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tv   Washington Journal Erik Prince Discusses Afghanistan War Strategy  CSPAN  August 12, 2017 12:51am-1:37am EDT

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documentary on mobile warming. -- global warming. thank you to all of the students who took part in our 2017 student documentary competition. to watch any of the videos, go we ask the students to choose any provision of the u.s. constitution and create a video illustrating why the provision is important. that will be for our next competition. on friday as washington journal, we talk to the finder of the blackwater private security firm about how the u.s. conduct wars, and why he thinks the military should privatize its operations in afghanistan. this is 45 minutes. >> we want to welcome to the table, erik prince, the finder of lack water, usa, the chairman of frontier service group. thank you for being with us. let's get right to it. an editorial on usa today,
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earlier this week, you wrote -- the president can restructure the war, similar to a bankruptcy reorganization, by aligning u.s. efforts under a presidential envoy, that will institute decisions about military aid, support and intelligence, and become laser focused on creating a table and self-supporting afghanistan. it would give our troops and exit ramp. we have been there for the last 16 years, so outlined specifically what you want to do? >> the president temple everything out completely, which i think would be a bad idea. i think taliban and isis would end up taking over the country, and they would say that they have beat the united states. wewe could keep the way that have been, we have now spent almost $1 trillion, and we are now spending more than the entire defense budget of the united kingdom, just in afghanistan. more than 2000 american soldiers dead, 20,000 plus wounded.
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health-care costs from that war will be $1 trillion on top of that. secretary mattis said that we are not winning. the terrorist forces control more than half of the country, though, this current strategy is not working. we try to take a step back, and the reason that i wrote restructuring, is to say, let's pare away the incremental decisions that we've had a weird we have had 17 different commanders in 16 years. -- we have 17 different commanders in 16 years. we need one leader in charge of all things, from the departments of defense, state, the intelligence community, from afghanistan to pakistan. we need to have one person making the decision, unify that. second, we need to really support the afghan security forces in a proven way. there are about 9000 u.s. troops in the country, and another 4000 from nato and 2600 contractors.
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i am not arguing for a expansion of contractors, in fact i would say a significant contract and of contractors and provide the off ramp for u.s. troops. --hink that anyone who says let us figure out how to be done in afghanistan, this is an approach that will get us there of it cost less than 1/5 what we're spending now and will return billions of dollars to the state treasury. >> have we tried this before? have other countries tried this before? >> again, this is not unleashing private armies and anyway. this ishis -- all that doing, largely what the u.s. special forces have done in afghanistan, the afghan special forces fight and function well. they do 80% of the defensive missions as it is, and they have been trained and mentored in the way that i am recommending. them,orces operate along
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and the rest of the afghan army has not been done that way. got one base, and they see each other about once or twice a week. what i am talking about doing is putting contract trainers on a long time basis who live, train and patrol with those afghan units and provide structural some more, skeletal system, that provides leadership, intelligence, medical and logistic expertise to the unit. battalionsse afghan from the bottom up, can depend on them. at a time when the united states was in world war ii and we needed help, china defended itself from japanese aggression, and in that case you had americans as contractors who went in and fought, and basically became part of the chinese air force in 1940. firstnly, the foreign-policy crisis america faced, with the berber pirates,
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baryurberry pirates-- bar pirates, was led by contractors. italians, frenchmen, and they ended up liberating the 340 american sailors who were in 1805.age in tripoli this is happened more than people want to imagine. >> of her video august -- proper radio audience, our guest is erik prince to read if you are a veteran of the war in afghanistan, we have there for a decade and a half. andl get to your calls comments in the moment. you have been in afghanistan both as a navy seal and in blackwater. how many numerous times. why did we get to this how did we get to this situation? why the stalemate? ince: >> it is because
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of air power and other forces. they were decimated and pushed back, but the more that we've turned it into a conventional army operation, we have gone backwards. now we are at the point that the taliban, having survived this force exceeding years, they are at their best. they are survivors of all of the wars, and they know exactly how the u.s. operates, how the u.s. collect signals intelligence, and surveillance, and targets and all of the rest. we have the finest military in the world, and if they could just get the enemy to fight them the way they want them to fight. that is the problem. we have amazing communication capability, but fighting against guys in flip-flops and pickup trucks is a different war and we are never really adapted to fighting that kind of war. with the military that was largely built to defend western europe from the soviet union. >> the president saying that he is announced -- expected to announce a decision soon. what if we pull out completely? ce: people say, what would a
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post-american afghanistan look like? isis typen, and forces, would end up taking over the country. they already dominate a most half of the country as it is now. senator john mccain announced that he would like to see an additional 4000 troops. he would like to do what the u.s. did in iraq to afghanistan. it is basically more of the same. >> we had as many as 140,000 troops in country, 100,000 americans and 40,000 nato troops and that did not work. americans have the watches, but we have the time. we have to do a sustainable, cheap, long-term strategy, that helps keep unrelenting pressure on those terrorist elements. to what toroclivity to--s, brush in -- once
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urge, it is a false presumption because the enemy just ducks and covers. they have the time. >> with your organization, or organizations benefit from this? if there's a chance to do some of this work, we would certainly have a go at it. folks at they white house, after i wrote in the wall street journal, to elaborate on the op-ed and ended up making a detailed analysis of what the budget would take. iey wanted a comparison, and can honestly and clearly say, this program would cost less than
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my plan includes everything on the budget remaining there to keep active duty some guys and this contracted these would provide mentors at the battalion level across the afghan army's over the long-term, some error, then government support to make sure the afghan military gets the logistic support they need ,f it italian orders food, fuel or ammunition, they get it on time. medical support for them and technical intelligence. i believe that is all you need to do to keep the afghan forces upright. what is your view on general nicholson? guest: he has been dealt a tough hand to play. with a criminal decisions and nobody has been in charge there for a long time. ofin, i had it vantage coming with a clean sheet of
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paper and saying this is what needs to happen to make this work. if the u.s. army could suddenly sent a brigade of the sergeants, senior sergeants and staff officers to be that embedded mentor peace, i would shut up. but they can't. they have not organized that way in 16 years. they used to do that in a vietnam war. the u.s. army is not big enough to do that. they cannot maintain the rotations. they would render a third of the army combat in operable. host: having served in the military and whether it's iraq, afghanistan, the situation in north korea, is the military prepared for pointers century warfare? guest: we have amazing conventional capabilities. look at the last two wars we have been in. largely insurgencies.
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the conventional part of the iraq war was quite small, quite short, then it default into an insurgency. afghanistan has been an insurgency almost the entire time. getting the military and the paradigm into a mindset to do both his heart. coming at this -- both his heart. coming at best, these are veterans that have artie served in that military answered well. deploying at a different model but it's the same skill set and people. we are a country of great innovation and flexibly. consideryears, why not what has worked in the past? host: here is a crazy idea floating around washington these days, outlandish even by today's outlandish standards. the rest should hire a mercenary army to fix afghanistan. guest: he's wrong on a couple points. withays these mentors work
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make them become attached to the afghan army which makes them not mercenaries. and they are not private army working around afghanistan. they are under the afghan chain of command. they are there to serve as a support structure for the afghan military. it is exactly what the u.s. army should be doing but for the last 16 years has yet to be able to organize that way. host: nancy joining us from concorde, new hampshire. caller: thanks for taking my call. princech older than eric and i have been around a long time. i'm curious because you don't seem to operate under these laws. you are part of the afghan military. there was no central military or government in afghanistan before. always i'm curious because your men actually were arrested for open fire in that square in iraq when
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civilians were killed. how did you get access to all of our treasury money to build your own mercenary army in afghanistan? would consider hiring mercenaries on behalf of the american government. we will never be done with terrorists as long as you continue to occupy afghanistan. laternbelievable 16 years that we are pouring all this money and dick cheney has lied through his teeth. you are a good friend of his. how did you get all of our money from the treasury? guest: let me clarify a couple things. we are not doing that work now. the u.s. military has been doing it for 16 years and it's costing taxpayers more than $50 billion a year. there is an afghan government now, one that we recognize, largely been elected, and is representative and we can either
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choose to pull out completely, and i believe the afghan government would be defeated and it would collapse and it would be another completely failed state harboring a lot of terrorists, or we can keep doing what we are doing. i don't think we should do that either. end thean off-road to road and bring the troops home and begun. host: chris in wisconsin, the republican line. guest: good morning. caller: good morning. i'm am conflicting this story about $1 trillion. gained, it's $6 trillion. i have three points, that is the first point. the other one is korea. dmk. that's the scary situation. to -- i don'td
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know what to say about that. them than we can't let loose. the third point is, iran, syria, lebanon, israel, all those -- it's trouble. host: thank you, chris. agree.i united states has spent an enormous amount of money between iraq, afghanistan, syria, and all the rest. i want the united states to stop spending that kind of money. i would like to cauterize this unending leading wound in afghanistan. there were americans killed as recently as last week, two kids in their 20's driving back from a meeting with a provincial governor. the taliban will continue to do that. they know how to fight the united states.
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the united states is largely on the defense in afghanistan and it's time to bring that to an end while not giving terrorists sanctuary. on the issue of $1 trillion versus six really dollars, i don't disagree with you. host: sydney in alexandria, louisiana, the independents alike. caller: i would like to ask mr. plant if he will be responsible for the hospital bills on his people because in iraq, they ended up on social security because the corporations, as soon as they got to the state and were injured, they were on socialinjured security and they had several, several programs showing this on c-span. host: thank you, sydney. guest: any contractor that goes abroad on behalf of the government should have defense
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based act insurance, that is a longtime disability insurance in case they are injured or there is a death benefit annuity for any surviving family members. if there are cases like that, those are an anomaly and that is not the case with any of our former employees. host: who is funding the telegram? -- taliban? gold, has.oney off we have -- hash. we have been there for many years. they are taxing the areas producing those resources and keeping a huge chunk of the money while legal minors cannot do it legally is there is no law in place. there is a support coming from pakistan. i'm told between waist and u.s. military, corruption from the afghan government, and trading
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in those commodities, the taliban is very well funded. host: when you talk to the afghan people, what do they tell you? guest: they are mostly concerned about being abandoned as they know the consequences if the u.s. pulls out. the afghan government had a bad week last week. they lost an entire company to taliban ground attack. captured, 20r 40 guys escaped. where is the air support? where is the help from the american forces? those kinds of problems go away. they realize that and they appreciate that. company did get , is there any conflict
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of interest with your sisters serving in the cabinet? guest: none at all. caller: i would like to ask mr. prince if he has considered asking his sister's husband, mr. devos, maybe he could fund his private military. , would also like to ask him where should i send my tax money because he wants to privatize basically everything in the government? every buddy is up in arms about having to pay for health care, government mandated health care. i don't want to send my money to mr. prince or anyone like him, but i'm not going to be given that choice. how much money is mr. prince going to make out of this? thank you. guest: the thing to focus on is trying to end the war in afghanistan while denying terrorists century. if that can be don for one dollar -- if that can be done for one dollar, great, but
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unfortunately it cannot. let's bring it to a close and return 40 plus billion dollars back to the treasury. host: let me go back to the earlier point about warfare and the 21st century. is the military nimble enough, is it getting the right training to do the things that need to be done? telegramke i said, the are on the best of -- the telegram are on the best -- the tealiban are on the best of their game. they are deployed, they leave. experience leads with them. we had been fighting the same war 16 times or more than that. an inherent flaw in how the u.s. deploys and any large bureaucracy is inherently not all. it's a huge advantage to come at this with a clean sheet of
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paper. and right now -- right down and do exactly what is necessary to a compass that task versus trying to build a building with an unwieldy set of tools. host: a couple calls on blackwater usa. what is the status of that company today? 2010 and itd it in is run by a new york hedge fund and they continue to do security and bodyguard support to the u.s. government. i'm not involved in any way. host: what is the frontier service group? guest: logistics company. we do most of our work in africa. most of our groceries and goods from cape town and we do support in kenya across the continent. we do medevac, cargo movements by air. host: independent line. caller: good morning.
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we have been at this a long time. you are bringing a lot of rational thought to a very emotional conversation and that is a hard one to went. but we need to try something else. it's time and i appreciate everything you are doing. i see a lot of opportunities to blend in new technologies and a new way of fighting that services have not been able to do. keep it up. thanks. guest: the telegram first time the firstthe taliban time around were defeated by air power. going back to that relentless n does notn the taliba have to be so hard and does not have to cost so much. let's figure out how to bring this war to an end. host: the afghan government does not comment on the internal
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elaborations of other governments. we are reserving judgment until a former policy is a nass. we are awaiting a decision by the president. have you talked to general mattis to my general kelly, and others? guest: i talked to general mattis. i have not talked to general kelly yet because he is new in that position. analysisattis said my of the root problems that need to be addressed with the best he has seen. he might not agree with my policy recommendations, meaning putting contracted guys into those roles, but he said the root problem, meeting sustaining battalions from the bottom up with long-term embedded mentors, i think that is the right approach and he would agree. host: if your plan were to be implemented, how long would it take to succeed? guest: it would take a year and i have to fully wrap up. people in those positions are almost 100 talents across afghanistan.
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-- battalions across afghanistan. with those afghan battalions poaching much better and have a viable air support, it will put much more pressure on the taliban. what afghan soldier once to leave his base knowing he has almost no chance of any reaction force supporting them if they get in a big firefight? infection of a septic after 10 days because he did not get antibiotics and he will get no air support in a fight. what afghan soldier would be confident going into a fight? host: how big is afghanistan compared to the u.s.? guest: bigger than texas and about 30 million. caller: good morning. host: we can hear you. caller: my question to mr. prince.
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we are seeing an increase in insurgencies. [indiscernible] in your opinion, how can a corporation such as like water look at this going forward? what sort of oversight and regulation would need to be in place for that to happen? guest: short, you are right. there is a lot of insurgencies. there are more places on fire on earth then 50 or 60 years. the secondary effects of that would be exported terrorism migration and refugees out of
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those areas. figuring out how to put out those fires is important. governments can turn to the private sector, like the u.s. government has, for that kind of training support, aviation, logistics support, to get that done. anytime the u.s. does that, it is regulated by the state department. it is controlled. those rules are based on the original arms export laws for preventing the sales of sensitive missile or weapons technology. those could use updating to make them more relevant to make the u.s. a more helpful platform to help these countries suffering these insurgencies. host: our conversation with erik prince, who is advocating for privatizing parts of the effort in afghanistan. caller: i was wondering what would be so catastrophic out of
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just being in afghanistan? the russians did. they had their belly full of it. they did not win in iraq. they did not win in afghanistan. they did not win in vietnam. those countries were ruled by other people long before now, and they were different rulers, different ways of living than ours. but we got by. why can we not leave? the russians cannot do it, what makes you think we could do it? host: thank you, nancy. guest: the russians, in the 1980's, had put in $1 billion of u.s. lethal aid per year that drove the soviets out of afghanistan to include providing the afghans with surface-to-air missiles. fortunately, no one has done that to the u.s. effort in afghanistan. we are not there to colonize it. we are not there to dominate it.
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the u.s. went there to prevent it from ever being used as a base of operations to launch a terrorist attack against the homeland after 9/11. there is an argument to be made to pull out completely. but doing that in this era of isis and lots of lone wolf, individual type attacks, it serves as a caliphate, a base for radical islam to rally around. as you go through the process of trying to defeat isis on the ground, in iraq, and syria, and suddenly afghanistan falls, which it would if the u.s. pulled out completely, you have another base of operations for an isis-like force. that is what we are trying to avoid. i try to provide a cheap and sustainable option between pulling out completely but continuing the same level of heavy spending we are doing. this plan costs less than 20% of the current plan. host: as you have indicated,
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there are a lot of systems in afghanistan that contribute to the problem, correct? guest: sure. you know, there are certain things, structurally, that need to be addressed, like the mining law, the energy law. there are a dollars of resources in the ground in afghanistan that the afghan government should be benefiting from. it is a diplomatic failure on the u.s.'s part to push those laws and bring about a turn in the economy. host: let's quickly turns or north korea. this is what the president said in new jersey. we will follow that with the tweet just a short while ago. >> for people who was questioning that statement, maybe it was not tough enough. host: and this morning -- "military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should north korea act unwisely.
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hopefully, kim jong-un will find another path." that from the president this morning. guest: remember, kim jong-un killed his half-brother in an international airport. he strapped his uncle to the end of a military gun and blew him away. he is not a rational guy. those comments are not directed at kim jong-un, they are designed to go to the people around kim jong-un, so that they realize if you do something stupid, it is not just him who will go, it is all the leadership clique. every time kim fires a missile, it is a marketing project. certainly a threat to the west. his nuclear missile program is iran's nuclear missile program. the question of them selling weapons is a strategic problem to the u.s.
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the more of those nations have those weapons, it will be our problem. host: can diplomacy work or is conflict and war inevitable? guest: i hope conflict is avoided. if i were the united states, i would try a program like the united states did for the soviet union in the 1980's. the wall came down, the berlin wall, because people on the east side of the wall figured out what was on the west side of the wall. really putting an information program together in north korea would make it harder for kim to govern. host: but china does not want that, they do not want to see a unified korea. guest: they might not, but anything that makes kim's life more miserable in governing is
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ideal. even better if the general steps up and removes kim himself and makes a deal to reunify or carry on. it's totally time to end the kim dynasty. host: and the question everyone seems to be asking -- are you worried, are you concerned? guest: if i lived in the first 20 miles next to the dmz, that is the most worrisome spot. the fact is kim, every time he tests -- and he is testing out submarines now, as well, and he -- a small nuclear device and him shooting into south korea or japan or guam -- 400,000 american citizens there -- that is a problem. so spending on missile defense technology and deterrence, this is an example of why -- before
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we worry about another war in north korea, let's finish the one we have been in the longest. host: let's turn back to afghanistan and the treatment by the chair of that senate armed forces committee, senator john mccain -- we must face stocks that we are losing in afghanistan. time is of the essence if we intend to turn the tide. the goal of the strategy is to ensure afghanistan never again becomes a sanctuary for terrorists to plot and conduct attacks against america or our allies. we need an approach to bolster efforts, the strength and capability of the afghan government and security forces, and intensify diplomatic efforts to facilitate a negotiated peace process in afghanistan. your response. it kind of sounds like the same thing. you could've said that in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, or now. the difference is -- we need to
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have one person in charge of all u.s. policy for afghanistan. put one person in charge and make them responsible for it. we have not had that. it would be interesting to see senator mccain's response if the president names that person, and senator mccain would expect to have oversight over that guy. treat this like a bankruptcy. this has been going around in circles for 16 years. if you put a business in bankruptcy, you have a court appoint a bankruptcy trustee. that is kind of what we need in the afghanistan effort. do what we need to do to deny terrorists sanctuary, stabilize the afghan government, and figure out how to leave. that is america's goal. host: joe is next, south carolina. caller: good morning. let me give you a little background. i used to work for the federal government and the dod.
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i was involved in logistics and helped out the portable units they used to take over to the sands. i retired in 2007. anyway, you are familiar with the a-76 circular, as a contractor. for the life of me, and don't think this wrong, i have always that the military should be an inherently government function. let me explain something -- the government is not supposed to compete with the private sector if the private sector can do a job more efficiently and effectively. erik knows that. he is a millionaire. aside from the money thing and tactics and strategy, i would like to go back to a hearing in the senate armed services committee -- thank goodness for c-span that we can watch those things. general nicholson testified in february. my senator, lindsey graham,
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questioned him in detail about what was needed to win in afghanistan. he said at least 30,000 more troops. he also said that contractors outnumber government guys two to one over there. i don't know if that was true. expressed dismay that russia is trying to undermine our efforts over there. he also said if we do not win this thing over there and get that place stabilized, we will feel their presence on this continent -- host: thank you for checking out our website at we will have to end there and give our guest chance to respond. guest: let me answer last to first. you are right. there are more contractors in afghanistan already. 26,000. nine and a half thousand of those are americans in afghanistan. there are another 9000 u.s. troops. there are a lot of contractors there. the plan i am advocating severely reduces all of those
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numbers. the question of inherently governmental comes up. i was born in the summer of 1969, the summer of woodstock and apollo 11. if you were to say is it inherently governmental that only the u.s. government can put a rocket into space, 1969, of course, you would have said yes. but now today, 2017, the only way the u.s. government gets to space is on a private contractor's rocket or with the russian space program. the idea of what is inherently governmental, time and technology changes that. host: will from ohio, good morning. caller: the first thing i would like to say is this whole thing is ridiculous. the russians warned us 15 years ago, do not go into afghanistan, you will not win. they were right. the second thing i would like to say is we are spending all of
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this money between afghanistan and iraq. you can rebuild every hospital and school in america with the money we are spending over there. this could be putting americans to work, it would be creating jobs, and you would have money to support the entitlement program we need for people. this whole thing is just ridiculous. guest: i think the president agrees with you. he has said repeatedly he is not comfortable with the same big military, big spending approach in afghanistan. i think he wrestles with pulling out completely and putting that money to work back in the united states and infrastructure versus spending it. i try to provide him an option to keep pressure on the terrorists and still return more than $40 billion back to the budget to spend in america.
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host: from georgia, rick. caller: good morning. thank you, c-span, for your service to our nation. i have a couple of comments. first, as far as a grand war in afghanistan, history teaches us that the last foreign general to have won a war in afghanistan was alexander the great, about 00 bc. secondly, privatization from the military is a terrible idea. all the way back to the history, mercenaries have always been a failure. mercenaries cannot be trusted. mercenaries are there for the profit. their allegiance is to money, not to a nation. profit. their allegiance is to money, not to a nation. i think you have revealed your motives, when you try to compare afghanistan to a business.
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war is not a place to realize a profit. the analogy with a business in bankruptcy is not well taken. thank you. guest: i would say the effort is in bankruptcy. the fact that the afghan state is 90% plus dependent on donor funds to operate, and that even our secretary of defense acknowledges we are not winning, having spent close to $1 trillion, any rational observer or investor could characterize that as being in bankruptcy. again, trying to save a lot of money and putting this thing, trying to find an offramp for the longest war in history, is important. as to the idea of mercenaries, or contractors, i respectfully strongly disagree with you. anyone who looks at the history
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of the flying tigers, what they accomplished against the japanese, even winston churchill praised those guys, those contractors, those former army, navy, air force pilots who went to work for a chinese company to defend china against japanese aggression. churchill equated those pilots to the same work the raf did in britain. caller: i think you're trying to push innovative solutions, which is excellent. but a couple of points. one of the things i would say is have you heard of soap ways airlines and the arming of some arsenal in bulgaria to boko haram, isis, and other areas this one has been conducting. all of the manifests with airplanes are available on
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would make sense to me to cut out those lines going to the spiders fighting against our troops. host: are you familiar with this? guest: is there leakage in arms trade in the world? yes, sadly. that is not necessary in afghanistan, because when the taliban can roll over an afghan base and destroy it and capture all of the arms provided by the u.s., they do not need it. host: this in the headlines -- the blackwater ceo held a secret seychelle meeting to establish a back line between trump and russia. is the headline accurate? guest: i was in a business meeting when i was in the seychelles that had nothing to do with the u.s. government really. host: you have not been
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contacted by anyone investigating this? guest: not at all. host: what do you think of trump? guest: i feel for the guy, as much negativity is attacking him. he was a multibillionaire, living a comfortable life. but he cares about his country and decided to step up and do something about it. i think the guy could cure cancer, and the left would still criticize him for curing cancer, somehow. he is in a thankless position. i am thankful he is president, and not hillary clinton. as the administration comes together, there will be good things ahead. host: is his rhetoric appropriate? guest: rhetoric, particularly at kim jong-un -- like i said, i think that was directed at the circle around kim jong-un. having clear definition from the united states about what the consequences are of firing missiles at guam is appropriate.
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host: last call from new york, rich. thank you for waiting. caller: i would like to say it is not terrorists who scare me, it is you. you are nothing more than a warmonger. i am sure there is a special place in hell for you. guest: i am sorry you feel that way. i am trying to figure out how to end the war in afghanistan and bring the troops home. i question how you would do that. host: let's go back to our earlier point. is "privatize" the right word? guest: first of all, let's end the war. everyone left of center wants the figure how to bring the troops home. you have to have some sort of structure in place to have afghan security forces are bright and effective. this is the model to do that. people want to complain about
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contractors in afghanistan -- there are already 26,000 there. this plan reduces that number 80%. i will take criticism. people have criticism to throw around. the fact is, these are difficult problems, and for the united states to pull out of afghanistan completely and leave a terrorist safe haven is a problem. a solution to that, people can criticize me for that, but if you're not over the target, you're not taking flak. host: if people can follow you on twitter or on the web? guest: i am not on either. host: but your website? guest: sure, but it has nothing to do with solving afghanistan. host: erik prince, >> c-span's "washington journal" live every day with news and policy issues that affect you. coming


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