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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 8, 2010 8:30am-12:00pm EST

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insignificant. the amount of energy coming out of that antenna on your cell phone is so low that the heating effect is negligible. if you walk past a radio station, you get far more energy. so between all those things i don't have a concern about using a cell phone, but i'm not suggesting that you shouldn't worry about it, and if you really care, then you ought to use a hands-free telephone. people that are really worried about it just give up their cell phones. i could count the number of people in the world that do that on one hand. >> host: what are the similarities between your 1973 brick phone and the iphone today? do they share traits? >> guest: well, the, the brick talked and listened. that was it.
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it's very hard to buy a phone like that. there is a phone like that on the market that my wife invented, as a matter of fact, called the jitterbug, and you can buy one. at the moment the jitterbug is focused on older people because older people are smart enough to know that a phone doesn't necessary thely have to have 100 functions. doesn't necessarily have to have 100 functions. you don't have to have all these other features -- >> host: yes, you do. >> host: are you saying you don't tweet? >> guest: and twitter. and an instruction manual that's bigger and heavier than the phone itself. so all we could do with that first telephone -- and, by the way, all we even imagined that we could do was to have superior telephone that was not chain today the wall or to your desk -- the only defense we have about not having a better vision was there were no computers in
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1973, if we could imagine that, no personal computers, and there were no cordless phones, there were no closed-circuit cameras, no digital cameras. so it was even, it was very hard for us to imagine that somebody would someday try to consolidate all these things into one little box. >> host: what kind of cell phone do you have? >> guest: it depends when you ask me. i always have the latest cell phone, and i try every cell phone out only because people like you keep asking me. right now i'm using a droid because i want to get some experience with the android operating system, and it's, i so far have some pretty favorable results. now, i've had an iphone which i gave to my grandson, and which he used for three months and i had to upgrade to another version. and i've tried many other
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phones. for my day-to-day conversations, i actually use a jitterbug, so i carry two phones. one very simple phone that i can flip open that has a very simple phone book and nothing else, but when i want to twitter, tweet -- >> host: tweet. >> guest: then i use my droid. >> host: one last quick question. >> host: you're on an advisory commission, and they advise the commerce department on spectrum matters. can you give us a sense of what you would hope that advisory committee would, would accomplish in advising the commerce department on spectrum? >> guest: well, i take these things very seriously, and you've heard all of my opinions, so you can tell i'm not bashful, peter. and so we've got some really smart people, including yourself on this thing, and we are advising the commission or the
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commerce department, the assistant secretary specifically in a number of areas. we're trying to establish incentives as an example so that people who have spectrum are incentivized to actually use it more efficiently and maybe let other people share the spectrum with them, so there's a way of doing that. we are advising the assistant secretary on how to respond to a congressional requirement to do a spectrum inventory. we're advising them in areas that have to do with the transparency of who is using the spectrum. so it's an interesting committee because there are some very bright people on it. it's also interesting because, in the sense that there are disagreements that probably surprises you that all these smart people don't necessarily agree with each other about everything. >> host: and we're going to have to leave it there. marty cooper, the inventer of the cell phone. thank you for coming to "the
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communicators." paul kirby, "telecommunications reports." >> you've been watching "the communicators," c-span's weekly look at the issues shaping the digital age. if you missed any of this program, you can see "the communicators" again tonight in its prime time slot at 8 eastern right here on c-span2.
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>> this weekend booktv is heading west with live coverage from the tucson festival of books. starting saturday, hear from authors about their experiences living on the mexican border, timothy egan on teddy roosevelt's legacy. sunday, panels on writing about history, the war in afghanistan, world war ii and the military
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and leadership. the tucson festival of books this weekend on c-span2's booktv. for more information go to >> and now a panel looks as counterinsurgency operations in afghanistan. part of an all-day conference examining the history of counterinsurgency from vietnam to present day warfare. speakers include ronald newman, former u.s. ambassador to afghanistan. co-hosted by johns hopkins and texas tech universities, this is about two hours. >> thank you very much. my maim is steve, identify the directer of the vietnam center at texas tech university. it's my pleasure to be here with my colleagues from our university to be co-hosting this conference with dr. bill weiss and his staff here. i think we are off to a remarkable start in this morning's first panel's amazed me. i've learned a tremendous amount. and i'm looking forward to this next set of discussions and
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panels as dr. colin jackson and his panel will discuss afghanistan. so with that, dr. colin jackson. >> yeah. good morning. i think this is a neat opportunity at this conference, we discussed the vietnam experience yesterday in some detail and touched on a lot of the complicated problems of iraq. i do think it's interesting in a conference titled lessons learned, lessons lost, lessons forgotten, this type of thing, that the question of what we mean by a lesson turns out to be a nontrivial issue. and i do think as mike bicker said in his opening remarks, there's a danger of us applying, quote-unquote, lessons that either aren't valid from past historical cases or don't travel well. so i think that in almost all of these discussions and certainly the one in afghanistan, we have to ask two sets of questions. one, to the things we think, the generalizations we draw from a case like vietnam or iraq, are
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they actually valid explanations of what actually occur inside those wars? and the second test is even if they were valid in those cases, do they travel to the ones i care about now? so the question is, in many cases here did what we think worked in iraq, you know, does that thing travel well to the afghan problem? and i think the iraq panel did a great job of teeing this up by giving us a pretty good rendition, i think, of the orthodox interpretation surge and why security improved in iraq and maybe in the last panel here today we'll see some dissenting views i think, because i know some of the people on the panel. but i asked this panel which is an embarrassment of riches in terms of experience in afghanistan to talk about three broad areas, that is, what inferences should we draw from past historical cases, iraq -- very recent -- and vietnam, more distant. which should we reject or
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resist, and then the broadest of all questions which i think is in the back of everyone's head, what do woe make of the current -- we make of the current american strategy and the aims implicit in it? are there better alternatives or are we roughly on the right track? without further delay, i'll turn it over to gilles dorronsoro for his remarks. >> thank you. sorry. well, actually, i was interested when people ask me to compare because i'm always telling my student that comparison is not the way to go, should never think about comparing things, it's too complicated. [laughter] you know? so i would start with four points very quickly. the first being that we have to
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be extremely careful about what we should compare. for example, comparing afghanistan and iraq we see five points immediately. don't have to think a lot about it. iraqi insurgency was extremely fragmented and the insurgency in afghanistan is not. second, the iraqi insurgency was with attacking the old social iraqi order directly, the tribe or let's say -- [inaudible] and the taliban have managed to play very kleopferly with the tribal system, weakening the tribal system but in a very indirect way. third, iraqi is about fighting mostly in urban areas, and afghanistan, of course, is more rural.
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fourth, of course there is sanctuary. the iraqi insurgency had no real sanctuary, nothing to do with the kind of -- [inaudible] pakistan is offering the taliban. and for this reason we have to address what these comparable between the two situations. and we have to be careful not making comparison that is too far. the second point is that very often comparison give negative results, and negative results like in -- [inaudible] are very interesting. comparison for me is mostly useful when you can get an idea of what is missing in your context. for example, in afghanistan we know that we do not have political parties.
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that's a key point. and you know that in iraq political parties, whatever they are, have been a key in the political process that is going on. or if we take another kind of comparison, we know that the leadership is important, but we'll come back later. the third point is that comparisons should not be a kind of general comparison. i don't see the point comparing vietnam and afghanistan. what i see is local comparison under control comparison, i would say. for example, what about decision twars escalation in -- towards'slation in seat ma'am and afghanistan? -- vietnam and afghanistan? and, fourth, i think comparison is useful even if it's not
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politically correct, and i think we refuse, most of us refuse to see the fact that the soviet expanse in afghanistan is extremely, extremely interesting. the british one. and we should have worked on that much more. we should have worked on that in 2002, 2003 when people following the situation the trend was extremely negative. and basically in 2005 i wouldn't say over, but the situation was so bad that we knew that we were heading to major difficulties. so now what kind of comparison can we do? first i would say it's about escalation and goals, and i will have this kind of comparison, but i am not an historian. i am thought to know much more about vietnam, but two things are important. the first is that in vietnam the
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united states had the problem about defining the goal, and i would say that there was overemphasis of the importance of vietnam. when you're reading text the feeling that -- [inaudible] as a world power. it's the domino theory, nobody's going to trust the united states again, we are going to lose everything, you know the story. well, i mean, not that bad. the fact that the soviet union made those mistakes. so i would say in the case of afghanistan we should be very careful of not doing a lot of -- [inaudible] afghanistan's going to be the end of the world and we'll have another --
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[inaudible] i do not think it's the case. anyway, that's the point that should be addressed, you know? for mostly political reason. politicians tend to have a discourse about the fight, about what could have been. that is not specifically russian. the second thing that is linked to the first is that we have some kind of control problem, i would say. i don't know exactly what that is, so i call it control. [laughter] it's about this economy called point of view that -- [inaudible] a better outcome. it's absolutely there, it's everywhere. coming from a point of view that is slightly different because, as you have noticed, i am
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french. [laughter] i think it's a major problem in afghanistan. it was in vietnam, too, you know. the idea to put more things in is better is completely wrong. in afghanistan you put 100 million more, the taliban are going to get at least ten million because plenty of things. you send more arms in afghanistan, the taliban will get part of the arms and so on and so on. you're creating a war economy, you're destroying the country, you establish high-level corruption. so this idea that you don't -- [inaudible] the unintended consequences of more resources. and that's a key point, and sadly enough i don't see -- what i have seen since 2001 is every year more resources, every year the deterioration of the security, and at the end the
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last surge is just the end of this process. it's probably the end because after summer 2011 we stop, we do not send more reinforcements. kind of much more complex. so with that escalation difficulty to predict the importance of the conflict, i think it was also in vietnam the case in vietnam to find bad metrics or realistic objectionives. -- objectives. [inaudible] okay? and in the case of afghanistan it's more about unrealistic objectives. there is a love of number in the u.s. military, basically, that is extremely misleading. and i would take just one
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example. the number of the afghan army is supposed to be 250,000 in less than three years. it's absolutely, it's not, not in this world. i mean, it cannot happen. as a political objective, of course, since it's difficult to argue with this kind of objective because it's kind of technical, the newspapers are printing that. it's creating this kind of general illusion, and at the end -- [inaudible] because people are in a hurry and they want to do it quick. of course, as you know, it's not working very well. so that was, i would say, the vietnam comparison. the second comparison i would, i will make very quickly, i think, is about the iraqi surge. i already said that i think that basically there was no lesson to
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to -- i didn't say exactly that, but it was very difficult to compare iraq and afghanistan because the structure is different at the beginning. but there is this thing about the counterinsurgency. you have this mid lodge cam thing -- mid logical thing that the counterinsurgency work in iraq -- that's not the case as far as i know -- and so it's going to work in afghanistan. and here you have not only the counterinsurgency as the iraqi phenomenon, but also this idea that with the book, you know, about counterinsurgency that there is a new doctrine that is working that is producing concrete and good effect. in fact, it's not the case. first, because the structure has not been understood. clearly, the comparison between what was done in iraq or even afghanistan and the french
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theories, basically the content in the '60s is totally irrelevant, i think, because the context was so different. when you're seriously reading french officers, you understand that the context with iraq and afghanistan is so totally different that they don't see what you could -- [inaudible] the second thing is that the question of cost is not clearly understood. as usual. and the old theory is deepfully flawed, you know? let's take an example. marjah province probably over 15,000 men mobilizeed for something that has no strategic importance. and if you're following the
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counterinsurgency doctrine and you don't want the taliban to come back in two days, you're best to leave your troops there. 5,000 probably, maybe more, just to contain the taliban with. at the same time, marjah -- [inaudible] you need your troops to do things that are much more important. for example, trying to do something in kandahar that is going to be extremely difficult. so what we are seeing is that there is no actually contention, doctrine right now in the u.s. army that has something to do with the real world in afghanistan, and i think in iraq too. you are, the theory that is totally disconnected from what is going on already in afghanistan. what is really going on is not counter insurgency. it's been done for political reasons, so it's washington-led strategy, if i may say that. and underground it's --
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[inaudible] it's targeting elimination of taliban commander, and it's to a certain extent going to be a negotiation. that what is going on. it's not counterinsurgency because just we cannot do it. so i'm very, the only, the only thing i will take from iraq is do not build mythical successes, you know, in iraq or afghanistan. you remember cue gnaw? that was a success in afghanistan. when you see the situation in all these places and marjah is going to be like that in one year. so let's be extremely careful, let's have theory that really
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are what's going on on the ground and not be a disconnected way. and i think i will end with one remark, just one remark that we have to think about in the case of the afghan war, it's the soviet experience. we have to understand how they work because we are in the a position that is in certain aspect comparable. we are working, basically, with the same social groups, and it's interesting. i was two weeks ago in a meeting. it was about afghanistan, so we took two days. and the afghans were there basically were people who were belonging to the communist party in the '80s and now they are working with us.
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because, after all, when you have opinion a communist, you're thinking that modernity's good, that the women should vote, and after all, why the americans -- [inaudible] so for this reason what we are doing in afghanistan is sometimes not very far from what the soviet union was doing in the last period after '86 basically. and we should think more about that. the way they were securing the cities, the way they were dealing with the urban population and so on and so on. so i will, i will stop that on this very optimistic note. thank you. [applause] >> okay. i just wanted to, just a few comments about some comparisons
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to vietnam and other insurgencies. i agree a lot with dr. dorronsoro, a lot of skepticism comparing to vietnam. but like any insurgency in the world, obviously, there are lessons to be drawn from it, so it's not a wasted effort, it's important. it's not that vietnam has any special lessons to learn for afghanistan, it just happens to be a war that the united states fought and that the united states military remembers, and so that's why we come back to that comparison. same thing with the comparison to iraq. there's nothing about iraq that's special vis-a-vis otherinsurgencies around the world, it just happens to be a war that we fought and that we remember, so we we always come back to it. maybe the differences are more important than the similarities. i also think the comparison to the war against the soviets in the 1980s and also the british at the turn of the 19th century in many parts of afghanistan is a much more apt comparison and a lot more lessons to teach us
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about what we're doing right now. we operate out of the exact same basis that the soviets operated out of. bagram air force base was a soviet-built base. kandahar airfield, a soviet-built base. a lot of the bases we operate and staff are soviet bases. same logistical networks that the soviets used, we face a lot of the very same tactics against our forces and convoys that the soviets faced in the 1980s. ieds and ambushes in some of the very same places. a lot of the leaders of the insurgency that we're facing today, the truly dangerous gray-beard commanders, the guys, the real serious commanders, those are people who cut their teeth fighting the soviet army during the 1980s, so there's a lot of lessons that have not been explored. even tactics against the british in waziristan, something to
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think about. however, it is a negative comparison. the soviets obviously lost the war in afghanistan, they alienated every single afghan. they dropped mines shaped like children's toys, they alienated the population in a major way, so there are certainly very few positive lessons we can learn from the soviets. most of them negative ones but, nonetheless, something you should think about. i'm going to make a few more comments about afghanistan. one point you should never underestimate the enemy you're facing there. and a lot of times they're a lot more sophisticated than we thought in iraq. like the viet cong during the vietnam war, they're very, very good at building political organizations at the local level, political parties, having operatives operating in small villages and building political institutions and political parties and marrying their strategies with their military tactics, something you should never underestimate. we are very bad at that.
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we cannot go into areas and build political organizations, political institutions. the government that we pack in afghanistan today -- back afghanistan has very little support in the country, a system of pay onage, political parties, that's the stuff of politics, and the karzai government does not have it. the province do not have that, and the district golfs below the pro-- governors below the provincial level do not have the strength they need to run the country. however, the taliban does have that. they move into local areas and build political parties, political organizations. they understand how the tribes work, how local politics works, they understand that two villages in remote areas don't need a justice system. they don't need, you know, police. they don't need government institutions. what they need is someone to broker disagreements over water or land rights or cattle-grazing lands between these two villages and tribes. so you have these taliban
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roaming mullahs brokering agreements because they understand how the local system works, and they're very, very good at it. the vietnamese forces were very good as political organization at the grassroots. and that is what will make a sustainable political apparatus in afghanistan work, and i think the second point i want to make is you never want to underestimate just how weak the government is in afghanistan and just how, how close it is to collapse and just how much it depends upon the presence of the u.s. forces in the districts, the provinces, how much it depends on foreign aid and money and resources and military equipment, logistical support to its army, medical, you know, evacuation, you know, whatever it may be. it, you know, it's impossible to underestimate just how much they depend on us for their existence and their support, and if we pull back and move back prematurely, that system will collapse very, very quickly, and the taliban will resurge back into afghanistan almost without a shot being fired. ..
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and if we pull out the taliban will surge back because they have a political organization and they have a military organization as well married along with it. i think a lot of what mr. ricks and, you know, linda robinson said about the importance of foreign internal defense that this should have been a primary mission and that's true of any insurgency around the world. unless you want to occupy that country permanently as a colonial force and use your own
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institutions and your own military and civil service like the british did in india if you want to leave that country ever, then you have to build up indigenous forces and at the local level so that they can sustain and operate on their own. we have not done that. foreign internal defense, building indigenous forces it's a secondary mission. what do we read about in the news. retaking of marjah and all these big military in the source and we don't hear from the training and the equipping of the police and institutions that could function without our continued presence and that remains the case today. and you have a lot of guys who have gone out taking enormous risk and the training teams, they take a lot of risk. they operate without support often without air support. a lot of them have been, you know -- just -- they take on a lot of risk and yet they're not seen as the primary mission and that was a mistake, has been a mistake all through the war. a third point i'd like to make is that a lot what linda said about iraq. and some of the other panelists is true about afghanistan. and that is we ignore the
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political situation in the country in favor of focusing on our own military operations. we're going to go in and we're going to clear marjah and we'll clear this area and set up these forces and we're going to set up, you know, these bases and that's important. that's part of counterinsurgency and that's part of patrolling but it's just a means to an end. you have to understand how your military operations are going to shape the political environment for clear political agendas and goals. and we just don't have those in afghanistan. we don't have them in the districts and we don't have them in the provinces. we have to start thinking about it very quickly 'cause the military operationsçó only mean something if they achieve some kind of political agenda and no one understands that better than the taliban. and the last point i'll make is that one key difference that afghanistan -- one way that afghanistan is different than iraq but that is very similar to vietnam is that afghanistan is a rural insurgency. it is a rural guerilla war. and, you know, you go read all the books about guerilla war and you read mao and all of those fellows and you will learn that rural guerilla wars are much harder to fight for our government. it's much easier for a government and a conventional
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military force to go into a city to lock it down to grid it out, set up its outposts and lock down and control that city just like we controlled the cities in iraq. it's much easier to lock downço k,a city than it is vast it's more true in!b afghanistan er+ásjjjp &hc% at the population in the afghans live in thousands of small tiny little self-governing villages spread across this vast terrain is very difficult geography, a destroyed transportation infrastructure. that means we're going to have disperse our forces out across this wide area to be able to control the country and that is going to be a huge weakness for us but a great strength for the insurgents who can move around in small numbers from villages to villages at night controlling these areas at night. so afghanistan is going to be a much tougher war for us than iraq was. and it's going to be much more indeterminate in its end results because there is no great political force that's going to -- that's going to rise up and take over the country like it did in iraq. and we're not going to be able
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to shut down the populated areas and control them like we did in iraq. and so the result is going to be much more indeterminate and longer drawn out and a much more difficult war. and that runs against conventional wisdom because it went in afghanistan. we thought we won and we declared victory and it was the war we won. we didn't realize the taliban was in a tactical retreat they waited four five years and they came back in a storm and practically took over southern afghanistan and they'll do it again. they'll do tactical retreat for a couple of years and pull our forces and they will surge back and they will hit us again. do not underestimate the sophistication of the army and that's all i've got. [applause] >> gilles and i have been agreeing on a lot of facts and disagreeing about a lot of conclusions for some time and i suppose one could have a back and forth.
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but then i would totally lose the thread of what i was going to say to you. i share the doubt about how relevant vietnam is to the afghan issue. but i think it is still very worthwhile to have this kind of a conference because while specialists may look outside our experience to what the russians did to what the british did, others as they look for lessons, the nation as a whole looks to its own experience. and so we are in many respects condemned to talk about the relevance of vietnam even if people get it all wrong and, therefore, one as well might some effort to get it right. so i think that does make this sort of thing worthwhile. as i was thinking about this, what to say, i thought one place where one needs to begin but which one needs to add in -- and
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let me say also that i agree with something gilles said about comparison is a useful learning technique as long as you don't try to make a cookie cutter out of it. but it is a way of shining a light on things you might not have thought about. i don't know anything about korea or colombia but i read about those things but i found they helped me understand and think about new issues in afghanistan. and one of the issues that i think we need to pay some attention to when we look at this comparison is the very different nature of the enemy. now, i have to say, yes, i'm one of the few who straddles the line but what you learned as a platoon leader in vietnam and what you learn as an ambassador in afghanistan are probably seriously different and may not be the basis for real comparison. but in any event, we faced in afghanistan and in vietnam an
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extremely well-organized coordinated enemy capable of extensive command and control. we face a very different enemy, some aspects of command and control, but a much more decentralized war. many more different reasons that bring the combatants into the war. and in many cases a kind of franchise infrastructure. although at times they are capable of exercising real command and control as they have in certain battles, as they did outside of kandahar in 2006 where they ordered people to dig in and stand and fight.ç so one shouldn't discount the command and control but as we look to our own tactics, we shouldn't just try to learn sort of looking inward but looking at the enemy. we have to design strategy with reference to the enemy.
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as one looks at generalizations, what can one learn? i would say the starting point is resist the simple and that seems to be where a good deal of our news media has been stuck in sort of sweeping simple generalizations, most of which are someplace between wrong and stupid. [laughter] >> but it doesn't mean there aren't real similarities or real things to learn. it's just -- it's not at that level. so that, for instance, i agree when linda robinson talked about the need to work more at the local level with local forces. but here you get into something that i will come back to over and over again, which is it's all about execution. it's not about policy. you can re-enforce at the local level and find what you have reinforced are the militia commanders who are largely thugs, although, not all, that
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you have built a temporary measure of stability or quiet in an area you built absolutely on sand. you're re-enforcing people who will not work together, who have a long record of double crossing each other, of turning on a dime and whatever stability you have achieved at the end of the day in that area, you have achieved absolutely nothing. or you can find inç some areas that you are re-enforcing something that is a bit larger, that is a community group, real tribe, that you are connecting it in some way to the government possibly through those forces that are going to have to come to their rescue when they get attacked because the taliban make a regular practice of destroying tribal elements that try to stand against them and we shouldn't forget that this has been tried several times and gone badly. you could produce something that is connected to the government that connects back and forth between them and you could have in someplace a success.
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whether or not you'll achieve it, i don't know. but what i'm saying is, it's not about the -- you have to get way beyond to work with tribes or work with locals and get down to a very high level of detail. and how you do it. this is very difficult for us because it requires working rather slowly and acquiring a great level of local knowledge. and we have a terrible pressure to work quickly and, therefore, if something starts to work, we want to run away with it and apply it in many places using many people who are on short tours whov" superficial knowledge of what they're dealing with.ç and i think that is one of the issues. whether it is an issue for vietnam, i'm not sure. the hubris of our -- how much we know is a constant pitfall. humility does not come easy at high policy ranks, i know.
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and i don't claim to have a good deal. -- a great deal. we have an excess of assumption that we know best. it comes up interestingly enough when we look at some of the issues of reform, corruption, karzai, of which there is much to be critical in afghanistan. certainly much to be critical about karzai. but he's not always wrong. in my experience. and i think it is very important when one looks -- this is maybe another comparison perhaps more with the russian experience but also withs8pñw.ñ afghan history too much social change has been incredibly destabilizing. whether one looks at the reaction to king almanula taking his wife off -- not taking his wife off and getting pictures with her. it's the degree of social change at the village. when one looks at the afghan communists we tend to forget that two years afghan indigenous
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communist government and they failed and the soviets came in. they failed because they alienated people massively. aside from the fact that they were in many respects incompetent and busy killing each other. but they failed in trying to produce massive social change at a village level and they produced massive reaction to them from people who wouldn't have any idea what a communist is. it's not an ideological. i think gilles can argue with me. i think they tried way too much way too fast and they produced massive reaction. if we got all of the reforms corruption chased down, war criminals and everything else we want, we could have a really, really massive reaction. i guarantee you we lose the war. if we have nothing, we build too little structure. and we have nothing to stand on and to fight. but success is going to be an art form in the middle. it's not going to be pronouncements about success.
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i don't know what vietnam teaches us positively. i think one can say that one when decides the government is the problem and then goes from that reasoning to change the government, one has a lesson in vietnam but it is not one we ought necessarily to wish to repeat. and then one gets revolving doors after that. that is not an improvement. so that is perhaps a useful lesson when people say to me as they unfortunately do, is karzai going to be enough. my answer is twofold is i don't know. and second is he's all we've got. i think the immediate problem with karzai is we need to get beyond the theory -- theorizing of a great many afghans that we're trying to overthrow him. we're trying to undercut him, which a great many afghans including, i suspect, those in the palace believe because it
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fits the conspiratorial nature of their entire life experience. and what it does it creates an enormous problem for everything we want to talk about.s because we need a dialog about individual reforms which moves back -- which allows us to debate and discuss how much is too much. how much is -- how little is too little. how much change -- if you change a guy, what's the political price? what are you destabilizing in tribes? can you afford to do that? can you afford not to do that? that is a complex dialog in which we will not always be right. but it is extraordinarily difficult to have that discussion if you're trying to have it through a filter on the other side that is asking why are they asking me this? is it part of the effort to undercut me, to remove me? and we have -- we have spent a year getting ourselves into a very bad fix on that ground which i think i would argue would go back to this last
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administration. it's not a product of this administration but it is one of the strategic dilemmas that if we know we can't or unlikely to solve it in the vietnam model, then maybe we need to find another way to solve it, which is -- but it's probably not by yelling in public. i don't know. it never works with my wife. i don't know why people think it works with foreign leaders. [laughter] >> and there are great differences. there was a point made -- i forgot who made it this morning about the difference of -- the impossibility of the same unity of command we have in iraq. i can only emphasize that when you have -- i think it's a little more than now but when i left it was 36 contributors and 60 economic donors. and they are sovereign nations. and so we get caught up -- and then it goes back to implementation or execution, if ;mñyfvbu)rj -- if we only add better strategy.
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if we only had somebody in charge. and this is like chase ago mirage when you ought to be on you have something that is not too different from the old
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yeah, i basically do. i think the one big difference in this strategy isçor first putting thejfxd pp'1q%=9 although that was not unknown to us in the past.'pcçgáa5i] but it is that that -- theñi strategies beginning to drive resources
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i don't think you can get around this logic. no matter how much one might dislike a part of it and no matter what the debilities are. the logic is simply compelling. most of the arguments i hear against it amount not to logic but to a kind of i don't like it. for which i'm deeply sorry. let me just conclude that i think as we look at this, there's so much more one could talk about. by the way, it gets much worse when you get the unity of donors. all i can say this is knots new. there's a wonderful churchill quote to the effect that the story of alliance warfare is a story of mutual recrimination and one might as well accept that and get on with it. but i do think that as we look -- there's a couple of things one can say. unless you are able to
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provide -- this is someplace where i think you can argue is it actually possible but unless you can provide a fair degree of security to people who are threatened, nothing else matters. secondly, if you look at 60, 70 years of post-colonial developmental experience in the third world, there is no place where one gets rapidly to a well organized functioning government on the start point of chaos. you cannot do that in the time period of a war. maybe you can this time but i think we are talking about a lot of rather unrealistic expectations. we talk about the necessity for things without talking about the requirement of time. and then we have an illusion that because it's necessary it could be done if only we would work at it harder. sometimes that's true. but not always. but if you look at the
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historical experience of development, it does not fill you with optimism that you can go quickly. that being the case, i would suggest that there is a requirement for a level of military success perhaps not victory but a lot more than what we have now that is going to have to proceed success in development and even to some extent success in governance. that is a very difficult conclusion. i am not arguing thereby that those things don't matter. or that -- if one understands me to be saying that we need a military strategy for victory then you've not understood a single thing i've been saying. but i'm saying when one looks at timelines, one is going to have to have a much higher degree of push-back and military success in order to change the structure of the battlefield and the possibilities because that's what history tells you about timelines.
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and we ought to be a lot more realistic about that fact and we are back to looking at whether that's possible. but i'm afraid we've adapted a discourse which linda robinson, i thought, had a very good phrase called it over mechanistic but we're trying to build in our own model and there again there may be something we have to look at but not vietnam but a great many insurgents. what works in fighting? they would have thought the concept that you couldn't have a military victory if counterinsurgency to be bizarre and incomrehencible but, of course, he could blow people out canons.
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i'm not saying you could get it but i'm saying we're very much imprisoned in a habit of both how you -- how you build, how you train and there's probably more room at other conferences to look at successful counterinsurgencies. we used to do that with vietnam and we came back to malaya and that wasn't a guilty of example. -- a good example. the ones that i have been -- that i have seen that have been won have been won by enormous brutality, frankly, but there's a comparative purpose that i think we have to look at because when you come down to it, it is first of all the strategy -- the strategy is in my judgment about right. there's a peace which we will never be able to have the control over we want, which is the afghan part. and there is a time requirement
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for success in the military that exceeds the time requirement for success in development. but we don't know. we can't do it because up to now on the basis of our resourcing we've never tried. [applause] >> this is great. the luxury and the pitfall of going last is that you have the benefit of all the good comments of everyone that's come before you and in my case here today, i find myself in general agreement with almost everything that i've heard. i've been asked to talk about these three broad questions a little bit. i have a question that i'll toss out that might be something that we might want to look at somewhere down the road. but one of the stark differences that keeps being pointed out between vietnam and afghanistan
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and iraq and afghanistan is this nature of coalition warfare and the degree now up to 43, i believe, troop contributing nations in afghanistan. and it begs the question, i think, has the coalition ever prevailed in a counterinsurgency? and i'm not -- i'm not sure. i thought about that just very quickly. i'm not sure i can come up with a historical example where a coalition has actually prevailed. so something to think of down the road. so which insights from vietnam or iraq ought to be applied to our problems in ago? -- in afghanistan? that was the first question colin tossed out there. i'm going to look at it mainly from my experience here almost exclusively in washington for -- since 2002 through 2009. and there's several things that i think -- do translate well between vietnam and iraq and afghanistan. the first that i would highlight -- many i mention have been mentioned.
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irregular warfare is a long-term endeavor. there are more multiple shock clocks out there as the ambassador just said. they are all ticking at a different rate. you know, general abizaid said we're now in the long war and then several of us who are working in afghanistan said yes and afghanistan is the longest of the long wars. but unfortunately that definition of how long long is considerably different depending on which audience you're talking to. and we have to win at home and we have to win on the road. we have u.s. domestic opinion, the degree of tolerance that the united states public will put up with, the degree of tolerance among the united states public which, quite frankly, in both iraq and afghanistan is considerably more disconnected from the warrior in many ways than our u.s. public was during vietnam. we went from a conscript draft army to now an all-volunteer force sequestered on army
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installations and were it not for the extraordinary efforts of, frankly, some of the members of the united states and international media the degree of connection that we have with the soldier, the soldier, sailor, airmen and marines today wouldn't really exist there because we have a separate class of american citizens essentially that have gone on to become the defenders and et cetera, et cetera. i think there's a considerably different dynamic there and then that translates in to how this shock clock and the american psyche kind of runs. we certainly have the shock clock, the timing, the watch that's run in allies and our capitals. certainly among the afghan public and the afghan government and most certainly among the taliban, the insurgents and the broader enemy. so each of these public opinions -- each of these publics matter tremendously to how successfully we will or will not be in coming to our aims and our ends. and each one of those clocks, as i said, is running on a
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different cycle. secondly -- or thirdly, i think, legitimacy matters. i don't find myself in agreement too often with tom johnson but i do agree with him and chris mason in an article that they did in december that essential said legitimacy is a scenic quanan of insurgency. i think that's true. i think there's multiple levels of legitimacy that has to exist. there has to be sort of this broader moral legitimacy and that plays very strongly in the u.s. psyche and the degree of public and congressional support that a long term -- this longest of the long wars will require. there's certainly political legitimacy and these legitimacy factors have to be applied both inside of afghanistan among the afghans, the afghan government but also among the united states and our allies. and among u.s. leaders and allied leaders.
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the challenges of the governments of south vietnam were in many ways similar to the challenges of legitimacy faced by the government in afghanistan. and our relationship vis-a-vis those governments face those same degree of challenges regarding legitimacy. and that manifests itself in a lot of ways. it's not just the political legitimacy of a democratically elected government but it's the conduct of the government, the conduct of the people. you certainly have seen and heard and participated in the great debate over the last year or so about the degree of corruption. well, it goes back longer than just the last six or eight months. in fact, i can recall being in a meeting in june of 2005 where secretary rumsfeld turns to us and he said, you know, john abizaid just made a comment to me and he said that this problem of corruption could be as big or bigger a problem of the insurgency. that's the middle of june of 2004, rather. it's not changed. it's always been out there.
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it's just the degree of focus on it. and i think our realization now that these somewhat less tangible aspects, the psychosocial aspects are the dominant aspects and need to have a very much higher profile in the way we prosecute our strategies and policies. and that leads me to another point that's very closely related and that's the issue of trust and trustworthiness. and i say the trust and trustworthiness is a very fragile commodity. i've been very interested in all the comments since the change of administration here in the united states in particular but i would say it probably existed long before that. that kept asking the question, do we have a partner that we can trust in hamid karzai? can we trust the afghan government? do we have a partner in the afghan government? well, i got to tell you in my experience -- and i don't want to speak for the ambassador but i'd be willing to bet that he would agree with me that every
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time we were asking that question, there were 100 afghans asking the same question about the trustworthiness and the stick-to-itness of the united states and the government of the allies. and i think there is a very close parallel in some ways to aspects of the vietnam experience. lewis sorely contends that the south vietnam government and the army of south vietnam fought extremely well when they had the full backing and the psychological support of the united states. when they knew that we were there by their side and when we had their back. but they fought very poorly in 1975 despite the considerable investment in growth of the then-vietnamese national security force insert afghan national security forces. despite years of investment across a broad spectrum but to quote sorely they run out of
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that conviction no doubt helped by the realization that their sometime-ally the united states had abandoned them. this psychological component that's there and this degree of debate about who can trust whom is a two-way street. and when we think it's about whether or not we can trust ham hamid karzai and his government with missed. and this portion i'll wrap up i think there are multiple inflection points in any -- in any struggle or in any war and you can argue about whether the iraq surge was the inflection point in iraq. i would contend that there were some off-shoots there that would probably be lumped in the surge category but i think if you peel it back a little bit more, there's a little finer point that we could make that i do think has direct application it off afghanistan. -- application of afghanistan.
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i think it's important to look at president maliki's basra moment. when the decision was made as i understand -- and i'm not an iraq expert but as i understand largely without any u.s. knowledge ahead of the decision, that president maliki sent a significant force into basra. that indicated in many ways that you had a leader that was willing to craple with the hardest part of the problem and instill a certain amount of legitimacy among the iraqi people about their particular president. i think in many ways we're still awaiting a hamid karzai moment. we've not yet seen it and it might be a good inflection point should one occur. secondly and directly related to the surge it's not so much the number of troops that were sent but the decision taken by president bush. set aside the argument about whether or not going into iraq was the right decision or not. the fact was we were there.
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and against considerable opinion within the professional ranks of both our diplomats and our military, president bush took the hard decision to actually go the route of the surge. and that signaled in my opinion a very strong commitment and a willingness to stick it out despite very high political costs that then reverberated through the iraqi people and the iraqi government and it changed the dynamic of what it meant to have the american forces on the ground there. now as the previous panel pointed out, whether that ultimately was the right decision or a fruitful decision and one that's going to lead us to the right answer, i think that chapter has yet to be written. so which inferences or lessons should we resist? i absolutely agree with ambassador neumann. it's not in the news media but in the policy and strategy ranks right here in washington. there are so many things that are going on. there's so much that's on the
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president's plait and the security council members' plates that it's easy sometimes to fall into a bumper sticker depth of understanding and application of what's really very, very difficult and very, very complex strategy and policy issues. so we ought to watch out for -- and don't confuse catchphrases for real policy and real strategy. we got to stay away from these catchphrases such as, you know, clear and hold as linda said or body count or population-centric. those aren't strategies. those are just catchphrase and see buzz words that belie the degree of difficulty and sophistication that's actually required. it's far, far too complicated and far too nuanced to boil down to a cable news sound bite. also, we fall in a trap i think frequently of trying to apply rational actor models to an endeavor that's inherently irrational. and i've seen that time and again here in washington. well, why would so-and-so do such and such? well, i don't know.
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it is inherently irrational and one of the things we have to fall into this trap of wanting to apply, in fact, forcing ourselves to apply rational actor models to something as complicated and as inherently irrational as warfare in particular in some cases insurgencies. and then thirdly don't equate the scale of our involvement. vietnam over 500,000 troops, 58,000 killed to the impact on the psyche of the american people. i think the ambassador said we make our comparisons to vietnam because that's what the american people live through. they are living through this new generation as linda robinson very well pointed out. the longest sustained period of combat since vietnam. and despite what i said about the disconnectedness of the american people to the american soldier, i still think that the duration and the degree of
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violence concentrated in very short -- it's not the same kind of sustained combat. there's high levels of violence in short bursts and i think it's having an impact on the american psyche and i think we have to consider that as we go forward as we look at this next iteration where we can see ourselves involved around the world. then thirdly, what do we make of the current set of strategies? one of the questions that was posed portrayed where we find ourselves in 2010 as somehow a new strategy. and i don't think we have a new strategy. i think we have a repackaging of in many ways a strategy that has existed since 2002. when ambassador khalilzad was the director of afghanistan at the national security council in 2002 prior to going off and becoming the ambassador, he was the principal author of a document that was called "the action plan for afghanistan."
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it was -- this was done in 2002. it was an integrated plan. it had multiple lines of operation. it talked about security, governance, economics, rule of law. it was synchronized and linked with our objectives for the bonn conference. and i would contend that those opportunities that existed in the relatively peaceful period of 2002 were essentially squandered. move forward to 2003 to 2005, lieutenant general barno, my current boss, is there as the combined forces command, afghanistan commander. ambassador khalilzad is there in kabul and we had that was published at the time called the campaign plan for afghanistan. it had at least five pillars prominent among them was a huge statement that said the center of gravity is the afghan people. it talked about both counterterrorism and counterinsurgency tasks. it specifically mentions in a fairly lengthy portion the importance of legitimacy.
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you shortly thereafter had what became known as karzai's 15 points so the rules about how to protect the population. the hard knock policies versus the soft knock policies. and it very prominently mentioned the important role of reconciliation as an ultimate political accommodation. this is in 2003. by 2006 we had action plan 2. now up to 8 or 9 lines of playstation it's implicit population centric. it resulted in a joint campaign plan signed by ambassador neumann and eikenberry as population-centric as our documents had become, our execution was enemy-centric. and one of the reasons i'll get to in just a moment. by november of 2008, we went through what was called at the time among the intercircle the loot review which once again reaffirmed the necessity of a population-centric coin
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approach. it identified increased requirements. it was an inherently joint civil military strategy. and it broadened our requirements to include those of regional actors and actors and then ultimately we find ourselves in 2009/2010 with the two reviews conducted by the obama administration, general mcchrystal's assessment and what's being packaged and marketed now is this new approach that highlights population-centric strategy. to boil this all down, i'd say there's not a whole lot of new there. there are different views of what needs to be emphasized. the greatest -- so it's very consistent from 2002 through 2010. but most egregiously what's most consistent is the absolute lack of resourcing of a well-put-together, well-thoughtout plan, with the exception of 2005 following a sizeable request for funding on
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the nonmilitary side by ambassador khalilzad, every ambassador since then has put in a large request on the nonkinetic population-centric, if you will, side. and in every single case washington has nearly cut that request in half. every single time. when you look at the request that's put forward today, as the ambassador said, cut one by 85%. so we were running our mouth and we weren't putting our money where our mouth was. i don't think it's a matter of a new strategy. i think it's a matter of a realization that if you're going to have a strategy that's population-centric, it is inherently expensive. it is inherently long term and it is inherently nonmilitary. once you crossed a certain security threshold, there is a long degree of very costly investment that must be done. otherwise, you will not reach the ultimate aims and objectives. i've one way over my allotted time.
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but i think -- i think i would end by saying that i disagree with mike vickers and his comment yesterday where he said we now have a winning strategy. we have had a winning strategy, i think, for quite a while. what i'm hoping we have now and i'm not particularly encouraged because we spent the entire fall debating 30,000 troops and the meaning of july 20, 2011 -- what i'm hoping is we will have a realization that it is a long war and that it will be an expensive endeavor and that we will have to continue to invest at a much higher level in the nonkinetic means if we are to achieve the aims and objectives that the strategy has laid out. thanks for your tolerance of my lengthy comments there. [applause] >> we're going to open it up to q & a here. i wanted to start, though, an observation that i thought was
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very interesting but not followed up on a great deal yesterday. tom eihorn made a comment that one of the biggest insights that we should not be worrying as much of protecting the population which we are electing new leaders. i'm interested because i think that it's a manifestation of a bigger set of questions that is there are two rival visions of what politics means in these conflicts. and one i would say -- in the most recent manifestation is the comment that general mcchrystal made about marjah in which the assumption is rebellion is a product of bad government. and that providing good government in the form of services will resolve the problem. and that seems to be a common thread that crosses the iraq story, the vietnam story to some extent and also the afghan one. there seems to be another rival
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version of politics which is, i think, which sees rebellions a elites and these are rival versions the way they want to organize societies and having a big infrequently very violent food fight. and i guess that my question to the panel would be, you know, which is the right way to conceptualize politics? we can only agree that these are political problems. is this, you know, a administrative problem or an origin of solution or is it a violent political competition? and how does that condition our answers to sort of how we should relate with host nation leaders? and yesterday again we had a wide variation from. i wish we could pick a better leader and please replace them if they don't agree with me. i think we should just listen to them and essentially support what they want to do. so, you know, what's the right way to look at that politics and what's the right relationship
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with the local leaders? >> you first. [laughter] >> so you will both criticize me. >> why do you think you've first. [laughter] >> i mean, be careful with diplomats generally speaking. [laughter] >> so i think it's a very, very good question actually. and in the case of afghanistan, it seems to me that you have two different problems actually. and the questions are valid according to which problem you want to solve. but government explain that good government and the behavior on the ground explain that people are very rapidly alienated from
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the u.s. force -- i mean, the coalition forces and the afghan government. if you want to understand what's happening south of kabul, for example, in logar, especially in the hasni and kandahar, more people are joining the taliban because it's -- i mean, what they have done in these places is sending governors -- what the u.s. forces has done playing -- i mean, we have any kind of sense what was the role of politics and one armed group against another one. giving money to people who should not have money and so on and so on and that's why. the second question is that the taliban are a political movement. and the fact that they are decentralized to a certain extent, doesn't mean it's herself it means it's more
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difficult because you cannot think about killing the leadership after that and everything is okay. it's not the pkk if you want to a comparison. it's not the pkk because more difficult. it's a network. you can shut down a few some and the network is still working. so the second part of the taliban. yes, it's a fight between elites who want political power who have a different world view and that's why basically if we cannot make a deal, a political deal in afghanistan, we are not going to solve the question. i mean, that should explain that later. but basically yes, the two things are right. but not to explain the same question. >> i'll give you one answer of the question and you should look at the insurgents and what they're doing, you know, because what they're doing is driven by necessity. and, you know, even look at the
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taliban before 2001, you know, when they swept in through southern afghanistan and up towards the north, you know, they swept in militarily -- first of all, they had bought off the pakistani transport mafia which sponsored the taliban's thrust into afghanistan so they had the economic backers that wanted to open up the road to central asia and then they thrust in militarily and as they moved along and created this momentum of these military operations then the cards just fell and the local warlords just switched sides and joined the taliban and they just thrust up through the west and up into the north and then after that they started providing public goods and building up the government appointing police chiefs and district governors so you got to learn something from that. and you have to learn what the taliban did after 2001. they went from being an overt force that ran the company to kind of a covert insurgency fighting a military occupation. and in that respect they switched size like the vietcong and sending these cadres setting up grassroots political organizations and then attacking our forces in order to restrict
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our mobility to keep us out of certain areas. so you have to understand how they operate. how they operate covertly in small groups. how they can set up political organizations in small areas and maybe they have something we can learn from that. >> i suppose i would go back to be careful of single model answers. you can't say we'll do leadership if you can't keep either the leaders or the followers alive. if you do a leadership at your building's fractured structure of militia commanders, you haven't created much. i agree very much with the point gilles is making about a particularly intolerable government. it's been very poor. there's some places where it's been better but overall it's been poor. and that leaves you with kind of a conundrum in our case particularly because we're not a
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colonial power and we are legalistic. and so you're trying to figure out -- you know you don't want -- you know that you should support a good leader where one has one on a local basis. that it pays big dividends. but it's much more perplexing to say what do you do about a bad leader? you cannot support him. you know, that's fine. but he goes merrily along. we're not allowed to kill him. that's bad for him. and if we start getting into the business of replacing and appointing, then we're governing. and then not only do we have the debilitatity that we have very little knowledge, actually little capacity to do that thing but the worst problem is we are responsible for everything that is wrong. we are going to be blamed for it whether it's our fault or not. and, therefore, we build nothing. and so what i would come back to
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the answer to these questions is not going to be won or the other. -- one or the other. it's going to be art. it's going to be political acumen. and balancing and flexible use of resources and sometimes you'll get it right. and sometimes you'll get it wrong. but that you can't usefully answer -- you can answer and you can argue all day. we're probably capable of that up here but you can't usefully have a yes or a no. a one side or the other. but the actual on the ground answer is going to be, you know, an infinity of it depends. >> i just would caution against -- against focusing on a personality versus focusing on an institution. and by that what i mean, you know, there's a lot of hand-wringing that has gone on in washington for a long, long time about karzai, about president karzai. and in a lot of ways president karzai is the way he is because we've sort of made him that way.
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and he is in the corner that he's in because in many ways we've boxed him into that corner. not because he's inherently a bad person. in fact, i think he's actually quite a good person. he might be a bad legislator or a bad president and use the bad with quotations around it. but as a person he's a very decent man. what we've not done as well as we should have done would be invest in alternatives. and the alternatives -- i also don't mean at the personality level. i mean, at the institutional level. the degree of outreach that has been done to -- at the highest level -- and this is not to denigrate the work that the embassy was doing on the ground in kabul, but i think at a much broader and much more bilateral national way to build a bench of others to go to besides just president karzai was not as robust as it should have been.
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so that goes to the ambassador's comment about the art. we've got to look creating a system that has inherently built up its own set of alternatives as opposed to overinvesting in one particular individual and then finding ourselves in a situation where you're saying, where are the alternatives? well, we didn't do much in some ways to build that broader bench that would have posed to the afghan people their own set of alternatives. it is a lot more difficult than what i've just made it sound by the way. i spent a lot of time with minister jalali who as many of you know was a candidate for a period of time. and he's just made me so aware of how incredibly complicated it is even for an afghan to go -- break into the system over there. so once again i caution against the personality level question
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as opposed to the institutions level kind of question. >> could i just pick up one point on that because i think while i agree with that, the problem we have to live with now is we don't have institutions. we're trying to build institutions and we're trying to help afghans build institutions even as we are required, if you will, by the -- by the pressures of war to deal with individuals. >> uh-huh. >> and so you have -- you do need an institutional piece. that's one reason, frankly, that i thought it was important for us to step back from the visible hand in making appointments, even if we had to live with some bad appointments because afghans needed to be responsible. i can be criticized for that judgment. i wrote a whole book about it. but that's the dilemma.
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you can't purely act as though you're re-enforcing an institution which, in fact, conceptually doesn't exist for afghans. nor can you deal with only leaders or you're shooting yourself in the foot on your long term term desire on having them build a institution. i think we're getting a little better in the sense of letting them evolve themselves where our tendencies earlier on were to dictate the pattern of that evolution. but there's a very long way to go to get to actually having an institution you can be re-enforcing. >> one of the most hopeful signs -- and i know a lot of people disagree with me on this and that's okay. but i think one of the most hopeful signs that i had seen in the last several months was the afghan legislature rejecting such a large number of president karzai's nominees to be ministers of the various ministries. it's going to be painful for our
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guys on the ground over there. it's painful right now to have half the ministries with an acting minister or no minister in there. but in terms of a way-point on the road to the development and the maturing of the afghan parliament, i took that as a very positive sign. there's many others who could say no, i'm too naive on how i look at it. i choose to look at it with a hopeful sign and with the ambassador's comment that we have to take our hands off the bicycle and let them ride on their own a little bit even if it results in some fairly seriously skinned-up knees down the road. >> the problem is as you know in september this year, there will be a new parliament. it's going to be the same kind of story. it's going to be messy for all. there is no credible legitimate institution, political institution in afghanistan right now.
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karzai is elected is 10 or 15% of those who can vote in afghanistan. the problem with the trend, the time is that next year is not going to be better than this year. so we are playing with -- we've limited our resources. the probability that 2011 is going to be worse than 2010 is i think very serious. >> steve neighbors i'm a grad student over at a.u. we heard a lot about insurgencies in vietnam and algeria but something i hadn't heard about was about colombia. could it be in looking back in history and skipping over colombia a conflict was largely shaped by our restrictions to prevent another vietnam from occurring we could be missing
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the boat especially in light of the fact that we're dealing with a rural insurgency there, a vast geography and rough terrain and a booming narcotics trade? >> yeah, i'll tackle that initially. i just want to -- there was one point where i actually had some dealings with our policy for colombia and so i paid a fair amount of attention to it. i think a couple of things that would make it difficult to take any lessons from colombia and translate immediately over to afghanistan are some of the circumstances that exist in a positive way in colombia that are challenges for us today in afghanistan. and i'll just rattle off several of them. you had a relatively mature government and government structures and government institutions. even under the pastrana government in colombia. there was a history of -- a certain degree of history of
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democratic institutions there. you had a well-trained -- a modestly well-trained army and a modestly well-trained and respected perhaps feared police force in colombia. neither of which really exist in afghanistan to the same degree today. there are lessons that i think internally -- the colombians learned. president pastrana created this protected area and he basically ceded land to the farc and said if you give us this land it will be protected and we won't try to come in and kill you. thank you very much for the deal and they took the land and contributed their group. they say it's no longer in existence and by the way i'm sending the army in. you had -- in that respect you had sort of back to the maliki
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moment, you had a president that was in place that actually had the intestinal fortitude to stand up and make some tough decisions. he walked around that country -- still walks around that country with a huge target on both his front and back yet he continues to take very bold moves down there. you had, as you said, a very mature narcotics trade but you also had multiple alternatives that helped prop up the colombian economy. there is no -- in my opinion there's no comparable coffee crop in afghanistan as there is in colombia. in fact, when we started sending spray planes down to assist president aribe they started planting the cocoa plants among the coffee trees thinking that would dissuade the president because it would have such an
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impact on the economy. i personally was in a meeting with president aribe where he said they think that will stop me. i will spray the coffee trees. he said this has to be attacked and once again standing up and the bold leadership aspect of it. so i think that there are lots of ways that we could find some similarities. but i think they are far outdone by the gross differences that exist just in the inherent nature of the country that's down there. at the tactical level, how to deal with the narcotics issue, i think there are quite a few lessons there. but, unfortunately, the biggest of those lessons there decisions on how to target a particular problem are ultimately resolved or decided at a political level. and so while we may have the technical means to make a considerable dent in the opium crop, the opium poppies in afghanistan, if you don't have
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the political agreement by the president of the country, who's actually growing the poppy, then having the great technical solution may not mean anything at all. >> i would only add that there's some interesting work suggesting -- there's an interesting book that's just out. i don't pretend to have an expertise in most of it by bob brown called "shooting up" and it's basic argument its heavy narcotics strategy has been a loser for counterinsurgency in -- what is it peru and colombia and to some extent afghanistan. not quite as clear in afghanistan. and i will just say without getting into the argument for the moment i think president karzai was absolutely right to reject aerial spraying in afghanistan. i think it was one of the dumbest ideas we could have come up with. >> just to say that -- actually
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karzai is on the traffic than the taliban. the only thing that could really -- that we could do and that really would be a problem for the taliban is if we were stopping giving aid to people because they take a share of the aid. but except that, i don't see -- i mean, i imagine it's an old problem for the insurgency. it could be a pain if we are trying to re-educate and the official line is that there is no education for the moment. and if we could just stop there, we would be better, i think. think about something else, yeah. >> it's a bigger problem for us than it is for the afghans. >> i'd like to turn back to the soviet model specifically for gilles but anybody else that wants to comment on it. i feel like we sort of missed --
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in this country we have an incentive to say the soviets lost but that's actually not true. the democratic republic of afghanistan actually outlives the soviet union only by a few months but nonetheless that's important. so the collapse of the soviet union is really what brings about the end of it. it seems to be a pretty good model. so i wonder if you could talk a little bit about what you think this sort of late model was because i think you're right to indicate it's really '86 on when they -- in the same way that we gave up on a lot of our ambitious goals on in iraq they turned to a lot of local actors and things like that. anybody else is welcome to comment on that. >> yeah, i mean, it is interesting actually because they survived two years, you know, and that's not that bad. plus, if they fail at the end, it's because most end money in afghanistan but it's not a
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building failure even if we can discuss about legitimatization and it's complicated. what i see is the key of the success is first the kgb was good on intelligence. they were very good. and out to put it, maybe we are not that good. we don't know how to process the information it's not about information. it's about how to process the information. and which kind of question you should ask. that's the problem. the second part is that the soviet union had a key advantage. the communist party was not cooperative. ...
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>> because let's be clear what we're doing since last summer is producing this, we're getting plenty of money, 1.3 billion this year just for emergency. we are organizing. we are paying people, just, it's a crazy system. of course, the population is against of that. so for so-called center strategy doesn't work. it doesn't mean anything. the soviet, on the other hand, were more reasonable.
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not population which is complicated, but the cities. and it worked. between 1984 and 1986 they managed, not so well. it was just in between. but they had results and can't heart is now, it's almost hopeless. [laughter] >> sorry, i should not say that. but it is a real problem. and i mean, i want to say on what you said, we have a problem in afghanistan. some places it's never urban, not rural. if you take herat and kandahar, between there is no clear-cut where you stop. same thing, and i should note it
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is what is going on. if you want, it is much easier because you have nothing and so you know there is nothing. it's not the case in some places that it's a very, very technical and very, very precise question that is extremely important. so what i mean is they managed, if we could have done that, i'm not sure that we are taking this way. >> first of all, i mean, foreign governments that occupy foreign coaches to lose the war whenever they decide to withdraw. that's why we lost in vietnam. that's why the soviets lost in afghanistan. i think the so it's lost her but and there's nothing for us to learn from their experience there. to say they didn't lose and they one and the something to learn from them, i think that's wrong.
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all the pashtun south, the tajiks, the uzbeks, everyone hated them. everyone thought against the soviets. include the people who are part with now, karzai, they all fought the soviets and they hated them. and as part of the lower afghanistan today the soviets are looked on almost like demons that descended from the sky. and for us to associate ourselves at all with any of their policies or operations would be a huge mistake for us. they follow policies of the population. they dropped 3 million mines on the country. they went into villages and kill people randomly. they burned villages to the ground. they tortured people relentlessly. the government that survived until 1982 survives because the soviet logistical support. and it was overtaken by coalition that represented almost the entire country. i don't know there's a lot to be learned positively from the soviet expense. is because that was the most
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recent war fought in afghanistan but mostly negative examples. and mostly deaf lessons we can learn how the enemy operates. those are the lessons we have to learn. not the ones the soviets did. i don't think there's a lot to learn there. >> a question to you, i agree that the silly, one of the things, but i think we're not very -- [inaudible] >> i don't think we're more than and kandahar. may be wrong. my question is the real success was not to be, the real success is in kabul, but in most ethic in cities they say he was a good guy. that guy was a real afghan. then you have his picture everywhere. we also have shots. but it is not all today in
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afghanistan, a kind of, the guy is like by certain segment of the population. and that's the real success. they should love a little bit more karzai. >> and najibullah is dead. >> so you think there is a future for karzai? [laughter] >> for all of us. [laughter] >> thank you very much. i would like to follow up on a point you made, and i did recently attend a meeting you chaired about making the political deal with the taliban. and i think it's very important
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to try to get at some of those issues since that may be part of a political solution. but the other thing, and i sorely support what's been said here about not empowering illegitimate actors. i think that's very critical. but the question that is how to identify those local legitimate leaders? there's a usaid tool that's been developed for troops to do that, but one would also say traditionally, you would hold elections. yet the constitution doesn't have district or provincial governors elected. so what's your solution institutionally? thank you. >> i would say the answer is in the question. you know everything is going wrong when you have u.s. commander somewhere is thinking okay, i know the tribal system, going to play with this tribe and this time, and that's going, that's not going to work.
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so the question is, how do we do neutral. afghan, afghan don't like really foreigners. they refuse that. but if it is the the place that is neutral, not belonging to one's local strongman, and doing things, not trying to colonize, just doing things like church, soviet church, doing smaller police to be sure that the thing is not going to control. things like that. that's acceptable. when you are trying to pay or tried to fight another tribe or to fight against the taliban, you've lost the war. that's a we've seen again and again, especially in ghazni. to total failure there should have been.
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and when i speak of total failure i'm speaking about the fact that you can go there. which is to streets, okay. one street. and 500 meters from the u.n., you know, that's why we lost trying to put afghan tribes. it's not going to work. it's so evident come it's so normal that, yeah, take some time to think about it. so, basically, do not try to employ strongman. the prime is right now, the limits, for example, at the same time refuse karzai. what should we do? in this case better to support in this now right now. better to support.
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and kandahar we have a major problem. we are supporting the most corrupted network, the most violent people, the people are totally intimidated. 80 percent of the people in kandahar, even these people it's not so clear but they just say we don't want development. you have no, today, taliban operating inside the city of kandahar. so we are stuck in a very difficult situation where the aid of dealing with taliban is becoming a natural idea. should do it or not? but obviously we are at a dead end in afghanistan. we have to negotiate the exit.
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>> i wonder what the members of the panel would answers would be to a fairly simple question, but i haven't heard it discussed, which is why are we there? i mean, the rhetorical answer to why we have to make this effort in afghanistan is if we fail, if the taliban takeover, or take over significant regions of the country that will go back to july 2001, and bad guys will be sitting there planning to blow up the world trade center again. is that a logical reason for us to be there, or can those bad guys just as well, if we do succeed in afghanistan, can they just as will operate in somalia or pakistan or somewhere else? and if we succeed, which i guess would mean stability or security is some kind of minimum acceptable level when you of something called a government of afghanistan that looks more or less like a government and can't control its territory more or
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less, and we can get out. what will we have accomplished? >> i'm happy to do with a, but this is a long question. i will try to do the short answer, -- i feel like i'm ignoring half the panel. the short -- i suspect to be some differences on this, but i think the short answer that probably doesn't concern the united states great is if we go out immediately, you will have every new of a civil war. the actors coming in from outside again. i think you will survey have al qaeda replanted, and i think you have this strategic rear than for extremism in pakistan, which probably makes a bad deal with its taliban fighting. out of that, once early gets
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instability in pakistan and afghanistan, central asia. there is a few that one can take that does things don't matter to the united states. i think that he was wrong. i think the larger question is sort of islamic jihad question, where i think they have been taking some hits, but in any event, they have a strategy that is public over a decade of bringing the united states into a war it can't win, exhausting it. they do view themselves as being in a war. i know this is -- i think we have a lot of problem with deciding that we are actually in a war where we have an opponent rather than a conception of our own government. but you know, jihadists websites refer to the 9/11 as the raid on
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new york. i think that terminology a significant. thereby, it is part of a war. one can argue, we can argue up here and one can argue a long time about what you really get for having what i think what the unquestionably a very large al qaeda victory if we go out of afghanistan. but i don't know of a case where you get a unilateral disengagement from a two-sided war, and have something good come out of it. one can inflate the degree of risk, but i think the degree of risk is substantial. against those somewhat hypothetical risks, and dr. dorronsoro has cautioned quite properly against excessive inflation of risk, is the question, the two questions, can you do it and can you succeed? can you succeed, at what cost?
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since we have never properly resourced the effort, i think it is much too early to say that we can't do it. rather, i do reject we been added eight years so this proves we can't do it since we've never properly tried. i'm not sure we can do it. it's a bit of a gamble. and there are pieces we do not control in that, but i think the risk is sufficient to justify the expenditure. and frankly, we have a very bizarre way of looking at this thing. you know, we put these things into separate baskets, where the cost of casualties in war is intolerable, but a thousand deaths a year on the highway is a perfectly tolerable penalty
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for our wanting to go as fast as we can to get places. i think actually the price tag in both lives and money is still quite manageable, whether we have the political will for it is a further question. but i think the risks are large enough, the possibilities are still there. and it is worth it. but that is my answer, and while i believe in that answer, i'm not a spokesman for our government. i am retired. >> i think it's such a simple question that it's almost imperceptible to answer it. as usual. i would say okay there is a reason there is a cost. but the cost must also be, for example, nato has been destroyed today in afghanistan him as a
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political organization. its first political organization. the dutch are out of afghanistan completely. again, you should not push them very, very, i mean, they already to lead. so what we're seeing now, so what we're seeing now is one of the major aspect of the western security organization that is crumbling. just go and speak with nato people, whatever their nationality. it is catastrophic. afghanistan is really, we're paying a very, very high cost in terms of credibility. i don't even speak about the european, something else. because of what it could be positive here coming, just to face could be positive. but generally speaking, we are weakening of self in afghanistan. [inaudible] >> so the second thing is what are the views of the money?
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for example, afghanistan and going to be 1 trillion, $2 trillion. i think, depends how long we stay there. what can you do with this money? what can we do also with the cash of these, of course, because we are 1600. issue we will be over 2000. if it's going like that, you know. just analytically, you have to discuss that. then also the risk into the overstated. i mean, even if it is marginally back in afghanistan in the next years, is that major problem? and is the money you would just saving with when you don't have this larger number of troops, you can probably have some measures and al qaeda. you know? so at the end, first, the cost seems to me out of control.
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the probability of winning something are very am a very marginal i think. so the problem is how do you disconnect the war from al qaeda? how to disconnect the taliban from al qaeda. and the importance of negotiations with the taliban is, if the taliban are ready to make a deal, under control, whatever, it's the sign that the taliban are the strongest, strongest part of the taliban. and then you also the fact that have control and you have to do with all that. but to answer your question, i think it is out of control. [inaudible] >> the risk is a potential risk, that if the taliban are back, some member of al qaeda could come back to afghanistan. that's the risk.
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that's the risk. >> i would say -- i'm sorry. i've got about eight quick points that i think that i picked up. i'm not necessarily endorsing these eight points, i just think this is what i kind of picked up on here. ambassador has already mentioned several, potential for the country to descend back into civil war. secondly, that civil war should it happen, to expand, become a much bloodier and actually much riskier regional civil war. that then potentially could lead to greater instability in pakistan and in the region. pakistan not insignificant with their nuclear arsenal and their relationship with their neighbor to the east. number four, restarting or adding additional momentum or regain momentum for violent extremists. number five, the potential safe
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havens that are even mentioned, return to safe haven for al qaeda. number six, a certain sense of moral obligation, particularly to the women of afghanistan, but a broader moral obligation to the afghans. we've been there. we were there once before a century, and it leads me to point number eight. actually, let me just turn in the failure of nato. another big one here in washington that is considered. and number eight is this idea of legitimacy. you can go anywhere in either afghanistan or pakistan, i don't think him and talk to anybody and not have the question, either explicit or implicit lee, you are going to abandon us again, are you? and so there's this long-standing expectations in some way that the united states is just going to wash her hands and walk away because it did become too expensive, dollar wise, or it's become too expensive in terms of the amount of time that suggested that we just sort of lost interest.
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and that resonates this issue of legitimacy and prestige, i think, resonates well beyond the borders of just afghanistan. and one area that i think would be interesting to go back and look at in terms of a particular parallel between vietnam and our current situation in iraq and afghanistan would be what was the cost to the united states in terms of our international influence, our prestige, our ability to do business, any number of factors, post-1975, that you could attribute in some way to our expect in did not? and what would it be, were we to, quote, fail in the same what in a similar way in terms of turning our back on afghanistan or iraq? and i don't know that that's an easily defined question, but there would be i think some parallels of there. >> and we're going to have to -- [inaudible] >> well, i don't know and that's my question. and i think it gets right to his
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-- i think you get rights to his question as well. i think there is one school of thought though, that things, particularly among the military, i think that there would be a school of thought that says we had to go through a period of about 10 plus years to rebuild aspects of the united states military. there might be -- [inaudible] >> do we want to have a floor debate? let me -- >> i only say that it will be worthy, if it sparks this much passion, it would perhaps be worthy of very considered approach to looking at it because the answer might be absolutely nothing. or until we look at it. >> you can also raise another question, which brings you back to the utility, or lack of utility, a comparison. i think it is perfectly possible to come to a conclusion that we lost a great deal less after getting out of vietnam than we expected. it is also possible to argue
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that we lost a great deal more than we expected for abandoning afghanistan the last time. whether that tells you -- i hear people arguing this as though that tells you something automatically about this one. and that, i think, is silly. so you can have all the argument you want about vietnam. you have all the arty would you want about afghanistan. to argue that that automatically proves a point, no matter how deeply you believe in it, is, i think, to abandon a certain degree of ill logic. there's a degree to which recently don't know a price, of leaving. but the argument should turn, i would suggest, on the pros and cons of that price, rather than on a rather stale historical argument of which parallel fits the future. win come in all probability, none of them 50 future caribou will. >> and on that note i know we will end. but not really into.
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[laughter] >> it will reopen for the next panel. a round of applause. [applause] >> thank you very much, colin, and our panelists to adding to our understanding of the ongoing challenges of afghanistan. and also the difficulties of drunk the comparisons between vietnam, iraq and afghanistan that if i could have your attention still for a moment please. our lunch schedule will be rather compressed. . .
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> and we take you live now to the brookings institution in washington.
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george papandreou, the prime minister of greece, is in washington this week for an official visit. he will speak here at the brookings institution talking about his nation's economic situation and the austerity measures the greek government has passed to deal with that. he's expected to get under way shortly. he is meeting with president obama tomorrow, an official state visit. later today the prime minister will meet with secretary of state hillary clinton. president obama meanwhile is speaking today just outside of philadelphia in montgomery county, outside of the philadelphia proper. he is talking about healthcare. the associated press writing that he will try to persuade the public to back his plan to remake the nation's healthcare system. we'll have live coverage of the president's comments at 11:00 am eastern and that will be over on c-span. additional live coverage here on c-span2 later this morning. an immigration group critical of the obama administration's immigration policies, fair immigration reform movement hold
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a news conference this afternoon, noon i should say, and that will be live here on c-span2. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> this is the brookings institution in washington, d.c., waiting for george papandreou, the prime minister of greece who will be speaking to the group. he's in town for an official visit and he'll meet with the president tomorrow. the associated press is reporting that president obama
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plans to appoint a senior official with career intelligence experience to lead the transportation security administration. he's expected to announce his joins retired general robert harding today. in fact, we'll be covering a news conference with the homeland security secretary janet napolitano and that's scheduled at noon eastern live on c-span. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> greek prime minister george papandreou expected here shortly at the brookings institution to talk about -- expected to talk about his nation's economic situation and its relations with the rest of the european union and the united states. the prime minister in washington foreign official state visit. he was in france over the weekend speaking with french leader sarkozy talking about the austerity measures the greek government has taken in response to the greek debt crisis. he will be meeting with president obama tomorrow. also a meeting with secretary of state hillary clinton later today. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> greek prime minister george papandreou in for an official state visit speaking here at the brookings institution. he will meet with president obama tomorrow. the president today is just outside of philadelphia talking about healthcare reform legislation. we'll have his comments live at 11:00 am eastern. over on c-span. also on c-span today, homeland security secretary janet napolitano will talk about president obama's nominee for the transportation security administration and that is expected to be according to the associated press retired general robert harding. that announcement and that news conference live at noon on c-span. and then we'll hear from the director -- the administrator for the environmental protection agency lisa jackson. she's at the national press club. and she will be talking about climate change and energy legislation and more live at
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1:00 pm on c-span. >> could i ask everybody to sit down, please.
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>> good morning to all of you. i'm strobe talbot. welcome to brookings. welcome to spring in washington. i'm ready for that. and welcome especially to the washington diplomatic corps, which is particularly well represented here today. and i might add that the athens diplomatic corps is pretty well represented, too. by dan specker, united states ambassador to greece, a very dear friend and former colleague of mine and several other people in the room. this is going to be an especially timely event. and it features an especially distinguished guest of honor. americans like to think of their country as the world's oldest modern democracy. going back all the way to george washington.
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well, the george who is with us today traces his political heritage back. prime minister papandreou is a leader not just of his own country but a leader of europe. he is a champion for everything that's everything that's good, everything that's best about the idea and the institutions of the international community. he's also a great friend of the united states of america. he has many personal friends in this country, in this town, and the white house and the department of state. and in this room. and i am proud to be one of them. back in the 1990s, i worked with him on some of the most challenging issues of that period, some of which are all
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still too much with us today. he was then and he is now a statesman, of rare discipline, ingenuity, integrity, and i want to stress this word particularly, political courage. he was then and is now a problem solver. and it was in his capacity as a problem-solver that he decided on assuming the prime ministership of greece to retain at least for a while the portfolio of foreign minister. so that he could follow through on his commitment to resolve long-standing regional issues so that greece can play a larger role on the world's stage. as a problem-solver, he's also got his work cut out for him on
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another front, which is to say the home front. when the ambassador, bill, and martin and i saw him in athens last october, a week after his election, prime minister papandreou knew then that the biggest of the problems his country was facing were its troubled economy. and those troubles, of course, are linked to the troubles of the world. and, of course, there are consequences of the financial earthquake of 2008, whose epicenter is here in this country. like president obama, whom he will meet tomorrow, prime minister papandreou inherited a crisis. but my guess is when the two of them meet tomorrow, they will not spend much time commiserating or looking backwards.
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rather, they're going to concentrate on coordinating and cooperating and looking forward. we look forward to hearing whatever he wants to share with us about how he and his fellow leaders will meet this challenge. following his remarks, our brookings colleague and another -- the prime minister's many friends in the united states kamal dervish will moderator the discussion. khamal successfully managed a financial crisis of his own as finance minister of turkey. so, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming to the podium the prime minister and foreign minister of greece, george papandreou. george? [applause]
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>> thank you, strobe. it's an honor to meet here again in this great institution. and, ladies and gentlemen, dear members of the diplomatic corps, it's great to be with you and particularly to see paul sarbanes here, a very old and good friend for many years ago. and we've been working together. and his contribution to the united states, of course, but also to greek-american relations has always been paramount and very important. and i'm very happy to have khamal dervish here as a moderator. ladies and gentlemen, 53 years ago this week on march 12th 1947 president truman rose before a special joint session of congress. he was there to warn america of a looming new crisis. a crisis that revolved in part
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around greece but was, in essence, a european crisis. one that directly affected america's interests. in that speech president truman introduced a vision and laid down the sturdy foundation for policies and institutions such as marshall plan and the bretten woods arrangement that allowed us to rise above the crisis and build shared peace and prosperity. so today i have come to washington this week to speak about another crisis in europe. this crisis, too, revolves in part around greece. this crisis too very much involves america's interest. and as in 1947, if we act with sufficient foresight, i believe this crisis also contains opportunities, great opportunities to strengthen our respective countries and our
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shared interests for decades to come. what is this crisis. i would call it a crisis in global governance. as we bask in the triumph that the end of the cold war symbolized for the west, we forgot three important elements. first of all, the world's problems were not over. no. history had not ended. new conflicts, new issues and new complexities of a globalizing world arose. secondly, we underestimated our own dogmatism while those on the other side of the iron curtain worship state-run economies as master, we had created our own masters. the free market, the master and the masters are not to be tampered with. they rule. forgetting that in democratic politics, our master is the people.
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and both states and the market are there to serve them. thirdly, we neglected our transatlantic relationship. either by paying lip service to it as something as a matter of fact or something irrelevant to the new challenges of the time. so off we went with our respective, often narrow politics as the world was changing and as the balance of power was shifting. that has undermined the extent to which our common values remain a dominant force in the shaping of this new globalizing economy and society. values such as democracy, the protection of human rights, the rule of law. the core of the crisis is that today the international community seems impotent. impotent to deal with the
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complexities of an interdependent market or for global warming or energy resources or the spread of violence, terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. or an inability to deal with protracted conflicts like the ones in the middle east. my conclusion is that cooperation between europe and the u.s. must be revitalized to empower our countries, societies and our citizens so as we deal with these issues effectively and democratically. how does this relate to my country, greece? you are all aware of the financial crisis greece has faced in the recent months, the crisis that confronted me when i became prime minister last october. after we took office, we discovered that the budget deficit was actually double. double what our predecessors had told us, told european authorities and the greek people. so our announcement of this
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discovery rocked investor confidence, not only regarding the finances of greece but also the soundness of currency that we share with our european neighbors. all of you understand this crisis like wall street's original crisis in 2008 risks spreadly more widely. many worry it could reignite a global financial crisis and produce a crisis 2.0. that's why in the past five days i met with chancellor merkel and president sarkozy and previously visited with gordon brown and jose louis paterro how to deal with this ongoing crisis and how to prevent it from spreading. and that is why i will meet tomorrow with president obama not only as a greek leader but also as a european leader to discuss the important role i believe the united states can play to ensure greece, europe, and america that we remain strong and healthy partners.
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let me exemplify the greek case. i stood for election last fall before a country that was demanding deep changes during the preceding five years our public had grown increasingly alienated as greece's national deficit ballooned. wasteful expenditure mushroomed and our gdp shrank. during our election campaign, we promised to tackle head on the chronic problems of the heart of greece's economic woes, structural problems that we often politicians had avoided addressing for so long for such a long time. our goal was and remains to transform greece into a thriving economy driven by green technology and investment in our natural and human resources such as education and health. so when my party won a resounding electoral majority, we knew our mandate like the
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mandate of your own president, your new president, president obama, was to bring deep changes even at a time of great economic challenge. now, i am used to change. i was born in minnesota and raised in california before eventually moving to athens. and then when my family was forced to flee the dictatorship we lived in exile in canada and in sweden. and throughout my political career i have often taken office during times of crisis. as strobe mentioned earlier. i became education minister during a teacher's strike. i became foreign minister just as greece was entering one of its most fraught standoffs with turkey. i took over as leader of my party in 2004. just a few weeks before an election that we were quite certain to lose. and now i have become prime
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minister during the greatest economic crisis greece has faced since the second world war. so confronting upheaval and the need for big changes has been an intrical part of my life. even so, that doesn't make change any easier. the enormity of the deficit made deep changes absolute and now the changes are underway. to restore confidence in our country and stability to our economy, we pledge to bring the 12.7 deficit down to 8.7 this year. and to the e.u.-mandated levels of 3% by 2012. to meet those targets the parliament has adopted the toughest austerity measures in greece's modern history. the third round of those measures passed just last week on friday. and we know greece faced not only a fiscal deficit but i would call it a credibility
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deficit. as a matter of fact, i call that the biggest deficit we had. as a result of the fabricated budget figures our predecessors had published. so our partners in the european union were understandably skeptical about our promises to rein in the deficit and crack down on issues such as corruption. but today we are demonstrating the decisiveness of greece. public secretary salaries have been cut. retirement ages raised, taxes increased. and these are painful choices. they have come with high political and social costs. we have made them not only to rescue our own economy but also to prove our courage and our credibility. we do so also because we are part of a genuine community, the european union and all these measures reflect our commitment to protect the stability of our
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common european currency. this medicine may be bitter but it's the only -- but it is only an immediate remedy as we must deal with other core problems that have prevented greece from reaching its great economic potential and there is great economic potential in greece for far too long. so i've told the greek people that 2010, this year, must be and will be a year of drastic reforms across all levels of government, changes in our tax system, our social security system, our public administration, our education system, our health system and our development model. at the top of the list is tax evasion. to give you just one measure of the scope of that problem, fewer than 5,000 greeks declare incomes of 100,000 euros. that pattern must end and it
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will end. we will be prosecuting offenders no matter how rich or powerful to show that mean business. the rule of law means it applies to all. such changes we are sure will bring in billions of unpaid taxes and help underpin our return to fiscal health. we are also tackling challenge of corruption head on. within the first weeks of my administration, i dismissed a deputy minister and friend who was trading minor favors for voters. corruption, of course, is highly unique to greece but it is a problem we are determined to address as part of our broader reforms. to usher in a new norm of transparency, we are televising our cabinet meetings. we have launched an open online application process for public secretary jobs even at the highest of levels. and passed a law so that every government expense will be published online, a first in europe.
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every signature from mine to the civil servants in local government will be online. we post all our proposals on the web to allow for deliberation and participation in a web 2.0 application which empowers our citizens, puts a check on lawmakers and strengthens the qualities of our policies. these are among the changes my government has made and will pursue in response to this crisis. so i'm confident that greece will very soon be a paradigm of open government, a leader in green development as greece has great untapped potential for renewable energy but also a real magnet for new business investment. ...
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>> we need regulation and foresight. my own people, the greeks, understand this. the majority of greece recognize the very difficult changes we're making our in our own long-term interests. and there is wide public support for these reforms, and i would say much more than in previous times in my country. i see this every day. even those who have volunteered to help, such as well-known
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singer, who has given her attention back to the state, who says, who spoke about greek, a word that is difficult to translate but means a sense of pride, a sense of honor, and giving to the common good. europe, on the other hand, needs to recognize the measures we're put in place and those still to come need certain time to take effect. countries are not like financial markets. social change cannot be executed as swiftly as credit default swaps. you cannot sell short on social commitments and political responsibilities. so although there are great risks in the current crisis, there are equally we'll risk in expectations and inflammatory and patients. something we have seen in the press around the world. so it's dangerous to push people to hard and too fast. for example, greece has or has
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one of the lowest wages in europe. the average ways in greece is just under 24,000 compared to just over 40,000 in the u.s. we intend to reform our economy with the help of our citizens, not in spite of them. and here, this is where europe needs to join us in taking a longer view, because certainly we need our budget cuts. but at the same time, we need to have sustainable economic growth. and if we're not careful both higher taxes coupled with lower revenue could actually slow down our recovery. that would be both unjust but also could create a lot of social unrest. deflation is also a genuine risk. if we don't take your love measures to kickstart productivity, and create new jobs. this is not about asking europe to rush to the aid of a reckless country. on the contrary, standing by greece as it makes deep and
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responsible reforms is in the interest of europe as a whole. and this, i think, is now understood by the leaders, the other leaders in the european union. so the price of not acting together will be higher taxes, higher unemployment, a slower economic recovery, not only for greece but for all in europe. so greece may be doing all the right things to revive our economy. but not everyone may want us to succeed. and this brings me to my second point. they need to address the threat of speculation and ill regulated financial markets. a threat that imperils not only greece, but the entire global economy. i see that threat every day as we manage this crisis for the immediate problem we face is not dealing with the recession, but in servicing our debt. and despite the deep reforms were making, traders and speculators have forced interest rates on greek bonds to record
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highs. many believe that there have been malicious rumors, endlessly repeated and tactically amplified that have been used to manipulate normal market terms for our bonds. partly as a result, greece currently has to bar at rates almost twice as high as other european union countries. so when we borrow 5 billion euros for five years we must pay about 725 million euros more in interest than germany does. it would be like, let's say, california having to borrow at a rate which, 5 billion euros, which would mean they would have to pay 725 billion u.s. dollars more than another state in the u.s. when you have a common currency, that is simply not viable. so we will have a very hard time and implement our reform program if the gains from our measures are simply swallowed up by
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prohibitive rates. this whole affair has a horrible sense of déjà vu. the same financial institutions that were bailed out with taxpayers money are now making a fortune from greece's misfortune. while those same taxpayers are paying the price in deep cuts to their salaries and social services. so on principle specters are making billions everyday by betting on the greek default. all this may sound a bit familiar to american ears. and unlike the bankers, greece isn't asking for a bailout. let alone a bonus. indeed, we have slashed the salaries of every single government official. i myself cabinet members, have all taken significant pay cuts in our salaries. yet our correct decisions may still be undermined by speculation, and to me this is a challenge to our democratic institutions. an elected government making
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huge changes with the consent of its people is being undermined by concentrated powers in an unregulated market, powers which go beyond those of any individual government. a further point is that even though greece accounts for just about 2 percent of gdp of the european union, our economic conditions can have a far larger impact than that figure in flies. and ongoing euro crisis could cause a domino effect driving up borrowing costs for other countries with large deficits and causing volatility in bond and currency rates across the world. a small problem could be the tipping point in an already volatile system. we should remember that the great depression in the u.s. was followed by a second recession in 1937 and 38 that derailed the world's recovery, and prolong the crisis. so if the european crisis metastasizes, or any other
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crisis around the world, it could create a new global financial crisis with implications as great as the u.s. originated price is two years ago. so for america, a weak euro also means something else. it could mean a rise in dollar, that in turn means a rising u.s. trade deficit, which will not help america's economy rebound. if the e.u. still america's biggest trading partner should falter, the consequences here would be palpable. that's why europe and america need to work together to say, enough is enough. to the speculators, who only place i on the immediate returns with utter disregard for the consequences of the larger economic system, not to mention the human consequences of lost jobs, foreclosed homes, and decimated pensions. these market manipulations, which were at the heart of the banking systems collapse, are still legal practice. so it's hard to fathom that we
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have allowed this to continue after what we went through. it is common sense enforced by in church regulars that a person is not allowed to buy fire insurance on his neighbor's house and then burn it down to collect on that insurance. yet that is exactly what is done in the market for credit default swaps. this malaise has led banks to foreclose on the homes of millions of americans, but this malaise now haunt not only greece, but all of us. but if europe and america jointly stepped in and shore up global financial regulation, and find regulations, we can curtail such activities. and it is encouraging. it is an encouraging sign that the american authorities have ordered some speculators not to destroy records of their trading in euros. and i would encourage u.s. authorities to continue these investigations. since the 1980s, we have
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witnessed a succession of global financial crises. the third world debt collapse, the u.s. savings and loan debacle, the asian financial crisis, the high-tech and housing bubbles, and now the worst over recession since the 1930s. globalization which promised so much and opened so many doors to those of us with the good fortune of advanced educations and careers has also brought new inequalities and new risks. so this crisis is an opportunity to correct many of the ecstasies of the globalization. it calls for deep structural changes, changes to our global institutions, to our system of global governance. at the g-20 in copenhagen, and at the meeting in copenhagen for climate change, we did fall short of our citizens expectations. we fell short of our own rhetoric. so we can't afford to squander
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another opportunity to make the critical changes that our current reality demands. this crisis should be an opportunity for decisive and collective action, for regulation which is urgently required if global economic growth is to be sustainable. we need global coordination of monetary policies, and if we let market forces alone dictate the terms our economic recovery will almost certainly slip into reverse. i just arrived from paris before that i was berlin, in berlin and in luxembourg. together, with my european partners, we have taken a common initiative to strengthen financial regulation. particularly, these are the, speculation. we need clear rules on short, thank you shorts and credit default swaps. so i hope the to be a positive response from this side of the letter to bring this initiative to the g-20 and its next meeting. i know that some fear the word
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regulation. they claim that regulation curtails our freedoms. but i would simply say that it's like saying that we should go without traffic lights as it slows down our cars. so let's make the markets work for us. all of this is possible if we, greece, europe, the united states, have confidence and trust in each other as partners. there was a debate for some time about whether the european union would work and then whether it was better for it to be week or strong, particularly vis-à-vis the euro. >> even now there are debates about whether the new europe is a force to be reckoned with, it's global roles strengthened by our new president and high representative, or whether it is a non-entity of a continent disappeared off the map, as "time" magazine would have us. my view is that the world needs more europe today, not less.
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in saying so, i would like to say that europe, the european union, as a model, as a prototype is very interesting experiment in a globalizing world. a world which is a need of a more humane globalization. we are a political union of 27 nations today. and in monetary union of 16 members. each of us brings our own experience, our own idiosyncrasies, even our own language. imagine uniting america if a different tongue were spoken in every state. but we have been a catalyst for great progress, prosperity in the region. and democrats decision of many countries. with a whole raft of global crises are gently calling for closer operations we in the european union have pulled some of our national sovereignty to become more effective in
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protecting our common interests, vis-à-vis these world challenges. creating our common currency, a currency shared by 328 million europeans, and backed by an economy larger than america's, is perhaps europe's greatest achievement. the euro has been called a postmodern or a post-sovereign currency. whatever we call it, we european leaders must now show real leadership to prevent unbridled market forces from hijacking this success story for their own ends. i'm confident we will succeed, and we cannot fail. this is reason to have confidence. there is reason to have confidence. in my country also during this crisis. we have shown determination and i think this is a sign which shows that we will be ready to use this crisis as a real opportunity for change.
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i say that because a decade ago when i launched the process of greek turkish as foreign minister, everyone said that it was doomed to failure. but our countries are closer than they have been in centuries, and there's no better symbol than the fact that my good friend, kemal, is moderating this discussion. i also look forward to turkish prime minister to athens in the coming months. i believe we can make new breakthroughs in our relationship and become a symbol of stability in eastern come in the eastern mediterranean and the middle east. prior to the athens olympics, so many voices at greece would fail. but we pulled off one of the most secure and successful games in history. today, we will be using this legacy to revamp athens and our public administration. and so we will overcome this new challenge and we will do it with the cooperation of our partners in europe and america who have stood with us on so many vital
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tests. for this new crisis is a moment of great opportunity for greece. a chance to modernize and revitalize its governance and development model. for europe a chance to become more fully integrated we're talking now about more coordinating economic governance, for example. and for the world, this is a moment to move towards greater democratic corporation at a time when, once again, the global power of poorly regulated markets is proving dangerous for us all. yet well-regulated markets can truly lift our people to new heights, and our economies. and at its heart our economy faces a very ancient challenge, which i would like to simply conclude with. before the advent of democracy, greece's city states were ruled by rich and ruthless who belonged to powerful interrelated clans, not
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altogether unlike the mergers between powerful financial institutions that dominate today's global market. play-doh been made a critical remark about a system controlled by of a minority elite. and he characterized the system as one where and i quote, just or right means nothing but what it is in the what is in the interest of the stronger party. not the rule of law, but the law of the powerful. so we have a shared responsibility create rules and institutions that can provide a more just and sustainable answer for our planet. let me take you, in concluding to the parthenon as i finish my speech. if one stands by the parthenon and looks down on athens, you will see not only that museum waiting for the return of the parthian marbles. on the other side you will see
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the ancient market. that in greek means two meanings. it means marketplace, but it also means public speaking. a place of politics. so ancient greece should guide us here in saying that the market is and must be part of the realm of our political decisions. and we have separated the two as if they are dumb as if they can be separated. if you look over the hill to the other side, you will see, each and every citizen will stand on a rock, speak and be heard. politics in ancient athens was participative. everyone have the power to be heard. so we must use the new means we have, such as the internet, but not only, and our globalized society to empower our citizens and give them a real voice in politics.
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and that's much more than just a technique. it's a question of political will. as you look towards the sea, you will see the islands of the aegean. an agent is comma every eye was the country into itself, a city state. yet they all were aligned to a common purpose, the protection of democracy and, not yours. so let us use our countries as a vast, let us see our countries as a vast sea of diverse islands linked by a common set of values. and that is what europe is trying to be. the ancient philosopher socrates said being greek is partaking in greek education. meaning very simply, sharing a common value. greece has long been america's partner in values and in history. we are determined to be an ever stronger partner for the u.s. in world affairs, and commerce and
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in culture, and security. so now i ask you to stand with us and work with us again as what each confront our own challenges of change, as we work together to realize our shared interests and a strong europe and a sound global economic system. thank you very much. [applause] >> mr. prime minister, thank you very much on behalf of all of us
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in brookings and discrete audience here for this powerful speech. let me start the discussion by asking, how did things happen so quickly, six months ago there were difficulties, but there was not a major crisis? i have known you many years. i have had the honor of working with you in various seminars and workshops that you always stressed the importance of transparency. citizens are to the patient. what role do you think the lack of transparency has in the emergence of this crisis? >> thank you, kemal. i think when we're talking about this financial crisis, we should see that it is a challenge to our democratic institutions. politics around the world, we representatives of our people, sometimes or often tasked and seen by our people as all
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powerful. but, in fact, there are parts much stronger than us. and in other parts of the world, and corrupt politics, and other parts of the world can simply lobbied enough to change politics. but what will very often undermined the will of the people, if you like. and what we have had and we have seen in this financial crisis is that they were all kinds of innovations, as they were called, or all kinds of practices, which were too opaque, to nontransparent for first of all, us to understand but then to actually see and if we were able to of transparency, i would take immediately we would've had much more possibility to prevent the crisis as it unfolded.
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increase, particularly we had lack of transparency, even to the point where we didn't have the right numbers of what our deficit was. and a lack of transparency there also has at times allowed for decisions, which are client list, more based on party politics voting, not meritocratic. voting very often the public sector as becoming part of a party machine rather than part of an engine to help both growth but also protect our citizens rights. but also it helped to develop a lot of corruption, corruption from the local, the grassroot level, day-to-day level and civil services all the way to
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the political level, to a higher level. and that's why transparency, for me, is very important because what it does do is, first of all, it exposes these possible wrongdoings. but secondly, in a democratic society a sickly gives our citizens and our different bodies, part of the democratic, part of the democratic process whether legislative or executive or judicial bodies, to be able to apprehend and to control these types of activities. so bringing back transparency, or bringing transparency to our system is, i think, one of the prerequisites, not only to deal with a crises such as the financial one we felt when we went through, but also it's a way of giving and empowering our citizens again to be part of our political life, and not feel alienated from the decisions we often take. >> usage are going to televise
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some are made all of your cabinet meetings that i think we're going to do a sessions at brookings watching one of these cabinet meetings. [laughter] >> i think that will be great. now at the time of crisis, sacrifices unfortunately needed, and i know you are taking very tough measures, 4 percent of gdp in one year. trouble is, budget cuts. and unfortunately, the sacrifices for even on people who were not that strong, not that wealthy, although i'm sure you are trying to make everybody pay their fair share. but as the recovery will come, these things will recover, they have been many expenses of crisis am and it looks terrible but then two years later all of a sudden growth is back. but often what happens is the fruits of that recovery are not very well spread. do you have already any thoughts, i know it's hard that you in the middle of this crisis, but thinking of how to make that recovery benefit
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really the average citizen increase? >> thank you, kemal. you've gone through a similar crisis in turkey, and you know what this means. i think the basic prerequisite for people to be, they feel that they can actually support, even though they may not be happy and we're not happy with these measures, but they can support these measures, is the first of all, there is a prospect and two, three years as you said for recovery, putting our finances into order and creating a much more viable economy. but secondly, that these changes will be just. and obviously we have taken some immediate measures him as an emergency measures, and they are not necessarily as just as we would like it because, for
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example, we are cutting down the deficit by cutting down wages. and those who actually have their wages out in the open, and declare their wages are the ones that will have their wages cut. while those who taxi table not really feel this. so this is why we are moving into other types of changes which will bring transparency which would change the tax system which will redistribute in a more just a matter, the tax revenues, and the burden if you like, of the tax system. so that people in the and will feel that we not only have taken this very bitter medicine now, but we are actually creating a much more just and viable system. i would add the third element to this, that obviously with these measures we need to see the other side of the stabilization program in the european union.
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it's called officially the stabilization and growth plan. and the other side of course is the growth area, we need investment that will be public investment, there will be you funds which we have, which we are allowed to have for public investment in infrastructure. but we also will be looking for private investment. i think this will be a time of opportunity for investors to come and see greece at a time of change where we are cutting down on bureaucracy, cutting down on corruption, making it much more easier to invest. but also moving into, as i said or in my speech, a green economy, making green economy the driving force of our economy from tourism to agriculture to the mediterranean diet, to our services. which means quality products and competitor products. and this is where we see greece heading, and that's our goal. >> you emphasize again in this speech this morning the need
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for, you said, more europe. and i know you've been a great supporter of the european project for many, many years, decades. in a way this is a challenge for europe. and also for the southeastern part of europe, where greece of course plays a particularly important role, that you played an important role. could you perhaps before we open it up to the wider discussion say a few more words about europe, the european project, which is in a way at the crossroads but maybe in a way this crisis can help you can also about southeastern europe, the whole enlargement issue, given the economic difficulties where do you see it going? >> well, if we go back to the origins of the european union as it is today, we're talking about a post-world war ii europe, where the major, the major factor in developing a european market at that point was common
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market, and in the european union, was pretty much a piece project even though it began with the economy. as a matter of fact, the idea was to interlink the economies in such a way so that there would be no desire for war, as that would be catastrophic from both sides if you're all sides. so it has been a piece project, and people sometimes underestimate the importance of the fact that the european union, over the years, have brought in countries, for example, breaking the divide between the east and west of the cold war. and that is huge piece project. with it also is a democratic project to project a democracy. bring in countries that were formerly did dictatorships, greece, spain, portugal. but also many of the eastern and central european countries that were under communist regimes. and thirdly, it is of course an
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economic project with social cohesion. the whole idea of social cohesion is very important. and many other countries, particularly the south, and we talk about the south sometimes we bring in countries like ireland, even though they are not south of europe. but now when we're talking about the central eastern europe, or european funding is help to equalize the differences, the economic differences in europe, i would say that today europe more and more will be evolving. this is a challenge and that is why this financial crisis can be an opportunity, not so much as an answer to the past of the world wars, although when we get to the balkans, i think and greece and turkey and so on, and cyprus, that's where we can see that the europe can play very important role in putting this conflicts to the past i helping
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the solution to many of these protracted conflicts. but i feel that it's also looking to the future of how do we want to structure regions in the world in a globalizing economy? how do you get sovereign nations to pull their capabilities in a peaceful way so that we can deal with problems that go beyond such as the climate change or globalizing economy? we need to work together. we need to manage this planet. we need to have some form of governance of this planet. what kind of governance? well, i'm not saying that european governance is always as efficient and as quick in responding as one might want, but it is a new model of governance which i think we need to look and democratic governments, and how we deal with the world. just one more point on the balkans and turkey. the importance of the
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enlargement is, in fact, and recall the word enlargement, it sounds very neutral, sort of a growth, growing geographically, but, in fact, enlargement is much more. it is sharing detailed values and institutionalizing these thugs within the countries that become members of the european union. so there is a process where countries apply for mentorship that it would be like, let's say, mexico or some other smaller, they want to apply to become a state in the united states. well, what would be the rules and the prerequisites for that kind of a change? well, this is what europe has been doing. i have been a proponent of moving ahead, both with the western balkans, countries like albania, former soviet, croatia, serbia, bosnia-herzegovina, so that we move and they are now
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most of them candidates are potential candidates. they are -- i have proposed that we put a date to their accession which would be 2014, 2014, 2014 happens to be 100 years after the beginning of world war i, which began in the balkans in sarajevo. closing a circle of violence and instability, and again, showing how europe is a piece project. i also see that what turkey and i've been a proponent of turkey becoming, having the capability and becoming a member of the european union of course having to fulfill its copenhagen criteria as we call them, and a number of criteria which have to do with good neighbor in his. obviously, cyprus has relationship with greece. now that has been, i have been a proponent of this and this was a major change, as you remember, and policy 10 years ago increase
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when we said we had locked the possibility of turkey being a candidate. and the we said we change that policy and said, make turkey a candidate and have full capability of becoming a member of the european union. saying that that in fact would be a stabilizing for our region. that would be important message for the world as a europe is bringing in a country which is predominantly muslim. and showing that the values we share have nothing to do with what religion we may believe in. and thirdly, in doing so we would solve problems such as the cyprus problem, but also issues that have to do with bilateral relationship in greece and turkey. so i am continued to be strong opponent of this proposal, and i do hope that a meeting with the
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prime minister of turkey we will be able to make more moves and issues, that have be lead us and held us back over the many years, the last decade. >> make you very much, and i hope the crisis will end soon so that more of your time will become again available for these important regional and peace issues. i do remember your visit i think in israel and palestinian territories and how together as greed for mr. and a turkish foreign minister you gave the message to israelis and palestinians that one can work together and go forward together. so let me now open the floor to questions from the audience. please do identify yourself briefly so that we all know where the question is coming from, and please make sure to address the question to the prime minister.
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[inaudible] >> thank you, prime minister, for that very eloquent rendition and also best of luck on the tremendous challenges that you face. i wanted to bring back a little bit to the economics. you mentioned the budget deficit. according to numbers where been looking at, greece has lost 30% competitiveness against germany in the last 10 years. costs have risen by 30% relative to those of germany. and by more than 50 or 60% relative to those of the united states, in terms of the fall of
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the dollar, et cetera. now, my question is, how it do you gain that competitiveness in a situation where you have no control over your currently, you're part of a concurrency, no control over monetary policy. is a realistic that greeks will take 20, 30% wage cuts in order to establish competitiveness? or that they will increase their productivity? thank you. >> i think what i will do is take three questions in a group, and then let the prime minister answer because there will be overlapping parts of these questions. >> abdullah representing the policy orienting turkish organization here you can be see. mr. preminger, thank you for your remarks. your election as prime minister
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was as you know very well, was very well received and turkey. and never -- there were high hopes your election would bring impact of the ongoing cyprus negotiations. and casual remarks such as you have to spend a great deal of your time and energy in tackling with his economic crisis, and i know how much you're willing to go back to your foreign policy issues, but my question is, what do you think about the cyprus issue? and where is this issue headed, as it is a major issue portioning turkey's relations with the e.u. as well. thank you. >> yes, in the back there.
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>> mr. prime minister, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to washington. i want to ask you -- >> could you identify yourself. >> john. if i can ask you, mr. prime minister, much of the speculation about your policies over the last several weeks pertain to the amount that greece might be asking of the european union are whether or not an imf package might be put together. we are done of this in your remarks this morning, and none of this seems to have come of your visits to germany and to france. can you please specify for us what it is that your government is requesting, if anything, from either of these governments or international institutions? thank you. >> thank you very much. >> i will take one more. yes. >> executive director of the institute. welcome to washington, mr. prime minister. mr. prime minister, just want to pick up on your discussion had with kemal regarding that greece
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is looking more and more for private direct investments. it's that point want to talk about or ask a question to get this was a will of american corporate executives rather than diplomats and reporters, what would you tell them right now in terms of trying to entice them to say why greece is still a good investment opportunity? if you could speak more specifics to greece's investment laws regarding in reforms that are taking place there in any incentives that would be forthcoming from the greek government regarding to entice foreign investment. >> mr. prime minister, i think we will turn to you to answer these for question. spectacular much that i will start with the economic questions. first of all, we said we're not asking for money. as with most countries are many countries, we go on to the international market to borrow for our needs. and what we are saying is that since we now are putting our finances into order, making our
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long-term economy viable and making the necessary changes, we should be able to borrow at rates which are comparable, if not exactly the same, as other countries in the european union. as i said, if you had state, different states in the united states borrowing at different rates, that would make it very uncompetitive for different regions in different states in the united states. that's what's happening now. we go out to borrow and have double the rates of other countries. so what we are saying from our european counterparts is, we're not asking for money. we are asking for the types of instruments which are necessary that if we seek speculation, and if we see the markets not responding to what we have done, and would have done even if we were under the imf, that there be a contingency plan which make sure that we can borrow at normal rates.
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that's what we're asking for. we're not asking for free money. we're not asking for bail outs. we are asking for the right to have similar rates of borrowing as other countries. that is what we need coordinate action, and that is where the european union now is moving in that direction in a positive way. and as i said, with both chancellor merkel and yesterday with president sarkozy, who are also truly ready for systematic action as they have called it, ordinate action if the euro zone is in a financial stability, the euro zone is threatened. and that's what would happen. if greece would not be able to borrow, it would have to borrow at very, very high rates. so what i've said about, what i've said about the imf is that in a different situation, if we didn't have the euros zone, this euro group, a country like
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greece may, may not, but may at some point if it couldn't bar would have to go to the imf. we haven't had that problem because we can borrow. we have been overly subscribed when we go out to the market. but we've been borrowing at a higher rate. so again, that at some point we may have to, we may have had to go to the imf. since this seems to be a developing european contingent plan, and this is what i've been working on with my partners in the european union, i think that lowers the possibilities that even if there is a problem we would have to go to the imf. so again what we're talking about now is creating at this point an ad hoc estimate which will help the greek economy, if it needs when we want to borrow. and in the medium term look at the necessary institutional changes in the european union, such as for example, eurobonds or for example, a european
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monetary fund or european guarantee which would mean, of course, possible changes in the treaty. but that would be and therefore it wouldn't be an immediate response. but that now would become very central in the discussion and europe. so i would like to see the european union now because of the great crisis and i am trying to spearhead this, that we went through is something which we can make an opportunity to strengthen our coordination and create the necessary institutions in the european union. what we can do right now is take an initiative on dealing with speculators, and that's why we're taking some joint political action from myself, angela merkel, nicolas sarkozy and others, and i will be able to give and it is also to president obama tomorrow because i believe this needs coordinated actions throughout the world.
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secondly, the issue of greek competitiveness and what we would say, what i would say to you as business people, if they were here, first of all, greek competitiveness, yes there is a question of wages. but that's not the only factor core competitiveness. i know there's been a lot of emphasis on wages increase, but we have to also differentiate between public wages and private wages. there's a big difference there. and investors come in, and when they come and they want to look and see what private wages are and the private sector and not the public sector. sometimes the public sector will set the tone for the private sector. what happens with the public sector is the fact that we have a bloated public sector, and a much larger public sector than
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necessary. and somewhat chaotic salary scale where you have some very, very high wages, which are exorbitant and the public sector and very, very low wages also in the public sector. so that's another area where we will spend money. now what we will be doing of course is creating other types of incentives which will also be much more helpful. first of all, the tax system will come in fact, create incentives for investment. secondly, it will create a much more lean and simple system for investment. for example, we estimated to invest in green energy as we call it, or renewable energy, increase simply by going by the book and estimate their would be some kind of a glitch on the way, might take five years just to get the investment ready to be, to be implemented, to be -- to be developed and start
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rolling the company in renewable energy. we brought a law which we are cut that down to eight months. that you shows how we are cut down on bureaucracy. we are moving ahead now on making it much more simple to create a company and get through the red tape. so bureaucracy and red tape is one issue. the second is transferred to and corruption. i was another problem, sometimes often for investment. that's another area we are cutting into. and that is going to make much more lucrative. thirdly, we are also opening up professions so that there is greater competition. and there is which we are closed professions and that will be much more important i think both for investment but also bringing down the prices in certain areas. fourth, we are creating incentives for specific areas of greece, taking for example, the items which have great potential, actually greece has
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the biggest when potential per capita in europe. but we have to do all of that. so we will make the possibility for investment in this area very simple. also like a one-stop shopping of investment. these types of areas, these types of changes we're making, i believe, going to create an are creating because we're doing this already, are creating the environment for a much more, much more effective system of economic development and investment. i would just add one more major point, which we're doing in our administration. we now have five levels of it administration from center to local. there are five levels. that's a huge bureaucracy. we now are, have proposed and in the next few weeks we will be putting it to parliament, a major revolution administration. we will be cutting it down to
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three levels. central regional and local. we will be cutting down the number of cities from something like 3000, to 350, unified local government in many areas. and we're also cutting down about 6000 local government businesses that have been creating huge bureaucracies there. so there is a huge change is now been made in greece, which never would have been made before. i think the fact that we are in a crisis has also helped not only me but our government, and i would say a wider consensus in greece say yes, now is the time. we reached the bottom. now is the time for us to make these big changes. someone i think said here, someone, one of obama's aides i think is well known, will quoted to say you shouldn't miss a crisis, if such an opportunity to make changes, and that's what we're doing in greece. now, on cyprus, well, this has
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been around with us for many, many years. i felt we came somewhat closer to a solution in 2004. as you know, the solution had to have a the green light from both the communities. and we have come back to this, and are re-examining this question. but it really needs strong political will. now, this is not something from the side of greece. we feel that we want to interfere in a direct way, because we see cyprus as a sovereign nation, even though it is divided because of the invasion in 1974. and we see that the community
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has all its rights to decide what the solution will be. that's why what i can do is certainly support this process. and certainly in my relations with turkey, to create the necessary atmosphere, if turkey is also responding in a positive way, so that we help things happen on the ground. but in the turkish, on the turkish cypriots community, you have 3000 troops. you have much more direct involvement. i would say more of the turkish army maybe less, the turkish government, i would rather see the turkish government being more involved rather than the turkish army in the cypriots problem. and this is were i think you need a real political will from turkey to move ahead. now, prime minister tayyip erdogan did show this in 2004. i believe he can show his will again. but what we also need to take into account is we need to
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create a functioning cyprus, a cypriots republic which is something we have to communities which will not be be doing one and another in every decision, which the type of governance is there which allows for a smooth functioning and a smooth function within the european union, don't forget cyprus is now a member of the european union, even though de facto the turkish because of the situation better, don't have their full participation. although cypriots citizens have all the rides as european citizens. but there are very big issues here that we need to make sure that as cyprus is a member of the european union, we must make sure that it is going to be able to fulfill all its obligations as a full and functioning and democratic country in the european union. so that's why we're talking
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about a federation by zone and by communal. which can be, which can be functional and therefore, as it is functional it is also something which will be european. i would also add to this, finally, that the european is something we need to follow as cyprus is part of the european union. and the solution should be colored by the european, we should make that it is applied to cyprus and to the solution of cyprus. if these elements follow, i believe we can find a solution. and i do know that both the present and tayyip erdogan our old friends, and if they are really allowed to move ahead and particularly, i would hope that we find a solution. as soon as possible.
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>> thank you very much. and i think we will have to close it now. the prime minister has as you might imagine an extremely heavy schedule. please, everybody be seated, because the delegation, the prime minister and his delegation will the first. so may i please ask you all to remain seated. thank you very much, mr. prime minister. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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