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tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  June 28, 2010 4:00am-5:00am EDT

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>> this sunday, a special edition. afghanistan, the fight ahead. it is the longest war in u.s. history. one year from now troops are supposed to start coming home. after the president's dramatic firing of general stanley mcchrystal what now. should the strategy change? will the withdraw timetable hold? is the mission possible and how will it end? with us, senator john mccain john mccain, republican of arizona. democratic congresswoman barbara lee of the foreign affairs committee. journalist sebastian junger, author of "war." tom ricks, author of the bestseller "gamble" about the war in iraq and author and
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combat veteran of afghanistan, wes moore and retired army general barry mccaffrey and a look back in our "meet the press" minute when president truman clashed with his top general. captions paid for by nbc-universal television >> 311 soldiers have died this year in afghanistan. the latest just yesterday by an improvised explosive device in the south of the country. june is the deadliest month since the war began in late 2001. the g-8 summit in toronto, president obama and david cameron and other war leaders decided to set a timetable of five years for withdraw of military forces from afghanistan. this as "the new york times" reports this morning of growing concern in afghanistan over president karzai's efforts to
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negotiate with the taliban and bring them into agreement with the afghan government. here live from kabul, richard engel. i want to start with that story in "the new york times" and this concern about efforts to reconcile the taliban, america's enemy in afghanistan, with the afghan government. will this be job one for general petraeus when he comes there? >> reporter: i think it probably will be. there's a growing consensus on the ground there's no military solution to this conflict. we heard general petraeus say that time and time again about iraq and this war here. president karzai made it very clear he wants a peace deal and in order to do that, he has been reaching out to the pakistani government. now, afghans are very concerned that the united states will just sell the country to pakistan and make a very significant deal with the taliban and other insurgent groups that will leave other ethnic minority groups out
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in the cold. they don't want the taliban to come back to power. >> chard, you report on soldiers on the front lines and know the political and military issues there. what's the firing of general mcchrystal having on that? >> reporter: it was a shock. they would like to embrace it and would like to see changes. general petraeus has a good reputation and is associated with success in iraq and they hope that will come here as well. the number one concern that soldiers expressed to me is the rules of engagement. they feel that they don't have the adequate tools to defend themselves and that under general mcchrystal it became too difficult to fight back against the taliban and that's the number one concern that soldiers would have and thing they would want to change most under david petraeus. >> richard engel in kabul this morning. thank you very much. joining us now ranking member of the armed services committee, republican senator john mccain of arizona. senator, welcome back to "meet the press." >> thank you. >> so much to discuss. i want to get to the strategy, withdraw timetable and all of it
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with you. i want to talk to you about general mcchrystal. the president fired him this week. he spoke to the nation about it. this is in part what he said. >> the conduct in the recent published article does not mean the standard that should be set by a commanding general. it undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. and it erodes the trust that is necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in afghanistan. >> did the president do the right thing? >> yes, he did. he took the appropriate steps in my view. i would like to say in general mcchrystal's behalf that he played a key role in iraq and efforts against al qaeda. a lot of this is not known and may never be known but general mcchrystal did a great job there. the president took appropriate action and we wish general mcchrystal well in the future. >> was this an important
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leadership moment for the commander in chief? >> yes. yes, i think that the president realized that this was an important moment and he made the right decision. your questions what were they thinking? >> that's right. not only what was he thinking, was this foolishness? was it naivety about the press or something real here, senator, about frustration with the policy, frustration with the civilian side of the policy, frustration with how much progress he thought was being made versus what was expected of him? >> first of all, there's no excuse for it. there's no excuse for it. but part of it, some of it, was frustration. part of it was a group of officers who find themselves with a night off which they did not expect and had been working 24/7 in kabul. they went out in a social environment. i must tell you that as a young navy pilot on occasion at happy hour things were said about our
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commanding officer that maybe we wouldn't want to be held responsible for but that does not excuse anything. it certainly maybe makes people understand the circumstances a little better but overall you just can't do those things and we expect our officer corps to have maturity to recognize that. >> let's talk about the fight ahead and get your assessment of how the war is going. this is "economist" magazine on newsstands now. losing afghanistan it says the war after mcchrystal. "the new york times" on thursday reported the challenging environment that general petraeus will go into. at the moment every aspect of the war in afghanistan is going badly. the military's campaign and strategic city in kandahar has met with resistance from the afghan public. president karzai is unpredictable and the taliban is resisting more tenaciously than ever. how's it going? >> that's a fairly accurate description of the situation in
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afghanistan. i think that it's pretty obvious the effort in marjah did not achieve the elements of success quickly enough. the offensive into kandahar has been delayed which argues against this setting a date certain for beginning the withdraw. a lot of behavior that karzai is displaying, a lot of things that are going on right now are direct result of the president's commitment to beginning withdraw and not turn out the lights means. rahm emanuel on your program last sunday reiterated the commitment to leaving middle of 2011. the president's spokesperson said "it's etched in stone. he has the chisel." people in the region can't leave. they have to adjust and they have to accommodate and karzai is doing some of the things he's doing because he's not confident that we're going to stay.
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troops on the ground are in some ways confused about what the long-term strategy would be and i guess the best example i can tell you is high ranking taliban prisoner said you've got the watches and we've got the time. that's what is pervading this entire environment they think that we're going to leave and go they believe that, they'll act very differently. >> senator, we have been there 104 months. the longest war in u.s. history. longer than vietnam. we've shown a lot of staying power without a lot of results. my question is whether perception outpaces reality. is it that you have a central government in afghanistan led by hamid karzai who is making side deals here with the pakistanis and trying to cut us out because he just doesn't think that ultimately we can succeed because he can look at the history of his own country and see for centuries they have repelled foreign invaders and
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foreign interference. >> first of all, it is the longest war and the loss of any life is tragic. we went over the 1,000 mark. we thought 58,000 in vietnam. that's important. karzai is acting like he is as i said because he is beginning to accommodate for a situation where he finds himself with americans withdrawing. third of all, we need a better team and coordination between the military and civilian side. we all know that. i'm also convinced that david petraeus, who is one of the greatest outstanding leaders in american history, i think can bring this to a successful conclusion. but we have to convince the enemy that we are going to do what's necessary to succeed. and that's why we were able to succeed in iraq. >> i have a question that keeps nagging me about the enemy, about the taliban. the united states is engaged in working with the afghan central
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government to recruit afghan soldiers. why do we have to recruit afghan soldiers? who is training the taliban. no one has to recruit them. they are fighting the future which is a dark, terrorist future but they don't have to be recruited but we're in this position where we are trying to recruit afghan soldiers. >> that's a very good question. it's clear that the taliban is a very extremist and very fanatical element. this is true of all insurgies. majority of people don't want the return of the taliban. they're afraid when the united states leaves that there will be assassination squads going around taking care of those who cooperated with the government and the americans. karzai is not doing the things we want him to do. i don't think there's any doubt about that in many respects. maliki was not doing things in iran we wanted him to do. he was perceived as weak.
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the level of sectarian violence in iraq makes what's going on in afghanistan pale in comparison and i'm not saying it's not going to be long and hard and tough. i'm not saying that it's going to be easy. i am convinced of one thing. you tell the enemy when you're leaving and they will wait. >> let's talk about this issue of a withdraw deadline. you are very concerned about it. let me take everybody through it. back in december 2009 this is what the president told the country. >> i've determined that it's in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 u.s. troops to afghanistan. after 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. >> they are surging up so ae ho. though won't be at full fighting force until fall. they'll fight at full strength for less than a year.
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vice president biden interviewed by jonathan alter in the book "the promise" said to alter in july 2011 you'll see a lot of people moving out. bet on it, biden said as he wheeled to leave the room late for lunch the president he turned at the door and said once more "bet on it." seems clear. yet general petraeus testifying just about ten days ago on capitol hill seemed to be more skeptical about that. here's what he said. >> keep in mind that july 2011 in the first place is based on projections made all of the way back last fall during the decision making process and so we would not make too much out of this. >> would not make too much out of it. do you think july 2011 as the beginning of a transition could move? could that timetable move? >> i'm against a timetable. in wars you declare when you're leaving after you've succeeded. by the way, no military adviser
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recommended to the president that he set a date of the middle of 2011 so it was purely a political decision and not one based on facts on the ground or based on military strategy. >> all of his military advisers, chairman of the joint chiefs, general petraeus, general mcchrystal signed onto the idea of july 2011. isn't it their obligation -- >> they didn't do it. they didn't do it. they should have. they know better. general petraeus is put in an untenable position. if it's condition based, as it should be, he's not going directly against the president but if he says directly what the president said and what you just quoted vice president biden saying, then obviously he's supporting a strategy that he feels that we all know can't win. what do we need? we need the president to come out and say this is condition based and condition based only
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and we'll leave tomorrow if conditions allow for it but we won't set an arbitrary date for withdraw. that's all he has to say. the taliban are not able to parch different comments from different people the way that you just described different commentaries. they need a clear signal. >> senator, you said before that 18 months was an appropriate time horizon to realistically assess how we're doing in the war and perhaps change the strategy. at what point should we look at what's happening and say this isn't working? >> there's going to be a review in december. i think there should be constant reviews. that review will show that we have not seen the pace of success. by the way, we have not seen our allies contribute the 10,000 troops that were part of this overall strategy of 40,000 troops that would be engaged in this surge. i'm for constant review. that's different from saying we will begin a withdraw. we may need more troops. we may need more.
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after we succeed, yes, indeed. >> do we need more troops in afghanistan? >> i don't know. i think that it's clearly a shortfall from the 10,000 we expected to get from our allies. and again, i know that we can succeed and we can withdraw but you cannot sound an uncertain trumpet. >> senator, to challenge that, i spoke to white house officials this week who said, wait a minute. the withdraw timetable means the beginning of as process. there will be more forces fighting in afghanistan properly resourced even when the transition begins than there were in the history of this conflict starting in 2001. isn't that important? >> let's have the president of the united states stand up and say it's condition based. we won't withdraw a single troop unless it's necessary to do so and we may add troops if it's necessary to do so. that sends a message to friends and enemies alike and it would
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have a significant impact on our enemies and friends alike. >> do you get troubled when people come up to you that say what exactly are we fighting for? it just doesn't seem clear. it's like vietnam. i don't know what the end game is here. do we have a clear, achievable objective in afghanistan? >> clearly the goal is that afghanistan does not return to a base for attacks on united states and our allies and clearly that is a strategy which means you have governmental control. you have the support of the people. you have a relatively stable environment. realizing it's been long and hard and difficult and also look at the consequences of failure in iraq and the consequences in the region. they are significant. >> what are the consequences of success? tom friedman wrote in his column this week something poignant. what do we win in we win? in iraq if we produce a government, we will at enormous cost changed the politics.
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change afghanistan enormous costs and you've changed afghanistan period. afghanistan does not resonate. >> i have the greatest respect for tom ridge. excuse me. tom ricks, i have the greatest report for. mr. friedman was wrong about iraq. he said we couldn't succeed in iraq. we would fail and had to withdraw. enough said. >> the question still stands. what do you win if you win? how does it resonate? >> you win stability in the region. you win a reduction in the threat of radical islamic extremism. you win elimination of a goal for attacks on the united states of america. clearly taliban and al qaeda would work together if we were able to succeed and you don't send a message of an american defeat which would reverbrate throughout the region and the word. i'm confident with the right kind of military and civilian team in kabul that we can
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succeed and it will be long and hard and tough. >> do we stick it out at any costs? >> i sound tough to you but i just talked on the phone to a young man who is an amputee. i met him at walter reed. he's now at bethesda. i'm not prepared to say to young men and women putting their lives on the line that we are going to leave at a date certain which means we are pursuing a strategy that i think is doomed to failure. we owe it to their families. >> how long is too long? do we stick into it forever? >> no. again, like other counterinsurgesies, this is a counterinsurgency based on the same principles but different conditions that we had in iraq. that means that we'll clear, hold, make the people support the government and against the taliban which they already are and afghanistan only and by the
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way they're very excellent fighters that's functioning and corruption is a huge problem. we could spend the rest of the program going over a list of the problems, number one being corruption situation in afghanistan, but we can succeed there. it's in our vital national interest to do so. the consequences of failure are catastrophic in my view. >> before i let you go, i want to get you on another piece of news. tomorrow lana kagan begins her process for approval to the supreme court. >> for the simple reason, the simple reason that the nominees were qualified. it would have been petty and partisan and disingenuous to inii insist otherwise. we need to accept the roles and responsibilities of each branch of government and to respect the
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verdicts of elections and judgment of the people. >> based on that -- >> eloquent. >> based on that standard, will you support the nomination of elena kagan. >> the hearings are always very important. i will tell you i'm disturbed about her steadfast and zealous opposition to military recruiters, to the presence of military on the campus of the most prestigious university in the bureau of many in america. that's disturbing to me. >> is that disqualifying? >> as i say, i want to watch the hearings and let the process go forward. it is very disturbing. >> is immigration reform in a comprehensive way possible this year or in this term? >> not until we get the border secure. by the way on that issue, why is that that phoenix, arizona, is the number two kidnapping capital of the world? does that mean our border is safe? of course not. why is it that the police chief reported that his police officers are being told they're
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going to be murdered by the drug cartels on the other side of the border? the rise of violence and human smugglers have made our government put up signs in the southern part of the state of arizona warning them that they are in a drug smuggling and human smuggling area of this country. that's not -- >> do you agree with the governor of arizona that say most people that come across the border illegally are drug mules? >> no. i think there's a large number and the drug cartels movement has dramatically increased. 23,000 mexicans have been killed in the last three years in mexico. >> do those kinds of comments make the debate harder and debate? >> i think the government of arizona has done a good job in this whole debate. i may not agree with one sentence she uses but she's standing up for arizona and i think that the people of my state deserve a better environment of security than the one they're getting from the federal government now and a federal responsibility. >> all right.
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senator mccain, thank you as always. >> thank you for having me on, david. >> coming up next, our special edition of afghanistan continues. the fight ahead. what have we achieved, what are we on a path to achieve in afghanistan? is the mission impossible or victory? a round table weighs in. democratic congresswoman barbara lee and author sebastian younger and wes moore and retired general barry mccaffey and a look back at our "meet the press" when the president clashed with another general 59 years ago only on "meet the clashed with another general 59 years a[ female announcer ] look me in the eyes.
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special edition afghanistan, the fight ahead and joining us now, author of the new book "war," sebastian junger. author and retired u.s. army captain wes moore, senior fellow for the center of a new american security, tom ricks, democratic congresswoman barbara lee of the foreign affairs committee and retired general and nbc military analyst barry mccaffrey. welcome to all of you. >> nice to be here. >> this is so important at a time when i think america is so grateful and thankful for our fighting men and women in afghanistan and the incredible sacrifices that they offer day in and day out. the debate about the war still matters, and maybe too few americans are really engaged in it, and that's why we wanted to
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dedicate the time here. come woman lee, the most important aspect i think of this interview that i just did with senator mccain is about when the troops come home. a year from now they are supposed to start coming home. the president was asked about that july 11 timetable, and this is what he said about it this week. >> we did not say that starting july 2011 suddenly there would be no troops from the united states or allied countries in afghanistan. we didn't say we'd be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us. what we said is we'd begin a transition phase in which the afghan government is taking on more and more responsibility. >> now you heard senator mccain say that's too opaque, that's too vague. the president ought to really level with the country and say we don't know how it's going to go. we may need more troops. where do you come down? >> thank you, david. nearly a decade ago the american people were told that we were
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going into afghanistan to capture osama bin laden and to stop al qaeda. at this point we have to look at what has happened during that last ten years. has hour goal and mission been accomplished? the reason i cannot support giving then president bush and any subsequent president a blank check to wage endless war was precisely because of what has happened. the american people, had they known, that this would be the longest war in history, i think they would have been much more debate and discussion in congress. there may have been a three-hour discussion before this authorization was granted. i think we need an exit strategy. we need a plan. we need a way to begin to redeploy our young men and women out of harm's way, and we need to look at how to move forward. >> do you think the president is backtracking when he says, hey, we never said we'd turn the lights out and leave? >> i think the public expects a review in december. the public expects us to begin
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to end this in july of next year. i for one do not believe that we should have even gone there. again, we have to remember why we went to afghanistan. >> but my question, congresswoman, do you believe the president was backtracking in those remarks? a lot of people on the left are concerned about it. >> i hope the president is not backtracking. i believe that the longer we stay in iraq -- excuse me, in afghanistan, we're going to hear generals say and come to us and say it may not be working. we need more money, more time, more troops, or if there's progress being made we're going to hear the generals saying we need more money, more troops and a longer time frame, so i believe that we need to stick with what the president initially said, and that is to begin to end this next july. >> general mccaffrey, joe kleine from "time" magazine in his new piece, cover the strategy, cover the wore extensively, wrote this, obama will have to be less coy with the public about what is really going to happen in july 2011, even if that risks alienating his party's anti-war
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base. he is going to be clear that the words troop withdrawal bandied about in recent weeks are not in the cards unless the situation on the ground changes on the ground for good or for ill. >> sure. this is a political dilemma, not a military one. 7,000 killed or wounded, $5.4 billion a month. the americans don't support the war. we have a goofy and incompetent afghan government. we're trying to build an afghan security force and get it largely done in a very short period of time. none of this is going to work the way we're going about it. again, back to the congresswoman's remarks, you either got to pull out in a stated time frame with huge negative consequences potentially to pakistan, to the afghans themselves, u.s. foreign policy, or you announce that we're in there until we have achieved a stable political system in afghanistan. >> wes moore, what is the argument to be made in support of the president sticking, as they are doing, i have spoken to white house and military
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officials, they are sticking to this july 2011 time frame and emphasize this is not a, you know, a time when everybody comes out. it's the beginning of a process, and there will still be significant number of american troops on the ground this. >> i think it's important to understand we are going on close to ten years, but this war has not been a priority for close to ten years. the time when i was over there, we had a little over 19,000 troops on the ground to cover a landmass that is 50% larger than iraq, so this was never a large priority on the side, and i think the problem is when you have second-tier priorities you get second-tier results. there's no one who wants us to redeploy more than me. for every day for the past ten years i've either been in harm's way or had friends who have been in harm's way. no one more than me wants this end but we understand the consequences and ramifications for having a preemptive pullout without any type of understanding or comprehension of the conditions on the ground. >> do you agree with what senator mccain said, look, we're properly resourcing the war.
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i can't tell you how it ends by that point. we may need more troops if we're going to get this done right. we're in it for ten years. we need to do it now. >> the system that we have in place and the systems we put in place over the last three years are starting to show results. we have a 30% increase in afghanistan security force participation. finally seeing complete integration between the military side and civilian side. important developments if we're going to see that type of progress in afghanistan, but i do think the crucial thing to remember throughout all of this is that the decisions on the ground and the conditions on the ground need to be -- >> i'm not sure we're having complete integration between the civilian and military side in terms of what's happening on the ground there, but we'll turn to that in a minute. sebastian, weigh in on that? >> reporting from afghanistan since '96, the first ten years of that from the perspective of the civilian population. it's an incredible concern to me. i mean, these are human rights watch figures. since nato has been there, 16,000 afghan civilians have died in combat operations. it's a horrifying number. that ended a period of violence
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in afghanistan under the taliban where 400,000 afghans were killed. so we really do need to assess the effect of pulling out on the afghan people, first of all. people back here don't realize that i think the left, and i'm left wing, when they talk about withdrawal, their concern is the humanitarian impacts of war, but they do not remember the '80s. >> let's remember something, the news of the day is the ethnic minorities in afghanistan are really worried that you've got a parktan leader in hamid karzai, there could be a civil war once we pull out. tom hicks with that as a potential backdrop, i want you to address the news of this week, mcchris al out, petraeus in. what does this week mean to where we are?
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>> the first thing is you've got to have pushtan participation and i lived in kabul as a kid and one thing you have to know is afghan is stable when pashtuns are part of power. you can't led a general get away with stuff you can't let a captain get away with. political washington didn't get it. military washington totally did. they knew mcchrystal was toast on tuesday morning. there's a feeling that obama did exactly the right thing but obama has a new general, petraeus, and the big differences between iraq and afghanistan, and's also big difference between presidents. obama has taken no strategic risk in afghanistan or iraq. he's held it at arm's length, almost, like, i inherited these two wars from my idiot predecessor so it's not my problem. >> surging up to 30,000 troops is not a strategic risk. >> not in a country that size. strategic risks would be things
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petraeus did in afghanistan that he did in iraq. he's going to ask the president to double down in some form, cutting deals with the taliban and giving karzai ultimatums. fellow, either do this or with withdraw support from you totally tomorrow morning. you want to end up hanging from your heels in a streetlight in kab kabul. keep it up, karzai. i think you'll see a much tougher attitude taken towards the afghan government but yet to see obama take those risks, get rid of the entire team in afghanistan and put in a new set american officials. >> let me ask the member of congress here. congresswoman lee, your views about the future of the war are clear. you've made them clear here this morning. nonetheless, the strategy will move on with or without you at this point. let's say we geteral petraeus s president obama, look, you want to be in there to clean this up. i need more time. i need more troops. in other words, i can't lose the troops that you want to pull out. we've got to apply more pressure. do you think the president steps up, has the political capital to face down members of congress
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like you, his liberal base, and say you've got to stick with me here? >> quite frankly there are many members of congress now questioning this policy. this debate is just beginning. this is the debate that should have occurred nine years ago, david. this debate is just beginning. i think many of us, not only in the country, the american people, but many of us recognize that our military occupation of afghanistan really provides for a prime recruiting tool, as a prime recruiting tool for al qaeda, and when you look at what our primary mission is there, of course, that's our national security, we have to ask the question does remaining in afghanistan as occupiers in a muslim country, does that create more terrorists? does that create more danger for our country or less danger, and remember again, our primary mission and goal is our own national security. so i question this policy. i think more members of congress are beginning, and this is not just liberal and progressive
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members. these are many members who you never would have believed would have begun to question this. the american people are war weary. this is an endless war, and they want it to come to an end. >> let me just jump in. i was in kabul in '01 after kabul fell, after the taliban was toppled. i was getting hugged by afghans because i was american, because they hated the taliban so much. i don't know who does these surveys. 90% of afghans, after 9/11, in early '02, 90% of afghans supported the u.s. military action that destroyed the taliban, so you really -- the word occupation really is not accurate. >> you know, i've been in and out of there from the start of the war, and, again, some of those polling numbers are suspect, but essentially the taliban are push tan. the push tan are trying to regain control of the plurality or majority of the country. at the end of the day they will be the solution.
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even for the pashtun there's an understanding of the taliban regime, these people are brutal. they are a threat. our consequences if we withdraw, sebastian has it dead right, will be a catastrophe for the afghan population. that's a dilemma he faces, obama. >> you know, afghanistan is a very hard place. it's the hardest environment i've ever seen in the world. these are people who survive conditions that would kill any of us in a couple of days. >> right. >> i remember reading an interview with an afghan villager. the reporter said to him what did you think of the taliban versus what did you think of the police sent by kabul? the taliban were pretty mean to us. they were pretty rough. we didn't like them, but when the police from kabul came, the first thing they did is took our little boys and raped them. you've got to deal with this afghan government. our biggest single problem in afghanistan is not the taliban. they are a consequence of our problem. the problem in afghanistan is the kabul government.
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>> and this gets to the point of whether this mission impossible, wes moore, a counterinsurgency strategy which says, primarily, you don't kill just bad guys. you protect the good guys. you protect the population. can you have a counterinsurgency strategy that works if you have a host government that believes, a, corruption is better than a straight arrow. stealing elections is better than winning it the old-fashioned way and that hey, you know what, the u.s. is not really here for the long haul. i'll make a bunch of side deals with the enemy of america, the taliban and the pakistanis who really want to play two sides against each other and protect themselves and their concern about india. >> it's incredibly important to work on increased transparency with the afghan government but it's important to recognize the limitations of the afghan government. that is country that's very fragmented and tribal, and one of the things we did, i was with a team in afghanistan. would you go out and give out gifts to people, and one of the things that we would give out some of the tribal leaders were cut out, maps which are cutouts of afghanistan, and really the most popular question we got is what is this, and we say it's
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your country. their understanding of afghanistan as a whole is a very difficult one for afghans to understand so the point to be able to go into rural areas, working with the tribal chieftans becomes extraordinarily important as to how we understand the limitations of a national government, for in many cases the people don't understand who president karzai is or the national government or what their job is. >> the goals, sebastian junger, go back to something president obama said on this program last september. goal number one, congressman lee referred to it, stop al qaeda. make sure that afghanistan is not a place where al qaeda launches attacks against the united states, from afghanistan or to our european partners, and he continued. let me show a portion of that. >> if supporting the afghan national government and building capacity for their army and securing certain provinces advances that strategy, then we'll move forward, but if it doesn't, then i'm not interested in just being in afghanistan for
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the sake of being in afghanistan or saving face or in some way, you know, sending a message that america is here for the duration. >> if we're really just fighting al qaeda, al qaeda is not there. the most dangerous aspect of al qaeda is the network which is supported in some fashion by pakistan, operating in the tribal region on the border, and yet we hear about the enemy being the taliban. are we clear on who we're fighting? >> general jones actually indicated that i believe less than 100 members of al qaeda in afghanistan. look at somalia, you look at yemen, this is a global operation. they are not going to deal with al qaeda -- al qaeda is not in a cave in afghanistan. we've got to remember that, and so as we look at how we move forward, cook, first of all, has to have this debate. secondly, we do have to develop an exit strategy and a time line and begin to bring our young men and women home. >> let's remember some history
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here. al qaeda was in afghanistan when they attacked on 9/11. they are in pakistan right now because we're in afghanistan. if we pulled out, what they have is what they had before 9/11. they have -- i mean, when they are in pakistan they are in the tribal territories. it's not an area that's connected very well to the rest of the world, and in afghanistan they had an airport. they had an economy, and they had a failed state that had no extradition treaties with the rest of the world so they can do what they want, and there is no way to get at them short of military force. you're right. they are in pakistan. but we pull out they will be right back in afghanistan. they have not attacked the west successfully since they had to vacate afghanistan. >> tom ricks, go ahead. >> i would agree with that. if you want an endless war, congresswoman, leave afghanistan right now and you'll find us having to go after al qaeda again and again there for decades. >> tom, the president has made it clear that we are not going to be in an endless war. he said at west point, december 2009, we can't afford to have an
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open-ended commitment. i mean, it seems pretty clear unless he's going to change his mind, which he might, that we're going to have to close the chapter on this and leave which seems like everybody on the ground gets it and is acting accordingly. >> our young men and women. >> ryan crocker, the ambassador of iraq used to say. just because you walk out of a movie doesn't mean it's over. >> right. >> because you walk out of afghanistan, doesn't mean it's over. we're all sick of the war in afghanistan. nobody is sicker than the u.s. military. i actually think one reason mcchrystal blew up on the launching pad is because he and his guys are tired. they have been doing this for years. the u.s. military is 1% of this country and it's carrying 99%. burden of the war. you've got to figure out a way to deal with afghanistan. look, a schedule is not going to get you there. even if you left tomorrow morning, afghanistan would still be there. the problems would still be there. al qaeda would still be playing around in the region. fine. leave tomorrow morning, but then you've got to figure out what are you going to do the day
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after. >> i want to focus on troops thor for a moment here. our correspondent itched engel, spend a lot of time with the troops, 82nd airborne, and he spoke to a member after losing a colleague. i want to show you a portion that have interview. >> i'm kind of numb to it. i don't feel for much. i pray for his family and pray for his soul, you know -- i try not to think about it because when you think about it, then i get like this, and it's not -- yeah. so, yeah, you know, everyone
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deals their way. i try to hide it. i try not to think about it because i've got to stay 100%. you know, i've got to keep a good example in front of the other soldiers. i'm sorry. >> god bless our soldiers for doing that, but sebastian, how do they process this? you've been out there with them. the debate in washington, nine years almost. how are they doing? >> in the field? they don't process it. they process it as little as possible because that increases the risk to themselves. they process it later. there are guys who literally said, you know, i asked one guy, are you scared out here? the unit i was with was in 500 fire fights during their deployments. are you scared out here? no, not at all. it came later after they came home. i think that's always been the case in war. not particular to this war. that's what combat is. >> general, we've got a little over a minute left and congresswoman, too. how does this end?
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>> to remind people, 46,000 killed or wounded in one of the smallest armies since 1939. i just gave an award to a dad whose son got the silver star. he wasn't there to receive it himself because he was back in afghanistan on his sixth combat tour, so at the end of the day tom ricks' superb article this morning in "the washington post" captured a lot of this. our way out is build afghan security forces. lieutenant general build caldwell is on the ground. petraeus is going to go in. he's got to build a police force and an afghan army that can maintain order. we don't have the political will to stay with this much longer. >> i'm the daughter of a military officer and i know the sacrifices these soldiers are making. they are brave, done everything brilliantly and whatever we've asked them to do. if congress allows it we'll have an endless war so it's time to begin to look at an exit strategy, a time line and to begin to safely redeploy our young men and women out of afghanistan and begin to look at how we ensure our national
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security. >> 20 seconds, tom. how does it end? >> i don't think it does. i think we have landed in the middle of the middle east for better or worse in a way that none of us expected us to. i think the war in afghanistan was made much worse by the distracting war in iraq which never should have happened. but we are dealing with the middle east that is crucial to our well-being so we need to come up with alternatives. >> amen. >> we'll leave it there. we'll continue our discussion with author sebastian junger and also read an excerpt from his gripping back called "war." and find updates from me all throughout the week. coming up next, our "meet the press" minute. nearly six decades going president truman hi. number two, please. would you like that to hurt now or later? uh, what?
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and we are back with "the meet the press" minute. 50 years ago another decorated military general was relieved of his command after clashing with the president. general douglas macarthur, the commander of the united nations forceses in the korean war, believed the only path to victory there would be an all-out offensive give china, a view not shared by president harry truman. still, macarthur issued an up authorized public statement and
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was fired for insubordination. upon his return to the u.s. macarthur was regarded as a national hero and congressional leaders received 2 million pieces of mail in support of him. a few days later a republican snort everett dirkson appeared right here on "meet the press" and offered his take on the situation. >> senator, nobody is talking about anything other than general macarthur. would you tell us very briefly hon how you stand on the dismissal of general macarthur so we can follow that up? >> me, i can express it in a sentence or two. first of all, i thought he made a deep and emphatic impression with a great and restrained speech. secondly, i do not deny the right of the commander in chief to dismiss a subordinate, but i thought it was probably the most inept piece of work ever done in history, and the demonstrations, of course, that we've had simply means that this man who was the embodiment of the hopes of humble people is certainly being taken into the bosom of america to show how they feel about him,
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and i feel the same way. >> less than two weeks later, the senate armed services and foreign relations committees began joint closed door hearings on the dismissal of general macarthur. he testified for three straight days insisting he could have won the korean conflict if he had been allowed to stick to his plan. a quick programming note here. richard engle will report on a father's quest to investigate a 2008 taliban ambush that left nine u.s. soldiers dead, including his son. "a father's mission" tonight sunday on "dateline" at 7:00, 6:00 central. that is all for today. [ diane lane ] when you were 14
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