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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  June 23, 2011 12:30pm-1:30pm EDT

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>> charlie: welcome to our program. tonight the president awe crested the nation about the withdrawal ofhe american troops from afghanistan. we have an assessment from james shinn, richard haass, david ignatius and joe klein. >> i'm not re that peace accord has such dismal prospects. i think it's certainly going to be very different but it's preferrable to a retreat soviet style. so the impression is what can you get from such negotiation and how after you brought the military force to bear on it, can you hammer out a deal. >> if i were advising the president, i would go down to 30,000 troops or 25,000 troops over this time period. go down to a minimal force to
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advise, and train counterterrorism. we didn't do the pakistan raid with 70 or 90,000 troops. we did the pakistan raid with a couple dozen troops. >> it's true now as a year ago, why on earth should they take part on any process at all. you will have a vacuum and you will probably have a civil war. so trying, giving your best shawt at making this work by having some leverage seems to me there's a pretty good argument. >> i think that this was a victory for the vice president, for joe biden. and a defeat for those who wanted to do, continue to do extensive counterinsurgency opations. >> charlie: we conclude this evening with the story of wild bill donovan,the man who founded the oss during world war ii joining me douglas wallace has written a book hi and ambassador who was an assistant to mr. donovan in the latter years of his life. >> he was franklin roosevelt's
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top spy master, and he was introducing the united states into a form of warfare, covert warfare, espionage, propaganda, psychological operations. things that conventional admirals and generals found deeply disturbing, they found his ideas deeply disturbing. >> charlie: afghanistan and the founding of oss when we continue. if you've had a coke in the last 20 years, ( screams ) you've had a hand in giving college scholarships... and support to thousands of our nation's... most promising students. ♪ ( coca-cola 5-note mnemonic ) every story needs a hero we can all root for. who beats the odds d cos out on top. but this isn't just hollywood storyline.
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it's happening every day, all across america. every time a storefront opens. or the midnight oil is burned. or when someone chases a dream, not just a dollar. they are small business owners. so if you wanna root for a real hero, support small business. shop small. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> president obamaddressed the nation this evening on a prime time address about the war in
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afghanistan. he announced that the surge of 0,000 troops sent in late 2009 web withdrawn by september of 2012. he will thdraw 10,000 troops by the end of 2011 and the remainder by 2012. that would leave 70,000 troops in afghanistan. here's a part of what the present said. >> this is the beginning but not the end of our effort to wind down this war. we'll have to do the hard work of keeping t gains that we've made while we draw down our forces and transition responsible for security to the afghan government. next may in chicago we will host a summit with our nato allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition. we do know that peace cannot come to a land that has known so much war without a political settlement. so as we have the afghan government and security forces, america will join initiatives that reconcile the afghan people, including the taliban. our position on these talks is clear. they must be led by the afghan
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governme, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful afghanistan must break from al-qaeda, abandon violence and abide by the afghan constitution. but, in part, because of our military effort, we had reason to believe that progress can be made. the goal that we seek is achievable, and can be expressed simply. no safe haven from which al-qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland or allies. we won't try to make ahanistan a perfect place, we will not police its seets or patrol its mountains indefinitel that is the responsibility of the afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people an move from an economy shaped by war to one that could sustain a lasting peace. what we can do and will do is build a partnership with the afghan people that indures.
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already this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of america's engagement around the world. some would have america retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very rl threats that we face. others would have america over extended, confronting every evil that can befound abroad. we must chart a more centered course. like generations before, we must embrace amera's singular role in the course of human events but we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate, as stratic as we are resolute. when threatened, we must respond with force. but when that force can be targeted, we are need not deploy large armies over seas. when innocents are being slaughtered and global security in danger,e don't have to choose betweentanding idly by oracting on our own. instead we must rally international action, which we're doing in libya, where we
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do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supportg allies and protecting the libyan people in giving them the chance to determine their own destiny. over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war. at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. now we must invest in america's greatest resource, our people. we must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industries while living within our means. we must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean soces of energy. most of a after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose th we shared at the beginning of this time of war. for our nation draws strength from our diffences, and wn our union is strong, no hill is too steep, no horizon is i -- beyond our reach. america, it is time to focus on
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nation building here at home. >> charlie the reductions are faster than what the military commands on the ground has argued for. they have face the increasing pressure from congress and the american public over the cost, the length and the mission of the war. "new york times" columnist tom friedman, david brooks and roger cohen addressed that debate on our program last night. >> i was not in favor of the surge. i think we have four choices in afghanistan, we always had four choice, lose early, lose late, lose big or lose small. i prefer to lose early and small. there's no victory. >> charlie: that would recommend what policy. >> going down to the absolute minimum presence we need to maintain some kind of counterinsurgency. i think we've become enablers of just hugely bad behavior. bad behavior by pakistan, bad behavior by the afghan government. and this is what happens in all. we've done the same thing in the arab israeli center. we can arrest these guys and not those guys. let me make it simple, wre gone. the minute we're gone, you know
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just which tale back are goo and whicare bad and you will kill the bad one because your life will depend on it. because i'm tired of you telling me i can't do this and scratch my ear like that. >> afghanistan, i think we've ne our best with nation building. i don't know if we know how to establish a country anywhere in the world but we do kno how to builan army. from what i understand the building with security structure in afghanistan is a reason to be there and to partner with them to actlly make sure they have a functioning army. that is a reason to be there. so i would say, you can't just say, you know, you guys are manipulating us, we're handing off the problem to you, it's your responsibility paul if there's no capacity there. so i think capacity building would be a reason to stay. >> there's a reason to be that, build up the army and the police force. >> charlie: and governance. >> one way to guarantee that that police force or army will never function and nev stand on their own two feet is to make that open ended. i think yes, build it up but
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build it up asyou begin to move out and as you move out, say okay, now we're showing you the way, do it. we have a lot of influenc and it was desive during the terrorist period of the revolution over the egyptian army. you know, funded to the tune of 1.3 billion or whatever it is. that does not mean we have to be in egypt. >> charlie: we pretaped the conversation earlier this evening two hours before the president's speech in which we discussed the issues the president faced. joining me joe climb columnist for "time" magazine, joe hass, david ignatius, columnist for "the washington post" and james shinn former secretary of defense for asia he now teaches at princeton. here is thatonversation. give me some sense and i will begin with you joe because you're writing on this for "time" magazine of how the president arrived at the decision and the numbers and why. >> well, he did it a lot more efficiently than he did last
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time. >> charlie: gate -- by the way. >> in the end i think this was a victory for t vice president, for joe biden. and at the seat for those who wanted to do, continue to do extensive counterinsurgency operations, that is massive operations to protect the people like general petraeus who is leaving this july. in fact, a senior administration official said to me that as this battle moves from the south up to the southeast, in the more mountainous areas. petraeus' goal was to move it to the southeast and try and clear that area way he had kandahar. i was told by administration officials that will not be a
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counter insurgency, a full fledged counterinsurgency campaign. what they will try to do with reduced trps is to do counterterrorism, go after the bad guys and not try and protect large numbers of the population. >> charlie: so this time the president listened to vice president biden more than he did the military commanders on the ground. they wanted more time because they believe if they had more time they could do more damage to the taliban and therefore the negotiating process would be more favorable to them. >> i talked to petraeus two weeks ago and at that point he really expected that, you know, we think in terms of fighting seasons which, you know, in my mind last from the harvesting of the opium crop tohe harvesting of the marijuana crop. and petraeus didn't wt any troops, you know, pled back or withdrawn before november, december, when the marijuana comes in. and he wanted to keep, you know, a full cponent place next
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year so that he could do counterinsurgencand didn't get that. >> i was told the same thing that joe was. that petraeus and the other commanders wanted to get the troops. when they decided on this strategy back in december of 2009 after such a protracted discussion, he described it to his aids as proof of concept. let's see if this works in the field. i think now reviewing 18 months of experience, he is deciding that what clearly works is the counterterrorism side of this, the very kinetic, as they said in the militar operations using our groans, using the special operations commandight raids of ways of really putting pressure on the taliban. the areas in southern afghanistan that were the center
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of this campaign are somewhat more secure than they were. there's clearly been a change there but i think there is concern when our troopso away, it may revert to what it is, that a permanent change hasn't haened. so i think the president rely is saying what seems to work is counterterrorism. he's using the fact that we just went in and killed osama bin laden in one of these very kinetic raids and saying let's claim victory and focus on the things we know work. >> charlie: you've been arguing for a long time that afghan was a wrong choice. this decision pleases you and you think it's the first step towards getting out of there and putting our focus elsewhere. >> it's a first step but it's a mini step. and while i probably disagr with joe and david, they didn't get all they wanted, i would still argue that the president is doing way too little too late. i do not believe that reducing 10,000 troops now or 30,000
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troops over the next 15 to months is not nely enough. the basic fact remains we're spending too much and i have zero confidence that after another 15 to 18 months with these fairly high force levels, we will have put into place changes in afghanistan that will survive the connued draw down of america troops. if the concept -- people like me have argued all along, you don't need 90,000 troops or you don't need 70,000 troops to do that. if i were advising the president, i would say go down to 30,000 troops or 25,000 troops over this time period. go down to a minimal force to advise, to train, to carry out counterterrorism. you drew the parallel to the pakistan raid. we didn't do the pakistan raid with 70 or 90,000 troops, we did the pakistan raid with a couple dozen troops. we simply do not need this
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footprint in afghanistan which again i think will not succeed in transforming that country given the nature of our afghan friends, given the fact that pakistan will continue to provide a sanctuary and given the tenacity of the taliban. this is yet a ste in the right direction but i would have argued for something much more accelerated. >> charlie: what's going to happen with afghanistan. >> we'll continue to do training, you'll see statistics that the afghan forces are getting larger and stronger. the taliban will continue to be pushed back for another year, year and-a-half while u. forces still operate and strength. gradually afgnistan will revert to afghanistan. you'll see the taliban beginning to make some in-roads particularlyn the south and east where demographically we are akin to major of the people. here's the good news, i do not assume al-qaeda will necessarily establish major foot holds in afghanistan. they've been absent for eight or nine years and i don't see that
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necessarily changing. so what i'm hoping in many ways afghanistan ultimately goes back to something like the a security it was inbefore where there's pakistan, afghanistan,ndia and others compete for influence. the locals compete for influence but i don't see it being central to the future of that area or necessarily central to the future of the united states. >> charlie: oes this feed this idea that the united states after strategic points leaves. >> at this trajectory it certainly does. >> charlie: is that bad for us. >> i think it's probably terrible for us. richard would you agree with me on that. >> the interesting thing about watching the speech tonight is to see if the presint talks about a vision of afghanistan beyond counterterrorism and beyond how many troops he's going to bring down. this war is eithegoing to end in a negotiated solution that involves the taliban and the government in some way as distasteful as that may be or
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it's going to end in a retreat. presumably the president and most foreign policy people agree that a negotiated solution will achieve at least our minimal goals is preferrable to a defeat. so the question is, will speech have many so pointers or some indicators as to what that negotiated end point's going to be and is he prepared to leave enough troops on the ground so the taliban can be kept at the table. >> i think that the thing that he can'tay, but that they believe or at least they hope is that they're going to leave the afghan nation in a strong position so you need a couple years to prevented the taban from coming in and taking over kabul. the 10% who are there aren't from the south. ists on patrol with the ana last
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december and they needed translators to talk to people to talk to afghans. >> charlie: doe that make sense? >> i makes sense to the extent -- >> charlie: to the majority of the population. >> yes but it makes sense to this extents. at you know the northern alliance gave the taliban a pretty gd tuss in the past with them being trained and equipped by us, is hope is that you have a stabilized, you know, non-civil war. it's like threading a needle but i think that's the best hope that we have for anything resembling stality there. >> you know charlie, i would say to counter rich's argument. the reason this was slower than rich or many people would like is one good aspect is it confound the expectations of the taliban. it was plead in that region whn
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president obama initially announced he would begin to draw down his troops in july 2011, that we were getting out in july 2011. that was widely felt and president karzai began scrambling around, the pakistanis began scrambling around and this confound that. 're not getting out right away. in fact there is this graduate process to 2014. so taliban have been getting beaten up. a reporter i respect who knows that part of the world has keptly reported based on taliban sources that they've been taking a beating. if they know that this fight going to continue for another year, two years, some longer period than expected, there's some more reason for them to get into this negotiating process. i think that's the other thing. >> charlie: if that's true, why didn't he leave them all on the ground and follow the command -- >> would have liked to leave them alone. to quote secretary of defense
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gates, presidents are responsive to public opinion and the country -- >> charlie: it's a decision borne out of politics and public opinion. >> to finish this thought about negotiations. the president, i think, although he is continuing to have troops in the field increasingly believe he wants to drive this toward some negotiated settlement. we have secret talks under way with the taliban. they've tually been somewhat more promising than people thought. we should keep that in our minds thinking about the speech tonight. >> there's also a milary rationale for it and that is counter insurgency works best in very highly populated areas that are flat, are that have pretty easy train kandar is like that. we don't know if it's going to work in the long term but it has a better cnce in working in places like that, places like baghdad and so on. as jim can tell you, it is
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really violent terrain with not nearly as many people. it's much much harder to do counterinsurgency there and so therefore there's a rationale not to do it there. >> i hold out very little hope for negotiations. the idea you're going to come up with a power sharing scheme that's going to be acceptable i thinis a long shot to put it generously. those sort of situations never work. but the first question, even if i'm wrong on whether it would work and all these thing, the question i ask is it worth it and speaking personally i would say no. the id that the united states in this moment in history is spending $2 billion or over $120 billion a year. the defense dollars are going into afghanistan given the fact that pakistan will continue to provide a sanctuary. given all the needs we have demoally, schools, infrastructure, the deficit. given all the challenge we have internationally and specifically the asia pacific.
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that's where history's going to be happening not on the plains of afghanistan. this is misdirected and misguided. we can't do everything. we as a country have to decide what are the most important things we can achieve. i would say this is themerican defense policy and the reason i'm disappointed with the president's speech by going from 100,000 say to 90,000, we're still going to be spending over hundreds of billions of dollars next year in afghanistan. this continues the strategic i believe misalignment and distraction that is undermining american foreign policy. >> charlie: in the end you believe they're unable to achieve the objectives that they have set out. >> i think we could achieve similar objectives with about one quarter the effort. that again is what strategy's about. strategy's about relating resources and interest and i simply do not believe for this level of effort we will get anything commiserate with it. i'm not arguing withdrawal, don't get me wrong but i would go with what i think is a defensible and susinable posion in modest residual amican force in afghanistan, there to train, there to advise
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and there to carry out counterterrorism. >> i'm not so sure peace accord has such dmal prospects. i think it's certainly going to be very difficult. but is certainly going to, it's preferrable to a retrea soviet style. so the question is what can you get from such negotiation and how after you brought the military force to bear on it. we talked about -- last year, we met with two dozen serving taliban. >> charlie: they believe that the taliban were prepared to negotiate. >> yes, we heard that first hand. but the other part of the message from the taliban, we skyped into a lot of them because it was too dangerous for them to come so that mean they were not under the isi. the other side of the story is that the pakistanis play a key
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role in this. evybody knowshis,t's the ephant in the room. it will be interesting to see if the president addressesthat in any way. but clearly, if you could bring pressure on a combination of sticksnd carrots on the pakistanis, i think you have a window of opportunity to negotiate a minimal acceptable accord. >> charlie: therefore you think with this level of withdrawal, he's wrong at this time? >> i don't think whether it's 10,000 or 20,000 troops really makes a huge difference at the end of the day. there's a lot, it has aot me to do with the size of the taliban in the field, and most importantly, whether they can sustain this war across the border from pakistan. >> it has a lot to do with pakistan as jim said and that's where you really run into trouble and that's where i agree with richard on this particularly because since the osama bin laden raid, you've had
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a massive move, you know, a massive anti-american move in the pakistani military. general kaina who is generally believed to be an american sympathizer, retrained and so fort is under tremendous pressure. i think that there's going to be renewed efforts to double down on their support for the taliban. anto continue their existing policy of trying to thwart these negoations. >> let me just remark on that. one interesting development in the last two months isthat the blic positio of pakistan and india on a peaceful negotiated settlement in afghanistan, are now identical. the prime minister wento kabul, gave a speech which was almost word for word what prime minister glandy had said and i
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think you have are for the first time possibility of some kind of regional framework that would protect this very fragile afghanistan. this almost failed state. in some kind of transition process. and i think that's another reason to be careful about moving as many troops out as richard would argue for. that if you just move them out, you are creating vacuum and likely of a civil war is pretty substantial. >> i have no confidence that even if you are able to achieve some kind of political grievant and i think the odds are strongly against it. at the end of t day the dynamics ofhe rion and of began stan itself i think are stronger than diplomacy. if american troops stay for another year, three years or five years, i simply don't think we're in a positio to chae that. at some point american licy has to accept geography they're there and we're not. if we can remake either indian or pakistani diplomatic agenda
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or strategic agendas or remake afghanistan sufficiently i just believe is an act of ubris that the last ten years has taught us is beyond our capacity. >> certainly recent history in the last 20 years tells us if you walk away from afghanistan leaving a vacuum you create one heck of a problem. >> no one's talking about walkinaway from afghanistan or leaving a vacuum. if we have 25,000 american troops there advising, training and counterterrorism that's more troops than we have with yemen and somalia and other places. this is not leaving a vacuum it's scaling down a mark in efforts to the limits in our resource and to the fact that afghanistan atost is one square, pardon the cliche, on the chess board. putting this much ofmerican assets in afghanistan when china is growing by 10%, india is growing, iran is making nuclear
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weapons, parts of mex owe are failing, this is what we're talking about and wt american foreign policy is so focusing on seems to me to be his they areally simply unimaginable. when historians look back on this a lot of them will be scratching their heads saying how did the united states 20 years after the cold war for two decades ter the end of the cold war find itself sh inlved in places cald iraq and afghanistan. i just don't see the strategy behind it. >> charlie: jim. >> i think there is geo political reductionism here because it's a messy civil war. from some -- and the second flaw i think is the notion that you can somehow conduct effective counterterrorism operations from a small base in the midst of a cotry stl engaged in a civil war. from some prior experience in line of work at the pentagon and before that at the cia. it's very hard, it's very hard to engage in the intelligence
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gathering process as well as the strike process, against a diused enemy like this from small enclaves likely to be an extremely hostile environment. so the question is, what kind of, what coination o a negoated solution. what kind of residual military presence can you negotiate that gets you where you want to go. >> i think it's going to be hard. going back to what david said no matter what the pakistani are saying, the very fact that the dian prime minister showed up kabul probably freaketh em on you because they're so paranoid about indian intentions in afghanistan. think that the pakistanis have been playing a double game as we know throughout and i think that the forces within pakistan that see their, that see their most stable conservative powks is really facing down india in
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afghanistan, in kashmir, etcetera, are growing in strength now a they're going to make a deal that much more difficult. >> i can't get away from the sense that your goals are simply too ambitious. you almost want to create an outcome that's good. i'm sitting here saying all i think we can do and even that's ambitious to create a situation that's good enough. for me what's good enough is an afghanistan where groups like -qaeda are not able to d in 2011 or 2012 what they did a decade a. >> if obama was at this table he would say exactlthat. >> he is doing far more. he did not have to raise u.s. force levels to 100,000 in order to offset. we changed the nature of this war the over the las couple years we have turned what was a limited effort intohat i would call a war of choice. we took on the taliban, we essentially became a propackageness -- protagonist n a civil war -- i would s if
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that's the case, ifur goals are going back to what they were to making sure this is not news by groups like al-qaeda, then let's dial down our troops in a much faster way that's commiserate -- >> he wants to do the same thing that you want to do only a year slower. >> a lot more than youe saying. >> we're not talking about nation building anymore, we're talking about army building. i would like to see is an afghan national army that'sstrong enough to prevent the taliban from march challenge in. >> the other thing -- what we -- >> the other important facts is that there's gog to be a nato summit in chicago next may. at that point they will announce continuing drawdowns, i suspect they will draw down to a residual force of 20 to 25,000 by the middle of 2013. >> would say the samehing.
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i would say richard one reason more troops are not being announced now in the withdrawal is that they want to keep some measure of pressure with the taliban and trying to see a settlement as soon as possible. it'srue w as a year ago if the taliban think we're leaving why should they take part in any process at all and you will have a vacuum and probably a civil war. trying to give your best shot to making this work by having some leverage seems to me is a right good argument. >> charlie: here's at intrigues me is the president's mind. what's happened between the 2009 assessment, that long drawn out assessment that everybody who participated said was very interesting and very productive for them. what's happening between then and now. >> it happens joe and i were with him, i was struck and joe was too.
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he really didn't have ownership of the strategy. he was sending young men and women off to war without i felt really having his arms around it. and i've sensed in this decision that this president's become commander in chief. this is the president hu took a gutsy position to take out osama bin laden and i think that changes you. >> charlie: the commander in chief changes you in what way? >> well, what he's deciding is i'm going to make up my own mind despite what the generals are telling me and general petraeus is an aggressive arguer. he's deciding what i think work is counterterrorism and i'm going to have the force that supports that and i'm not going to send in the coin force and i'm going to set the policy. richard haass may be upset with me and say you should do it more quickly but i'm the president and this is what i think is
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right. >> he's not going to be too please with me dng it as quickly as he's doing it. >> charlie: the president's saying that? i will remind you in the west point speech the president also made the relationship between economic strength and geo political strength. that was the point made. >> that seems to me the fundamental change in the con text. it's not something going on the ground -- and it's a strategic change. essentially there's a growing consensus that the united states can use the word of the weak is unsustainable fiscal projectory. we've got to look for places to come up with something like $300 billion a year in net savings. one of the obvious places to look is what we're doing militarily and within that afghanistan is the single most obvious place to look because again it's one out of every six or seven dollars. there's a serious part of funds there. if the president would say this is what i want him to do which is clearly not and not
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immediately free up. somewhere between 75 and $90 billion a yr. that gets you almost one quarter to the one third of the way you need to get to. so the strategic, the economic environment, it's not just political it's strategic and ecomic. we've seen it in the republican primaries. we're seek it in both chambers of congrs. i think americans have intervention and what's a growing sense the greatest strategic threat as by the wait the chairman of the joint chiefs the strategic threat is not enough to understand, it's not in china, it's here at home and is policy is -- >> charlie: the thing i always hear is get your house in order, get yr house in order because we want you to continue to exercise significant leadership in the world. >> can we talk a little bit of american politics. >> charlie: yes, please. you're the expert on it by the way. >> this is a fascinating decision because you saw the republican debate last week. there's a considerable kind of
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drift toward being a more peaceable partner. >> charlie: there was a kind of. >> and you know, and i guess that some would say this gave the president the leeway to move in a more mostful direction but the smart mythical move for him would have been to listen to the generals, to take this off the table, to keep a hard line so that he couldn't be attacked from the right in the coming election. you're seeing people like michelle bachman attacking him from the right while others are attacking him from the left. >> he's exactly where he wants toe. i was hearing six months ago from thehitehouse there's nothg in it for us to pull troops out and the public doesn't care that much about afghanistan. well they do now. i mean i think in part because of what richard rightly says, there's growing concern. we've got to get our house in order. there is a bipartisan movement to reexamine this. the president's trying to straddle tha >> charlie: thank you, thank you, thank you. we'll be back in a moment.
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stay with us. at the start of world war ii franklin roosevelselected william donovan to head the office of strategic services. in this role dawn vaugh lead operations to steal secretes and spy on our war time allies. along the way he easterned force loyalty and collected not a few enemies including fbi director j. edgar hoover. this is a book called wild billion donovan, the spy master who created the oss in modern american espionage. joining me is the book's author douglas waller, he's a defense analyst from bloomberg government. and he began his ceer working for donovan during his ambassadorship to thailand. i'm pleased to have both of them at this table. welcome. good to have you back. so where did the idea to write this come from? >> >> i've always been interested
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in historical figures and glossed over by other historians who are very controversial in what they did. in the case of wild bill donovan, people either loved him or hated him. very f people -- he as you say headed up the strategic office. he was franklin roosevelt top spy master and he was introducing the united states into a form of warfare, covert warfare, espionage, propaganda, psychological operations. things that conventional admirals and generals found deeply disturbing and found his id is deeply disturbing and he was a, he had a personnity that didn't take no for an advance and look at a convention admiral who would say you can't do that and runs around to gets it done which doesn't eastern you any friends. >> charlie: at the end he has a relationship with roosevelt
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and when he died it essentially began to change. >> it did. it s a complicated relationship with franklin roosevel franklin roosevelt was a complicated man, and he kept secrets from, you know, the rest of his staff and he didn't let donovan in on everything he was doing. but he liked donovan, he liked the fact he was a spark plug for ideas and thought outside the box. donovan never had that kind of relationship with harry truman. there was just bad chemmary between them, they were never going to get along. >> charlie: how did you come to know him. >> i was a young lawyer in his law firm, it was a great law firm and when i was working as a young associate should in the library, and the general came in around midnight and he said to me young man, i'm debating tomorrow whether or not the demoatic party has been good for the country in the last few years. and donavan was a conservative republican with the young man
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says i'm a democratic and i'll tell you what he's going to say. we worked that night together and went to the debate together and i stayed with him essentially for the rest of his life. >> charlie: how long was that. >> six years. >> charlie: who washe man you knew. what was he like. >> the donovan that i knew? well, i was 22 and he was 70. so we begin with a relationship that way. he was, despite the nickname of wild bill donovan, he was not a wild person in the sense of personality, he was soft spoken very handsome man. he spoke with a gravity to command attention. he had the irish attitude. i saw it in robert kennedy too, of commanding loyalty without demanding loyalty. he was a man who cared deeply
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for those who worked with him. he was very imaginative. he hit the world running. i what people have to understand he was the greatest military hero in the united states. he won every medal this country ever gated. he was not a professional soldier. he love the fighting in world war i. i remember going to the program with him on the way to ban caulk and he said bill you better be careful i'm not sure this is a safe job my three aids in world war i was killed at my side. one was joice kill maria and one was oliver aims. but he was a fearless man. courage was his bi-word. intrepid i think it was perfect and he had a political skill. he was not a success in that kind of politics but he had the skill of governance. roosevelt, he had a good personal relationship but he was a republican.
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he was theatre roosevelt republican and he had great friends in henry stimson and frankie knox people like that. he was part of the network although irish catholics in wall street as lawyerin the years of the 30's were very unusual running great law firms. he did that. he had a reputation as great soldier, as a great lawyer, as a fearless man. >> charlie: he wanted tune attorney general. >> that was his early goal and he thought herbert hoover promised him. that was late 1920's, very powerful political organization in the country. up in arms over the idea of the cat lick becoming attorney general of the united states. donovan also made a share of
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enemies in washington too. he was a prominent republican and senate democrats, a number of them vowed to fight his nomination too. so hoover pulled back on that nomination. donovan never forgave him for renegi on that t the day he died. he was angry at herbert hoover for that. >> that was the first time he was offered the ambassador of france. hoover offered it to him and einhower offered it to him and he rejected it both times. >> charlie: when he went to set up and deal with this, how did he go about it? what was the guiding sort of philosophy. >> donovan liked to say he started from minus zero. >> charlie: 18 people in u.s. intelligence. >> very very small number. there was a small number in army intelligence doing foreign intelligence work in the navy. they were largely dumping grounds for poor performing officers. roosevelt didn't really have any good eyes and ears over seas and that worried him deeply.
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donovan began really with just one guy himself and he was like in the beginning he was like a player in a pick up basketball game looking for erations and agents anywhere he could. so for example the phillips lamp company made lps sold them overeas. donovan arranged secretly with the phillips lamp company when the salesmen went over seas, they would ship him any important intelligence information they picked up on the sales call. east monaco dact company, in -- eastman kodak company, they had thousands around the country. donovan arranged for the camera clubs that tourists had taken of site over seas. until he built up his agent force this is the way he kind of began intelligence operations. he learned on the job. eventually he had a force of over 10,000 spies, covert operatives, research analysts,
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mmandos. >> charlie: did he have a philosophy about who ought to be hired as an agent. >> well he talked an awful lot about, you know, this was his league of gentleman. he had 4500 women on his force too. >> charlie: including julia child. >> including julia child. he wanted the brightest from the best family. i can teach anybody the dark arts as long as they come from a fine up standing family. he hired a lot of people who knew the dark arts ahead of time, forgers, breaking artists, a few mafia clubs in cicely. >> he wasn't afraid how far people doing different. he wasn't afraid that you disagreed with him. he welcomed your ideas. he confronted you, he talked to you. it wasn extraordinary qualit inn't man that reached the highest altitudes. >> charlie: when you had the opportunity you did, did he reflect on his previous life.
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>> i lived essentially with him in the last six years of his life. so in bangkok for example, we had diner together almost every night. we would talk andtravel together. he was a self-appointed ambassador for southeast asia. he would go to meet -- >> charlie: and you would accompany him on these trips. >> i would take the notes. >> charlie: in the meeting. >> yes. i was always -- he was very -- >> charlie: how do you measure what influence he had on you? . >> influence on me? >> charlie: on you. >> enormous. >> charlie: how would you characterize it. >> i would characterize it that sense that he opened up a life to me of opportunity and public service. he underlined what patriotism was. he bieved that his highest calling was public servant.
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he made a living as a lawyer, but at the same time he said that you had to end your life by understanding that you had paid obligatis to your country. and that definition of public service meant a tremendous amount to me and although we were very different politically, he wasn't a new dealer but i'll tell you what he was with roosevelt. he understood the forei policy of franklin roosevelt. he was against colonialism. he understood what was happening in the world. he saw the foes of nationalism taking control in asia. and he was so strongly set against the forces tt surrounded th state department who didn't understand that. and you know for example it was offered in france which would have been nice. he wouldn't even think of it. when he was offered thailand, he took it in a second. >> charlie: because. >> he saw that's where the
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struggle was. >> charlie: what was his biggest achievement in world war ii? >> the fact he set up this organization was a huge achievement. keep in mind the u.s. army had to build up his organization to get into the fight. the fact that he set up this unconventional organization and set up a spy agency that americans weren't used to, it was remarkable. he had very good separations before north africa invasion in november 1942, extensive operations in cicely ask and italy. br the normedy invasion he was ovided an awful lot of
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information. he hadommandos, they called them operation commandos parachute in, after the training site in scotland where they trained at came in and fought with the french resistance. in asia his men operated in burma and china. interestingly douglas mcarthur wouldn't allow donovan and his people in southwest pacific theatre. >> charlie: because? >> they didn't think they had any use for the oss and those spies. >> charlie: he gave up the plan to assassinate can -- >> well, he did. toward the end of the war, he was presented with one idea called the crease project of sending out basically hit squads or death squads to capture and assassinate top nazis and hitler was on the list. he was willing to try most anything bause -- paused on this one and said it doe't look good. he wanted to capture the top
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nazis, hitler if they could and put them on trial. so he backed off on th particular plan. but throughout the war, he was awk -- obsessed with adolph hier. he had psychologic studies done. he told his rechurch men i want to know what hitler' thinking before he thinks it. >> he spent a lot of time with goring in preparation and was fascinated by the days he went with goring. one thing he said to me on many occasions was the danger of cia or quo vert operations in a democracy. he said it is incumbent upon the congress to be very stern with itself so that it monitors the relations of the covert agency, the oss or the cia so that the american people can be confident that the power that's being exercised in their name is being exercised as a democratic see. >> charlie: it was a professional oversight with the oss and cia. he wanted to be the cia
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director. >> he did. >> charlie: he didn't get the appointment from truman or eisenhower. >> no, that's true. and the relationship that he had with hoover what was the problem? >> i think hoover saw the oss invading his territory. and he had carved out -- when you read doug's excellent book, you usually are appalled how far hoover went to destroy one. i how much the american people reads it because i think it's a very important lesson in democratic see. >> hver thought donovan's over assessment of amateurs and in the beginning it was a collection of amateurs. hoover spied on donovan's oss reporting to him. dawn man spied on hoover's fbi. he had moles in hoover's fbi portg to him. i wonder when they had time
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spying on others when they were spying on each other. >> donovan was appointed as -- >> he was. >> charlie: how old was donovan when he died. >> 76. he died very tragically too. in fact ambassador was at his side when he died. he side of arteriosclerotic atrophy of the brain. it's a very severe form of dimension and the brain shrinks in size. severe form of alzheimer's. he was at walter reed army medical ceer for the last 18 months of his life. in his lucid moments he would tell people this is a hell of a way to die. >> when he did die, eisenhower said ameri's last hero is dead. >> charlie: did you feel what, you feel he lost a friend, a mentor. was he a father figure for you. >> yes, there was no question about that. it was an extraordinary time because roosevelt fought with
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him. the soiers were fighting in the first world war. those who were sighting by hi side came to see him and would talk to me during all those hours. so i really ha a whole new picture of donovan as the soldier at the site of father duffy and winning the congress must not of -- and to see intelligence for warfare and go to the spanish civil war to the art in each open yeah and would follow what the germs were doing so he was on roosevelt's side. so those years were very useful to me to get a fuller picture of the general. >> charlie: finally, how was your fdr project coming. >> oh, thank you. it's extraordinary. we're halfway through the construction. it's going to be completed in september 20 -- >> charlie: you got all the money you need. >> not all. $68 million and only 6 million
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to go. >> charlie: congratulations. good to have you. >> thank you. >> charlie: a book called the spy master who created the oss and modern american espionage. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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