tv Newsmakers CSPAN June 26, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
>> tomorrow, examining the state of the u.s. economy as limi lawmakers' legacy the debt ceiling. herridge talks about homegrown terrorism and her new book. the retired brigadier general discusses the planning and logistics to go into the recently announced trip reduction in afghanistan. "washington journal" is live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> our guest this week is congressman adam smith. he is the senior democrat on the house armed services committee. he represents for lewis and
mccord air force base. he has been a member of congress since 1997. thank you for being here. let me introduce our questioners. emily, you are going to start. >> you had a couple of significant votes today on the libya conflict. there did not seem to be a lot that ended up being resolved today. is this the end of resolutions on libya for a while? will this continue? lex i think what we're doing in libya is important. it is important that congress have their voice be heard on the issue. i am going to try to introduce a new resolution authorizing that
it is based off of the mccain won in the senate but further limited. there was concern that it was not as specific as it needed to be too limited to what we're doing now and make sure that no ground troops are used. it might be something we revisit. whether or not the house majority is interested in doing that, i do not know for sure. >> if the white house had come to congress in march and ask for authorization in libya, do you think it would have supported it back then? >> it is hard to say. republicans are focused on the process argument. the president and white house could have been more inclusive of congress in the buildup to the decision to going to libya. it happened fast. i think the president and his team were reluctant to get involved. very quickly, they were launching the operation and needed our help. from that point, the president
has done a good job. the republicans could have chosen to authorize it. instead, they hang back for 100 days criticizing the president. they say that they support gaddafi should go and that the libyan people are worthy of support, but we do not like the president's process. well, offer an authorization. congress could have done that over the last 100 days. >> are you surprised gaddafi has hung on as long as he has? his government has weakened, but he is still in power. how long can he hold out? will nato hold on as long as it takes? nato has said he will continue operations through september. it is anybody's guess beyond that. >> i do not think gaddafi can
hold out long. there was a story this morning about how his looking for someplace other than tripoli to hang out because the pressure is building. top people in his government have been fleeing. he is an international pariah, even more so than in the 1980's. then he had the soviet union and other folks willing to back him. now he has no support from any quarter. half of his country is already under the control of rebel forces. i do not think he can hold out long. whether or not nato can hold out long enough to make sure that happens is a tougher question. i think the additional 90 days they authorized will be sufficient. i think the mission will hold together. >> you mentioned was offered about limiting ground troops. if our allies cannot keep this going, are you concerned the u.s. might need to take a more prominent role? >> i think there is sufficient
support of nato. nato is not as capable of a military organization as we would like to be. secretary gates made that clear last week. it is capable enough to carry out the mission as long as we provide suppression support. we have provided equipment necessary to getting it done. it is a limited mission we're talking about. gaddafi does not have a strong military force almost by design. he did not want his military to be strong enough to topple him. it is relatively weak. in this context, nato can carry out the mission. >> after recess, the house will be taking of the defense spending bill on the floor. some members are still pushing amendments that would cut off funding entirely for libya. do you imagine that could move the debate forward? what will be the flash points on the floor debate?
>> that will be a big one. mr. kucinich made it clear he will offer an amendment to the appropriations bill to movprohit new funding for anything. that will bring the issue. many republicans who opposed the authorization bill said they believe in the mission and agree we should not abandon our allies, that we have an important group of people were supporting in libya. they did not like the way the president was doing it. he will be interesting to see if they vote to cut off all funding. that is up or down with no wiggle room. that will be a big flash point. there may be some language on afghanistan. there will be other issues on the level of spending. >> i want to ask about the war powers act. some voices are saying it is time to revisit the way the war powers act is structured.
there was a column today calling the reasons for obsolete. leaders around the world are not doing that now. >> the way the constitution was set up was almost purposely ambiguous. congress has the right to declare war. war is not declined in the constitution. it is one word. you decide what it is. president is, the curre made commander in chief. which is it? it is a difficult balancing act. for 220 years, no one has come up with a clear consensus opinion of how to balance it. i think it would make sense to revisit it to get a clearer answer to the question you brought up afghanistan. there has been a lot of talk about afghanistan. in the hearings and testimony yesterday, both men said the
president's drawdown plan was more aggressive than they preferred. did that raise any alarms for you? what is your reaction to those statements? >> it did not raise any alarms for me for a couple of reasons. i have been around 15 years. the one thing i can tell you is that there are two things the military will say. more troops and more time. i understand that. if you look at it from having the most military tools at your discover -- disposal in any situation, you will want more. the president recognizes there is a balance. it is not simply a matter of more troops and less risk. the more troops, different risks. there will always be a risk in afghanistan as to whether the government will be able to stand when we begin drawing down. that will be true 10 years from now. the bottom line is the opposite risk is that if they become too dependent upon us and begins to
look like a permanent u.s. occupation, that undermines the afghanmacy of the government. the president is balancing a difficult situation reasonably well. the general said it was manageable and they could do it with the troops. it is in keeping with the plan the president laid out in 2009. he is right on pace with what he said he would do for two years. it should come as no surprise to anyone. thus far, it has worked. he has kept to the timeline he imagined it would. >> more time and more troops, commanders have said they hoped the surge forces could remain through the end of 2012, the end of the fighting season before the winter sets in. the presence as he wants to bring them out by september of 2012. -- the president says he wants to bring them out by september 2012. to what extent are presidential
politics affecting the strategy? >> presidential politics were affecting afghanistan, he would have said we are pulling out as soon as we can. there is enormous pressure to bring the troops home. i and a stand that. we have been in two wars for a long time. people are getting tired of it. the president is committed to trying to make sure the taliban did not come marching back into afghanistan and al qaeda does not come back in the dumbehind . the shots were as well from the left that he was leaving in too many trips for too long. this is consistent with the plan he laid out in the first place. >> what is the harm in keeping them there for a few more months to get through another fighting season? >> every day and month to leave them there, it costs more and places more american lives at risk. it continues the dependency and
the notion of the afghans not beginning to take over responsibility. i think the president is trying to keep to his plan of a surge to get control of the situation in afghanistan. by all reports we have made substantial progress in taking ground back from the taliban and undermining their ability to wage war. then we need to drive down and turn over responsibilities. it is keeping with that timeline. >> what is our goal at this point? to defeat the insurgency? to bring them to the negotiating table? >> our goal has been clear from day one. we want an afghan government that can stand so the taliban do not come back into power. that is the goal. no question about it. >> there are talks going on with the taliban. the president said we need a
political solution and not a military one. fightingban has been this for 10 years there. >> it has only been six or seven years. things were relatively quiet for a few years where they were first kicked out. >> they have not shown a willingness to negotiate in great numbers. the president has made it clear we are leaving. we're pulling out 30,000 troops next year. what helps to have the taliban will decide they are ready to negotiate? >> we have been negotiating with various elements of the taliban for some time. people think of the taliban as one entity. people come and go in afghanistan in terms of who they support. there is a group of taliban who believe in the religious ideologies. there are a lot of others who signed up with them for convenience because they looked like the strongest group to be
with. there was money involved. they have been going back and forth for some time. we've been trying to pull people across. we have been trying to find taliban willing to negotiate and talk. this is a continuation of that process. we've been trying to negotiate with those on the other side. it is an ongoing process. >> there has been a concerted effort to bring numbers over to reconciliation. the numbers have been small. numbers have grown significantly in the last few years. the number coming across and it back into the fold has been significant. it is moving in the right direction. it is not moving fast enough. we have made progress in that area. >> emily? >> talk about the taliban
inevitably leads to pakistan. >there was not a lot in the president's speech that focused on pakistan. it was not a subject of conversation with hillary clinton testified on thursday. what is your thinking about pakistan's cooperation on counter-terrorism? is there a road map for success if they continue at the same level of corporation, which is some corporation when it is it in their interest? >> it is a difficult relationship in afghanistan and pakistan. i wish we did not have national security interests in this part of the world. it is a difficult part of the world. it is unstable and not well- governed. it also happens to the epicenter of al qaeda and the ideology that threatens us. stability there matters to our
national security. success in the region now is the ability to contain this threat. i would love to be able to get rid of the violent extremism with the taliban and its different iterations in that part of the world. it will not happen. we have to contain it. the first is a stable government in afghanistan and pakistan. the pakistan government were to fall and pakistan were to descend into chaos or be taken over by groups, that would be worse. we have to make this relationship worse. to work. it is not going well. pakistan is not as cooperative as they should be in fighting the extremist groups for a variety of reasons. we have to try to maintain the relationship. it will be tough. the goal is to have a government in pakistan that can stand. we will have to keep working through that for all the
difficulties it presents. >> do you support establishing benchmarks or attaching strings? is there a way we can be pushing and pulling the aid money more? >> there are already strings and benchmarks. they are creative about getting around those but they are in place. we will have to do that and work with them. we will have to place greater limits on the money we're sending. at the same time, getting their corporation is inhabited by the fact that the pakistan the population does not like us. they are democratically elected government at the moment. they have to be responsive to their constituents. anything we can do by way of engagement or improving the relationship. anything we can do to make the people feel more positive about
it makes it easier for the pakistani government to support us in our efforts to defeat extremism. when secretary clinton was there a couple of years back and troubled and smokspoke out aboue importance of the relationship, there was an increase in support. we have to try that as well. >> they have insisted that some of the mob was not in their country. it turns out he was there and in a town not far from the capital. al qaeda has named its successor. it is likely he is in pakistan as well. do you have confidence the pakistanis would help to track him down? >> not much. they have been reluctant. immediately after 9/11 when they said they would support is, they
were helpful. we got a number of high-level of operatives. it has been a long dry spell since. they have recalculated and not been as helpful as they could be. we still have trainers in pakistan. they do provide us some information. it is not as much as we would like. we hope they will cooperate more. i do not think pakistan will work hard to help us find him. >> if the united states went in to get him out like they did with osama bin laden, are you concerned that would ruptured disruptions -- rupture things with pakistan? >> we will do what we have to do. we work hard to make sure the relationship is not disrupted.
i have been a supporter of senator and president obama. i remember the speech when he said if we have are actionable intelligence and they are in another country, we will go in. he was being upfront and honest about our intentions. that was the right policy then and now. we prefer to do it with the cooperation of the other government. if that corporation is not forthcoming, we have no choice. >> do you anticipate the coming up on the floor? would you support any efforts? the coalition support funds have been a particular issue. we're giving the money to pursue various operations we're not sure they're doing. >> i am sure there will be amendments that will try to restrict or eliminate funding to
pakistan. i would be reluctant to support anything that would outright ban or reduce it. we could discuss pleasing proper strings, focus, offering incentives. i would be open to a conversation about that. i wish it was enormous best interest to walk away from pakistan. it is a frustrating relationship. but it is not. our national security interests are at stake. we cannot afford to have al qaeda or allies gaining greater ground. we have to maintain its relationship with pakistan. that is going to involve some financial support. >> a few days ago, president karzai the strong anti-american speech where he was characterized in u.s. and nato forces as not being in his
country's interests and that we were there to occupy afghanistan. he said we had different interests than the afghan people. how difficult is that making things for the united states and nato in terms of trying to produce a favorable outcome in afghanistan? he spoke of our interest in maintaining a stable government. if we were to leave, could karzai stand on his own feet? >> that is why the president's decision to drawdown is important. it is not just that we have to stay and fight in greater numbers for success. the greater the numbers, the greater the likelihood that people like karzai and other leaders will come under pressure because of our presence. it points out the reason why the drawdown is necessary. as far as whether the government could stand if we left. now, probably not. if we cannot do it immediately, we have to do it over a timeline that the president laid
out. he was very specific. when we get involved in these things, everyone wants an exit strategy. but exit strategies are hard to come by when you do not know what will happen. he has laid out ia clear exit strategy and plan. he is following that. karzai is saying this because of domestic pressure from his constituency. we all have our constituents. his are concerned about the taliban and also upset about the fact they have 150,000 western troops in their country. balancing that shows the need to drawdown in a responsible way. >> the afghan security forces we've spent time and money trading, how confident are you they will be able to take matters into their own hands?
will they be able to fill our shoes? >> how are we going to pay for that? >> the force is better than it used to be. that is true. we have trained about 128,000 between the army and police since the surge of 2009. the training is better. they're more equipped and capable. i think they can probably stand up as we leave. it is not a guarantee. we are paying for it now. we will not be paying for it forever. we will probably have to maintain some level of support in terms of equipment and training for some time. we have to remember why. i understand why people are frustrated with what is going on in afghanistan. people ask why we're there.
the say al qaeda is gone. yes, they are right across the border. if the taliban came back in control, they would be on the other side of the border with a safe haven. we would not be in a position to put pressure on them like we are now. this is where we are tactically. this is where they plotted and planned 9/11 and other attacks. we have to make sure al qaeda and the taliban are not able to come back into power. it is in our interest even if it is costly and difficult. >> i think the costs of training the troops reinforces the larger question about sustainability. we're investing a lot in development programs, farming, infrastructure. do you feel confident the investments will be sustained after the u.s. leaves? >> will the investments we put
into development for agriculture and governance and of basic training on how to run a government, is that going to have legs after we leave? i think it will. how strong is a tougher question. we have been training. we have not just been doing it for them. i have visited helmand and met with the district government. they were running a government. they were getting the necessities of the civil society. they were working on it. we have made progress. is it enough to stand in a difficult part of the world against an opposing force like the taliban? there are no guarantees. what we have done gives us a higher likelihood of success. >> are you more or less optimistic than 18 months ago? >> much more optimistic.
there is no reason to be anything other than more optimistic based on what has happened in the last 18 months. it was a fairly low bar to jump over. i was not very optimistic back in 2008 and 2009. we have now made progress. whether it is sustainable is tough to answer. it is in our interest to do our best to make it more likely than not. >> with the breakdown of the talks on the debt seasoceiling,t is your confidence the deadline will be met? >> i am confident we will come up with something, but i am concerned about the process. we have to increase the debt ceiling regardless of what we do for long-term fiscal health. if we're going to deal with long-term fiscal health, there are two things are obvious. we've had a significant decrease in revenue.
in 2000, it was 21% of gdp. the last to the years, it has been less than a 15%. you cannot look at the size of deficit as a revenue has nothing to do with it. it has to be on the table. entitlements and federal employees retirement and health care, all in that is 55% of the budget. with one party saying entitlements cannot be on the table. the other is saying taxes cannot be on the table. we're not serious about the deficit when we're having the conversation. both things have to be on the table. we should not hold the debt ceiling hostage to that discussion. >> thank you for being with us this week. we just spoke with congressman adam smith, the top democrat on the armed services committee. the president faced debate on libya policy even after his
secretary of state made an appeal asking members whose side they were on. talk to me about the president's foreign policy and how he is doing with members of his own party and those on capitol hill. >> there are unusual divisions and alliances that have appeared over libya. you can see the war weariness on capitol hill with democrats. they backed him up to a large degree on libya by voting down the resolution on friday that would have cut off funds for most of the operation. i thought that was interesting. there was a lot of contention to the president's plan. they wanted it faster, more troops brought home. i did not see many democrats who were really backing up what the president was calling for. >> fiscal issues are splitting
the republicans. it is not just libya, in his defense spending. republicans for decades were hawks who would set aside the national security budget as sacrosanct. for many years, i think they would have been all for taking out gaddafi. now you have republicans were concerned about financial pressures saying we need to pull back their say we need to pull back from our role in the world. that has a long-term repercussions for washington. president obama and other democratic leaders have felt pressure to stand up and b