tv Charlie Rose PBS November 24, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. this evening, a conversation with david petraeus, former c.i.a. director and general of the army about iraq, syria and the response to i.s.i.s. and paris. >> i think this probably is a generational struggle. i think even if you success sealed operationally, tactically against the islamic state in iraq and then in syria, there still is going to be a battle. there still will be extremists ideas. there will still be individuals who will be animated by those ideas, there will still be those who propagate those ideas. >> rose: david petraeus for the hour next. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by:
>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this evening with ongoing coverage of the recent paris attacks. questions continue to surround the global response. last week, former secretary of state hillary clinton called irvegz. >> it's final to begin a new phase and intensify and broaden our efforts to smash the would-be caliphate and deny i.s.i.s. control of territory in iraq and syria. that starts with a more effectively coalition air campaign, with more allied planes, more strikes and a broader target set.
we should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose "no fly" zones that will stop assad from slaughtering civilians and opposition from the air. >> rose: president francois hollande urged the united states to cooperate. >> there is an increasing awareness on the part of president putin that i.s.i.l poses a greater threat to them than anything else in the region. the question at this point is whether they can make the strategic adjustment that allows them to be effective partners with us and the other 65 countries who are already part of the counter-i.s.i.l campaign and we don't know that yet. >> rose: joining me, general david petraeus, commander of forces in iraq and afghanistan, later served as director of the
c.i.a., today chairman of the k.k.r. global institute. i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. >> thanks, charlie. good t to be back. >> rose: we talk about areas you know a lot about. tell me what you think ought to be the considerations both offensively and defensively as everybody seems to agree i.s.i.l now has a global strategy and reach. >> yeah, they have demonstrated that in the last couple of weeks with the attack in sinai, lebanon and, obviously, in paris. if we can step back for a moment, i think we should acknowledge two lessons from the post arab spring period. the first is ungoverned spaces or inadequately governed spaces likely will be exploited by extremists who want to foam at disorder and wish us ill. second, there is no substitute for american leadership in
contending with such situations. clearly, i think the paris attacks developments in recent weeks show it's time for a reassessment of the strategy, to ask questions of, i think, is the mission statement broad enough, are we taking all the steps that we can, are the rules of engagement overly restrictive, should we deploy additional resources and so forth. you've heard former secretary of state hillary clinton outline her plan which called for a good bit more action including a "no fly" zone, something i also strongly endorse and spoke about before the senate armed services committee a month or so ago. >> rose: what is the strategy, you think, of the president today? >> first of all, the president has asked the military for additional options and, so, it's very clear that what he wants to do is accelerate this rollback, if you will, of the islamic state. but there are a number of components to that.
in iraq, for example, first of all, the center of gravity of the whole effort in iraq is in baghdad, it's iraqi politics. those have to be inclusive if you can have a sustainable set of achievements there because rolling back the islamic state without having forces that have legitimacy in the eyes of the people, the sunni arab community of iraq which became alienated, once again, under the previous prime minister, that just won't work. so you've got to have sunni arab forces that are ready to hold areas once they're cleared, and we really haven't yet had to contend with that in a big way, though certainly tikrit was such an operation, and that does seem to be being held now by forces that are quasi legitimate in the eyes of people. but when they take back ramadi and certainly mosul, there has to be a plan for that whole force. >> rose: what is your assessment today of the
willingness of the sunni tribes to participate against i.s.i.s.? >> my understanding is that they are quite willing. what they're waiting for is the authorization for baghdad, in some cases for us to provide additional assets to them, additional resources and, indeed, they're waiting for some kind of official approval for their status if, indeed, they're going to become part of the national guard. >> rose: in the hands of the iraqi government? >> it is. that's why i stressed earlier the center of gravity of the effort, the iraqi effort, is in syria and baghdad. you've got to get inclusive politics. sunni arabs have to be brought back into the fabric of iraqi society as we did in the surge. one of the key ideas was to make the sunni arabs feel as if they had a stake in the success of the new iraq rather than a
success in its failure and right now there is a little indecisions still on that. >> rose: how do you make them know they have a future in the stake of iraq? >> best of all would be the iraqi parliament to approve the national guard interest prime minister abadi has put forward. that has been installed in the council of representatives. the prime minister has directed some actions to go foaferred --, but something that formally acknowledge they will receive salaries and so forth if indeed they put it on the line and help out with the clearance and holding of major cities like ramadi, fallujah and above all mosul. >> rose: anything else they need before they're prepared to go forward with i.s.i.s. and lead a sunni charge with the rest of the forces aligned against i.s.i.s.? yes. , obviously they will need weapons, training and equipment beyond that. there are thousands of these
forces that have already received that, but this is going to take a good bit more than that. remember how intensive it is in terms of people to hold areas. we learned that during our previous experiences in iraq. this time, we should not be the ones on the ground. i firmly believe that as well. but we should have advisors at brigade level, not just division level. we should have joint tactical air controllers going forward to help out, certainly additional advisor teams. >> rose: this is not just special forces, or is it entirely special forces advisor teams that will work with sunni arabs who may be joining the war? >> actually the core of the advise and assist teams right now comes from conventional infantry brigades and there's an 82nd airborne division headquarters that is over the top of that particular effort. my recommendation is indeed to extend that. not just for division headquarters but to push them to
brigade headquarters. >> rose: will be embedded with the brigades that will be fighting on the ground? >> rose: that's right. it's sufficiently close, will help out more, i think you will have closer integration and you have to look at the rules of engagement. by many reports, they're so strict there is an approval process that's required, it's not the kind of streamlined effort that is necessary. certainly no one wants to see civilians killed or collateral damage, but this is war and i think they're probably going to have to relook at some of that. >> rose: let me go through that. that's important. the question is what can you the on the ground? what should the rules of engagement be? >> reportedly now, it's essentially no civilians killed in any action. >> rose: you can't do anything that might lead to damage -- >> there is an exception process that exists but the question is is this too strict? >> rose: right. secialtion we had a sign on
the wall when i was in iraq that asked, will this operation create more bad guys than it takes off the street by its conduct? and you have to constantly keep that in mind. but again, i think there is a strong feeling among many out there that this is a bit restrictive now. >> rose: but this goes beyond special forces which the president consently mentions. >> yes, the advisor teams are therready there from infantry brigade teams not special forces. >> rose: will it take more to invade at the brigade level. >> yes, if you have more advisor teams you will need more. i don't know the specific number of brigades in the fight. shouldn't beverly brin brigade n iraq, just the ones engaged in the operations to clear the remaining areas where islam is located particularly in the north with mosul is the capital. >> rose: do they work with iraqi, shia militias?
>> they don't. there is always been concerns for us being the air force for iraqi shia supported by iran, so that's been a sensitive issue. essentially what's happening is the iraqi army and some iraqi special forces elements generally lead the way. in some cases you have the shia militia blind and sometimes separate. >> rose: there is terms of engagement where we don't help the militias with forces. >> it's my understanding the degree of cooperation and coordination with irani supported shia militia has to be strictly limited to that of just the confliction through iraqis not directly with them. keep in mind, if i could, charlie, again, these are elements that are being paid by the iraqi government, getting salaries from the iraqi government but actually
responding to quasi-legal leadership which is, in many cases, influenced directly by the head of the force of s iran? >> in syria a number of high-ranking officer have been killed as has been the case in iraq on at least one occasion i know of. >> rose: after the taking of sinjar hornings will it take to mount an attack against mosul and is that the next priority? >> no, actually i think the next priority is probably the ongoing operation in ramadi but the significance of sinjar is that cuts the main supply root that's
left from raqqah, the capital of the state, to mosul, essentially the capital of the north of iraq as it has been historically, and the very important location for them in iraq. probably the central location in terms of importance. >> rose: what is your assessment and from what you know of the military capabilities of i.s.i.s.? >> well, the islamic state really is three elements right now. it's a conventional army. that's really what came into iraq and seized these different strategic cities that was literally threatening the very gates of baghdad, if you will, until it was rolled back over the course of the last year or so. it still holds very significant parts of iraq and certainly large swaths of syrian people say roughly the state of indiana in size to give some perspective on that. so there is a conventional
force. there is also a terrorist element because they still continued to carry out terrorists acts in baghdad and in other cities in iraq, often targeting shia sites trying to foment civil war as indeed their forbearers, al quaida in iraq, did so successfully to create the spiral of violence that escalated so terrifyingly in 2006. and then they're also, already, if you will guerilla elements or insurgents and one would expect, as their conventional forces are degraded, defeated, rolled back, that they will certainly try to leave as many of the terrorist cells and indeed insurgent elements in the country as they can. >> rose: it is argued, though, that holding territory that they hold creates a so-called caliphate, the iraqi islamic state, and that is part of the narrative that is attractive.
>> it's very, very important and the reason for the need for urgency, if you will, is to show that the islamic state is a loser. as long as the islamic state is seen to be a winner, it will have much greater success in social media which is an element of their capabilities that has really distinguished them from core al quaida or the original al quaida. >> rose: and not only in competition and in warfare with its enemies but competing islamic jihaddest groups. >> exactly and there is quite a tug of war going on among these different groups each trying to get as many add heernts as possible, trying to make inroads in afghanistan, yemen, sinai, libya, in a number of different locations where the islamic state spread its tentacles and, again, nothing succeeds like success in the recruitment of
jihadis. >> rose: al quaida affiliates, ramadi? >> aqim. >> rose: and you have al quaida affiliates in the rest of the world as well. in africa. >> in yemen. and afghanistan. small, but still there, certainly. >> rose: when you moved to syria, what are our options in syria? the russians have changed the dynamics of the game. >> they've added a huge additional level of complexity to the whole affair and it's important to note right off the front that russia is hitting the people, our guys, more on the ground even more than islamic state with their air power and that's largely because the forces that we have been supporting have generally been seen as a greater threat to the
russian air base and the sea bass i -- sea base on the mediterranean coast. >> rose: are they the same moderate forces as in 2011 or a different group of moderate forces? >> that's obviously something i couldn't go into, charlie. others have commented on that and i'll let them speak for themselves. >> rose: all right. but is there, from your assessment, a strong enough moderate force to -- for us to support or do we have to, you know, essentially rebuild and try to create a group that it can compete against i.s.i.s.? >> there are forces in the south and the north that have a reasonable degree of capability, and what we need to do is enable them further and prothe ticket them better -- and protect them
better and tats where the "no fly" zone and safe enclave comes in. >> rose: when you say "no fly" zone, i.s.i.s. has no air force. >> well and this gets to the heart of the issue, the disconnect, is we want these guys to fight the islamic state. these guys want to fight assad and the regime which they see is responsible for the deaths of 300,000 syrians and the displacement of far more than half the population, of course the regime being alawite shia supported by iran, the hezbollah and others and the opposition being sunni arab. by the way, the sunni arab is vastly the majority in the country, so that is the challenge that we have, and i think we have to commit to support them against the regime as well as against the islamic state noting that i am not one who is in a hurry to get rid of bashar al-assad until we have a
sense of what might follow. he cannot be part of the solution. i think everyone is clear on that. he is the magnetic attraction that brings individuals into syria, and that has, indeed, made the islamic state able to recruit from abroad as well. so he is ultimately not going to be part of the solution. >> rose: he's the one who used barrel bombs against his own people and -- >> exactly. and, of course, what we have to do is say, look, if the barrel bombs continue, we will ground your air force and we have the capability of doing that. now, we're also now, though, the added complexity is to deal with russia and there we need to have some coordination with them and explain, look, these guys are our guys, and if you keep going after our guys, at some point we're going to have to go after your guys and bashar al-assad's guys. >> rose: and your guys are in this case assad's air force? >> exactly right. >> rose: we should ground assad's air force. >> yes, and you can ground a
fixed wing pretty easily. just crater the runway. the rotary ring helicopters take more but we have the capability. >> rose: why do you think the president doesn't do it? >> at the beginning it would have been more complex when he had an intact, integrated air defense system that was quite sophisticated, i think this would have take an good bit of effort. that is not in tact anymore. beyond that, we can do a lot of this without ever going inside the airspace. >> rose: do we have know how much the russians have in their support of assad helped him rebuild that or -- >> again, we know where the runways are, we know where the aircraft are and we can deal with that, this is something that is doable. >> rose: we should do it now? i believe we should. again, if we don't, these forces will it ultimately gravitate as many others have to either the islamic state which has a lot of resources still, although we're really taking those away from them with the increase in the
campaign against their own infrastructure and indeed the whole illegal oil transport system, or al-naser which is another al quaida affiliate in this case in northern syria. >> rose: what difference are there between them and i.s.i.s.? >> well, i.s.i.s. had been truly extraordinarily barbaric. i.s.i.s. has taken actions that i think even al quaida would not have coun -- it alienates the population. >> rose: the way you got the sunnis is use what al quaida was doing to the local populous. >> exactly right. the local populous had gotten very, very tired to put it mildly of what al quaida was doing to them. they were not only extraordinarily repressive, the violence they were carrying out
inside sunni and shia areas was beyond the pale, so they were eager to go after al quaida if we would secure them, initially support them and ultimately, some months into it, also if we could get them some form of salary. >> rose: is there anything -- here's what i still have a question about, the president said in his press conference in turkey that what he is recommending is exactly what his military advisors are recommending to h him. obviously, if that's true and he's against the "no fly" zone, his military advisors are not recommending a "no fly" zone, it seems to me. >> i don't know what's going on inside the pentagon, the situation room and the west wing -- >> rose: but the president says he's relying on tad vice of his generals, admirals which would be tantamount to listening to what they say and they tell me not to do this. >> again, i think the importance
of paris should be a catalyst for reexamining the strategy. i think he should go and he has a new chairman of the joint chiefs and a number of new figures in the senior military positions and say, okay, let's take another fresh look at this and see if the situation is different. what is that -- they'll give him options and that should be among them. >> rose: after paris, tell me again, the u.s. has to reassess and ask what questions? >> well, again, up front, i think you have to ask, is the actual mission statement sufficiently abroad? is it just degrade and defeat the islamic state or is it also to contribute to conditions that can help achieve governance and security in these ungoverned spaces? that's why up front, i made the comment ungoverned spaces will be exploited by extremists. so i think you have to look a bit more broadly at the mission without getting into the kinds of nation building and large
forces, certainly, that i was privileged to lead in iraq and afghanistan. i think you have to do it with host nation forms and, by the way, keep neighboring countries out of this as well. there have been some who said where the arab armies should stay outside iraq and syria, by and large. >> rose: how's that. well, if you had saw saudis or jordanians or others inside iraq this might give a huge boost to sunni plirnt to say this was an outside intervention -- >> rose: the ongoing component to have the middle east is the sunni-shia as well as saudi versus iranian. >> very much so and it could be seen as an escalation and would be, i think, and calls for that kind of activity, i think are misplaced. the saudis and bahrainis and
others are engaged heavily in generally. they need to see that through. that has shia-sunni overtones because the houthis that are being fought against the saudis are shia. >> rose: and supported by iranians. >> yes. >> rose: so the question that constantly comes up and i want you help clarify this, when the question is raised not just simply of reinforcing that we're doing and adding to it and embedding at the brigade level that we need to put american combat forces on the ground, boots on the ground to larger extent than we are now. beyond embedding advisors, should we do more? >> i would not at this point. >> rose: why do you -- go ahead. >> well, again, i think if we are required to clear and hold an area, it's not sustainable.
again, you need to have a hold force that has legitimacy in the eyes of people that has to be sunni arab forces in iran -- >> rose: it should not be american forces? >> not at this stage. you should have contingencies. if there are some real urgency beyond what we have even now, which is quite a great deal, have some contingencies for taking action, but i wouldn't take that at this point. now, i would make sure that there is a headquarters established, a joint task force say in turkey that is unifying efforts in syria under joined task commander who the general was outside ahmady when we had the reinsurgence -- ra ramadi. and making sure his
organization, architecture and operational relationships are sorted, yet another issue that needs to be reexamined as we look at what could be done in the wakes of the attacks in paris. >> rose: the reassessment that takes place after paris and your sense that we need american leadership, what else can we do other than what we've talked about here? >> well, anything else we can do, frankly, in the way ryan crocker di and i did in baghdad after the surge to help facilitate iraqi politics to become more inclusive. one of the key achievements of the surge that enabled the success that we had in driving violence down by well over 80% was getting the sunni arabs feeling they had a stake in the success of the new iraq rather than its failure as they had felt prior to that point. >> rose: is the more important battle in iraq or syria and can you say that because, yon, i.s.i.s. is headquartered in
iraq and syria. on the other hand the caliphate is syria and iraq with more in iraq than syria. >> really it's a question that you have to go both places, obviously. by the way, i would say if you back up to the overarching framework for your strategy for the islamic statish, it has to be the same we employed against al quaida, it has to be comprehensive and everywhere. you can't wha whack them here to have them pop up there. you have to whack tal all the ms all the time. >> rose: that's what happened. we talked to bob gates and others, whoever the people are on the ground, are you have to maintain and hold. you can route them out of a certain place but how do you prevent them untees lest you stay there. >> that's exactly right and this is manpower intensive as we learned in iraq and afghanistan.
you have to have the forces established. they have to have legitimacy in the eyes of the people and have to be ready to hold the areas after they have been cleared. >> rose: it's iraqi in iraq and syrian nationals in syria. >> yeah. >> rose: nobody else. no, i think anybody else is probably coomple kateing factor by and large. so, again, i'm being very hesitant. that can transform the entire region into a civil war. you really have a regional civil war as it is now being fought inside syria and iraq. having it spread beyond that i think would be very destabilizing. >> rose: here's the headlines today from the financial times. a call for a sense overurgency in the fight for i.s.i.s. >> there has to be a sense of urgency. as long as the islamic state is seen as succeeding -- and they have sustained enormous losses in recent weeks in particular, i
saw a report of a strike in which a couple hundred vehicles were taken out. huge, huge. >> rose: why haven't we taken them out before? >> again, there is always a hesitation, if you're going to be responsible for a country later on, to destroy all of its infrastructure while you're trying to save it. you know, this is the old adage that we had to destroy the village to save it. you don't want to do that. you want to limit the destruction as much as you can, but there is clearly a point, if you realize this is not putting a sufficient dent into their ability to raise revenue, to generate revenue from illegal oil sales, you're going to have to do something and will have to start taking down more of that infrastructure and that is the case. >> rose: you've also called for safe zones. >> yes. >> rose: what would that be? again, this would be an area in which the forces would be protected, in particular against bashar's air force and the bopping of barrel bombs on the people every afternoon. there is no way you can expect a force to be able to establish and build and train and equip
and everything else if that's going to happen to them. by the way, this would also be an area to which refugees could return. it's an area where presumably you could help -- >> rose: how big an area? quite sizable in the north. if you look at the maps of the areas controlled by the opposition that we're supporting, the sunni arab opposition, and there is a fairly substantial area in the south as well, and what you want to do is get local control be reestablished there, and, again, that's impossible if you're get barring reel bombs or other munitions dropped on you on a regular basis. >> rose: how do we handle this difficult decision in terms of what we do and what we recommend with respect to bashar al-assad? do we not engage him other than in terms of "no fly" zones and that kind of thing, or do we supply and support whatever they need, those forces, so-called
moderate forces in syria who were trying to be against them, or do we come to this battle in syria right now and say, our target has to be i.s.i.s. their headquarters are here, their heart beat is here -- >> well, you can say all you want, but you have to focus on i.s.i.s. if a guy's dropping barrel bombs every afternoon, you're going after him. >> rose: you fight him but your goal is not to overthrow him? >> well, no, hang on a second. it's very commonly said, there is no military solution to this problem. well, that may be true. probably is true. however, there is a military context that is required and without which all the diplomatic negotiations are going to lack seriousness. so that additional pressure on bashar and the regime is what is going to help create that context and, by the way, by
supporting these forces or at least protecting them from whatever bashar is trying to do i think will then increase the channels they are also going to want to take on the islamic state. >> rose: tell me what you think russia has accomplished in syria. >> well, first off, of course, this has given president putin to try the world stage, something he's quite fond of doing. he has demonstrated, you know, he's forceful, that he is decisive, he has shown the ability to deploy forces, expeditionary capabilities and so forth. he's shown he stands by his guys and, again, of course, bashar has been his guy. that's why russia has its only naval base in the mediterranean at tartuse and the only in the mediterranean as well. he's been the only one to overthrow governmental leaders,
whoever strong men they may be, for fear someone may get the same idea about him. >> rose: you think destabilizing may become a vacuum for a whole range of things. >> he can certainly make that case. it diverts the attention from ukraine to some degree. though sadly fighting flared up again there. he would love to get out from under the sanctions. his economy is in tatters. in substantial recession, oil prices down 55%, gas prices are going to go down next as u.s. lick fynatural gas enters europe, so he's got a bleak prospect of the future. it's not as strong a happened as it appears, i don't think, and yet he's playing it with, you know, fairly good tactical skills. >> rose: as we speak he's meeting with the ayatollah and we have zero contact with the ayatollah. >> striding the world stage. >> rose: could we make common cause with him? >> how can you make common cause with a guy who sent forms into
georgia, crimea and took that over -- >> rose: ukraine. -- trying to undermine ukraine. his gone in ukraine is not just an independent section or separatist in the southeastern part of the country, it's to make sure that ukraine does not succeed. his worst nightmare would be a ukraine that has a flourishing free-market economy and plural -- >> rose: and is looking to the west for its connection. >> that's right. >> rose: but here is president putin and francois hollande talking, said francois hollande will step up its diplomatic offensive in the wake of the paris attacks. mr. hollande plans to push for urgency in syria to mount what hollande calls a grand coalition
against the islamic militants. what do you think of a grand coalition and how would that come about? >> there is a sizable coalition now. huge numbers. frankly, far and away, the vast majority of the sorties, of the intelligence reconnaissance assets, the vast majority of at least everything in this campaign at least when it comes to air operations has been provided by the united states. so additional assets from n.a.t.o. countries and allies would certainly be very welcome. many countries have what are essentially token forces. there is a substantial number of different elements from countries on the ground training and equipping various iraqi elements. special forms are in there as well. but again, anything that increases the sources available to the combined joint task force commander and the overall coalition would be very helpful. >> rose: i'm asking this in
the context of grand coalition, grand bargain, that kind of thing. this a pivotal moment in the history of the region when we were looking at borders falsely constructed after world war i? are we looking at a moment of tremendous change and paris has just been, you know, a point in which everybody seems to say we've got to do something that we have not been doing. >> rose:. well, it certainly may be one of those pivotal moments. i'm not one who would concede that iraq should be broken up into sunni stand and shiastan and there is a kurdistan with a great deal of autonomy already. no one will tell me how they get there from here. who draws the line on the map? what happens in the polllation in mixed areas? you could have another syria on your hands in iraq. we've seen this before. the late violence in the late part of 2006 was horrific.
it was out of control. >> rose: the height of the sectarian violence. >> exactly right. there were 53 dead civilians in baghdad due to violence every 24 hours. that's in the nation's capital. it was that out of control. we don't want to see that return. the sunni arab areas in iraq have no oil or natural gas production in them, so where would the revenue to sustain them come from as well? so the sunnis, there is still a huge se centrifugal force in ir. it keeps iraqi kurdistan, the kurdish regional government, tied to baghdad as well. syria, on the other hand, may be a humpty dumpty that can't be put back together again. one doesn't know -- >> rose: is that a place for the united states? syria, the united states, iran, russia, saudi arabia, to all
come together and to reconstruct syria or would you try to limit that to the u.s. and russia who clearly have interests there. >> no, i think a lot of groups have a stake, obviously, in what the outcome is there and one of the challenges is going to be to get legitimate representatives of the different groups. one to have the challenges now is there is no unified political leadership of the sunni arabs in syria. there are different elements. there is indeed a body that purports to provide that but they're not linked to all the different forces that are fighting on the ground. that's yet one of another of the many complexities with which the diplomats are going to have to deal as this goes forward. it's good that they are talking but then you should ask, okay, who are representing the sunni arabs and do they actually have again support of those on the ground? because those were the ones actually fighting and trying to
hold various areas of syria. but it may well be we can't put it back together again. if that's the case again, there will have to be new organizing structure, mechanism, what have you, or perhaps, you know, wonder of wonders, you could have a multiethnic, multisectarian pluralist democracy headquartered in damascus again though i think it's unlikely. what's important to recognize, i don't care what your objective is in syria, you name it and i will point out a force that we can support of sunni arabs, ideally truly moderates was absolutely essential. you want to destroy the islamic state, they will be the force on the ground. >> rose: are you absolutely certain they are there and that conditions have to be created so they can be the destructive force against i.s.i.s. that you need? >> there are not enough of them there right now. there are some there. we have been enabling them, supporting them and assisting
them for some time. clearly, if we really get behind them and vow to protect them again from bashar's air force and so on, i think you would see a lot more flocking to there. >> rose: how do you combat the global strategy, the terrorism that we saw in paris? >> it has to be obviously a very, very comprehensive response. we have to fight even in cyber space. you have to context, if you will, the intellectual discussion that's going on there, to confront the extremists on the internet, not just to mention the enormous premium on good intelligence from all sources and also linked with law enforcement officials. and again, what has been working in the united states is a very, very good partnership between the intelligence community and all the various law enforcement
organizations. but you get stretched over time. if you look at the sheer number of individuals that france was following and then you figure out what their assets are, then you start to understand that this is such an industrial-strength problem, that it is very, very difficult to nip every attack in the bud, to stop it, to preempt it and that, of course, is the concern in every one of the countries, including right here in our own. >> rose: did paris show you more organization observe the part of i.s.i.s. -- on the part of i.s.i.s. and more planning than you ever would have imagined? >> it appears to have been. this is something that reportedly was planned six to nine months earlier. individuals got in there, got weapons. not as easy to do that there as here, though they're available on the black market without question. >> rose: use encrypted apps we didn't? >> again, lots of challenges here and, clearly, the islamic state showed they're certainly not intent just on activities in iraq and syria just in their
actual caliphate area. they want to strike well beyond that and demonstrated that very clearly in the sinai, lebanon and paris. >> rose: this is a diplomatic question, but beyond their narrative -- we're building a new islamic state and we're successful and winning and all that -- how do we win the battle of ideas? >> well, you have to have, again, a foundation in which the battle of ideas is fought and, clearly, in some cases, there are reasons for feeling alienated, disgruntled, shut out of society, of opportunity, and so forth, those kind of issues have to be dealt with and those are very, very difficult, obviously. but then again, most importantly, you've got to have muslim voices countering the various narratives that are being put out by the islamic state, and that has to be more and more aggressive clearly. >> rose: and it has to be soon
sunni? most of the islamic state is sunni. >> that's exactly right, yep. and again, it has to have the language, the dialect, the knowledge of the religion. >religion, and this is challenging. >> rose: how much support was i.s.i.s. have in the other sunni states -- saudi arabia, the emirates -- >> there is no official support for them. the governments in those countries have fought against al quaida, they've done everything take and i can assure you, when i was the director of the c.i.a., if we took something to one of those countries that was hard and fast, that they would deal with that. in fact, we were all very, very closely linked to -- >> rose: whenever you would present the king of saudi arabia with evidence of something that you had hard and fast facts, they'd respond to it? >> yes, and, again, there is a very close partnership in each of these countries between u.s. law enforcement, u.s. intelligence community and the
host nation governments, and that's because they were battling these individuals. let's remember that when he was the deputy minister of interior, the now crown prince heroically led this effort that really destroyed what was al quaida in the kingdom at that particular time. he almost lost his own life. remember, a suicide bomber blew himself up, tried to take the prince out, and it was unsuccessful, obviously. but these countries are very, very much cleanly focused on ensuring the islamic state, now, cannot establish a beachhead in their countries. and they're very much against people sending money to these organizations as well. the the problem is, of course, you don't just send it through the swift system, you do it through a courier, or perhaps some other mechanism. and that's literally not impossible to track but very, very difficult to track. >> rose: do you believe we
have good intelligence as to how i.s.i.s. operates? we have seen drone attacks take out key leaders of i.s.i.s. >> which would indicate there is a good deal of precision to the intelligence. >> rose: exactly right. and they knew somebody was getting in a car to go somewhere, a vehicle. >> sure. >> rose: and took him out with a drone. >> yeah. >> rose: means you have to have some kind of information. >> and, of course, the information on the ground in a couple of different operations that have taken out a ekey leader, detained him or rescued hostages and so forth. so clearly there is a good baseline of intelligence that's been established now. the fact that we've had the so-called unblinking eye in the air over many of these areas, over time you just accumulate knowledge of what is taking place on the ground. you augment that, obviously, with all the other forms of intelligence signals, cyber, anything you can get in any other way and, obviously, human
intelligence, the real coin of the realm. i've obviously been away from this for several years but that's, needless to say, what's being done and, again, i'm confident that we are establishing more and more and more of an understanding of what it is that we're seeing with this unblinking eye and that's enabling us to take the operations that we have been taking. >> rose: and you assume you would get a lot of help from the intelligence agencies of those sunni countries as well. >> sure. >> rose: is this a long twilight struggle or has it been given because of paris a new urgency so it has to be, you know, a full-scale, coordinated response? >> i think this probably is a generational struggle. i think even if you succeed operationally, tactically against the islamic state in iraq and then in syria, there still is going to be a battle, there still will be extremist ideas, there will still be individuals who will be animated
by those ideas, there will still be those who propagate those ideas. so i think what we want to do, obviously, is to reduce the capabilities of the islamic state, of al quaida, although we have -- >> rose: is reduce all we can hope for? >> no, i mean, we want to defeat them in iraq and syria, and i'm taking about reducing it very, very dramatically, but the idea that you will actually put a stake through the heart, i think, will be misplaced. the fact is we did destroy, not just defeat, that's a very significant military term, it means it's rendered incapable of accomplishing its mission out reconstitution, we destroyed al quaida in iraq in the surge and the years after and kept it destroyed and unfortunately it was left back up off the map when we didn't stay after it in the wake of departure of our forces. >> rose: if our forces had been there, they would not have been able to come back? >> hard to say. depends on what prime minister
mmaliki would have allowed us to do. we would have had better intelligence, i think. whether that enabled us or allowed us because of the restrictions on our forces placed by the iraqi prime minister and government, whether we would have the about the to do something against them is in question. what is not in question is we would have had a much better understanding of what was going on because we would have all these different bases and if you have bases you have the ability to gather insights from those different locations. again, it's an open question as to whether or not we could have influenced the government and prevented it from taking the actions that were so highly sectarian that they alienated the sunni arab population that would work so hard over the previous five years to bring back into the government. >> rose: as you said to me, this is a political dimension. >> very much.
center of gravity in iraq, baghdad and iraqi politics. that's a very difficult terrain right now. >> rose: if you could define the question that should be debated in the political campaigns, what would it be? >> well, i guess i would want to get an understanding of, again, the real strategic thinking on dealing with threats posed by extremist organizations. >> rose: on the part of each candidate? >> yeah, and i'd want to get that sense. this has to be beyond bumper sticker slogans and we're going to lead and -- although, just the fact of we are going to lead is a very important one because, as i said earlier, lesson number two as opposed to arab spring period is there's no substitute for u.s. leadership. >> rose: and you believe u.s. leadership has not been a parrot. you are by definition critical of the obama administration for not doing enough and not showing enough urgency. >> no, look, what happened, i think, is that, in the wake of iraq and afghanistan, if you
will, and as they were still going on, the recognition of the enormous cost, the frustration, all the rest of that, really led us to say, oh, man, let's keep our hands off and not get burned by this one. >> rose: longest war in afergz. >> yeah, and by the way we're still there and have accomplished the mission we set out when we went there which is to ensure afghanistan is not once again a sanctuary for crimists that it was when al quaida was there. >> rose: and not make the mistake in afghanistan that we did in iraq because of lessons in iraq. >> we learned a lot in iraq, some of it transferable to afghanistan, certainly the less son of not drawing down and it was reassuring the president get 90,000 there. are we doing enough to support our afghan partners in terms of engagement, are they too restrictive is something we need to ask ourselves. >> rose: you seem to be
reticent to directly credit size the president other than specific areas like a "no fly" zone. >> look, i served this president, i served the previous president. i'm not one who sees these as really simple issues. these are tough issues. i was in the room when there were debates on some of these decisions, and again, it's never clear cut when you're actually the person at the head of that particular table. obviously, i recommended certain things that were not approved at various times. some of these are publicly known. but that doesn't mean that, again, i'm just going to again start poking the serving president in the eye. >> rose: and in fact what you hope the president has is a divergence of opinion that's clearly expressed so that, in the end, the president as a commander-in-chief can make the right decision. >> exactly right, and it's the job of those who made the recommendations to do everything they can to implement the decision that he makes even if it's different than what they recommended. >> rose: thank you for coming.
great to be with you, charlie, thanks. >> rose: david petraeus for the hour. thank you for joining us. see you next time. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com.. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
>> rose: on the next charlie rose, a conversation with ian bremmer about global politics. karl rove about domestic politics and a russian banker about russian politics. join us. >> france, head and shoulders the biggest target. you and i talked about this on your show. i think there are three reasons. one is 8% of the french population is muslims, by far the largest percentage in europe and they're not integrated well into french society.
a lot of young men unemployed and living sort of in slums amongst themselves. secondly, the french national culture itself is by far the most secular/anti-religious of the european states, so as a consequence, they have a hard time engaging with muslims who want to be muslims but also want to be french. a third point, is frankly, both sarkozy and now president hollande have been much more assertive in their military engagements across the middle east and africa than the obama administration certainly nor than any other european state. >> rose: why is that? they have been the ones out front. well, in part because there is a tolerance on the part of the french people that provides support for it. in the united states you frequently see backlash, in britain you see backlash. in france, after the ca the gadi removal, the popularity in
france of that was quite high. hollande took the lead in fighting infrastructure terrorism, hollande's approval went up. so this is an issue that the french people will rally around the president but makes them target internationally and we've seen that not only in the attacks in paris but in mali last week.
a kqed television production. ♪ >> it's sort of like old fisherman's wharf. it reminds me of old san francisco. >> and you'd be a little bit like jean valjean, with the teeth, whatever. >> and worth the calories, the cholesterol, and the heart attack you might have. >> it's like an adventure, you know. you've got to put on your miner's helmet. >> it reminds me of oatmeal with a touch of wet dog. >> i did. inhaled it. >> people when they say sommelier or something.