tv Charlie Rose PBS November 23, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am PST
>> rose: just back from afghanistan with a special report for nooirgt line. >> i think a lot of people don't understand how much of this war is being fought about infrastructure about setting the stage for the americans to withdraw so the afghan cans live their lives free of the oppreson of the taliban. >> rose: we continue witheric schmitt and thom shanker of the "new york times" on the fight against terrism pista, afghanistan, and around the world. >> not only is there much better corporation within the united states government-- not perfect but much better and various agencies that are taking on a greater role but much greater intelligence sharing, much greater partnering. it's the kind thom talked about with not only troops but other
kinds of advisors, state department advisors, the agriculture department going into places like affidavits trying to help out. so there's much more corporation and that's because more and more peop recognize that al qaeda in particular is a transnational threat. >> well, it turns out the terrorists have values as well. they want to be held in high esteem. they want to have cohesion among their members. they need to raise money and as the intelligence community learned more about how terror networks operated, they learned you couldn't deter a bin laden at the top. nor a young man with a suicide vest. but all the people in the middle the gunrunners, the bomb makers, the financiers, peoe who went into safe houses, you could deter them bause they weren't really ready to make the sacrifice of their lives. >> rose: and we conclude this evening with why shakespearea. segment from nick shifrin of abc news and david kastan, a professor at yale university. >> i think also what makes titus relevant today is wha we as a
nation a as the west and frankly as a world have seen since 9/11and phaps someof the thgs i've seen up close that a lot of people have seen up close. julie taymor, i think, sat at this table and called it a play for our days or our age and post post-9/11, post-some of the things we've mean? afghanistan and pakistan the violence doesn't seem that outlandish and i think it did before that. >> rose: jake tapper, eric schmitt, thom shanker, david stannd nick shifrin, when we continue.
>> rose: jake tapper recently spent a week in afghanistan documenting the daily lives of troops and medics on the battlefield. his report will be broadcast thursday night in a thanksgiving special for abc's night line. here is a preview. >> medic and staff sergeant aaron gibson erin gibson is a 4'11 mom from ohio nicknamed mini mic. shs been twice to iraq, once to egypt and now twice to afghanistan. her parents take care of her ten-year-old son elijah. does he understand why mommy's away? >> well, this is number five for me so i think he has come to understanding of why i'm doing what i'm doing. we meet people on some of their worst days and our job when that happens is to try to keep their worst day from being their last
day. >> rose: jake tapper joins me now from washington. welcome. >> thanks, charlie. >> re: tell me about how this project came around for you. what was it about the story that made you want to tell it. >> rose: i've been standing here on the north lawn of the white house since january, 2009, talking about afghanistan and the war in afghanistan and i was really curious as to what it actually looked like. i had an occasion to go there for a few hours with president obama about a year ago but we were in bagram and a hangar and we were there just if ar few hos in and out i di't g a sensof thear, i didn'tet to talk to any of the soldiers for any lenh. so i really wanted to go. i really wanted to see what this war was about and what progress was being made orasn't being made. >> rose: tell me what you
learned from them. >> i think one of the main things i learnedn a policy... in the policy arena is the fact that the logistical support for the afghan security forces is far behind where it needs to be. the security forces, i was pleasantly surprised to learn, are actually doing pretty well, at least in this one section of the country where i went, the regional command east and the northeast of the country in kunar province right on the pakistan border. the troops with whom i was embedded were very positive about afghan security forces. the afghan national army, the afghan national police, the afghan border guards. but they said the support for the afghan security forces was way behind, yes behind andn the mountainous region of region command east at the foot of the hindu kush mountains logistics is everything.
there are a few roads, they're not paved. you need to get ammunition to the troops o the ground and so whatev decisions are made in the next year about the war i think it's very clear that if there is not logistical support whether from the u.s.r fm thenternational communy the gains that have been made with the security forces are really under serious jeopardy. >> rose: what are their frustrations? >> i think one thing they're concerned about is that t withdrawal... the drawdown of troops will happen across the board. it will be okay, 50,000 troops come home now, across the board and it won't be done thoughtfully, it won't be done... well, okay, we'll keep it manned in this part. we'll take some out of this part
in the south and that's a big concern. i think they are concerned about the fact that they are... america, the public to an extent has tune it had war out. obviously not everybody. obviously you and i are talking right now. we're doing a special on night line. i know that watching your show you talk about afghanistan all the time but, you know, kim kardashian was... her divorce was announced while i was over there and there were a couple captains w me commes about all the attention being given to this oine on the news web sites that they would log on to as opposed to the things they were doing. >> rose: it just didn't make our show, kim kardashian. (laughs) >> well, she still has a long life ahead of her and plenty of other marriages, i'm sure. >> ros my impression has always been in talking to soldiers their first tught of
their comrades and their fellow combatants and the next is what is my duty, what is my mission and how do i do that and at the same time look out from the men and women who are alongside of me. and at the same time there is always a feeling that i've spent and given here and i've watched people live and die here and i want to belie that it made a difference. right? >> that's right. exactly right. there were two groups that we were embedded with and what you're talking about is especially true for the first one they are the27 infantry, the wolf hound they're based out of hawaii and they're in kunar province right now. we went to forward operating base bostic, that's the northern most, you could stand on the base and look up there and there's pakistan, a mountain right there. they're in a valley surrounded by amountain. they have lost as of today they've lost eight troops nine
if you count a suicide at the forward operating base while they were therand they want to know that these lives were not... these lives lost were n in vain. that the mission that they were working on, th al their hard work, all the risk they've taken all the time away from their families, most of these pele are young men and women in their 20s and 30s, manyof them have young families as well. that it's not for naught. the mission there working on, that they're focused on, the wolf hounds has to do with a road. they're trying to make sure this road from the south to president north is secure, is paved, that there can be commerce on it, that the taliban checkpoints no longer exist and this is what they are giving their lives for, for this road. and just a few weeks befor we got there they lost a soldier, sergeant houston taylor, who was killed in a fire fight, all part of this one operation to open this road.
i think a lot of people don't understand how much of this war right now is being fought about infrastructure. about setting the stage for the americans to withdraw so the afghans can live their lives free of the oppression of the taliban. >> rose: this airs on trsday night, november 24, at 11:35 p.m. on "nightline". a remarkable report. before i turn to other things about this administration. did it change your sense of anything about t mission and about the events in afghanistan being there, having the feel and the touch and the sens of someone who not only... you're not seeing it through somebody else's eyes, you're seeing it through your own eyes and you're hearing it with your own ears. >> the sacrifi they go through. it w emotionally and physically draining to be there for one week and i know that's nothing. that's absolutely nothing.
these people go for year-long rotations during stop loss, they'd be there for 15 months, they come back for a year and go again. we meet people who have been on five rotations since the war began. so i think the sense of sacrifice is somethin that really hit home by being there. i make no sacrifice. the sacrifice of these people. but one otherhing charlie, is the region that is the most dangerous in afghanistan is regional command east, the northeast of afghanistan and i've seen pictures of it, i've seen photographs of it, i've seen videos but until you actually see how incredibly daunting the hindu kush mountains are and the idea that the u.s. troops are trying to influence what's going on in this landscape is really just... it's mind-boggling because this is difficult terrain just to drive through even fly over much less to have any sense of control. >> reporter: so the president
did a review then he decided on counterinsurgency then he sent general petraeus over there afr stan mcchrystal was fired. he then re-evaluate it had strategy. he spent a lot of time trying to create the right strategy and it seems now that he's come down on the side that counterterrorism was the best strategy for the united states now. did he make a mistake? did the administration make a mistake? should thehave gone to counterterrorism and stayed there? at the time biden was arguing far? >> i asked that exact question of some people in the building behind me because it seems like he surged troops, a hundred thousand troops, are there in order... doing ts counterinsurgency which is for people not 100% clear on what it is. you are fighting the insurgency by connecting the people of afghanistan to t government of afghanistan, by providing
services and jobs and roads. it's nation building even though people don't like to say that. and now they're doing a focus on counterterrorism, seals going in and killing bin laden. and i said so was this surge wrong? and what i was told is sometimes before you start pulling out to change to a counterterrorism strategy, you need to surge first to try to do counterinsurgency. i don't know how much i buy that but that's their argument. i think one thing is clear is that if you look at the definition, what has become the obama doctrine of when he gets volved a how he gets volved, looking at libya, looking at... at other military operations, it's clear that the barack obama of 2011, if he had been president when 9/11 happened i don't think this war would have been waged as it has been waged. it seems to me it would have been much more limited, much more just counterterrorism.
>> rose: can you... how do they feel about afghanistan? do they look at it today in terms of the mission not in temples of the bravery and the courage and the sacrifice but in rms of the mission as a failure. >> rose: i don't think they look at it as a failure. i thin there's a recalibration that's gone on from the very lofty goals that were articulated early on in the bush administration. and it's really... i don't want to call it a devolution bu it really has changed. rst of all, when barack obama announced hi policy early on in his administration, already was taking tngs out of the bush goal. bush talked about girls and women in afghanistan being equal. that was a big thing for first lady laura bush. barack obama doesn't talk about
that. that's not a goal of his. i thk whether you thinkhe's defini standards down or being realistic or pragmat, he's changing standards. and now one... a term i've heard a lot among people in this administration-- mainly people in the intelligence a military branches of this administration-- is the term afghan good enough. i'm not sure if your viewers are familiar with it, but it's basically this is good enough for afghanistan,his is as good as we're going to get. we can't pretend that we're going to be able to achieve everything we wanted to achieve or hope to achieve ten years ago even five years ago. this is quote/unquote afghan good enough. >> rose: switching to the economy d the failure of the supercommittee. what's the administration strategy now? >> that's a good question. i don'knowhat ey fully have one articulated in terms of achievindeficit reduction beyond trying to hammer home the
idea that congress needs to come up wh is $1.2 trillion in deficit redublgs beforehose draconian cuts into socia welfare ograms and the pentagon kick in in january, 2013. but i don't see a sort of actu policy sttegy when it comes to let's fin way to come together and achieve some sort of compromise. it seems to me that this white hoe is very much looking at november, 2012. >> rose: they shift in campaign mode? >> think that's accurate. which is not to say that the president wouldn't like his jobs plan t become law. i think he would. but i think that there is an acceptance and acknowledgement that we're in election season right now. we're five or six weeks away from the iowa caucus and this is election season, it's political season, it's going to be
difficult to get anything done. and i think in a way i almost feel like some people in the obama administration are excited about that and more comfortable with it. >> rose: this last question, because it's thanksgiving eve. did we just hear the helicopter leaving? was that the president and played in the economy? >> was that the president leaving? was that their helicopter? >> no, he's coming back. >> well where where was he? >> he was at a food bank. >> rose: okay, my last question, you've been kind to spend as much time as you have. tom friedman today has a coln called "go big, mr. obama. president obama has a clear choice in how to approach the 2012 election. he canpendis energy defining mitt romney, newt gingrich or whoever ends up in the republican nominee as ugly a way as possible or he can define the future in as credible a way as possible if he spends his energy defining his republican opponent there's a chance the presint ll win with 50.0001% of the
vote and no mandate to do what he needs doing. if he defines t future ina credible way he willot only win but he will have a mandate to take the country where we need to go. is that a dilemma that the administration is looking at? is that a choice they are looking at? >> i think that they'll take the victory with 50.0001% of the vote. i mean, i think that this... >> rose: (laughs) >> look, when you're a president with under 50% approval rating just as a student o politica history the way you w is by make your opponent less acceptable than you are. that's how george w. bush won reelection in 2004 and i think that that's pretty much how barack obama would win reelection in 2012. i think that you're going hear a lot of ticulation of lofty goals and the need for compromise and the need to come
together. >> rose: invest in the future and all that. >> win the future, although he hasn't said that in quite a few weeks. but, yeah, i think he will try to... he will speak like the person in tom friedman's column who has the lofty goals and wants the mandate but i think the campaign will be verymuch like the guyho isttacking his opponent by making him less acceptable than even a president with under 50% approval rating. >> rose: so he'll run against the congress and the nominee? >> yeah, not necessarily in that order. i think he'll run primarily against the nominee. i think you hear them... the obama campaign is already runng against mitt romney it says if herman cain, newt gingrich, rick perry don't exist. the conference calls they give are about mitt romney. they had one thi week aft the debate about mitt romney's position on illegal immigration.
attacking mitt romney... there were eight candidates on that stage and with the exception of rick perry and newt gingrich, they all have fairly conservative positions on immigration reform and yet they only talked aut mitt romney. it's remarkable. >> rose: i'm going call on you again and again and again during this campai. jake, thank you so much. the piece that you are doing airs tomorrowight, 11:35 o "nightline". what's it called? >> well, we have different... i mean, we're doing the whole ightline" about our trip to afghanistan and i have different names. we have the... there's the medevac piece which we call the al erican dustoff and then there's the tip of the spear as the other can recall. i'm not sure exactly what hay ear calling the show. i can find out and let you know. >> rose: thank you for doing
this. congratulations. hope to see you soon. happy thanksgiving. >> thanks, charlie, you, too. >> rose: eric schmitt and thom shanker are here. they're veteran national security reporters for the "new york times." their new book examines how the united states has adapted its strategy over the last decade to fight violent extremism. it's calle"counterstrike: e untold story of america's secret campaign against al qaeda." i'm pleased to have them here at this table. welcome. let me just talk about where we are today because you have heard what leon panetta has said. where are we in this fight agait al qaeda? especially light of osama bin laden and then what happened in yemen. >> i think where were, charlie, is that the core leadership of al qaeda in pakistan h suffered a huge blow with the death of osama bin laden but 's not sufficient to wipe out al qaeda all together. the threat that came from that leadership and carried out the... executed the attacks on
9/11 has bee greatly diminished but what's happened is al qaeda is like corporation. they have franchised that have cropped up in places like north aver a, east africa, somalia, iraq still and in yemen. that's the one that carried out the attempted bombing by the so-called underpants bomber. the nigeriaman who tried to blow himself up and ten months later same organization packed explives in thr printer cartridges, put them on cargo planes and tried to route them the united states. that plot was also thwarted luckily. so you have... al qaeda is still trying to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, create a mass casualty attack but you have these smaller franchises and the threat of homegrown terrorism in the united states. americans radicalized often times through the internet carry out attacks here. so the threat is harder to track down. >> rose: do you therefore believthom that it's a long struggle to eradicate al qaeda? if not impossible? >> we willever defeat terrorism because we will never completely eradicate the root
causes of terrorism: poverty, poverty of hope, poverty of education. that is gog to create inspiration for this growing pool of disenfranchised 18 to 35-year-old men. what the death of bin laden means... in the mathematical formula it was necessary but not sufficient. the al qaedarand remains undiminished so the best the u.s. government can do is put off the day of the next attack and perhaps lessen it. it's so interesting.... >> rose: everybody assume there is will be another attack. >> the conclusion of our book is that there will be another attack because the u.s. has to lucky and good everyday. the terrorists have to be lucky and good every now and then. >> rose: when you look at the goals of al qaeda, what's the... what's the... what's the mission? what's the target? it used to be that they wanted to overthrow regimes in the middle east.
>> obviously one of the big goals was to get rid of the united states and the american presence in the region. i think that's still one of the big goals. you see these franchises we were talking about is notnly to drive them out through ms casualty attacks like in 9/11 but to disrupt the economy. that printer cartridge plot we talked about before, they only spent about $4,200 on that plot all together and yet it nearly shut down the air cargo syem for much of the west for a few days and it forced the west to spend tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to safeguard that system. so they're out right now to as much disrupt the western economy as much as anything else. >> rose: and are they wise and smart about cyber war hear? >> absolutely. cyber war and the internet is their safe faye haven right now. it's where thei do reciting and raising money and even where they do their operational planning online. so it's where american analysts have trying to counter that. they've been able to successfully hk into cell phones of terrorist leaders and
sent out false and confusing messages. they've been able to actually forge the al qaeda watermarks that go out on official pronouncements to sew dissent and confusion amonghe ranks. >> it's said... this look book looks out ten years. it's said over the ten years there have been all kinds of developments but what has been the impact of drone missiles? >> well, drone missiles have certainly been an incredible tool to keep the terrorists and the leadership off balance. at the same time, a lot of people think the drones are a strategy. they're not. they're just a tactic. they're just a tool and in some ways the governmt is almost overrelying on drones as the counterterrorism tool when it needs to be a whole of government attack at terrorist finances, at their networking, their work on the internet. >> is there anything... panetta said for example in his congressionaestimony that he thought the next pearl harbor
might very well be in cyberspace. >> 90% of the american cyber rgets, you might say, are in the private sector. only 10%f the defenses. 90% of the defensesre with the military. but because of a bunch of other laws that we all respect, the military cannot jump i as quickly as it should to protect domestic commercial infrastructure from a cyber attack. so when panetta talks about a digital pearl harbor, it's not we don't have the capabilities to defend, but the technology has so far outstripped our law and our understanding we don't want the military to operate on u.s. soil. that's where the defenses are for cyber. so the u.s. is very, very vulnerable. in fact, eric and i just a few weeks ago before the attack on libya there was a big cyber plan that was written up and at the end of the dayne of the reasons that that cyber offensive against libya wasn't ordered, we didn't want to break the firewall. we didn't want to be the first because we are the most
vulnerable as well. >> rose: the arab spring has had what kind of impact in terms of altering an alternative to terrorist groups? >> well, first of all, charlie, what was interesting to watch abt arab spring is how al qaeda had nothing to do with it. >> rose: exactly. >> they were the ones advocating the overthrow of government by violent mean us there the violent jihad and yet here was arab spring, here it mes along... >> rose: but even people like muslim brotherhood, those organizations were not early on suppting the arab spring. or expressedsome late... they were late joiners. >> that's right. you had nonsectarian driven by social media. you had all that euphoria going for you. now what's concerning to many officials in the u.s. government is that several months later you still... now you have dillusionment thinking and you don't have many of the root causes that started that revolution being addressed. you still have... as thom was mentioning you have economic
problems, enough poverty, poverty of hope, of education and you still have a sense that things haven't changed enough. this may give organizations like al qaeda perhaps other radical islamists an in, an a try exploit those vulnerabilities. the u.s. government and the intelligence servicere watching very closely. >> rose: most of these governments will have a strong islamist composition. >> sure. and look what's happening in libya and what happened in tunisia. the question is they're islamists but will they be moderate? how extreme will they be? >> tell me what do we kw so far? >> well, so far it's still very early in terms of the results coming out of tunisia are quite encouragg in terms of whether it's islamist government, more moderate in tone, i think there's some concerns however as you look at libya right now as thatovernment trieso form a new and certainly with elections coming up in egypt there's big questions of where that will go, knew wil take it as the
military maintains very strong corol over that government. >> rose: has that idea become the dominant idea today that rather than counterinsurgency we need simply to adopt a counterterrorism strategy >> not just in afghanistan but really for military policy all over the world. secretary gates in his farewell speech at west point said any president who orders a land war in asia should have his head examined. secretary panetta is going to be cutting the army to sizes almost to where it was before 9/11. clearly not a force sufficient to do the kind of nation building and heavy counterinsurgency. thway of the futur, charl, is going to be the counterterrorist commando groups you're talking about and a light footprint of conventional forces. the example was the group that was ordered 100 american advisors into gahn da to fight the lord's resistance army alongside central african militaries. so the goal will be to work with part iner ins and allies to
enable them. but i don't think in our lifetime we'll eversee a president order 150,000 troops to cross out of kuwait into iraq for a reported counterterrorist operation. >> rose: i was fascinated by it. i read about this where i was somewhere in some foreign country. what was that about? i mean, this commitment of troops to... and resources to uganda. >> the lord's resistance army is one of these indigenous guerrilla terrorist groups. they are really bad guys. they kidnap young women, force them to be child bris. kidnap young men, force them to be child soldiers. they are trying to destabilize five countries in central africa congress passed legislation calling for the u.s. to support the legitimate government's fight the l.r.a. and what president obama decided was as we talked about a light, pre- ice footprint. in this case 100 special operations noncommissioned
officers to train, to do communications to help them assess intelligence and the president pledged they wouldn't go into combat with these local armies. we we have to see. but this is the blueprint for going forward. enabling others to fight terrorists, insurgents, so the u.s. doesn'thave to. >> rose: to sometime there is's mission creep, though. >> histocally that's absolutely true. >> rose: here's the interesting question which many people are talking about because we're into a presidential campaign that president obama in this arena has been better and more effective and even more engaged than president obama >> well, and we report in our book that presint bush over eight years not once did he ever convene a single meeting of the national security council dedited solely to terrorism. to be sure he hadany meetings in the n.s.c. and his advisors lookinat slices of that-- iraq afghanistan, specific problems. but never did he conve his advisors to look wholistally at this whole problem of how do you
combat terrorism in its many forms. >> rose: beyond the number of meetings he might have had the president made this a higher priority, did he not? and was more prepared to use certainly the drone technology. drone missiles. and to take bigger and bigger risks. >> if you look at what president obama has done in his first year in office, 2009, he had the c.i.a. carry out more drone strikes in pakistan than president bush did in his whole eight years of office. a year later, in 2010, that number more than doubled. he also obviously ordered the raid that killed osama bin laden even though by his own account he was only 50-50 sure wheth bin laden was even there. and the tremendous risks not only to american forces that were going in there for this mission but the implications if anything went down with pakistan somebody could be shot down, taken hostage. it's a time when, of course, the u.s./pakistani relations were already very low and very bad. >> rose: and people... go ahead. >> and yet predent obama said no, we're going to have to take
this opportunity. >> rose: and he did it because he wanted clear and convincing evidence that osama bin laden had en captured or killed? >> that's right. he had some options front of him, including massive bombing attacks and drone strikes but neither one of those would have been able to give him the proof, charlie, that i think everybody in the world wanted to see. that is make sure this actually was osama bin laden, he's actually killed and then, of course, that i dispose of the body at sea not to make a martyr out of him. >> rose: i've asked this question often which is people in the department and people in c.i.a. and other aspects of our national security. what is the nightmare that you fear the most? they always say that somehow some terrorist organization will get some kind of nuclear weapon and somehow get it in here. how likely is that? i mean, how... how close are they to somehow acquiring either by theft or some other means a nuclear weapon? >> i think a nuclear device in
the hand of terrorists is the least likely b most worrisome. >> rose: right. >> some of those in the middle that i think are more likely and more worrime, al qaeda in yemen, for example, is has been gathering castor beans which is essential ingredient of a poison called ricin. very easy to transport. and for example, i don't want to give ideas but it what the intelligence committ is oking at. what would happen if a ricin bomb was set off in a shopping mall or a theater or train station? we have to do it once and then announce "we he 15 moreof these." it would paralyze transportation and commerce. so that is a more likely and equally worrisome sort of attack. any death aboveero is tragi but the terrorists don't to kill a mass number of people to achieve a mass effect. >> rose: how much corporation is there today among governments? >> a lot more, charlie. it's remarkable. we talk about in the book and how not only is there much
better corpotion within the united states-- not perfect, but much better among various agencies taking on a greater role, but much greater intelligence sharing, much greater partnering, the kind tom talked about with not only troops but other kinds of advisors, state depament advisors, the agriculture department going into places like affidavits, trying to help out. so there's muchore corporation and that's because more and more people recognize that al qaeda in particular is a transnational threat. al qaeda doesn't recognize international boundaries so in order to combat them in operations like that you have to work across border to be effective snoochlt. >> rose: talk about the idea of terrorism. the deterrence that if you do this to us, we'll do that to you has less effect. >> in the classic cold war sense,ou're right. we could always see a ssile coming from the soviet union, the soviet union... >> rose: return address. >> right. they had values amica could
threaten to shake the thinking of the adversary it turns out terrorists he values as well. they want to be held in high esteem. they want to have cohesion among thr members. they need to raise money. and as the intelligence community learned more about how terror networks operated, they learned that you couldn't deter a bin laden at the top, nor a young man with a suicide vest. but all the people in the middle, the gunrunners, the bomb makeers, the financiers, people who run to the safe houses. you could deter them because they weren't really ready to make the sacrifice of their life. >> rose: exactly. right. >> so if you can threaten them, put them at risk, you can alter there behavior which is the essence of deterrence. >> rose: the book is called "count strike. >> the untold sry of america's threat against al qaeda." eric schmitt and thom shanker. thank you for being at the table. >> thank you, charlie. rose: we continue our series why shakespeare with a direct example of how shakespeare might
have been relevant in contemporary affairs. we start 48 hours after the 9/11 attacks, nick shifrin was standing in a shakespeare class at columbia university. the professor, david kastan, he was teaching titus adron cus. he said "i hope the people making the t decisions on how to respond to these attacks read this play. here is a clip." >> therefore i tell my storrows to the stone. the and seen the communes with a tongue doomed men to death. 12k3w4r wherefore how the stands with thy weapon drawn? >> to rescue my two brothers from their death for which attempt the judges have pronounced my ever lasting doom of banishment. laugh (laughter) >> oh, happy man!
they have befriended thee. why foolish lucious dos thou not perceive that rome is but a qild listens of tigers? tigers mustpray. >> rose: and here is what jessica lang said about titus andronicus about the table. >> the thing with revenge is not ly does it destroy the one you go after but it also is self-destructive. so so there's nothing left of anybody, basically. these characrs are dead long before they're dead. this act ofry lentless revenge has destroyethemll long before they're physically dead. >> rose: earlier this year nick shifrin was the first reporter to broadcast inside osama bin laden's compound in pakistan after he had been killed and taken to sea by u.s. forces. shifrin wrote a piece in "foreign policy" magazine coaring u.s. foreign policy to titus andronicus. i'm pleased to have nick shifrin
along with professor david kastan and talk about what it was they believe is important to understand from this shakespearean experience you'r teaching, he's sitting in the classroom and what are you seeing? >> well, what happened was... it's interesting because columbia... the attas were a tuesday. i don't remember and i think nick doesn't remember what i said on that tuesday. we started that class... the class was at 9:00 a.m., we entered that class at 8:45, 8:50... >> rose: knowing what had happened? >> not knowing. very little. >> this is what was extraordinary. and you realize only ten years ago before smart phos, before wired classrooms. so 120 columbia students were sitting there. i had been talking tosome people at the door, looked at my watch, it was two minutes to nine, walked up to the podium.
someone came in late and said "hey, professor kastan, did you hear a plane hit the world trade center?" and we talked for a moment and i was imagining a small private plane, a terrible pilot error. i gave lecture about something neither one of us can remeer. and 1: later we walked out of one world into another. and columbia canceled classes that day, and on wednesday. then i think they announced on thursday they would have classes but faculty could talk about whatever they wanted. they could talk about events or whatever was othe syllabus and student weren't required to go. and i remember thinking about what i should do on that thursday and on the syllabus it was titus andronicus which alys seemed to be an elizabethan texas chain saw massacre. so it seemed there were easier planes to try to recover th particular moment and ias so
conscious of how much had changed in the world students were living in and i was living in and also very conscious of what hadn't changed. that some things still mattered and it seemed to me shakespeare dead and the more i thought about titus and the more i thought this would be a good play to talk about. i had decided i didn't wan to talk about myolitical insigs which e minimal and of no consequence but i did think talking about shakespeare would matter and i remember i did walk into class and i said "u didn't have to be here, i did. thank you all for coming." >> rose: so there you are, you're sitting in the class. >> i'm sitting in the class and i remember the lin that you quoted from david-than-. he said "i just hope the people who respond to tuesday's attack, the moment that changed all of our lives, i hope they read this play." and then we talked about revenge and we talked about tie it is a and at t end of the class we
gave him a standing ovation and that class stuck with me for nears. >> rose: and step forward and move forward and speed forward to pakistan. ama n laden has been has been killed and his body has been take within the u.s. milita to sea. >>arly on a monday morning. my boss wakes me up and says "get up, we think it's bin laden." so i rushed to work and called a u.s. official who has been a good source and all he would say-- this is before president obama announced what happened" he would say "be ready to be busy." so by then we were figuring out what had happened and i filed for a few hours, the announcement came and we drove about 90 minutes from islamabad, i'd been living in islamabad for about three and a half years. and for a couple days, at least, it was a biof aarnival atmosphere. we were all allowed to go outside the compound, spend as
many hours as we wanted to. we ended up getting video in inside the compound but outside there were tourists, there were people from other parts of pakistan coming in. there was an ice cream truck at one point and a few days later the pressure started coming on the government and the military, they cracked down on journalists and i think we left after seven or eight days then i'm in islamabad and this conversation as we all have comes up where are you on 9/11 and everybody always asks did you expect to be here the place where 9/11 plotters fled to and i said no. then i rembered okay, maybe david or professor kastan would have thought that i or at least the u.s. might be here so to speak and shakespeare might have actually thought that we might be here ten years later. >> ros so if we d wise policymakers who had read all of shakespeare but certainly titus andronicus, what woulthey have
done? >> the impulse to revge is so understandable and so immediate but revenge for shakespeare seems... one it seems a great through line in his work. >> rose: i was going to say. revenge is everywhere. >> that's right. i mean, it does seem to me... it is the through line in the work and for him what she said before inhe clip is right. revenge destroys the revenger. it turns the reven interan image of what he or show she would revenge herself against. one unrstands why one thinks of revenge as a formof justice in the public sphere and a form of trauma management in the private sphere but it never works. >> rose: i want to get to the question. suppose there had not been an attack on affidavits and then later an invasion dprn >> i don't think. >> rose: what would have been the policy that was wiser? abattack on afghanistan okay but not an invasion of sneshg
>> i think if you ask afghans and pakistanis, where i've lived if for a few years, they would say this, they don't hold anything against the u.sfor taking revenge, if that's the word we're going to use or at least responding to the 9/11 attacks. in fact they would see the u.s. as weak as f it hadn't responded. >> rose: that would be the perception of policymakers, that you can do injury to the united states and they won't respond. they are as... even osama bin laden said a paper tiger. >> exactly. but the trick is how do you prosecute the war? how do you try and get a country that had been at war forore an 20 years and how do you get a difficult country as its neighbor on board. how do you bring peace to those countries? what one u.s. official in pakistan once admitted to me is that we met langley, we let the c.i.a. take charge of policy and foggy bottom wasn't in charge. ate department wasn't in charge. so priorities were counterterrorism and after
afghans and pakistanis would say "my life is wor today. >> there are those who say if you want to find a play that teaches revenge, don't go to titus andronicus because-- quoting it is elliot-- "it's one of the stupidest and most uninspired plays er written. and your colleague at yale says "iannot... i canonceive no intransi can value to the titus andronicus." >> well, elliott and bloom are dangerous people to disagree with but i think they're both wrong. >> rose: (laughs) you'll step forward. >> i will happily. the mo i read tie it is a and the more i teach it and the times i've been able to see it i'm persuaded it's a wonderful pl. it has if core of everything akespeare came to think about revenge. it's spectacular and grotesque. i think of it as shakespears master niece a very particular
sense. in the original sense of that word when a craftsman would prove that he had enough skill become a masterof a guild. he would show off those skills as if you were an iron monger, you uld make a wonderful tool. and this is shakespeare showing off he h the skill to write a certain kind of tragedy, this cynic and revenge tragedy but he es it with the charactertic shakpearean intelligence and from the very beginning the moral problems are so clear. at the moment that lucious asks tie it is a to... demands what he calls a sacrifice and shakespeare so good at making sure that we see as readers and an audience that what you call something matters. so he calls a... he asks for a sacrifice of one of the children. and of course it's an execution any way you look at it. but for him it would become something that is to appease the
deaths of the romans. and the first thing the woman says "why my children fighting for their country aredemonized for something your children fighting for their country are praised for? how can that be right?" and she asks tie it is a to show mercy and he refuses and the son sex cuted and that sets off the cycle of revenge that runs spectacularly through the play. now, in fairness to elliot and bloom, by the way, early t 17th century a dramatist named edward ravenskroft rewrote titus and he called it "heap of rubbish." so his explanation was that shakespeare didn't write it, that he added bits to it at the end. but it seems to be utterly characteristically shakespearean and a wonderful if youthful
exploration of what he continues to explore. and i think also what makes tie it is a relevant today is what we as a nation and as the west and, frankly, as a world have en since 9/11 and perhaps some of the things i've seen up close but a lot of people have seen up close in afghanistan and pakistan. julie taymor, i think, sat at this table and called it a play for our days or our age. and post-9/11, post-some of the thing we've mean? afghanistan and pakistan the violence actually doesn't seem that outlandish and i think it did before that. so that's what i come to it. i read it again ten years later and thought wow, i'm reading about tribes, parts of afghanistan and pakistan that i visited and of course it's a different setting but it's the same motifs, the same ideas and, frankly, some of even the same violence. >> rose: here is the aforementioned julie taymor talking about her film adaptation which starred anthony hopkins in a very controversial
film >> it feel like a play written for today, tt's why i did it. that's why i did it as a film. it reeks of now. >> rose: why does it... before i say that. what is titus about? >> well, very simply if i can do this it's about what makes people run. what gets them on the path of the cycle of violence. it's about have jens. and it's not about how low lifes who are born in bad situations murder and rape and do these things it's about how great people or normal people. how it could be your sister, your brothers, your father, your uncle, could try very hard to hold on to their values and somehow be a mistake here or there or cultural differences. they get on a path and they end up becoming a violent person. then it's abo the aftermath of violence. >> rose: says it very well, doesn't he? >> i think julie's a wonderful director and i saw that tie it is a when it first ok life
five years earlier when it was done in new york for a theater for a new audience. she's absolutely right about what she says but there's one more piece to it it seems to me. partly what drives that play is a recognition of theay in whh rome, imperial rome in all of its power having just the victory they imagine themselves so superior to the barbarians and in the sort of betrayal of their own ideals end up becomg exactly like them. and it's that mirroring, doubling, that's so central to the play. the romans that... the two villains of the play are both called ravenous tigers. but someone else says of rome that rome is a wilderness of tigers. and in betraying their own best images of themselveshey' become exactly like the people they would revenge themselves
themselves against. >> rose: we're going to see more revenge in just a moment but i want to come... so where are we in afghanistan today with the approaching withdrawal of american troops? >> i think the violence is getting worse in afghanistan. i think a lot of people could tell you that. i think the security around kabul is decreasing. i think most afghans don't feel safe leaving kabul and i certainly don't feel safe driving out of kabul. there have been certainly some improvements in the south. u.s.as spe a lot of time and money... >> rose: kandahar. >> kandahar. helmand. those places are getting better. but the east, along the kistani bord, has gotten more violent. >> there's more cross-border attacks and in general the perception of security and the u.s. military will argue strongly against my arguments and say, look, the number of attacks are down. but the pception of security among afghans, there's no metric for that. the perception of security of afghans in kabul along the
boarder in the east has gotten worse and i think's more violence outside of the capital and i think some people in washington would admit that and i think that's why there's a big priority rht now to reconciling with the taliban, trying to make peace with the taliban, especially haqqani network attacking in the east. >> rose: stay in touch with us. >> thank you very much. >> rose: nick shifrin and david kastan, as we go out, these other excerpts, famous calls for revenge in shakespeare. here it is. >> i am revenge. murder. >> take it from my mind. i reek from vengeance on my soul. >> welcome me to this world.
>> oh, god! >> revenge is how the most unnatural, murder! >> murder! >> murder most foul of this most foul strange and unnatural. >> it pains me to know it that i with wings as swift as meditation on the force of love my sweep to myevenge. >> blood and destruction shall be so unuse and read for objects so familiar that mothers shall besmile when they see their infants quartered with the hands of war. and caesar's spirit ranging for revenge come heart from hell shall in these confines with a monarcs cry. and let the dogs of war.