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tv   Tonight From Washington  CSPAN  November 30, 2009 8:00pm-11:00pm EST

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fulfill their responsibilities and obligations, then the international community would welcome that. if they decide not to fulfill those responsibilities and obligations, then all i can say to the iranians is time is running out. banks, guys. dollars thank you, hon. press secretary. >> thank you. . >> later, white house press secretary robert gibbs is as about the president's speech tomorrow on afghanistan strategy.
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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] president obama will outline his afghanistan war strategy tomorrow night at the u.s. military academy at west point, new york. you can see that on c-span, online at, and on c- span radio, live at 8:00 p.m., eastern. british prime minister gordon brown says he will send 500 more troops to afghanistan, bringing the total number of british troops there to nearly 10,000. after the prime minister's announcement, you will hear from opposition party leaders and then questions from members of parliament. this is about an hour and a half. >> statement, the prime minister. afghanistan by once more paying tribute to our armed forces.
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the longest military campaigns of recent world wars of the century's fight against global terrorism. forces have shown the highest professionalism, admired in the world. they have endured heavy and tragic casualties. gratitude. presence as visitors to this distinction in afghanistan. that commence military action. there are two prior questions people ask of our mission with our american and afghanistan, one about the present, one about the future. and, rightly, both questions have to be answered. armed forces are in afghanistan.
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responsibility for its own come home. the scale of the terrorist threat are known to us all. around the world, thousands of men and women of all religions muslim faith -- have been murdered in al qaeda outrages. the london july 7 bombings cost 52 lives and injured over 750 people. plot, the 2007 london and glasgow bombings and then this year an al qaeda inspired conspiracy to target shopping centers. convicted terrorists serving sentences in british prisons. and the security services report
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country. trebled the resources the number of operatives. and today nearly twice as many engaged in full time work to counter the terrorist threat. checked at the border in real increasing numbers are excluded on national security grounds from britain. violent extremism and we have both stepped extreme and violent ideologies do and to support to uphold the tolerance and respect for all.
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to counteract terrorist spent and continues to be strengthened at all levels. faced with the terrorist threat, effectivestrategy is simply to defend britain within our own borders, a fortress britain. and some ask why british troops qaeda can somalia, in yemen and even in internet chat rooms in every part of the world. afghan border areas are the location of choice for al qaeda and the epicenter of global terrorism, it is the government's judgment terrorist threat at its source.
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areas, we would be failing in our duty if we did not work with our allies to deal with the problem where it starts. afghanistan and pakistan will help ensure a safer britain. the mountains of waziristan. 2001 thousands of pakistan and with president obama, i have been urging pakistan's telephone conversation with president zardari on saturday, just against the pakistan against al qaeda. community we must intensify our -- development program, on the border areas and on
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encouraging the development of propaganda of madrassahs. it is essential that progress in driving al qaeda from afghanistan must be matched by actions not simply to isolate pakistan. into waziristan have led some to propose that it is al qaeda there. to explain why this is an inadequate response we must network, its long standing links with the afghan taliban, and the extent to which al qaeda continue to seek, as in the past, a taliban-controlled permissive afghanistan which would allow them unfettered opportunities to plan and launch with impunity their attacks on britain and other countries. so our task is to prevent the taliban from giving al qaeda that safe haven. and while stabilizing afghanistan will not solve all our challenges in pakistan and the world can least afford it.
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safety of people on the streets operate in afghanistan. unique force of nato supported by clear united nations resolutions. approach to achieving this has now to be different. suggest that take greater control of their own security. taliban we have to government at national level and at local level, too. only minority people; and our judgment that
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the long term security of police, building up the civilian aspects of our strategy. responsibility to district, province by province -- with the first potentially being handed over during next year. troops, second, national government, and stronger stake in their economic
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future. and i can also say that over for and to encourage between afghanistan and its neighbors, based on affairs and on a commitment links with other security measures from which all can benefit. afghanistan on january 28 -- which president karzai and the secretary general of the united nations have confirmed they will attend -- to unite the international community behind a program now and for the longer term to help the afghans secure and govern their own country. essential to create weakening the taliban by itself -- a military surge
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complemented by a political afghan surge. benchmarks for this approach and then, and in that numbers and deployment of our armed forces. expansion of the afghan army from 90,000 to 134,000. trained and partnered by british forces. afghan soldiers are arriving in helmand this month -- an extra company for each afghan battalion there. -- 1,000 more troops -- will soon reinforce the afghan army's afghanistan. responsibility for security.
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months the international community will agree with police reform plan. afghan national police numbers will increase further increases to follow. and we will double the numbers 100 this year to 200 next year. thirdly, an effective and accountable local administration. from now on all 400 provinces corruption with clearly defined roles, skills and resources.
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more to come. from 22,000 to 31,000. and inclusive national government in kabul -- one that reaches out to political leaders and citizens from all strands of afghan society. agreed with us on the priority 12 leading officials, we recognize that the test is not initiatives but delivery on the ground. reconciliation. it is the task of military pressurize the insurgency. but it is right and essential that this work is combined with those prepared to renounce
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the political process. both national and local levels. people in towns and their country -- a identify the likely economy and provide afghans with credible economic insurgency. harvest is expected to be the highest in 30 years. programs funded by our this year create 20,000 jobs, and by 2013, raise the incomes of 200,000 people. deployments.
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support our strategy particular, to train more afghan soldiers and police forces -- the government implemented once 3 conditions were met. i can now report on each of these conditions. number of british personnel in afghanistan only if we were assured that it would continue soldier and unit deployed is fully equipped for the operations they are asked to undertake. the chief of the defense staff additional 500 troops. the continuing delivery of new equipment. helicopters have today been given the green light for operations in afghanistan, one month ahead of schedule.
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have doubled helicopter flying hours. mine-resistant mastiff vehicles will have almost doubled compared with august. smaller, more agile version of increased by over 75%. by spring next year, they will vehicles -- showing the results 3 years of more than 1 billion reserve in vehicles for afghanistan. along with dedicated equipment, will be complete. surveillance hours available to commanders have increased by over 40%. will be deployed by spring 2010.
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support for our forces deployed 400,000 pounds and still rising. support is what we owe those who are fighting for our country in afghanistan. that our contribution of 9,500 must be part of an agreed approach across the international coalition, with all countries bearing their share. a coalition whose principal about the coalition's evolving strategy. announcement tomorrow. his work -- reports that 8 countries have already made offers of additional troops and that other countries are likely
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to follow. it is often said that america and britain are fighting alone. this is wrong. coalition troops will 30,000 soon, and i months even more countries will respond. benefit. last year, total international will be above 20,000 -- 3 times what they were. deploying additional british troops was that the military effort of the international training in the next few weeks.
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new force level of 9,500. in central helmand, and from late january will make the transition to a partnering role. mr. speaker, for understandable security, we shall continue to their deployment and the nature of activities of our special forces. right to give a more comprehensive account of our total military commitment to the afghanistan campaign. deserve the assurance that our highly professional widely respected and extraordinarily brave special forces are playing their full role not only in force protection but in taking the fight directly to the taliban, working in theatre alongside our regular forces.
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pay tribute to them. supporting troops and the increases troops. deliver our military strategy of bringing security to the population. strategy of strengthening the afghan government at they in return take steps to govern in a cleaner, inclusive way. accelerate the development of the afghan army and police, security and thus ensure that our troops can come home. the safety of our forces. for afghanistan to meet. worked hard to achieve a burden.
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for a safe britain we need a stable afghanistan. i commend this statement to the house. >> mister david cameron. >> can i thank the prime minister for his statement. before turning to afghanistan, can i start by putting write something i got a long must we. -- school scud government money by being led by a group linked to an extremist group. while they did receive that money, it was not the pathfinder -- i continue to believe that taxpayer money goes to schools run by extremists. in afghanistan, to what the 35
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british service personnel and ministry of defence staff have berdych personnel have lost their lives. -- british personnel have lost we backed the reasons for being in afghanistan -- to enable afghans to look after their own security without presenting a danger to the rest of the world. the sooner that happens, the sooner our forces can come all. surge. second, the conference planned for january, and third, the timetable which the prime minister has set out for handing over provinces to afghan control. on the 500 additional british deployment which the prime minister announced on october 14 as he said subject to the three conditions be met.
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burden shared amongst nato allies. the prime minister told the house on the 18th of november allies about increasing their contribution. can he tell us which countries have pledged more troops? how many are these in total? how many troops in total and when will they be deployed and how many of them will go to helmand? the second condition was to insure the forces at the necessary equipment. the prime minister says they will have that equipment. this was a test set by the government and just by the government. while more helicopters are welcome, is it not the case that the year -- the support that the u.s. have in afghanistan have far more helicopters? is it not also the case that the mill -- the marlins are ordered before?
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personally cut 1.4 billion pounds of the helicopter program, we would not be in the situation we are in today. the third condition is that additional afghan forces were deployed. he gave us the figures today. can he assure us that they will remain in helmand once deployed? can he comment on that less than 10% of afghan forces are actually in helmand, even though almost half the fighting takes place there. the prime minister has set up some benchmarks. i have to ask why it is 3.5 years after our forces are right that we are setting out such conditions? is it credible to deal with corruption in the police in his six-month timetable when we have not managed in the last 3.5 years? in respect of what he said about
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governors, most are already in place, what exactly does the prime minister mean? does it mean that some of the current governors must be replaced? next, a london conference. -- does he believe that the bomb settlement does it wrong? there will be a central figure? will the prime minister create a afghanistan's neighbors to help deliver stability? turning to pakistan, some of the prime minister's remarks at the weekend reported in the press are different to what he said in the chamber. when asked in october about pakistan, she went out of his way to defend the way in which pakistan was taking on al qaeda.
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"planning how to deal with not only the pakistan tell then but the afghan taliban and al qaeda itself." encouraging. for -- to criticize pakistan for failing to deal with al qaeda. there is but -- there has been much specialized -- speculation about the time tables. i have to say, mr. deputy speaker, the statement to the house is slightly different to the briefing given to the press over the weekend. the prime minister says he wants the london conference to determine the conditions for transferring provinces in districts to afghan control. the prime minister also said, in transferred by the end of 2010, and he believed this would be possible for one or two districts in helmand. how could he be confidence of this timetable before the london
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conference has met and set benchmarks? we all want our troops to come home as soon as possible as soon prime minister agree, we must never do -- does the prime minister agree, that we should never give the impression to the tel then we will not see this through? -- to tell that that we will not see this through? -- to the taliban that we will not see this through? can we assure the people that any discussion of timetables will be based on information on the ground? >> mr. prime minister? >> mr. speaker, first of all, i want to thank the leader of the opposition for his continuing support for the work of our forces in afghanistan. i think we should get this in
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proper perspective. first of all, we are fighting terrorism, fighting al qaeda and pakistan, but to do so successfully, we have to prevent them having space in afghanistan. our time is up -- it is not simply a military strategy, it is a political strategy that all the time the afghan people can take more responsibility and more control over their own affairs. i do not think i could've been clearer in saying that our objectives are not limited by dates. achievements. it is the achievement of afghan control and the ability of afghan people to take responsibility for their security that is the determining issue in all of this. this is not a time-specific commitment. it is a task-to civic commitment. -- task-specific commitment. let me answer questions about conditions.
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eight countries had pledged more troops in afghanistan, and i did say i expected more countries to do so in the run-up to the january conference on january 28. i did also say that president karzai had promised 5000 afghan forces transferred to helmand to partner with british i did also say these recruits are starting to see me now into hlemanelmand and they will be deployed with british forces in the months to come. i said previously that the imbalance between the numbers of afghan forces has had to be addressed, and this is one way of doing so. in total, 10,000 afghan forces will be trained in helmand over the next few months. the hon. gentleman it shouts i should name all the countries. it is for these countries to make their own announcements.
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the secretary general of nato has made it clear to me and to other people that eight countries have already given the pledge of additional forces and that other countries are going to follow. as far as our own troops and their equipment are concerned, i do say the chief of the defense talked about the increase of ground forces and helmand. he said we have 1/3 more protective cup -- patrol vehicles, helicopters have gone up. it is also going up in quality. the equipment people are using is the best they ever had. the leader of the opposition also asked me about the conference on january 28. in the conference is designed to bring the international community together. i said in my statement, and he must not have picked this up, we wanted a new international
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coordinator to be able to deal with the problems of the civilian and military cooperation in afghanistan, and i hope that when a replacement consider the overall coordination of that effort. at the conference in january, we will want to discuss how the neighbors of afghanistan can come together to give in future guarantees about afghan's security and its freedom from interference. economic and social development of afghanistan. when it comes to this conference, i believe other countries will wish to make announcements about troops. i also believe the issue of constitutional reform that the leader has raised in the possibility of constitutional reform for afghanistan may be the subject of remarks that president karzai may want to
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make, and we want to have further agreement about how we could transfer the security responsibility to the afghan people. countries in afghanistan will attend, is an important milestone in the development of the policy of the international community in cooperation with afghanistan. pakistan -- it is right, mr. deputy speaker, that 30,000 aziristan, -- are cornering al qaeda. this is an important development. the most significant thing that has happened in the region is the pakistan government and all authorities, including opposition parties in pakistan, have recognized if they do not take action against al qaeda,
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then they themselves will fall victim to terrorism within their own country as well as allow floors in pakistan. -- to flourish in pakistan. pakistan is now taking action in these areas. -- made clear by president obama is also clear, however, that more action needs to be taken if al qaeda is operating within pakistan and operating within that country and seeking further space to operate, it is the duty of the pakistani authorities to work with international partners to attempt to isolate al qaeda and pakistan. i do not think there is any contradiction. it is important to recognize it is important also to recognize that for the last eight years, al qaeda has been able to send instructions from
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pakistan to the rest of the world and to organize from pakistan terrorist attacks that have affected every continent. speaker, we are providing the additional troops -- mr. speaker we are providing the additional troops. it is a unique coalition that has never before been assembled, one that involves the nato terrorist problem. i believe we are giving the troops the equipment and resources necessary to do the i hope all country will support us in doing so. >> mr. deputy speaker, i welcome the prime minister's statement and join him in recognizing and commanding the enormously impressive work, the selfless bravery of our armed forces in afghanistan. of course, i join him in welcoming the soldiers from the 19th light brigade and others who are in the house of commons today. it has finally become mainstream
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to talk about the need for a big shift in our strategy in afghanistan. when i first questioned the effectiveness of our action there six months ago, and called for precisely this kind of step change, -- >> [clamoring] >> i was told it was unpatriotic to do so. the prime minister's tone since then has been dramatic and welcome. our approach has always been simple. we should do it properly or not do it at all. does the prime minister agree that success is not just about troop numbers in that focusing on troop numbers as he can -- as he has done today, is putting the cart before the horse? there is no point sending a single extra soldier and less first the strategy they need to succeed in their mission is in place. why is the prime minister making any announcements at all about
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troop numbers today when we will obama's announcement tomorrow what the new strategy is and what chances it has of success? i have in the past criticized the prime minister for keeping quiet on afghanistan, failing to speak out in support of our as he swung too far in the other direction, seeking to make an announcement on to the numbers before we know whether things are in place which would allow them to succeed? we know from previous successful peacekeeping missions, such as in the balkans, that you cannot succeed unless you have the support from all the big regional powers. pakistan, china and russia. it also means iran. can the prime minister tell us how we will find a way to take a tough stance with iran while seeking to keep them engaged in securing peace in afghanistan?
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the centerpiece of the prime minister's announcement was its settlement ka settlement -- president karzia. what kind of steps is he taking to meet directly with local and provincial governments? we should not hold our breath for the president to change borrower on ways to succeed turning to the welcome delivery warhog vehicles, can he confirm that the snatch land rovers are no longer being used by any of our troops with -- and deployment in afghanistan? let me address the issue of
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troop deployments. it was the prime minister himself is said the deployment of any extra british troops would be conditional on other she refuses to tell us today exactly what other countries are sharing the burden. condition, will he now be clear and detailed in setting out what he expects, which nato countries are offering troops, when will they all arrive, and what will there will be on the ground? for several years now, our troops -- since our troops first stepped into afghanistan, the government's strategy has been over ambitions and under resorts. -- underresourced. >> mr. speaker, again, i think we should concentrate on where
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believe that the strategy of moving to greater control by the afghans themselves over their own security is the right one. we agree that would require the extra military numbers that we are putting in theater, but so, too, are other countries. it will be complemented by political strategy which i have argued has got to be building up the afghan army and police, national government free of corruption and giving people an economics teacher -- stake in the future. i believe on all these things we are agreed. as far as commitments the afghans must make, it is not possible for us to get a blank check to the afghanistanis. we must look to the promises they have made about delivering troops that can be trained in theater with britain and other coalition allies.
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but the test is not in the words that come from addresses in statements. the test is an actual delivery. that is why i have put more force on what has been dominant in the last few days, since president karzai started his second term, then on the statements made before these early days. i think it is important to recognize that troops are being provided, that an anti- corruption task force, more will be done but we have seen a start to delivery on a number of key president and demanded he make. as far as vehicles in the field are concerned, we do need some small vehicles as well as the larger vehicles. we have more mastiff, we have more respect, -- -- ridgeback. i agree that what we must do is make sure that all our troops are the best equipped as
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possible. the truth is, we have had to move from a situation from face- to-face combat with the talent and to a gorilla war conducted members, in particular, to damage our moral and damage and kill our troops. we have had to adjust our sure work against explosive devices -- extra work against explosive devices, and unmanned drones to enable us to do surveillance. i have to say that we have found a great deal of success, more had been dismantled. we ever responsibility to do more. that is why we have increased the amount of equipment.
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all these tasks -- there will be more engineers going into afghanistan in the next few months to ensure that our increased number of troops is properly protected. i assure you we take very seriously what he says about equipment and about the the safety of our troops. but i believe the answer is in the investment we are making with new helicopters, new vehicles and the special devices. >> mike gates? >> thank you, mr. deputy speaker. government is in meeting benchmarks, we ourselves are in afghanistan for our own national security reasons. in that context, the prime efforts of the pakistani government, but how confidence is he that the civilian government in pakistan has got
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the power to shift the focus of its military and intelligence rather than its obsession with india? >> mr. speaker, my friend who is an expert is absolutely right to draw attention to the importance and to draw attention to the fact we are in afghanistan for national security reasons, because there is a terrorist threat to the people of our country. it is not enough for us to borders. it is important that we combat the terrorists at the source. i have spoken to the president of pakistan. i keep in touch with the opposition as well. i also talked to the military, as do other members of the government and our armed forces. we can be sure that the pakistani authorities are where they have to deal with the threat posed by the pakistan
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tell them but also al qaeda. -- pakistan taliban but also al qaeda. we have to take a long-term view of pakistan. dramatically -- dramatically over future years. the numbers of young people subject to influence by extremist groups and large -- is large. the education system with a number of addresses that exist being indoctrinated by extremist ideology is in madrassahs. he is right to insist that we put resources into education. the foreign secretary has undertaken a review of pakistani educational systems and we are making a number of proposals that would improve the textbooks as well as the quality of education available in the schools and pakistan, to which we are prepared to devote substantial resources to enable pakistan to have an education
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we want to work with pakistan on a comprehensive strategy. can ask proper questions about the details of this statement, prime minister of the words that it is important to have delivery on the ground rather than just words, may i say that it is at last high time that the prime minister has come to take real personal charge of the argument in favor of why we are there. the fact that we are in that of the stability of pakistan with its nuclear weapons is something which the prime minister does need to argue in favor of. would he agree that this statement is not the end of that
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argument but the beginning of many statements? >> i appreciate what he says is chairman of the defense committee. for all of us to share this view threat and it has to be dealt with at source as well as within our own countries, it is important we explain to the general public what we are doing and why we have now -- we are building a case for being in afghanistan but what our strategy is to enable afghans to take more control of their own affairs so that our troops can come home. we should assure people that we have a plan and this tragedy that is broad and supported across nato. >> can i just say to the house that these are serious matters. could i ask, please, for one very brief question, perhaps one
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brief reply. >> prime minister, it is a good statement because we see a light at the end of the tunnel. i hope the light of that tunnel comes out. will you confirm there is no truth and the rumor that the italians are pulling their troops out before christmas, that canadians are talking about pulling troops out, the dutch will pull troops out, the getting their troops in? can he confirm these rumors? >> i cannot confirm all of these rumors. netherlands have made announcements about the time- limited nature of their deployment to afghanistan, but it is also true that a number of countries are ready to put in additional troops into afghanistan.
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this includes members of nato members of nato. and i am satisfied that there will be thousands of additional troops provided, not just by america and britain but also adding to that number will be troops from other countries. i said to the nato secretary general, eight countries have already indicated that they have numbers of troops that are prepared to deploy. i think it is also true to say that he has indications from announcements soon. >> why has the president of pakistan just announced that he has given up his personal control of that countries's nuclear weapons and transfer them to his prime minister, when for years we have been assured that their nuclear weapons were under the control of the army and not the politicians? >> mr. speaker, in a democracy, it seems right politicians make the final decisions. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
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my right hon. friend rightly focused on the equipment. in a recent opening -- the secretary of state saw the with how much pride that our workers are producing first- class equipment for our troops. could he assure us that this information could get out to our constituents without putting our troops at risk? so that they know we have confidence in our troops and we are giving them the best of the equipment produced in the uk? >> my hon. friend is absolutely right. the equipment being produced for our troops to deal with guerrilla warfare being practiced by the talavou and it is of very high quality and i am proud -- produced by the taliban and it is of very high quality. i am proud. we will continue to upgrade the
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equipment available to our forces, in addition to the defense budget, several billion vehicles, helicopters, equipment to deal with ied's. some very notable firms are responsible for these advances that we are making in both technology and equipment. >> with regard to the london conference, will the prime minister undertake to invite russia, china and india to take part? willie except that this is not only appropriate is they face -- will he accept that this is not only appropriate as they faced the same terrorist threats, but their presence would reassure unlike iraq, our presence in afghanistan has the unanimous support of united nations security council? >> mr. speaker, the former foreign secretary is a blip -- absolutely right, that any sentiment that will insure not interference by other members --
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it will have to include members of the countries mentioned. they to be part of better security arrangements for afghanistan. as far as specific details of the london conference, i hope we will be able to announce more information. says, that there have to be talks with the countries in the region about how they can secure the future of afghanistan and build the economic, cultural, and cultural links -- social links that are necessary if afghanistan is to control its own affairs. this morning -- this summer, i was able to see the very excellent medical facilities we had there. with the increase in numbers being deployed, will he ensure that there is a commensurate increase in the in theater
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after care services in the uk? >> he is absolutely right about those people who are charged with the health care of those people who are fighting in afghanistan. i have seen for myself the facilities, the way that hospital has some of the most modern equipment in the world and the way its nurses and medical care -- staff care for we have determined, working with the americans and other parties who share this medical facility, we are also determined that facilities at birmingham are the best for those members of our armed forces who are injured and the recovery and rehabilitation. we have invested substantially in hedleycourt.
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>> the prime minister has deal with the terrorist threat at its source. can he tell the house what proportion of terrorist threats years have been directly connected with the afghani tell them rather than the pakistani taliban? >> i was talking about al qaeda and the threat posed in the united kingdom by terrorist plots either organize or in collaboration with people who are members of al qaeda and pakistan. i think the evidence is that many of the plots we have had to deal with, including the most instructions that come from al my point about the tell a man is this, that if al qaeda -- my
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power, there would be a greater danger is not just in the region but on the streets of britain. >> the prime minister mentioned the whole country and the whole statement today. was it not appropriate to remind the house that we are there in nations are in the coalition and eight other countries have pledged troops? would it not be appropriate for the secretary-general of the united station or beat -- united nations to name needs countries? my friend is absolutely right. this is a unique venture. it is difficult to look back on this were so many countries come coalition, the leadership of nato and the united nations, and
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they are committed to providing additional resources to enable the surge in military activity to happen, but at the same time, to enable the political settlement. as far as the naming of countries that have offered troops, it is possible for me to refer to statements that have been made by different leaders in different countries, but i think the announcements should be made by these leaders themselves and not the secretary general of nato. i am confident that the 5000 additional troops i talked about a few weeks ago has been an important part of the continuing mission that these 5000 -- these 5000 troops will be obtained as part of the pledge made by other countries. >> will the prime minister say what steps he will take to afghanistan whose forces are confined to and non-combat role to change their policies and be
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willing to share that, that burden of our own forces? >> there is some countries that do not purchase a paid in the military activity, fighting in afghanistan and do other work. i think it is important to recognize that we need the help of all countries. where countries are willing to financial or of any equipment helicopters. he is exactly right. we want people to share the fighting on the front line. i agree with him that we would like more countries to contribute with military forces prepared to go to the front line. >> thank you, mr. deputy speaker. my right arm old friend knows sacrifice well. we are burying another man this week.
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the second battalion reaching the rifles, he wrote, we are making a difference in afghanistan. my friends did not die for nothing. 14 of these comrades did die in the last tour. the british army has the best equipment in the world. support -- able to read out a letter from serving member of our forces and i pay tribute to his work on behalf of the country and all those people who -- from plymouth who serve in our armed forces. it is important to recognize the advances in equipment made in recent years sure it is important to recognize we have had to change our tactics -- it is important to recognize we because of the tactics of the taliban. we are proud of everything our forces do. >> i thank the prime minister
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for the detail in his statement and say i generally hope the conditions he has set out will be met. however, he has quoted is saying that what we need out is a political push. -- what we need now is a political push. given the united states are engaged in an exhaustive review of strategy, would have not made more sense that the statement of our strategy and our allies political commitments, before the statement on deployment we receive to date? >> i hope and making out the statement i made that he will forward the strategy that we i have tried since december, 2007, when i said this strategy must be one of giving afghan own affair and progressively police, and local government, that that is a consistent strategy we have tried to pursue adopt. i think it is important that we
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allow the deployment of troops to happen as quickly as possible now that decisions have been made across the alliance. it is right that side is -- side-by-side with the statement of why we are there that i did announce the figures for troop numbers. as i said, these troops will be deployed within the next few weeks to afghanistan. it is important now that we can signal that that way ahead can start. i think he is wrong to suggest we should have waited longer. it is right to move ahead now. >> canadians are withdrawing combat forces from kandahar. it is right next door to helmand. has my friend spoken to the conservative prime minister of canada to ask him to reconsider, and what did he say? >> i did speak to mr. harper at the commonwealth conference, and we had a discussion with other countries, including australia
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who are involved in afghanistan, and new zealand to are also it is my view, that in kandahar and then helmand there will be a greater number of troops next year than there are this year. while some countries that make difficult decisions that they themselves have responsibility to take, overall, the numbers of troops in those provinces will rise. . .
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it is the biggest threat to our general mcchrystal and taken to the provinces there? >> i am grateful to my honorable friend to for what he says. it is essential that we corrupt administration in afghanistan. we need to make sure where money administration for spending within afghan administration, there is an afghan
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reconstruction fund and we try to make sure that moneys are going for the purposes that they are intended for it is more general point about the coordination of military and civilian work is an important one. we need to look at that as a part of the agenda of the london conference. we try to bring together the military and civilian work and a more coordinated way and that we have people in charge of humanitarian and development work in afghanistan on a basis. what he says will definitely be taken into account as we look at what we can achieve as part of the london conference. i am pleased to note that member here with us. i want this whole house to thank them for everything that they do in the service of this country. >> mr. deputy speaker, having campaigned of the last four years for more protected
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increased numbers of them being delivered to a theater. is the prime minister confident that the extra troops being sent to afghanistan will not have the opposite at that to that which is intended, and that is to a exacerbate the situation? this has happened in the past, and could this not be history repeating itself? >> note, mr. speaker, i do not believe so. a change in tactics by the taliban. they are acting -- fighting effectively a guerrilla war. by having a properly protected vehicles, by the surveillance that we're doing of itt's, and by the intelligence that is backing up the military work done by our troops in the field, i believe that we are doing the right thing, and that the necessary nerds in numbers in those parts of afghanistan which
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have been subject to the greatest violence will also be complemented by a political strategy, increasingly ill will be afghan forces that hold the ground, and far from being seen by an occupying force, by partnering with the afghan forces, we will enable them to take responsibility for their country. >> does the prime minister accept that there is a different analysis that can be put on and the demands of other countries, that looks more and more like a colonial occupation and that all the demands placed in afghanistan, is this not going to increase opposition to that, increased opposition in pakistan, and in neighboring countries, making the situation worse? the british troops may be there another eight years? >> how is it that the afghan
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taliban, which are responsible for the denial of human rights particularly to women, has gotten the political support of the political of afghanistan or it does not? all the recent evidence that we have seen is that only a small afghanistan support the taliban, include people who are paid for their work and have no ideological commitment to which in some reason -- in some part, they can be detached by an effective afghan government and reconciliation. if you start from the position of mass of support, he may reach the conclusion that it is a mistake to work with the elected afghan government and the afghan but i stand on the proposition that they have limited support in afghanistan.
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>> bearing in mind that in his last two statements to the house, the prime minister has quite rightly stress the need for our allies to commit more troops to afghanistan. he has stressed to make sure that he will -- to make sure that that what happened. it's a disappointing and to be able to reveal any more of these troops this afternoon? >> i think he is belaboring the point. i have announced that eight countries have already agreed with the secretary general of nato that there will provide troops that are addition to those already in afghanistan. figures for the doubling of numbers of non-british, non- american troops of the last two years and more, the show that
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the international coalition is made up not just of britain and america but a vast range of coalition forces. i think that we should wait and see what the announcements are by other countries before we rush to the conclusion that he has rushed to. >> we are less than six months our troops deserve to hear this house speak with one voice. will you bring in any opposition leaders to determine strategy for afghanistan to make sure that it will not become a political football? >> the messages going out to the country that despite our supportive of the efforts that our troops are making in afghanistan, agreed that i strategy is one where afghanistan takes more responsibility for it's a fair, and that we must work with pakistan as well as afghanistan to deal with the terrorist
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threat in that region, and agreed that while it is a financial commitment that a strenuous, is right to support our troops and our forces in the way that we are doing. >> even after the fight over additional troops, allied forces including afghans does not exceed the 27500 troops we had and northern ireland. during that helmand pross cents -- given that helmand province is four times the size of -- what is the prime minister troops will make a difference? >> this is to build up afghan forces so that they can take more responsibility for their country. that although there are 90,000 be 135,000 by next year. it is our strategy to train at
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these afghan forces so that they buy their professional ability and hold the ground as well as take ground in afghanistan over time. and that is our strategy, not to rely exclusively on allied forces but to have allied forces working with the afghan army and with a corrupt-3 afghan peace. so he has misunderstood the strategy if he puts it the way he is doing. >> should he set out his strategy and a fully detailed of this year? and that the white paper should be debated on the floor of this house on a commendable motion before the 20th of january? in april, if i remember the date rightly, the proposals that we afghanxzaton strategy.
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house want to debate these things in more detail. it is right that we should do so. but i had understood -- perhaps i had been misled -- i had understood that the opposition supports our strategy. >> could i reinforced my comments of my colleague about the role of the forces in afghanistan? there was consistent criticism by british and u.s. forces when we visited in april that nato allies on a nato mission were not playing their full role. will the prime minister assure the house that the new troops going to afghanistan from nato and other countries will be joined by -- governed by cabinets -- caveats? >> he is right to expect other countries to do more. but over the last few weeks, we have been trying to persuade other nato allies, and indeed allies outside nato, to do more
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so. but we have to appreciate that we have to build up the afghan forces just as pakistan has got to have a more professional approach to dealing with terrorism. that is where the answer to the problems lie in both pakistan and afghanistan. we won the afghan people themselves to take more responsibility for the run affairs. >> the helicopters -- is the considering purchasing new ones? dollars in any statements on helicopters, they will be made to the house. >> mark lancaster. >> mid that will have to cover the territory army. now that he has seen the error of his ways, can he reassure the house that there will be no cuts to the territorial army budget next year?
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>> became clear in the last few days the value we attach the territorial army by the decisions about money that we made. i hope that he will also consider that the priority at the moment is for the effort in afghanistan, and to direct our resources to afghanistan means also that we finance the territorial army for what we can do in afghanistan as well. i think that it's a decision that we have made. opposition might be more -- and i'm grateful for the fact that he has served and for all people who have served in the territorial army, but it is important said -- it is important to recognize that our resources have got to be prioritized toward what we're doing in afghanistan. territory does the british army control, and how much more can
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we win with the without the help of the afghan allies? >> he is putting this in the context of territory. i would prefer to put it in the context of people, people working with us in the main centers. our strategy is to work with the people in the villages in the town, particularly in the towns, to make sure that they feel responsibility, with a police force more intense with the needs of the people, and that is the strategy that we want to pursue. >> the prime minister stated that are 90,000 trained afghan troops, but the leader of the opposition pointed out that just actually in helmand province. 50% of the activities take place there. should more trained afghan troops be sent there? it will take two years to train the new recruits.
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could he call president karzai and get more afghan troops to the helmand province now? the lawyers there are 10,000 troops to be trained in not 5000. half of these will be trained by americans. some of these troops that will come to helmand will already have been trained and they will be a bit there for partnership. some will be coming there to be trained from the beginning. the commitment that i had from president karzai is that he now sees that moment is a priority, that troops will be dispatched there from the rest of the country to helmand, where a great deal of the violence is. it is in recognition of that that i have made the announcements i have made to date. >> the statement of the prime minister mentioned yemen, with the yemeni groups forming the working in afghanistan and
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pakistan. will they continue to work with the government of yemen to make sure that it does not become a be a lot -- and that they will be invited to the london conference? >> he is absolutely right to point to the terrorist threats we see in different parts of the world. it is absolutely true that have sometimes been trained in pakistan and they are people that we have had to pursue. it is also right that somalia has become a major center for the development of terrorist activity and that some of these groups are targeting britain. but i have to repeat that the global terrorism remains pakistan and the pakistan-afghan border. to take on the terrorist threat pakistan and afghanistan, and the efforts that we put there in military strategy are the most
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important things that we can do. we would not to collect the differences -- the dangers and yemen and somalia. important center of global terrorism remains the one we have been talking about today. >> the prime minister always mentions the sacrifice made by our our soldiers. but repeating the political mistakes of a generation ago, talking about the vietnam and the decision being taken that we had to withdraw, but it came no closer to an outcome that could not be one. >> i think he ought to look at what the evidence is for the support of the taliban in afghanistan. his assumption is that somehow the insurgency has massive popular support and that the vast been jarred the of the population would go with that insurgency if they had the choice.
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i do not think that reflects the situation in afghanistan. a poll was done recently that said that only 8% of the population of a canister and supported it in any way the taliban and the insurgency. i believe most wants security and safety. i believe that they will support the partnering of british and coalition forces with afghan forces and i believe that we have the ability to work with the afghan people to defeat this insurgency. i also believe that there many people associate -- associated with the insurgency who do not share with the extremist ideology of the taliban or al qaeda, and they wish to join the ordinary political process and renounce violence. >> why has it taken the prime minister so long to make up his mind to send these extra troops? commanders on the field had been asking for extra troops for least a year. why the delay? >> last year we had 8000 troops
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in afghanistan appeared at the moment we have over 9000 troops in afghanistan. so the idea that we've not increased our forces are the last year to response -- in response to events is completely wrong. as far as the five under additional troops that we agreed to send today, and it was right to be met. partly because the public needed to be assured that everything possible had been done to make possible, partly because we had to assure ourselves that other the effort, and partly because we needed the afghans themselves after the election period to commit to providing the forces that are necessary for training. if our strategy is to work, we need the afghan forces to be trained by british forces and by coalition forces. that is why it was important to get the assurances and indeed the practical announcements from president karzai about the
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designation of troops to helmand. i believe that putting conditions on the additional 500 do. i think it is absolutely wrong to say that we have not added of the last year. we absolutely right to lay down conditions that had to be met. now we can move immediately to send additional troops to afghanistan. >> president obama will outline his afghanistan war strategy tomorrow night at the u.s. military academy at west point, new york. you can see that on the c-span networks, on line at, and on c-span radio. live at 8:00 eastern. in a few moments, a freelance journalist david acts talking about his recent trip to afghanistan and the training of afghanistan forces. and 40 minutes, a discussion of the recent run in presidential
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election and subsequent protests. after that, white house press secretary robert gibbs is asked about the president's speech tomorrow on afghanistan strategy. and later, we will be aired british prime minister gordon brown announcement that he is sending more troops to afghanistan. on "washington journal," more about the health care debate from the ranking member of the finance committee, senator charles grassley of iowa. we will look ahead to president obama speech on afghanistan with democratic representative gerry connolly, a member of the foreign affairs committee, and thomas ricks, a former military correspondent for the "washington post." "washington journal" is live every day at 7:00 a.m. ms. stern hear on c-span. >> a couple of live events to tell you about tomorrow. the senate commerce subcommittee
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on aviation looks into airline pilot fatigue hear on c-span at 10:15 a.m. eastern. the senate intelligence committee considers pending nominations at the departments of state and homeland security. you can see that on c-span3 at 2:30 p.m. eastern. >> free-lance journalist david axe was recently embedded with u.s. troops in afghanistan. in this 40 minute interview, we'll talk with them about his experience in the u.s. army and air force. this was his second trip to afghanistan. >> my first trip was for -- -- was to the province in the south. on this trip i wanted to go back to the south and see if i could detect progress or see if things had gotten worse, but also could
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use some areas in afghanistan i had not visited before. in 2007 i spent my time in kabul. this time i headed out to one of the agricultural district south kabul to see a different facet of the war effort. >> heidi make the arrangements to get there? >> you can buy commercially into kabul -- you can fly commercially into kabul. >> october was the deadliest month for u.s. servicemen and. how concerned are you for your own personal safety and what measures do you take to protect yourself? >> if you are in bed, if you are required to wear much of the same protective gear that the u.s. troops duke, a helmet and a best with armor plates and it. and you write in the same vehicles that they do.
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you can get it online at some use military supply dealer. it is basically law enforcement gear. but you have the same protective measures that u.s. troops do, and it is sophisticated stuff. i do not worry too much about my own safety. the logistics of the trip are far dicier than their physical danger. it is tough moving around afghanistan. it does not seem to get easier overtime. it is a big country, rugged, poor infrastructure. often you have to contend with afghan bureaucracy, and corruption becomes an issue. for instance, i had to get a week-long be set extension just to get out of the country and had been told that that would not be a problem. of course, it turns out that it was a huge problem. the paperwork and the officers i
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had to yell at, it took a week to get a week-long visa extension. >> on your arrival in afghanistan, how'd you hook up with a unit in which you will be embedded? and which unit was that? >> i started out with the u.s. air force had bought from -- at the bottom -- at bagram. you had to get a press badge in kabu and then caught a taxi up to gabagrah -- then taught at taxi up to bagram. i was more or less handed off to the air force for about a week. then they handed me off to the army for a couple of weeks in a province call logar. and then i went to canada are. -- kandahar.
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>> can you describe the province? >> it is a former soviet the selling -- facility. shambled old buildings and decrepit runway that is being improved. it is the biggest u.s. military facility in afghanistan by some measure. population-wise, tens of thousands. i'm not sure of the exact numbers. mostly military personnel. there are a whole lot of aircraft flying in, and letting things, reloading things, flying out to destinations. it is a buzz of activity costly. as like a gigantic that? facility. >> are other nato troops stationed there as well? >> there is no base that does not have some mix of u.s. and coalition personnel. >> what you observe from the interaction between u.s. troops and nato or afghan forces?
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how closely do they work together? >> u.s. troops and afghan troops worked fairly closely together. there is a mentoring relationship. often they go out on patrol and bring out of -- bring along a bunch of afghans. it is a seamless way. they do not have the same capabilities or training but they are there, tagging along a lot of the time. a lot of the coalition activities are divided along national lines. the french have a floor operating base. >> exclusively theirs? >> not exclusively, but they are mostly for its brief dutch operations are mostly dutch. you will see afghan forces peppering been national contingencies. >> did you see some of the logistical supply operation coming out of bagram? what does that look like?
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>> i did. i belong with a c-130 airlift group. some shipments of food and water and other supplies came in, either run commercial aircraft for military aircraft. it was offloaded and broken up and up batches and loaded on the c-130's for further delivery. this was carrying water to the south. we flew a couple of hundred miles through the mountains, down to the south of afghanistan, and the c-130 did not pass over the marines location, shoved it out the back, where descended on a parachute, and we flew by bagram. operations like that happen, a dozen a day. it is the major way of getting supplies to the combat troops.
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>> and those operations are fairly safe. you do not encounter too much enemy fire, or confrontation with the taliban are others? >> wright, a taliban do not have an air defense network. the content of potshot at your airplane with their rifles or in our pg. the chances of hitting something flying at high are pretty slim. helicopters are more dangerous because they fly closer to the ground. but cargo airplanes are fairly say. dollars to the c-130 is -- >> and to the c-130's -- >> i am not saying it is perfectly safe. the airspace is crowded. but enemy fire is not a big threat. >> air force jets and others to fly out bagfram -- to fly out --
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do fly out of bagram. what is their mission? >> when the ground troops get to a situation, they call those guys and to drop bombs. bacon to surveillance and then swooped in and drop the bombs. >> is that air support mission in everyday occurrence? >> probably. the air force does not publish the statistics. if i had to venture a guess, i would say daily, maybe a couple of times. but there has been a paid push to find other ways of dealing with the taliban. general mcchrystal himself said that air power might contain the seeds of our own destruction. it is massive overkill and civilian casualties are a big problem. it is better to accept some risk in an engagement with the taliban and not bomb them, than
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it is to risk all -- killing civilians. >> but the increase use of drugs in afghanistan, any connection between people on the ground and drones? >> absolutely. the drones are manned aircraft except that the man is sitting on the ground. he is still talking to the ground troops talking to the air controllers. there's actually a chat program that looks like instant messenger to do a lot of communication with their customers. the guys receiving the support from the drums. the drones are fairly precise as far as these things go. they do not carry large weapons or fire a lot. it is a far cry from a be-one bomber dropping a 10,000 pound bomb on a suspected taliban position.
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by some standards, this is the most sophisticated medical facility in all of afghanistan. it is a u.s. air force-run hospital that does everything from plastic surgery to trauma, emergency room care. >> so they can take care of a lot of issues right there. they do not have to fly soldiers or personal out of country? >> they could handle most things. but the idea is that when someone is hurt, to get them to their long-term care facilities as fast as possible. and that would not be bagram. you do not want u.s. soldiers suffering from burns having to hang around bagram for months at a time. the idea is where a day care needs, to be provided locally, especially for afghans. if there are afghans receiving plastic surgery, they would be
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there. but u.s. troops are moved out as quickly as possible. it combines both medical care and an evacuation role. there is actually a tent, a lavishly equipped tent outside the hospital. when the troops come in, receive the care that they need, and then when they are fairly healthy and stable, they are moved into the tent to wait for a flight. it is ashley hard to catch these guys for interviews because they move out so quickly. when a cargo plane turns around, they put wounded troops on there, often with a nurse or some sort of in-flight medical care to keep them safe and healthy as they fly home, and off they go. to germany or the u.s.. >> you also spent time at a ford operation. they handed you ought to the army. then you went to a port operating base. where was that?
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>> logar province one of the agricultural districts. traditionally, they grow much of the food that people in kabul eat. it is connected kabul pyra 50- mile road. no, is a paved road brit is probably not the u.s. standards but you can make the trip and two hours. a bunch of farmers and shepherds and goatherds, trying to make a living in some unforgiving terrain. >> what is the military have a base there? bubblers most afghans are farmers. one of the keys to winning hearts and minds and bringing people into the coalition called and building support for the afghan government on every day afghans is to talk to these farmers in a language that they
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understand. u.s. army has a battalion in logar province, three companies, one in each district, and they are spending most of their time trying to understand what kind of farming is going on, what do the farmers need, how can we help, and working with the afghan government to get them on that page. it is an agricultural commune that wears military fatigues. >> this is an actual base that the u.s. has built? all was there some sort of facility there before? >> u.s. troops often fall and on existing facilities just for convenience sake. the base there is the former site of the turkish gravel operation. the company based there is a former russian base, back from
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the old soviet-afghan war. that expanded and improved it. some of the facilities have a long history of commerce or conflict. >> as you move further away from the creature conference bubka bagram air force base, what is a light to get your daily meals, where you sleep, how do you communicate with c-span and others outside of afghanistan? >> it depends on where you are. it boils down to what the nature of the mission is and the leadership. for instance, in that southern at gannett -- and that agricultural province, there is not a lot of active combat. for the most part, they are out there talking to farmers and working with farmers, dealing with animals. the routine is set and at that the company there, with the leadership of a very good first sergeant, has managed to build
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quite a nice bass. the food is hot and frequent. there is running water that does not always run but there are showers. little wooden huts and some reinforced tense and some old russian buildings, it stays warm at night. it is fairly comfortable. by contrast, and kandahar, many of the troops there are sleeping out in the open, even in winter, a lot more combat and moving around, much more fluid and dangerous. troops do not have the leisure and the time to settle into a nice retain. it depends on where you are and what you're doing. the bigger basis are not always more comfortable. these days they are overcrowded. the infrastructure for u.s. and nato troops in afghanistan was sized for about 70,000-strong forces. with reinforcements coming in since the beginning of the year, and still more plan, and the
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advanced parties for the coming reinforcements, major bases are just overcrowded. there's no place to sleep. long waits for food, the traffic, things like that. >> and the four operating areas, you talk about an agricultural government -- community. what is the local government like? >> spotty. some have relocated into the u.s. base. it is the afghan security forces and the afghan government and u.s. troops and the u.s. state department, all together, which is delivered and a good idea. these people can work together on a daily basis. it is a challenge working with the afghan local government. there's not a mind-set that the governments exist to provide services. that is what has got to happen to pull together a federal system that actually works. >> is that a state department
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role? >> increasingly, yes. you see a surge of state department and other non- military government agencies moving and says the beginning of the year. more u.s. troops, but they are trying to cede some of the developments to government civilians. in this area, when i arrived in mid-october, it coincided with the arrival of a district's support team, a u.s. state department team that sense and experience foreign service officers to hang out with the local sub-governor to show him that this is what it looks like to run a local government. you need to be walking around, talking to your constituents, find out what they need, who has the resources, and make that link up. that district support team, the advance party was there, one man, but they are going to be joined by a contingent of agricultural experts call from
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u.s. land grant universities who have volunteered to come over and work with farmers. >> how big can it typically get? >> we met about a dozen people. you have a couple hundred u.s. troops and a couple dozen state department and usda-type folks. >> what is the local language and the speaker? >> the local language dari. other places, they speak pashtu. like most foreigners, i hire interpreters. if by an kabul, i hire one. if i am indebted, they had interpreters and i would use theirs. it's complicated because you do not always know what language people are going to speak. broadly speaking, in the south ,pashtu, and in the north, dari. but it is not always that simple.
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sometimes you have to change gears. >> does the military have enough translators? >> no, never, nobody ever has enough translators and never good enough. you may have your allotment but they may not be the best. that is a constant struggle. until we have a large number of americans speaking dari or more afghan speaking english, that is going to be a challenge. >> you spend some time and kandahar. what was the group that you are with and what was their mission for some marc >> i spent my time with two groups, and air training group that mentors the afghan national army air corps. in other words, a bunch of americans who are trying to build an afghan air force on a
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u.s. air force model. in addition, i spent some time with the 62nd expeditionary reconnaissance squadron, a drone unit, predators and leaders. >> the unit training the afghans, this is a big part of nato and the u.s. pushed to take on the security role in a country. how the u.s. military officials think that the afghans are coming along? >> slowly. it is hard -- i will not call them pessimist, but it is hard to be optimistic. they do their job and they are dedicated to it. the americans, that is. but you will not hear them speak badly of the afghans. from my point of view, it is very frustrating. you see almost no progress in
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the two years between my trips to afghanistan. i did see major signs of progress. >> why do you think that is? >> culture, is a matter of culture. we have embarked on an effort to to reformat culture, to change a culture. i'll not even use the word reform because it implies that they need to be like us. the initial goal in the afghan war was to disrupt al qaeda, to do what it took to make that happen, so we decided that meant eradicating the taliban as well. or lease remitting the taliban from power and disrupting them. eight years later, there is very little al qaeda in afghanistan. very little taliban as well, honestly. but somehow the mission has more into not just disrupting those
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organizations of building a society, and almost western- style society, to replace the taliban as a form of government, i guess. and that is not going well. >> afghanistan had any history of a unified military force that serve the country in the past? >> i do not know. i am not an expert on afghan history recently, no, no. under the soviets 20 years ago, there was a partnership with elements of an afghan federal government, just like there is today. i do not mean to equate that two, but recently, no, there is not a strong recent tradition of centralized government in afghanistan. >> did you see any evidence of
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the u.s. or nato forces trying to work with local officials, trying to our eradicate the poppy fields? >> no i did not seek poppy eradication. but we have moved past eradication. >> to what? dollars when it comes to poppies, it is not really in the forefront anymore. the reason that the military cared about poppies is that they were at a source of revenue, they are a source of revenue for the taliban. but that taliban has multiple incomes strains and that is just one. it is also clear that trying to our eradicate poppies, you cause more damage to your efforts -- you heard more than you help. in eliminating the sole source of income for a lot of farmers, you create new extremist and enemies. it is better to find other ways
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to disrupt the taliban that to try to eliminate one of their income streams that so many people depend on for their livelihoods. >> also about the typical operations on the predator drums. >> there are two drone units in afghanistan -- to american trunnion is. one handles the north and one handles the south. the south is the bigger and busier of the two. the exact numbers are classified, but i would guess 100 predator and other drugs. the predators look like giant model airplanes, about the size of a small compact car. the others look about the same but they are twice as big. he can hang missiles and bombs on them and their our noses that can carry different sensors.
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these things could stay in the air a long time. the exact number depends on where you were flying. but it is not impossible for one of these things to orbit for a whole day. just soaking up vast amounts of imagery and data, peering down, looking at taking radar snapshots of terrain. >> about what altitude? >> that is probably classified. many thousands of feet. sometimes you can hear them when you are on the grand prix but you cannot really see them. they are too small. you hear that little wind and they sound like lawnmowers, but you cannot see them. dollars did you see a unit in actually at -- >> did you see as a unit in action? dollars know, they do not handled many attacks. the drone operations are bifurcated. most of the drone operators, the guys to ashley steer them, they
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sit in these trailers and see what the truancies, they are in las vegas. the guys in afghanistan just launched and recovered the drums. they are responsible for drawn operations in certain small areas. usually around the air base. it is a 24 hour operation. the air force guys and contractors are constantly tracking drums ought to the -- out to the air strips, watching them by remote control, and then they pass them off to the guys in las vegas. the gazan las vegas will fly around for a day or so and then returned to drawn to the guys -- return control to the guy kandhar. they can keep the drum for an hour, so they will look for rockets and enemy activity. >> the visuals are that good. you can see the enemy?
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>> they had video cameras like a tv camera. they have a high ability of radar piquancy impressive snapshots of terrain. in the morning, you take one snapshot. you come back in the evening and take another brief compare them and if you see differences, that corner looks like it has been disturbed like someone is chopping up the ground there, then you might have spotted a roadside bomb. the taliban will come in and berry of what you're not looking. but they can change the detection and you can spot where they have been buried. that is a lot of what they do. they read visit areas and take radar snapshots and they send in ground teams to dig goes up and disabled in. >> you worked with several units in different places. what sense did you get from soldiers, airmen, about the redeployments and the multiple deployments to afghanistan? >> a lot of the guys i was with were fairly young kurd frontline
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in the free -- infantry guys are often teenagers. they were on their first appointments, and had only been in the army for a few years. as you get older soldiers, were senior ranking guys, they have been at this for quite a long time. i hear a lot about morale in the news here in the u.s.. it is funny because it seems like they are talking about a different war for a different army, because i am not sure that route means anything in afghanistan. -- that morale means anything in afghanistan. this is probably the most professional army ever. they are highly trained, highly educated, extremely well equipped, and pretty well compensated, especially considering how bad things are back on. they do a job because it is their job. they are not drafted and many are not in the illogically motivated. they are they're doing a job
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that they believe in but they believe in the job, not necessarily some grand cause. they are able to separate -- i don't know, their emotional and personal feelings and even their personal politics from the job. if you really boil it down to -- if there is an emotional motive for these guys, usually they are fighting for the duke next to them. that's small unit camaraderie there really motivates them, or professionalism does not explain everything. i am not sure that morale is a huge issue and is certainly impossible to generalize about an entire army when it comes to morale. you can sit down with one soldier and say, are you tired? is your family suffering from the strain? he might have a particular gripe. and the army is actually pretty good about dealing with us. mental-health professionals, the army making an effort to expand
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or give more people time and home. i have always heard for years that the army is fraying and that it is overstretched. from a planning purpose, that might be true. we might not have enough troops to do everything we want. but the army is not imploding. there's not some kind of psychic collapse where folks are so demoralized and so disillusioned that they are going to quit. >> your during -- you're there during the start of the debate of how many additional troops the u.s. might sound. what is your sense about what is needed there? >> there is a growing sense of realism there that nobody is going to get everything that they want. mcchrystal seems to have said a pretty high bar for what he considers adequate resources. what is the number is falling around, another 40,000 troops or more?
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i think there's an understanding that that is not going to necessarily happen. if it does happen, it will not happen fast. officers are making do, finding ways to do with fewer troops. a lot of senior guys embraced the idea of the population- centric counterinsurgency, or your goal is to protect the entire afghan population from extremist efforts. and the new excise whatever extremist elements have managed to win their way into the population. that is impossible with limited resources. we need a lot of troops to do that. what is emerging is a hybrid strategy, where you predict a major population centers, and try to win hearts and minds to indirect means outside of the major population centers. >> the last time you are in afghanistan was what year? >> 2007.
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>> how things -- how have things changed? >> they have not. there is no major progress to report. the challenges i saw in 2007 are the challenges i saw in 2009. there are slightly more u.s. and coalition troops in afghanistan, but not so many that has made a massive difference. it might make a big difference in certain localities where there have been big trip increases, but broadly speaking, is still a huge country and the coalition is still comparatively quite small. the major obstacles remain. but i am not sure that unless you one of fled afghanistan with a million foreign troops, i am not sure that troops are really the answer. it is increasingly clear to me, having visited the country twice, that the more -- i'd
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afghan government -- the enemy is more and afghan government that has had a chance to pull its act together and has declined to do so. it seems that most afghan officials seem want to just to get rich. just to gather power for themselves and do not care about afghanistan as a state. they certainly don't care about the constituents. you can kill taliban all day. you're just going to end up creating more by creating martyrs. you cannot win this war by the definition of war that we have settled on. until there is an afghan government that takes governance seriously, and that is just not happening. >> you shot a lot of video for c-span this trip and last trip. what was the most interesting thing? >> getting blown up and shot at. we were ambushed in the district
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back in mid-october on the way back from a visit from local mosques. there was a 20-minute firefight with no american casualties. it was an interesting experience because i have been shot out before, and throughout those experiences i have come to really believe in american technology. i am actually sad that i feel that way. i do not want to be the guy who feels invincible when he is wrapped in millions of dollars of american military equipment. but i do, it is good equipment, and so we sat there and absorptive bunch of taliban bullets. everybody was fine. and then we shot back. that treelined that they were shooting from was just
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demolished. >> how far was it from your position? >> it was pitch black so i would guess 100 yards. but the father, probably farther. and the sheer quantity of firepower that they dropped on a tree-lined was just hilarious and all inspiring. and we killed a cow, which is bad. you do not want kill cows in afghanistan because the farmers get very upset. dollars how could you maintain your colom? >> the video is not great. -- >> how did you maintain calm? >> the video is not great. i cannot get out of the hat, so i could always shoot with the soldiers that were there. it was tough because i did not want to shine a light in their face. ruin their night vision or bug
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them, because they had a job to do. i was only able to get snippets of them going about their job. killing taliban, which is something they do not do often. it is something they realize is not going to do the job. >> did you get a chance to talk to them after the fire fight? >> yes. >> what was your impression after that? businesses usual? >> yes, they have all done this before. this one young man in the back of the truck with me, a great guy. i ran into him at lunch a few days later. we started talking about the fire fight. this was an unusually long bar fight. they do not usually hang along -- hang around. they kept shooting this time. he talked about his mindset when he is in a situation like that. he said, the key to responding ironically is to not care about
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surviving. if you think too hard about protecting yourself, then you do not take the steps that you know you need to take to resolve the situation as fast as possible. in other words, as soon as they can make it out of the vehicles, they can gain high ground and looked around at the enemy, and then call and the all telerate and mortars and fire the grenades down. but that requires getting exposed, getting out and moving around. that is scary, but in the end it is safer to get out and take care of the problem than to just hunker down and let them shoot at you forever. you talk about surviving by embracing death. he and his unit are lucky. they have not taken a lot of casualties. one of the reasons is because they fight so bravely and they're willing to confront death like that. >> and you mentioned their
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training earlier. do you really see that inaction? >> yes, an 18-year-old kid who within seconds of getting blown up and being peppered with gunfire is calling in all territory -- artillery and coordinating the movements of troops all over the place, firing his own weapon, dealing with a pesky little reporter shining a light in his face, all the same time? while maintaining at pretty pleasant attitude throughout? it is extremely impressive. >> tell us about the mechanics of your job. had he made sure you have enough tape, your batteries are charged, all of that. >> i did not spend a lot of time sleeping outdoors in the desert, it even where the ambush took place. we would return home to look quite nice little base.
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i had a very good for sgt their responsible for building the huts and getting power and things like that. he really cared about his guys. so i could put things in at night and recharge them. it is expensive work, extremely expensive, flying over, miscellaneous expenses that you accumulate. it is not always easy and comfortable, but it sure beats in betting with the taliban. --embedding with the taliban. as an american, i am probably going to make it through. >> thank you for joining us. .
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>> a discussion of the recent iranian presidential election and subsequent protests. after that, robert gibbs is asked about the president's speech tomorrow on afghan strategy. later, gordon brown announces he is sending more troops to afghanistan. we will then re-air the program with freelance journalist david axe on his recent trip to afghanistan. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] president obama will outline his afghanistan war strategy tomorrow night at the u.s. military academy at west point, new york. you can see that on the c-span networks, online at and on c-span radio, live at 8:00 p.m. eastern.
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>> "american icons with like three original documentary is now available on dvd. a unique journey through the icon at homes and to the three branches of government. go beyond the bill that robes of public torras into those rarely seen spaces of the white house -- ropes of public tours and into the rarely seen spaces of the white house. "american icons," a three-disc dvd set is 24.95 plus shipping and handling. order. oneline at >> a free-lance journalist talks about his detainment in an iranian prison. hosted by the woodrow wilson center in washington, this is a
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little less than an hour and a half. >> i am vice president for programs at the woodrow wilson center in washington, d.c. -- = i would like to welcome those viewing this on c-span. today's session will focus on iran's the elections and the tumultuous aftermath. i want to offer the world of wall gump -- a word of welcome to the woodrow wilson center. the mission is to provide a bridge between the worlds of learning in public policy
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through its sponsored research and through some 800 meetings we host. today we are particularly pleased to be parting with the pulitzer center on crisis reporting, a relatively new organization that has already made quite a mark on the field as the news industry goes through the transformation is going through right now, that the pulitzer center is providing a unique product and we are going to hear more about that today and have an example of that. i would -- because i just heard a cell phone -- i would ask you all to please turn your cell phones and other such devices off. we are being broadcast live. let me turn the floor over to jon sawyer, the founding director of the pulitzer center.
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he created and founded this organization and for many years, he was the bureau chief of "st. louis post-dispatch," north dakota travel the world -- and he traveled the world, some 60 countries doing reporting. it is a particular pleasure to be partnering with the pulitzer center for today's meeting which could not be more topical. it is a pleasure to welcome you and your colleagues to the center. the floor is yours bird >> thanks to c-span for bringing this event and to the audience beyond washington. thanks to the woodrow wilson center for crow hosting this event. -- co-hosting this event. his books are among the most lucid, insightful on the -- the challenges we face in a run. -- in iran.
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they have taught us all about the nature of that countries current government. the headlines we haven't seen the past six months, from the tumultuous presidential campaign, continuing protest, and right up through this morning with the government of president ahmadinejad shouting a defiant and no to the international community. this panel brings us to grow people who know much about the countries internal politics and how it has been portrayed in the western media. iason athanasiadis is a writer, photographer and documentary filmmaker, covering middle eastern current affairs from istanbul. he is a fellow at harvard university. he also lived in to run for three years while pursuing graduate studies -- he lived in tehran.
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while reporting on the presidential elections, but he was jailed at the direction of iran's the intelligence ministry and was held for nearly three weeks in solitary confinement. -- encourage evin prison. he was a consultant on a documentary for the bbc and front line that aired earlier this month -- "a death in a run -- in iran." -- assistant managing editor of "the washington times", she previously served as a senior diplomatic reporter for ""usa today" and has also written for business week and "the economist." she is also been a senior fellow at the u.s. institute of peace and is the author of "bitter
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friends, but some enemies, or run, the u.s. and the twisted path to confrontation." the pulitzer center is a non- profit journalism organization founded almost four years ago in january. and we are in the business of filling gaps in coverage in systemic crises around the world. and we collaborate with major news media outlets across the country and in europe and around the world and in print, broadcast radio and television. we have an active presence on the web and our educational programs at high schools and universities in which we take the journalism we sponsor out to younger audiences and tried to engage them in international issues that affect us all. at this point, this year, we are doing on the order of 50 projects all round the world.
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we up partnered with everybody from "news hour," and "the new york times", "the washington post", "front line world," and wash timeington times has been a wonderful partner for the pulitzer center in supporting independent reporting we have commissioned in a number of countries all around the world. we see our approach is very much a collaborative model trying to stretch the available resources that all of us have to reach new audiences and to engage as many people as possible. iason athanasiadis i met when he was a fellow at harvard, now almost two years ago. then we talked about projects we might do together. the first project he did with us was looking at internal conflicts in turkey as part of a project that we did last year.
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then he went on to do work for us whenever student protests in greece. he covered those and that developed into a project for the pulitzer center. in the spring, we decided together that it would be very good for him to go to ron and cover the elections -- -- to iran and cover the elections. the pulitzer center is not generally about falling -- covering the elections because we see that as something that the news media does do. despite all the cutbacks, they devote resources to those issues. in this case, we knew that iason athanasiadis was well-versed in iranian politics and culture. his exhibit on children, his photographs he presented was displayed at the wilson center and across the country. he really has done some extraordinary writing and photography on a riran, became
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fluent in farsi, so our hope going in is that he would be able to report not only on the election but on the context behind in a way that many other journalists -- that were coming in with a lot -- without the kind of background he had would be able to do. we were pleased to was able to get into tehran and work with editors like barbara to know he would outlets with european and american media. on his way out when his visa had expired at the airport, she was taken into custody and detained and held at evin present, wary had nearly three weeks of exposure -- evin prison. i hope we will talk about his experience and compare that to the "newsweek," corresponded you
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just came out after four months of detention. -- correspondents who came out after four months of detention. after he came out, she continued to cover the story in iran, working with barbara and others'. i think his perspective on trends in iran in looking at the media coverage, how the media functioned in a situation where first, they were under restrictions as to where they could go, what they could do in the immediate aftermath of the election. you also had people being alike -- are arrested and most foreign journalists were being taken out of the country. how to read your report in that circumstance? -- how do you report in that circumstance? we will look at his perspective on iran today and then we will turn to borrow also brings
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tremendous background in this subject, to give her perspective as well. then we will open it up to "q&a. >> thank you very much for hosting a. it is wonderful but to -- to be back at the woodrow wilson center. as jon mentioned, we meant -- we met during a year which came on the heels of living three years in iran. i made a secondary acquaintance who also happens to be sitting on this panel, barbara, who came to give a talk about her new book that mit when i was at cambridge. this serendipitous acquaintance has made for us to be here today. and has led to some journalism being manufactured. english. i grew up there
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that opened the way to learning more languages like arabic at university. then i went to iran were either then i went to iran were either in person, and@@@@@@@@@ ,a&@ @℠ -- my parents are academics so i have run as far as i could. we are basically no longer in the age of the old foreign correspondent who would parachute in somewhere and lived a life of relative leisure and basically get the job done by his local contacts. local contacts are absolutely crucial, more so than ever, but the budgets are not existing any more. for someone who is more greek and english, it has been a real
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challenge trying to follow this path of journalism which involves basically learning at four languages and understanding for in cultures -- learning foreign languages and understanding for cultures. ity than would have happened if i did not speak the language. this posits a problem on both sides. on one side, you have countries that are not particularly acquainted with this idea of the u.s. media industry having gone there unbelievable tunnels in the past three years, and in iran, they still think that the "new york times" andy "washington post" -- this is the case still. they do believe that old template still holds, so when someone turns up who is a free lancer, who does not have a
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specific affiliation, who speaks their language, this is in a way to challenge. the english seem to have this unique traits of being found universally suspicious by everyone. then, when you combine this with being greek, you guess with first imperialists, so i'm not doing very well on either side of my background. the other hand on the other side of the process when you are no longer in country or on the ground covering a foreign story, you have to deal with added is back home, and i have made a decision that i write in english, so i write for basically british or american newspapers, and there's a slight hesitancy to entrust someone who is not perhaps fully 100% of one place with telling a story. so again, all sorts of challenges exist.
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that was the thinking that took me to the middle east and arab world and to three years in iran. the absolute godsend of the three years of living in iran, but fundamentally not particularly working in a particularly high profile as a journalist was coming across the pulitzer center, which is in itself a relatively new arrival in the scene in is basically filling in a block that is increasingly getting in deed -- emptied by the gradual destruction of the conservative media. this is the thing that took us to iran in elections over the summer where i returned for basically the second time since i left the country in order to do coverage of the elections, and it was a very strange time. this was not the man that i have
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lived in between 2004 and 2007, and even with the stand while we were on the streets for those first few days, things would happen later on. in fact, things have changed, and perhaps they have changed without any hope of going back. i want to show you a clip now from the documentary that i consulted on for pbs frontline that shows those first few hours and days after the election results came out. there is very shocking election results for some new people, and all the turbulence that followed from that. >> there were a few girls, and we sat on the front line. the police would be more hesitant to shoot at a girl or beat a girl. little did we know that we would
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be the first people to actually be attacked. of of a sudden -- all of a sudden i just felt something in my knee. it was so painful. i just passed out. >> she had been shot in the leg with a plastic bullet. >> the hospital was packed with the injured. i could not stop crying. and then i thought that all these people were going to die in front of me. my uncle's friend just left me. they attacked the arm of the hospital, and these people were, like, screaming and running away. when we think that they actually want to hit people who were laying down on the ground on the floor because there was not enough space.
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>> i think the regime has been preparing for this for several years in fact, and i think that we saw the first sign of it back in september 2007 when the new resolution regard -- revolutionary guard commander announced, to the surprise of many iranians, announced that their greatest enemy was no longer a external threats. the biggest threat to the regime really was coming from inside iran. >> its legitimacy now in question, the regime brought out its -- it was impressive show of strength for a president who claimed overwhelming support and dismissed the protesters as dirt and dust. >> ahmadinejad is a blacksmith's son, and he is at heart a socialist who wanted to be able to help the people, so an awful lot of people voted for him.
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it is perfectly natural. >> a columnist for a hard-line newspaper plants the violence on opposition -- on the opposition leader. >> if he had not said the election had been made without any evidence -- substantial evidence, none of this would have happened. we are not going to give up iran because they have lied. we will not give up brand because we paid such a heavy price to have it -- we will not give up iran because we paid such a heavy price to have it. >> it was turning into a war of numbers. the opposition fought back with a massive demonstration through the heart of tehran, the largest since the 1979 revolution, a fact not lost on a former revolutionary elite, who has turned against the regime.
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>> they do not want to accept. they do not want to understand. this is the people of iran. like the constitutional evolution. this is the majority of the people who want freedom, who want human-rights -- human rights. >> was that particularly audible? that gives you a sense of how fast the events were moving on the ground in this first few hours and days after the elections. it was almost impossible at this point to do real journalism. there would call me when it would the notoriously bad lines, and barbara would say to find something to check on something, and at this point, i think we were 28 trichet 2440 it was
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before the regime actually criminalize investigative journalism or actually on the ground journalism, and at that point, it just became an issue of waiting while the alice ticked down on my visa, which had only been granted for seven days -- i think we were 24 or 48 hours before the regime actually criminalize investigative journalism. things are starting to look really bad. i started wearing local shirts, which did not look like my for insurance -- foreign shirts, and trying to go around in the streets with friends and trying to understand what was going on. this country that i had lived in, and i had really, and which now was starting to slip away in a very dramatic way. all the old trends were still there. there was a paranoid, a sense that the foreigners are trying
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to create a revolution and that it is up to the hard core of the regime to stop it, to the loyalists. there was also a cultural struggle going on, which got very little play in the foreign coverage. you hear about the foreign struggle more in a kind of a reactive way. when the revolutionary guard come out with any plan to create, for example, a second cultural revolution or to islamize schools and universities, or to set of units fighting the spread of news or propaganda, as they call it, but the cultural struggle in my experience, certainly my experience and said the prison when i was being interrogated, is one of the most important aspects of what is going on in iran today if you want to understand. this is something that came out in a piece on "newsweek." he had interrogators who came
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from the revolutionary guard. i was fortunate enough to be arrested by the minister of intelligence, which, at least, because of the chain murders of the 1990's has gone through a certain process of reform, so i had interrogators who were relatively educated, respectful men. obviously, the fact that i was a forerunner -- forerunner -- foreighnener really helped. there were not about to start bidding up someone who was going to be released in the near future. the journalist from "is a" was kicked and punched and also exposed to some outlandish accusations, like he had participated in six parties in new jersey, which was one of the
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signs of american corruption -- participated in sex parties in new jersey, which was one of the sense of american content -- corruption in the eyes of his investigators. because identify primarily as being greek and because i live in the region and also because one of my interrogators spoke arabic, we kept off on a more serious discussions on the west. quite frankly, i explained to them, for me, america had been insane when i moved there in 2007. i really cannot fill in to much, and certainly had not been anywhere close to new jersey. the fascinating thing that came out again and again after we got to the nitty gritty of intelligence questions -- who did you know you have been here? where did you go? what jennie's did you take a broad?
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and so on. we got into a more philosophical plan. we started talking about neoliberalism and the great threat that it poses in their eyes. we started talking about the concept of westernization, which was coined in the 1960's, at least in its current form, and which had to do with the idea that the cultural influence of the west was so powerful that it basically shreds everything in its wake, said the judicial muslim societies -- so the traditional muslim societies have the protection when really tough measures are taken. we talked a little bit about the major proponent of this theory, and we talked about what the muslims might be more susceptible than other people, and i felt -- and this is something that was pointed out in interviews -- that there was
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a real divide, sort of, between the real world and between the ideas that some of my interrogators had. not to say that they inhabited lala land, but, for example, lala land, but, for example, it was cut up into very neat -- the world was caught up into a neat slices which were black or white. one could as -- and have it both parts. they said what about the west versus the east? and then i said, do not think dubai is both western and eastern and mixes in between? this was something that did not lead into ideal conversation. that is just to say that it seems that there is a new elite
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that is running iran these days. and they are quite divorced from the revolutionaries who overthrew the shah in 1979, who had a good 30 years through philosophy courses in the west or even in the way east to get it -- get to grips on this world that they had burst upon so angrily. and their kids grew up and they went to university and some brought in denmark or the u.s. or canada. you have this new generation, i call those the third generation, who are more capable of seeing things in shades of gray. then you have the second generation in power today, and many of the people in power today come from the revolutionary guard. many of these people, while their colleagues were off in copenhagen and paris and
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washington, learning the west, they were fighting and defending their country in the transience of the iran-iraq war. y or another, and cannot actually taking executive decisions, perhaps they are interrogating people in jail cells, or they are ambassadors to allies of her and abroad. i think it is very interesting to try to understand, try to engage with this generation. a few words about my imprisonment. as i said, i got off relatively lightly. i only got beaten up what i -- when i tried to get the message out at the airport on the night of my arrest. the islamic republic has a habit of arresting people and then denying it has them while it puts pressure on them to come up with some form of confession. thankfully, because i managed to
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start shutting of both in english and in farsi that i'm a greek journalist being arrested , the time was really cut down -- because admonished to start shouting out. they came and said they had proved that they were arresting a citizen in an airport, steps were taken, and within three or four days, a process of release had begun, or at least a process of negotiation. in terms of the interrogators themselves, i think i spoke enough about them. there was a very amount of just chilling moments. the lack of certainty as to what was about to happen was the worst thing because there would be three or four days at a stretch when i would just be left in myself, and i have obviously no cellmates, nor did i have the opportunity to go out and get exercise.
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i got my one and only meeting with the greek ambassador, which was a huge blast of oxygen to my system, and back in a solitary cell for another two weeks. i was moved from quite a rundown sell into a sort of glittering brand new freshly painted one with a really intense light. the lights were all throughout, but in my old home so, one of them had broken, and the other one was like a 40-watt lamp, and this new one was really intense in your face with reflective mirror is behind and so on. also, i seem to be in middle of an enormous processing center, and that is how i started to get a feel for what was happening in the streets because there were hundreds of people being brought in every day, so when i would be taken out for interrogation, i would normally avoid stumbling over rose applied to all the people sitting cross legged
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wading for processing for. when i was sitting in my interrogation cell, which was another outrageous luxury because most people were getting interrogated in the corridors, i would hear sounds of intense interrogation is coming from neighboring cells or from outside in the corridors. again, because we were talking about culture, because i try to understand culture, and i tried to speak languages, and i try to get across what the place is politics and political pronouncements are about, a cultural thing is very crucial. i have, for example, comments from them, "would you expect? we are going to tear off your fingernails? look at this jail. it is very nice." or jokes about how some people were saying there was raping going on, and did i really fear
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i was going to be raped in an islamic appropriate jail? the 10180 degrees around when i came out of jail and started hearing about these allegations that were being made and started seeing the evidence. i started doing a lot of journalism in the country in which i live, turkey, dealing with former political refugees or people that had escaped iran, some of whom had been extremely badly abused, and one day, i was watching an interview given by an iranian feminist activists, and she was saying that she was taken one day to a large room, which was like a classroom, and there were maybe dozens of desks. those kind of school class desks with the wooden chair and the desk that comes out in front which is all one piece? and there were prisoners sitting on those desks and getting very violently beaten up by jailers, and this whole scene was kind of unfolding in complete silence
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because those who started shouting would get beaten up more. so perhaps that explains what all in all i did not hear that much going on. but in any case, i think it is the understatement of the year to say that iran is in a state of tumult. perhaps it shows us to some extent the mentality of the regime right now. they are in a state of full cultural paranoia, of sitting back and just fighting this perceived western onslaught coming from the outside, and, of course, the opposition is continuing. they do not have the power to go out and take to the streets on a daily basis, even as they tried to do it recently with the
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anniversary, but you have the students coming out the easter day coming up, a date that is part of the islamic republic's calendar of mass demonstrations commemorating the students during the iranian revolution in 1979 against shah's regime, and it will again try to hijack that like they tried to hijack the commemoration of the u.s. embassy storming, and also the jerusalem day. so we have two different dynamics going on right now. the dynamic of continued opposition, a continued crackdown, and it now seems in the last few days that they have gone out to the next tier and are starting to round up people whose names came up during the initial interrogation. not people and particularly wanted -- bets that has already been taken with the really important ones, but now, they are really going for peripheral people. they are arresting friends of
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people and putting them under a lot of psychological pressure, and at the same time, you have, of course the nuclear developments and how this is again -- again, you are seeing sort of moves in the nuclear sphere, which is the most hallowed, the most prized part of the iranian foreign policy that are really can to taking the nobel peace prize when you have the islamic republic coming out and saying that there are going to develop several more uranium processing centers and going to possibly step away from the npt. that really shows the pressure is being felt all over. so i will be really happy to hand this back to jon.. >> great, thank you. barbara, your perspective on coordinating the work of journalists you were doing at the time of the election and since then, your own perspective on where we are today.
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and perhaps we can all addressed the role that social media played, twitter, and there was a lot of coverage about youtube and the impact that that had, how important it was, how valid it was in giving a sense of what was happening on the streets in tehran. >> first, let me thank the wilson center. this is where i wrote my book. thank you, john, -- thank you, jon, for the work you're doing, which is filling an enormous gap for us trying to provide insightful coverage with a very limited budget. i always identify with my reporter's as a former correspondent, but it is fair to say that identified more with iason than any of my other correspondents. i wanted to be there on the streets with him in iran.
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i was experiencing it, watching it on television, seeing images on facebook, a twitter, so on, and it felt almost like i was there within the whole time that this was going on. obviously not the part in prison, although that was a pretty dreadful experience, even on our side trying to get him out and try to figure out what the right words were that we needed to say to impress the iranian government that he was no threat to them and he was actually -- would be more of a threat if he was kept than if he were released. i think what we witnessed over the last six months has been truly extraordinary. we do not know how long it is going to take for the iranian government to change again in some profound way, but clearly, the ingredients are all there, and the behavior of the government shows that of a relatively weak government, i think, that is struggling to come to terms with unprecedented
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domestic opposition and domestic -- unprecedented international opposition. glenn has a been so isolated since the iran/iraq war. the people who are running the show, to the extent anybody is running the show now, are veterans of that war, and perhaps they identify with that time when iran was virtually alone with one allied, syria, against what seemed like the entire world -- one ally, syria, against what seemed like the entire world. perhaps in a way that people try to recreate bad marriages -- you know, if you have one bad marriage, you go and you repeat the pattern. maybe these individuals are trying somehow to go back to that time when iran was all alone. it was besieged, and yet, there was this revolutionary spirit. you see this on the campus is where they are trying to recreate this sort of cultural revolution that took place in the early 1980's, but at the same time, you know that this is
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an impossible task. as iason pointed out, this third generation is very plugged in. iran has -- what? 40% internet usage among the population. it is an extraordinary figure, the highest in the middle east and one of the highest in the world. 80% literacy. this is bound to fail. the question is how long will it take, and how disruptive would be, how bloody will it be? the statements that the iranians have made about starting up new uranium enrichment plants seem like a bomb dust. they have not been able to complete one facility. the facility so has something like 8000 centrifuges, of which only half are really operable right now. it may take years before the facility is completed. they have another one that they started that the west found out
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about in qom, which is not operational yet. so for ahmadinejad did talk about 10 more, 20 more, whatever, it is really bomb dust, but it is their way of showing the outside world iran will not be pushed around. they're not afraid. they can take sanctions, and they can continue to move on. they figure that obama will not agree to military action against them, that the u.s. administration is busy in iraq and afghanistan, and, of course, and can always turn up the heat in both those places if it wants. they seem to think that they can crack down on the opposition internally, defy the rest of the world, and move on. it at some point, the pressure gets too great, they can always compromise. iran has done it before, they ended the iran/iraq war when some hussein was still in power, and that is another reference point i think we have to keep in mind, but one thing that is worrisome to me, and it is
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worrisome when i listen to iason, and that is the mentality of this particular group. during the iran/iraq war, you had people who had visited the west. i remember interviewing one and i remember interviewing one and about his visit and t >> i remember him talking about his impressions of the states. she had lived in iraq and in france. many of the other important figures in the revolution had been educated abroad. you do not have that with this particular cohort. there are members in the revolutionary god whom -- guard whom i have met, but their education comes from books. it does not come from on the ground experience in the west.
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it raises the possibility of miscalculation. one wonders how far ron will il go before it will make a compromise and one wonders what measures will be taken before will realize it needs to compromise. it is particularly difficult -- i had a reporter there for some months, actually a young man i found on facebook. he was told after he wrote about five stories for me that he could no longer work -- that he needed credentials to write for "the washington times". so we sent all sorts of letters and some other credentials and never came through. i was particularly delighted particularly that iasopn was able to get his credentials.
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since his experience, i was -- i have had to cover iran three stories that have come out, and video that have come out. suddenly watched this horrific video of a young woman being killed. we have pictures still coming out of the protest demonstrations, people taking pictures with cell phone cameras, and they smuggle it out. i have a couple of iranian americans who write for me, who call their friends in iran and do interviews via sky and on the telephone through twitter and facebook -- interviews via skype. hopefully the iranian government will open up to foreign correspondents. certainly everything we have seen in the last few weeks does
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not fill me with optimism that they are going to open up to this sort of coverage in the near future. i think i will stop there, and we will open up to your questions. >> questions? over here. >> [inaudible] how much was the glory of the prison empire of the past part of the election process -- the persian empire of the past part of the election process? how often is this talked about directly, and how much is it referred to? >> iranians in general have a wonderful idea of their own history. the question was about what the iranians are referring to their glorious history of the great ancient empire during the elections. there is a fair amount of hubris, and again, in his calculations -- and needs open
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up at the last minute to hundreds of foreign correspondents. they let in people from "the daily show" not exactly knowing what they were getting themselves in for, and he got his visa. they opened up hugely, and in what they had hoped would happen did not happen. they had an election, and it appears to have been rigged. during its came out on the street and protested. this attempt to show that there are the most democratic regime in the region, which they insist is still the case, backfired on them because they overreached. the sense of a great civilization is there, and one
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hopes it will act as a check. this is in iran, and not sure we can count on memories of glory to necessarily produce restraint. do you think there are limits? there are limits in the sense that they're going to move people down in the streets with guns, even the -- >> the mogul down in the streets on saturday. but i just going back to the point about the persian empire, and islamic democracy, you will never have preferences to what they considered to be ignorant islamic past. but you do see these elements of
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splendor or the quest for person splendor -- persian splendo, so it will be interesting to see if ahmadinejad is more about a powerful and that will be more about a revival. >> question over here. if we could, if the speakers could identify themselves and where you are from. the microphone is coming to you. >> i am jennifer with "voice of america." i believe you said the iranian regime was bound to fail, and he made in direct reference to social media. do you think there's a potential for social media -- i mean, this new notion of social media can actually bring down a totalitarian regime? >> of all, it is not a totalitarian regime, at least not yet. i would call it an authoritarian
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regime with many unique features. if it were totalitarian, you would not be seeing these massive demonstrations, and you would not see people risking their lives every day to continue to protest in the way they are. i cannot tell how iran's government is going to change. i just know that i think it is inevitable because 70% of the population is under the age of 30, and they are wired, and that is a factor. is it the only factor? no, we have not talked about the economy, the lack of jobs, the fact that iran has the biggest brain drain of educated youths in the region. ultimately, you will have a young society that will have been connected at least through social media, to the outside world, and will be influenced by and in a way that perhaps this generation is not. to make predictions about iran
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and when and how is not something i think anybody can do. we can sense the trend. that is probably the most that we can do. >> social media is not a weapon. it is a tool. basically what they do, whether it is toward or facebook, is in maximizes voices -- whether it is 20 or facebook -- whether it is twitter or facebook. to get an answer to that question, we need look no further than what has been loaded with lebanon. and that a tent at a peaceful revolution that happened they did their own peaceful revolution, and a paralyzed beirut for more than a year. i think it is a matter of in previous decades, the 1980's, really, the 1990's, and the
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beginning of this decade, you really had the advantage, but increasingly, they are learning this tool book and using it for their own purposes. >> question here. >> [inaudible] >> please wait for the microphone to get to you. >> i'm from voice of america. in your documentary, in your opinion, what is the main message that you want to describe? i have another question. you must have had time to talk to the people. what do you think the opinion is with regard to how important is the nuclear issue for them? the government claims that it is for the people. what is your opinion on that?
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>> these are both really difficult questions to answer. i will start with what should be easier one, even though i actually sort of took a distance from the documentary before it was broadcast because it focus very heavily on the human interest sorry, and i was very interested in doing the big picture current affairs and go. i do not know what the ultimate message of the documentary is, but i think it is a pretty detailed look at the killing nadan. what i would argue is flawed -- we did not have access to iran. we did not have access to both sides of the debate, so we managed to speak with her boyfriend, with the doctor who happened to be on the scene when she was killed, and we basically spoke with a couple of people who were close or sympathetic to the islamic republic and could give the official view, but it was very difficult to get
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conservative voices within the power structure, let alone speaking to the plainclothes who were there on the day. with regard to the second question, i think it is very split throughout. it is not a fallacy that the more pressure you put on iran, the less popular the program might become. on the other hand, the iranians, like the greeks, are very famous for becoming more stubborn. i cannot speak for the government, and i know that one of the defining features of 20th century iranian history is that when people get pushed, they react, as we have seen these days, as we saw in 1979, as we
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saw in 1999. it is difficult to say to what extent the society is behind this project or not. it is great to have nuclear power. it is great to be out there, but once you get down to the nitty gritty, i think you start to see differentiation, and that has always been the story of iran. it might be a full-blown ideals, and once you get down to the nitty gritty, there are a lot of questions that come up that have not been thought of before. it is the action of the islamic republic and the people went to vote in 1979 and voted so overwhelmingly in what by most accounts was not a big election, for an islamic republic, they had no idea what they were voting for. they have not heard the word cultural revolution yet. >> question back here? and again, if you could wait for the microphone to come around. >> thank you.
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i am with the brookings institute of washington. i just want to get a sense of during the early days of protest, with the government essentially controlling communication, how much of the protest movement was planned? how did people get the word around as to where to meet, what to do, what to say, particularly after the second and third day? i am very much interested on how much of that was planned. >> great. that is one of the few things i can talk about because that is one of the things is that most of my time doing when i was there. basically running around the streets with friends and trying to figure out what is going on. that was also one of the main accusations against me, i was an agent and influence and i had engaged in espionage. but i was very confused. i had no idea what was going on. i did give the key to my facebook to a close friend of mine, who would then just sort
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of copy/paste -- she does not speak farsi much -- and less tweets and messages and e-mail them to this -- and list -- endless tweets and messages and e-mail them to me. and i shall tell them what was the latest on the pro-mousavi media and what they were saying. then, you had the wrong information or the sort of publicly wrong information, where it seemed that several demonstrations were arranged in a way by the government or by government agents and then funneled into the opposition mainstream, so that people would gather in places that have basically been staked out, so you have this confusing flurry of "don't trust these coordinates" or don't go there"
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or go there." the speed with which different information was coming through even when we were on the streets and the amount of rumors going about what's astonishing. mousavi is under house arrest. a committee is looking for the ministry of interior -- no, he is walking toward the ministry of interior. that was actually the rumor that i heard on monday, the day of the biggest demonstration, literally seconds before that demonstration just kind of coalesced into one very pact body. up until then, it had been dispersed fragments of people kind of looking around at each other, looking at the police and wondering if the demonstration was actually going to happen on not, but this rumor kind of swept through the body of the swept through the body of the people, and suddenly, we saw a


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