tv Amanpour on PBS PBS February 8, 2018 6:00am-6:30am PST
welcome to "amanpour" on pbs. tonight failure wrapped up in conspiracy inside an unrukwted alliance. the story of america's longest war with afghanistan as president trump ups the antey. investigative journalist steve cole joins me live. he's written definitive accounts of that relationship. plus soaring success. what the triumphant launch of the world's most powerful rocket means for the future of space travel. i caught up with expert danna
hall. "amanpour" on pbs was made possible by the generous support of roselyn p. walter. good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour in london with the global pective. it has gone on lunger than america's revolutionary war, longer than world war ii, longer than vietnam. america's war in afghanistan is still raging more than 16 years after 9/11. while yet another u.s. president commits more blood and treasure, maybe we've bip looking at this all wrong all along. steve coal wrote kwoes force, the definitive account of the cia and al qaeda before 9/11 and now he's out with a sequel.
2001 to 2016. steve cole joins me now from new york. welcome to the program, steve. an incredibly specific title 2000200 20 2001 to 2016. here's what this memo first said about president bush. it said america isn't losing afghanistan but we're not winning either. that was ten years ago. is it the same situation as to ten years ago? >> i would imagine the advisor to president trump told him something similar. and i'm afraid the pattern of policy, prioritizing military action while at the same time admitting there's no military solution to the war is also the same as it was during both the
bush and obama administrations. there are changes we can talk about. putting more pressure on pakistan, trying to signal resolve in the region, that we're not going anywhere. but the essential policies have been the same and maybe that's why the war has lasted so long. >> you say from the beginning the policy has been riddled with contraticks that all sides are exploiting. how so? >> okay, so one is the one we just listed, which is every general that goes over to afghanistan for the united states or for nato says to the public, general petraeus said in public, there's no resolution for afghanistan. they are too embed in afghanistan. they can self-finance with opium traffic. those kind of guerilla movements last a very, very long time. so as general petraeus said you
can't capture your way out of insurgency. so there's an ambition from military leaders that we need another kind of strategy. one that includes strategy with other leaders like russia, pakistan. we need to talk to other leaders to try to reduce the violence. and yet year after year what happens on the ground is that the war is prioritized. last year in 2017 we dropped many more bombs than the year before expecting that somehow would produce a different result without active negotiation, without high level placy. and guess i'm justpeacle especially on theory of some of othese other counter insurgency wars in vietnam you will get the results. tragically blind or entangled decision making about war in afghanistan, i'll just mention one other one.
president obama escalated the war, 100,000 american troops. his advisors sat down in the situation room and asked themselves a basic question, why are we fighting in afghanistan? they identified two vital interests. one was al-qaeda and the other was the security of pakistan's nuclear weapons. and yet in 2009 none of those challenges were actually located. pakistan's nuclear weapons were there. we were fighting -- >> carry on. >> we were finding a kind of indirect war. the rationalization was afghanistan would fall apart. and kind of an indirect way to send young men and women to war. >> here's the thing and president trump kind of summed it up with his tweet where not so long ago he hasby tsds the united states has foolishly
given pakistan $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit thinking of our leaders as fools. they've given safe haven to terrorists in afghanistan with little help, no more. is he right or wrong or is there an between there? >> lots of soldiers went over to fight in afghanistan only to be attacked by militants that were coming out of pakistan. clearly supportive or at a minimum, you know, facilitated by pakistani security services. and they watched american comrades die or be wounded on the battlefield by militants who enjoyed support from an ally that we were aiding with our taxpayer dollars. so, of course this frustration has been building up for years, and president trump's tweet
expressed it. however, it's more comp cllicat than a tweet. pakistan has been a partner in anti-terrorism, arrested leaders and carrying out a policy since we collaborated with them sense the soviets of the 1980s,rying to push a distinction between good calten or bad taliban or a distinction between al-qaeda and afghan taliban. something which tended to befundal the united states certainly outside of the expert community. so by the time we realized that isi had returned to the strategies of 1980s afghanistan, that they were willing to see the afghan taliban again as a source of influence in afghanistan, the revival of the taliban movement was well under way, and turns out it was too late for us. >> just to follow up again on
the threat to the cutting of some $2 billion in security aid to pakistan, this is what she said. >> as someone who's not a believer in conspiracy theories, i am increasingly starting to believe that the president of the united states of america is not for peace and stability. it is indeed as george freedman says in his book of the next 100 years, to create chaos in this region so that russia and china and many other central asian republics together with iran perhaps can be contained. >> steve, i wonder what you think when you hear that? obviously, a lot of people are beginning to think the worst of the united states and its aims in that region. >> yeah, we've managed to confuse all of our allies. i had to smile a bit when i heard her say that, because
there's a whole section in the book where he comes to the same conclusion. why aren't you putting more pressure on pakistan, why do you send your troops to fillvillage southern afghanistan when the real problem is over the border in pakistan? and eventual hehy came to think that america must want isi to destabilize. it was a conspiracy theory. i don't think it has a basis in fact. you can understand how these thoughts arise even in sensible people. so it's the perfection of a long and frustrating war in which our war ends have been confused and inconsistent. and we've managed not only to confuse others but confuse
ourselves. >> so what is the answer? you alluded to some sort of end game to draw in all partners and have real diplomacy. but you also say americans have never really taken that route onboard. does the united states think the necessary give-and-take that diplomacy requires is a sign of failure, a sign of weakness or what? >> well, the military has argued it's too early to head towards negotiations because we have to bomb the enemy into a position where we have enough leverage over them to force a deal that's acceptable to a majority of afghans. and this has been the position of the pentagon's analysts really going back to the obama administration. and it's clearly the case today with the trump administration. if you listen to the trump administration's position, they're not saying as they escalate again witharial bombing and a few more troops in pa
pakistan, they're saying the same thing as be. weeed to batter the taliban sufficiently. but there's though time line for that and no resourcing of negotiation going on down. and under president trump the state department has been demoted as an instrument of american power and diluted as democracy and diplomatic service. so i'm not sure this administration is really motivated to try to fight and talk at the same time. and even during the obama administration when fight and talk was the policy, the fight part was resourced much more heavily than the talk part. >> and just want to ask you whether you agree with what sort of analysts are saying inside of afghanistan now, that they believe the recent unbelievable, almost unprecedented space of blood letting, i mean 100 people killed by an ambulance suicide
bomber, dozens killed in a hotel, the continental, which is supposed to be the most protected in kabul, that was the pakistan forces saying if you want to punish us, we'll show you what we can do. >> that's an understandable hypothesis. it would be consistent with past patterns. the haqqani network, the most lethal of the networks especially ones that strike kabul with these attacks the most ten, and its collaboration with security services in thepast, they've gone into kabul with these kind of big attacks to send a signal in various ways. it's sometimes hard to read these signals. in this case it would be reasonable to think they were trying to say if the united states is going to escalate this war by sanctioning pakistan, by dropping more bombs, we can escalate, too. so think twice before you put too much pressure on us. and again, the problem, of course, the tragedy is who's
suffering? afghan civilians crowded into these cities because the country is less secure and influenced by the taliban, who have put up with this war for an awfully long time. it's amazing they're resilient and supportive of the international community as they are. supporting them is an honorable cause, in my opinion. i just wish you were doing it in a way that had a clearer path to the outcome the afghan people deserve. >> and just to get your view on actually there has been a lot of success and a lot of movement forward in afghanistan, despite these killings, despite the war that goes on, and indeed kind of secret documents from the u.s. and britain which have just been published that the taliban still control so much of the territory there. there have still been great strides. i mean, do you agree there's a great contradiction going on on the ground there? >> yeah, the war has been a
stalemate. especially going back to 2007 where the book describes the secret cia masks they draw district by district. they update them every six months. they have different cuolors to indicate where the afghan government was in control. and they would unfurl them year after year. and what was remarkable about the analysis even when we sent 100,000 combat troops and nato had 150,000, at the end of that the map still looked more or less the same. the u.n. has its own maps. i've seen pretty much all of them, and they're basically the same. it's a stalemate war. and the reason is the taliban doesn't have an air force. they can't do anything about our air force. therefore they can't really mask in large groups. very difficult for them to take cities. on the other hand, the afghan security forces do not seem to be able to push them out of the
rural areas and the highways they control and where they exercise their greatest influence. so the trump administration's story is, well, we've changed the rules of combat, we're going to be more aggressive, we're dropping more bombs. but they have maybe one tenth of the troops present at the end of the obamaerve. the afghan security forces aren't like what they are, but i'm just unpersuaded this is going to change that map. >> and you talk about the trump tr administration military strategy. he loved the bastille day parade that he attended as a guest of president macron of france last year. and secretary mattis says the pentagon is going to send a plan to the president. what do you make of that?
should there be military parades and what kind? >> we've had parades in this country but usually when we have one to celebrate i think the last big one was after the first gulf war, and the two major wars in the 20th century. i just saw a press conference that general mattis gave while this conversation of the parade was in full bloom in washington. and the purpose was to talk about the new nuclear posture review. probably the first talk in the last 20 years or so, because we're talking about building small nuclear bombs to counter small russian bomb, hugely consequential. and it just feels about another trumpian distraction from the issues that really matter to our national security match. >> steve cole, thank you so much interest joining us this
evening. >> thank you, christiane. appreciate it. >> so from earth to space now. elon musk changed the game on tuesday when his company spacex launched the world's most powerful rocket, nearly flawlessly into orbit. and here's a jocular musk right after his success kbresiexpress relief that it actually went off without a hitch. >> i had an image of just like the tesla logo landing somewhere with a thud. >> obviously, that is not what happened. is this the start of a space race on day two? let us discuss this frontier with the danna hull. dana, welcome. welcome from san francisco. >> pleasure to be here. so you're in the heart of
america, you know, tech, technology. how significant and is this a major game changer? >> this was a huge moment. if you think about space it's all about molts. neal a neal armstrong on the moon. and the falcon challenger was watched by people all around the world. hundreds of people were watching around the florida space coast. this was a moment that really excited people about the possibilities of space. and it's an excitement we haven't seen about space for a wile. >> so that is precisely the point. the creative genius of entrepreneurs who use their smarts and money and hope and dreams to things that people say are simply impossible. is it more than that? is this something that government funded nasa used to be expected to do?
>> yes, absolutely. i think when you hear the term space race, you know, that refers to the historical race between the united states and russia in the years after sputnik. and what we're seeing now instead is that private industry on its own with a lot of years spent with research and development and privately funded dollars is now really embarking on its own space race where the best technology is going to win. and what we saw yesterday was spacex, which is private company, launch a vehicle completely on its own without any government funding. and for a cost that was pretty remarkable considering what they were able to accomplish. so elon musk said yesterday in his press conferee is his hope this will inspire others to join him in pushing the boundaries of what we can do, you know, as a population here on earth in terms of exploring, you know, not just the lower earth orbit but the moon, mars and beyond. >> indeed, he did say he hope this opens up a whole new realm
of possibility. let's listen to a bit of what he said during that press conference. >> i think it's going to encourage other companies to raise their sights and say, hey, we can do bigger and better, which is great. races are exciting. >> so he's obviously energized. and of course, there were wonderful pictures of all the employees at spacex in california cheering when this happened successfully. and, of course, you know, the drama of him putting a tesla into space was something amazing. is it more than a self-promotional moment, or is this the first step towards, i don't know, colonizing mars, sending people to the moon in these private rockets? >> sure. so spacex was founded in 2002 with the goal of making life interplanetary. and that's a quite remarkable,
expensive, long-range endeavor. and in order to do that spacex needs to fund that mission. so they make money by providing launch serces customers, including commeia sellite companies, nasa and the u.s. military. falcon heavy is now a second launch vehicle in their family of vehicles that will allow them to launch heavier commercial pay loads both for satellite operators and the u.s. military. and they needed to show they could launch something heavy. typically a rocket company could put in a block of concrete or something else to kind of simulate the weight of a heavy-duty satellite. musk thought it funny to use a car because it's a heavy object. but it was cleary, you know, sort of tongue in cheek moment to reference his other company, which was tesla. but it really did a phenomenal job. people were blown away to see the images of this car with a mannequin dressed in a space suit kind of hurtling towards the outer reaches of the space
system. those are the images that gets people excited of thinking about space, which is not something a lot of people really focus on given all the issues here on earth. >> indeed. and i guess that's why it's caused so much excitement and everybody's talking about it, day two. how long, how far away do you think the dream is, the dream of going to mars ask space tourism, all things that musk has said he wants to do? >> you know, it's hard to put a time line on it. it's not going to be, you know, next year. but if you look at spacex overall as a company, they've been at this since 2002 and they've designed rockets from the beginning to be reusable. so what was incredible about yesterday's falcon heavy march the two side boosters that we saw land in tandem in florida had been previously flown to space before. so elon musk's whole vision is not just about access to space
but driving down the costs to get to space. and the cheaper it is, the higher the chance of success we'll actually get there, and the kind of les that they've made while doing ts have really sort of stunned the industry. it wasn't long ago that people thought that musk's idea of reusing rockets was crazy. now he's reused them several times, just landed two of them yesterday. and as spacex moves forward with its other projects, they're working on another vehicle called the vfr, i think i'll see it in my lifetime. i think the time line most people talk about is 10 to 20 years. >> it had twice the lift capacity at a quarter of the cost that it might have taken. but you know nasa in all its history people say nasa has been doing what it's been doing and breaking frontiers for the good of science, for the sake of science. is elon musk and spacex in this
for science or is it about the commercial contracts and the like? >> i think they're very much into it for science and the possibility of making it possible for humans to live on other planets. but in order to do that they need to fund it. and so they have a sort of commercial business which is being a launch provider which helps to fund this larger mission of getting to mars. but spacex has always been about creating a human settlement on mars. and how do you safely get people to mars, what do people do when you get there, how do you find food? how do you find water? how do you find rocket fuel to get back? it's a very big undertaking. it's not just spacex. we're seeing a -- >> no, i didn't mean to interrupt you. >> i was saying what spacex has accomplished has inspired a whole new generation of young
engineers and aero space designers to gets into the game. space tourism, smaller rocket parts for engines. space is really exploding as an industry, and that's a real change from the way it used to be which was government fund wg private contractors. and now we're seeing all kind of startups flowing into the industry as well. >> dana, 30 seconds left. the irony that elon musk is south african, an immigrant into the united states amid the debate we keep having today. >> i don't think there's any irony. i guess the one thing i would point out is that president
donald trump congratulated musk last night about the successful falcon heavy launch. he came to the united states, made a lot of money with pay pal and plowed that money with spacex. and here in california and many of our most successful tech companies are founded and are led by immigrants. and spacex is an american company with musk at the helm. >> dana hull, thank you so much. new frontiers and new front lines. that's it for "amanpour" tonight. join us tomorrow night. "amanpour" on pbs was made possible by the general support of roselyn p. walter.