tv In the Arena CNN June 22, 2011 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
accomplished though yet. >> certainly not in those words. he can't say that because otherwise he would have to explain why he's going to keep as of next summer 68,000 troops there. no, he can't. he can say the surge has worked. we're on our way. we're on the right trajectory. >> this is a moment that a lot of people have been waiting for and none more so than the u.s. military personnel, men and women in afghanistan and their families back here in the united states. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. we're standing by to go to the white house. the president of the united states is going to be delivering what we expect to be about a ten-minute address to the nation on a scheduled drawdown of u.s. troops in afghanistan. gloria borger is with us as well. gloria, as the president prepares for this, the stakes not only for the men and women serving in afghanistan but for u.s. taxpayers, for the u.s. strategic position in that part of the world, enormous right now. >> it is. i don't think we can say this decision was made on one
particular reason. when you look at the entire environment and you look at the economy, you look at the political pressures, you look at the cost of the war, you look at the debt that we're facing, it's clear that this is a president who gambled on a surge back in december 2009 and now he's going to come out and say the surge has worked. from talking to people at the white house, they're going to say this is a president who told you what he was going to do and then he did it and he certainly had a degree of success at it. >> they've been working very, very hard on this speech. the president and all his top national security advisers. they've gone through it on multiple occasions over the past few days. the president made that final decision on a troop withdrawal of 10,000 u.s. troops and all of the remaining u.s. surge troops by september of next year. the president will be walking into the east room of the white house. there you see him right now.
he will be addressing the nation indeed. he'll be addressing the world. let's listen into the president right now. >> good evening. nearly ten years ago america suffered the worst attack on our shores since pearl harbor. this mass murder was planned by osama bin laden. and his al qaeda network in afghanistan and signaled a new threat to our security. one in which the targets were no longer soldiers on a battlefield but innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives. in the days that followed, our nation was united as we struck at al qaeda and routed the taliban in afghanistan. then our focus shifted. a second war was launched in iraq. we spent enormous blood and treasure to support a new government there. by the time i took office, the war in afghanistan had entered its seventh year but al qaeda's
leaders had escaped into pakistan and were plotting new attacks. while the taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive. without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al qaeda and a taliban taking over large parts of afghanistan. for this reason and one of the most difficult decisions that i've made as president, i ordered an additional 30,000 american troops into afghanistan. when i announced this surge at west point, we set clear objectives. to refocus on al qaeda, to reverse the taliban's momentum, and train afghan security forces to defend their own country. i also made it clear that our commitment would not be open ended and that we would begin to drawdown our forces this july. tonight i can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. thanks to our extraordinary men and women in uniform. our civilian personnel and our
many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. as a result, starting next month we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from afghanistan by the end of this year. we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer. fully recovering the surge i announced at west point. after this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as afghan security forces move into the lead. our mission will change from combat to support. by 2014, this process of transition will be complete and the afghan people will be responsible for their own security. we're starting this drawdown from position of strength. al qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. together with pakistanis we have taken out more than half of al qaeda's leadership. and thanks to our intelligence professionals and special
forces, we killed osama bin laden. the only leader that al qaeda had ever known. this was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. one soldier summed it up well. the message he said is we don't forget. you will be held accountable no matter how long it takes. the information that we recovered from bin laden's compound shows al qaeda under enormous strain. bin laden expressed concern that al qaeda had been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that had been killed and that al qaeda has failed in its effort to portray america as a nation at war with islam thereby training more widespread support. al qaeda remains dangerous and we must be vigilant against attacks. but we have put al qaeda on a path to defeat and we will not relent until the job is done. in afghanistan, we've inflicted serious losses on the taliban and taken a number of its strong holds. along with our surge, our allies
also increased their commitments which helped stabilize more of the country. afghan security forces have grown by over 100,000 troops and in some provinces and municipalities we've transferred responsible for security to the afghan people. in the face of violence and intimidation, afghans are fighting and dying for their country establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating new opportunities for women and girls and trying to turn the page on decades of war. of course, huge challenges remain. 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 the gains that we've made while we drawdown our forces and transition responsibility for security to the afghan government. next may in chicago, we'll 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 is known so much war without a political settlement. so as we strengthen 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 government 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 have 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 our allies. we won't try to make afghanistan a perfect place. we will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely.
that is the responsibility of the afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people and move from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace. what we can do and will do is build a partnership with the afghan people that endures. one that ensures that we'll be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign afghan government. of course, our efforts must also address terrorists safe havens in pakistan. no country is more endangered by the presence of violence extremist which is why we'll secure a more peaceful future for this war-torn region and root out the cancer of violent extremism and we'll insist that it keeps its commitments. for there should be no doubt that so long as i am president, the united states will never tolerate a safe haven for those
who aim to kill us. they cannot allude us nor escape the justice they deserve. my fellow americans, this has been a difficult decade for our country. we've learned the cost of war and the cost that's been paid by the nearly 4,500 americans who have given their lives in iraq and over 1,500 who have done so in afghanistan. men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defended. thousands more have been wounded. some have lost limbs on the battlefield and others still battle the demons that have followed them home. yet tonight we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding. fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm's way. we've ended our combat mission in iraq with 100,000 american troops already out of that country. and even as there will be dark days ahead in afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be
seen in the distance. these long wars will come to a responsible end. as they do, we must learn their lessons. 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 real threats that we face. others would have america overextended and confronting every evil that can be found abroad. we must chart a more centered course by generations before we must embrace america's singular role in the course of human events, but we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate. as strategic as we are resolute. when threatened, we must respond with force, but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. when innocents are slaughtered,
we don't have to choose standing by or acting on our own. instead, we must rally international action, which we're doing in libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground but our supporting allies in protecting the libyan people. in all that we do, we must remember that what sets america apart is not solely our power, it is the principles upon which our union was founded. we're a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law and respecting the rights of all our citizens. we protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others. we stand not for empire but for self-determination. that is why we have a stake in the democratic aspirations that are now washing across the arab world. we will support those revolutions with fidelity to our ideals with the power of our
example and with an unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity. above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens here at home. 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 sources of energy and most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. for our nation draws strength from our differences and when our union is strong, no hill is too steep. no horizon is beyond our reach.
america, it is time to focus on nation building here at home. in this effort, we draw inspiration from our fellow americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. to our troops, our veterans, and their families, i speak for all americans when i say that we will keep our sacred trust with you and provide you with care, benefits and opportunity that you deserve. i met some of these patriotic americans at ft. campbell. a while back i spoke to the 101st airborne that fought to turn the tide in afghanistan. and to the team that took out osama bin laden. standing in front of a model of bin laden's compound, the navy s.e.a.l. who led that effort paid tribute to those who had been lost. brothers and sisters in arms whose names are now written on bases where our troops stand guard overseas and on headstones
in quiet corners of our country where their memory will never be forgotten. this officer, like so many others i've met on bases in baghdad and bagram and walter reed, spoke about how his unit worked together as won depending on each other, entrusting one another as a family might do in a time of peril. that's a lesson worth remembering. we are all a part of one american family. we have known disagreement and division and we're bound together by the creed that's written into our founding documents and a conviction that the united states of america is a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish. now, let us finish the work at hand. let us responsibly end these wars and reclaim the american dream that is at the center of our story. with confidence in our cause, with faith in our fellow
citizens, and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of america for this generation and the next. may god bless our troops and may god bless the united states of america. >> a short but upbeat speech by the president of the united states suggesting that things are definitely moving in the right direction in afghanistan. we have a lot to digest over the course of this hour, anderson cooper is here. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. >> we're bringing you reaction to the president's speech here in the united states and also around the world as only cnn can. nick paton walsh is in afghanistan and nic robertson is standing by as well as dana bash. let's go to afghanistan. nick, in terms of the impact of this initial -- he's saying
10,000 troops by the end of 2011. 33,000 troops by the summer of 2012. what kind of impact does that have on the ground? >> reporter: i have to say minimal by the end of this year. 10,000 is 7% of the total force here. i'm listening to the tone of that speech. a president trying to sound healing talking about the tide of water ending. that doesn't really tally with the violence we've been seeing here. may the deadliest month for nato soldiers since the campaign began. some reports suggesting violence across the country building year on year, month on month. this speech very much for domestic audience. you have to bear in mind also, he's not talking about bringing a large number of troops home very fast. there is clearly issues here which require two-thirds of that surge to stay on until pretty late in 2012, anderson. i think a lot to digest there as you're saying. >> and in terms of the schedule
of fighting, many in the military wanted the combat forces to remain as long as they can certainly as long as there isn't snow on the ground. the fighting ends when snow is on the ground, correct? >> reporter: absolutely. i mean, 10,000 talked about initially are probably still going to be here until this planting season is over and then we have two-thirds of that surge staying until september next year. september is when most of the violence begins to slow down. october when the snows set in. november really. i think the military getting two more fighting seasons here in which they can try to build on the gains of outgoing secretary of defense robert gates has talked about and i think the hope is that pressure is sustained and they can somehow force the taliban who frankly at the moment doesn't really seem to be that key on serious
negotiations force the taliban to the peace table. >> wolf, we did hear from the president a number of upbeat phrases saying we put al qaeda on a path to defeat. the tide of war is receding. he did talk about the finances that we've spent $1 million in wars and now it's time to refocus on the united states and do nation building here at home. >> he said the u.s. in iraq and afghanistan over the past ten years spent more than $1 trillion fighting those wars and he said now as you say the direct quote i'll read to our viewers "america, it is time to focus on nation building here at home." let's bring in republican senator lindsey graham. senator, thank you very much for coming in. i suspect you liked what you heard from this president. >> not particularly. >> what didn't you like? >> i like the idea that we may have an enduring relationship past 2014 where we have american air bases, joint bases, that can make sure that taliban never come back. >> did you hear him say that all
u.s. troops would be out of afghanistan by the end of 2014? >> here's what i think the story is. petraeus loses and biden wins. i respect the vice president but we have undercut a strategy that was working. the 10,000 troops leaving this year is going to make this fighting season more difficult having all of the surge forces leave by next summer is going to compromise next summer's fighting season. >> there will be 70,000 troops in afghanistan. >> i think we're creating momentum to undercut the counterinsurgency strategy and we're going to counterterrorism strategy too soon. i worry that our allies will follow suit. will they say america is leaving in large numbers by next summer. will they accelerate their footprint in terms of leaving? will republicans say i had a lot of confidence in general petraeus' plan but this adjustment in my view makes general petraeus' original plan harder to achieve and unnecessarily risky and will
they say if we're going to not be successful, lets end it sooner. >> there are only between 15,000 to 25,000 fighters and u.s. troops down to 70,000 by the end of next summer. 40,000 nato troops. there are 300,000 afghan troops and police trained by the united states and nato. how many troops do you need to fight 25,000 taliban fighters? >> lindsey graham is the no the best person to tell you that. general petraeus is. this is the man who i think has earned the respect of all of americans. if his judgment was overruled in a substantial way, i think that's a huge mistake. i'm not a military commander. i'm a military lawyer. i know that senator obama was dead wrong about iraq. i know that senator biden was dead wrong about iraq. what i fear and i'm not sure
that this is going to become a reality, is that because of the war wariness of this country, we have taken a strategy that i had a lot of confidence in and compromised it in a way that i think may have eventually doomed it to fail. >> i want you to listen to what democratic senator joe manchin of west virginia said earlier today. it's relevant in light of what the president said that it's time to focus on nation building in america opposed to nation building in afghanistan. listen to manchin. >> the numbers that i have heard and that i have seen has been given to me. we spent 443 billion to date. we're on track to spend another 485 billion. that's almost a trillion dollars. we can ill afford that type of expenditure and have a country that doesn't have an economy, doesn't have an infrastructure and by all accounts have a corrupt leader. you can't continue down this
road and think you're going to get success. >> he says another half a trillion dollars between now and the end of 2014. is that money well spent by u.s. taxpayers? >> after the russians left afghanistan, the taliban took over. they took women in soccer stadiums and killed them for sport. they invited bin laden as the honored guest and we looked the other way. they blew up statues of buddha figures and hijackers were given less than a million dollars to kill 3,000 americans. how much money have we spent since -- >> you don't think that hamid karzai and his 300 military and police forces are capable of preventing that scenario from recurring? >> i think general petraeus had a strategy of transition that made sense to me. i think the president rejected a modest withdrawal in 2011, that he's accelerated withdrawal in 2011 and '12 that could compromise our ability to
maintain the gains we have fought so hard. afghan security forces are better but not yet able to sustain the fight without our help. nato allies are more likely to leave at a faster pace now. republicans may look at this as a rejection of petraeus and at the end of the day no politician in this country as much as i respect joe biden and president obama has it right in terms of afghanistan. joe manchin is a fine fellow. he's never been to afghanistan. i've been there many times. >> he says he's been there twice. >> i take that back. >> he was there in 2006 and 2011. >> let me tell you, i've been there a lot. i have seen with my own eyes how things have gotten better and i can tell you that if we don't keep the momentum, the fight is in the south. problems in the east. i worry that this accelerated drawdown that general petraeus did not recommend may have consequences of undermining a very successful strategy. i hope i'm wrong. i hope the president is right. >> white house administration officials say that within the range of what general petraeus
was okay with, the president came down within that range. although i suspect that he came down a lot closer to what biden wanted as opposed to what general petraeus wanted. i think you're right on that. they will say that petraeus is on board. we'll hear from him. you'll have a chance to hear his testimony because he's going to be the next cia director. >> lindsey graham doesn't enjoy war. lindsey graham would like everybody to come home as soon as we can. i never want to go back. what we leave behind will be our ultimate judge of our national security. i want to leave behind a functioning national security footprint, afghan troops that can sustain their own security. i'm afraid we may have compromised two fighting seasons at a time when it wasn't necessary and time will tell. i hope i'm wrong. i pray i'm wrong. >> thanks for your service. i know you have served in the u.s. reserves. >> i have done very little. >> let's go back to anderson. >> i want to bring in our team here.
peter bergen from washington and gloria borger and here with me is david gergen. i saw you nod your head when lindsey graham say joe biden won and petraeus lost. >> i think he's right. it was a good speech. he summarized very well what he believes. you know, i thought he was concise and made his points. >> for those not following closely, why is this a joe biden win and petraeus loss in your opinion? >> well, back in 2009 when the president went to west point and announced the surge, that was widely interpreted and understood that joe biden had argued for a small surge and not a big surge of 30,000. and general petraeus and bob gates and secretary clinton all argued for the larger number and they would have gone larger. that was seen as a victory for petraeus. >> larger number which was essential in their opinion for a counterinsurgency program
allowing to move in troops, clear an area and hold that area. >> the taliban who had been giving protection to al qaeda and allowed them sanctuary and brought on 9/11 had the momentum in 2009 and president obama to his credit announced a surge. that surge has worked very well. i think the president deserves a lot of credit for that. it has reversed the momentum. the debate is everyone wants to wind this down but how rapidly to wind it down and there was not only divisions within the administration in which petraeus, gates and clinton were arguing let's do this slowly and let's have two more fighting seasons, this season and next year and joe biden widely reported was arguing for something faster. this is closer to the biden position which is the reason why -- what is this fighting season? you mentioned joe klein earlier tonight. he said the fighting season begins in the spring when they
finish harvesting the opium and this ends in the fall when they need to be harvesting the marijuana. that's the fighting season. >> tells you a lot about afghanistan. peter bergen, what did you make of the president's speech and what impact do you think this troop reduction over time will have? >> i was listening to the speech. we all knew been widely reported what the drawdown was going to be. two bits of news in there that i thought sprang out, one, the information recovered from the bin laden compound indicated that al qaeda was having a lot of problems and recognized that they were having a lot of problems replacing their leadership and were under pressure and secondly they realized that their ability to cast the united states at war with islam is something that was an al qaeda idea not getting much purchase around the muslim world. the final thing that sort of leapt out at me during the speech, our relations with
pakistan have been so imbittered over the last several months and weeks that i think it was important that the president said that half of the top leaders in al qaeda have been killed or captured with the help of the pakistanis which is something the pakistanis will notice and be grateful for and i think it was the right thing to say and accurate thing to say. in terms of the effect that the drawdown of 33,000 will have with 68,000 left, you know, i'm not a military expert. i was talking to people at the white house today. they say there are three things essentially that will continue with the 68,000. first of all, the training of the afghan national army which is our ticket out of there. the very effective special forces operations that have decimated the middle management of the taliban and one of the reasons that they were inclined to negotiate and finally something that's not that well known but i think is quite important in afghanistan is the afghan local police, which is a new program, which is u.s. special forces helping to train tribal militias which has proven
to be something the taliban are very threatened by because militias are recruited and it's the view of the white house officials involved in this review and decision process that 68,000 soldiers will allow three important sort of tactics to move forward without much impact on the overall situation. >> gloria, politically, how do you see this playing out? you can't avoid the political implicati implications. >> it's sort of playing out right now in realtime because we have statements from nancy pelosi who is disappointed in the president. if the president had come out and said i would like to withdrawal all troops from afghanistan, clearly she would be happier. you have statements from someone like john huntsman, republican presidential candidate, who also seems to want a swifter withdrawal from afghanistan. so you see whether you are republican presidential candidate or liberal democrat,
you may not be hopeful with this. i was listening to lindsey graham thinking, you know, he may well be in the minority among his own party because his own party right now is governed by the people who are looking at the deficit, who are looking at the huge debt in this country, and they are like joe manchin. they don't want to spend this money and that's on the republican side. another thing strikes me and this was a little vague. the president talked about our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace through 2014. what does that mean? the secretary of defense gates issued a statement in support of the president but talked about how this gives the commanders enough flexibility to bring the surge to a successful conclusion. well, what is that flexibility? this has been left kind of vague. we don't know what kind of
troops are coming out between 2012 and 2014 and what pace they are going to come out. >> back to wolf in washington. >> we have more to dissect and digest. a huge step in getting u.s. forces to leave afghanistan in significant numbers. chris lawrence is standing by mapping out major challenges ahead and has seen firsthand the afghan people will face when the american troops leave. this...is- a network of possibilities. in here, the planned combination of at&t and t-mobile would deliver our next generation mobile broadband experience to 55 million more americans, many in small towns and rural communities, giving them a new choice. we'll deliver better service, with thousands of new cell sites... for greater access to all the things you want, whenever you want them. it's the at&t network... and what's possible in here is almost impossible to say.
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>> thanks to our extraordinary men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and many coalition forces, we are meeting our goals. as a result starting next month we'll be able to remove 10,000 troops from afghanistan by the end of this year and we'll bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer. fully recovering the surge i announced at west point. >> president obama just a little while ago announcing those marching orders for those 33,000 troops to be out of afghanistan by the end of september 2012.
some 70,000 u.s. troops will remain behind in a troubled country struggling to try to police itself. let's bring in chris lawrence to spent a lot of time in afghanistan over the years. this is not an easy mission by any means. >> no. let's talk end game. the u.s. has to be able to leave an afghanistan in which the people can at least tolerate their government and don't think it's rotten to the core. they also have to have a minimal security force that can at least provide some sort of security to the people. going to afghanistan over multiple times over the last few years, i got a sense firsthand of how difficult just those two things will be. at one outpost i saw the afghan police took plates out of their body armor and use it to cook food on. some recruits were so hot they couldn't stand up straight.
>> there are some who can't wait to get up and work with us. >> the further they get away from their command -- >> absolutely. >> the lazier they are. i wonder how much afghans can pay for themselves when the u.s. dollars stop flowing. look at the condition of this building. it's typical for some of the outposts for the afghan national police out here. weapons, communication equipment, you name it they're lacking it. and then there's corruption. afghan people will often tell us things that totally contradict what some official is saying. entire neighborhoods will tell us afghan officials can't be trusted. one of the things that really affected me was seeing the impact of the government's corruption. people living in these mud homes on the side of a mountain paid several small fees to get water and electricity. the government gave them
neither. granted, in the last year and a half or so since the end of 2009, the afghan national security forces now number nearly 300,000. they also have started an instructor training program so afghans can train afghans. they hope to get about 4,000 of those trainers ready to go by the end of next year. but bottom line, eventually it will cost about $6 billion a year just to sustain the security forces afghanistan can't pay for that. someone is going to have to. >> president in his remarks tonight he stressed what the u.s. has spent so far. he didn't underscore what the u.s. is about to spend and some estimates another half trillion dollars over the next few years in afghanistan alone. a lot of american taxpayers will not be happy to hear that. anderson, this is not only a major military mission, but the president is trying to justify given these tough economic times, the financial burden for american taxpayers will weigh
very, very heavily on lawmakers here in washington. >> it certainly will. the president addressed that tonight. he said we spent more than a trillion dollars on war and we have to invest in our people. it's time to focus on nation building here at home. nic robertson is joining us from london. nation building, nic, is not officially what the u.s. says they're doing in afghanistan but really as part of this counterinsurgency strategy nation building is what the united states has been doing in afghanistan for years. >> it has. if you look at where surges had the best successes, towns in kandahar and halman, it's because of security allowing to provide security for the mayor's office and for the governor and things that they can't afford to do for themselves and get markets back up and running and provide security for street vendors to be able to come out
to those markets. it's all these sorts of things that surge has provided for. when you take that away and take those successes and security away, you are left with an environment that the afghans cannot in many cases sustain themselves. kabul has been mostly a relative safe haven but last week you have a multiple suicide bombing attempt there. you see where taliban is already trying to impinge into areas where already good security is provided. >> nic, you spent a lot of time in afghanistan. last time i was there i was with marines for about a week at a small outpost. every day they would go out to villages and take great risk to go out to villages and meet with afghan elders who were on the fence about whom to support. they would meet with them for a little while. they would talk about reconstruction projects they could get going in their village and they would leave and then we would hear reports the taliban
came back later that day or ied attack later that day in that area. how much do you think the taliban is just waiting out the u.s. like they did with the soviets and how many people are still on the fence in afghanistan about whether or not they should side with the karzai government, with the u.s. or with the taliban? >> for sure the taliban are playing a long game. they always said you've got watches but we've got the time. it sounds kind of funny but it's not. they are prepared to wait out u.s. forces and other nato forces leaving the country. what they'll be doing is looking at where the drawdown happens and where they can take advantage of that. if you look at what the taliban have done during the surge, the surge has pushed a lot of troops and focused on key provinces and sort of important cities and important highways on the south of the country but where the surge hasn't been as strong in the east or at all in the north, that's where we have seen the
taliban been able to make their stronger gains. they'll look at the situation and where they can have an easier fight and manipulate the population and the population does sit on the fence because they're not going to put their necks on the line if they think the taliban will come along and cut them off for siding with either the afghan government or all coalition forces and it's not just strains and differences with the taliban. plenty of people in the country don't like the central government for a variety of reasons. the taliban will play off against that as well, anderson. >> nic robertson from london. thank you very much. wolf, the president obviously also talked about praising the efforts made by u.s. troops over the years in afghanistan and praise which is important because when you spend time there you go out with marines or with the army and military and the conditions they are operating under in afghanistan are extraordinarily difficult.
the landscape and climate is an extraordinary effort they are putting in. >> doing amazing work under awful circumstances. one other point i want to bring out, the president did reach out and i thought it was fascinating tonight directly to the taliban when he said the united states is supporting initiatives that reconcile the afghan people including the taliban. he didn't put a condition on bringing the taliban into these negotiations. he said they have to abide by the afghan constitution. now, a lot of spertexperts have pointed out the taliban will never abide by the afghan constitution calling for equal rights for women. we know where the taliban stands on the issue of women and a lot of critics already suggesting that these indirect talks if you will that u.s. has had with the taliban are going to be fruitless and the u.s. is engaging in some wishful thinking if they think they can turn the taliban around and bring them into serious discussions, negotiations, just one point. stand by, everyone. members of congress were divided before the president's speech
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>> the information that we recovered from bin laden's compound showed al qaeda under strain. they have been unable to replace senior terrorists that have been killed and that al qaeda has failed in its effort to portray america as a nation at war with isl islam thereby draining more widespread support. >> president obama a few moments ago warning during his speech announcing that he's ordering the 33,000 u.s. surge forces to leave afghanistan by the summer of 2012. cnn senior congressional support correspondent dana bash standing by with reaction. >> reporter: we've been hearing from the president's fellow democrats not surprising saying that this simply did not go far enough. democrat after democrat saying they really think that more troops can come home at a quicker fashion. this is from senate armed services chairman democrat karl levin. he said the president's decision
represents a positive development although in my view the conditions on the ground justify an even larger drawdown of u.s. troops this year than the president announced tonight. i will continue to advocate for an accelerated drawdown in the months ahead. now, democratic party is split on that we should be clear. republican party is split as well on whether or not this is the right way to go. we heard lindsey graham with wolf blitzer a short while ago saying this is simply too much too fast and the president didn't listen to commanders on the ground. other republicans think this is not enough. so that's why the house speaker tried to kind of split the baby if you will in his statement. i'll read you part of what he said. it's important that we retain the flexibility necessary to reconsider troop levels and respond to changes in the security environment should circumstances warrant. it gives you a sense of the reaction up here. it's very different within each party and it's really fascinating that this is happening given the fact that we are talking to members of congress in both parties and
many of them say they don't agree on anything. many say the exact same thing in terms of their view of how things are going in afghanistan. >> dana bash, appreciate it. wolf, interesting also to hear the president talk about we must chart a more centered course in the future. he talked a lot about not the u.s. going it alone. he cited the operation in libya as one example of trying to marshal international opposition to enemies rather than having united states just fighting on their own sort of i'm not sure an obama doctrine but certainly some of his prerequisites for getting involved militarily and overseas. >> it sounds consistent is an emerging obama doctrine over the last couple years or so. u.s. military commanders are getting what they described as two more fighting seasons under the troop withdrawal plan that the president just outlined a little while ago. let's bring back our pentagon correspondent chris lawrence joined by four-star general and
former nato supreme alley commander in europe. chris, i want you to pick his brain and get a real sense on how this is going to work. >> no surprise that the military asked to keep more troops there longer. general, as we look at this map and you look at where they are still fighting the taliban influence, we know that the military wanted to keep only withdrawal 5,000 this year and keep the bulk of the surge through the end of next year. given what the president laid out, how upset should the military be? >> first of all, in this situation a commander never really gets everything he wants and we need to understand that. that happened throughout history. the general gives his input. the decision makes a decision. petraeus will get on with the job at hand with troops he has and will explain what the risk will be to all of that but he'll get on with it. i think that he has time now.
he has two seasons. he has until the summer of 2012 and then to 2014. i think there's time to get the job done. >> as we look at the map, up here the taliban influence is fairly minimal. they make attacks. the military looks at this as distractions. here is where they are concentrated along here. helma helmand, kandahar, places where surge troops push taliban out of those population centers. what's going to happen now with the surge troops they've got left? >> depends on how you take what's left of the surge until next year and then the 70,000 that are there and then the key is going to be the afghan forces. they have to get up and get ready to defend their own country. i think this is an opportunity to do it. >> as we look here to the east where you have some remnants of al qaeda right along the border with pakistan down here along the border with kyrgyzstan and
insurgent stronghold. the military wanted to reallocate forces. is that possible with this timetable? >> depends on the priority that petraeus comes up with. i think it is. what we really want is access to be able to strike al qaeda into pakistan and that's going to take coordination with pakistan, but i think we have that access and we need to be able to use it. so i really think it's the wider strategic picture that general petraeus is going to look at and i think he has adequate troops to do it. afghans are key here. they have to get up for time remaining with u.s. forces there and get ready to fight. >> all right. thank you very much, general. as he said, the key is keeping the bases to launch attacks over the border in pakistan. >> all right, chris. thanks very much. general joulwan, thanks to you. how is the president's speech
playing among the republican contenders for the white house? that's coming up. also, the high cost of the war in afghanistan and political toll it could take on president obama's re-election campaign. intelligence that's helping drive the future of business. in here, inventory can be taught to learn. ♪ machines have a voice. ♪ medical history follows you. it's the at&t network -- a network of possibilities... committed to delivering the most advanced mobile broadband experience to help move business... forward. ♪
>> after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. for our nation draws strength from our differences and when our union is strong, no hill is too steep. no horizon is beyond our reach. america, it is time to focus on nation building here at home. >> let's discuss with our chief political correspondent candy crowley and our chief political analyst gloria borger. can we dismiss -- i know white house officials insist the political season has had no role whatsoever in the president's decision making process but everyone knows that the president is getting better for a re-election campaign. >> when are the troops coming back? would that be before the
election? of course politics plays into this. the problem with the politics of this, wolf, is that it is all over the place as dana bash was pointing out and number two it's all within the context of the huge economic pressures that this president is facing. when he said it's time to do some nation building in our own country, that's a political statement i think that everybody would agree with. i have to look back to barack obama in 2008. the barack obama in 2008 was telling george w. bush that he was fighting the wrong war. he was fighting the war in iraq and that in fact we had to put resources into the war in afghanistan. when you look at this in terms of barack obama himself, this is a real pivot for him. he did the counterinsurgency strategy and added 30,000 troops and he claims some degree of success. he would say great success. and now he's retrenching and
adhering to his own pragmatic as we would call it obama doctrine. >> let's not lose sight of the financial cost of this war to american taxpayers. we're talking about hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few years. >> right. in the meantime back here there's talk of changes in medicare and changes in social security and just never looks good when you are telling people that you are going to get fewer government services or that their local government can't do as much as it used to do and meanwhile you're building townships and bridges and fighting a war in afghanistan that is hugely costly. that plays a part. in terms of strict politics of it, i think far more pervasive for the president is not where the democratic base it or where the republicans are but the very solid majority that wants this war to end sooner rather than
later. you can't sustain a war as we all know without public support and this war has lost public support. that certainly drives it. it remains to be seen because even if you get to the end of next summer or september and you brought home surge troops, you still have double the number of troops in afghanistan than were there when the president first took office. he's going to get a lot of flak for that over the coming months. >> 32,000 when he took office. 32,000 u.s. troops in afghanistan. on january 20th, 2009, and even after the surge troops leave there will be close to 70,000 u.s. troops there. you are getting some initial reaction from some of the republican presidential candidates, glory. what a what are they saying? >> john huntsman is calling for a swifter withdrawal. mitt romney tonight went after the president on timetables
saying he's never really liked timetables. this shouldn't be an economic decision. it shouldn't be a political decision. he looks forward to what the commanders on the ground say when they testify before congress. >> as candy as much as economy and jobs will be issue number one in the presidential election in the united states, it's related to afghanistan when you talk about hundreds of billions of dollars that could be spent here opposed to there. >> completely. it's a good argument. it's an argument that makes common sense. if we don't have any money, why are we spending all this money over in afghanistan. you don't want a situation where you get to september or october of next year and afghanistan falls apart. that's the problem. if you take those troops out in september, there certainly is a risk and certainly some of the commanders on the ground were saying give us those two full fighting seasons as they say. give us until the end
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