tv Newsmakers CSPAN July 25, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
appear in how would you define victory in afghanistan? had you think that will look like? how much time do think congress will give president obama to achieve those goals? >> victory to me is success. it is not something that is going to be a side thing at the end of the war. it will be a gradual thing. .
beyond the july 2011 time. >> q said it would take several years during and what do you think of afghanistan -- you said it would take several years. what do you think afghanistan will look like. >> there are parts that are secure now. i would say, is iraq's secure? we are pulling out totally by the end of next year, down to 50,000 by the end of this year if my recollection is correct. is iraq secure? we are leaving. everyone agrees we should be. are we leaving its secure?
are we reducing forces when it is secure? is it for most purposes secure? yes. is it secure enough so it is on the right path to security with some confidence? yes, and that is what i think afghanistan would look like in july of 2011, said it would be substantially secure and the rest of it will be clearly on a path towards security for its people, and on a half where the talabani is clearly not going to be able to reassert control because the afghan police will be in control of the country and providing the principal security for afghanistan. the measure of success for me is whether or not afghan security forces are able to provide
security for the principle of their economy. >> you recently visited kandahar when the southern region, and also the governor. you came back and talk about this offensive coming up, and afghan army is supposed to take the lead, after which they will take the lead in the holding. we have seen some problems doing those things. you seem more optimistic than most people i talk to. >> i would think of the argument would be it is not going to be perfect success for lack of success. it will be whether or not the area in the heart of taliban country will be significantly
put fact -- put back into the security control of the afghan army. of what is interesting about the effort which is going to begin by the end of july, beginning of august is not only is it an effort going right into the heart of the taliban area, but it will loosen their grip. without much doubt, their growth is going to be loosened. does that mean it will not come back at night? no. does that mean there will not be i.e. these exploding -- ied's exploding? no, but it will be much more in control in the area after this
effort is made then it is now, and what i've point to as perhaps the most important part of this is the afghan army is not only going to be there as partners for us and other coalition forces. it is going to be in the lead. those are significant words. they are significant to the american people and the afghan people. you were notice those words were focused on. it is a timetable for providing security, when the transition is going to begin, and the goal is to complete that transition with a beginning point and an ending point.
when the afghan forces are in the lead, the taliban propaganda that the united states is there to dominate afghanistan will be shown for the lie that it is. the propaganda tool the taliban uses -- foreign forces occupying our property, and that the motive is an ulterior motive face shown to be false propaganda. when the afghan forces are not just for ordering with us but were actually in the lead in providing security, i think it is the worst nightmare for the taliban when forces are providing security and in the lead for doing so. >> we put the man believed it -- we put them in the lead, and it became part of the narrative of the world that they were just not ready.
>> will there be stumbles'? yes. are there enough afghan troops that can take the lead now on one campaign? clearly. when i kept pressing the afghan defense minister and their prime minister about afghanistan taking responsibility for their own security, they responded positively, saying yes, they have got enough forces in some areas, but secondly, they decided to send some additional battalions. in a letter i saw, ok, you are making an important point. we're sending three additional battalions. that is exactly what i think they should be doing.
we want the troops in the greatest areas of uncertainty. are all the troops able to take the lead? no. what is the measure of that? you can take the measure used three months ago. you will get one figure. you can take the nato figures and you will get another figure. >> what will be the most significant changes? >> i am not sure there will be a significant changes. the policy is not changing in any way i can see, but they are very compatible. the shift is seamless. i talked to karzai about this.
i just took him aside and said, can you tell me how are things going with the general petraeus? he said fine. he wanted mcchrystal to stay. if did not happen for good reasons. i think they have a heckuva lot of respect for general petraeus. it is really a lucky break that there wasn't general petraeus who was ready, experienced, and could take over. it was a lucky break. i think people would perceive this as being a big bump in terms of policy and because general petraeus would be doing something similar he was able
and willing to go back into the fray. it was a lucky break for us and for america's continuity of policy. >> do you think petraeus will change the rules of engagement, and should he? >> i doubt he will change them significantly during give they have been consistent. -- i doubt he will change them significantly. they have been consistent. >> you have not been concerned with the whole back fire to prevent civilian casualties? do you think that is the way to go? >> in terms of defending themselves, will backfire, no. holding by fire in terms of taking action where they believe there may be innocent civilians that are going to be killed and where that would hurt our cause when that happens, i
think the balance general mcchrystal struck and the general petraeus continues is the right balance. >> we are halfway through. >> given the importance of standing up the afghan army, you also pointed out nato is still short 2000 trainers to mentor these guys. you say they need to be pressured to step up. i guess the best way would be to name them. can you give me some ideas? >> i would rather not name them. they know who they are, and i would rather not name them. >> you mentioned this extraordinary protection rackets. i take it the private contractors are paying private security firms sued replace
passage, and that ended up in the hands of warlords and the taliban themselves suggesting we are funding the people killing our troops. how serious do you think that is, and what can we do about it? >> it is very serious. they are determined we are going to end it. i am sure of their determination. they are pretty explosive. the afghan army protects afghan convoy is providing suppliers to the afghans. they do not rely on these contractors. they end up being a protected racket.
we will protect your convoys, but they are making sure there is no end to the threat to those convoys because they are making good money by protecting, and i am confidence general petraeus and his people are going to find a way to end this seized these guys are engaging in it at our expense. >> do they point fingers of exactly how this was allowed to come about? it is such an outrageous story. >> the figures of people who are engaging specifically, and as to how it came about, yes, but it is pretty clear. we need to have protection for our convoys.
we have to get supplies to a lot of troops, and these are areas that have been dominated by warlords. it is a very simple thing, so it is an easier, faster way to do it. when you are in the middle of a war, you are going to try to do things that can be done quickly, but there is a price to pay for, and that is partly the when you mentioned, which is that we are paying people who at times are in league with the taliban who are actually the people killing us. the other problem is the warlords have their own people. there is corruption, so they are extracting money from their own people, and we are perceived to be in league with the leaders who are exploiting their own people. it hurts us in terms of what are full strategy is, which is
hopefully to protect the people and hopefully put them on the road to better governance. >> we have just eight minutes left. let's bring of the debate on defense spending. we are beginning to hear a lot more discussion on the need to cut back on military spending. how do you see it unfolding this year? >> the focus may be on one engine. whether there should be as a convention are not, that to me is not the right way to debate the issue. i always favored the second engine, because i think it will produce significant savings, but it is a much larger issue than that, although that will become a focal point for this issue. i hope it is not, but i am afraid it will be. it will probably unfold this year more in what secretary
gates put in motion rather than having a specific impact on this year's defense authorization bill. it will have an impact on appropriations. the authorization bill will be the one fought over not so much in terms of dollars cut in terms of issues like do not ask, do not tell, in terms of whether or not we should be able to remove detainee's from guantanamo, and the committee was able to get a provision saying you cannot move detainees from countries. i do not see that there's going to be a huge debate over money.
even if earmarks are struck, that does not save any money. it will still be there. it just will not be designated by congress. it will be designated by the executive branch, so money will not be the big issue. >> there is a sense they are grappling with the debt problem, but the increases we have seen for the last several decades are just going to have to end. there's going to have to be belt tightening. >> there is. i tried to answer that, but next is going to be one of those battles to be fought. i think the next issue is going to be troops in iraq and afghanistan you're not going to make huge reductions if you keep
the current size of our military. i believe we are going to have to cut back the use of contractors, which represent a significant part of our budget. >> as part of this work on the debt commission, judd gregg is beginning this side -- the idea of an alignment. would you support that? >> i do not think it would do much when we are actually increasing the size of our military, so in that setting, it is kind of hard. if we are downsizing, it is a lot easier to do common-law so i -- easier to do, so i would see it. >> to you think they have the votes to pass "don't ask, don't tell"? >> i think they have the right to deny people who want to
strike it from succeeding. when they say pass it, it is a very modest provision. it is a provision which does not repeal it. if you strip away the complexity, it reauthorize the defense department to repeal it. right now we have the policy as law as well as in regulation, and so in order for the defense department to change the policy, we have to remove the legal impediment to that change, which i hope we will do, subject to a report that will come at the end of the year that has to be certified as showing there will be no-impact on morale, no negative impact on the readiness. i just recently heard some polls
taken during world war ii about whether or not african-americans should be allowed to be anywhere near the troops. overwhelmingly, it was no, and truman did it anyway. really interesting call. -- poll. >> [unintelligible] >> i think the attitude towards gays is stored to be much more tolerant than to african- americans in the 1940's i think we have come along way in terms of race and sexual orientation and tolerance. we have proven ourselves to be a country that is tolerant, and when you look the other places in the world, they have problems with tolerating difference. we are blessed with the tolerance we have. >> i wanted to ask you about
future wars. al qaeda really is not in afghanistan anymore. they are building up in somalia. i think there are a lot of americans who look at that and say we are going to nation building in every country in the world until the problem is solved. what would you say to that? >> we should help those governments willing to take on the terrorist elements that threaten them and help them deal with the terrorist elements, but essentially, these wars have to be won by the people in the countries, which have to do with it taliban. the afghan people hate the taliban. it is a big building block we have. the same thing is true with anybody who has had to live under the extreme policies of
the taliban. >> what about countries like somalia the do not have a government? >> if we see them getting stronger. >> we have a pretty intense situation in north korea where nato forces have been doing exercises. north korea has said that could lead to a conflict. are you worried there could be something that the spark a conflict? >> no, i think north korea is too interested in their own survival which would -- to do anything that would spark the end of that rain. i think we're only interested in regime survival. it would end the north korean regime. >> that is it for our time.
please come back. after a conversation with senator carl levin, who is back with -- from afghanistan. we talked about the policy on the ground and the domestic debate at home. what did you learn? >> what i found most interesting were his expectations for 2011 when u.s. troops are expected to leave. he did not talk about democracy flourishing. he described a good enough situation where the fifth afghanistan government can hang on until they can take control of their country. we are not talking about leaving a country behind that is really in tact, and i think the expectations are so much lower than perhaps 2001 and half 2002 when we started the war, and people thought we were going to bring democracy to afghanistan, and we realize the complexities are so overwhelming, so just -- to
juxtapose what we saw, i find that interesting. >> of the domestic front, patience is driven in part by resources on the debate about federal spending, what did you take away from the description of the process of? >> i defer to him. he is an expert in process. it was very clear in this town that it has been opened up for military and the pentagon since 2001, and it is unsustainable. the commission is going to issue its report in september. it is going to have hard choices to make. i think it is clear that it is not going to be immune from those tough choices. >> those are resistance as jobs
at home, and in this economy when jobs are more scarce, it seems the pressure for keeping both jobs is going to be even more intense. >> this is every lawmaker on capitol hill, but in the same breath they say we need to cut down on bureaucracy and wasted spending, but do not cut a program that is very controversial, and a lot of people do think it is wasted spending, so one man's burke is another man's critical project that would bring jobs to this day, so this is going to be a fierce debate not just about national security. i think it is going to be about the jobs. >> how important is this contract thing issue? >> they have a strong policy of increasing the number of private contractors to do jobs with civil servants.
this the administration clearly things they have swung too far, so it is not a surprise they are trying to cut down on the level of private contractors. it is still going to be huge. they are going to start trimming clearly. next year they are supposedly out of iraq, and they are looking for cost savings there. >> domestically, you brought up questions about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. you said there was noted optimism on this. >> it was clear he had the 60 votes. lawmakers never actually admit they do not.
he tends to be per day honest about those things. it sounds like he may be able to pull it off, and that would be historic. the house could pass this, and the senate could pass this, which surprises just about everybody. >> they were talking about americans serving in the military. i am struck by how much it changed since 1992, when bill clinton wanted to change the policy to allow gays to openly serve. he got hammered by about. i think he is right. we have come a long way. it is time. it is time.
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