tv Inside Washington PBS June 26, 2011 12:30pm-1:00pm PDT
>> production assistance for "inside washington" was provided by allbritton communications and "politico," reporting on the legislative, executive, and political arena. >> america, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home. >> this week on "inside washington," the president starts to pull block on afghanistan. >> i think it will undercut a strategy that was building. can thousand troops leaving this year will make it even more difficult. >> a giant game of chicken. the debt talks fall apart. >> they could continue if they take tax hikes of the table. >> the former ambassador to china takes a run at the boss'
job. >> am jon huntsman and i'm running for president of the united states. >> the fbi finally nails the start of its 10 most wanted list. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- president obama says because afghanistan is no longer a threat to the united states, it is time to start pulling troops out and focus on nation-building here at home. >> in the last decade, we have spent $1 trillion on war time of rising debt and hard economic times. now we must invest in america's greatest resource, our people. we must unleash innovation that creates new jobs in industries while living within our means. >> the commander in chief as decided, and it has been the
responsibility, needless to say, of those in uniform, to do everything humanly possible to execute it. >> that is worth thinking about. the president plans to take 10,000 troops out of afghanistan by this year, 20,000 more by next summer. the broad and continuing until the united states has over security to the afghan government in 2014. what do you say to people like john mccain and lindsey graham, who suggest that by taking troops out now, we are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, charles? >> the better argument is the one you get from watching peteae -- petraeus and mike mullen, who said between the lines that this was done over their recommendation, the president has chosen increases the risk to our troops -- the current strategy the president has chosen increases the risk to our troops. if president obama is insincere, why did he order an escalation
of the 30,000 troops, some of whom have not returned, a casualty rate higher than at any time during the afghan war, if he was not going to complete his own strategy and pick a withdrawal date was only logic is to help him in reelection? it makes no sense militarily. >> mark? >> general petraeus added to what he said there that military leaders make recommendations, but the commander in chief as the wider responsibility than just the military, specific military advice he gets. that is true of all presidents, and i, and at general petraeus for emphasizing that -- i commend general petraeus for emphasizing that. the speech and position lacks clarity toomey. i do not know -- to me. do not know right now why we are continuing to stay there for two more fighting seasons.
to get to the negotiating table with the taliban? is that what it is about? i don't know anyone who realistically think that afghanistan will stand alone when this is over. >> colby? >> what i heard him say is that he will keep 68,000 troops on the ground and afghanistan for the next three years. he is going to have a 70,000 troops out there to help stabilize the situation so that the corrupt, it karzai regime can have negotiations with the taliban. the of what we pay in iraq. 40,000 people -- 4000 people killed, 30,000 wounded. we get the word this week that the iranians and iraqis enter into economic cooperative agreements, syria and iran and the iraqis are building a pipeline into arab countries.
we did all that for that? out of afghanistan, what are we going to get out of that? >> nina? >> what you hear from this panel is not just a reflection of the body politic, but from the public. president cannot sustain a war when there is not public support for it. the public has been remarkably supportive of this war, despite ambivalence. that support is clearly evaporated when you look at the polling data. the handwriting is on the wall, i am not sure this is russian and afghanistan would be better if we stayed there for three, five -- i am not sure if the situation in afghanistan would be better if we stay there for three, five years. i think the president obviously feels we have to get out and what will be will be. >> just about the entire afghan economy is built on american aid.
>> it doesn't have an economy. isn on obama's own terms, he the one who ordered the surge. there is not the clamor in the country to triple the number of troops. he stated that. in other words, if he chooses us th -- he chooses the strategy of counterinsurgency, meaning a heavy footprint. he chooses it deliberately a year-and-a-half ago and subjects are to all the hard to come and get off their knees -- and cut his own strategy off at the knees to get a withdrawal by september of next year, which makes no sense at all, the middle of of fighting season, withdrawals in july and june, in the middle of the fighting. if you were serious about prevailing, as he implied when he ordered the surge, he would have happened in the winter break that would be after
election day, and he needs a demonstration of withdrawal before election day. very cynical choice. >> the idea was to go in there and cripple al qaeda and afghanistan and weaken the taliban and to stabilize pakistan. and we had mission creep. mission creep occurred in december 2009 and went beyond the business of the degrading al qaeda and talked about stabilizing iraq, got into nation-building. >> if, as you say, the surge was about crippling alk qaeda, he would have chosen the counterterrorism strategy that biden recommended. he chose the exact opposite, a counterinsurgency strategy was intent is to cripple the taliban. >> it went beyond al qaeda to do these other things. that is when[mission creep
occurred. >> the estimate i've seen is that 90% of the gdp afghanistan comes from economic and military aid from outside the country. after all the expenditure and blood and treasure that colby and others have spoken of, i honestly do not know with a friend or ally we have in that neighborhood, or dependable partner, whether it is afghanistan and pakistan. >> have we learned anything for the lessons of history? >> there are things that we would want strategically. for example, you want to maintain a base and afghanistan, where you could take out osama bin laden in pakistan. zawahiri in pakistan. those are strategic things we want just for us. >> let me ask about libya at war powers. members of congress on both
sides of the aisle are complaining about libya, arguing that the president should have consulted congress before committing to this one. >> the opposition takes four different routes. constitutional -- the president has done what presidents have done. barack obama is hardly the first one to do that unilaterally. institutional -- we are congress, which should be consulted, although they never insisted on a voting to go to war. it is also political and personal they have never been consulted, at they feel. there is a real resistance -- remember, this is "days, not weeks." harry reid said last week that we will be gone before -- he will be gone before we know it. he will relocate, gaddafi. a story that does not have a conclusion. >> democrat and house on that at least -- democrats in the house are not at least --
>> oh, no, democrats are on record already apposition -- in opposition. they came again, just 11 votes two weeks ago, of really cutting the legs out. >> it gives the impression of a commander in chief who was indecisive and not sure which way to go. afghanistan is one example. he speaks about it as a war of necessity and talks about the strategic requirements. now all he wants to talk about is getting out. libya, no one even understand what the objective was. and then you have the constitutional issue. the president unilaterally doing this. area of all this is that dennis kucinich, very dovish liberal democrat who is suing over this, the libya war and the non- consultation, acknowledged that the bushes, father and son, had
consulted and not approval from congress in advance. >> in decisive, but he did pull the trigger on osama bin laden -- >> what president would not have? >> excuse me -- >> come to you and said -- >> didn't president clinton had a chance to pull the trigger? >> the decisions he made a leading up to bin laden were the most difficult and gutsiest he had seen from any president. on what charles said about libya, certainly we would get a better position if, after the attack, he had gone and gotten a resolution from congress approving that. it shows the wisdom of doing that when you still got some support. by charles had a very thoughtful column about this whole issue -- column.es'
[unintelligible] >> with that kind of endorsement, i may have to reconsider. >> the president received from congress a resolution that calls for regime change in iraq. that was already on the table. you have to give the bushes crit on this. there is no excuse for the obama administration to take a position they they are taking on libya that is not hostilities. >>the issue is can they go in fr humanitarian reasons? if you are going to go into a theatre of war, they et de at to get the congress -- to sign congress -- they had to get congress to sign off. >> i think they were terrified
about massive refugee influx into europe. >> now we have a massive refugee influx into turkey from syria and we have not lifted a finger. i am the one who opposed -- >> the biden debt ceiling talks fall apart. >> yes, we want to remove tax subsidies for big oil, tax breaks for corporations sending jobs overseas. at this goes on. i don't know if that is a reason to walk away from the table. we are trying to find a balance approach. >> that is democrat nancy pelosi's view of the stalled talks. republicans eric cantor and jon kyl walked out this week, saying that tax cuts have to be off the table. what you make of this one, colby? >> this is the kabuki dance that will take place before august 7. republicans painted themselves into a corner by saying no tax increases. everybody knows that to take a real whack at this problem, we
need a combination of cuts and increases. just as the democrats have to can see -- see butc -- concede the spending side, republicans have to concede that the tax that they pushed through, the wars financed by borrowing, all contributed. this will go on for the next couple of weeks. president obama will wait until the last minute to put something on the table and say, "take it or leave at." that is when the trauma really unfolds. -- drama really unfolds. >> anybody who is it in a bid to negotiation now is that -- [unintelligible] unpredictable, just awful. that is what cantor and kyl were
playing. the trouble is, those kinds of things playing out on the national stage have real economic consequences. i know people will actually stop investing in the stock market because they are so scared of what might happen. >> who is going to blink first, mark? >> that was the concern of many democrats last december, when they felt the white house did it take on tax cuts -- cave on tax cuts in the face of republican recalcitrance. republicans have their own problems. don't forget, just to keep the government open, they counted on 200 public and house members to vote for it. they loss 59 republican house members. the votes are there. john boehner, to pass anything in the house ultimately, is going to depend on democratic votes to do it. neither side is in a terribly
strong bargaining position right now. >> we know that the american people are fed up with this, charles. what will it take to resolve it? >> i think this is headed for a train crash. the administrion thinks it has the upper hand because, as august 2 approaches, it will be sending letters out in july to recipients of social security saying that as a result of the crisis, they will have to stop sending out checks as of the second of august. that is a weapon that the president has. he decides what gets paid or not. it is the treasury. that is a very powerful weapon. republicans are looking -- as mark indicates, they will not have the votes and it haso accept anything on offer. >> firestorm? >> if the public begins to it
blame it on the republicans, it will be like 1995 all over again. >> this is an old tactic. we used at the treasury department. we get the letters ready, tell them, look, constituents will get these letters -- >> absolutely. >> and all of a sudden -- >> the arithmetic is compelling. the last 60 years, highest percentage of gdp we have ever spent we're spending now. the most amount of gross domestic product taxed we are taxing now. >> and the gap, cost gap, number of people who are paying less taxes and making 400 times more, are 1%, then they and did it, whatever, at 10 years ago. it is astonishing. >> can i ask you about the supreme court ruling this week,
the class action suit against wal-mart by some of the women who worked there? >> it is very interesting. it was a 5-4 decision on the key legal question. all nine justices agreed that this lawsuit might too far. it was too big, and that standard used to certify the class was the wrong standard. but five justices basically were if you give a lot of discretion to supervisors at they discriminate, that is not all of the big boss. >> is this the end of class- action suits? >> it will make a much, much more difficult. >> the president's former ambassador to china decides he would like to occupy the oval office himself. >> we will conduct this campaign on the high road. i don't think you need to run down someone's reputation to run for the presidency did of course we will have disagreements.
that is what campaigns are all that. >> that is former utah governor n huntsman, president obama's former ambassador to china. he says he will take the high road as he seeks the presidential nomination. i wonder if taking the high road in today's political environment is essentially a one-way ticket to palookaville. >> good question there, but he has staked out territory all to himself. the people interested in a civil dialogue, respectful, acknowledging your opponent is our adversary, not your enemy, may even love america as much as you do -- jon huntsman has cornered the market. one thing about jon huntsman. he looks like a choirboy and everything else, but given the campaign he has put together and a number of fundraisers he has organized, this has been going on for quite awhile. this was not a last-minute decision on his part. it was a pretty well organized effort. >> how does he win the nomination? is he to moderate?
>> he is too moderate. but i heard -- there was a three this week about how he might have a road. there are a lot of moderate to conservative republicans who feel very shut out by their party at the moment. there is not a candidate for those people. on the conservative side, everybody is fighting for a piece of that pinata, but if all those people divide up the boat and constant is the one who can corner the market on the more -- the vote and huntsman is the one who can corner the more moderate voters, he has a shot at least it bng one of the last two contenders. the problem is, if you get one conservative and one moderate, i don't see how he wins. >> can he win the nomination, charles? >> i am not sure what he is
offering. if you watched his announcement speech, the shadow of the statue of liberty, the same spot as ronald reagan did in 1980, it only highlighted the difference between him and reagan. it was a fairly shallow speech. it was not much in it, and there is no compelling reason you want to elect him president he spoke about reagan as being leadership troubled times, but the difference is reagan's leadership was underpinned by a coherent set of ideas and policies. if huntsman has them, he is not display them yet. >> colby? >> he cannot anti-obama the other republicans. you have been bridge there, michele bachmann -- have gingrich there, michele bachmann. he and mitt romney are the two ken dolls in the race. you have michele bachmann, barbie with fangs.
just like a caricature, no substance. >> good to see how simple and non-ad hominem we are, in that huntsman spirit. [laughter] >> is fascinating, the mormon experience of being a missionary does really open up a people. he spent two years in taiwan, lifelong interest in china, decided to learn mandarin. kind of a fascinating aspect. rick perry is the one republican right now, according to my republican sources, who could energize an organized right-to- life, national rifle association membership, and the tea party people. >> the fbi finally gets nyt bolger -- gets whitey bulger.
>> if i found him, i would have done the same thing to him as he did to my sister. >> that is the brother of a woman in james "whitey" bolger is alleged to have killed years ago. the rest of white people for was too good to pass up. -- the arrest of whitey bulger was it too good to pass up. how did they finally get him, nina? >> they decided that if they could n get him, they could get his girlfriend. they put a stop on television -- and twitter, i guess -- and someone recognized for almost immediately boarde -- almost immediately. >> it was not on television in l.a. it must have been traveling in former. what you love about these stories is that a soldier for
is nostalgia for the dramatic a gangster. dillinger. the romance is a station -- romanticization of all of these is phony. extremely nasty people who deserve none of that romance. >> what is interesting about him is his brother, billy bulger. >> collateral damage in this g. exceptionally able public servant. 80 years says -- 18 years as president of the state senate. champion for elimination of child abuse in the state. tough guy.
he admitted he talked to his brother in 1995, took a phone call from him. to tar him is really unfair. >> i don't know the story real well, but the only question i have in my mind is who will play him in the movie? >> they already made the movie, "the departed." >> the real movie. >> the brother put the university of massachusetts on the map when he was president of it. i'm not saying he is some po or, nebbishy guy, but he was the top of his class, night law school -- >> boston college. >> in the national press, he was just whitey's brother. >> you cannot choose your
relatives. as my family has said -- >> if the da -- it really makes you proud to be bostonian, because there are such shakespearean stories. >> summer on cape cod, it is to be top of whitey bulger sightings. >> i am not sure how proud. he did killed 19 people. >> what is the source of pride? >> shakespearean tales that come out of our city. even in new york does not have -- >> last word, see you next week. for a transcript of this broadcast, log on to insidewashington.tv.