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tv   Steve Coll Directorate S  CSPAN  February 25, 2018 3:45pm-5:01pm EST

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immediately becomes a patriarchal thing, and that just extents -- extends for the next 10,000, 12,000 years. it's sort of an unbroken chain that can really go back to the very first civilizations and the very first temples. [inaudible] good evening. i'm bradley graham. on behalf of the entire staff here at p & p, welcome. thank you very much for coming. it really is quite a treat to
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have steve coll with us to talk about his new book "directorate s" which is just out this week. in fact this is the first time steve has had an opportunity to do his kind of standup talk about the book. steve is a legend in journalism for this prodigiousness, the clarity and incisesiveness of this process. his ability to perceive the big picture and his skill at presenting grand narrative of something. he spent 20 years at the "washington post," including stints as a financial reporter, foreign correspondent, a head of the sunday magazine, and for six years, he was managing editor of the paper. after leaving the post a decade ago, he served as president of the new america foundation, then took over as dean of columbia university's journal jim school. he also continues to work as a journalist on the staff of the
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"the new yorker" magazine, and along the wail he was written revealing books about very big, important subjects, including america's involvement in afghanistan, the bin laden family, and exxonmobil. won two pulitzers, ghost wars recounted the cia's history in afghanistan from the soviet invasion in 1979 to just before the 9/11 attacks. in his new work picks up where "ghost wars" left off. examining the past decade and a half of ill-fated u.s. efforts to achieve victory in afghanistan. laid out chronologically, the story that steve tells is a bleak and appalling saga of
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missed opportunities, mistaken assumptions, misguided strategies and miscast individuals. there's so much blame to go around, democratic as well as republican administrations, and implicating numerous intelligence operatives, military officers and diplomats, but steve argues persuasively that what has doomed the american war the most has been the inability of u.s. authorities to understand the isi, pakistan's intelligence service, and stop its covert interference in afghanistan aimed at enlarging pakistan's sphere of influence. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming steve coll. [applause] >> thank you, brad. thank you all for coming out. i feel badly about people standing so i won't -- >> increase the volume.
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>> lean into it a little bit. is that better? everybody hear all right? good. so i'm sorry about the folks standing. won't mind if you turn around and leave at a certain point. it's warm in here. c-span is with us so when we get to questions, i'm meant to ask you to come up to the microphone. as brad mentioned i haven't given a talk about this book so you're going to get a pilot, trial, and i'm going to learn a little bit about what works and what doesn't. i'll talk for 25 minutes and leave time for questions. i'm glad you could come out in the midst of a stock market crash, resignation of white house official for allegations of spousal abuse, and the imminent shutdown of the federal government to talk about the happy subject of afghanistan. so, as brad said, the title of the book "directorate s" refers
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to the covert arm of the intelligence service this pakistani intelligence service. although the united states has struggled with isis intentions and activities, in afghanistan, really from the beginning of its war there after the september 11 am attack it's not as if isi was a mystery to the u.s. the iaea co lab brateed with them to defeat the soviet occupation of afghanistan. itself was during the 1980s with american and saudi subsidies and with the guns and the technology and the power that came from supporting the afghan mujahadeen that isi grew into a state within the state, crosssive force in mosquito that
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influid politics and policy. and it's commanded by the army, the top general in pakistan is usually the most powerful person in the country, whether directly in power or indirectly. its service has 25,000 people working in it. some career military officers, some civilians. spies on politicians and foreign diplomats inside pakistan, collects intelligence from roped the work usually about india, and military threat, and divided into direct doorats, like the cia is. one for analysis, one for eaves dropping and the unit that is in charge of covert aid to islamist guerrillas, known as s inside pakistan. so, the war in afghanistan that is now in its 17th year, its
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began in 2001 as a sured improve vacation and counterattack to disrupt al qaeda in the midst of real uncertainty in the intelligence community about what could be coming next. they midded 9/11 and fierce they -- feared they were about to miss another one and part of the intense of going in was to disrupt al qaeda to get whoever might be planning a second attack on the run or thinking about something other than that attack. it wasn't really much of a plan for after the war. it was bare lay plan to execute the war. and after the fall of the islamic emirate, the taliban government december of 2001, the question of why we were there and what we intended to do, evolved into a series of confused strategies, laced with contradictions, sometimes informed by illusions, that
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neither the bush administration nor the obama administration proved able to resolve. one of the central questions in the war all along for anyone who has been involved in working on it, was why the united states and nato was willing to accept isi support for the taliban even when the pakistan's covert action and passivity about taliban sanctuaries directly undermine american interests and cost american lives there was a character in the book named chris woods, cia officer and ran the counterterrorism center, station chief in kabul and i think he rotate in around 2011, visiting congressmen and other officials who came out would go and see him and talk about the war. i was referred to as his hour of power, and he told everybody, we either address the sanctuary the taliban enjoys in pakistan and
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win the war, or we don't and we lose the war. that's hat simple. it had seem that simple to a lot of unbelieves him. all the way back to 2006 when the taliban started to revive and neither the bush or obama administration could find the will or the way to address this. so why did we escalate the war after 2006? and yet fail to achieve our goals and why are we still there? that's really the subject of the book. it's a narrative about how we got from the eve of 9/11 where we are today. it has a lot of episodes in it, a lot of characters. it's one of my -- one source i was talking to, sort of late in the project in in the fact checking phase, kind of had a sense of what the book's scope was going to be, and he said,
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probably not going to have a pentagon papers about the war for a long time. hope this is the closest thing we have. and i thought, well, that's at least an aspiration for the book and a way to think about it. so i want to use my time to talk about four things that i think contributed to where we are today, appar from the kind of central problem or surrounding the central problem of pakistan and its relationship with the taliban and the taliban's ability to access isi support and geographical sanctuary in pakistan. one is the problem of our war aims at different phases. second is our -- the failure of our relationship with karzai and investment in politics broadly. the third is the illusion of our counterinsurgency war in afghan next fourth is the failure of american diplomatic and
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political strategy in the war at various points. so, let's talk first about war aims. the bush administration and the obama administration carried out more than half a dozen secret interagency reviews of why they were fighting in afghanistan and how to achieve the aim it. a lot of the conversations took place in the same conference offices next to the west wing and the narrative keeps going back to that room, scenes are remarkably similar, all-day sessions, interagency representation, often in the morning the intelligence agencies would come in and analysts would try to brief the facts, here's a map, this what the taliban control and the estimate about men under arms, and then usually the professional anallies would leave the room and he policymaker wood debate what would we do now? remarkable to excavate as best
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is could without access to all the notes and records but with substantial access, to what was discussed and what was written what papers were presented, that the problem was so repetitious and yet the solution was so evasive. here's an example. in all of the reviews i was able to realun pack, of course it's a duty of poll sick -- policymaker sending young american women and win to war to think about the vital interests that justify the sacrifices. and in a number of the reviews they really work on the problem, and they settled on two. for example in 2009, during the obama administration's first review, they essentially found who interests that could justify the sacrifices that were being contemplated. one was al qaeda.
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and its affiliates. because of the threat across borders of additional terrorist attackon those already evident. and the second was this left publicly pronounced usually because it was so sensitive -- this security of pakistan's nuclear weapons. country with 100 nuclear weapons, dozens of terrorist groups. don't want them to fall in into the wrong hands. okay. so, al qaeda and pakistan nuclear weapons. remember, it's 2009. neither of these problems is actually located in afghanistan. al qaeda had left afghanistan and gone to pakistan, what remnants survived the u.s. campaign in the fall of township. they'd not only gone over to pakistan by latched inwith local groups and gnawing thrilled winter we'res of domestic terrorism that pakistan as ever phone, destabilizing the
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country, and pakistan's weapons were not in afghanistan. notwithstanding this mismatch, the surge of troops, 100,000 u.s. soldiers at the peak, 150,000 international soldiers, counting nate nato contributions, was sent to afghanistan because of the rationale that if afghan fill apart, al qaeda would come back which was plausible. the second one is one at that time occurs to the present today. al qaeda wishes agree, menace, threat, a relatively finite group. membership under 2,000, at least in the region. but the taliban, are they an affiliate of al qaeda?
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as dangerous to the united states as al qaeda? on what basis in they didn't participate in the 9/11 attacks. it's not even clear from the best scholarship that the leadership of the taliban knew about the 9/11 plot. they created sanction wear for al qaeda. they refused repeated requests to do something about al qaeda. but after the fall of the taliban government, what did the reviving taliban pose by way of a threat -- direct threat across borer to the it's or its a.l. lies? other question that all reviews in that conference room could never settle. ...
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>> that they had a plan that made sense in terms of the cost and outcomes to be achieved. at one point during those reviews they got into an argument that have we ever said we want to defeat the taliban? i'm not sure that we have. the next day the pentagon came back with a powerpoint of all the statements of all officials to say we will defeat the taliban. i guess we have to say something so they came out of that review to degrade the caliban and reverse the momentum that language that is so strikingly vague that it
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begs examination. so i mentioned these reviews return to the vital interest of pakistan nuclear weapons. but also that was a fairly easy consensus to reach but what does that imply? the stability of pakistan and the military's control over the nuclear facility was crucial so the more violent the war became the clearly destabilized pakistan pushing al qaeda into pakistan and after 2007 the worst years of internal terrorism the country had ever known. so you have dozens of militant groups more than 100 nuclear weapons and a worsening war. now you recognize as part of your problem in afghanistan but what do you do if you are
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already constrained you have already destabilized pakistan and if you go in heavy with pressure you only make the situation worse. during the last review of the bush administration president bush approved an analysis that was more or less along the lines of what i described at a national security council meeting but pointed out we are suggesting that they increase horses and gas resources to afghanistan but you're telling me the problem is in pakistan. so the cia says we can do drone attacks across the border to make some difference but the real problem is in the heart of pakistan. the president said can we go there? the director of the cia says blowing buildings up in the
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middle of pakistan then the isolated mud hut is different. they were constrained. president obama could not figure out how to resource the war to win it or on the other hand how to define the aim so narrowly to focus only on al qaeda that the talent then problem could be invaded. they went forward with the plan to degrade the caliban to momentum because they knew pursuing military defeat was impossible. so with karzai it is fashionable to think about to think of him as somebody who was unstable consumed by conspiracy theories, no question with his behavior was unbalanced there is a scene
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where karzai goes walking in the garden with one of his ministers and he says mr. president i do think the americans have been unfair to you. initially you are an afghan first you were mandela and that is not right. [laughter] that one of the threads of the narrative is how the relationship unraveled. even as somebody who was going there a lot like a magazine reporter interviewing him a couple of times what really struck me when i went back to unpack this meeting by meeting year-by-year documenting what was said in private as i possibly could, that every time karzai received an
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american visitor 2004 through the last day in office, the first and last of most of the attic thing he said you have to do more about isi and pakistan the war is over the border. and over time he could not understand why the united states was unable to address this problem. he took it for granted the u.s. could force isi to stop eating the taliban if it wanted to do so and since it did not take this action is thinking spun into conspiracies that there had to be another explanation that the u.s. was secretly hoping isi was destabilize afghanistan to keep the long-term military base in the country. as a diplomat in 2013 he goes to visit karzai he rolls out this theory and he said
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something to the effect by now you have the snowdon documents, wikileaks materials and millions of pages can you see any trace of this plan? and karzai says maybe you don't know the plan. [laughter] there is a deep state in america. another episode that is the spirit in one --dash that this reporting allows was the 2009 election debacle. when karzai was reelected and richard holbrook came in and was meant to be the special envoy and was immediately a
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strained from the white house because they did not appreciate his style that they thought diplomacy around the election that he would try to shape the selection and he used to say diplomacy was like jazz a little bit of improv is required and he started to move toward the election date by talking to as many potential alternatives to karzai as he could identify. he runs into the brother in kabul he says i think i'm the only person that you have not invited to run against karzai and i feel insulted. [laughter] of course he got wind of this almost immediately and became
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understandably upset and paranoid the americans were out to overthrow him. but holbrook had no authorization to replace karzai and no plan to achieve the goal. and to make an episodic story short, we end end up with the worst of both in this case because karzai is reelected and he believes with reason the united states is out to get him and he is infuriated and hit talks about our inability to talk to pakistan about changing it conduct with the growing estrangement from the u.s. i mentioned this walk with the lung -- with the minister with mandela and karzai says to his colleague if we cannot run the government after all of these
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pleadings then we should bring the taliban back to punish both the americans referring to the northern alliance. his younger son happened to be with him and the minister asked do you want this boy to grow up under a taliban and resume? i want that for my son. if the government collapses he says u.s. will not be threatened but we will be wiped out and that is what kept karzai with the knowledge that they were a dependency ended infuriated him more and more as time went on on the one hand the americans would say you are the sovereign president they respect you and we will deal with you as a sovereign but on the other hand every time they objected to the counterinsurgency with the policies or military
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campaigns or the way they were involved in the election, he was ignored and he understood he was powerless despite this loose talk repeatedly offered to his a's and the americans about changing sides or cutting a deal with isi to bring the taliban back. he was not in a position to do so. have about five or six and left. one was the counterinsurgency campaign that began in 2008 in earnest when obama took office after a series of tangled reviews partially endorse the recommendation of stanley mcchrystal to carry out the counterinsurgency campaign decided at the same time to
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announce he was ordering an additional surge of troops into afghanistan but also the date they would withdraw that we are going in and going out. that paradoxical announcement so typical a strategy reviews and policy. but as a counterinsurgency campaign with the afghan war in 2009 created a math problem so that doctrine the typical idea is a ratio of 20 soldiers and police for every 1000 local inhabitants. that means 600,000 security forces which was unrealistic even involving the rapid buildup of afghan security forces. they narrowed the problem by confining it at 80e districts in taliban and country selected along the border with pakistan.
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soon that formulation was the overdetermined engineering diagram with the jargon language of acronyms and stability framework pentagon refers would say the slogans it is great to make sure the population is attached to the government. the mantra of transfer territory rid of influence to a legitimate security force was an illusion that entire sequence of the transfer was based on wishful thinking with the british working with holbrook as he advised very early that he said mr. president you can send a battalion of u.s. marines literally anywhere in the world and they will clear and long as you're willing to keep them there they will hold it but the problem is handing
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that cleared area to the afghans to do something with it. finally just to mention politics and policy. here is another contradiction that keeps recurring in the narrative when you unpack the phases of our experiences there. one after another the top ten rolls arrived to command in afghanistan and they will say in public that peace cannot be achieved by military means alone. but yet you're after year military strategy by far is the greatest priority and david petraeus during his speech you said you cannot capture and kill your way out of the industrial-strength insurgency they end through negotiation. the war cabinet in the obama years repeatedly affirmed or
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has to be a political solution to accommodate some elements of the taliban politics. but if the war could be settled only by negotiations as many defectors as possible then why would this line of action not prioritized year after year? it was a stove pipe for the cia minutes war richard holbrook was a strained from the white house it was not a government that was diplomatic by any stretch. going back through all of this i was present with a lot of this going on interviewing people in real time but as i go back to impact this failure i find it particularly frustrating. think of the obama administration's achievements in diplomacy working with russia and china to negotiate
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the ten-year standstill agreement talk about a hard problem. all the way they decided to reverse decades of policy toward cuba despite his politics they worked on it sometimes in secret or semi- secret and got it done. so to have all the soldiers on the battlefield 20000 wounded and we didn't bring our best game to the negotiations. no matter how treacherous or difficult a war running on automatic pilot. the book tells the story of the conflict resolution with the president strong endorsement in the white house to secretly negotiate with the taliban and to bring the war to an end and it was a
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significant effort was a fascinating story who they were negotiating with on the other side. these moments where the taliban and negotiator comes and brings the letter and the letter says i had to make difficult decisions with my people to let the talks go forward so you should step up and show some courage and let's negotiate. the talks failed for a number of reasons and one was that karzai was not connected enough to the u.s. to participate as a constructive partner. he wanted to control the talks but the taliban did not want isi as a negotiating agent. not to suggest it would be an easy process but when you read how it unfolded it did not represent the best capacities
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or traditions of american diplomacy. i am anxious for your questions so i will wind down. one thing that hasn't changed with isi is in august of 2016, just as we were getting ready to turn the war over to the third administration, there was an unmarked white helicopter that went down in the province of an area that steve will remember we have both been there the main isi supply route it was shielded by all of these mountains you could drive a truck from pakistan we be 40 cliques from kabul without ever breaking
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cover and that is for the helicopters word fly. so it crashed and had a russian pilot and some people on pakistan on board and russian supplies the taliban and surrounded it hustle the pilots and the passengers back to pakistan burned the helicopter and disappeared with the supplies and the afghan said it looks like isi pakistan said no. the helicopter was flying to central asia for repairs. [laughter] so the trump administration is coming in and have suspended and treated aggressively. [laughter] we have between ten and 15000 troops on the ground one tenth the number that we had at the peak of the obama surge.
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the book describes an exercise the war analytical unit would do every six months of the district assessments the color-coded maps 400 administrative districts one color indicating government control another indicating caliban control another indicating local control. in the maps were a big hit they were fun to look at they would unfurl them on the tables and update them every six months and throughout all of this history from the beginning from the bush administration 150,000 to the withdrawal of forces in the prioritization of afghan security forces through today, the essential picture has not changed the war is a stalemate because the taliban and cannot achieve their objectives and have an air force to defeat
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the air force anytime they mask and they make themselves full herbal to airpower that's why they can't take significant cities even though they have momentum in the u.s. and afghan partners have not been able to substantially change taliban control of the countryside as things move on the map the pitcher has stayed the same we are in her 17th year and when the next president is sworn in for this one is sworn again. my sense is we will still be in this war. thank you for listening. [applause] >> if you can give advice to the next president because this one doesn't seem to do
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anything, what would you suggest? this isn't the first time it sounds like vietnam all over. >> it is hard enough to try to tell you what happened. [laughter] i really am, i am reluctant to give people advice but i think a couple of common sense answers, if you look at the history of war with a long stalemate like this the natural response would be not to keep doing the same thing over and over with a different result. i think the trump administration has persuaded itself what it is doing differently is withholding aid from pakistan showing resolve loosening the rules of combat
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even though there are fewer forces and somehow the surgeons of willpower on the battlefield will lead to capitulation and i don't see the evidence for that hypothesis. it is a feel-good posture you can take. like everyone who is been to afghanistan or work there i have nothing but empathy for the afghan people for this constitutional government and the afghans who came home in 2002 to restore to restore their country and has been destroyed by the invasion and wars that followed they were at peace with themselves and
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their neighbors most of the 20th century and then what took place 2002 was not imposed by the international community that was the afghan effort to recover their country they still have a constitutional government it is still there they control the cities with the young population coming-of-age that is connected to the war more than any before it and i would not want to see that collapse. i am not suggesting we pack up and go home but to try to get from here to a better place and reduce the violence even with a political settlement, the purpose of negotiations and diplomacy in the environment like this is to reduce the violence and give breathing space. the only way that will happen is if the powers that shape events in afghanistan decide like china russia pakistan or
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iran you can go on, india, are part of an effort to achieve what is the common interest of a more stable less toxic less terrorist infested afghanistan. that is hard work that requires high level diplomacy the obama administration carried out in the iran deal at the first bush administration carried out in the context of the first gulf war. it is all in all day kind of project using all the leverage the united states has with allies. we markable a we haven't made that effort so i guess i would start there because it can't be worse than where we are now.
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>> rather than look forward look backward. you spoke at the very beginning about missed opportunities especially with isi. what are the tools that the think united states had that could have leveraged isi to do something different than what it did? i reflect back on the failure of withholding those f-16 how they gather dust in arizona. that was a very effective so what would you identify? >> it is different at different times of the story the counterfactual history is a fool's game but you cannot help but think about the question of the missed opportunities and in my mind
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that. of 2004 i'm sorry 2002 through 2004 after the islamic cameras fell the taliban leadership melted afghanistan was relatively peaceful many afghans came home to rebuild in the international community was united in support of that constitutional government, what happened? returned immediately to iraq, there is a scene in the book with the generals who were sent to afghanistan to send up a task force and they determine not to permit large-scale reconstruction aid because of the belief we are not nation builders but they go off and are called to a conference or they are trying to get organized for what peacekeeping they can consolidate and say were going to war in iraq.
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and of course that incentive structure inside the intelligence services shifts this is where we are going now. that is one thing. the other is that we had no plan to account for the defeated taliban with the agreement. after more what is the wisdom of victory? to try to reconcile with the defeated enemy as much as possible but hold leadership accountable to identify war criminals and hold them accountable but the foot soldiers there has to be a plan so to take place twice and the consequences with afghanistan our policy was despite some arguments that i
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can document in the book to the other side offering an alternative that any taliban foot soldier was a candidate for guantánamo we would say let's talk about politics then arrest them put them in a jumpsuit and send them away. then the third thing after a couple of years of the combination of neglect, there is a study i described in the book from the spring of 2006 meeting the afghan intelligence services he sees the taliban and coming back and decided to do a field study and what are their motivations describing how he goes out into provinces and pays members to talk to him and gave interviews there is no m permeable lines people cross and talk to each other.
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so he concludes isi is supporting the resurgence because afghanistan by now consolidated the constitutional government with a successful election now parliamentary elections the international community support so it looks like a long-term ally of india with international backing. and the other signal that we sent with the dig nuclear deal was signed with india we forgave them for breaking out of the nonproliferation treaty promised some long-term strategic partnership then said to pakistan you don't get this deal you will never get the deal you are not reliable enough to have it. so clearly it is evident in the pakistani high command at that time we sharpen commanders start to say afghanistan is an ally of the
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enemy and americans will believe of a -- and us making a long-term commitment to india and because of the iraq war and our decision not to invest heavily in reconstruction we turn the afghan security operation over to nato allies to free up our forces to fight in iraq so they look across the border they see that canadians and the dutch and the brits and they say we are already in post america afghanistan we have to get going. so that is where the isi revival was located in some combination of those factors. >> 's you haven't identified anything specific? >> strategic you have to incorporate pakistan into the post more politics and
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incorporate them into a wiser approach from the postwar settlement. there are coercive policies you could bring against the officers with individuals like travel sanctions and the trump administration may try this it was tried in both administrations especially obama but the record of sanctions in the '90s and pakistan's relationship with china argues that type of coercion by itself is not coupled with negotiations involving pakistan's patrons and that will not succeed. >> just to shift gears can you be induced to do a combo ghost wars from iraq july 91 through
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march? b magnolia. >> we have time for everybody in line now. >> you touched on the question i have what it wanted 12 years ago what does isi want? is there a way we can accommodate that now? it sounds like this is a redux of what the u.s. was facing in vietnam with vietcong and the north vietnamese use cambodia so what nixon did was bomb the hell out of cambodia don't think that is something the u.s. will do but it sounds like pakistan is trying to have it both ways on the war
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charging u.s. for supplies into afghanistan also benefiting by probably getting something from the taliban having them in the country and being free to go into afghanistan. they are the closest essentially so what could be done to accommodate them? >> that is a big part of the story in the book especially during the obama administration. keeping a very close conversation with the pakistan army, again and again the american say what do you really want? what is good enough because it isn't just about the united states but they have to buy into whatever political settlement is made afghans are talking to afghan what
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settlement would work internally but pakistan's involvement makes it very difficult to have any type of negotiations but in these conversations at one point there is a secret paper that says this is what i want the americans look at it essentially says an adequate amount of political influence in the state for those to participate fully in afghan politics we feel we don't have that and afghans would say the hell you don't but it was a sense they backed off their claim to say we don't want the taliban and back in power but a better political settlement but also was we want a free trade deal with united states civilian nuclear deal given to
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india kashmir, investment of water dispute are energy deficits addressed, holistic lee embrace us as a true ally as if we were in trouble in germany to fix this with the imf and the american said honest talk but this is impossible. before they could digest that 2011 osama bin laden and the whole relationship collapses. it isn't as if they were grappled with but they were never dealt with as a whole but an isolated session even at the highest levels. >> congratulations on the book
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i want to ask you a question that you and knowledge you are writing about a war that is still ongoing and you reference the amb. and president karzai. how do you go about researching and writing a book like this in which documents are you waiting for the declassification date in the future? [laughter] i only know how to do these things one way that is why i produce very long books i need to figure out how to write 100,000 word books but my reporting methodology is a combination of interviewing and documents i could obtain from original sources to provide ballast for chronology contemporaneous authenticity
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and other documents i could obtain through declassification or resources like wikileaks and state department cables were helpful for the chronology because they are very granular about the days and when i was interviewing and had access to my own original written sources, i could always backstop those against the record in that way. and the fourth player is all the scholarship and analysis that usually turns up in the pages regurgitated to my own thinking but i try to absorb everything and this book was maybe ten years in the making. >> what you waiting for?
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>> there was a lot of episodes i could surround something through interviewing like contemporary documents but where there were disputes of what really happened i cannot resolve so a simple one that could come out with more documentation earlier than others is the whole episode of tora bora when bin laden escaped the senate foreign relations committee did a pretty good investigation almost entirely on interviews the most thorough account that we have of why we didn't go up then block him from escaping into pakistan and could we have finished the war that early would it have made a difference? but why didn't we finish it? so as an oral history of we should have done it different people say i argued we should
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have gone others say no you didn't actually. [laughter] so i fell i tried to give you the best account of what happened in the factors based on my research but i felt this is something it could be settled if you would give me the documents. [laughter] so it is important to our understanding of the history of the war. >> i like to go back to one of your earlier books of exxon mobil and you wrote about tillerson when he was in his own world the most successful person in that world. what do you think is happening with him or has happened to him and where he goes from here?
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>> i am not a state department reporter anymore but when he came in i thought he would do better than he has. i could see where his problems were going to arise and one of them is as the ceo of exxon mobil he lives in a bubble you are always flying in private planes everybody supports your leadership telling you what you want to hear and nobody challenges your opinion you are the boss but secretary of state is not the boss have to compete over foreign policy and this white house even james baker would have been a challenging job but one of the ways secretaries of state gain influence in the administration and my experiences to use the bully
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pulpit that he has distinctively to stand up and say this is what i think. you have so many opportunities yes you can clear your speeches but you are in front of the microphone lot it is not unusual to have a secretary of state fighting with the eye white house are isolated from the white house think of clinton and obama after the bad blood of that campaign but you overcome that to stand up and speak and create facts for your own activities but tillerson was never a public communicator never answered questions from the press that were not super controlled or thought about communication as three-dimensional to speak with allies. not just your counterparts that the oil company does to negotiate with the leader of
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another company and that is all that is but with diplomacy we have a world of allies and democracies to the parliaments and their public and this is a lifetime work and coming into government unlike other executives without any prior experience. george scholz ran his butt was in and out of government a number of times before he became secretary of exxon mobil they regard the government as a hostile entity there were very explicit they thought the state department wasn't good entire career diplomat they didn't negotiate effectively now to come in and take over that service you don't have experience with or necessarily respect is a
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prescription for what we have seen. >> good evening. when you are doing research and conducting interviews what is your access to isi officials look like was there any attempt to mislead you? >> mislead me? [i would refer you to the footnotes. [laughter] because i don't want to get into a policy discussion of my sourcing that one of my goals was to provide as much transparency as i can with my commitments to my sources in the footnotes but my broader goal i'm not saying that i got all the way there but something i thought about every month on this project to provide equal empathy to the
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perspective of decision-makers and characters in all three countries i was writing about i didn't want the pakistani characters to be any less listened to or understood than american. i understood the american system better but i spent a lot of time in pakistan and i understand something of the way they work but really i could make sure to understand that people with their institutional settings and why they took those decisions that they took i tried to do the same in afghanistan as well that the place i struggle the most was the taliban. a great book about this more would bring it to life the way i could get the pakistani army high command but omar was
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available for an interview. >> the squadron national defense from the pakistani perspective so for those americans with their sacrifices with the war on terror so did pakistan and its leadership and then also did it ever stand against the national interest with the whole history of the unstable relationship with the war on terror? >> yes. with the last question, yes because pakistan accommodated in supported groups crossing
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the border to attack until the american soldiers was destabilizing the war so that was the central problem from the american perspective. the second question about the pakistani sacrifices is important and what i tried to will due to earlier how the war destabilized pakistan and the price that it paid it wasn't their intention to flush al qaeda out and found the invasion when they would come in and do leadership and they would look around to say do not see the smoke on the horizon? i am at war.
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one of the things they only said during this period was i cannot afford to take action that chips war against my own domestic taliban from 98% against 2% at 50-50 because then the state will collapse i'm trying to control the war to win it and keep public opinion on our side. it was a serious crisis. you may not remember spring 2009 when the pakistani taliban came out running toward islamist bod there was a genuine sense the state might collapse. they fought back and gradually regained control but really only 2015 if you look at the numbers the forces could get terrorism back to a level where it was domestically in 2004. even then those civilians that
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died. that is part of that 360-degree perspective you need to bring to this if you try to figure out what it means and where to go from here. thank you so much 17. >> copies of his book are available at the checkout desk. [inaudible conversations]
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>> what would be the impact if the democrats won control of congress and there was an impeachment effort?
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what would that look and feel like and what would the impact to be on the people of america 45% in a recent poll, feel trump has done a pretty good job. susan we will start with you. >> impeachment is a very serious thing and i think we have to be aware of the fact there are many people who don't feel the last year has been a fair year nobody has concentrated on the nations business particularly we have heard nothing but stories and speculation on television every day. i really fear for our country if we start the cycle of impeachment and then the chaos that emerges from that. look at the other damaging
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results of the impeachment efforts in the past is very, very serious. i take this seriously because i spent the lion share of my career traveling to russia or the former soviet union i can barely stand what i hear on television because they never invite experts to talk about russia but the situation is way way more complicated and some of the things that come up on television are not only legal but perfectly normal for people engaged in international affairs. now if there was any real collusion, not just speculation and this is very, very serious indeed. but i would ask all my colleagues from washington that are still living there that old expression that
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washington is hollywood with unattractive people. [laughter] let me tell you they are looking more unattractive all the time it is serious and a tough place to be i don't think we are looking at the nations problems in the right way we don't have a strategy for everybody and the impeachment effort without the causes behind that measure would cause untold damage to our country the 17. [applause] >> up until four months ago i don't think i would have any special insight into the liberal base outside the democratic party but i joined as the token republican for a liberal news outlet called
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crooked media and a new five minutes so i have gained some insight into the grassroots left think right now. there will be a nervous pressure on the democratic politicians to take over the house to pursue some type of impeachment. the 2020 candidates will feel enormous pressure because essentially that is what the rank-and-file want. so in that sense these elections are very important because it will result in almost inevitably that impact and feel the pressure to do so. and the impact of that, we already are more deeply fisher and to try to impeach a
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president duly elected that i did not support but with 40% approval will only fisher even more money --dash fisher even more. >> i agree with those political observations but if the democrats to take control only by winning the swing districts and that pressure of the left of the democratic party be this or you're out will require or result in either a lot of democrats in seats to require independent republican votes to be elected it isn't nancy pelosi but a swing district in the midwest they will be gone after one term regardless of what happens with the impeachment or result in the house failing to approve the impeachment
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resolution supported by all democrats opposed by every republican and some republicans and then the democratic party is even more split going into 2020. it is bad for the country but also the democrats unless there is clear and convincing evidence of and impeachable offense you saw this play out inside the republican party with the failed impeachment of a guy who had with an intern them mind about it costing him his law license republicans overplayed and found themselves we had a candidate who stood up and said i will make this an issue it would have been more damaging to the party but instead george bush refused to talk about it at all and said he would restore dignity and honor and avoid the issue but it did do
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damaging could do even more in 2020. >> standing back and look at the various trends that carl was talking about it makes me feel we are moving more toward a parliamentary system without any of those advantages. so no opportunity to go to the country to reestablish credibility but the point is now political parties are really only running races to benefit the base. we don't have any leaders i can see coming along without a strategy for the entire country on either side to make a choice and live with that for four years. i am a registered independent i am still waiting for both parties to talk to me i would love to join a party again and
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go back to the republican party i am sympathetic to those various elements but 39% of the electorate in this country are independent which is a larger group them both republicans and democrats so this is a sign 139%% chooses not to be a member so it feels like it is a very fluid situation at the moment.
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>> it means the era to love. . . . . i think we want to put that in the back of our minds and most of us don't want to con tell place our mortality because it's depressing and one of the things
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christopher hitchens writes, and the difference between living and dying and just living is you're constantly aware you have an expiration date, for most of it's a possibility, something that lies ahead, but for dying people, it's -- they know that every single day is a gift, and normally ideally that's -- it would be great if we all lived like that but it would be stressful. . >> good morning. my name is nancy lieb and i am


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