressed. interest in opening
talks with iran those of us who were closely following the situation in iran and the conditions and what was going on within the iranian regime immediately saw a fracture within. within the regime so on the one side there were people who were interested in talks and on the other side the more conservatives and hard the hardliners who didn't and at split only you know left the regime more fractured and weekend and the winner was the u.s. so i think it's important to not refer to taliban as one entity or one because his . sort of a centralized organization i. r. and b. i want to jump in right here and went for a short break and after that short break we'll continue our discussion on the drawbacks in afghanistan stay with our feet. and. stood. him up. if you want to.
welcome back to crossfire computable remind you we're talking about washington's exit strategy from afghanistan. and. alexis about go back to you in london we were just we just heard before the break you know we shouldn't look at the taliban as one unified force and i think that's fair enough but after ten years how can the united states make the distinctions
between different elements of the taliban who can negotiate who they can negotiate with and who they can't because there was a report that came out last november that i think it was the cia maybe it was the defense department was involved with a taliban leader and they found out later the guy was just a scam artist and just a whole lot of money and ran away with it i mean just really amazing after ten years it is that possible and i'd like to throw into the mix also is that with karzai there is he ever going to be can accept it as a legitimate leader of any group of the afghan people except for his family go ahead. this is exactly what i was just thinking as as you were discussing things with sam in washington. primarily to begin with it's all good and well saying you know talking about the die limits of the u.s. and its allies negotiating with with the taliban in all its guises but what happens when the u.s. and her allies leave. and and how amenable will cause i need to negotiate with the taliban how strong will his government be to what extent will tribal factions
really start to erupt because it henry kissing a wrote a fantastic op ed piece in the new york times herald tribune last week or a couple weeks ago in which he talked about the way to get out of afghanistan and he said and kissing and his inimitable way back through history and he says afghanistan. and always pulls together to fight off any kind of foreign occupation and once the foreign occupiers leave then it comes back to its own tribal factions and so really i think the real question is i'm sure it's very difficult for offices in the u.s. army and the u.s. forces and other armed forces that have been serving in afghanistan to see that we're negotiating with the taliban i'm sure that it's very difficult for those families of soldiers that have been lost to see that but i think the real question is to what extent does cause i and his all ministration are they palatable to
these kinds of discussions you know i mean we always hear these kind of gloom and doom scenarios if we if the u.s. leaves and its allies leave too quickly it'll be a power vacuum but want to be a power vacuum irrespective of whatever timetable is there because after ten years we been obvious who has the staying power and who has the stomach and it's certainly elements within afghanistan irrespective of how you want to name them. well absolutely i mean the reality is that you know petraeus and gates want two more full fighting years as they call it with the majority of the increment the surge increment of u.s. troops to put pressure military pressure on the taliban in order to get them to cave in to to negotiate on u.s. terms that's not going to happen that's that's totally unrealistic and furthermore . you know i challenge the idea that the taliban is not united in regard to its
position on negotiations there is really no evidence that there is a split within the taliban everybody that i talked to who has been talking with the taliban. over the last couple of years says that their policy is still one that comes from the law maher it has mullah omar's sanction and that there's really only one policy there are negotiations and that is to demand that the united states get out before there's going to be a settlement now you know i mean they say there has to be a publicly they say there is to be complete withdraw before a sudden takes place privately of course they acknowledge that there's going to have to be negotiations based on a timetable for withdrawal but the point that i would make in addition to respond to your question is that the there's nobody really on the ground in afghanistan who privately believes that these two more years of fighting is
going to make any fundamental difference you're right the taliban can wait us out. at the end of those two years and they will still be the strongest political military force in the country and that's why i would argue that that what obama has done is to accommodate the institutional political interests of the pentagon in the military. to continue the war for as long as possible for all kinds of internal you know bureaucratic political reasons very want to continue to have troops there for as long as possible and the second point that i would make is that the united states does not intend to get out the u.s. military the pentagon do not intend to do it out they intend to keep combat forces there indefinitely that's if you read carefully the subtext of the obama speech that's exactly what he was implying sam if i'm going to you i mean i jump in this
is cross talk go ahead go ahead so i just want to go ahead and i think there is a difference between saying that. you know yes there is nobody i don't know if i would go. to the extent of saying there's nobody within the u.s. infrastructure in afghanistan or the u.s. foreign policy that wouldn't think two more years going to make a difference but there is an even if that's true there is a difference between that and saying there is no difference between leaving in three years and leaving all the troops in six months i mean there there there is a significant number of people the vast majority of the people within the state department and the pentagon who believe there will be a difference between what president obama is doing now and the alternative which a lot of people seem to want which is basically just pull the plug and leave immediately within three months all the troops so it's important to make that the
center is not just about appeasing the pentagon as a highly before pentagon and general petraeus one ed and their guest pointed out they want to the long much longer presence in afghanistan but their reality is we have been there for ten years but for a significant portion of those ten years it was a half hearted effort because we've got this track that by a war of choice in iraq you can't say we have been. making you know the we have been having the same kind of performance for ten years. so i think that's another thing that keep in mind is that what president obama is doing is i really don't see any other responsible way of flying the on this war you know we can't just. how i can are are i guess let me go to alexis and i want to ask all of you what's the worst case scenario going i guess go ahead. well sam sam hasn't really responded to the point that you know maybe the military looks better after two more
years of of military action against the taliban they can make all sorts of claims about how many they've killed but what difference does it make in the end it's not going to fundamentally change the reality that is going to determine the future of afghanistan that's i think the point to live here and let me address that let me address i think i addressed that point i said i basically it may be true yes it may be true you may be right there may be you're right the military is going to look better after two years if they get what they want and i think ultimately the pentagon and the pentagon is not the one that's making a foreign policy decision the president obama is a commander in chief and the pentagon is not always going to get his way but yeah you're right i personally agree with you i don't really know or eliminate jump in a significant amount let me jump. in here we've heard the gloom and doom stories about withdrawing very quickly you know what we do let's say the west does you know
three months last boot off the ground out of the country what's the worst case scenario for western security is the taliban going to start bombing washington in london and paris. well i have to come back to just a point that was made about the diversion of resources from iraq and giving a half hearted effort in afghanistan and i think the primary problem with iraq is is that it upset a balance of power in the middle east and allowed iran to become a regional sort of arbiter and disrupted that balance of power and therefore gave iraq actually significant power visibly the taliban you know the second the negotiations break down with with with the u.s. and iran neither the taliban and supply lines can be opened up so i think i think the primary problem with afghanistan is what we might term the west's attention deficit disorder and these continually it's continually shifting its policy and strategy and it does that in obama changed his view from moving away from
counterterrorism to distance himself from the bush administration then he since thirty thousand extra troops you know a surge too because petraeus was successful now he's but going back to the counterterrorism operation and all of this for domestic political consolidation so i think that's that's one point to be made worst case scenario. and i want to know you guys are good bantering and i wonder worst case scenario from all of you in the room for the rest of the program so alexis what's the worst case scenario. oh well no one's mention pakistan and i think it's not necessary that the taliban starts attacking washington because let's not forget the taliban didn't i wouldn't say had a sort of global jihad a study having wanting to establish an islamic caliphate is not the same as having this ideology i mean in the borrowed a lot of concepts from the insurgency in iraq. and that's why betrays the strategy of counterinsurgency was so successful that worst case scenario is we're talking about a complete and that's
a regional regional turmoil in india sits between. pakistan says between india and china two nuclear powers. pakistan has demonstrated its nuclear capability and afghanistan is situated in between and between iran and pakistan so i think state failure with regard to afghanistan and pakistan is what we've really got to be concerned with and then of course that has knock on effects to your security policy in london paris and washington ok gary time we realize one of the program guys. well i mean the idea that a taliban takeover of power the worst case scenario is going to cause a war between pakistan and india is really far fetched and i would just point out that any reasonable analysis of the rationale for the war in afghanistan which is that we are preventing al qaeda from coming back to have
a safe haven in afghanistan is failing to come to grips with the reality that al qaeda is already well ensconced in pakistan that is the safe haven that they have carved out over the past ten years it's extremely secure much more secure than anything they ever had in afghanistan there is absolutely no reason to believe f. that is interested in going back to afghanistan the real problem is pakistan the united states is essentially denying that again because of the political interest and we have to jump in here we've run out of time so we'll see if the americans and its allies will ever leave afghanistan many thanks to my guests today in washington and in london thanks to our viewers for watching us here darkie see you next time and remember rostock rules.
the u.s. house of representatives has voted down a measure giving president barack obama the authority to continue american military action in libya. but lawmakers voted against cutting funds for the u.s. participation in that war i'll be back with more in just a moment. declassified documents reveal the u.k. was happy to hand over terror suspects from iraq to the u.s. with little regard to what would be waiting for them in secret prisons. mourning the euro the fate of the common currency is in serious doubt as europe agrees another bailout to debt laden greece but urges the country to get behind savage spending cuts.
international news income and live from our studios here in central moscow this is . a majority vote in the lower house of the u.s. congress has turned down a motion to cut funding for the american military action in libya but this came directly after the very same lawmakers refused to grant president obama approval to carry on with the campaign he's going to come on has more now from washington. the resolution adopted by the house of representatives is seen more like a message of rebuke to president obama rather than an actual war stopper because when it came to voting on cutting funds for that war the majority voted no so some analysts see elements of a showing the behavior of the u.s. congress saying that many lawmakers don't miss a chance to snub the president yet knowing that this numbers won't change much at the end of the day as capitol hill observers say when it comes to waging wars congress has generally been supportive of the resolution was sort of
a way for the congress to show their frustration over the white house refusal to come to the lawmakers to seek authorization for the military actions under the u.s. constitution only congress can declare war except the obama administration doesn't call it a war although we did last more than three months and involves many civilian deaths earlier this month the congressman had a chance to send an even stronger message the house debated a resolution from congressman dennis kucinich that calls for an immediate end to u.s. involvement and the majority of lawmakers again though they know that proposal nevertheless the lawmakers don't like being ignored but even those who truly want to stand up against the military actions in libya there is little they can do as one congressman said you can do resolutions until you are blue in the face but still be ignored by the white house but it seems it's not just resolutions that can be more kids also the voices of the american people the majority of whom are against us and .