tv New America Discussion on Conflict Political Climate in Afghanistan CSPAN November 13, 2018 6:46pm-8:01pm EST
alan dershowitz discussion his book the case against impeaching donald trump. then the story on the middle class with this book squeeze. at 2:55 pm, the fox news political editor discusses his book ever manned the king. at 6:00 p.m., former secretary of state john kerry with his memoir everyday is extra. watch the miami book fair live this weekend. >> a look at the political climate and ongoing conflict in afghanistan hosted by new america. this discussion runs an hour and 15 minutes. >> good afternoon everybody and welcome to new america. we got a very distinguished
panel to discuss afghanistan in the next year or two, and obviously we have just had parliamentary elections and we had the presidential election next year. we have insider attacks that have killed the general, who was the police commander, and the four-star general had to pull his weapon and that is indicative of the taliban have a good intelligence to carry out this operation. so we begin with the mob -- moderator who has been visiting afghanistan since 2007. she made a film about the drug trade there for national geographic and for national geographic, they made a film about the taliban both in afghanistan and pakistan in 2008 and 2009.
he was a special operations command for the air force, and he set up his own company and it has been involved in mining in afghanistan and security and is doing his phd at kings college in london about the afghan civil war and so much of what is going on in afghanistan is traceable to what happened in the 1990s during the civil war. finally, we had the senior program officer for democracy and he is also a former united nations official in afghanistan. c-span is covering this life, but live to tape. if you have a question, please wait for the microphone and identify yourself so that the c- span viewers can understand who is asking the question. >> i think the first thing is a short speech.
>> thank you to the heritage foundation for hosting this event on afghanistan and also want to thank guardian for being here in spite of the rain. of a like to begin my remarks with a disclaimer that my views are my own and are not the views of my employer. as peter mentioned, i returned from afghanistan over the weekend and i was there to observe the afghanistan elections on a formal observation mission. i spent most of my time traveling through provinces. but before i discuss basically the recent clip, i want to tell you guys a story and my remarks
in a story that basically happened in the previous time in 2014 when i was also serving the afghan elections. in 2014 as an observer, i was based in the western part of afghanistan when i received a call. it was a call that limited individuals on their way home after they had been voting for their district, and the car was pulled over and because, the taliban had chopped off their fingers. when i heard the story, i was saying i don't need to go. so i went to the hospital and meeting, and i went up and what struck me the most was an older gentleman in his late 1950s and in afghanistan, that is
considered old. he was smiling and in my mind, i said this guy must be crazy because he just lost a finger and he is smiling. so i approached and i talked with him, and he smiled at me and said said the taliban chopped off one of my fingers, but i have nine more to go vote nine more times. this gentleman may not even know what democracy is, but i think his story is a story of millions of afghanistan people who have embraced this new afghanistan, this constitutional order of democracy, and with their participation as a result, they are saying no to tyranny and terrorism that is presented by the taliban's other terrorist group and regional backers. i think that story and that resolve demonstrated that the
afghanistan's in the most recent parliamentary elections and as an observer, i have witnessed long lines of afghanistan people to participate in the elections. there was this other individual in one of the polling centers that i was serving the election, and he could not find his name in the list. i was in the center for over an hour, and you see this man going door to door and saying my name is not here and i really want to vote. so in spite of all of this, i think afghans, they -- participated to cast their vote. another incident that happened in one of the polling centers was there was a sonic bomb that went off, and it was just
amazing how most of these individuals who was waiting in line, they do not even move. they stood and waited in line to exercise their constitutional right. there was of course some technical issues with this new biometric system that was introduced, and there was some delays and people who was trying to cast their vote, but overall, i think it has made the process more transparent the fact that it was specifically designed for a calling center, and reducing the ballot stuffing in afghanistan. but we was talking earlier that the bold new biometric system was introduced in a rush, and there was not enough time for the polling staff and others to
receive enough training and there was long lines and the polling center had to be reopened the next day but overall, when you are talking with afghans, they saw the process as a victory especially on their parliamentary front and on the candidates front that there was a lot of young afghans who nominated themselves as candidates and they was employing a new mechanism of campaigning and bringing their families and kids and doing door-to-door campaigns around the country. it was really i think remarkable on that front. the other big issue in the country was the official talks of peace with the taliban. as many of you know there has been some contact between the
taliban and officials. there are going to be probably some talks in russia which recently yesterday the afghan foreign ministry announced that new afghan officials would officiate in an official capacity, but i think there will be some representatives from the high peace council and they will participate. a few key things i want to highlight on the piece front is that the afghan people, they do want to have peace, and they have demonstrated how forgiving they can be. i lived in afghanistan and lived under the taliban, and when the three day cease-fire have been in afghanistan, i was amazed by how forgiving afghan people can be. thousands of taliban and hundreds of the members during
those few days of cease-fire, they came to the villages and to the city centers, and the atrocities they are committing, they are literally telling them every day, that there was no single incident of an affix and stand -- afghanistan confronting a taliban member, but taking selfies with them. the story is that afghans want to have peace, but i think the piece process should not be a talks down -- top-down model, but should be a bottom-up model were all afghanistan's are in gauged. the afghan, and i worked with the civil society, the media groups, they have to feel they are included basically in this process. i don't think we can achieve peace in afghanistan behind
close doors. when it comes, to the negotiation process, and it hasn't started yet, but there are talks, but in my view, those negotiations have to be led by afghan for the process to be long-lasting in any inclusive peace talks. i will stop there and then be happy to engage. >> again, i like your comments that in this town, there are not that many organizations unfortunately that are paying as much attention on afghanistan if they should. new america has been very supportive of that, and i deeply appreciate it. also c-span is also been very good about supporting our services, and this is quite a treat to get representatives from an afghan voice and quite
frankly someone is successful in afghanistan in some ways and resides in couple that's back cobble -- kabul most of the time. i hope i can add aliens of how we view this from afghanistan, and what the pulse is like from your average afghanistan person, but a very informed afghan on what is going on there. with that in mind, let me just throw the starting point for the discussion, and look forward to answering your questions. we just had an election at the end of october in afghanistan, and it is true there is an
enormous amount of hope and courage that was represented by the afghan people in going to the polls. inefficiencies aside, the last few weeks, i think this is been one of the most anticipated boats -- votes in the last five years, and the fact they was held is a starting point that is quite important and i think the west use that as a milestone to achieve albeit not efficient or however else we want to characterize it. the second milestone that the west is paying attention to is the presidential election that is going to happen toward the end of the spring next year, which is another one of those additional supports toward afghanistan is very much based on achieving certain milestones, and at least, a strategy and
one can argue what achievable is a what the return on investment may be representative, but certainly on a macro scale, these two events are quite significant. they are significant because of another reason. tomorrow, we have elections here in this country, the midterm elections. whichever side that you lean on, you may have different opinions about what is going to happen and they informed opinion, they are not exactly 100% accurate in our presidential election, so there will be some surprises i'm sure, but nevertheless, there will be a policy reflection based at least in congress and in the senatorial perspective. but the president is also up for reelection and it seems
like it is very far away, but in two years, we are going to have elections again here and no doubt the issue of afghanistan although it may be tempered in some way with all of the other things going on there, what happened in afghanistan is certainly up for grabs. i think personally although i have no information that would support this, but my gut feeling is that decision is probably coming sooner than the 2020 elections. i think it will become more interesting for the president reflection postelection and he will have more time to spend on it. but let's not forget that president donald trump and his initial gut feeling was not to support the expansion of the mission as it is now. he was convinced to stay the course in afghanistan, and in some ways, reintroduce certain
capabilities there and puts more attention on it. that is not guaranteed, that we stay this way, but he changes his mind once and could possibly change his mind again, and that is something we need to take stock of. again, in the characterization of what just happened, and what is going to happen in may is also supremely important. but how it is viewed here, there is a lot of skepticism and concern about whether or not the mission is still worth it. we have to earn it every day for somebody who is an absolute supporter and believes in the mission and i have committed my life to it, that the sovereignty of afghanistan and quite frankly the freedom that represents there is a beacon that we need to reinforce. but we have some work to do because i think the odds are completely stacked against us always in the concept that people are looking for reasons
to not stay and not necessarily looking for reasons to stay. what i hope this discussion brings is that it reinforces at least in my mind, and i'm sure that many would agree, there are many reasons why we should stay. an enormous cost if we stay out. so with that in mind, i will pause there and look forward to your questions and the audiences. >> this is a question for both of you. the wife of the 39-year-old mayor of utah, how do you tell your children why it is worth it for us to be there or why it is worth it for him to lose his life defending afghanistan? >> i can take that because i have served in the military and i have been around families who have lost, and i was literally just down in florida for the induction of sergeant john
chapman who basically gave his life on roberts ridge in eastern afghanistan in the early days of the war in 2002, and i was there with the family and all of the goldstar families they could muster was there. i can tell you they feel pride in the sacrifices their family members made. they believe in what they did because those individuals who went there believe what they was doing was right. i think i get chills even thinking about it because of i didn't believe it, i would not be there. by kids who are probably going to watch this and they always asked me when is c-span going to cover this, and my kids always see me leave and not be around them when i am growing
up, i'm up partners and my mom and my dad, all of them sort of believe, and that young wife with seven kids, it is not easy and i am not downplaying it, but there is an entire support mechanism that i believe that the person did and what he was going after. quite frankly, i do too, and i think she does. the children will, and there will be all of us that their dad sacrificed and it was for nothing. >> what happens if the united states leaves afghanistan? >> let me add to what he is saying, and my deepest condolences on a personal level to the family of the fallen soldier, but i want to add one thing that the afghans alongside their american friends, they are fighting this
war on terrorism, and there is 20+ terrorist groups facing the front line in on a daily basis, afghans are losing their life fighting this terrorism. but their loss is not wasted in afghanistan. if the united states was to leave afghanistan, afghanistan is not going to go anywhere. afghanistan has been there for 5000 years and the afghan people had been there all this time. the fact is that the afghanistan government right now, we are not in a state to be self-reliant. we don't have a strong economy to be able to support our military force right now, at least in the next few years. afghanistan does have a lot of resources and we have but for us to be able to extract the
minerals to pay for our army and police and for our states democracy, we duty basically the support from the united states and other international partners. just recently like a couple of weeks ago in washington, we had a couple of mining agreements that was signed between afghanistan and american companies to be able to extract those minerals out of afghanistan. the level of export in afghanistan has increased significantly because of the -- what the president was able to negotiate and other countries exporting products to india, europe, and china. basically, afghans are trying and they know the problems are their own problems and they have to own it. but the u.s. was to abandon afghanistan, and we are in a region where we do not have
that many friendly neighbors, and i think there are a lot of regional actors who do not want to see a democratic and stable afghanistan and i think they would probably want to see and treat afghanistan, and that is not something that we want, and i think we have demonstrated that in the bilateral security agreement that the afghanistan government sign with the united states and in the partnership agreement and with the strategic hardship agreement was signed between the united states and the afghanistan government, and the assembly that took place, more than 2000 delegates from all across afghanistan came to be part of that discussion, and there was so many individuals who was trying to derail those talks. the overwhelming
afghanistan people, 90% said yes to have a strong relationship and this partnership agreement with the united states because they know what the alternative is and it is going to be chaos and probably more intervention. i do hope that all of the investments that we have made in afghanistan, we will be able to protect them. i am from the smack a businessman and from a business perspective, we have invested so much in afghanistan, and the level of troops is not nearly as much it's a was in 2014. we have a small foothold in afghanistan, and the level of expenses has come down, and i think given the next few years, the number of troops may even
become gradually lower in afghanistan and the security forces will basically fill in. until that we are able to completely protect the country, they would definitely need some support from the united states. said let's talk about talking to the taliban. are you optimistic about the current talks? >> no. the simple answer is no and i don't think that we should be talking to them in this format. my initial thought with it was that talking is good at all times, and maintaining a channel open for conversations, even in the darkest moments of the cold war, we still had
conversations between rival nations that was ready to push the button in the wrong direction for the planet. but, we built these false expectations that negotiations are just around the corner. unfortunately, this sort of notion reinforces the worst tendencies in this town because people want to get out. so we almost start setting ourselves up, and be careful what you ask for because we are talking, and we say we are talking to afghanistan people, and have an alternative view of what is going on and the voices deserve to be heard too. i'm sorry, but when things are going boom and they are killing thousands of people, there is no talk that is going to make
that thing better. at one point, that should happen, but not now and they have been very accurately described and i have been very adamant they are a terrorist organization and until they start behaving otherwise, we should treat them as terrorists. last time that i checked, we don't negotiate with terrorist and at least that is our mantra and although we may obtain some quiet conversation, and that is fair enough, but not the reconciliation. in fact, it says it undermines the afghan government in my opinion. we send our envoy or when we talk about the russia talks with no official representation from the afghan government, or when we have these
conversations as if we are talking to yet another government in waiting, it is absolutely nonsense. we are going to actually damage the integrity of the state that we are actually trying to uphold and strengthen, which should be our objective. insurgencies are at their very core, a competition. is a competition for the masses and a dilemma that somebody may have in terms of joining the government or supporting the insurgency. the way that we help our odds get better is not by engaging with the insurgency in stages where they are killing people, but by strengthening the government and making it much more attractive for the average afghan to decide and stay with the afghan government rather than somehow make it appear as if there is some legitimacy associated with the taliban.
that is my take on it. >> i was born in war and i grew up in more. i have seen the atrocities of war and what war can do. like me, the as of afghans, they do want to have peace. but the cost of peace has to be defined. at what cost she we have peace with the taliban when they are killing us basically on a daily basis. unless the issue of sanctuaries that the taliban enjoys across the border in pakistan, and until there is a great assurance, and they have a base across the other side of the border, i think you will be very difficult for any sort of settlement that we will be able to reach. i want to go back to the point about how forgiving afghans was
and we demonstrated that in the three day cease-fire. i agree with you johnny that the afghanistan government, and the country has two refrain, and they should be able to provide services for citizens across all parts of the country, and i think it is good and okay if there is basically talks, but when it comes to negotiations themselves, it has to be the afghan government and people and like they should feel they are only this process if you want have a long-lasting peace. it is going to be something on a piece of god -- document that is not going to last of the civil society is not part of it. >> can i add one thing? i meant to say, and you are exactly right. afghanistan people are very
forgiving, and certainly they are incredibly forgiving when you approach them with an open heart and approach them with the desire and respect associated with forgiveness. they also are very unforgiving and vengeful if you take the exact opposite approach and there is no remorse. we have to be careful because the marines achieved a lot in 2010 and 2011. there is a lot of afghans who stuck their head out and believed in the concept that we are here and we are going to be with you and we are going to help you out. then, we left. there has been a bloodbath and a lot of those towns because of what happened. we can say that about other places too, and the point here
is that forgiveness is an incredible concept that belongs with people that behave within norms. when somebody comes out and actually behaves in that way, i will be as forgiving as anybody can be. but when they don't, and they are killing people, left right and center, and every afghan that i knew in the cease-fire had the greatest admiration a good hope that this was a change. but those people started killing at alarming rates immediately after that. they know how to switch on and off. when they are ready to switch off, let's talk. but when they are not, it is a real troubling sort of perspective. >> do you think we can trust the taliban. --? >> they know, the taliban, they
do not have, and i think in pockets of the country, they may be able to control and have their own structure of government, but in my view, it is through intimidation and fear. i think the last 17 years the country has really transformed and two thirds of the afghanistan population is basically under the age of 35. there is this new afghanistan that enjoys a vibrant society and active media outlets and so forth. from a sense of trust, i don't think the afghans trust them, i think we should be aware that the war we are literally fighting in afghanistan is an enclosed war in afghanistan. if you want to have peace, the afghan constitution and
literally 50,000 people, we should not have this notion that you mentioned there is a rush and if you are in a hurry to have a peace deal with the taliban and bringing them into a system of government. if they want to be part of the government in the afghanistan government, they should come participate in the election in april 2019, and they can come and run. but i think they know they don't have legitimacy in that. >> do the afghan people have hope because in 2007, and earlier, after 9/11, it seemed like a great place to be, and a one of the still exists today and can people go out and walk, and what went wrong between then and now? why are we in a position where
there is, doesn't seem like a safe place to be? >> for me, of course, i have to be careful like when i go to meetings and things along those lines, but life really is normal and restaurants are open, and you can go out to dinner and have parties, and when i was in the country, the literally was a bomb that went off and i got an invitation a few hours later. we was talking earlier and the normal thing that is there is not the normal that you and i probably would see and fear in the united states. but overall, i think they are very resilient and life goes on in afghanistan in spite of all
the conflict and everything that is happening in the country. you see wedding celebrations, and parties, but overall, i don't want to paint a rosy picture because there are challenges as well, and economic challenges as well and so forth. >> there is an element, and much struggle is and i straddle 22 worlds. having gone to afghanistan in 2005, and there is not many airports that i feel like i land in and as ridiculous as it may sound to anybody here, i land in that little airport in kabul, and i walk out and i breathe the air and i feel like i am home. you walk a little bit further, and you see this ridiculous fountain or structure of
dolphins in a landlocked country , and is the chuckle of somebody who feels that this is where i live and where i feel most comfortable. the truth is that it is getting more dangerous, and afghans are very resilient and quite frankly, they don't back down from challenges, so they learn how to live with new norms, but at the same time, it is challenging, particularly outside of kabul. there is probably an attack that happens in kabul, and there is definitely some as casually attacks that have been, but for the most part on a day to day basis, there's probably parts of dc that are more dangerous in parts of kabul. the truth is that you have to
be conscious of who you are and where you are and how you may be targeted in kabul. it is outside of kabul that is far more challenging. the roads are difficult, and you go 50 or 100 meters left or right of a major highway, and you have some challenges, and this is the stuff that we can say we control the population centers and everything else, but afghanistan is more than the city, and the truth is that we downplay the control that the afghan and the taliban may have over the areas in the countryside, but the reality is we need to get that back because that is the heart in many regards of people's homes and villages, and their ability to reach out to them is kind of important. in terms of security, there is
challenges, and in terms of hope to your original point, if minerals is a great abundance in afghanistan, only wish we could modify the incredible hope that is in that country because that is perhaps the greatest sort of resource they have. it is huge and immense. where we fall short of is delivering on promises, and they keep that hope up. when that happens, you allow other elements of society defeat on the lack of hope, or the lack of progress, and create the negative things that diminish hope. >> are other country stepping in to fill the gap? what is happening in the region? >> here is the thing and
interesting to observe as an american there. we go there with the greatest intentions and other code -- countries may feel otherwise, but i wish we was a little bit more nuanced in our approach. i wish we was a little bit more like hey, we are helping out so much, maybe we should attract western firms and we should attract canadian, and american and british because they are actually a lot more teens for social responsibilities and all of those things, and i wish we was a little bit more nuanced about it. but unfortunately we go there with the best intentions of doing right, and other countries are not. they are predatory. china is not there because they need to create some sort of silk road that benefits afghanistan's. they are there like locust to
take material array from that country, and as long as there is a benefit to the afghan state, i am okay with that as long as it's not a predatory practice. they promise some sort of royalty rate or they promise railroad and they promise and they promise, and then they see a weekend afghan government over the years and come in and say that was 17%, let's go was something much lower. or say you know that railroad that i promise, and say it is not going to happen so soon. so that we had these predatory behaviors that are not benefiting the country. russia is not afghanistan's friend. so the idea that somehow they
are in there for some sort of interest is ridiculous. a ran -- iran has legitimate issues, but are they looking at it from a list help a brother out here? i am not so sure. the father of the taliban was killed in india a few days ago. these animals and these people who have been responsible for so many deaths and so much destruction, or walk around like it is nothing. fate was jumping up and down when he was killed. that is where i have a challenge is these countries may have legitimate national interest, and we should consider that.
but when they are doing it in a way that actually diminishes the strength or the argument that afghanistan has a right to exist and prosper, and they take auditory behavior, i am not cool with that. my personal view no -- my personal view, there are some on the elite side and there may be some disagreements and people may not like him. when i was in kabul, i had a breakfast with a businessman, and this man knows the president, and what he was telling me is that as a businessman, i feel i can do business better now because there is less corruption in
institutions of government in afghanistan, so i think he is trying and being the president of afghanistan is not an easy task. he is engaged, and i haven't worked with him closely per se, but i have a lot of friends who work with him to share basically his vision of the country, so he does have a vision for the country who he is working hard for to making the company -- country self-reliant in the long term. like i say, like in every administration and government, you have a petition and people who may not necessarily like your leadership. he is trying hard i think to
bring peace to that part of the world, and i think one of the biggest achievements that i would say is that in terms of foreign policy, animated very public that we have this undeclared war with pakistan, and he brought the story from washington to brussels and other international communities that we are dealing with this war, trying to make the economy better since he took office, the revenue collection has increased by about 60%. just recently a few days ago, the world bank said that afghanistan has jumped 16% compared to last year in terms of making the environment and doing business in afghanistan better.
other regional initiatives have taken place under his government and mostly under his leadership, and electric grade, what is hard and he pushed for. india has a pipeline, and so overall, i think in the natural, i personally expect and i use a lot when i awoke it -- wrote his work on the building is, and i think he means well and is working hard to making it a better country. >> one more question before we opened it up. is somebody asked you to brief the president own november 7 about why we should stay in afghanistan, what would you say. --? president trump. >> the short answer is that it
is in our vital national interest to remain in afghanistan because leaders like that like short and concise statements and i would say that the taliban would probably allow the same safe havens inside of afghanistan of terrorist groups to remain, or adjust themselves to orient themselves back there. there is pocket devices there that is of a serious concern, not just to afghanistan, but to the region and in our national interest, and we should not forget that although people say there are only about 120 al qaeda members in the region, we keep killing a lot of them, and they seem to stay at the magic number of 120.
about 1800 isis we keep killing them with the mother of all bombs and operations, and a couple hundred at a time. but somehow in some way, they maintain the number at about 1800. the point is that the numbers don't really matter that much. it matters that we have a terrorist pocket that is still there. the last thing, and this is perhaps counterintuitive because it is really easy for all of us, and if it wasn't for the activity in pakistan, everything would be perfect in afghanistan. the fact is that we need to be in afghanistan because things are not that stable in pakistan. it is a different country in a very important country quite
frankly, and they have hundreds of millions of people there and we are seeing the violence associated with the man that was released by the judicial system of pakistan because of some blasphemy loss. there is a challenge and a friction between extremist in pakistan and what i consider the moderate state of pakistan, and so allowing this afghanistan to dissolve into some type of a spiral that allows things to deteriorate to wear an extremist organization like the taliban is taking hold, that is not going to help actually i think the situation in pakistan as weird as that sounds, but it's actually going to create more extremism, and it is not in the interest i know i am in the minority at
times, but not in the interest of the pakistan state to have afghanistan fall apart. there's so many dynamics to this and i know i have gone past my executive summary to the president, but you could just sit there item after item after item and why the fight matters there. it is the fight that matters there and not so much the government that is in power right now is the one that is going to come in power in may. it is actually the fact that space is a troubled space, and we need to be conscious of the fact needs to be stabilized. >> if i was to sit with the president i think i would tell them that mister president, let's not make the same mistake that we made in the 1980s.
when the soviet union was destroyed, he said that the world was remembering the eastern europe and the fall of the empire. the world will not remember a bunch of thugs. he could not be more wrong. once that united states abandoned afghanistan back then, that created that security boyd to al qaeda coming in and taken over afghanistan and the taliban as we know and we know the rest of the story. my message to the president would be not make that mistake that we made in the 1980s. right now in afghanistan, i think we have a reliable partner, and a partner who is willing, and the afghan people, they do want the united states
to stay in afghanistan, and afghanistan wants to be the south korea of the united states in terms of a continued relationship and eight north korea like neighborhood. i do hope that message gets back to the president. >> thank you. any questions? please state your name and affiliation. >> i have a question and i will try to be as short as possible. first, it seems that everything is going to a good extent, and how would you both of you respond that more than 55% or less of that is in control of the taliban, and secondly, corruption in all of the things
that are going on in afghanistan, and the united states does not have a primary objective in afghanistan, and that is the first part. secondly, you talk about the sanctuaries in pakistan, and pakistan always says in the last two years, all of the terrorists reduced in pakistan, and that should mean that one as well as the u.s. site, and pakistan is doing this diligently, spending millions of dollars. so why do we not see report for this broader measurement because it is going to greatly reduce the cartel in the cross water acquisitions. just the data regarding the taliban, and i would refer to the statement were clearly
spells out who created the taliban and who financed them about two or three decades ago, and what are your comments on? >> i think i understood the first one and am sorry if i didn't, and if you don't mind making sure that i clarified. i don't think that i have indicated that everything has gone great in afghanistan. i think to the contrary, we are in a rather dangerous slope toward negative outcomes, in afghanistan. i have read most of the report, and have to say it sounds reasonable that the percentages of taliban controlled territories or for short
contested territories, has gone up. i think it is partly that and probably a little bit rosy in the approach, and i think we tend to put the plateaus and the mountains in government controlled territory and in comparison to those more nuanced perspectives. i can tell you from my vantage point of visiting the country and seeing that different portions of it, i think it is much more dangerous than the cigar report. the first answer is that we have to face the challenges and not pretend they are not there. but i think that we have heard our effort by quite frankly suggesting that we are somehow arresting the taliban movement and momentum. we haven't. i think they are quite strong. in terms of the corruption, so
that i don't hog the entire time, i would be more than happy to discuss this at length. i think what happens with corruption is that number 1, if you don't tackle it, it will continue and get worse. but at the same time when you put pressure on the system that is already under extreme pressure, and there is no clarity in terms of always staying or leaving, corrupt people will go and eat more and gorge themselves because they think they have a limited amount of time and therefore, it becomes an even worse situation. that is what we are experiencing in some ways. there is some areas that have improved, but in many predatory behaviors that is happening, i think it is probably not so positive when it comes to trending. i am a very firm
believer in talking about afghanistan, but it cannot go without mentioning pakistan. i like to actually identify afghanistan and deal with afghanistan problem source, and then we can talk about the external sort of challenges and handle it in buckets. the reality is as most of these things happen, it all gets mixed together. the border control issue is absolutely imperative. i think there are legitimate concerns about afghanistan safe havens on the afghanistan side that impact pakistan. i think those are legitimate concerns, and quite frankly, i don't think many people would argue that. i think what most people would argue is the scale and that it
acts against pakistan versus a scale of what is seen, and you are exactly right, there is a concern that needs to be handled, and i am an advocate of the board of control, however, people tend to get into this landmine issue and i am sure that you understand that sort of solidifies somehow from the afghan side, a claim they don't adhere to. as an american, if i was going to advise my president, i would say rather than dealing with reconciliation with the taliban, we should be talk about reconciliation of key issues such as those, because those can reduce friction between the two countries instead of amplifying friction in some ways by dealing with the insurgency of the primary issue other than a state to
state issue that needs to be addressed. lastly, in terms of who can create the taliban, what i would say what really started the taliban was the failure of the post so it afghanistan experience. was started the taliban, they cannot get their act together in a civil war that was created. there is also evidence that pakistan in its natural interest, and something we have to take stock of, they are supporters of the taliban. they created the state that my country has to contend with afterwards. if we screw up -- that we screw up in the beginning? absolutely. the way that we left, and it is irrefutable that we should have did something differently.
but when it comes to what happened afterwards and the fact that we dealt with a 9/11 in no small part because it was a safe haven for al qaeda in afghanistan, i think there is plenty of blame to go around. i just find it offensive, and maybe it is despicable to hear, but i find it offensive that we are not arguing about substantive issues like how do we resolve challenges rather than talking about could you help us out with the reconciliation with the taliban? that is like asking somebody if you can help me with bandaging my wound, but not helping me with my cancer that i am dying from. sorry for the long answer. i hope i answered. >> time for one more question.
speak -- >> thank you for coming up and sharon your perspective. my question is and i think it is a fair statement that the united states and western democracies have a waning support for the ongoing war. which part of the coalition's strategy ucs working and how can you craft a message to stay the course? >> great question look, we waited far too long to create what is considered a modern afghanistan army or police. we was quite bulky in the way that we sort of put together the three of 50,000 security forces that are supposed to
protect afghanistan. as a matter of fact, the truth is a lot of people are dying, but only small portions of that is actually effectively fighting the insurgency. i think that we need to have a reassessment quite frankly of our long-term strategy towards afghanistan. i think that we need to address very specific fixes. we cannot handle 1000 casualties over a couple of months in the afghan security forces. how do we fix that? those are very specific things we need to address. we had eight, and even in a wartime, how do we fix that? there is rumors by the cigar
they are not receiving the adequate training. i am not sure if that is accurate or not, and i don't have the figures, but that is the case, shame on us because we know that advisory support mission is the primary mission in afghanistan. if we are not putting the right people there so to answer your question specifically, we have to have specific answers. right now, there is no military solution, and has to be a political event, and i think that general miller just finished off his assessment of the situation as every commander does, and the odds are and i have known general mineral -- miller for quite a long time, and i think you will come with specific answers to
fix these problems. he is actually a very specific person. i hope we get that very soon because we are running out of time. >> just to add in terms of development of the afghanistan security forces, there is a big transition happening on the air force side and the afghanistan army, they are transitioning from the russians to the american base, and there is 150 blackhawks that are going to be given and pilots are receiving training. that is also very significant, but a quick reply on the remarks, the taliban control 55% of the territory in afghanistan. i personally believe that is debatable and how many provinces does afghanistan have?
if there are some district that the taliban is controlling and there is some that are contested , then we can discuss it, but overall, even in those areas, >> from my understanding, they have been very cooperative with the pakistani government, and handing them over. basically on the other side, to pakistan officials. on the other side, that has been also ... i mentioned in room -- i mentioned in my remarks ...
bad taliban , on the pakistani interest. really, like i think i mean from people to people relation if you were to say neighbors relations, the afghans, they do want to have a good relationship with pakistan. when the president took office he literally broke ... by going to the army chiefs office, trying to ask the officials, and others, and helping and bringing the taliban to the negotiating table in the peace process. i think you reference hillary clinton and taliban creation, and maybe we can bring that question up, but some border management, i think it's definitely an issue that needs to be discussed.
you know, on both sides. i think you mentioned the ... but we can have a side conversation later. >> i was going to clarify. >> yeah. >> yeah. >> and it's actually, that 45% is contested. >> it is contested, yeah. >> i really appreciate ... >> i really appreciate those comments which were realist, which were really, we don't hear them here. i might've phrased it somewhat differently, but i think that it is important that we do that, as you say otherwise we set expectations. i wonder whether the basic problem here with negotiation is.
is that we are under the assumption, what is, the taliban just want a better deal. that somehow, if we gave them the right combination of concession, that they would say well, okay, yes we will have a political party now. and we will enter the political system. this is the real problem here, the taliban keep telling us. they say we want an emirate. we want the restoration of the emirate. yes it will be a little different than it was before. we learned some lessons. but that's what we want. if they wanted a, some kind of power-sharing arrangement, they could have had that anytime over the last six or seven years, the terms might've been a little different. just to conclude this, more of
a comment than a question, i'm afraid. it strikes me, we can get an agreement with the taliban tomorrow. they'll sit down with us, if we are willing to do it on their terms. not ours. we are asking them to do it on our terms, and why should we be surprised that they would sit down to talk about a piece, much less conclude a piece. >> a couple ad hoc sort of things, first, i am sorry john, i kind of brushed the air force portion out because i tend to over four -- over forecast -- overfocus on air force. if we didn't have the air component at this point, the percentages would look a lot different. so, i think the blackhawks, it is going to take some time for them to get up to speed.
they are probably going to come quicker, the mp 530s, the c- 130s, all of that stuff, they are going to keep on being key components. and we need to strengthen that. we need to send the right people. i think you raised an incredibly important topic in terms of the reconciliation. one of the reasons why i don't think that it's the right time, is number one, you know like i said, i don't like getting in conversations about resolving this, while being shot at. but, the reality of it is i will take it if i think that there is something real. i just don't think there is anything real, like you said, when they come out and say we want the u.s. out, completely. and we want you know, they consider afghanistan a public regime, that is not legitimate
and they want to completely you know, bring in a regime change. so, their totality into their changes required for this to work, may be a good starting point like i will go high, you go low, we will meet in the middle but we are not buying carpets here. this is actually something much more significant. so i think you're right. i will say in closing comments, because i assume that is where we are. look, there is president trump, he was able to feed -- to have the two koreas meet at a point you know, the dmz, where everybody said it's impossible, you know, that it's gonna happen. and they did. i think that there are some, all we can say about tweeting
and everything else, he is -- he has achieved certain things that we do not believe that it was going to be, you can be pro- or against but certain things, he achieved in terms of the starting point. i am not saying we have actually achieved peace in korea, i am not saying we have actually achieved the reality, but there have been some things happen. when it comes to afghanistan, i think he was persuaded to do the right thing. and i am obviously biased in my opinion. but, we need to keep on adding the right mechanisms for him to stay engaged, or otherwise we are all going to suffer. pakistan is going to suffer, afghanistan is going to suffer, ron is going to suffer. -- a ran -- i ran -- a ron iran
-- iran is going to suffer. seriously, a pleasure of being on stage with you, and keep up the good fight, we need people like you involved in this. >> thank you so much. also, to share a few things regarding your questions, but i want to highlight for you and the audience who is watching this live, afghanistan of 2018 is not the afghanistan of 2001, that the taliban's heather emirate. so, that is something that we have to be aware of. this afghanistan of 2018, on any indicator that you put the country since then, economically, socially, you see advancement and improvement in the country. we have more women in our parliament than the u.s. has in their congress. there are more women in cabinet positions in afghanistan then we have here.
the dream of the taliban to have this emirate, is i think it has been to remain. one other quick point on the taliban, in my view the taliban are not independent thinkers. i think the smart question is pakistan, what is it that pakistan wants from afghanistan and their assistance to help basically bringing the taliban to some sort of a negotiating table, so one last point in closing, afghanistan generally has moved forward. they are embracing regional initiative, they do, we know that afghans, they do want them to be prosperous, they want to be living side-by-side in a peaceful neighborhood. with pakistan, with iran, with other neighbors. but i think the taliban if they think they want to come back
and reestablish an emirate. >> on that note, thank you very much. thank you to new america. >> thank you. >> [ applause ] >> tonight on c-span three, from the middle east institute a discussion about the war and u.s. foreign policy in the region, at the heritage foundation a discussion about the role of the federal judiciary and the supreme court, and former general david talks about u.s. relations with the arab world. at the middle east institute's annual policy conference in washington, a panel of former government officials, diplomats command foreign policy analysts talk about the conflictin