tv Washington Journal Michael Kugelman CSPAN August 27, 2021 11:37am-12:38pm EDT
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public service, along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. e are joined by michael kugelman, the asia program deputy director at the asia center. he focus on afghanistan, asia, and pakistan for the organization. let's begin with the attack at the airport and what does it mean for the future of afghanistan? guest: i think it is a reminder that even though the taliban has acquired an end to its war, there is still a lot of violence and conflict ahead for afghanistan. the yuan estimated there are nearly two dozen different terrorist organizations based in the afghanistan/pakistan region. isis-k is foremost among them. i think this also highlights the challenges the taliban will face
as it tries to consolidate power in the face of a skeptical and worried population. afghanistan is dealing with pretty set years -- pretty serious crisis with food crisis, drought, food insecurity. insecurity continues to be a major challenge as well. isis is a rival of the taliban. it is important to keep that in mind. isis does not want the taliban to succeed or the taliban to consolidate power and gain it inside of afghanistan. i fear we could have more against like this. isis-k did not come out of nowhere. -- events like this. isis-k did not come out of nowhere. it has been there since 2000 15 and has carried out to horrific attacks over the years. it has been resilient because u.s. airpower has been used to target the afghan -- target them, the afghan forces have gone after it, and the taliban too. despite that, there is recent
information they are building up cells in the kabul area to help them carry out yesterday's attack. host: what is the population of afghanistan, and what percentage do you estimate is trying to get out? what does that mean for the country itself after this is over? >> it is hard to put a specific figure on how many afghans are trying to get out of the country. you are talking about thousands or sure. that includes those afghans who had formed with u.s. forces, that constitute this siv visa status. those are the ones trying to get out. there are also the ones that have worked with the u.s. and nato in other capacities, such as working with an american development agency. then there are afghans that even felt particularly vulnerable, such as those from the hizara community.
then you have all the afghans who really benefited from the gains that have come out over the last few decades in terms of advances in education, health care, so on and so forth. they do not want to be in a position where they lose those gains. many of them are trying to get out as well. the reality is clearly many of the people that want to leave will not be able to. especially with the august 31 deadline, that is fast approaching, and given what happened yesterday, the u.s. government will try to accelerate these -- accelerate these evacuation processes even more. beyond august 31, you will have a lot of people in afghanistan that will try to get out and will try to go to bordering countries like iran and pakistan, which have been letting people in. this two countries hosted more afghan refugees than any other country. many will try to go to europe. many will try to come to the united states. it is unclear how the taliban
will deal with that issue. the taliban has already said it does not want afghans to leave and that they are safe in afghanistan. clearly a lot of the population does not agree with that sentiment. host: what does the fall of afghanistan mean for pakistan? guest: i think pakistan sees this as a blessing and a curse. they have a long-standing relationship with the taliban. it helped establish the taliban. over the years, they provided a lot of backing to the taliban, particularly housing and hosting leaders in providing medical facilities for wounded fighters. in the past, it provided a lot of military assistance as well. it was a taliban sponsor. on one level, it is a strategic victory for pakistan, that the taliban is now in control in afghanistan. pakistan has long had a strategic goal of seeing the
government in afghanistan that is firmly to pakistan. and there has not been that since 2001. what is a problem for pakistan which is a concern is the taliban's victory has had a galvanizing effect on militants in the region come on terrorists in the region. just because, for so many islamic militants, the idea of u.s. forces being expelled after occupying and also the militants that expelled those forces taking power hugely galvanizing. some of the anger at the u.s. forces is what allowed this to be established. the pakistan and tableau -- and taliban is not related to the afghan taliban. this is a terrorist organization that has been galvanized by what the taliban in afghanistan has been able to do. pakistan will worry that the
pakistani taliban will be inspired by what the taliban and afghanistan did and will be prompted to carry out attacks inside of pakistan. there was a theory between 2007 and 2014 that the packet out -- pakistani taliban were staging horrific attacks for a period of time. it has been weakened in recent years after pakistani counterterrorism offenses, but it has shown signs of resurgence in recent months. i think that will get more implemented now from this taliban victory in afghanistan. there are security risks for the pakistani state. over the years, the pakistanis have had leverage over the taliban in afghanistan because they provided sanctuary and assistance to taliban fighters. now that the taliban have afghanistan, it does not need the sanctuary of pakistan anymore. if it is not fighting its war for now, it does not need to look for pakistan on military
support and so on. pakistan could well lose leverage over the very group it has nurtured and sponsored over the years. host: talk about the region at large and your reaction to this reporting in the new york times. in the months before american forces withdrew, some 8002 10,000 g howdy fighters -- 8000 to 10,000 g howdy -- ghi -- jihadi fighters from central asia and the northern region of russia into western china. guest: i talked about the taliban gaining victories on militants around the region and certainly in the world. certainly in recent months, one of the many reasons why the taliban was able to take over so much territory in a little time is it was getting back, getting supported by militants from
around the region, and more broadly, from around the world. i think this highlights an important point when you want to talk about regional dynamics. i think that it is a very important and basic fact that most of afghanistan neighbors and key regional players are bigger rivals of the u.s.. iran, china, russia, or they are difficult partners like turkey or pakistan. i would argue much of the region is a mixed mind when it comes to the fact the u.s. has withdrawn and the taliban has taken over. it is a strategic boost for these countries that do not want to u.s. footprint in afghanistan, but also they would not admit it publicly but many of these rivals of the u.s. quietly benefited from having this modest u.s. military presence in afghanistan just because the u.s. military was not providing 100% stability. but i think it was in a position on the ground to tackle a number
of these terrorist threats that will be much more difficult to tackle when it no longer has boots on the ground. i think many of these rivals of the u.s. see the departure of u.s. forces as something that could risk increasing terrorism threats to them in the coming months. given tear point about these foreign fighters coming in, there has already been a number of foreign fighters in the afghanistan/pakistan region for years. indeed, as the taliban seemed to gain and take over more territory and now that it will be controlling the country, you will see militants from al qaeda, isis, and central asia. there are militants around the region in many different places and they will converge on afghanistan. you have to worry afghanistan could eventually become something i can to syria where you just have so many foreign fighters flowing to it. it is certainly a troubling
thought especially as the u.s. withdrawals. host: do we know how many of those jihadi fighters there are in the world or region? guest: i think there are definitely thousands for sure. host: tens of thousands? guest: absolutely. and the taliban itself has about 70,000 to 80,000 or had 70,000 to 80,000 fighters. that is just one group. the pakistani taliban has several thousand fighters that have been in afghanistan. so i don't want to talk about hundreds of thousands but tens of thousands on the whole and several thousands at the least in the afghan and pakistani region. host: let's get to calls. chris in massachusetts, democratic color. question or -- caller. question or comment for our guest? caller: hello. in 1978, afghanistan had a secular government that respected the rights of women
and the problem for the united states was this government was supported by the soviet union. so the united states decreed this government had to go and they did it by supplying arms to islamicists. basically what we are seeing now is the case of reaping what you sow. do you have any comment on that? thanks and i will take your answer offline. guest: thanks for your point. you are right. once afghanistan became embroiled in the cold war, cold war politics, that signaled a major change for everything in afghanistan -- politics, society, culture -- they're still recovering from it. afghanistan has really been at war for more than 40 years. we talk in the united states about war that has gone on for 20 years but for afghans, it has been twice that time.
you have to go back to the invasion many years ago. afghanistan has really struggled to recover. it is notable that if you look at the afghan history, the country enjoys a modicum of stability. that is when you didn't have foreign countries or foreign militaries involved, meddling covertly or physically and presently on the ground. afghanistan is trying to recover from that. i fear that even with the nato mission ending, officially you will not have armed forces in afghanistan. i think you could see so-called new great game playing out where you have new countries across the region, not necessarily militarily, but diplomatically and otherwise trying to pursue their interests. especially if you have violent terrorism continuing to get worse if the taliban fails to
consolidate power, if you have an armed resistance that comes out. there has been a small resistance so far but has not been much. if you have civil war and chaos in afghanistan, you will see different players backing those factions to help best them secure their interests. then we could be back to square one. given how difficult it will be for the taliban to gain legitimacy, you are not looking at a government that will be stable by any means. that is suggesting instability and raises the prospect of outside countries trying to metal and do what they think they have to do -- meddle and do what they think they have to do in the country. host: our next caller, a republican. caller: hi. i wanted to know where this idea that our former president made a deal with the taliban came from. where did this originate? i did not pick it up at all
during his presidency, so i wanted to know where this rumor floating around, where it might have came from. guest: i assume we're talking about former president trump here. it was very simple. president trump wanted to get out of afghanistan. he initially, when he first took office, he agreed to stay in afghanistan and announced the police -- policy that not only will re-sting more troops. after the second year of his term, he decided he wanted to get out, at all costs. what he wanted to do before that was to gain some form of political cover for a withdrawal of forces. basically he had the former u.s. ambassador to afghanistan, he charged him with the task of negotiating an agreement with the taliban that would enable u.s. troops to get out. it resulted in an agreement in
2020 between the administration and the taliban, which entailed u.s. forces leave afghanistan, all u.s. forces leaving afghanistan may have 2021 was the deadline at the time. in return, the taliban agreed not to attack u.s. forces anymore, especially not shoot at u.s. forces as they were leaving afghanistan. that was the political cover. what trump had done was commitment to the taliban to allow u.s. forces to leave so they would not be under fire so you would not have a saigon-like situation so to speak. that did hold in the sense like after their agreement -- that agreement was signed between the taliban and trump administration, you did not have any u.s. combat deaths or military deaths in afghanistan until yesterday when of course isis, not the taliban, carried out these attacks that killed at least 13 u.s. servicemen.
the agreement itself was controversial but did not hold the taliban to anything at all, other than to not you at u.s. forces. it was supposed to deny space to al qaeda, to prevent it from attacking the u.s.. it did not expect anything else from the taliban. it was also an agreement that did not allow the afghan government to be involved, which ties between the trump administration and kabul. as a result, the result -- the afghan government was forced to do things it was never forced to do like release afghan prisoners and so on. so your answer to that question, that agreement was meant to get u.s. troops out in a way that president trump could say look, i'm bringing our troops home and we are going to get them out safely and they will be out and we will move onto the next thing. host: on the screen right now is
that agreement, our producer finding this on the state department's website for our viewers. it says a comprehensive peace agreement is made of four parts is what it says. doesn't say anything in there that the taliban could attack the afghani government and to control? guest: this is the problem. the agreement did not really constrain the taliban from doing anything. it did not say the taliban had to declare a cease-fire or reduce violence. it said nothing about what the taliban could or could not do in regards to fighting against afghan forces. there had been separate parts of the agreement, not written form, which i believe you posted for your viewers. there were these anecdotes that were never released to the public. those components of nonpublished parts of the agreement did entail a believe the taliban
agreeing not to enter and fight in cities. it did hold to that until the last few weeks when of course it did enter cities and sees all of these capitals-- ceize all of these capitals. that did not expect anything from the taliban and was not a peace agreement. many called it a surrender agreement because the u.s. is saying we are leaving. let us leave and do not shoot on the way out. one thing the agreement did not do is dictate there would be peace negotiations. what it did do was set after the agreement was signed, there would be the beginnings of an afghan dialogue, which was meant to be negotiations between the afghan government and political stakeholders and the taliban leading to a peace deal. but that did -- that agreement did not stipulate anything. it said now is the time for
taliban to have negotiations with the afghan government but not much more than that. indeed, that's a dialogue did not get very far at all. the two sides never agreed on an agenda for negotiations. there's been a lot of talk about how this was a very flawed agreement. host: edward in cleveland, ohio, independent. caller: how are you? host: good morning. caller: good morning. host: go ahead, edward. caller: why did we release 5000 afghani prisoners we gathered over the course of 20 years then sit down and make another decision of releasing the cofounder of the taliban and then inviting them to camp david , excluding afghani representatives and afghani government? guest: so there are several
different things at play here. one indeed you had several thousand taliban prisoners that had been released in afghanistan over the last year or so. it was not the u.s. doing it, it was the afghan government doing that. as i said before, that was because the agreement the trump administration signed with the taliban stipulated that you have a set number of taliban prisoners released. this is just a terrible thing for the governments in afghanistan to face because it was not absorbed in the negotiations, it never agreed to release these prisoners. i should say many of these prisoners that the afghan government had to release where the worst of the worst. these were not the more moderate taliban. these are some of the most heartened fighters. you also had taliban members who had been in guantanamo -- at the guantanamo detention facility
for a place and time. a number of them had been -- a place in time. a number of them had been released. one of them was named on the defense minister, may be on an acting basis, it may not be permanent. these are very bad guys. i think it gets to the fact that, for donald trump, there was such a strong desire to leave afghanistan, which is understandable. i know the war had become recently unpopular in the united states, but his administration was willing to do a lot of things in retrospect that appeared to be quite reckless in order to get that agreement with the taliban to allow u.s. forces to leave smoothly. it is having major conditions for the afghan that the u.s. doesn't have to deal with because they're on the way out. host: how an caller, democratic -- our next caller, democratic color.
-- caller. caller: i was just going to ask about biden when he was vice president with obama. how many leaders release are back in action? my condolences to the soldiers killed. guest: i don't know the specific figures but there is indication you had a number of afghans who had been detained in guantanamo and imprisoned in afghanistan that first returned to the battlefield and did all kinds of things there. more recently, you see some of these folks, specifically a guantanamo detainee, who will be the acting defense minister. i think there is a broader point that there have been these expressions of hope from washington and other key capitals that this new taliban government will be inclusive and have a lot of different individuals that are not necessarily taliban leaders or supporters.
but you have these hardened militants who will be defense minister and the leaders of a network, a pretty brutal faction of the taliban, one of them is in charge of security in kabul right now. there are indications another, leader will be one of the top three people in the 12-man leadership council the taliban will have to lead its government. i think we all know what that network is, implicated in some of the most horrific mass casualty attacks in afghanistan over the recent years, including many targeted with military forces of americans. i think it is troubling to think of what this taliban will look like once it formally takes power sometime in the 31st of august -- around the 31st of august. host: what does this mean for iran? guest: iran has a complex relationship with the taliban.
by definition it is certainly a rival because the taliban is a sunni muslim organization around the state. the taliban years ago attacked iranian diplomats in afghanistan. you actually had a period of time in 2000 when iranian forces were mobilizing along the border when the taliban was in control. so the taliban went to war with the taliban let afghanistan in 2000. what we have seen with iran over the more recent years, particularly with its relationship -- particularly as its relationship with the u.s. got worse, it started to funnel arms to the taliban. i think that's was -- that was meant to poke the u.s. in the eye and present more strength to america's rival in afghanistan. for iran, its major interest and concern is the she a muslim community in afghanistan.
they are the religious minority in afghanistan, a very vulnerable community. the taliban, many of the murder. i run will wordy -- worry about their security. i think they will look to get reassurances that [indiscernible] iran does have a potential asset in afghanistan. there is a shia built militia on afghanistan that iran cultivated to deploy to the middle east and fight in the wars there. iran has the option if things came to to reconstitute that afghan/shia militia and try to deploy to protect the shieh community. that is an advantage iran has. final point, it worries about
the taliban and potential threat to the community in afghanistan but for iran, it much bigger concern is isis. it worries more about the damage that could do. i think there are similar sentiment in russia. there's a more of a willingness to tell a bait -- to tolerate the taliban and more of a concern on what isis could do. for russia, the particular concern about isis-k because while most of the membership is afghan/pakistani, you have a significant number of fighters from central asia who have central asian states in the crosshairs and that is russia's backyard. i think it is important to highlight that for many of these regional players, isis is a bigger threat to them than the taliban is. host: in the meantime, iran, could they benefit from selling their oil to the taliban, and given sanctions that are on the country right now? guest: absolutely, yeah.
i think iran has every intention of doing trade with the taliban. that remains to be seen. there will be a wait to see if it formally recognizes the taliban government before it releases that scale entree. iran, like other buyers, will not rush to make a decision on whether it formally recognizes the government. iran sees afghanistan regardless of who is in government as a key partner, achy commercial partner , because it is a bordering state. i think it looks at afghanistan pretty strategic for space not only for trade but for connectivity projects, infrastructure projects, that type of thing. i do think iran could potentially see taliban government in afghanistan as a key trade partner. host: let's go to orchard park, republican. caller: yes.
i think it is important to learn at this stage in the game how in the world we ever got involved in this mess in the first place. i would like to commend congresswoman barbara lee, the only member of the house in 2021 that has the wisdom to vote against the very broad legislation that would permit president bush to do virtually anything he wanted in afghanistan. as we all know, osama bin laden and his band of 80 regulars were blamed for the 9/11 catastrophe. many at the time said, if that is true, let's show proof. the taliban said we will hand him over to you, mr. bush. bush showed them nothing,
launched the invasion. when instead, if we really wanted to get osama bin laden and his band of 80 regulars, we could have got him with a battalion with the 82nd airborne. but as we all know, it then evolved into a 20-your war. host: let's end at that point. let's go back to history. he is -- going back in history, he is talking about 2001. what were the conversations at that point with afghanistan and who was in charge? guest: yeah, let's remember just how tense things were after the 9/11 attacks. i would disagree with the caller. there was clear indications al qaeda and bin laden were behind the attack. bin laden was celebrating it happened, the 9/11 report, and other documents from the compound in pakistan show
wearily he and others were involved in 9/11 attacks -- in the 9/11 attack. there has been disagreement in the bush administration about the best way to respond to the 9/11 attacks, but there was clear consensus something had to be done, particularly on the military level. and indeed the bush administration per much gave an ultimatum to the taliban and said give up al qaeda or we are coming for you. as was noted, the taliban did not give up al qaeda. i think that the war -- we are talking on most 20 years since the 9/11 attack, it is easy to remember how there was strong public support among the u.s. public to do something about it and to go into afghanistan. when u.s. forces arrived and when they quickly were able to degrade the al qaeda sanctuaries and remove the al qaeda hose
from power, there was a fair amount of support among the american public on what had happened. there were many that thought it was a terrible thing and we should not respond militarily to that but there was support. things went south soon after those initial u.s. goals in afghanistan were achieved. i would argue u.s. presidents have tended to frame it as counterterrorism. if you achieve the initial goals, weeding out the al qaeda sang sure early, why do you stay there -- sanctuary early, why do you stay there? i would say one of the reasons the u.s. failed in afghanistan was it was not able to articulate the strategy and justification for why u.s. troops continued to be on the ground fighting, dying, when the initial objective were achieved -- objectives were achieved. i think it is difficult to win on the battlefield if you do not have a clear strategy guiding
you. i think it is important consideration to reflect on where -- how and where things went wrong over the last 20 years. the strategy, after the goals were achieved, is a major reason why. host: joe in pittsburgh, an independent. caller: thank you for taking my call. i just had one comment and then a couple questions. first comment is i would like to see us go back -- or you go back to disseminating the calls between sections of the country instead of republican, democrat, independent. i think that is divisive. i think people have an automatic bias when there is a counterparty on the line. on the afghanistan war, i think every war, when you end it, you have to release prisoners or detainees. i do not think that should have been a shock. as far as isis or the taliban taking over and the afghanistan
army not wanting to fight, i do not think they had a lot of faith in the future. in other words, if you are a young man who has been fighting for the last 20 years, your only option is to probably fight for another 20, which is almost the rest of your life. there was no discernible future outcome for them. i think that is why they failed so quickly. host: let's talk about that, michael kugelman. what are your thoughts on the afghan army laying down their arms? guest: this is something many scholars will be studying for years. i think it was building 2 that point. what we have seen -- to that point. what we have seen over the years and the last few weeks was a military that was increasingly beleaguered. the u.s. combat mission formally ended in 2014, which means u.s.
put the afghan forces on the front line of fighting the taliban insurgency. they were not ready for that yet. things did not improve, and in more recent years military commanders, and foot soldiers felt they were not getting -- years, military commanders and foot soldiers felt they were not getting the support they needed. you had many not getting paid on time or not getting paid at all. things got so bad in the last few months with the cases of the afghan troops not having food and water. so then, when president biden made his decision or announcement to withdraw, i think that really took a point in the military and made it even worse. i think that is what contributed to this surprising reality that the afghan forces simply lost the will to fight. and that was something the taliban was able to exploit carefully.
i think one does need to lay some blame here at afghan governments for not being in a better position to coordinate and work with military leaders to make sure that their forces are getting what they need. you had corruption that flourished on so many levels within the military because of terrle morale. it just became a chaotic thing. this is not to diminish the achievements of the afghan military. they fought like diet -- they fought hard for many years, and lost many lives. and last for years, as the needs within the afghan military became acute and they did not get support from their government, then you look at the u.s.. the u.s. knew what was going on. all the problems i just discussed, that was known among u.s. officials. you have a special inspector
general who would release reports frequently talking about corruption in the ranks of the afghan military and the fact people were not getting paid. this gave the u.s. a complex challenge. this allowed for u.s. officials to try to get more funding to get more equipment for the afghan forces. but dealing with deep-seated corruption, deep-seated morale, that is difficult for the u.s. or any country to deal with. especially when it was not getting support from its afghan partner to address that issue as well. host: where the afghan presidents over the years just as corrupt? guest: yes. unfortunately that is the case. what is notable is the most recent president, he was well regarded by many in washington before he became president. he worked in washington at the world bank for years and published a book on post-conflict with states and how to develop post-conflict with states.
he was very well-informed and he did, soon after he took office, he promised to engage in number of anticorruption measures. he made progress to an extent. i think not just one person can address these deep-seated, structural levels of corruption. at the end, based on reports we heard about the president during his last few days in power, this is something that's according to a number of reports that have been put out there, someone that fled afghanistan with a huge amount of money. it is unclear where the money came from, but it seems in the end, he was following along the pattern of post-taliban presidents and -- excuse me, governments and leaderships that were in place after the taliban one who are corrupt. this was another reason why the taliban was able to capitalize on public anger.
particularly in rural areas with local communities disgusted by local government officials and they thought they were terrible. they thought anything would be an improvement, even a brutal resurgence you like the taliban. i think that highlights the degree of dysfunction and problems within these governments that's where leading afghanistan since 2001. host: kelly clemens, north carolina, republican. caller: hi. thank you for taking my call. first, i would like to offer my condolences to all of the families of the soldiers who had fallen yesterday. i have a couple comments. i would like to say first there was a very important reason that president trump had picked may 1 to withdraw our shoulders. that was that that particular time was ramadan this year.
during that time, the taliban would not have fought. he knew that. that is why he picked may 1. i believe biden knew that too, but he switched it to the fighting season. we do not know why he did that. host: let's take that point. guest: that is an interesting point. i had not heard that interpretation for the may 1 deadline. it is true that we have had, as i said, over 40 years of war in afghanistan, there had been cases where the taliban agreed to cease fire for a few days to coincide with the holiday that happened just some months ago earlier this year. i do not know the specific reason why may 1 was decided for the deadline, but i think the
idea, for the trump administration, was less on a specific date but more on taliban commitment not to go after forces. i do not necessarily thick the trump administration or any administration would have trusted the taliban not to attack u.s. forces at any one time or the other. i think the bigger idea is get the agreement with the taliban to ensure whatever day, whatever the deadline was for u.s. forces to withdraw, that they would not be targeted. indeed that did not happen. had president and reelected, i imagine he probably would have accelerated the withdraw. i imagine he probably would have want to gotten all of u.s. troops out of afghanistan well before may 1. that seemed to be the track he was on. anyway, that is all there. host: about this agreement we talked about earlier, did the trump agreement with the taliban
mention the safe evacuation of the afghans that help the united states? guest: it did not. the agreement was focused on what the u.s. was trying to get, and that was assurances from the taliban that they would not go after the u.s. and also assurances the taliban would prevent al qaeda from plotting attacks on u.s. forces or americans in afghanistan or anywhere. there was nothing about afghans at all in the agreement. as i said before, the agreement did not call for the taliban to stop attacking afghans, afghan soldiers, afghan civilians, nothing along those lines. it said nothing about the afghans that worked with u.s. military forces. it was narrowly focused on immediate u.s. goals. as i said before, what it did do, what the agreement did do was called on the taliban to open up a dialogue, negotiations
-- a negotiation with the afghan government. that was it. there was nothing in there so far as i know that related to the status of afghani's. -- afghanis. host: jim in mckees rocks. an independent. caller: i just wanted to know if after americans evacuate afghanistan, will we be able to return sometime like we did in vietnam? guest: in terms -- it depends on what you mean militarily -- return militarily. there's a lot of volatility with afghanistan. it is hard to know what will happen. in terms of u.s. intentions in afghanistan after the evacuations are completed on august 31, i think at that point, the main u.s. focus will turn to dealing with the terrorism problem.
even before the attacks yesterday, that was going to be a major goal of the biden administration, to try to strengthen the over the horizon counterterrorism, including monitoring the location movements of al qaeda and isis terrorists in afghanistan without boots on the ground. the u.s. was unable to get any agreements with countries bordering afghanistan that would allow u.s. forces to use bases in boarding countries and springboard their surveillance operations or counterterrorism activity. it will have to depend on existing military solely in the arab/gulf region. it will be tough. president biden has up the stakes and put a lot of pressure on him now, given what happened yesterday with a loss of 13 u.s. servicemen, and given his promise to go after isis in afghanistan. that's will be very difficult in
a constrained capacity that the u.s. will have given it will not have boots on the ground anymore. that's will be the focus. keep in mind, when resident biden announced his decision to withdraw from afghanistan, he made the decision in part because his decision the u.s. focus on other bigger priorities like the rivalry with china, climate change, terrorism threats elsewhere in the world. despite what has happened over the last few days, i think that is not going to change the administration's plan. i think they want to move on and focus on other things. i really do not see this administration wanting to engage with afghanistan beyond the counterterrorism angle. i do not anticipate it recognizing the new government because it would look for assurances from the taliban that they would not provide, particularly on humans rights, women's rights, things like that. the taliban will not respect
those rights. it is not what its ideology is about. i hope in due course things will be in a position of stability where you could have americans that want to go to afghanistan go there. we are a long point from that now. for reasons i mentioned earlier, i think there's a chance we could see increasing levels of instability in the coming months, especially if the taliban fails to consolidate its power and terror groups like isis carry out attacks. that could lead to a lot more violence and even chaos. the last thing the afghan people deserve -- because they have been experiencing war for more than 40 years. host: our next caller, democratic caller. we lost the color. next caller, -- caller. the next caller, a republican. good morning. caller: can you hear me. host: yes we can. caller: yesterday left me
feeling the very much way i did during 9/11. i felt like this was a redo of that event. it is so tragic and despicable in every way. the hardest part about this for me is to listen to people like yourself describe plans by president trump. he is not the person in office, biden is the person in office. given his track record of reversing everything within from president trump, i can really think in my mind that whatever the plan was, may first, august 1, regardless, he reversed it out of whatever his ideas that everything had to be the opposite. this mistake, this gigantic military mistake, this human rights mistake lays at his feet
and this administration's feet. they had intelligence and they knew better, but they did stupid things. you cannot intellectualize what happened here. host: ok, ashley. let's get a response. michael kugelman, what you think? -- do you think? guest: i think there are so many things president trump and president biden do not agree on. i would agree they see i to i on afghanistan. both wanted to get out. -- eye to eye on afghanistan. both wanted to get out. biden inherited this agreement that trump signed with the taliban, calling for people to be out may 1. that put him in a tough spot. there was, as i understand it, a detailed come prensa policy review on the administration side on what to do, whether to forget about the agreement or to essentially honor it or what.
in the end, i think president biden decided he did not want to stay in afghanistan longer so he would do what he could to ensure there would be a withdraw not by may 1, because he needed more time to prepare to be orderly and responsible, but he wanted a few more months, which he got. indeed, i certainly would agree with the caller's criticism to an extent that it was not the decision to withdraw that has gotten us to where we have been over the last 10 days but how the decision was executed. the execution was botched. i think that is clear. what the biden administration failed to do was anticipate what clearly was the most unlikely outcome, which was for the taliban to actually take over afghanistan before the withdrawal was complete. that is what led to the chaos because the u.s. did not have enough time to plan for orderly evacuations, so on and so forth.
clearly the administration did a lot of scenarios after they made the decision to withdraw. i'm sure they decided how it would carry out evacuations under different circumstances. clearly it did not give enough attention to the one that actually happened, the worst-case one. if the administration did not have to scramble so much and move quickly to get so many people out, you would not have had the chaos at the airport, not have had the huge crowds. he would not have had the conditions that isis was ready to take advantage of. indeed the poor execution of the withdraw is a big reason why we have been where we have been at over the last few days. i'm not saying isis would not have staged an attack if the withdrawal had been carried out in a more orderly fashion. that is not the case at all. i'm saying given the biden administration did not properly plan for an execution under this very unexpected circumstance,
that created the conditions that isis was able to fully take advantage of. tremendous respect for u.s. forces and other nato forces that were out there trying to provide whatever security they could, trying to help afghans the best they could, and they knew they were at risk. the terrorist threats had been there for quite some time. the biden administration was public about this. everyone in the airport or outside of the airport they were potentially vulnerable. that is the tragedy of so many of these people, including those inside. they knew they were at great risk and continue to do what they do, and that deserves a lot of praise and credit. host: michael kugelman, here's a viewer on twitter. does the constant televised attention of the u.s. withdraw help or hurt the taliban? guest: certainly it hurts and i think the taliban has been getting some propaganda victories over the last few
months. the day biden decided to withdraw -- going back to when the trump administration signed the agreement with the taliban and the taliban leaders were standing next to mike pompeo, you had president trump having at least one phone call with taliban leaders. that means the taliban and legitimacy -- the taliban had the legitimacy that they did. i think as the situation became increasingly chaotic at the airport, all of these images unfortunately provided a huge propaganda victory to the taliban. we talk so often about the taliban didn't change at all or it is as it has been in the 1990's. it has not changed its ideology but it has change the way it uses media and social media. it knows when it entered the presidential palace of kabul several days ago and it had those pictures taken, it that
would really fire up supporters and would fire up other regional militants. they have been able to exploit that. when you see these terrible images of afghans clinging onto u.s. aircrafts taking off at the kabul airport, this all play so well for the taliban. it is one propaganda victory after the other. this is really an unfortunate thing and i think it attributes to the strategic defeat and really the policy failures the u.s. effort in afghanistan. host: we will go to indiana, democrat caller. brenda, good morning. caller: good morning. first, i want to address the woman in florida who wanted to know how the rumor got started a donald trump negotiated a peace deal with the taliban. it has been all over the news, there were pictures of pompeo and taliban leaders and cutter
in early 2020 negotiating this peace deal. so lady, it was not a rumor. get your head out of the sand. my question has not been asked. donald trump was president of the united states when he made this great peace deal with the taliban. they were not going to shoot at american troops during the withdrawal. so why didn't donald trump, then-president, start the drawdown under these peaceful circumstances? i suspect he did not do it because he did not want the optics of the last couple weeks on his watch because he already had bad optics of the turkish/syrian border retreat when our kurdish allies got slaughtered. guest: i really think that president trump was willing to move forward with the withdraw more quickly than his trusted advisors were willing to.
there had been news reports over the last few days of december of his administration, before his term was up, where he was trying to push for a full withdrawal of u.s. forces but others pushed back against that. president trump wanted to get out. that was clear. i think, as i said earlier, if he was reelected, he would have pushed for accelerated withdraw and would have wanted it done well before may 1. you could argue that would not have been the case. maybe that would not have given as much time for the taliban to carry out defenses and sees the provincial capital. in other words, his administration would have been able to avoid the chaotic scenes, but there is no easy way to undertake evacuations. no matter what has happened or who is an office in the white house, no matter when the final withdrawal deadline would be, there would be many afghans in
the country that wanted to leave. obviously, the best way to do that is start the evacuations much more in advance or less close to the withdrawal deadline for sure. again, it gets to the issue of the administration not being able to anticipate the taliban was sees power while the withdraw -- seize power while the withdraw was taking place. no one expected things to move so quickly or the taliban to seize power so quickly. i think that goes to the factor of under appreciating how deep and serious the weaknesses of the afghan states were in the sense the military would collapse. i think that is an important factor too. host: michael kugelman, what are you watching for in the coming days? guest: i'm looking to see what the taliban government looks like. on the 31st, it will formally establish its government.
i will be looking to see -- we know all of these bad guys will be in high positions, but i will be waiting to see if they will have some non-taliban leaders. there are non-taliban leaders quite prominent. it sounds like they may be asked to join the government. if the taliban does allow in some folks like that, that is suggesting a slight degree of moderation. we will have a better sense of after the government is established. i will see how the tableau been -- taliban deals with the economic crisis in afghanistan. this is a group that does not do governance well. it is not known for having well policies. if it does not deal with the economic crisis soon, things could fire out of control. you could have spontaneous expressions of opposition and things could get --
looking at how the taliban handles these policy challenges, keeping in mind it does not have expanse with governance, that is what i will be looking for. host: michael kugelman is the deputy director for the wilson >> c-span is funded by these television companies and more including charter communications. >> prude band -- broadband is a force for empowerment stop we had built infrastructure and accredit technology and empowering opportunity in communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communications supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> this afternoon, the state department holds a briefing for reporters on u.s. efforts to
evacuate americans and others from afghanistan. that is set for 2:00 p.m. eastern and live coverage is on c-span. >> on saturday, the anniversary of the 1963 march on washington. voting rights advocates will hold a march and rally in washington, d.c. to call for passage of federal voting legislation. among the speakers will be martin luther king the third and it rev. al sharpton. live coverage begins at noon eastern on c-span. you can also watch online at www.c-span.org. sunday on q&a, a conversation on the book the triumph of nancy reagan, on the strength and tenacity of the former first lady who helped shape the reagan presidency. >> she had one agenda which was ronald reagan's well-being and success. and she had that her instincts about people than he did and
sort of a better nose for trouble than he did. so the people in the administration who understood all this, who recognized her power, people like secretary of state george schulz or white house chief of staff, later treasury secretary james baker, really understood that she was a very important, a crucial ally to have if you were trying to get ronald reagan on board. >> her biography, the triumph of nancy reagan, sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span pus q&a and you can find all interviews were you get your podcast. >> following yesterday's attack at the kabul airport, house minority leader kevin mccarthy is calling on speaker meant -- nancy pelosi to bring the house back into session to address u.s. efforts in afghanistan. his news conference from earlier today is about 20 minutes.