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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  November 9, 2018 4:30am-5:00am GMT

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through the southern border of the us, from seeking asylum. the president is expected to sign the regulation on friday, claiming he can restrict illegal immigration in the national interest. civil liberties groups say the move is illegal and will be challenged in court. the gunman who killed 12 people in a bar north—west of los angeles has been identified as a former marine, who'd served in afghanistan. it's believed ian david long had been suffering mental health problems. he used a legally—owned handgun, with an illegally—extended magazine. two major wildfires are burning out of control in california forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes. at least 72 square kilometers have burned in an area north of sacramento and strong winds are fanning the flames of a blaze in the south of the state in ventura county. now on bbc news, sarah montague speaks to general stanley mcchrystal, former commander of us forces in afghanistan, on hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk.
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i'm sarah montegue. the us mid—term elections were a mixed picture for president trump. democrats took control of the house of representatives and that will allow them to block the president's legislative agenda. as a leader, donald trump has been accused of dividing the country and now congress is split. my guest today is one of america's best—known and celebrated military leaders. general stanley mcchrystal oversaw the american war efforts in iraq and afghanistan. since leaving the military he has studied and taught the principles that make good leaders effective. so what kind of leadership does he think the united states needs now? general stanley mcchrystal,
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welcome to hardtalk. thanks for having me. divided country, now divided congress. what would you advise your commander—in—chief to do given the situation that faces him? well, i think, if the short term view was winning the 2016 election and then another short—term view was trying to hold on to what he had in the 2018 elections, i think right now he needs to take a long—term view and a long—term view means he has to think, not about his legacy, but about american values, about america's sustainability as a working democracy. i think that means you've got to bring people together. i think that means you've got to have get america to have a national conversation on leadership,
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because we have a crisis of leadership right now and, if we do not fix it, we're going to be in trouble. do you see him doing that? not a glimmer yet and i actually do not see enough leaders in america from either side — there is a little bit of rhetoric about it — but actually acting in that way, and i think it is time. ok, but you talk about a crisis in leadership, why? well, i think that we've got a number of activities. one we have incentivised individuals behaviour in politicians because parties are weaker and politicians can push their own personal agenda and well—being. i think we've also incentivised very extreme on the left and right. we pull at people's emotions. we use fear. we use those things which excite people to generate support and excitement. at the end of the day, you have got to move to the middle because a working democracy depends upon an informed and an electorate that is engaged and willing to compromise. you have written about leaders, your latest book, leaders: myth and reality.
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would you describe president trump as a successful leader? it would be impossible to argue that he has not been successful by his metrics. he has been elected president of the united states, he has gathered power within his party, he has been able to push a number of items in his agenda. so he has been effective at doing that. he has been successful by a certain set of metrics. i do not believe that those are the metrics or the goals that are best for the united states, but you cannot argue that he has had success. has he been a good leader? you would say, what, no? well, if you say, again, it's effective or not — that is one measure, good or bad. i do not believe he has been the leader america needs. i think the leader america needs really comes from inside americans. we need to look in the mirror, we need to decide who each of us are then we need to decide what our nation is. what is our character?
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what are our values? how do we want to be viewed in the world? what do we want to leave for our grandchildren? we need to make those decisions and then we need to decide what a leader should be, and then, from that, you can go who our leader should be. ok but you will know that there are millions of people who recognise donald trump for the leader that they feel they have not had. there has been a frustration with the failure of, i would use the word, "elites", in american politics for probably decades. almost since the end of the second world war. the vietnam war, the financial crisis — there is a large part of american electorate that feels left behind economically, feels threatened socially and culturally and feels helpless politically. and they have a point, it is an absolutely legitimate view. as a friend of mine once said, though, he thinks donald trump is the wrong answer to the right question and i think that is true. i think it is fair to question our political system. it is fair to question the direction we were going.
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ijust think that, in this particular case, we followed someone who is more populist than a long—term leader for the country. let's look at one of his policies and his approaches in the run—up to the election, whic hwas the way that he is dealing with the thousands of people coming through central america up to the united states, the "caravan", as it is called. he has referred to it as an invasion, is it? in my view, no. because, as a military man, an invasion represents something different? well, it creates a mental image. when we think of an invasion with think of a column of russian tanks going along a highway, to crush our lines or to take over the country. that is the image that people get and it brings a certain emotion or willingness for certain actions. nations must control their borders. actually, the unites stated of america, like any nation, should control our borders.
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nobody should be able to cross our borders without our permission and agreement. it is hard to do but that should be the goal —period. that said, nations should be compassionate. we should have effective immigration laws. when you see a column of people that's made up of women, children and young men want to get across to avoid danger in guatemala and honduras, it is hard to consider them invaders. ok, now ,you've talked about the importance of a nation should be able to control its borders. president trump has sent thousands or will ultimately send, he says, 15,000 us soldiers to the border to control it. i don't think it's the move that i would recommend. i think it also plays to emotion. i actually think it was designed to go before the mid—term elections to meet with the idea of invasion of this caravan, but it actually should be viewed separate from should we control our border?
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i think that should not be a debate, that is something that we, as a nation, should do. but when you send a bunch of troops down to the border — and there are some legal limitations at what they can do — you need to make sure that you explain to the american people that this is not a classic invasion and our soldiers are not going to man the ramparts and shoot the invaders because that is inaccurate. except we know that president trump has said, "i'll tell you this, anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did in mexico, where they badly hurt police and soldiers in mexico, we will consider that a firearm." implicit in that is the idea that they might be shot at. well, i think it would be dramatically tragic to put soldiers in a position where they potentially shoot immigrants moving forward. 0k and that is fascinating, an extraordinary issue, but there are senior military figures, generaljim dubik, who oversaw the effort to build the iraqi army and police — you'll know these figures.
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he said, "the real issue is whether military is being used by partisan, political purposes. it's dangerous because it will politicize the use of force in ways that democracy should avoid." now, he said that actuallyjust about the sending of the troops. and he's right? i thinkjim dubik is right. i think that we have used military force for political reasons, you know, as far back in history as you can record it. that said, it does not make it right, particularly for a symbol like this for internal domestic politics. i am critical of this move but what i want to make sure we do not do is we don't then say, "well, we should not control our borders". of course, we should. we need to make sure that is clear. sometimes we get around the political rhetoric and we forget it. can you imagine the image that would come up
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if immigrants came forward and it we used physical force against them? i mean, what it would do to the united states reputation in the world, to the morality of the soldiers put in that position is unconscionable. you have said, you've written, that what you had said to your own troops in situations like in iraq and afghanistan, "if when you get on the ground, the order we gave you is wrong, execute the order we should have given you." if you were in a situation where you were controlling troops on the mexican border, would you effectively defy the president's order? all soldiers have a responsibility not to obey any illegal orders and i would consider shooting innocent civilians an illegal order. there are rules of engagement put out. if an order is not illegal but is just not very smart, leaders have a responsibility to contest that order, go back up the chain of command and say, this does not make sense, but they do not then have the right to not follow that order if theyjust disagree with policy. right, but we have already seen that, haven't we, at least certainly from relatively senior figures that we hear of in the white house. we know from bob woodward's book that white house aids have been
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thwarting presidential orders. we know that someone also you know well, secretary of state generaljim mattis, according to bob woodward, when there was a chemical attack believed to be by the syrian leader and president trump said, "let's kill him, let's go in, let's kill the lot of them," general mattis is reporters as saying, once he's hung up the phone, "we're not going to do any of that, we're going to be much more measured." i do not know any more about it than what's written there. but that is the right approach, is it? well, if it is illegal you have responsibility not to do it. if it is bad policy and you disagree with it, you should argue with it, you should make a counter claim. if you cannot live with it, you should resign. if you just find that you think it is not a good idea. but the military cannot have the decision whether or not to implement the orders of the civilian leadership of the government. the civilian leadership must
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control the military so the military does not pick and choose what it wants to do. the military must follow legal orders because if it does not, then suddenly we end up in a strange situation where the military actually considers itself a leadership of the country and that is not the american constitution. your experienced, when you were leading operations laterally in afghanistan and, prior to that in iraq, you experienced what you call "an unfortunate deficit of trust between the white house and the department of defence". and this was over the time there was talk about sending more troops, a surge of troops, to afghanistan. you said of it that that loss of trust or that absence of trust, that the effects were costly. in what, in lives? well, it is hard to put a metric on it but the reality is it makes everything harder and therefore potentially costly in terms of lives, because what happened was, with the new arrival of the 0bama administration in january of 2009,
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there was some misunderstanding. there were requests from the troops that were tabled right after the 0bama team took office, and they naturally recoiled at the request. i was in the pentagon at the time. that request had been around for several months and the pentagon had not put it forward because they do not want to do it before the election. they thought it would be unfair to a new president to make a decision like that before the election. with the result that they put it right after the new team comes in. it felt an awful lot to the white house team like a powerplay. a brand—new administration comes in and the department of defence asks for more troops. it was not that, in my view, and i was in a place to see from the pentagon. but it started this mistrust, that built up over the months and,
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the sad thing is, it was good people on both sides trying to do the right thing, but when that mistrust builds up, it is hard to bridge that gap. were you aware of both sides at the time or is itjust with hindsight that you've came to the understanding? i was aware and others that the mistrust was building. i have a better perspective on it now but you could feel it and you actually could have sympathy from both sides. "hey, we're just trying to do our job, do what we think is done." this was, of course, in afghanistan so one of the metrics must be lives. well, live, success in the mission, they are always tied together. let's talk about the success of the mission but, before we do, you have written about afghanistan. you were actually in control for a year. prior to that you were much longer in iraq. and yet you've said of afghnistan that the mission affected you in a way that iraq did not. you developed strong feelings for the afghans and their nation. why? the afghans are a people that really can endear themselves. i mean, they have had a very difficult 30 plus years, if you go back to the mid—70s. and when you actually get close to afghans, you see people who have been subject to civil war, subject to invasion from the soviet union,
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subject to pakistani operations inside their country. they have tried to put their society back together but it is really hard. are there people who are corrupt? is there inefficient government? all that is true but you actually watch soldiers die for their country, policemen, men, guardpost. you watch politicians try to make it work and, up close, it is much more sympathetic than it looks from afar. and yet, here we are, 2018, 17 years after the united states removed the taliban regime and, according to a us congressional agency, the taliban controls more territory now than at any point since they were removed all that time ago. and the levels of deaths are 20,000 this year of civilians and combatants on all sides — again, a record high. afghanistan has been a failure
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for the united states, as well as for afghanistan, hasn't it? well, you can't claim it's a roaring success, i'm not going to stand here and tell you that, it's been very frustrating, but if you go back to 2001 and the taliban regime prior to that, the number of females in school now for the last 17 years has skyrocketed. there's a young generation of males as well. there have been opportunities that have been created amidst all the problems, that i think has changed the underlying foundation of what afghanistan is. i don't think the future looks like the past. i don't think very many people want to go back to a pre—9/11 afghan taliban run regime, and then the taliban has changed itself. so what, even though there are all these attempts at talking and bringing the taliban back in, into government, you don't see that as a backward step? well, i see it as a challenge. i am telling you that afghanistan is an extraordinarily difficult challenge, and i'm probably biased but i will tell you i don't see it as something that we should just
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automatically walk away from, because i think the afghan people deserve better. and do you think that that at the moment is the intention, that the united states and others basically want a way out? i think there's an awful lot of people who would like a way out, and i think that causes the afghans to have tremendous apprehension. remember after the defeat of the soviets in 1989, the united states and others basically turned our back on afghanistan. we said ok, problem solved, soviets are out, and yet the afghans had lost 1.2 million people fighting against the soviets, and in their minds, they had fought our cold war enemy as our surrogates. we'd given some arms and money, but then we disengaged. 0k, and yet you have somebody like the former british ambassador to kabul, sherard cowper—coles, who said "what we're doing essentially is cultivating an allotment in the jungle. the question is what happens when the gardeners..." i mean, do you — "when the gardeners
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leave" to finish the quote. do you sympathise with that because actually you're sounding sentimental about it, when the reality is that, practically, what difference can the united states make? again, i am sentimental about it. i know the ambassador could make a hard—core business decision, we don't invest good money after bad, we do that stuff. get up close to the afghan people, turn your back and say ok, we're outta here, we don't care now. i'm not for thousands of troops there, i'm not for billions of dollars, i think we've got to get a negotiated settlement, but we also have got to be compassionate about how we think about the world, and if we do walk away and the taliban regime takes over and al qaeda is invited back, then we have a political problem that goes back to the pre—9/11 problem, and that puts politicians in a difficult position. 0k, well, let's turn to a parallel story of american intervention, that in iraq, where you were, for years, in control. you ran us and isaf forces in afghanistan just for a year but you had made your name in iraq, and it was commanding the special forces operations there.
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a unit which was — has been described as "a killing machine", is that — is that really what it was? it became an organisation focused on al qaeda in iraq, we became very effective at going after what's called high—value targets and taking out al qaeda in iraq leaders, and it was a necessary part of decreasing the capability of what was a growing terrorist network, and it was really lethal in thatjob. 0k, and you often personally accompanied the teams at night. idid. why? whenever people are doing a job that's dirty and dangerous and complex, one, leaders have gotta go out so they can put their own eyes on it, you've got to know what is happening on the ground, you've got to have an appreciation for the reality of what is occuring there or you can't make decisions about it. when you try to do something
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from miles away, you've very little appreciation for the nuances of it. that's one part. the other part is when they're going out, and the same professionals are doing it year after year, you've got to share a bit of the hardship and danger with them. they've got to know that you are willing to put yourself on the line, that you're not worth more than they are. and the things that went wrong in the early years, abu ghraib, of course, but also there were others, camp nama and balad, where there were reports of the mistreatment. yeah. and you've been very open about the fact that, you said "we didn't really know what we were doing." right. i mean, did you — were you too slow getting a grip on that? i was as fast as i knew how to be for the part i was. i wasn't involved in abu ghraib at all, nor was my organisation. we came into it with none of the trained people, none of the trained interrogators, none of the trained interpreters, none of the infrastructure, and nobody had had experience in doing this before because the us army thought about in terms of prisoners
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of war in a world war two kind of construct. this was a case where we had terrorists and we were trying to figure out what us policy and what military execution of that policy would be for dealing with them. we didn't do it very well, i mean the reality is... did you get useful information? because you'll know that president trump has spoken approvingly of some form of enhanced interrogation. yeah. we got tremendous, useful information, but i would never be in favour of enhanced interrogation or torture, because in the long run, it corrodes your force, it degrades your moral capacity. we got our best information from extended conversations with detainees. we had one detainee that ultimately led us to abu musab al—zarqawi. we had him for 50 days, we interrogated him with a man and a woman interrogation team every day. not pressure interrogation, conversation building up rapport, and that's what actually works.
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and you're talking about a man there, abu musab al—zarqawi, who you oversaw the killing of. he features in your book on leaders. yeah, right. i mean it's — a lot of people would be somewhat bemused by almost the relationship you have with him. yeah. well, it's the right term. zarqawi grew up in a tough industrial town in jordan, he became more enthusiastic about fundamental islam, went to afghanistan, wanted to become a jihadi, came back, got thrown in prison, and then became a hard—core leader, not just a terrorist leader but a leader. he became a zealot, he became somebody who burned white hot with belief. and we have a situation where you, writing about leaders, i wonder if you were looking at your — appraising your own role and self there. well, you always have to look in the mirror. when i looked at zarqawi, the thing about him in iraq was he was a psychopath, he personally beheaded people,
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he killed thousands of innocent iraqis, but he was an effective leader. i could disagree with him completely, but he was a charismatic leader. were you an effective leader? i think so. despite the fact that, ultimately, you were in a position where you had to leave because of comments made in front of a rolling stone magazine journalist? yeah. i'm not a perfect leader. i'm not without flaws and i made big mistakes, and i'll probably make big mistakes again, but the reality is an effective leader is someone who interacts with their followers in a way to produce the kind of outcome that is sustainable over the long—term. now, you were in such an important position over iraq and afghanistan. when you look back at it, do you see it as a form of arrogance perhaps that america thought that it could impose its form of democracy somewhere like an iraq, and particularly when you look at the situation there now? i think the invasion of iraq was a mistake. i'm not sure i'd use the word arrogance because the people
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that i knew that were involved in advocating for that, i never saw arrogance, what i saw was almost a blindness, an inability to see a more nuanced picture, a desire through whatever you want to call it, idealism, to come in and bring democracy to an area where that was unlikely to stick easily. and if you knock down the regime of somebody like saddam hussein, if you look at all the pieces in the region, iran and all the other players, it was hard to see how suddenly removing that regime was going to stabilise the region. that information was there and we didn't do due diligence, but i will tell you i never saw anybody trying to do things for what i consider bad intentions or wilful dishonesty, but i did see some bad decisions. i think afghanistan is easy to criticise in its execution, i don't think it's as easy to criticise in its intent. general stanley mcchrystal, thank you for coming on hardtalk.
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thank you. appreciate it, yeah. batten down the hatches, rain and gales on the way. initially, western parts of the uk. we already have had some rain and some stronger winds across some western areas. this was the weather front that went through during the course of thursday. this next wether system is rushing in and that really is going to bring some very poor weather to northern ireland, scotland the irish sea coast, wales and down into south—western england as well. through the early hours we still have the rain across some western areas, that's the left over from what we had on thursday, actually. this next weather system here —
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that's piling in. some very strong winds with this weather front. before that arrives, actually a bit of a calm for some of us. in fact, starting off fairly bright across many central and eastern areas of the uk. here's friday morning, as this weather system aproaches, a lot of isobars here, these white lines, pressure lines, that indicates strong winds and those winds can be quite destructive. heavy rain and gales are expected across western and south—western parts of the country. also central and southern england will be feeling the effects of this weather system. so let's get the forecast then from friday morning onwards, initially the weather is actually not too bad across central and eastern areas, even the south coast will have some sunshine. in fact, it could be a bright, if not sunny, start but then very quickly the weather will go downhill by the time we get to the middle part of the afternoon. the south—west of england, wales, northern ireland, the irish sea here, gale force winds and some very heavy rain. let's zoom into this area.
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this is what it looks like at three o'clock. the dark blues obviously indicate the very heavy rain. within this band of rain some very strong gusts of winds, could be in excess of 60 miles per hour in some coasts. that's also strong enough to cause some disruption and damage to trees potentially. and very windy a little bit further towards the east as well. so even if you do not get the rain, those winds really will be picking up. friday night into saturday, that band of wind and rain sweeps right across the country. the worst will be in the west. as that band of rain moves towards the east it will tend to ease. by the time we get to saturday morning, it is out of the way and we are left with a day of sunshine and showers. still quite a breezy day but nowhere near as windy but relatively mild. mild south—westerly winds so highs up to around 1a degrees or so. here's remembrance day, sunday. we have sunshine and showers on the cards. some of the showers will be heavy but many of us should have a decent day too.
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that's it from me. bye— bye. this is the briefing, i'm victoria fritz. our top story: us authorities announce they'll block asylum claims by people who enter the country illegally. civil liberties groups say the move is illegal. a vigil to remember the 12 people killed in a shooting outside los angeles. california's governor says america must change. with concerns about rising anti—semitism across europe, we report from germany on the 80th anniversary of kristallnacht. and the mozart of chess, magnus carlsen, teaches schoolchildren a move or two as he prepares to defend his world title in london. in business, a fairytale quarter for disney as the movie studios work their magic. but are its plans about to become a nightmare for netflix?
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