Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  February 6, 2011 11:00am-12:00pm EST

11:00 am
and continues in if lloyd george's government. lloyd george is kicked out in ' '22 and law replace him as prime minister for a short period and then baldwin and balfour serves in those governments for a short period.
11:01 am
>> i believe that is what balfour wanted. now, why he wanted that is complicated and it has to do with itcompensated it is an understanding of jews. he probably didn't believe that -- >> it has been a fascinating evening tonight if you have not gotten a copy of "the balfour declaration," you can purchase one in the lobby. jonathan will be signing copies in the lobby or so please join us there. but first let's get jonathan schneer a big and. [applause] >> this event is hosted by the jimmy carter library and museum.
11:02 am
>> you're watching the tv on c-span2. here's our primetime lineup for tonight.
11:03 am
>> coming up next book tv presents "after words," an hour-long program where we invite guest hosts to interview authors. this week cnn national security analyst peter bergen discusses his comprehensive look out the war on terror entitled "the longest war." the best selling author of "holy war, inc." went inside al qaeda to provide the jihadists perspective on the conflict, as well as that of american official. mr. bergen talks with council on foreign relations senior fellow max boot. >> host: peter, first i would like to congratulate you on another important book. this is the third when you're done on the history of al qaeda. i think it's fair to say yet establish yourself as the preeminent historian of the radical islamist movement, and i think this book shows why because it's concise, witty, fair, passionate. i think it's the best summary of what's happened since 9/11.
11:04 am
let me start by asking very basic and yet hard to answer question, which is what should we be calling the conflict about which you write, the subtitle says the enduring conflict, but what do we call it? >> guest: first of all, thank you for the comments. i'm very happy that, really well-qualified author read the book and we are having this discussion. what we call it is a very interesting question. i don't think we have come up with the language. as i said in the book president obama had an interesting question when he came into office, how to define the war, the war until. i think the liberal side of the democratic party would have likened him to redefine. i think that would be naïve on multiple levels for store. al qaeda has been a war with us since 1998 when they blew up our embassies in africa.
11:05 am
they declared war on us. big guns warlike things for us to kind of weekend it is a war. i think would be wrong. on the other hand, acting president george w. bush, he also overestimate the problem. al qaeda is a service problem that it's not more so. i don't think we have the language to explain it exactly because it is a form of warfare but the newest form of warfare in terms of american historical terms is perhaps the war of the pars in the late 18th century. which was a war but it wasn't an interstate war. and it wasn't, you know, going to destroy the republic. >> host: one of the difficulties of naming it, we weren't afraid to say indian wars were as since 9/11 we've essentially been afraid to say islamist wars because of the war on islam in because that sounds
11:06 am
like the war on islam which, of course, is the very thing we want to avoid. >> guest: what president obama said is it's a war against al qaeda and its allies. and i think that is useful because just as fdr did declare war on cuba, it explains who the enemy is. particularly useful because if you say al qaeda and its allies, it allows you to deal with al qaeda and, therefore, we are not at war with you. if the taliban ever got around to saying al qaeda is a bad thing, 9/11 was a bad thing, they would be de- aligning themselves. they haven't done that. i'm not holding my breath they will. we've had this discussion before and i think they are rational actors. in a sort of kissinger like moment that they will not say those are what we thought was wrong. i don't think they're going to do that. >> host: it's rare you would see that kind of the moment.
11:07 am
it's very rare like the japanese on the deck of the missouri that they signed instrument of surrender, and those with the route over the course of a generation. >> guest: i think al qaeda will peer out. one of the best lines in early on the george w. bush said, i presume it was written for him, that al qaeda was essentially going to be consigned to the dustbin of history at a certain point. he said it much better. the unmarked grave of discarded lies. it was a great line. and i think it's true. it is a set of lives essentially, for a group that is defending muslims. it's also losing the war of ideas as well. one point in the book, support for suicide bombing an al qaeda
11:08 am
versus taking, i could reason that people can look at the more carefully and realized that ideology that attacked us on september 11, 2001, is the same ideology sending suicide bombers into oil facilities in saudi arabia, hotels in jordan, and the list goes on and on. >> host: it's easy to say based on a kind of evidence are putting out there. indeed, a number of people to say what's the big deal? these guys are losing support in the islamic world. they're not going to topple a bunch of regimes across the middle east. they will not establish across the middle east so why should we care about them? why should we give -- why should we deploy the kind of resources? >> guest: it's impossible artman. i'm playing devil's advocate.
11:09 am
merely because we'll face an existential threat from al qaeda doesn't mean they are not a threat of some form. calibrating the kind of threat. if you go back to christmas day 2009, if al qaeda succeed employment northwest flight over detroit killing 300 posted americans onboard, more people on the ground, it would have been a 9/11 taliban but it would have been a big deal. it would have dealt a crippling blow to the obama presidency. it would have dealt a crippling blow to international aviation, international travel. we would have recovered, but it would have been a substantial problem. so they are capable of still inflicting substantial losses, some with substantial losses. but far from existential. >> host: let's talk about post-9/11 response.
11:10 am
you were quite critical of the bush policy. you write the global world on terror propelled into this disaster can, in iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11 but was launched under the river to the war on terror. yet at the same time he also writes there's little doubt some of the measures the bush administration and congress took after 9/11 made america safer. use it for example, the patriot act, the setting up of the national terrorism center, no-fly list, u.s. cooperation with foreign agencies. so where'd you come down bottom line on the bush administration? did they do more harm than good or more good than harm? didn't make america and the world safer in the end? >> guest: historians will be debating that. clearly i think overall the bush administration did a lot of things that make sense, but they also did some things that i think didn't make sense.
11:11 am
the invasion in iraq being essentially the biggest exhibit. >> host: we will talk about that in a minute. >> guest: i think interrogations, using torture. if you have any federal prosecutor or fbi agent whose life and read, bread-and-butter is effective non-coercive interrogations would have said this is unnecessary and illegal. i share that view. guantanamo didn't do as much good. particularly when we are preaching the virtues of democracy and human rights and hypocritically seemingly to ignore those when it suited our purposes. the battle of bora bora. you're a historian, a history of small wars in this country, and the victory against the taliban was one of the great unconventional victories in both the post-world war ii timeframe,
11:12 am
but the same set of policies that allowed us to do that failed completely in the battle of bora bora. relatively small number of special forces on the ground, failed. al qaeda, enron and others escaped. again, historians will debating whether another approach -- we don't know where bin laden is. at that time we did. right now we say bin laden may be in the frontier province of north pakistan. which is like saying bin laden may be in virginia. it's not very useful. in the battle we had is cornets down to maybe a kilometer of what he was. we had multiple radio in steps of his presence their. >> host: i don't dispute what you say. it was a huge the speculation. there's no doubt that it was. i have reservations in terms of your position on guantánamo because i think the administration was a very tough
11:13 am
position for a face is the prospect of setting up some kind of new facility to hold tears, detainees indefinitely, or else processing density criminal justice system. they refuse to downside. where'd you come down on that. you think everybody should go through the normal criminal court? >> guest: guantanamo is complex. there's the illegal principle surrounding it which the supreme court found against quite a number of bush that they have no right of habeas corpus lawyers and these kind of things. then there were the people are put in guantanamo which these are two different things. of all the people who are put in guantanamo should've been in are the first place. i quote multiple fbi senior al qaeda experts who said we didn't get a lot of useful information. on the other hand, you have people like khalid sheikh mohammed. what you do with them, not
11:14 am
pretending it's easy and, of course, the obama administration has not found it easy. as a general principle we're sitting here in manhattan, federal courts in manhattan have a 100% conviction rate for terrorists. i mean, civilian -- >> host: there were also a lot of cases not brought because they didn't think that enough evidence before a secret indictment was delivered against a mom. >> guest: that's a good point or they didn't know enough about bin laden intel that came down probably in late 97. and that secret indictment was partly based on some the things he said to us in the cnn interview that i produce in 97 in which he was inciting violence against american soldiers. look, max, i'm not pretending this is easy but i think that a
11:15 am
lot of the early decisions, and i tried to be fair to the bush administration in the following way. but context of these were in the context of the anthrax attack. after 9/11 the system was flooded with information about every possible threat. for every 7 a.m. national security meeting was just this huge by now be a potential things that might be very bad that michael wrong. everything was coming into the system. that was a context which which the decisions were made. i think many of these decisions were wrong. it's not my opinion. it's the supreme court's opinion or it's what the bush administratiotrend toeventuallyu look at the bush administration the first time, it's really sort of night and day. >> host: i think they pulled back and compelled to do so to some extent by congress and the courts. but a lot of the things they did have stayed in effect. and had been endorsed by
11:16 am
president obama. >> guest: that's what it is going to say. it's not that the continuity is between bush turn two and obama term that wherein. there's a lot of objectivity. i mean, in particular obviously in afghanistan not only continuity but essentially obama administration has doubled down. since we last talked about afghanistan, i think there's been a huge very underreported shift which is december 2014. the republican present said they were before more years in afghanistan with substantial number of troops. they will be there after that. >> host: if president mccain would be saying it senator obama would be leaving the opposite. i think being in a commander-in-chief seat is a different perspective that he didn't have as senator, and that
11:17 am
lawmakers just don't have. >> guest: maybe, but also early on obama was, you know, he was always characterizing the afghan war sort of the good work and the iraq war at the wrong war. but the fact, there's no debating the fact that the liberal side of the democratic party would be very of those if this was a republican president. because it doesn't fit with the narrative. it's not just the democratic party. it's the president himself seems to miss this. it's a huge story. it's a much bigger story than the story of the surge, the 30,000 hits which i get into in some detail in the book. incredible press attention at the time. >> host: there's no question what obama has done is highly significant in the case of afghanistan. i've gone out of my way because i think what he's doing is courageous in terms of breaking with the top and going with his own party. >> guest: he knows the american public has of course turned against the war. so this is a political risk.
11:18 am
part of this is hypothesis. these are the -- i agree with you. if you look at the afghan-pakistan problem in a serious way and you with that problem, with years as visit ministration has had, if you go back to bob woodward's book, mcchrystal was asking 40,000 soldiers as his real ask up to 2013, doubling the size of the afghan national security forces, i recall the meetings, this was greeted with horror because it was a severe case of sticker shock how much this will cost. now we just heard a couple days that the afghan national security forces are going to be doubled up to 400,000. we're going to be there, now past december 2014 even. so all the things he was military, they have been given more which is kind of i think ironic given the push back at the time. >> host: i'm not sure they have been given more.
11:19 am
we are still only 30,000 troops. they're asking for a search of 40,000. >> guest: there was some 7000 from nato. >> host: it's in the ballpark. it's not exactly but it's close. >> guest: now they are talking about 2014. i just think, you know, the military kind of you of this and the administration's view is pretty closely aligned at this point turnpike i think that's right. what's also interesting is the extent to which many of the arguments about afghanistan are very similar to the arguments that are being made about iraq a few years ago because when we're in the middle of the iraq war critics are saying this war is unwinnable. we don't need to win it because the real battle, a central part in afghanistan. now we are in afghanistan we're hearing the war is unwinnable. how do you respond to that?
11:20 am
>> guest: i mean, there is a problem in yemen but that doesn't mean we should abandon the afpak, you know, in afghanistan-pakistan, the central front for want of a better term. i mean, a part of osama bin laden is there. al qaeda was founded in pakistan in 1988 in the northwest frontier province. this is an area they know very well. westerners keep coming to be trained there. kind of a subset of the argument you're making, what you're presenting, not making, is the idea that because there in pakistan we should be doing less in afghanistan. >> host: a lot of people argue we should concentrate more. >> guest: short of an attack in manhattan, we can send in ground forces. if such an attack happened i
11:21 am
think politics round that would change. but what we should be doing is -- we've run this twice before. we've already done it, we do nothing in afghanistan and passed in 1989. we called it embassy there. the george w. bush was he didn't do enough. we've -- we know what that looks like. it would be more persuasive if we hadn't already tried to do either nothing or do it like. we have done those approaches and they were both found wanting. i think we're finding out the strategy right, but i think that if a year from now or 18 months from now we are in the same place, i think a lot of people presuming including herself would have to say perhaps this just is not working for whatever reason. >> host: are you talking afghanistan or pakistan? >> guest: mostly afghanistan
11:22 am
and. >> host: what about pakistan? i think we're basically in the right path in afghanistan. that doesn't mean we will prevail but we do have a strategy and the resources to carry it out. i'm not so certain that's the case in pakistan. do you feel like we're on the right track? if not what should we be doing? >> guest: pakistan is difficult but let me just throw out, because we'd are summit of the province of pakistan, let me throw things are quite promising. one, you have a real independent press in pakistan. 10 years ago you'd state tv. now you have several, dozens of new stations. so much are quite anti-american but also quite anti-taliban. second you have the lowest movement. thirdly the pro-religious, pro-taliban religious parties political parties have been -- pakistan does not want taliban style rule. these pro-taliban religious
11:23 am
parties, i think about 2% of the vote in the last election. those are positive. the negatives of course there was a brilliant story and in your times a few days ago about the assassin of the cabinet of punjab who had showered was peddled by the sailors, sharp out about which i think is quite disturbing when they sought educated people are pro-democracy. yet they assassinate one of the most important politicians in the country, just on the basis of his opposition to the blasphemy law. >> host: this is in the heart of urban pakistan's. >> guest: right. that is worrisome. people have been predicting the fall pakistan for years, i'd like been very skeptical. pakistan has gotten much worse. they lost at the country 1971. they lost are drawn three and have wars with india. they've had a lot of existential crises. >> host: every major foreign policy call that made the wrong
11:24 am
decision. >> guest: but what the united states and essentially destroying the soviet union in afghanistan. that was a good call. >> host: that was a good car but the fact that they were getting most of their support to the other radicals is not such a good thing in retrospect. >> guest: that was a bad call. they've had lots of, certain calls and aligned themselves with the united states. the united states has a 20% table rating in pakistan in every ball going back years. the united states is not popular. so every government there has to perform a very delicate balancing act. i agree. it's a cliché, but the war is mostly about pakistan. and i think if we had this conversation for years ago backs, we be surprised if our military had done in any serious way in southern waziristan, but
11:25 am
that maybe the ceiling of what they're prepared to do. we are not going to get much more from them. >> host: are their leaders that we have that we're not using? are the things we ought to be doing that we're not doing? it seems we've tried everything and at the end of the day we have very limited leverage over pakistan. >> guest: is the fifth largest country in the world in 2015. they have a 500,000 mayan army. we can't just boston route and it was naïve to think we could. i think of it but better policy with houston. two very important levels. we have under the george w. bush administration we send people to pakistan. secretary powell. they would publicly call pakistan, that was counterproductive. the pakistanis thought they have lost more soldiers than we have. they say that and it's true. and secondly we are often
11:26 am
pakistan a long-term strategic partnership. and i think pakistan thinks it is as a fair weather friend with some justification. and we need to kind of try and get past that. and our interest in their interests are more aligned today than they were several years ago. so that's a good thing. but we should expect miracles. if i was general kayani i would be making a lot of the same decisions. he's going to be bordering on afghanistan and india. pakistan is forever. we are going to leave at some point. >> host: i have to say i'm a little disappointed but not surprised you haven't come up with a magic solution to the problem of pakistan. i've wish someone would figure out to solve it. >> guest: let me tell you a very concrete thing that would be good. 60% of pakistan's economy is textile business. we, attacks on french textiles is relatively low but on pakistani textiles are
11:27 am
relatively high. that would be a substantial thing. there are people in congress who oppose this, but fixing some of the tariff barriers on pakistani textiles, that's the kind of thing you can concretely to. which i think will have an. >> host: i agree with you. i think that is a good thing. it's not going to solve the problem. it will help to make it perhaps a little more prosperous. most of your book obviously is the history of the last 10 years. let me get back a little bit to some of the history which is primarily about the bush administration, and their responses to 9/11. we talked earlier about some of the good and the bad the bush administration did interview. should president bush be credited for the fact that there's not been a major terrorist attack on american soil since 9/11? >> guest: sure but he should be discredited for the fact that
11:28 am
9/11 happened. this was the largest mass murder in american history, and president george w. bush, people in the administration were getting a lot of information about the possibility of a major al qaeda attack and they were asleep at the switch. president bush took the longest presidential vacation in three decades the summer 2001 despite the fact he was getting all this information. condoleezza rice testified that the government was a battle station during the summer 2001. it wasn't. historical record show, i do something very simple in the book which is just look at the public statements and private actions of all of these people in the bush administration, in their private meetings and the public statements, you know, the threat did register because it didn't fit with their view of what was a threat. al qaeda didn't fit with their worldview. part of it is they have been out
11:29 am
of office for eight years and they hadn't process the fact that a nonstate actor like al qaeda to be a serious threat. >> host: i think that's a fair criticism but as you say the other side is after 9/11 they suddenly became very a long and did a lot of things, some of which were highly controversial, some of which may have went overboard. a lot of which i would argue and it sounds you as well were pretty effective in blocking the future threat of al qaeda. >> guest: ringy down the wall between the fbi and the cia was long overdue. so information gathering could be headed to law enforcement. these things are sort of no-brainers but it took nine 9/11 for it to happen. there's an interesting experiment i don't do in the book but what would've happened if al gore was in office on 9/11? my personal view the democratic party would be out of business.
11:30 am
>> host: because they would be blamed for the attack. >> guest: it would have all happened under their watch. you know, i mean, it's a bipartisan failure. i think george w. bush -- administration comes in for more criticism i think in my book, but both administrations did not respond to the uss cole. mike sheehan who was ambassador for counterterrorism famously said after the cole attack what's it going to take, al qaeda attacking the pentagon before we respond. at the lame-duck clinton administration didn't respond, and the new bush administration didn't respond part because it didn't happen on their watch. and osama bin laden, some and took lessons from the. when they were preparing the 9/11 attacks, one of the things i try to say in the book is 9/11 was a strategic failure for al qaeda. at the time it seemed like a big success. it didn't achieve any of the
11:31 am
goals within the organization, but one of the things al qaeda has said many years later is 9/11 was cleverly conceived to get you and i says to invade afghanistan, we believed them to what they really expected was the united states to pull out of the middle east, you know, the saudi regime and the regime in egypt was humble. the lack of response to the cole meant that they thought the only kind of response the united states would do is crispus attacks or perhaps bombing on the train attacks. they evacuate their training camps. they didn't prepare for an invasion of the country. they were surprised by that. and so al qaeda lost its base in afghanistan. they had never come indian they like it. when people say this with 16
11:32 am
members of al qaeda in afghanistan at three and 50 in pakistan, i'm sure that's actually good, but it's also sort of irrelevant. there are only 200 members of al qaeda on 9/11. it's always been a small group your but what they had before 9/11 was a country at their disposal and have thousands of people going to their training camps. you focus only on al qaeda i think it's a mistake because every muslim terrorist group an insurgent group in the world was either headquartered or had a major operation in afghanistan before the taliban. and, of course, al qaeda stood at the apex of this. so is the taliban came back it would just be al qaeda. it would be a whole alphabet soup. the list goes on and on. it would be kind of welcome back into the fold. >> host: absolutely. what about the decision to invade iraq? obviously that was a more controversial decision on the
11:33 am
bush administration to go into afghanistan, and you're very critical in this book about the invasion of iraq. even go so far as to say by any rational standard, the country did not pose a real threat to the united states. i agree with a lot of criticism in the way the war was conducted and i think the lack of preparation for the postinvasion phase and the way that the bush administration took its eyes off afghanistan to focus on iraq, i think that's all true. but i can't help think you're going a bit 40 when you're saying by any rational standard iraq did not pose a threat to united states when this is a country we had previously fought for, a country that had invaded two of its neighbors, who won an -- iran and kuwait. it continues to be a strategic threat united states otherwise we would not have a no fly zone. we would have had all these other things trying to get
11:34 am
saddam hussein. so are you confident there was no rationale at all for toppling saddam hussein? >> guest: the stated rationale is wrong as you know. debbie indie was the big thing. no weapons of mass destruction but i didn't get without to much in the book because it has been well that was elsewhere but i did get into in quite some detail about the notion that al qaeda and saddam hussein were linked. the reason that's important is you had to make several -- if saddam is going to be a threat to the stage with a system of things, not just one thing. you had to say thank you to set. you had to say they had wmd. but because he didn't have ballistic missile system that could deliver these debbie indie to the oshrc was linked to terrorists including al qaeda and that he might get this debbie indie to al qaeda. one of the most persuasive elements -- unfortunately it
11:35 am
turned out to be the fruit of extraordinary rendition that he was taken to egypt in order to not be tortured. he gave up false information and that information, even before powell made his speech, they were saying that he was probably line. so, you know, the kind of chain of logic allows you to think saddam could pose a threat to the united states, the whole chain was wrong. >> host: well, yeah. it turned out he didn't have wmd. he didn't have al qaeda connections but think you're going too far in the other direction by saying he didn't pose any threat at all to the united states. >> guest: it means -- it depends on what you mean by threat to united states. i'm not talking about a threat to the american interest writ large. >> host: this was a guy we had to fight before because he did threaten american allies.
11:36 am
he did threaten the supply of oil. he was plotting to undermine vital american interests in the middle east. >> guest: historians will probably say that he was pretty well contained. how was he going to threaten? >> host: estill an argument you could make about that. prior to 9/11 people thought his regime was coming. we know he was violating the oil for food program in a massive way scheme to undercut a lot of international calls and doing it actually pretty successfully. >> guest: certainly for his own benefit and his family. i think that was not a strategic threat to united states. he was violating the agreement. his own people suffer tremendous as result under the sanctions which -- smart sanctions you recall that we did better targeted to the regime. the history of sanctions the tranny put in countries has not been one of great success here.
11:37 am
>> host: which is the case a lot of folks in the bush administration made. why we couldn't count on the sanctions. >> guest: the other side of it like is the 4500 americans who are not coming on to the families, the 100,000 iraqis by any conservative effort -- estimate. >> host: i think you can have an argument about that. let me ask you, i don't want to unite the cost of the war. i would argue about whether it's pro-iranian regime. no one can deny the 1000 lives lost or there about. the devastation, all the negative from the. is there, i wonder, i think it's too early to judge the other side of the ledger because iraq is starting to emerge as a democracy and we had to see if it will be stable. stick on the path which is on at the moment but the other thing,
11:38 am
i would like to ask you about, what is the impact of the rise and fall of al qaeda in iraq? you go into that go into that is a link in the book. >> guest: it's a very big deal. al qaeda in iraq, which had no football before saddam -- foothold before sedan, at a certain point became control of a third of the country. this was an insurgent group. into their own mistakes it was almost sort of an assisted suicide. it was both, their own mistakes plus the sunni awakening plus the united states taking advantage of the sunni awakening to do with al qaeda. >> host: if you're going to be critical of president bush early on and were i think have a right to, you also need to give credit for in 2006 for reversing course and being decision to.
11:39 am
>> guest: and taking full credit for the. that was his decision. that was taken i thought at the time it was doubling down. i think almost the entire foreign policy establishment included people in the republican party -- >> host: almost anybody in the american military. >> guest: look, you can make the argument this was the most important thing, iraq was the most important thing in his presidency he was willing to do whatever it took but he made the right decisions. you know, the surge was not intuitive, bringing in petraeus, counterinsurgency strategy, taking advantage of the sunni awakening, all those things are turned it around. but caveat to this is it still more dangerous in iraq, to be an iraqi civilian today than to be in afghanistan.
11:40 am
iraq was very, the scale of advances off the chart in january of '07. 20 times more likely to be killed in iraq in january of '07 and you are to be killed in afghanistan today. we got the tranny and great people and iraqi government got in control. i do agree with it. one added thing. former iraqis have been displaced by the war either internally or externally. so like 15% of the population even today very few comeback. that's the big difference between iraq and afghanistan. you have fight night afghan refugees left during the soviet invasion. about 3 million, 4 million are all back. iraq is still something that's calling people back but it seems too unstable. afghanistan is calling people back in a different way. >> host: you see iraq doing well in the future.
11:41 am
entrance of the oil wells. i see a huge economic boom happened. let me just get back to the subject of al qaeda and iraq if i iraq if i could for me because you are right about how our invasion grade and opening too mush and out of control and kill all those thousands of people to have this horrifying campaign of suicide bombings take control of an area larger than new england as you write in the book. at the end of the day al qaeda and iraq was devastated by the combination of the u.s. surge and the sunni awakening. what is the impact of that on the broader movement? we double down and we managed to i would say to a large extent neutralized al qaeda and iraq? what is the impact of that if any on the jihadists psyche? >> guest: one way of
11:42 am
countering that is osama bin laden during the iraq war when it was at its height, but celebrating the success of the insurgents, and he's gone completely silent on this issue because iraq was a defeat for al qaeda. it was a strategic defeat for them. it was a big deal. interestingly, you know, we are not seeing a lot of foreign fighters into the afghan war. you know, suicide bombers. that hasn't happened in iraq. not quite sure why that's the case but i mean al qaeda in iraq, i think that that strategic defeat, that remains a problem, continue to be a terrorist problem. i think has been quite a blow to the jihadists moving. what i say in the book is that defeat was the harping for al qaeda losing ideas.
11:43 am
i think a wasn't just so much the jihadi movement, al qaeda in iraq. but even more its tactics, while is in power in some areas, i think that's a very, very strong signal that this is what al qaeda looks like when it controlled territory. and even al zebari in a famous letter to al qaeda in iraq he's insisted enough with the televised beheadings. start behaving more rationally. don't make the same mistakes of al qaeda. >> host: so perhaps with all the negatives that have occurred in iraq, is that a positive that has not gotten the attention that it deserves? >> guest: i think it is a positive but asserted was an intimate. one of the things i try to stay in the book, part of the art that some people try to make about iraq was the so-called flypaper argument which is we
11:44 am
are fighting them now so we don't need to fight them in basra. before the war no one could've sold the idea that we will send large number of american soldiers there to act as sort of a high-fat to al qaeda. a lot would be killed and that's the reason we're doing more. that was again a post factor justification of why we were there. >> host: i agree that was made that sort of on the fly as it were. but nevertheless, taking about what you said, it strikes me maybe that sort of did happen. >> guest: well, it did in some senses but there's a kind of logical flaw with the idea, the way was presented not in the idea that it was a post factor idea. there are not a finite group of jihadists in the world who are attracted one place to go. yet the iraq war expanded the group of people. just in absolute numbers.
11:45 am
we have looked at jihadists terrorist attacks around the world, before and after the iraq war and they wind up sevenfold. even when you take these things are the equation they also went up in europe and other places. the iraq war was sort of -- it put oil on the fire and gave bin laden a new lease of life. but al qaeda which is not the learning organization made mistakes in iraq that over time, not only in iraq but in war. >> host: let me ask a question if i could, shift a little to osama bin laden's motivations, because in the book you describe what he is doing largely to his beef with american foreign policy, the role that we played in the middle east in particular and propping up these regimes he
11:46 am
loves. and you say and all the tens of thousands of words bin laden has uttered he was largely silent about american freedoms and values which was the point president bush went on and on about. but you say he just didn't seem to care much about the police of the crusaders. my question to you is how do you explain this letter that he release address to the americans we came out -- let me describe it. >> guest: he didn't write it. >> host: let me describe it before you go on. viewers out there may not be familiar. this letter which was a tribute to them and released the internet under his name said that we are calling islam addressed americans think you
11:47 am
can stop your oppression, lies, immoral like fortification, homosexuality, in toxic gambling and using a lot of good stuff which doesn't seem to appreciate. but go ahead. >> guest: let me just make three points about this letter. it was released on the internet under some reasoning. there's the proof he wrote a letter. so i am suspicious at the get-go. people familiar with his style say it's not a. i think it was an adviser to bin laden, sometime rival, the guy who took me to meet bin laden. it's much more incredible it he would use. his group spent a lot of time in the west, understand. he spent two weeks in the united states. he doesn't kind of -- one of the reasons he got 9/11 sarong was if he'd would have come in understood and spent more time he would've understood the west is not a paper tiger. so that letter is just, we've
11:48 am
got a lot of other things of bin laden. we know what bin laden said because he is saying it. he just has to focus our foreign policy in the middle east. i would say he is change in recent years will be under the influence of the american -- in 2007 human commute reading a book by noam chomsky. is trying to like educate himself more. >> host: a book endorsement. >> guest: not find the right office all the time. noam chomsky is a particular useful guide to office. >> host: it is picked up on also ecological themes. he would like to criticize on kyoto. >> guest: this is a relative recent phenom. we interviewed him in 1997, john miller interviewed him in 1998 and he gave another interview to "time" magazine in 1999. usually about our foreign policy. to critique about foreign policy, from comic comes from his understanding of islam which i tried to make it clear in the
11:49 am
book. not to include, to pretend that there is nothing, this is nothing to do with islam is saying the crusades had nothing to do with christianity. that it would make any sense. which is not a critique of islam. it's know that bin laden, there's enough ammunition in the koran. they are not in the wars of the prophet muhammed. so the sword versus the koran is proof. bin laden uses these verses repeatedly. these guys see themselves as defending islam. one of the reasons they're hard to deter if they believe god is on their side and they're defending true islam which gives
11:50 am
him staying power. >> let me focus in on the foreign policy of the united states which they disliked because i think when you say they are primarily opposed our foreign policy, the retort from some people, especially -- especially, let's pick a deal. let's pull out of the middle east. let's take away their excuse for supporting a. let's stop backing israel. let's stop doing all these things that offend them and we will not be attacked anymore. is that something you believe will be the case? >> guest: merely because we were attacked because our foreign policy, doesn't mean we should change. that's one important point. but on the issue of our support for israel, it is, almost every in the muslim world correctly feels our policy on israeli policy matter is not evenhanded. and certainly president truman recognized the state of israel in 1947. this has been a very long part of our american foreign policy,
11:51 am
juno, is probably the wrong place you into a discussion about this but if there was one way of lowering the temperature in the muslim world, quickly it would be if we are seen as even more evenhanded on this issue. that is something that our allies -- >> host: that's another discussion. that's true only if you think the real -- if the only beef osama bin laden had is with a settlement. >> guest: i agree with you. i'm not talking about satisfying that long at all. i'm talking about -- i talk about trying to lower the temperature in the muslim world writ large. the israeli-palestinian issue is critical to that. we can never satisfy bin laden. the only way we satisfy bin laden is to say that israel does
11:52 am
not exist. that's not going to happen. i'm not suggesting we should try to satisfy him. >> host: but that's also the case with his hard core followers. they're not interested in continuing the oslo peace process transit absolutely not. but we are interested in swing voters in the muslim world. those of the people we are trying to reach. there are things we can do that can reach them. >> host: as you yourself say in the book, the swing voters have swung against osama bin laden even though the settlement is nonstop. nevertheless, his reasons are for a specific and the message of bin laden that are being wholesale rejected by the people in the muslim world. >> guest: right. that's true, although they still retain unfortunately, bin laden's favorable ratings in pakistan have dropped from 65% to 16% in the last few years. 16% is still very high.
11:53 am
>> host: that's the problem. you're talking about swing voters. ultimately, they will not be decisive because it doesn't take that many people to carry out terrorist attacks. it takes a small minority. and those people still be out there. >> guest: that's one argument for not doing anything on these issues because swing voters, yes, what we are concerned is a relatively small group of people but let's make that group even smaller. let's take with the issues that motivate them. turning away from israeli-palestinian and the issue of kashmir. is there some sort of settlement on that, that would go along with. those are hard issues. >> host: again, i agree with you. they would be an israeli-palestinian settlement. pat toomey doesn't seem like a short turn passage. >> guest: it isn't. if you could basically -- you can immediate rate.
11:54 am
>> host: let me start back -- step back. talk about you and your writing. tell me for example, how long did it take you to write this book? >> guest: i signed a contract at the end of 2004 and then i did -- >> host: that's a long book. the longest book process for the longest war transit it was going to be called the longest book. writing, i didn't get a book called osama bin laden. i had a two book deal and i turn into a much bigger project. if i hadn't ridden osama bin laden i know i couldn't have written this book because it involved me looking at every primary source. anything his companions in arms. >> host: i would say that's a great resource. the chapter on jihadism, i keep
11:55 am
referring to because it's like a one stop guide. >> guest: but the book did not sell particularly will. it was a useful a specialist like yourself. this book is more for the general reader. i tried to integrate what i learned from the book into this book. so yeah, it took a while. but if these books, i was trying to tell him a big story and i don't like writing about places i have been too. so i went to afghanistan. me times. eventually iraq. went to saudi arabia, we do egypt, went to the united kingdom, italy, a lot of countries that play a role, the narrative, and all this takes time and money. it took as you know from writing books yourself, i mean, it's a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears and i have a full-time day job. >> host: what were your chief
11:56 am
sources of research? was at primary interviews? were you able to get your hands on documents as well? >> guest: i.e. numerate in the bibliography both the interviews i did but we got, this -- it's not about to get hold of their statements. there are a lot of them, and the united states has done, congress has done -- >> host: now releasing their private strategy memo's. >> guest: they are in their public statements. imagine if the japanese in 19377 set a session you what they're planning to do, this is what al qaeda did before 9/11. >> host: hitler sort of did that and nobody paid attention to have. >> guest: right. it was in "mein kampf" but nobody -- bin laden, is a lot of information on their site. before 9/11 i was able to speak with bin laden. now it's harder. there are thousands of pages of
11:57 am
interrogations of people in guantanamo that have been released through federal foia request. there's multiple cases, court cases are very useful, europe, the united states is able to draw on. there is a sea of publicly available information about this group that i was able to draw on. and then the congress has done a very number of useful investigation. in fact, also the u.s. military, we're getting the official histories of what actually happened. so the official u.s. special forces history the early part of afghanistan is out there. a very rich resource. >> host: you mentioned you got the book down from about 240,000 word to 104,000 words, what does a fellow author i have to say is a row. what was in the missing 100,000 words? what are you going to do with that material? >> guest: i'm going to do
11:58 am
nothing with it. i needed to get it out of my system. as an author i think that you need to know a lot of things the reader doesn't need to know. you need to focus, as a poem -- as important as what you write as what you don't record the best decision i made about the book was to cut almost in half because it reads much better. the redundancies, stuff that is not important, irrelevant, all that stuff went to the curb and that was the right decision. >> host: you are a shining exemplar for other authors but i hope others can follow your example. it will be hard to do, however. now, what are you planning to do for an encore? let me ask another question because you just have this book out and you're out promoting it but you have in mind your next project? >> guest: something about afghanistan and pakistan and obama. >> host: hopefully a story that will have a happy ending. >> guest: right. >> host: how long do you think we will know if it has a happy
11:59 am
ending? >> guest: afghanistan in the '70s was country of peace with itself and its neighbors. so at peace with itself is a happy ending. that's not out of the question. >> host: we might be waiting a few years. >> guest: let's go together. >> host: it's a date. thank you very much, peter bergen. and i can hardly -- heartily recommend your book. it's a terrific summary of what's happened, but also a terrific read. there's an understated humor throughout, the very grotesque and reprehensreprehensible thing to write about but you present them in a very smooth and readable and interesting fashion. so congratulations on a tremendous achievement. >> guest: thank you. >> tn


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on