tv Larry King Live CNN November 24, 2009 9:00pm-10:00pm EST
please be seated. >> larry: welcome to a special edition of "larry king live." this is obama's first state dinner welcoming the prime minister of india. let's listen. >> many of you were here when i was honored to become the first president to help celebrate the festival of lights. some of you were here for the
first white house celebration of the birth of the found er. tonight we gather again for the first state dinner of my presidency. the prime minister manmohan singh as we celebrate the great and growing partnership between the united states and india. as we all know in india some of life's most precious moments are often celebrated under the cover of a beautiful tent. it's a little like tonight, we have incredible food and music and are surrounded by great friends. for it's been said that the most beautiful things in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us. mr. prime minister, today we work to fulfill our duty, bring our countries closer together than ever before. tonight under the stars we
celebrate the spirit and we'll sustain our partnership, the bonds of friendship between our people. it's a bond that includes more than 2 million indian-americans who enrich every corner of our great nation. leaders in government, science, industry and the arts, some of whom join us tonight and the bond of friendship between a president and prime minister bound by the same spirit of possibility in brotherhood that transforms both our nations, the spirit that gave rise to movements led by giants like ga gandy and king and which are reason both of us can stand here tonight. and so as we draw upon these ties i want to close with the words that your first prime minister spoke at that midnight hour on the eve of indians independence. those words speak to our hopes tonight. the achievement we secelebrate
today is but a step. an opening of opportunity. to the great triumphs and achievements that await us. the past is over and it is the future that beckons us now. so i propose a toast to all of you. just logistically we want to make sure the prime minister has a glass. for the future that beckons all of us, let us answer its call and let our two great nations realize all the triumphs and achievements that await us. cheers.
mr. president, the first lady, mrs. michelle obama, distinguished guests, i feel privileged to be invited to this first state banquet, mr. president, under your distinguished presidency. you do us and the people great honor by this wonderful gesture on your part. we are overwhelmed by the warmth of your hospitality, the courtesy you have extended to us
personally and the grace and charm of the first lady. mr. president -- [ applause ] mr. president, your journey to the white house has captured the imagination of millions and millions of people in india. you are an inspiration to all those who cherished the values of democracy, diversity, and equal opportunity. [ applause ] mr. president, i can do no
better than to describe your achievements in the words of abraham lincoln who said, and i quote, it's not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years, unquote. [ applause ] mr. president, we warmly applaud the recognition of the committee, of the healing touch you have provided and the power of your idealism and your vision. [ applause ] mr. president, your leadership
of this great nation of the united states coincides with the time of profound changes taking place in the world at large. we need to find new international cooperation that respond more effectively to the grave challenges caused by the growing interdependence of nations. as to leading democracies, india and the united states must play a leading role in building the shared destiny for all humankind. mr. president, a strong and sustained engagement between our
two countries is good for our people and equally it is highly important for the world as a whole. we are embarking on a new phase of our partnership. we should build on our common values and interests to realize the enormous potential and promise of our partnership. our expanding cooperation in areas of social and human development, science and technology, energy and other related areas will improve the quality of lives of millions of people in our country.
the nearly 2.7 million strong american communities is a tribute to our common peoples. they have enriched and deepened our ties and i thank them profoundly from the core of my heart. [ applause ] mr. president, i convey my very best wishes to you. mr. president, as you lead this great nation and look forward to working with you to renew and expand our strategic partnership, i wish you and the
people of america a very, very happy thanksgiving. ladies and gentlemen -- [ applause ] -- i'd like you to join me in a toast to the health and happiness of president barack obama and the first lady, mrs. obama, the friendly people of the united states of america and stronger and stronger friendship between india and the united states of america. >> cheers. cheers.
>> thank you. thank you, everybody. enjoy your evening. >> larry: and the dinner begins. this is an outdoor dinner. it's under a tent on the south lawn of the white house. i've attend add couple of these. the ones i attended were inside. they hold a lot more people there. we'll have a panel. a quick word or two with sally quinn, the co-founder of on faith at washingtonpost.com and she's launched the party, a column on entertaining in the style tex of "the post." how important are these dinners, sally? >> i think the prime minister said it best when he said strategic partnership. you heard their toast. it wasn't anything about music, flowers -- well, it was some, but it was really about the strategy of our relationship with india and india's position next to pakistan and afghanistan
and china and the fact that they are a huge democracy in the area, that we have so much -- we depend so much on india's friendship. they have the nuclear weapons, the pakistanis have nuclear weapons. they are -- we export a lot of jobs to india. india is a hindu country although there are many moslems there, right next to two moslem countries where we saw there was a bombing in mumbai which was a problem. the indians and the pakistanis have a problems with kashmir. we need india, and we need them to be our strategic partners in that area if we're going to succeed in pakistan and afghanistan. so i think that the prime minister really said the key words, strategy, strategic partnership. >> larry: and sally will join us later about style. the menu from people who really know what's cooking next. national car rental knows i'm picky.
>> larry: joining us to discuss all of this, paula deen, the emmy winning food network star and "new york times" best-selling author. her husband, by the way, has a new memoir out about their relationship called "my delicious life with paula deen." the former white house chef and author of "white house chef: 11
years, two presidents, one kitchen." roland, the former white house pastry chef. he spent 25 years creating elegant desserts for american presidents, their families and world dignitaries and his books include "all the president's patience." and wolfgang puck, the award winning chef and restauranteur who homes many restaurants throughout the united states. paula, this menu included potato and eggplant salad, red lentil soup, potato dumpling or green curry prawns. are you familiar with that? >> not one of them, larry. how about you, dear? none of them sound familiar. ham and potato soup, yes. >> larry: the former white house chef -- hold it, hold it, paula. hold it, paula. >> yes.
>> larry: the former white house chef, could an american chef come up with an indian dinner? >> oh, sure. american cuisine is a lot like the american culture. it's got influences from all over the world, none of them dominating but having an influence. this is a lot of familiar and i'm sure paula recognizes collard greens listed further down, pecans are all american, too. >> yes, i was -- >> larry: do you like -- paula, you're talk iing over me. >> yeah, paula, be quiet. >> well, you know, my years at the white house were a bit different. every dessert hand presentation, as you know, and dessert were designed to actually harder visiting country and visiting
head of states so the design was very particular and was only used once, never twice. and i've served the country of india many, many times. the flavor used in dessert will be flavored that i will recognize in india, that they can affiliate with and recognize. it's very important for them when they come to america or to any other country that they can see what they eat, recognize the food. >> larry: i think the same on the whole menu, they probably choose the pumpkin pie because of thanksgiving is coming up in two days. wolfgang, could this be a challenge for you? the whole rest of the menu is indian. >> that's what i'm saying. >> larry: we're off to a good start here. >> the dessert reflects very much. >> larry: i get it, roland. >> i'm a little bit disappointed
not to see something more grandiose, something more elaborate for a dinner of that status. >> larry: i've got you. wolfgang, would it be a challenge. i've got you. would it be a challenge for you, wolfgang, to cook this dinner? >> actually for me it wouldn't be a big challenge because we have actually indian influenced dishes on our menu. we make a little eggplant puree and people love it and i love indian flavors. >> larry: do you agree with roland it should have been an indian dessert? >> i really think we should showcase what america has. we have so many great pastries, why not have the pumpkin pie or pecan pie. no, it's all about the presentation. it can be presented really, really big. >> larry: paula, would you like to cook a white house dinner? >> i would love to. i had the first lady, larry, on my show before the president was
elected, and i found her to be very down-to-earth in a very, very american in her tastes for food. i showed her how i fried shrimp and she ate even during the commercial break. she thoroughly enjoyed them. i asked what their favorite food was and they said hot wings. >> larry: deepak chopra is at the dinner. what's it like, deepak? >> it's very festive. it's very celebrative. it's just lovely. the energy is gralt. the prime minister was very eloquent and president obama, of course, was wonderful. we all got to meet him and i'm sitting right next to colin powell, actually the president is on the next table and there's lots of wonderful indian people. i feel greatly fortunate that i'm both american and indian. >> larry: can you pass the phone over to colin?
>> no, he's sitting next to the president right now. >> larry: okay. i thought you said you were next to him. i misunderstood. >> i went out to speak to you, larry. i left the table to speak to you and i should rush back because it's not polite. >> larry: i know. go back. wolfgang, do you agree with roland the whole menu should have been indian? >> in the end the white house is a private home. mrs. obama will be the final determine earp of what she wants. this is atypical of a menu but, again, it does represent making the guest country feel at home, the flavors will be very recognizable but at the same time go through all these different areas of india and you end up back home in a very down home -- paula will be happy with it -- pumpkin pie sort of dessert. >> larry: what do you think of bringing in a guest chef? what do you think of bringing in a guest chef? they brought in marcus samuelsson.
is that customary? >> there's no such thing as custom at the white house. there's tradition but all driven by what the first lady wants to do. if she wants to invite a guest chef in, what a tremendous honor for marcus. to be honest with you, 320 people at a pavilion is like off premise catering. marcus will design the cuisine but chris and her staff will be the ones who make the dinner happen. >> larry: roland, how long do you work on a dessert for a dinner like this? >> for a dinner like this it could be seven weeks, starting first of all on mainly the decoration made of chocolate, of sugar. first of all we have to come with a special design that we all know, all recognize. that takes a lot of research. we want to make sure we do not commit any mistakes by having
anything there that should not be there. sometimes flavor wise or design wise. so it could be several weeks working on a dessert like this until the last two days. this is when the actual dessert takes place and then the assembly will be done the night of the dinner so it's quite stressful to put one of those big desserts together because you cannot have oops. this is not allowed. >> it's not like a restaurant where -- >> larry: no oops. >> you can't give them 10% off the bill. it doesn't work that way. >> larry: wolfgang -- >> you have to remember that the white house, they do not wait for the food. when they say pick up, they mean pick up the food now. you cannot say i need five more minutes or ten more minutes, which this is why i'm totally against bringing guest chefs. and for more than one reason. first of all, they do not know
how the white house operates. the setup of the place for having disaster, terrible disaster and, number two, i think is a slap in the face of the chef who is there every day feeding the family breakfast, l lunch and dinner and then when it is the time to shine we bring a guest chef. i think that's very offensive. >> larry: roland, i will tell you honestly, i never thought we'd have major controversy on the show tonight. you have provided it. >> thank you. thank you, larry. i'm always good for that, you know. >> larry: you are, i know. how do you know, wolfgang, if your meal has succeeded? >> well, i did a big state dinner at a summit like 25 years ago when reagan was president and i think we trained our staff who came with us really, really well, and i know the timing is really important but, you know, we have an important restaurant and we do important parties so
really the way we serve the dinner, everybody wants be to be served on time. obviously i think if i was asked to do a dinner at the white house i would work with the white house chef and say, you know the ins and outs in there and i will have my flavors in the dishes but you know the logistics, they know them better than anybody. >> larry: is the chef looking through a curtain now to see if they're smiling? >> i think i would be. like when i go to the oscars, for example, when we do the big party afterwards, i go out in the dining room. i'm sure marcus will not be able to go out. >> larry: and you're nervous when you do it. >> you're very nervous because you want it to be perfect. >> larry: i can't let it go without asking you, paula, you had a close encounter with a flying ham yesterday in atlanta. what happened? >> i did. well, larry, we were unloading the truck. smithfield and i had delivered 30,000 pounds of my hams to the
food bank there and it was a young man's first day and he didn't realize that once in a while i'll send one of the guys with smithfield out for a pass. and he was so kault up in the moment, so excited, when the ham finally got to him, he said, paula, back at you. and i thought he was just making a statement. i turned around to get another ham out of the truck and when i did, i was hit solid in the center of my face and i literally saw stars. but thank goodness i'm a bigger ham than that was was. i survived and i'm not even bruised, larry. >> larry: no, you're not. thank you all very much. >> well, no, when i blow my nose i'm careful. >> larry: okay. thank you. thank you.
>> larry: all eyes are on michelle obama and what she's wearing tonight. the first lady fashion report is next. is leaving countless americans stranded. that's why aarp is fighting to put people first, not insurance companies. to protect medicare and keep drug costs down. and to ensure that no one is denied coverage due to age or health. because at aarp, we believe your health is worth fighting for. ♪
details. she also covered the arrival of tonight's guests. naeem kham is an indian-american designer and first lady michelle obama is wearing one of his designs for tonight's state dinner. his father and grandfather are both designed for indian royalty. and sally quinn is back with us. we're going to talk about style. naeem, did she pick it out from many designs you gave her? how did it work? >> actually, yes, she did. i designed her three or four things and the idea was she picked it out from there but the idea was india, chic, simple, but very glamorous. >> larry: was she difficult to deal with? >> no. i mean, actually i didn't deal with her. i have to deal with her stylist who called me and i have to go through her. it was actually very, very easy. they had given me what they needed, i designed it, i sent it
and left it for them to pick it. >> larry: do you choose the color? >> of course i did. i chose the color, i chose the embroidery, i chose the cut of the dress, everything. all i had to do was fit it to her. >> larry: now were you nervous when you first saw her walk out tonight? >> not nervous. i was so joyous. i mean, for me to be part of this historic occasion, being indian and to be participate of this was beyond amazing. i mean, i literally fell off -- telephones an incredible moment for me. >> larry: sally, you're our style expert. give us your critique of the dress being worn by the first lady? >> i would like to congratulate naeem, it's one of the most beautiful dresses i've seen, the cut was perfect, the fabric was
perfect, and i love the way it sort of flowed when she walked. she just -- you know, the bottom of the dress just shimmered. it was exquisite. so i think you've got a great career ahead of you, is all i can say. have you got any more of them, by the way? >> i make them by the thousands. >> larry: there on the lawn, describe for us what the scene was like with the arrival of the guests tonight. >> reporter: it was very much a red carpet arrival of many of the guests, the headliner was steven spielberg but other hollywood heavyweights tonight, blair underwood, alfre woodard, jeffrey katzenberg, david geffen and then hef hitters from the world of politics, lots of governors, lots of representatives and top officials from the obama administration. some no-shows. i think people were expecting, there were rumors brad pitt would show up or even oprah winfrey. oprah winfrey did not show up but gayle king was here instead, her best friend, and also lots of folks from the obamas'
personal life like marty nesbitt and his wife, delivered malia and sasha and he said the key was looking forward to reconnecting with his chicago friends tonight. >> larry: you know why they decided to hold it outside? >> reporter: one of the things they wanted to make sure they could have a number of guests. the state room fits about 150 guests and that's about the number of guests that bush had when he hosted the prime minister in 2005. tonight you had about 320. bill clinton had a much bigger party, 700 folks there. this white house talked about wanting to have a bigger event, so that's why they held it outside. some people kind of look and say it's a tent. it looks more like a pavilion and of course they decorate this with a floor and lots of floral arrangements all around so you're not really thinking you're in a tent when you're there. you're kind of distracted by that from all the decorations. >> larry: sally what will this do for naeem khan's career as a
designer? >> well, as i said, i'd like to have one of those dresses myself and i can't imagine any woman looking at that dress saying, how do i get hold of him? i think it's going to really put him on the map. he's already a well-known designer anyway, but i think that from now on he'd better hire a lot more people to work for him because he's going to be inundated with orders. but i think one of the interesting things about this dinner, larry, was the number of staff, white house staff on the guest list. the guest list was interesting. i've never seen that many white house staffers and state department staffers on a guest list at the white house and i think that may be one of the reasons they expanded it the way they did and i think this has been such a grueling year for the people in the white house on every level whether it's the economy or the wars or the environment or the health care, whatever, that i think this is a way of rewarding them and i think that's a really good thing
to do. there are also a lot of african-americans on this guest list which i have not seen that many before and i think that obviously is a statement that they're making and then there's a tip of the hat to hollywood and bollywood, the indians have their own film industry. an awful lot of big donors, too. they had a lot of people to fit in. >> larry: to a break. we'll be right back. ♪ singer: was getting depressed 'cause of all of the stress ♪ ♪ i was feeling at home ♪ had a poor credit score ♪ and the number would haunt me wherever i'd go ♪ ♪ thought i'd move to a place where my credit could stink ♪ ♪ and nobody would care ♪ i just wish that somebody had told me ♪ ♪ that place was a renaissance fair! ♪ ♪ free credit report dot com! tell your friends, ♪ ♪ tell your dad,tell your mom! ♪ never mind, they've been singing our songs ♪ ♪ since we first showed up with our pirate hats on! ♪ ♪ if you're not into fake sword fights ♪ ♪ pointy slippers and green wool tights ♪ ♪ take a tip from a knight who knows ♪ ♪ free credit report dot com, let's go! ♪ legal vo: offer applies with enrollment in triple advantage
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>> larry: naeem khan in miami, what was the fabric of that dress? >> okay, this was totally handmade. it's pure sterling silver hand cut and sewn in a pattern which is floral on a silk chiffon. it's so beautiful. it's totally handmade. entirely handmade. it took maybe three weeks by 40 people to make it. >> larry: where was it made? >> it was made in india. it's my family workshop. my father and my grandfather who started this business of embroidery so i come from a family that makes beautiful, beautiful fabrics for many
designers and for many indians and most of my embroideries are made in my family factories. that's where it was made. it's an old tradition, many hundreds of years old. >> larry: nia, you were with the first lady earlier today. was she er nervous? >> reporter: she seemed slightly nervous and she made this comment that on the surface shafs swan like but on the inside a duck paddling furiously because there was so much to think about. over the last couple of weeks you have seen a first lady become more of a first lady. we'll see more traditional events that she has to do over the next couple of weeks with december and the christmas holidays, tomorrow there will be the pardoning of the turkey. on friday the reception of the christmas tree. she very much is becoming more comfortable in the role as first lady. and tonight she had on this dress, obviously, that your guest here has described so perfectly. she talks -- you ask her, you ask her aides about fashion, and
it's not necessarily her focus. she very much wants to focus on the work she's doing with the young girls, to bring them in today and important in terms of mentoring and leadership, so that's really her focus and as much as folks like to talk about fashion, she wants to change the subject and talk about mentoring and leadership and health care. >> larry: sally, fair or not, washington is not reputed as the style center of the world in fashion. how are the obamas affecting it? >> well, it's still not reputed as the fashion center of the world. people in washington have to dress carefully because most people who work here are working in the government or something to do with the government and a lot of them are politicians who go and travel outside the country. and so you really can't sort of dress over the top here or at least most people who are in official situations. michelle obama has taken her
style just to the right edge, i think. she's a little bit different, a little quirky sometimes. always very stylish. always looks very glamorous in her clothes. she takes risks which i like. and she dresses very youthfully and she dresses in american designer clothes which i also think is a great idea. but she's more informal than a lot of first ladies. she's not wearing the sort of little buttoned up st. john's suits, she's wearing skirts and sweaters and i think that she's dressing exactly right for this moment, that people are not -- >> larry: well said. >> people are not as formal as they used to be and i think she's setting a tone. you can see it. she set a tone even that women on television in the last year since michelle obama started showing up in her j. crew sweaters people have stopped wearing sort of business suits, the women, the commentators,
have started wearing sweaters on television. >> larry: true. thanks, sally. thank you all very much. the president's going to tell us next week what he'll do about afghanistan, about his options. boss: ah! thank goodness you're back. gecko: what's going on, sir? boss: we're slammed. tons of people interested in all the money they could be saving by switching to geico.. gecko: yeah, 'course. boss: boy, did we miss you last week. that temp wasn't working out at all. exec: took me all morning but i got those quarterly figures for ... you. (hissing noise, gulping)
gecko: aw, he ate all my mints. anncr: geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. >> larry: next tuesday the president will announce his decision on afghanistan. joining us to discuss it in washington, matthew hough, the first u.s. official to have resigned over u.s. policy there. in memphis, tennessee, general wesley clark, nato supreme allied commander, and in washington, former nato supreme allied commander and in wa washington tom cotton, a member for vets in freedom, combat veterans of the wars in iraq and afghanistan. general clark, what should he do and what do you think he's going to do? >> i think he's going to build an exit strategy to get us out of there but i think it's going
to entail more troops in the near term, a lot more assistance to the government of pakistan and pressure on the government of pakistan to do even more in the northwest frontier provinces. and i think he's going to try to start showing signs of progress so we can can see an end in sight. >> larry: matthew, if that's the case, what do you think of it? >> thanks for having me here tonight, larry. i think adding more troops is going in the wrong direction. adding more troops does two things. it reinforces the karzai government, a government we're propping up, you know, on the backs of our young marines and soldiers. by propping them up, that means the karzai government will not negotiate with the other side. the other thing this does for adding more troops is it only enforces or reinforces the taliban's desire to end the foreign occupation of the
country. they're only going to fight harder. so by adding more troops you take away any incentive from the karzai regime to negotiate and you embolden the other side to continue fighting. my recommendation, of course, is to -- go ahead? >> larry: -- leave? >> oh, not leave. you can characterize it as all in or all out and i don't believe that's the case. reasonable people and rational people involved in the debate, i don't think anyone is saying all in or all out. i'm not advocating for washing our hands. i'm advocating for a political solution. >> larry: tom cotton, where do you stand? >> i support general mcchrystal's request for fully resourced counter insurgent strategy. reports of his still classified review released in august said he's requesting anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 troops. i think 40,000 would be a reasonable be but low-end figure. 60,000 would allow for a fully resourced strategy, and i hope the president next week will
>> larry: erica hill will sit in again for anderson cooper tonight to host "ac 360" at the top of the hour. what's up tonight, erica? tonight new details about the president's plan for afghanistan. we know he's going to make an announcement one week from tonight. already there are reports they'll be sending as many as 34,000 additional troops into the war zone. what exactly will that translate to? we're going to dig deeper.
plus, it's being referred to as the botax. a cute name for a possible plan to tax cosmetic surgery and in turn help finance health care reform. who is really paying the tax and would it even work? we're keeping them honest. plus, much more from inside the obamas' first state dinner which i know you've been talking a lot about tonight, larry. that's all coming up at the top of the hour. >> larry: especially the desserts. >> especially the desserts. they should have been indian. >> larry: yes. that's what he said. erica hill at 10:00 eastern, 7:00 pacific. general clark, former vice president dick cheney has accused the president of dithering and suggested that his actions toward afghanistan are due to inexperience. how do you comment on that? >> i think it's been a very good process of the strategic review. i think they've worked it with the governments of pakistan and afghanistan. i think it's been time very, very well spent. i have to say i'm in sympathy
with general mcchrystal's request for troops. i would request them if i were there. i hear what matthew-they're bot. mcchrystal needs more troops. the government's not responsive. it's not as legitimate as probably we would like to make it. and the other element is, of course, pakistan has to do more because we can't succeed in afghanistan alone. it's not isolated. all that is part of the review. >> larry: tom, every public poll says a majority of americans want us out. how do you respond to that? >> well, the support for the war can ebb and blow based on the case that's our leaders make for it. one draw back of the long and protracted review is we haven't had the president and senior congressional leaders making the case to the american people for why we need to send more troops to afghanistan, what they're going to accomplish and how we can win. i think once that case is made, once the president explains that
we have a victory strategy, not an exit strategy, the polls will begin to turn around and the center of gravity in the war which is really not the fight against al qaeda terrorists or fight against the taliban but maintaining american public support for a great fighting man will begin it turn around the majority of americans. we'll see it as an essential fight that we have to win. >> matthew, why did you resign? why not stay on and fight the fight inside? >> larry, i'd -- i lost trust and confidence in what we were doing there, why we were in afghanistan. i really came to find that a majority of the people that our young men are fighting and dying against are people who are fighting us only because they're occupied. i came to realize that we're taking one side in the civil war and our participation there is only continuing this conflict. our presence there is not doing anything to make the united states safer. al qaeda is not present in
afghanistan. finally, i had moral issues with us having our young men fight and die to support a regime like the karzai regime which is very corrupt and illegitimate. >> larry: general, other countries that have gone into afghanistan have left, russia most recently. is this a no-win? >> i think it depends on how you define win, larry. i do think that we are a foreign element in a country that doesn't tolerate diversity. i think we have to find a way to leave behind some kind of structure that we can work with that won't be a terrorist state and we have to get our troops out of there. and i believe that's what the obama administration is trying to do. but you can't do this if you're being forced back on the battlefield and you can't maintain some control over most of the population centers. so i see the increase in troops as essential weigh station on get out of the country successfully. >> larry: and we'll be back with more.
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>> larry: the president's first state dinner as president going on at the white house right now. they're eating dinner. they'll be dancing. there will be great entertainment by the great jennifer hudson. it's a state dinner but not a state dinner. the prime minister is not the head of state. but they're calling it a -- whatever the white house calls it is what it is. tom, you've been in both places.
did it get frustrating for you? >> there were days when it was frustrating. i can tell that you afghanistan in 2009 is nowhere near as bad or as dangerous as baghdad in 2006 was when i served there as a platoon leader. and as we learned over the last two years difficult does not mean impossible. and hard does not mean irredeemable. if we can pull back from the brink in iraq, we can certainly do so in afghanistan over the coming two to three years with the proper number of troops and proper strategy. >> larry: matthew, are you pessimistic about all this? >> i am to a certain degree, larry. you know, i'm very hopeful that what the president has done the last few months is that they've gone through a review of the strategy as general clark is referencing and that we're going to see -- i know we're going to get a troop increase which i'm disappointed about. however, if we can get a
withdraw date or exit strategy, the important thing with that is we get a political solution to the conflict in afghanistan. right now our forces are fighting and they're fighting guys that are fighting us only because we're there. if it keeps happening until we withdraw. what we need to do is find a political solution that brings the two sides of the afghan civil war to peace and stability. >> larry: general clark, the late general james told me no one hates war more than the warrior. and i hear that. did we ever have a general propose that we leave? >> it's very hard when you're in uniform to say something's not doable. and in this case what the military is saying is they need more troops. but they also need a lot of other things. they need more economic advisors there. they really need a political strategy. they need stronger diplomacy in the region. they need to work india as well as pakistan in this.
so the military is trying to do the best it can to do the mission they were given. you don't want to ask the military is it time to quit? that's the job of the president. he's got to look at the results. all the tools available. he has to listen to the best advice. these military guys are going to do the very best job they k they are going to give it heart and soul. they're going to make incredible commitments to get the job done except the leaders elected by the people to make sure the job they're given and strategy they're given is the right one. >> larry: tom, do you agree there has to be an exit strategy? >> i don't think we should have a firm timetable. you never know the course of the afghanistan war. in iraq there was the debate about the timetables and again, that is really setting a deadline and let the enemy know when we're leaving. we do have to be prepared for this to be a long-term, two to
three-year troop increase as we restore level of security to the country and work with the government to restore its legitimacy among the afghan people. so, no, i don't agree. >> larry: a victory would be -- and, tom, we have a short time left. what would victory be, tom? >> a legitimate government viewed through the eyes of the people that can come through elections, which they just had, but it can also come through the state having a relative monopoly on the use of violence inside the borders, control of the borders, profession of basic social services and the peak of the taliban and other anti-government forces inside of afghanistan. >> larry: in 20 seconds, general, do you think that's possible? >> i think something less is possible. i don't think this is unwinnable if you define the objective as we don't want a terrorist state there. we want to help the people of afghanistan as best we can. and i think question do that. i think the