tv Washington Journal CSPAN December 1, 2009 7:00am-10:00am EST
health care debate from a ranking member of the finance committee, senator charles grassley of in an hour-and-a- half, we will look ahead to president obama speech on afghanistan with a democratic representative, gerry connolly. "washington journal" is next. . host: here are the phone numbers. for democrats, 202-737-0002. for republicans, 202-737-0001.
for independents, 202-628-0205. the bill get to your phone calls in just a minute. -- we will get to your phone calls in just a minute. first, bob cusack, the front page of "the hill" a newspaper -- " newspaper. how will the president be defined by what he says tonight? guest: basically he is going to own the afghanistan war. he called this the good war on the campaign trail. he sent 17,000 additional troops to afghanistan. at that time democrats embraced the move. they said that president bush had not paid a lot of attention to afghanistan and that he was focusing too much.
just like president bush was defined by his decision to invade iraq, it went well at first and his political capital evaporated as the war went on. this is a key moment in the obama presidency. he spent a lot of time deciding which course to take and he is definitely a war presidents. host: the other had line is that the president must sway doubting democrats. will the president be speaking ahead of this speech? guest: yes, he is going to be meeting with 30 lawmakers before he heads to west point, he will be detailing what he will be saying tonight in the speech.
there will be some powerful democrats there, including david obi, who has been saying in recent days that the war must be paid for. the afghanistan war, we have obviously been there since 2001, he has been saying that it will cost to $2 trillion and that we should offset that. he has proposed a tax on wealthy americans. nancy pelosi has noted much unrest in her caucus with afghanistan and have it has been going. this will be tough for the president. he has to convince not only republicans, who want 40,000 troops at least, but he must convince a fair amount of powerful democrats to go along with his plan and i think that there will have to be compromise
on capitol hill because they are not going to rubber-stamp what obama wants. you have to concede to some of these offsets. host: what about selling this to the american people? guest: it will be a challenge. earlier this year 65% of americans supported the war in afghanistan, but since then the number has dropped considerably. he is not really going to convince anti-war liberals, who have been very skeptical of the war in afghanistan. he has got to convince centrist democrats as well. people that polls show have lost faith in this war. host: what will he and the folks in his administration be doing to not only sell this to the american people but, as you
indicated, the legislators on capitol hill? >> there will be a series of hearings later this week. the top officials in the obama administration are on deck. hillary clinton, she is going to be testifying. robert gates, as well as mike mullen, will be testifying. stanley mcchrystal, the top u.s. commander in afghanistan, republicans have wanted him to testify on his recommendations. he has not yet, but he is expected to testify next week. all of these major players in the obama administration will be making their case and there will probably be some tense moments with members that do not want this war to continue or at least once a timeline for getting out.
earlier this year nancy pelosi did not embrace timetables, which the appropriations committee chairman was pushing for. i think that there will be more of a push for an exit strategy. the white house has indicated that the u.s. is not going to be in afghanistan forever. there are sticking points that will come up. host: we will look for coverage of that here on c-span, go to c- span.org for the schedule. what should the viewers be looking for in these hearings? guest: how they handle the questions and how they pinpoint but cost and how the u.s. will continue to fight and wage two wars when we are in record deficits and unemployment. when lawmakers go home they are not hearing about the war in afghanistan. they are hearing about jobs and
the unemployment rate. how do we continue to wage these wars? republicans will make the pitch -- how do we not? we have not had a terrorist attacks since 9/11. some people say that the fort hood shootings was a terrorist attack, but that is under investigation. officials are going to have to be dealing with some very difficult questions from liberals and republicans. host: bob cusack will be with us for the first hour here on "washington journal." we will be back with you in a few minutes. first, chris, independent line. good morning. caller: how are you doing? president obama on his campaign trail said that he would have a clearly defined exit strategy in iraq.
but in fact they are really just moving the deck chairs on the titanic into afghanistan. what i find interesting, being a former veteran of the cold war, the tipping point that financially broke the former soviet union was not only the cold war but it was also afghanistan. it was unsustainable. that area of the world is not a troop of friendly geographic area. they are not accustomed to fighting there. we are not. what i want to hear tonight from president obama is basically two things. a clear description of what his measure of success is and how he is going to fund of this war.
those are the two things. anything else that he has to put in place is just a smokescreen. host: what do you think of a clear description of success? guest: how do you define it? that is the number one question. we have done a very poor job in the middle east and that region of the world, basically squeezing a balloon on one side, not knowing what would happen on the other side. going all the way back to the beirut bombing of 1983 and to iran and iraq. there is a need for cohesive governing in that area of the world. my stance, personally, is that i would like to see us pullout
completely. where it is recognized that this is clearly something that no one is ever going to solve after 5000 years of documented war and turmoil. how do we have the ego to actually think that we can control that area when our demo is to go in and pullout? host: ron, republican line. you are next. caller: no one looks at the real problems of afghanistan. they have a country that is separated by a language, and the worst part is the endemic taliban and al qaeda people in the border areas of pakistan.
those people can go across that border on a donkey any time that they want. if you study what has been happening in afghanistan over the last few months, 80% of our troops have been killed by ied's. how will the president's stop that from going on? i mean, you have got to look at this and say how can you control a country that is basically corrupt? built on poppyseed being sold around the world with an unending supply of criminal tribes. there are an immense number of tribes with different problems. and it is almost unbelievable. you cannot build a society on that kind of situation. that is why the russians failed. that is why the english failed.
probably why we will fail as well. host: can the president say anything to you to convince you that this is a war of necessity? caller: that would be in using the right strategy, putting our troops somewhere in pakistan. when we go over there, we take care of them as they try to take over different areas. then we can react to that. but do have those guys waiting around for them to plan to ied's with civilians, the taliban comes across the border, they take women and children with them so they are injured. it never looks good for america
that way, we can never win that kind of war. host: democratic line, north creek, ore.. go ahead. caller: bob cusack called this a war, many people call it a war, but it is an occupation. congress has not declared war. if someone came to our country and occupied us, would we be resisting them? that is pretty much my opinion. we should get out of there and do it as soon as we can. host: what if the president says tonight that his goal is to be out of afghanistan within two years? is that a short enough time table? caller: he should do it in one
year. how long did it take to get over there once we decided to go there? we should leave them to run their country the way that they want. host: bob cusack, the caller mentioned that you called this a war and that his opinion is that this is an occupation. your reaction to that? >> there has been debate on what congress approved with the iraq war and the afghanistan war. there was a resolution put forward on both fronts. soon after 9/11 only one member oppose that in congress. but the iraq war was more controversial. so, most members did support that resolution. on the campaign trail in 2008 it was a bonus, people in the
hillary clinton campaign were making the argument that the iraq war solution was not actually a declaration of war, it was a series of warnings that would lead to war. other democrats and republicans thought that that was not true, that everyone that was voting that day on the iraq war resolution knew what they were voting for and voted yes or no on it. that campaign angle that the hillary clinton campaign took did not win many political points and she backed off of that argument. host: utica, new york. as we are listening to you we will show our viewers the number of forces in afghanistan, broken down by country and region. caller: merry christmas, everyone. i want to tell you a few things about the middle east.
excuse me, first i want to go to the gentleman there. this is not the president's war, it is congress's war. this is the most stupidity thing that i see. americans need to study the constitution. we should not have 700 airports over there. we have over 1 million troops there. all they are doing is guiding our eyes to be wide open. host: any concern on capitol hill, bob cusack, that this will be seen as the democrats war? guest: in a way, yes. charlie rangel said he was looking forward to the end of the iraq war. i said that even if you win back control of congress, how will you stop it, president bush will still be in the white house?
he told me -- the power of the purse strings. cutting off war funding for the iraq war, that did not happen. there were high-profile showdowns with president bush. now that president obama is in the white house, democrats are very concerned. they thought that this president would get out of iraq quicker. and get out of afghanistan quicker. then there are others that note that osama bin laden is still on the loose and how are they going to get him if there is not a large presence in afghanistan? others counter that point and say that he is probably not in afghanistan, he is likely in pakistan. host: cambridge, andrew. good morning. caller: i am calling to say that in minnesota rehouse the largest
-- hello? we house of the largest headquarters of the national guard. we are very upset with this. we feel that our troops have been used and abused enough. we are starting groups that will pay for the impeachment of president barack obama. he ran on shutting down these wars and saying that we have to have an entire congress and senate to get laws passed to shut down these wars. he has that even bothered. host: how many people are in this group so far? guest: 5 -- caller: 5000. host: are they all minnesota residents?
caller: yes. host: how do you get them to sign up belloc caller: going door-to-door. host: what area of the state are you in? caller: north of minneapolis. host: our next call comes from jesse. caller: thank you for c-span. you are looking very well today. everything that the callers have said, in america we voted for this man. a lot of young whites and blacks voted for change. now, he says there is no money to give retirees this year, but they will spend $30 billion for
five years? c'mon. i thought i was voting for someone that was thinking about peace instead of war. host: from "the new york times" this morning, "president obama spent 40 minutes with nicolas sarkozy of france, who signaled that the french are not willing to send more troops to afghanistan. instead of troops, mr. sarkozy told obama that there would be a conference sponsored in london to rally support for afghanistan. it also says that the administration sent richard holbrooke to brussels on tuesday to begin briefing nato allies on policy.
stanley mcchrystal will also be briefing allies in his capacity. chris, independent line -- capacity." chris, independent line. what are your thoughts? chris, i am going to put you on hold until you turn your television down. monica, republican line. caller: good morning. merry christmas. host: what are your thoughts this morning? caller: the institution of war that has been declared in the middle east is a clutch. the country, at the time, voted? i do not think we should pullout until we have done our job. the president said that he was going to support the troops.
i think that he is doing the right things. you have to support the troops. you cannot make a move over there without listening to the chiefs on the ground. i feel that the president has to use more troops if he says so. we do not always like the fact that men and women are dying, but if you look at it realistically, 4.5000 people have died in conflicts over there. we saw just about that many in a few moments in the towers. we could lose a lot more if we pullout before the job is done. host: here is "the wall street journal" with more headlines.
"the u.s. is set -- spending $2.6 billion every month in afghanistan. the white house estimates 30,000 reinforcements would add about $30 billion in costs per year. the pentagon estimates that it will cost about $500,000 per soldier. independent budget analysts generally believe pentagon numbers to be more accurate. gardner, maine. independent line. back to you. go ahead. caller: i think that the situation is that yes, we have a large amount of troops there now and we will spend more of that has to happen, but there is a war right here in the united
states. a lot of people out there are trying to fight for their own lives, for employment. i do not think that we should be spending so much money over there to fight a war that has pretty much died down. host: do you have a job? caller: i have been laid off and i am struggling like a lot of people in this country. host: how are you making ends meet? i hear children in the background. caller: any way possible. i go to church been a lot of people there are helping, trying to make ends meet. no, it is not easy and i have three children. host: are you collecting unemployment? caller: yes, very little. host: the white house is having a jobs summit later in the week.
is that something you are going to be paying attention to? what do you think about that? what do you want to hear? caller: i want to hear that there is a to be a situation put in place for people on unemployment. right now all of the industry's have left them of many of us are losing employment. we need something to back us up to be able to live until we can find further employment. host: bob husak, you heard that caller saying that we should be sending that money -- we should not be sending out money to iraq because of the job situation in our own country. how should the president balance those issues? guest: it will be very difficult. he is very concerned about the deficit. the debate on stimulus will go into the 2010 elections.
without a doubt, the stimulus has not created as many jobs as the democrats predicted. it is not certain whether it would be paid for, which would negate whether it was a stimulus and that we should be paying for it. they are calling it a jobs bill, but it is not clear what it will entail. we do not know exactly what will be in the bill. there could be a lot of transportation provisions. bills that have been stalled in congress. this jobs summit is going to include lawmakers, business leaders, union leaders. unlike earlier summits this year, there is a partisan atmosphere right now.
it will be very difficult to get a bipartisan bill and i am not certain how large it will be. the opinion by many is that it was too small and it should have been bigger. there is just a massive ideological difference within the party on how to stimulate jobs. i imagine that this jobs summit -- there is going to be some back and forth on the best approach within the party. the house is aiming to have a jobs bill on the floor by the end of december. it will be very difficult to get that done in such a short amount of time. the senate is focusing on health care on the floor. host: back to the subjects that we began with, president obama
speaking tonight on afghanistan. this is a pole from "usa today." "65% of americans disapprove of obama's handling of afghanistan. in those areas he has scored the highest negative ratings. amongst all the issues, jobs are the number-one concern. -- concern." later in the week president obama is hosting a jobs summit at the white house. we want to continue for a few moments with more of your comments on the president's speech tonight, go to c- span.org for the schedule. jonathan, democratic line. you are next. caller: the best thing that he
could really do is announce a troop withdrawal. we simply do not have the resources to pay for a war on the periphery of the world's economy. if you look back at history in this country, look after world war ii. we had central bank failures that ultimately led to the situation that caused hyperinflation there. hugely destabilizing to spend all of your money on a vast military industrial complex. it does not generate exportable goods for workers. the reason there are no jobs, i have only been employed on a spotty bases lately and the money that supports her armored vehicles and ied's, it is a big
welfare project for the military industrial complex. people want to make it into a issue, saying that we have to fight them over there and over here, bull ship. they make $200 per year in afghanistan. these people have literally nothing. the bottom line is that if we continue this, it is like the neurotic people that dcomb and their hair -- that comb their hair until every single hairline's up straight. obama needs to find the courage to get the hell out of there. host: are you still there? caller: yes. host: i want to redo this line from james conway. "there is an expense in bringing
fuel and supplies into the area, nearly $1 per gallon, $400 per gallon for the marine corps. marines operating in southern afghanistan c 80,000 gallons of fuel per day. host: first of all, this is all borrowed money. our creditors are primarily the chinese and japanese. we have to pay the interest on that money. not only that, we are fighting to find resources for other projects. if you get beyond that, remember that economists have been saying that afghanistan is a peculiar country for hundreds of years. it is a cottage industry for them to fight wars against foreign invaders. they only come together to expel
foreigners. they keep the weapons and sell them on the black market. it is like kentucky with horse farms and bourbon. post all right. jim, maplewood. -- host: all right. jim, maplewood. caller: i am a republican. i do not understand why the rest of the americans have turned against this war. host: anything else? caller: i wonder why we think that war is easy. why accomplishing anything good is easy. the world needs to be changed. we cannot leave an enemy festering like an open sore. war is hell, it sure is. what are we going to do? build a big wall around america and tell anyone not to hurt us again?
asking please? host: "the wall street journal" has a suggestion for paying for the war -- a 5% increase in the gas tax would cover most or all of the war's cost and leave gas prices short of the 2008 levels. while most proponents of a higher gasoline tax want to use the money for higher infrastructure, congress could take the funding over once the war winds down. we do not expect a rush to embrace this idea. so far proponents of paying for the war in afghanistan heavily overloaded with those who want to end it. but if mr. obi or mr. obama believe that wars should be governed by the pay-as-you-go
principle, a means to cover this one is readily available." chris, albany. caller: i agree with a collar that said he should be impeached. if these politicians continue to trade the electorate, when he rewards the failed banks and insurance giants he rewards them with jobs and stimulus. $1 trillion in stimulus money. now he is going to escalate this -- why did we not just vote for john mccain or one of the other of warmongers? this is a betrayal of the electorate that we see over and over again. leaders had become addicted to power and more, they go hand in hand.
he should be trumpeting peace and nuclear disarmament between pakistan and india. that would sort of negates the force of the taliban. this president, especially obama, is letting everyone down. thank you. host: from "said usa today" -- from "usa today" "later in the week there would be a jobs summit, a health-care bill, and next -- and next week there is a climate change summit. the risk for the white house is that this becomes a political version of dodgem cars, where a
move by one could block the path of another." bob cusack, what happens to health care when the president is trying to do all these other things? caller: it will be very challenging. he really wants the senate to pass this bill. remember, the initial goal of the white house was to pass the finance bill by december 31. that is not going happen. the new goal is for the senate to pass the bill. obama said that if health care does not get done this year, it will never get done. this has a chance to drag out into the spring. blogger that the bill is out there, republicans would tell you that they have to move controversial things through quickly and the longer it is out
there, there is less of a chance that it will happen. it has been very slow progress, the upper chamber passing the bill by the end of this year. republicans are going to be doing everything, whether it is amendments or filibustering, to make sure that this drags out for a while. host: the said bill got a boost from a congressional budget office report according to one report. what does this say? guest: it is good news/bad news for democrats. on the one hand, it would be a better package of benefits for people out there without insurance. on the other hand, depending on who you are, if you are a small company you might not get the
benefit compared to a large company in premiums. depending on whether you have a job and where your job is that, the charles grassley is saying -- the cbo is saying that it could go up or down a bit. so, this is something that will use by both parties in the debate. host: for the next 20 minutes, what do they want from the health care bill that will ultimately come out of congress? what is it in this health care bill did you think of first when you hear about this debate and what do you want, ultimately, in a bill?
what have you heard about the major sticking points being resolved? guest: there are several of them. the legal immigration provisions about money for purchasing these health exchanges. there is the raging abortion controversy. the senate bill, or in hatch from utah, he will be looking to amend the bill. many in the house were not pleased with this stupack amendment. there are so big the provisions that will be difficult. you have different ways to pay for it. you have the tax on the so- called cadillac plans. foseveral groups of the left are
not happy with how democrats are pursuing health care reform. trial lawyers are wary of medical malpractice provisions. republicans want these provisions to be even stronger. you have unions rallying against the plan and pro-choice groups that are upset with house health care reform. you have a fair amount of troops on the left looking to change this bill, saying that they can advance the debate on the senate floor before it gets the conference. the white house has pushed for a public option senator -- option. that is why multiple senators
have been asked to come up with a plan b to see if they can come up with some kind of public option, though many on the left do not like the idea, just to get it through senate. they have an enormous way to go it is difficult to see how they to 60 on the senate bill. host: james, democratic line. atlanta. caller: [unintelligible] host: are you there? caller: i think that everyone in america should be able to get health care. we should have health care for everyone in america. host: caroline, arkansas, what do you want from health care
bill? caller: they should take the words mandatory out of it. completely unconstitutional. they should not force people to purchase something that they cannot afford, or force someone else to pay for it. that is ridiculous. host: chris, good morning. caller: on this health care bill i would like to see a little bit of both. mandatory for recheck health care for a few years -- 3 check out health care for a few years. people who have it should be charged more, people who do not should be receiving free visits. you just cannot have rich people and for people with health care and without health care.
they will have to implement a plan that will work out for all parties, democrat or republican. people looking at it both ways. host: let's hear from a democrat. drew, new jersey. caller: i think that there is no health reform without a trigger for the public option. by think that we should be able to pick and choose other legal medical procedures, besides abortion, that we do not want tax dollars going to. like niagara, for example. there should be no language that allows a legal procedure to be interfered with by the government. host: west virginia, connie. what do you want from the health
care bill? caller: i know that when they voted it was a 50/50 situation for me. i watched it on c-span. host: are you talking about the house or the senate? caller: the senate. host: the senate has not voted on the legislation yet, they voted on beginning debate. caller: well, ok. going through to the next process. i agree with what the other caller commented on the other day. i've been that it is a public issue and i think it is only fair to let the people decide with votes.
host: buffalo, tony. what do you want from this health care bill? caller: i do not think that the government needs to be going through this, like the other caller said, it is not constitutional. the government seems to be coming more intrusive and spending like drunken sailors. democrats want to spend on one thing and republicans spend on another. it seems like they want to bankrupt our country. so, i think that they should try to fix the system that we have. it is not as bad as they claim. host: fort lauderdale, florida, democratic line. john. caller: my name is john, i am an african-american. i voted for president obama.
i wanted change, not because he is black. because of the new change, man. i want a health plan with an option and i do not want to expand the war in afghanistan any further. i want him to pull the troops out. i want the troops to come home. let's take care of america. we need jobs. people here are suffering. host: jacksonville, florida. caller: i guess i am cynical. i think that your last two topics are tied together. i think that obama is sending troops into afghanistan to buy off republicans so that he can pass the health care troops -- health care bill. he is saying very little about
the health-care industry. people like rush limbaugh and sean hannity, they could crush the health-insurance bill in two days if they wanted to. i think it was a trade-off. republicans get the war and they are happy, democrats get their health insurance and the people get screwed. host: roanoke, va. caller: no matter what they decide i would like them to be able to implement whatever it is and run it honestly. right now they're not doing a very good job. maybe they can put unemployed people to work. host: dallas, republican line. your thoughts?
caller: they need to start over again entirely. they need to concentrate on reducing costs, to start with, then see a thing need to increase. we are going to lose a lot of doctors in this country. ridiculous, thinking that we would add 30 million people to this health care situation. thank you. host: delaware, good morning. caller: good morning. i think it is sad but we do not all have rights to health insurance. i do not see what the bickering is about. why can we not all have health care? host: all right. bob cusack, you have been listening to the phone calls for the last five to 10 minutes on what people want from health care bill, what is your
reaction? guest: a lot of wants and needs out there. callers mentioned the costs going down, many people are frustrated with their insurance company. they want pre-existing conditions covered. also some interesting calls about the individual mandates in some of these bills that would require individuals to purchase health care insurance, just like car insurance now. there are some people that say that that is unconstitutional. one of them is senator orrin hatch, who says that you cannot put this mandate on the american people. the interesting thing about that mandate is that some people in news articles do not have health insurance and they say that they would rather pay the fee of these bills to the government.
which would be cheaper than paying the premiums. lawmakers are conflicted, they are hearing a lot of different opinions on what people want. that is why this was so difficult. the white house knew that this would be one of their most difficult tests going in. host: ben bernanke is going to capitol hill this week, it will be his confirmation hearing. what are you looking for? guest: this will be an interesting hearing. when he was nominated by president bush he was approved by a voice vote in the senate. only one senator voiced opposition. he is popular amongst members, but i expect in the grill on a number of issues about the
deficit. aking crop -- a proposal from ron paul to suggest that the federal reserve subjects to government audits. that has received many sponsors, even though barney frank wanted some version attached, but not what paul wanted. that will be an issue, whether it entitlement spending should be a commission in where we are as far as tar p funding -- tarp funding. should we have another stimulus? timothy geithner has been under the gun recently. timothy geithner and ben bernanke has worked closely recently, but ben bernanke's relationship with congress is better than timothy geithner's.
he reached out to the hill, had members over to his office, had breakfast and talk shop. he and a member of the senate famously talk about their love for the red sox. i think if he will be confirmed, no doubt about that, but there will be some grilling of him this week. host: bob cusack, thank you for your time this morning. guest: thank you, greta. host: next caller, good morning. caller: you are beautiful today. obama wants to change things? start teaching medicine in high school. host: we are listening, arnold. caller: we have a free education
system, why not make medicine free and to make a nation of doctors and start healing the world? host: dean, republican line. caller: good morning, america. i do not want $500 billion taken away from the medical coverage of seniors. i do not want my tax dollars to pay for abortions. sunday c-span had a lady on from alternet, but i would call what altered minds -- call it aletered minds. if you listen to what the left is saying, you can be on single payer when you are young and healthy, then shifted over to another plan when you are older.
10 minutes of her spitting out standard -- standard leftist talk, she made a comment about the fact that her hands were tied by the insurance companies. i have got to believe that these companies are going to make the huge killing off of the american people. speaking of, how in the world can we pay for something for years without using, like they're talking about? waiting until 2013 for the benefits. i am stunned when i watch the news every day. i cannot believe that our country is doing -- what our country is doing.
host: nick, democratic line, manhattan. caller: we should be going after the countries that -- companies that rep off medicare. we should be going after them with a vengeance. i called to say that one word that we do not here, we hear about these pre-existing conditions, which is well and good, but we do not hear about exclusions. my policy at work has so many exclusions. if you have a health insurance policy, it should not be riddled with these vast amounts of exclusions. for example, my policy does not cover me for a cat scan or re colposcopy. you need to simplify an insurance policy to provide the
proper coverage for the individual getting a policy. host: you can read more in "the washington post" about the people that crashed the white house dinner. on monday, "a supreme court ruling was thrown out ordering the photographs of supreme court -- odor -- fort -- photographs of detainee is to be showed. that is the associated press this morning in "the washington post. from the front page of "the new york times this morning, a clear path for sailing with nbc. comcast is going to acquire the
network." the next call comes from ricardo on the republican line. good morning. caller: i do not want socialized health care. it will lead to corruption. you think that medicare is corrupt? to wait until you see socialized health care. that will lead to a medical class. in afghanistan, we have got to win. we cannot have another vietnam in afghanistan. the surge worked in iraq and it can work again in afghanistan. we are going to win. host: harvey, missouri. caller: hello? congress has never made out to their promises made to the veterans in the 1960's, how can we expect them to live up to
their promises now? host: ok, last phone call this morning and what he wants for a health care bill. after this we will head over to the national archives. a nonprofit program has brought children together -- educating young people to become involved citizens. our first guest is chuck grassley. guest: i have already used twitter this morning, if you wanted to put questions in to me i do a web cast once per week. host: if you are just joining us, we are just now beginning the conversation. welcome to the national
archives. just a moment ago charles grassley was speaking to the students here. as a way of introduction, charles grassley, ranking republican and member of the agriculture committee, thank you for your time. brandon has the very first question. caller: good morning. my question is -- what are the primary reasons for the health care debate? guest: there are two primary reasons. first, that everyone has access ability the health care insurance.
generally given by people with lower incomes to subsidize health insurance, making sure that the discrimination coming from united healthcare in pre- existing conditions can do away with it. so, affordability and accessibility, for the 47 million people that have no health insurance today. you could break that down into smaller groups. .
host: a new report by the congressional budget office says that for most americans, this plan will keep their premiums at the same level or a reduced level. do you trust the numbers? guest: you have to trust cbo. in the city, they are like god. if you do not believe them, it takes a super vote to override. they are professionals. they are non-partisan. here is where you have to read between the lines. the ones that have individual policies, not group policies, will probably see premiums go up 10% to 13%.
it does not talk about increase in taxes. and there will be money diverted from the medicare to subsidize people's health insurance so those premiums do not go up. you have to take that into consideration that somebody else is paying. if you were in a small town in texas or iowa, and they were talking about health care reform, and i walked into the coffee meeting and said something like you know the bills before congress will increase taxes. they will increase premiums. they will take $400 billion out of medicare that is already in trouble, and put into a new health insurance program.
and we are not going to cut down on inflation of health care. they would say, that does not sound like health care reform to me. the word reform means we will level things off. and people that do not have health insurance will have it. nobody would expect premiums for anybody to go up, but they will go up, particularly for young people. a group of young people will see a fabulous increase in health insurance, and they will also see a mandate from the federal government that you have to buy health insurance. never before in the 225 year history of the country has the federal government ever said to have to buy anything. states can say you have to have
car insurance. under the 10th amendment, the states have the power to do that. a federal government does not have the power to do that's. for the first time, you will have to buy health insurance. is that right? some people will give a good explanation of why it is right. we could set up a reinsurance program that would accomplish the same goal. host: here at the national archives, we're in the mca gowan theater. montana, next up for senator grassley. caller: senator grassley, how are you doing this evening? guest: very good. caller: why has there not been discussion on the cost of the actual medical treatment in hospitals and doctors?
guest: you will have to explain your question a little bit further. i can tell you where there is some discussion of that. for instance, we reimburse doctors and hospitals on the quantity. in other words, the number of times to go to the doctor, you pay for going to the doctor. when you go to the hospital, you pay for entering the hospital. we do not pay based on quality. the public, we do not get the medicine we pay for. in that context, we do talk about treatment by doctors. that may not be what you're talking about. our goal is to go from reimbursement based on quantity to reimbursement based on quality to interest the first health care to be given the first time. for instance, people who leave hospitals -- 20% of them are back in the hospital within 30 days.
to encourage hospitals to do it right the first time, we are going to give some encouragement for follow up care after people leave the hospital. but follow up care would be a lot cheaper than not doing it right in the first instance. host: we will shift back and forth between the issue of health care, and the president's speech tonight on afghanistan. >> hello. in from dallas, texas. despite the popular sentiment against the war, why are we still in afghanistan, why is obama going to increase troop levels? guest: it would be a better question for the president because he is the commander-in- chief. i have opinions on it. one, i think it moved away from 9/1113000 americans were killed -- a move away from 9/11, when
3000 americans were killed. if you would think in terms of what happened at fort hood, texas recently, the arrest of a terrorist going from colorado to new york to do some explosive damages there, or the resarrestf people in minneapolis who were shifting people to somalia for terrorist activity. then you see the immediate danger to the united states. the president knew of this danger when he was running for president to the presidents of the war in iraq is not as important as the war in afghanistan. the president was sworn in in
january. he issued a new set of documents for the war in afghanistan. they fired the general in charge. they hired a general mcchrystal. the general says he needs more troops. the president is responding to everything he said during the campaign. the new general rehired, the new plan, and he is doing it in a sense of protecting americans from what we know happens here, and maybe a lot of things that i cannot tell you because they are classified, but there is terrorist activity in the united states. what goes on in other countries has to do with the protection of americans. the number one obligation of the federal government is our national security. the state governments, the local governments, do not protect you from foreign intervention.
only the federal government does that. the number one responsibility of the federal government is to make sure that all of you folks and all 306 million americans are protected. if the president does not do that, and he stated during the campaign that afghanistan was something to be concerned about -- he would not be doing his job as commander-in-chief. i think he will fulfil the obligation tonight as commander- in-chief to make sure that americans are protected from terrorist activity. that is, training people to do damage, not only in the united states, but other places as well. host: president is meeting with 31 members this afternoon. will you be at the white house? guest: no, i'm not on armed services. those will be the people there. >> and rather was a proposal
pre-tax increase to help fund the gulf war in afghanistan. -- i read in it a article that the tax increase to help fund the war in afghanistan. guest: it would have to go through the finance committee, that i am a member of, and we have not had a meeting to explore the idea. i do not think we will have a meeting between now and the end of the year to explore the idea. next year we will probably get into some legislation. the idea that you suggested came from the chairman of the house appropriations committee. in previous wars, there have been three sources of revenue. borrowing, tax increases, and diverting money from domestic programs into the war effort. i would say any one of those three efforts will be available to fund this operation as well. host: boca raton, fla., you are
next with senator grassley. caller: good morning. senator grassley, during the previous administration we passed a pharmaceutical plant that is a windfall for the pharmaceutical companies. we passed a bankruptcy bill that is a windfall for the credit- card companies. we now have a public option on the table. i have patients who are now having to make a decision between e dean m. valianating ag medication. there was a cdo member whose job
was threatened. we have a $1 trillion debt to china during the bush administration. anytime there's a bill before congress but withhethat would hp people, we have the republican people come out with their fiscal responsibility slogans. apparently, there's no credibility year. there was a time when you were supposedly an honest broker. you went before an iowa audience and indicated that there were death penalty up until ground balanels that would kill granma. of course, with the republican party getting these tea-baggers
and other individuals before the congress, the yellow the loudest. host: thank you. guest: he has the chance to make the process of representative government work. it is a two-weigay street. if you're going to have dialogue between those of us elected and those that we serve, he has one-way dialogue. he did not ask any questions. there's not much i can, on. he talks about a program costing more than what the actuaries said it would cost, and otthat
there was political reaction to this is the only program that i have been involved with that has come in under budget. i can tell that he does not know that. the only program that i know of that does not have cost overruns. i do not know how you get that sort of ignorance about the program when the nonconventional congressional budget office. i try to get a bipartisan agreement on health care reform. senator baucus and i have such a close working relationship. he worked with me an diamorphine with hid i am working with him.
september cave and a leadership did not want to wait any longer true they pulled the rug under the negotiations. i hope the person from boca raton does not thing that i would spend hours and hours in 31 different means to try to develop a medicare reform bill without trying to get that. host: health care isn't afghanistan are the issues we are talking about -- health care and afghanistan are the issues we're talking about. how many of you are here for the first time in washington, d.c.? and you first came as a junior in high school, senator? guest: yes, but only for three hours. host: we are at the national archives. >> senator, do you think the
new health-care bill takes a socialistic approach to solve the health-care crisis? guest: i do not think so from the standpoint of everything except the public option. when you put the government in a position of being a competitor, a regulator, and a foundeunder,n i think it is fair to say that the government is not a competitor. it is a predator. i believe there are studies by think tanks in this town. they say 80 million people will lose their private health insurance because of the public option. lewin group is another respected group of health-care issues. they say 120 million people would go into the public plan.
if you have that many people going into the public plan, then there's no private health insurance leftover. pretty soon you have a government run program. from that standpoint, it would be socialist. i will give you an example of two democratic congressmen in this town who have spoken to this issue better than i kept. barney frank, chairman of the baking committee, made statements about public option is a necessary step to getting to the canadian-style single payer government run program. the congresswoman from chicago was on youtube during the summer. she was speaking to a group in her constituency that wanted a canadian-style single payer plan right now.
they were mad about even having to go the step of the public option. she said you cannot go from here to heare. the american people will not move that fast to a government run program, so the public option is a necessary step to get there. if you ask canadians, there used to the system of rationing of care. for instance, you need to wait three months for a mri in canada up. you do not have to wait that long in the united states. i do not the most americans want the kind of health care in america. although, there is a group plan the senate that would like to have canadian-style health care right now. i believe the americans want choice. they did not want and denailial
and delay. host: john is joining us for senator grassley. caller: good morning, senator. i know you have been concerned with the possibility of some sort of socialism. i have noticed from your biography that you have been working since 1952 in some form of government capacity. guest: does that biography say i spent 50 years as a farmer as well? guest: i was going to ask whether you have been getting government subsidies? guest: yes, i participate in the farm program. caller: for over half a century.
guest: for the first 16 years, i made $3,000 every other year as a state legislature. do you expect me to live on $3,000 every other year? no. i was a factory worker for 10 years and i was a former for that period of time. if you're trying to make a case that i have lived off the lipublic. caller: don't you know that the limb grouewin group is owned byd healthcare? guest: if it is quoted by both parties, then it is ligament. caller: i have never heard a democrat used the lewin group.
they are owned by an hmo. host: thank you. next question in the audience. >> good morning, senator. should congress increase funds for the military in afghanistan? guest: every dollar spent on anything in the united states government has to be appropriated by congress. any money spent on the military in afghanistan, iraq to, or any place world. host: next question. do you think that the health care bill -- the using the senate will pass the bill by the end of this year? guest: if 60 democrats stick
together, anything could happen. that is the magic number, 60 votes. right now, there's a half a dozen or so that have some questions about some parts of the bill. host: 121 question do you have? what worries you the most? guest: does not have medicare malpractice reform. we have a lot of lawsuits. it adds up to about 10% of the cost of medicine. tate &. -- we need medical malpractice reform. at my town meetings around iowa, the one thing that always came up of people questioned in the
direction of congress, it always came up. why don't you do something about medical malpractice? people understand that is driving up the cost of medicine needlessly. host: back to the students. >> my question has to do with money, since you are on the finance committee. the bill passed in the house with $400 coming from medicare. the white house has made statements that the cost is necessary and effective. do you agree with that? how much should government be willing to take from the medicare program, and what needs to happen? guest: our view is that medicare is about broke, anyway.
you should not take $400 billion from it host: you-and not take money out of medicare because of this broken already. >> senator, since the health- care plan requires virtually every person to buy some type of health insurance, and the majority of people in the united states cannot afford health insurance, how would the federal government aid to the american people? guest: they would increase taxes, take money out of medicare, and increased premiums. in a way that brings in money. i think it adds up to $700 billion of the total pot of money.
that would be used to subsidize health insurance for people under 400% of poverty. you would get some help from the federal treasury to buy health insurance. host: another question in the back row. >> good morning, senator. in respect to the public option , if we run a capitalist system that allows people to make personal choices on what services they would like to buy? guest: your question is central to this debate, and may be central to the differences between the two political parties. princetons, whether the federal government ought to mandate that everybody buy health insurance.
i think i've made myself very clear on that point earlier when i said in the 225 year history of our country, the federal government has never said you have to buy anything. states require you to buy car insurance. states have more power under the 10th amendment. states can do that. that is where they get the power to do it. the question is, is it constitutional for the federal government to require you to buy something you might not want to buy? i got a letter yesterday from somebody in my state that said since 1985, they were self- employed. they said all these years i have decided to sell the insurer. why would you make me buy
health insurance? and if i do not buy it, i have to pay $1,500 to the irs every year. and kind of stating that it is unpatriotic, unconstitutional. host: to our listeners on c-span radio, we are joined by senator charles grassley. and the students are asking questions. joe, good morning. caller: good morning, sir. guest: good morning. caller: with all due respect, i've been listening to this debate very carefully. it does not sound like anybody is sincerely representing the interests of americans. how can this be a serious debate when you guys pretend
like eliminating insurance companies and allow in medical care providers to directly compete for patients by offering low-cost and efficient services is void. when i go to mcdonald's, i can see the price on the menu. madison -- the practice of medicine is the only business in this country in which no one has an idea of what they paid before the land. it is absurd that you guys advocate for the insurance companies by claiming everybody needs to have insurance when we do not need insurance. we just simply need the law to make what medicine costs available so we can choose where
to spend our dollars. guest: i agree with you. there's a bipartisan agreement that agrees with you, as well, or maybe even a consensus that agrees with you. there are steps in this legislation. although, i would say, inadequate steps. everything the usage should be posted -- everything you said should be posted on the internet and in the doctors' offices. part of the philosophy behind what we call the exchange -- although, this does not deal with doctors and hospitals, but it deals with consumer friendly information on the internet. this is another one of those things where there's not a republican or democrat difference. i think everybody believes done if we can have a consumer friendly exchange where you can go to buy insurance, you check
in consumer friendly language, not the legalese of insurance policies, what the policy offers you and what the price is, then you can compare to the shop. this would be good for the consumer, just like knowing what doctors charge and what hospitals charge. host: we will try to get two more questions. >> good morning, senator. why does the government want to take over health care? why don't they leave up to the insurance companies to provide health care? guest: philosophically, i agree with you, but there are some things in the 150 years of regulation of insurance companies that government can do constitutionally. one of those would be to do away with pre-existing conditions and the discrimination that comes with it. another one would be the big
discrepancies between low premiums and high premiums. those are some things but are wrong with the delivery of health insurance by the insurance companies, or the fact you cannot buy health insurance across state lines, but you can buy a car insurance across state lines. have been health insurance sold across state lines would bring in more competition, so you would get lower prices. all of these things fall within the constitutional powers of the federal government to regulate, and can be done, and correct some of the things the wrong health insurance health insurance. where the bill goes too far, and probably what you're raising your question about is this public option, and whether or not the federal government can be a competitor and still have the private sector exist.
based upon heritage and lewin, they do not believe the private sector would exist after a short period of time. eventually, you wind up with a government run program. >> good morning. i am from new orleans. we have been studying the criteria of a just war. categories include the benefits outweighing the sacrifice. in sending troops to afghanistan and iraq, do you believe the benefit outlays the sacrifice? guest: prior to nine such love and, i would have thought anything going on over there would not be worth our investment. -- prior to 9/11, i would have not got anything going on over there would be worth our investment. then i saw what happened in new york and washington d.c.
and then i looked at the responsibility of the federal government to protect us. that is the number one responsibility of the federal government. if there are things going on in fort hood, or a terrorist arrested in denver, or last week and there were suspects arrested in minneapolis because they were shipping young people for terrorist activities someplace else in the world. it is a rude awakening that what happened on 9/11 could happen again in the united states. you have to stop terrorists organizations if they are killing americans. the federal government's responsibility is to protect americans. it has all probably developed because of terrorist activity
against americans and our responsibility to protect americans. host: senator charles grassley, finance committee ranking member, republican of iowa. thank you for joining us on c- span. guest: i'm glad to be with all of you. i hope i see some of you in congress. host: how many future members of congress do we have in the audience? how many future presidents? senator, thank you. we will continue the conversation with congressman gerry connolly. >> in advance of tonight's presidential speech on the war in afghanistan, the white house press secretary robert gibbs speaking earlier on "morning joe"said that the plans will be accelerated, and added that we will get in there quickly. a speech airs at 8:00 eastern.
another white house matter pretty press secretary appearing on "today show"commented on the on the invited guests at last week's state dinner. he said it was not a misunderstanding. his remarks after mr. salahi's comments that he and his wife did not crash the party. with less than one week to go before the meeting in denmark, european leaders are calling on china to provide specifics on how it plans to curb emissions. president obama will be traveling to the summit and then on to oslo to receive his nobel peace prize. those are some of the latest headlines on c-span radio. >> the senate has started debate on health care bill.
majority leader harry reid has warned senators to expect evening and weekend sessions. follow the entire debate on c- span2, and go to c-span's healthcare hub. >> 3 original documentaries from c-span now available on dvd. a journey through the three branches of american government. the supreme court through the eyes of the justices. go beyond the velvet ropes of public tours into the rarely seen places of the white house. explore the history, art, and architecture of the capital, one of america's most symbolic structures. order online at [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national
cable satellite corp. 2009] host: which continue from the national archives. it opened in 1935 to the roosevelt administration. we want to welcome congressman gerry connolly. we are going to talk about health care and afghanistan. first, we turn to one of the students here. >> good morning. i am from dallas, tx. do you believe that the low progress in afghanistan is due to lack of strategy from our troops, or an inherent problem? guest: i think the current problems we're having in afghanistan have their roots in the fact that the previous administration under george bush and his secretary of defense
made the decision to invade iraq, which have not been involved in 9/11, was not her brain al-qaeda terrorists. by doing that, they diverted resources we duffers ledesperatd the in afghanistan. they were in afghanistan took a backseat to the invasion of iraq and the subsequent activities that went on in iraq, including almost close to civil war in that country. for longtime, the united states was pouring resources into iraq, not afghanistan. the taliban and al-qaeda used that six years or seven years to basically rebuild, regroup, retrain in the protected areas
along the border. we pay the price for that today. the question now is what do we do to try to restore some semblance of post 9/11 order in afghanistan, and can we try to stabilize the situation? host: president has said there will not be a timetable, but there is an exit strategy. what do you think it needs to be? guest: our goals in afghanistan have to be minimalist, but clear. i do not think we are building democracy in that part of the world. afghanistan is a tough nut to crack. 80% a live rat creek is a very mountainous terrain. -- it is 80% illiterate. many people relate more to their
tribe than a nation called afghanistan. we need to be clear about our goals. one of the goals is that we cannot allow the taliban to return to power. i think that would be catastrophic for u.s. interests, and have cascading impact in that corner of the world. we need to remember that is what we do in afghanistan and what we do not to in afghanistan will have profound effects in the region, personally in pakistapan pakistan. >> good morning. a minute ago you were talking about the goals in afghanistan. by sending more troops over, is that exactly what we are doing? are we trying to stabilize the government in afghanistan, or is it more the hunt for the taliban and al-qaeda? guest: it is more to restore
control over large parts of afghanistan, especially in the south, where we have been lacking resources. i went to afghanistan in february after i was sworn into office. the shortage of resources was apparent than. pursuant to the previous question, i do not think it is so much a lack of strategy as the ability to execute. we are trying to build up the capacity of a central government. we are trying to be equipped afghan troops to take over responsibility and security of their own country. we just need more capacity. it's a very big country and it is very remote. that is part of general mcchrystal's strategy and president obama's strategy. host: do you think it will work?
guest: if i knew the answer to that, i would be making a lot more money than i am making. we have to look at what options are. i have some faith that after careful deliberation, the president and his cabinet and the national security council and joint chiefs of staff have agreed to more limited goals. it is not an open-ended commitment. i do not believe this is another vietnam. so long as we can articulate our strategies, yes, i believe we can succeed. host: your colleague said let's have a war tax to pay for this. do you support the idea? guest: i certainly support the idea that wars need to be paid for. your previous speaker made reference to burgeoning federal deficits pretty did not tell you that three decisions made by his colleagues in the previous administration added $6 trillion to the deficit when we were in a
surplus. there were the unfunded wars in iraq and afghanistan, the simply on funded medicare part d, and the bush tax cuts. they were not paid for. that added $6 trillion to the debt. the idea that if we are going to be involved in wars, we have to pay for it, is certainly the right principle. host: next question. >> if we were to pull out of iraq right now, without having a negative effect on our country? guest: yes. it is not an option for the united states. we have not only it made commitments to a lot of people in afghanistan, including the liberation of women in afghanistan -- to pull out now would put a lot of folks at jeopardy if the taliban were allowed to come back to power.
secondly, we have pressed the pakistani government to get much more aggressive about going after the safe harbors that have allowed the taliban and al-qaeda to report in the previous unpoliced parts of the tribal west. pulling out from afghanistan, while some people may think desirable, would have serious consequences in the region. pakistan is not afghanistan. pakistan is a nuclear power. host: how many of you are involved in some way in student government? you're involved in your own version of student government treat your the president of the freshman class. what does that mean? guest: by the way, i was president of my high school and vice president of my college.
i was also president of my graduate school class as well. it's a great way to start in politics. it teaches you a lot about how things work. i have been elected to the president of the freshman class of congress. it is about 40 members. i organize meetings and tried to get speakers, and tried to see that there can't be some common ground that we can use as some leverage. for example, on health care bill that was finally passed by the house, i led the effort to look of what is called the pay for. senator charles grassley talked- about tax increases in health- care. the tax increases in the house bill, unlike the senate bill, is essentially on millionaires. a family has to earn $1 million or more before any surtax
charged 6 in. -- before any surtax charged kicks in. we thought that was a fair way to pay for taxes. previously the threshold had been much lower. we' led the revolt to try to make sure the least amount of folks in america would be affected. host: we have a lot of students from louisiana and texas. our next few were is walter from louisiana. caller: i have a statement and then a question for this gentleman. and for the students in the audience. i find it unconscionable and hard to believe that any group of suppose it learned individuals in the government body can be so naive and dumb for so long. you mentioned that the taliban needs to be stopped.
what right do we have to be telling another country who they can be governed by? second, the taliban had nothing to do with 9/11. as a matter of fact, i doubt seriously that the cia creation have much to do with. for the children in the audience, and for this congressman, i would expect you get up to speed. write this down. look up able danger. look up civil edmonds. lookup willie rodriguez. host: i'll stop to their true to his point on the taliban and al- qaeda, do you respond? guest: he referred to this audience as children.
these are young men and women. that is okay. you can applaud for yourself. [applause] in my time here already, there are young men and women who are very well informed. this gentleman is into denial as to how 9/11 transpired. terrorists plots that led to the tragedy of 9/11 in the united states were hatched in training camps run by al-qaeda, and protected by the taliban in afghanistan. the idea that this is all about our trying to impose our will on another country in terms of what kind of government they are going to have is completely false. we have an interest in what goes on in afghanistan precisely because of what happened on 9/11. unlike what the caller suggested, there's nothing i leanaive about people in congres
concerned about that. our job is to protect the homeland and make sure that tragedy never occurs again. securing afghanistan from the return of the taliban and those elements that provided that safe harbor for 9/11, i think it is a minimalist goal of the united states, and very much in our national security interest. >> if there's a possibility that a draft is going to be happening in the future, what would be the percentage of citizens to go? guest: i am old enough to have been subjected to the draft. we now have an all volunteer military. i think it is working pretty well. i do not think there's any likelihood in the near term of the return of the draft.
that is a very hypothetical question tree i've lived through the draft, and it had its good points and bad points pretty universal military service exists in some other countries. we have chosen to go the route of all long-term military. so far, it seems to be working well. host: how many of you are concerned that there's the potential of a draft and that it could affect uyou? >> within the current health care reform legislation, there's been talk of certain aspects of hillary health care. is this true? somebody cannot purchase private health care if they are under the public health care plan. guest: senator grassley was here
just before me. i was really disappointed to hear words like socialism and the citation of bogus studies suggesting somehow that this public option will force people into a government run program. it is absolutely untrue. in the health care reform legislation, anyone who is currently insured would not qualify, would not be allowed to go into the public option. every major study that looked at this, including the congressional budget office, shows that at the most of the 37 million uninsured americans we are trying to bring into health care coverage, maybe 6 million at most would decide to go into the public option. we are looking at creating an exchange for people who do not
have any options. that menu would have 12, 15, or 20 choices in terms of private insurance they could pick from, and one choice would be the public option. if you do not like what is available to you and you want to go into that one for whatever reason, you can select that option. no one is forced to use it. people cannot cancel their current insurance program and russian to the public option. it bothers me to hear that kind of misinformation repeated. -- people cannot cancel their current insurance program and theirush into the public option. we would not be going through all of this difficult conversation if it were all
about a government takeover of health care. that would be an easy debate to have. i would be on the other side. i would be with senator grassley on that one. we are building on the current private employer insurance system in america. we're trying to make that system available to more people. the single failure of our health-care system is that 37 million -- 46 million fellow americans have no health insurance. everyone of us pays a price for that in uncompensated care. the primary portal into the health-care system for those 46 million americans is the emergency room. that raises the health care costs for the rest of us. it's estimated that $1,100 is buried into the premium cost of every insurer family in america to cover for those who have no health insurance. we are trying to change that.
a great country needs to make sure that everybody has access to decent health care. that is what we're trying to do. words like socialism to frighten people -- it is not right. to see a distinguished member of congress use those words is very disappointing to me. there's no legislative proposal in the house or senate to go to a single payer system like canada or like the united kingdom. that is not. the american. that is not what we are going to do. host: the national archives located between constitution and pennsylvania avenue. there are about two hundred questionstudents to an industryo welcome victor. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call.
from my understanding, there are approximately 100 al-qaeda in afghanistan. i do not know of that is correct or not. i have no problem with 35,000 troops. i am a former veteran. i've volunteered in 1981. when the draft had ended -- i have gone in on my own accord to serve my country. i have no problem with the 35,000 troops. i do oppose private contractors. i think they should eliminate them. for every troop, you can get four soldiers. for every contractor -- they're
not going to pick up a rifle. a cook for a medic -- or a medic can pick up a rifle. guest: it makes a good point about the use of private contractors, which characterized the involvement in iraq. one of the reasons the bush administration resorted to their extensive use of private contractors to perform what had been largely military roles, was because they do not have enough troops in iraq. they made the decision to go on the very low anend that we would be greeted as liberators, and that we would not need as many
trips. that was false. they were unwilling to increase the troops in the intervening years. they then used private security firms to perform lots of broad security functions that became quite controversial. you are right. we need to take a fresh look at that and make clear lines of distinction. host: another question in the room. >> i am from san antonio, texas. if this health care bill was passed, i assume it would be difficult to put into effect immediately. how long do think it would take for the possibly future law to take full effect across the nation? guest: many of the provisions in this bill will take some time to
the up and running. i talked about that exchange, the creation of the menu of options. that will take a few years. in the house bill, the full bill takes in by 2013. some provisions will be phased in. the full bill is basically up and running by 2013. in the senate, they have moved back to 2014. it will take a few years per all the provisions of this legislation to take effect. we will see when the senate passes this bill, and in the conference with house, what the final phase will be. many of us want to get the reforms up and running as quickly as possible. making sure that it is illegal for health insurance companies to cherry pick to based on previous existing conditions. that is a practice whereby even
if you are insured -- by the way, 45% of all americans who currently have health insurance have a pre-existing condition of some sort. it may be asthma, diabetes. in some cases -- insurance companies have to find acne as a pre-existing condition did they have defined pregnancy as a pre- existing condition to define coverage. that kind of capricious behavior is very damaging to american health care consumers. host: art from san antonio, texas. good morning. guest: good morning. caller: i called to ask the representative a question. before i do, i am forced to make a very brief statement in
representative connolly if, in fact, he will support the number of troops being sent over to afghanistan and the mission to eliminate the threat of al qaeda and the taliban to the americans. host: thanks for the call. but we get the point. let's get a response. guest: i want to hear what the president has to say tonight, but i am favorably inclined with respect to the president's request. i believe it is in the national security interests. none of us wants to be involved in a war longer than we have to be, but i believe that 9/11 made it crystal clear that we cannot afford to let al qaeda and its taliban come back into afghanistan. if we do, we do so at our own peril. host: two more questions. the one of front. caller: i am from dallas, texas. it seems like the republican
party is too critical and not providing a viable option, like for health care. but my question is more towards the afghan war. what kind of of her to option does the democratic party had -- what kind of alternative option does the democratic party have for the issue of the afghanistan and iraq? guest: i would hope it is not the issue of the democratic party versus the republican party. we're all americans. we all suffered the pain of 9/11 and we all share an abiding love of this country and want to protect this country. i would hope that we would move forward both for its respect to iraq and afghanistan. the situation in iraq remains a tense one, but there is some accomplishment in terms of some level of stability, some
serious functioning by the central government and the takeover of security in large swaths of urban areas by iraqi security forces. is it perfect? no, but i believe the u.s. military has actually done a fairly significant thing in turning back and urban insurgency in iraq. it is way too early to say somehow the victory can be declared, but i think you can see some stability emerging from the country. and the president has set a timetable in that case for an exit strategy and for withdrawal and a combat role. i believe by and large that could probably be met and has bipartisan support. i believe the president will get bipartisan support for what he is proposing tonight in afghanistan to try to destabilize the situation that we have been prevailing in, but got distracted because of iraq.
your first point was that the democrats are too critical of republicans for not having a plan? well, you know, progress in america works in many interesting ways. anyone here in a debate team? ok, you are. harvey, you are a debater. i was a debater in 1964 and 1965 in high school. you know what the topic was that year? the topic was, is the proposed medicare legislation socialized medicine? would it destroy the private sector health care system in america? would it constituted a federal government takeover? wouldn't it be socialized medicine just like canada and the u.k.? sound familiar? didn't you just hear that from our rough -- our republican friends in the senate?
none of it was true. 44 years later -- i know you are too young, but your grandparents are awfully glad we took the bold step of passing medicare to make sure they had that assurance of insurance in their old age. that is what we're trying to do to make health care of more fair, more affordable, and more accessible for americans as we move forward. i think that if you are going to take potshots at the health care reform, that is fair, that is what public debate is all about. but when you invoke things like that panels that are flat out untrue and you know it, i think that exposes the emptiness of your argument in your position. by the way, what is your better idea? frankly, the other side did not have any. you get the last question. >> my name is marco flores.
i'm from dallas tx. the crux good morning, marco. >> -- >> good morning, margaret. >> if we had a public auction right now, would it help us out? >> i do not know that it would have an immediate impact on the recession. the kennedy as just a few minutes ago, correct me -- the young lady asked a few minutes ago, correctly, i think this is legislation that will be fully phased in. i believe that the cost of health care in america is unsustainable. when john kennedy was elected in 1960, we were spending about 6% or 7% of our gdp on health care. we are spending 18% today. by 2015 when i am 100, -- by 2050 when i 100, will be
spending 48% of the entire economy on health care. that will not be sustainable. we have got to get around the burgeoning cost of health care for all americans and tried ttrt money into the other investments in our country. that affects every business in america. health care costs are one of the largest uncontrolled costs every business has to deal with every year. we are trying to help them bring that down to make it more affordable. >> we have students here as part of the close of program. thanks for joining us on "washington journal." >> thank you for having me. [applause]
host: as these azko students continue their day and there we, a reminder that you can watch this process on c-span2 all this week and weekend. you can watch the president launched his strategy in afghanistan on c-span and c-span radiohead ed c-span.org. here is a news update from c- span radio. >> iran is confirming the arrest of five british sailors who were on a racing yacht with one official saying on a state run for news agency that they could be dealt with severely. the british foreign office said the vessel, which was stopped by iranian navy ships on november 25, may have strayed inadvertently into iranian waters when it was intercepted. the british foreign secretary david miliband says there was no suggestion that the sailors had any malicious intent and it will
be treated as a concert by the authorities. in another maritime incident, the commander of the naval eu force says that a hijacked tanker -- a tanker project by somali pirates was traveling outside the corridor. it was carrying more than 20 million gallons of crude oil when paris captured it on sunday. the virus believed -- when parts captured on sunday. the parts are believed to be taking it to the coast. an attack today in the swat valley. the situation has been relatively peaceful since the offensive, but sporadic violence does continue. those are some of the latest headlines on c-span iridium. >> "washington journal" continues. host: tom merikricks writes a bg
called "best defense." you wrote in your recent blog, three things that we need from obama in afghanistan. you wrote most importantly, "is his heart in it?" what did you mean by this? guest: i think that obama is a great speechmaker and in some ways that is an impediment. people expect him to be eloquent. the question is, willie also give -- will he also give success after this long internal debate? does he think this is something that is worth doing or is he began writing about it? if there is any sense that it is not -- or is he begrudging about it? is there any sense that it is not in his heart and soul?
host: would indicate to you that his heart is in it? guest: i think it is the words that he should not use. it uses the phrase, a "exit strategy" then you yourself focused on getting out, people will sense that. people will sense fear and insecurity. if it is just, we're going to mess around here a little bit and then we are leaving, i think especially the opponents in afghanistan -- not just the taliban, but the corrupt and abusive members of the afghan government -- will say, ok, hunkered down for 12 months and we will see the americans are of here and have our own way. -- see the americans out of here and have our own way. host: why isn't 12 months long enough? it might guest: beat, but it takes time to -- guest: it might
be, but it takes time to win the trust of people. it takes time to get rid of corruption in the government. host: what do people need to ask about president bush not asking the people to sacrifice? does the president need to ask of people to sacrifice? guest: think it would be a good idea. since 9/11 it would be a good idea to get the american people involved in this thing. we see this is especially out of the democrats, talking about paying as you go in the war. i think that would have been a good idea. we got in trouble by essentially put in the iraq war on a credit card and of the chinese government owns an enormous amount of american government debt and is going to be coming due. i think some of it heavily next year. bringing home the american people, the cost of the war is important. a lot of american people are
involved in this. my nephew is at it -- is that officer during candidates: and will go to -- candidate school and will go to afghanistan next year. host: the "washington post" proposes that you have a vote -- a 40 cent gas tax to help pay for this escalation in data -- in afghanistan. the politics of that? guest: i'm not sure how the politics will play out. i try to avoid discussing domestic politics because when i hear political pundits discussing security i wonder -- they sound so bad that i wonder if i sound that stupid. host: why do they sound so bad? guest: because they do not know what they're talking about. as a reporter that covers the military and has done it for 20 years, to people -- to see
people talking about counterinsurgency casually without ever having seen it on the ground, it reminds me of what it would be like to read about a political campaign without ever talking to voters and what not. with that said, i think it would have been a good idea after 9/11 to say, this whole thing involves partly being in the middle east for oil. thomas friedman has talked about this eloquently in his columns in the new york times. we should have begun back then to try to win this country from its addiction to middle eastern oil. -- and eight years later we have not done that. host: before i get to phone calls, i want to show our viewers -- you said there were three things the president obama needs to address tonight. at one of the other three is how we are relating to the security problems in pakistan. why is that a bigger worry for
you? guest: i love afghanistan. i lived there as a kid. in fact, these are the national colors of the afghan 5 on my tie today. as far as natural -- national interest cannot there's only one reason -- as far as national interest, there is a one reason we care about afghanistan and that is pakistan. what we cannot live with is the security situation in pakistan deteriorating rapidly. it has been deteriorating and you could say a possible breakup of the country. pakistan is a big country like russia and like russia, it has nuclear weapons. it also has islamic extremists. what you do not what is islamic extremists coming together with nuclear weapons. that is one of the dreams of al qaeda. that is a possibility in pakistan. as long as they are in turmoil in afghanistan, it will spill
over to pakistan. host: what you think the president has to say tonight? guest: i do not know and that is part of the problem. what he has to do is somehow get afghanistan more serious about countering terrorism -- get the pakistani government more serious about countering terrorism within their own borders. the isi is a step -- is playing a double game here that we have never been able to stop. if anybody can do it, i think obama has a good chance of intervening, but it is a tough act. host: thomas ricks is with us for about 45 more minutes. phoenix, ariz., democrats line, your the first call. caller: i think what applies about jobs in the u.s. could also apply in afghanistan. my idea is 100% employee only
companies where a person would say, let's get 200 people together and they either get my car loans or they have money of their own and they could be paid back through deductions. in afghanistan we do not need no bid contracts. and what we need to do was put the people to worked just like we do here so that people can join forces to build manufacturing and solar and turbine. in colorado, they build them 100% there and install them. host: we will leave your comment there and get a response. guest: i think she has a point.
micro loans can make a huge difference, especially in third world countries. i have seen this in haiti where there was a situation where a woman would walk 7 miles every day to buy bread for dollar and then come back and sell abroad for a total of a $50. -- sell the bread for a total of $2. 50% of the profit was in interest every day. all you had to do was loaned these women two dollars for one year and a no interest loan and it would double their income every day. microphones can make a huge difference. -- microbes loans can make a huge difference. you can change people's lives with several projects, paving a road, building a schoolhouse, paying a teacher for one year, having a non corrupt police officer. these can make huge differences in the quality of people's
lives. host: is the president expected to address a situation like that this evening? guest: i think he will address some of that and say it is not just in military operation. in fact, it is just a preamble to what you want to do. in many ways, our biggest enemy is not the taliban, but the corrupt government. if you can get better government -- and that is very much a civilian effort -- then you can change the nature of afghanistan and stop having the afghan government drive people into the arms of the taliban. host: that is the third thing that you said we need to hear from president obama tonight. why is this more troublesome than the taliban? guest: because the daud is really a consequence of the afghan government. if the afghan -- because the taliban is really a consequence of the afghan government. if the afghan government did
what it was entrusted to do, then the tollison and would not be a problem. -- the taliban would be irrelevant to the daily life of most afghans. host: wisconsin, gene, an independent line, good morning. caller: i was just wondering with afghanistan being such a big problem and the reason why we are over there is to protect the u.s., i was just wondering -- we have gotten the aerospace pretty well taken care of, but how can they do not have a better check on the canadian border and the shores and the southern border? i do not quite understand. when i leave my house i lock the front door and leave -- and i do not leave the back door open.
it seems very strange to me that if you are over there primarily trying to straighten out afghanistan and protect the united states, why aren't we protecting the borders? guest: it actually brings home the difficulty of the task we are asking the afghan government to do. the afghan-pakistan border is a mountainous area in which there are a lot of taliban extremists and al qaeda and those of to mr. -- up to mischief. when we asked them, we need to keep in mind the difficulty that we have inadequate policing our own borders. i have been in doubt how so and watch people walk across the rio grande river on a monday morning commute, curing their lunches. these are people that not only -- carrying their lunches. these are people that expect to cross over every week.
we do not see people coming across and detonating bombs in major cities, so i think it is a similar problem, but qualitatively a much different problem. host: when you talked about the three things that we need from obama in afghanistan, one of your readers noted that they would like to hear from david patraeus on this issue. why is that? guest: i admire david patraeus quite a lot as a general and i think that he approached the u.s. army's approach in iraq during to much work and understanding it, and also as a commander in forcing down a new idea of counterinsurgency down through the ranks. that said, it struck me that he was very active in selling this new policy in the spring of 2007. president bush and leaned on him a lot.
i remember writing an article for the "washington post" about how general patraeus had been mentioned by president bush at least once a week for something like 36 running weeks, a total of 53 times. patraeus was very visible at that point. to my mind, he has been almost invisible on iraq and afghanistan for the last few months. this may be a good thing. this may be, the president does not need me to be out in front. but i do have a sense that patraeus was so active in the iraq policy for 2007 for president bush, after tonight, after the president's speech, i would expect him as a good officer to do the same thing for president obama in the coming weeks. why use host: think he has been -- host: why do you think he has been a "invisible?" guest: i think he felt that it was best to keep his head down and reminding people that president obama had not yet come to a decision. discretion was the better act
for him until this point. the question is now, ok, the president has now made up his mind, what are you going to do now? the next host: call, fla., republic -- host: the next call, florida, a democrat line. caller: good morning. i was wondering -- of course, we have to listen to the president tonight to see exactly what he has in mind. what is really happening is a tremendous problem within pakistan. pakistan has been developing this al qaeda and the taliban for the past 30 years or so. and in the process, india lost over 65,000 people in kashmir. it is the taliban the killed over 65,000 people or more in kashmir.
in reality, we are at war. we are fighting for india. why are we not asking india to take part in this right now? it could be a terrible problem for india before it becomes any problem for the u.s. it is almost like we're trying to fight the in the award. where we doing that without asking for direct help from india? and we can hire indian troops to fight in afghanistan under our command. guest: this is one thing i like about going on c-span is that you really do get thoughtful and informed questions. the caller as to the heart of a problem in many ways. the military and pakistan continues to think that the biggest threat it faces is not terrorism, but india. in fact, there is evidence that
some of the billions of dollars of aid that we have given them since 9/11 has gone to improving pakistan's nuclear arsenal. this is a terrible thing. you really do not want them to be spending the aid money that we give them to build nuclear weapons. what we need to get is a pakistan that reorients away from confronting india and more toward dealing with its internal stability problems, its corruption, and it's taliban. india can play a big role in data in reassuring pakistan that it is not a confrontational and may. the way to do that would be to solve the kashmir problem -- a confrontational and me. the way to do that would be to solve the kashmir problem. i think india does have a huge role to play here. the caller is right, indeed has a much more direct interest. if pakistan breaks up -- and it has never really been a coherent country, but it is becoming less
coherent now. the northwest frontier has always been kind of an outlaw area, but now balukistan and other areas are looking at a tumultuous and unstable. yes, if pakistan breaks up and has nuclear weapons loose with is almost extremists, it would be an immediate problem for india. i do not think india would stand by and let that happen. i think it would intervene and then you would have a war and a civil war probably in pakistan. if you want to stop afghanistan, you need to solve pakistan. if you want to stop pakistan, you need to get peace between pakistan and india. host: is there a discussion within the obama administration on getting india to have more of a public role in the pakistan- afghanistan equation? guest: when richard holbrook
came in as the special envoy to deal with all of this, india was installed the that somehow kashmir was being thrown into this basket and made it clear that they were unhappy with that idea and that holbrooke would not be the american envoy to deal with all of these problems, especially kashmir. but i do not -- i do think there is an understanding in the u.s. government that there is a parlay in these problems and need to do with the olad and not just -- with the whole of them and not just a piece. host: next call, karen on the independent line. caller: i oppose the war in afghanistan and i also oppose the war in iraq, and i was proven right. those of us who happen opposed -- who have opposed the war in iraq have been proved dramatically right. i would ask mr. ricks, does he
see that obama would never be able to tell us that we should support the war in afghanistan because of our common sense was proven so right over all of dependence and the generals on tv and the congressmen who have this -- u.f. roane $1 trillion at the warner iraq that we could use so much better -- who have thrown $1 trillion at the war in iraq that we could use a much better, we could never support that. guest: there's a book about the war in iraq called "fiasco" and it still state that the war in iraq was the biggest mistake in the history of american foreign policy. even now, we only have a dim sense of what its ultimate cost to this country in blood, treasurer, credibility and influence. i do not think the war in iraq is over. i think we may only be halfway through watching this play out.
i think next year in iraq is going to be a worrisome year. host: explain that quickly. guest: in iraq next year, you are bringing down american troops very quickly. you are trying to all national elections, and you have iraqis posturing themselves for a post- american future. all of the ingredients for a civil war in iraq before the surge are still there. the only thing in the equation is americans there to stop the civil war. that is declining. host: what are the parallels to afghanistan, given what you just said about iraq? guest: i do not see a lot of parallels to afghanistan. i see it is a very different country and a difference -- and a different set of problems.
i am more optimistic in the long run about afghanistan that i am about iraq for two reasons. first, iraq does not strike me as having a coherent national identity. it is still very much its part, the kurds, shiites, sunnis. and afghans do still have a national identity, despite their years of warfare. the sec and more important reason is afghanistan has experienced is limited extremism in the government in kabul and the vast majority of afghans did not like it. they do not like the corrections and abuses of the kabul government, either. if you force them to make a choice, they might pick the taliban. there was a good interview in the stars and stripes with an afghan soldier who said, we did
not like the taliban, but at least they did not break our little boys like the police do. that is a chilling point. host: next call, grand rapids, minn., robert on the democrats' line. caller: did you write a book about the history of the united states and overkill in interventions dating back to 1894 with the overthrow of hawaii? and secondly, i think it is rather arrogant and 94 of the united states, especially the civilian leaders -- and naive of the united states, especially the civilian leaders, to think that we can go into afghanistan and stabilize the country when it is unattainable. as soon as we leave, whoever is
in charge will resort to the brutal methods that have kept people in power and control their for centuries on end. -- and control there for centuries on end. i believe going into afghanistan was a tragic mistake. if they would have kept the aspects of the police force, a strike force targeting just those people -- but as soon as we put boots on the ground there, just like ain iraq, we kicked a hornet's nest. we will suffer those contracts -- those consequences for decades to come. guest: i agree with you. the u.s. through military action cannot make afghanistan a table -- a stable country. i think what the president will say tonight is that it can create conditions in which afghans can begin to do that. what you have to do is hold back the taliban, contain them, and
also have american troops adjacent to the afghan police, afghan soldiers, in the hope that -- and i have seen this. daud in iraq -- that when you have more american troops -- and i have seen this in iraq -- that when you have more american troops, it improves the behavior of afghan officials. for example, i am told that there are five checkpoint between dnr and the south -- between cancer heart and the south. in those checkpoints, truck drivers are shaken donndown. you could have american troops side-by-side with the afghan officials and they will stop shaking down every truck that comes through. because that is a tax on the people that come through and there a cure -- a poor people.
you could improve the behavior of the afghan government and deter the taliban, stop this vicious cycle that drives their people into the arms of the taliban. that does not end the problem, you're right. what it does is say, now the afghans have a problem -- a chance to stand up a police force and an army cured by live in afghanistan. it was not always a brutal and violent government. in the 60's and 70's it was actually a golden era. it is a myth that these people have been fighting each other for centuries. until the soviet invasion of 1979, they have a brother peaceful 20th century. -- they had a rather peaceful 20th century. host: thomas recalls' blog -- thomas ricks' blog is called a
piece at a time. next caller, please. caller: i do not believe that how much money we have promised them they will deal with their borders because they're more afraid of india than the afghan border. personally, if you think it is okay for the taliban to run parts of the country -- i mean, they kill women for showing an ankle and they beat them badly. i personally cannot put up with the murderous thugs. you are willing to leave them in charge of parts of the country where women are treated like they are?
guest: i agree with your characterization of the taliban. their murderous thugs. in fact, i recommend to everybody a terrific movie about the taliban era in afghanistan. it is called osama. it has nothing to do with osama bin laden, but it is about a little girl living under the taliban. it is a really great movie. the other movie i would recommend is called "afghan star." it is a documentary about the post taliban. it really brings home a good sense of the diversity and the viciousness of afghan culture. -- the by viciousness of afghan culture. -- but vivaciousness of the afghan culture. we're not going to change the
culture of afghanistan, and if the local people say we want the taliban, fine, you can have the taliban in your province. i think eventually they will fall away. but you do not want the perfect to be the enemy of the good. you want a good enough to compromise. it's a taliban is willing to come in and be part of the government and to stop the fighting, is that great? no, but it is a compromise. host: why did you live in afghanistan? guest: my father wound up teaching at harvard as a psychologist and the 1960's he was teaching at columbia university and got tired of all of the riots and wanted to go overseas. i was a teenager. i just love the country. i knocked all around it. my parents were kind of irresponsible.
are knocked off a round of afghanistan by bus and visited nall over. i went back in 2002 and also in 2004 for a quick visit. i used to go skiing in the -- in afghanistan. i was a member of the afghan ski patrol, junior grade. it is a beautiful country. take colorado and give it bounced twice as big. that is the essence of afghanistan. -- give its mountains twice as big. that is the essence of afghanistan and heart is more like, say, and albuquerque. -- kandahar is more like say,
of albuquerque. up in the north where the air strike was recently that killed a bunch of people was the oldest greek city state ever found, a colony of ancient greece built in what is now northern afghanistan. host: ofville, north carolina, steve, good morning. caller: 5 questions about the culture of a waziristan. are these people committed to the global jihadist, which always makes al qaeda welcome there? or is there a sense that there are foreign fighters picking a fight with us? guest: is always the hope. our trump card with are tired -- with our credit is that eventually they step on -- witor trump card with al qaeda is that
eventually they step on people's toes. they eventually crank of the locals. the problem in waziristan is that they have been there long enough that they seem to have become part of the local life, the local culture. the question is, at this point after 25 years, are members of al qaeda seen as outsiders in waziristan? apparently, they're not. they're seen as part of the local scene. was your is dan, i think my generally as a culture just once -- waziristan, i think, generally as a coach as was their independence. they do not want to be messed with. -- generally once their independence. they do not want to be messed with. i think that is one reason americans have been so reliant on predator drone strikes to go in there. host: mckinney, texas, good
morning. caller: my question is, how does the opium trade affect the country and why isn't it talked about more? guest: it is talked about, but usually in despair in terms because there are no good answers to it. we, as americans, with our government have played a role in creating the trade, not just as consumers of heroin, but creating the fields were the year when it is grown -- were the poppies are grown. in the 1950's, america, out of the goodness of its hard, built two big dams on the home and robert -- on the helmand river that prevented it from just going out and give our birding. now that it is dead end of a of -- going out and the decorating. now that it is danced and reservoirs, a and have a a bit fields.
will begin at 8:00 p.m. eastern time. new cantu debt at c-span and also was into it on c-span radio. there will be several hearings on capitol hill this week about his strategy. on wednesday, secretary of state hillary clinton, defense secretary gates, and others will be on the hill to testify and. in the afternoon, secretary gates and chairman moylan will -- chairman mike moylan will return to -- chairman mike moylan will return to testify more. what are you expecting to hear then? guest: at that point, you're listening as much to what members of congress are saying as to what the witnesses are saying. the witnesses will be following what the president says in his speech and may be elaborating on it a bit.
but what i really want to hear is what the congressional democrats have to say. are they saying, president obama, sorry, we are not going along with you? or are they saying, okay, we will give you 12 months and then we are out of here -- which is another problem. or they going to say, tell us how this works and it is to give the notion a chance? i think the president has a problem with his own party here and it will be interesting to watch this week. host: go to c-span.org to watch these hearings this week. columbia, new york, you're on c- span. caller: i appreciate what c-span does for the american citizen, providing an open window to all branches of our government. now to mr. ricks monday asking his age, first?
we're born in 1948? guest: no, i'm sorry i look federal. i was born in 1955. caller: i was born in 1948 and when i was in israel, that is the topic i think should be on obama's mind tonight along with all the other problems of are going on in afghanistan and iraq. we think that if you look at what i consider some important numbers, but in my research, e no. 48 refers to the 2012. that is a doomsday coming. my thought is, is there a real concern on nuclear attack for them? they would ask the american government to allow a complete removal of all the people there.
of all the people in israel. israel would do it over a three- year time frame or selso and mod to establish a conversation here in america. guest: i agree with the caller can provide a huge fan of c- span. i think it would be a better country if we got rid of all of the news and commercials. that is a good starting point. my concern on israel is that i do not understand where they are right now, how they plan to get out of their current strategic plight. i am a supporter of israel and i worry about the gaza war. also, clearly, they have real worries with iran. iran, i think, is the biggest
winner in the iraq war. iran has really benefited from the in -- from the removal of saddam hussein and the weakening of iraq as a state, and especially the of the bushmen of a shi'ite domenicdominated gove. essentially what we have done is removed -- and especially the establishment of a shiite dominated government. essentially, what we have done is removed its opponents in the area. i think israel rightly is worried by the increased threat presented by iran. you're seeing is an interesting ways. for example, in yemen, there's fighting going on over the caribbean peninsula. and what you are seeing is some confrontation between the radian states and iran, i think because
iran is -- between the radiant states and iran, i think because iran is feeling frisky. even countries across the marra over to morocco expressed some concern over this. host: next call from michigan, go ahead. caller: with the situation between the taliban and the al qaeda in pakistan, should our country be concerned about al qaeda getting intense arm pakistan's nuclear-weapons? and if so, -- getting its hands on pakistan's nuclear-weapons? and if so, where are we -- why are we moving that arsenal out of that country? guest: i do not know that the pakistan government would allow
it. pakistan, when we ask about this, assures us that they are divided of and that someone could not simply walk in and take one. as they face india, there is concern that they would be green these things together. these things are always most horrible when they are being transported. you are bringing together components in a moment of crisis and with the government is confused and so on. that is a difficult and worries some scenario. and in india, they have said, with the cannot allow these nuclear-weapons to be floating around as they are being moved. so, they intervene at that point. the best argument would be for land mines. landmines are politically unpopular these days, but as a weapon of last resort, what you
might want to do if you are worried about components of the pakistani nuclear arsenal is fly in and drop airdropped mind, i think they're called gaiters, and drop them in large numbers around the weapons bunkers. simply to vote -- to not allow access to them. american minds simply disarmed after six months. that for you do not have little kids 25 years later -- that way you do not have little kids 25 years later blown themselves up wandering around. host: the associated press has reported that the official number of troops to reset will be 30,000. what happens next when it comes to deploying troops? how does that work? guest: it is difficult to move a lot of troops into afghanistan very quickly. it will be slower than a lot of people think.
there are logistical problems getting in there, feeding them there, giving them a place to sleep. i think you will see the troop numbers go up relatively slowly. then what you do is you start going out and what counterinsurgency. calls a stain approach -- what counterinsurgency calls a stain approach, you go into one area and change the nature of life in that small area and expand it out words. 30,000 troops is not a lot of troops. what you will see is trying to secure a major population areas. afghanistan has five major cities. and you will, will we try to secure those areas, and probably also the large rally near the pakistan border -- the large a valley near the pakistan border, that is where you put most of
your troops. the rest of it is for counter terror. you cannot put troops in every village. use of the sick, in those areas where we find a and taliban are al qaeda -- you simply say, in those areas where we find it taliban or rocket activity, we will send garver to urgency troops. -- where we find taliban or al qaeda activity, we will send counterinsurgency troops. your troop casualties will go up. the question at the end of the 12 months is, what do you have to show for it? host: what you think the obama administration needs to show for it? what are the markers? guest: the real madrid's are certainly not anything military. it is not how many taliban did you kill. that is not what you want. you want to make them irrelevant. the real question is the quality of life for afghans. our schools open? do people vote?
do people feel safe going to market? will people talk to american troops? one of the measures i like in iraq when i saw counterinsurgency on the ground work, -- was, were the local people telling american troops about roadside bombs they saw planted? i chose not only that they have the intelligence how to -- that shows that they not only have intelligence of how to talk to the americans, but that they are less afraid of the americans than the other side. the big worry is that you go in and do not have enough of a presence to sustain it there and then you pull out and those who helped you get punished. host: atlanta, republican line, steve joins us. caller: my question is, how much you think the afghanistan war has to do with the oil
pipeline in the caspian basin, which is operated by the unical corporation of which hamid karzai used to be a consultant? and a pregnant -- president bush previously had tried to -- and i know president bush previously had tried to nullify the contract between unical and argentina. how much you think the war has to do with protecting that oil pipeline over everythin else? > guest: there's no question in my mind that the iraq war is largely about oil. that is what makes the part of the oil -- of the world important to us. if this course of america -- if this were south america, even cambodia we could walk away from more easily than the middle
east. there are always these conspiracy rumors about unocal and so on. there is gas up in the central asian region, but afghanistan is a resource for country. -- is a resource poor country. host: garrett from massachusetts. caller: i was wondering three or writing for the "washington post" -- through your writing for the "washington post" you know if there is a technological of vantagadvantage to try to ger outcome in afghanistan? guest: on the question of
technology, the answer is, unfortunately, i do not think so. the job i really doing right now is writing the history of the last 50 years of american military operations since world war ii. one of the things that you see is a constantly looking for technological solutions. we are very technological and we like the idea of fixes through technology. the problem is that our problems are not technological. they are human. in fact, we have spent at least $10 billion in the military on finding technological answers to roadside bombs. they were at least temporarily successful. could you jam the radio waves that turns on and ignites the bomb? could you somehow detect bombs better and so on? it turns out the best way to detect a roadside bombs is to talk to the locals and make them feel secure and make it so that the enemy cannot plant bombs. this is what has been referred
to as the sea of people. if you drive up the sea of the people in which the insurgents when, he is like a fish of water -- if you dry up the sea of the people in which the insurgent swims, and he is like a fish out of water. you would not solve these wars through technological means. it is going to be true human beings, understanding cultures, languages, and honestly, showing a bit of humility. the beginning of wisdom with the iraq war was saying, let's ask the iraqis the best way out of this mask. i think that will be the beginning of wisdom in afghanistan as well. use the troops for security, but ask afghans for a solution. i have heard the argument that the afghan form of government of a village councils and so on
with consensus, is actually closer to the ancient greek form of democracy than our current form of democracy. host: it has been reported that the president yesterday spent time on the phone talking to other allied leaders about getting more of a commitment from them, from the troops. the french president has apparently told the president no more troops from france. what is your reaction to that and his request for more troops from these allied leaders? guest: my personal gut reaction is, fine, the french are always more of a problem than a help. this has been true since world war ii. i am writing about eisenhower and he told somebody at the end of world war ii and that his greatest enemy at the end of the war was france. the germans were part of the problem, but the people that ingraham were the french. -- that ingraha