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tv   Capital News Today  CSPAN  November 30, 2009 11:00pm-2:00am EST

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-- it was very confusing. to a large extent, it was organic. to the point where there was any kind of organization, on cetera, we saw people with photocopies of the statement -- on saturday, people were passing and putting them on the soap -- the shoulder, saying, tomorrow at differents. piont. people would write on the walls. they went back to 1979. >> none of that was new. what was different was the speed it was reported all around the world. it was on cnn and everywhere else. i am interested in your take on that, having now come back to
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the west, to europe and the states, seeing how was betrayed was -- was the real story authoritatively betrayed and when and by whom? . . material coming in. >> i remember being on the phone to barbara, maybe 30 minutes after being down at the ministry of interior where we had seen motorcyclists sliding down with batons. i'm embarrassed to say this, but it is true, i remember thinking i was not sure i would report this first because i had five days left on my visa, and i really do not care to have this exclusive 20 minutes before ap reports it. i would rather just stay in the country. so there were all sorts of journalistic ethics questions being thrown out. >> but that is a different issue. that is where you actually know something. you saw it with your own eyes. that is the question of playing
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the shorter breaking story to the long-term being there for a few more days. but i am talking about the misinformation, the confusion, and seeing that be reported and out there. it is broadcast. how do you -- you cannot put it back in the bottle. how do you bring perspective to that sort of material? >> really, i can just sort of say people lose coverage are like -- scott petersen had great coverage. roger cohen for the "new york roger cohen for the "new york times." it was really difficult, actually, to have information when we were on the ground at the day and reading 700-would write ups. at most, i would have to look at my -- at the message is being funneled to me from my facebook or from people outside the country, but really, it was just a matter of calling around on- line networks and just figuring out what they're saying and then making a snap decision -- do we go? do we not go?
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then you have this item up on the roof -- the snipers. anybody who goes there would be dealt with extremely parsley. >> -- extremely harshly. >> who do you call? >> i called people that i knew when i lived there or people that i had met in the demonstrations who were clearly taking some kind of leadership role. we had come to a demonstration at university, which had become a focus of protests, and i met a student there, who was clearly one of the organizing elements. in other day i found myself in a room in one of the tehran university dormitories with one of the student protest leader is glued to his cell phone, directing people where to go, the idea of stretching the police so they would not all
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focus on one area, tiring the mouth, or these impromptu traffic jams that you saw, which were not so impromptu because they blocked the passage of those columns of riot police that would go and basically sort of engaged in firefighting. this is also something that came up when i was in my interrogation cell where the younger in teradata said to me that i'm a work for the intelligence ministry, but it was all hands on deck during the post-election on rest -- unrest, and i was on a motor bike riding behind the guy who was steering, and the only thing to protect myself was a tear gas canister into a radio -- and a two-wave radio, and it adjusted as the places where there were threatening to overwhelm the security forces. it was an interesting game cat and mouse, but you did not know at the time who was the cat and who was the mass. most of the time, it was the security forces, but it was interesting to be in jail and get the glove side of that. >> wish to point out -- it was
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interesting to be in jail and get the foot side -- the flipside of that. you have people who would really messages when it was difficult for them to put things on their web sites or get information out. . you have who are in this country now who are very closely tied to the opposition movement. they would also be able to act as spokespeople and passed information. with the jumble of things that one would see on facebook and so on -- i do not twitter. facebook has been helpful.
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you have to use your own journalistic sense to decide whether something is legitimate or not. the footage is so raw that is impossible to fake. you see people screaming death to the dictator and you see people being hit and you see the dying on the street and you know this is real. for all of the efforts the iranian government has made, they have not been able to shut off this kind of communication. it continues. monday is national students today in iran. in actual goes back to 1953 when the iranian armed forces stormed tehran university were there was a protest against the real and -- of the reinstallation of the shot and killed three students. -- the reinstallation of the shaw and they killed three students.
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that the government has rounded up scores of student activists. everybody knows this is the day you go out on campus and for sure they will protest. and we have two days after christmas is the most important shia muslim holy day and people are allowed to go out on the streets. the iranian calendar will set up opportunities for protests. and there's nothing the government can do about that. >> question back in the back. microphone will come around. >> i have a question i guess for you both. i was struck by the comment that you felt that you were in a new iran when you arrived there in 2009, a very different iran than two years earlier in 2007 and you gave some hints. could you contrast the two a
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little more. and explain what you think the changes were. and i suppose from that point of view, particularly as an outsider like i am, i read things and go to lectures like this, were their signs along the way that these pressures were building? >> i think one of the biggest signs that there was going to be a sea change was in 2002, but several years after the election and basically set off that firestorm of reformism, which in some points actually resembled some kind of rock concert, the fervor which people embraced them, there was a meeting of the conservatives and it was said, we are on the ropes and we have to find a way of getting back and we are going to start slowly. and they started with the
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parliamentary elections or city councils and they built up to 2005 and to the presidency itself, which was contested and won by somebody who was relatively unknown ahmadinejad but was very much a known quantity within these circles. how did this affect ordinary life in iran? i arrived a few months before ahmadinejad was elected president and there was panic and breast beating at the time, but very few things changed on the surface of things at least if you lived in certain parts of tehran. traveling around the country, people are fed up. the reformist experiments had largely had been judged to have been a failure and they wanted something different. obama gets elected on the slogan of change and ahmadinejad got elected on the slogan of change,
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too. and he invested a lot of money. and in those years, there was bounty and there was a lot of infrastructure, which created a bubble and created inflation which made people dissatisfied with ahmadinejad again. but certainly when i was doing it this time on a friday and thursday before the elections, people would say to me, we're going to vote for ahmadinejad again because we want to give him the opportunity to finish what he started. and i would get this in parts of tehran and also in other parts because it seems from several people i have spoken to who are no fans of the islamic republic that will ahmadinejad was going to win it and they believed he was going to win it in the first round, which was shocking to me having come from a steady diet of goings on in the streets of tehran. but i went there to cover and i
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can't speak for tehran because that's where i lived. but by the time i went back there in january of 2008, things had changed and you could see how people dressed, for example or the way in which they had conversations or what was important. i don't know if that was just the effect of three years of ahmadinejad or sanctions beginning to bite or inflation or the steep rise in the price of goods was due to ahmadinejad's mishandling of the economy or both. >> my sense is that the protest of the elections was driven by a sense of rage in an election stolen. it's interesting to look back and ask the question, who won the election. you suggested that there was the
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view of some that ahmadinejad support and this gets to how the question was presented in the west, presented in the media and do you have a sense what were -- >> it is impossible to say after visiting south tehran for a day because after that, everything changed and we were kind of running up to keep up to speed with what was happening in the streets. going back to the cultural thing. there are so many problems with a foreigner in iran trying to say who won. the fact that are you going to gravitate towards people that think like you, because quite frankly, most of my friends and
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they remind me of the generation i grew up with in greece. there are a great many similarities. why would i gravitate towards someone who comes from a different background and look at me suspiciously for being who i am and being union married, i'm 28, which i was at the time, all of these things don't fit in. so i'm very wary of saying i say this happened because i saw this. because what i'm seeing is tempered by who i am. >> i don't think we know. i think the only thing we do know that the government behaved in such a suspicious manner that it is natural to suspect they did steal the election. they announced a landslide win for ahmadinejad about an hour after the polls closed which is
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ridiculous in a country that had paper ballots. there were a number of reports that ballot boxes were taken away from the polling stations instead of people having counted the ballots which had been the normal procedure. and when he talks about the changes in the society and the kind of creeping oppression, it caught us by surprise, because iran did have relatively free elections for a country of that kind. people would always say that the fraud took place before the vote because they would limit the number of candidates, but then the votes would be accurately counted. and you know, what we saw beginning in 2005 was, you know, some election fraud, some manipulation, even at that time, there were reports that ahmadinejad should not have made it into a second round. it's natural to be suspicious and given the numbers also, 63%,
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especially when you had two other very viable candidates. they were quite popular in some circlesnb@@@@@ @ @ @ @ @ ,h @ @ some people suggest that it was really reversed, that some mousavi have the 63%. when you look at the last time iran had a relatively free election, you had hattani win by 60%, 70% of the vote. maybe some more people moved over to that position, but it is hard for me to believe that so many of them did to give more ahmadinejad -- to give ahmadinejad that kind of
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approval. i was last in iran in march of 2008 and people -- i went to south tarotehran and even in por neighborhoods there did not seem to be this kind of love for ahmadinejad. i find it hard to believe that he won that way. is a compelling theory but there is no evidence about it but i'm throwing it out there, if you follow the pronouncements of the officials before the elections, they were concerned about the possibility of a revolution that they kept talking about it. and also the driving energy behind the crackdown and the justification for the crackdown in tehran that this theory goes, it's not extraordinary to believe that there was no ballot stuffing or there was a lot of ballot stuffing, but that is not important because ultimately the votes were never counted. and a result was manufactured,
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which had a comfortably large margin between the first candidate and the second candidate and which would put the possibility of a revolution beyond any shadow of a doubt because it would give the victory directly to the incumbent so there would be no necessity of another seven days of potential violent campaigning and a second round but also it would put it in his favor that they wouldn't be able to take it to the streets and challenge the election as it was. this would dovetail that many officials have spent a lot of time studying revolutions and how to deflect them. perhaps there was an impression or idea that something was being cooked up and they totally came up with false figures. >> couple more questions. back in the back.
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>> i'm from the state department. can you comment on something that we are here this is more of a post-election protest that has generated into a civil rights movement and a larger movement. i would love to hear your comments, thank you. >> yeah. i think it's become very broad and very deep with a lot of different participants. you can tell that from the slogans that are chanted. nobody really chants for musavi. it's moved to death to the dictator. and that can be ahmadinejad. that can be the supreme leader. but it is a broad challenge to the system that that certainly is reminiscent what happened back in 1978 and 1979, with all the study of the velvet revolutions, the security forces should have remembered something about their own society is that
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iranian people don't like to have their intelligence insulted and they have a very strong sense of justice and injustice. and reveer their martyers and you have a movement that has created martyrs and narrative of injustice. you saw that ahmadinejad called people dust and dirt. iranians don't take well to being insulted. so how many people will have the courage to continue, one doesn't know the time frame. but there has been the fundamental breach here of the relationship between government and people, which was not terribly strong frankly before the election, but still existed to some extent or you wouldn't have seen that level of participation. 85% participation in an election is a dream in terms of legitimizing a system. and yet now it is boomerranning
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against them. >> i would tend to agree with you. the three years i lived there. these people could have been part of my own generation in aggetens, coming to age and having different expectations. this is an idea that has been put forth. and the interesting thing that is said of all the people that have come on to this new reality is the old timers thatville jumped into the band wagon and the younger ones from the second generation that are letting this go because they are fighting this cultural shift, but it does seem that perhaps time would be on the side of the civil rights movement people only that it has to be handled in a very delicate
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and sensitive way and absolutely clear there shouldn't be foreign intervention. this is the bread and butter of the islamic regime and this is just the natural organic process that should take its time. >> iran started this process back in 1905 with a constitutional revolution. so they have been struggling for more representative and fair system of government longer than any others in that part of the world. and you the question was about imperial history, but go back and talk about the sort of thwarted effort to achieve a representative government. >> other questions here? >> i'm a freelance journalist.
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my question is how do you see the recent developments in turkish-iranian relations? and i'm curious what do you think that means for the political dynamic for the greater -- for the broader middle eastern region, what this new trend means to you? >> basically, it's interesting living in istanbul, we had ahmadinejad visiting a couple of weeks ago and ahmadinejad visited before. he was in tehran last month. he got a special meeting with the supreme leader who doesn't give these meetings very easily. last time was with putin. ahmadinejad keeps on coming to istanbul because part of the standard diplomatic protocol is to visit and ahmadinejad might have an issue with a staunchly
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secular founder of a republic in which religion has no place. now the fact that they are doing this repeatedly is interesting in itself. and aside from that you have all the economic cooperation that has been vastly flowering in the past few years. we have seen recently that perhaps the sale of the 10 unmanned vehicles are going from israel to turkey and that relationship might be edging back on track again. certainly what there appears to be doing is lines in an intelligent. we have thrust and influence with these actors that you don't necessarily agree with that you don't have so they will listen to us. on the other hand, this plays very well with the muslim world. turkey is about to take over and
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they will need the goodwill that they can have. at the same time, turkey is increasing its place as a regional actor. it's got a nonprominent place in the u.n. security council and finally, domestically in turkey, this is playing out in a very interesting way. i saw a video before i came here of turkish protestors burning pofters of king ap duala reportedly over the recent saudi bottom barredment in yemen. now i have no idea why this is happening in majority sunni turkey, majority sunni secular turkey, but shows there are many changes happening throughout the region that perhaps are more under the radar than they should
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be. >> one last question. >> do you see hard line islamization in turkey in the face of u.s.? >> when you force people to be one thing, they'll react against it. iranians over the past 30 years are getting more secular whereas the trend was more religion. >> i mean in turkey. >> i understand. i'm giving an example of its neighbor. if you take that template and apply it to turkey, it does seem as if things are moving in a more religious direction. at the same time, turkey is a
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country that is feeling at ease with it self. it spent the last 80 years engaged in a project that could be described as cultural schizophrenia. we are more western than eastern. we had this in greece where part of the preparations for entering the e.u., everyone studied in england. or italy. west is good and east is bad, backwards. in our case, islamic, therefore, bad. this is an argument that can be used in turkey. but it seems that turkey is becoming increasingly comfortable with who it is. you have new debates about the minorities and you have armenia and turkey. you have the turks to criticize and the head of the o.i.c. and
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nato -- it's a very interesting and subtle game that is being played and the ultimate question is, is this looking after our own interests as well as cultural or is it fully a cultural agenda of, we're finally coming home and i don't think anyone can give an answer to right now. >> thank you all for coming and thanks for the questions and thank you for these excellent presentations. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009]
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[captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> the senate has ordered debate on the health care bill and harry reid has worn them to be prepared for late sessions. c-span is the only network of gavel-to-gavel coverage of the u.s. senate. to see video on demand, go to c- span's healthcare hub. >> the son of devil's bargain at 10:00 a.m. eastern tomorrow -- the senate gavels in again at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow. watch a live senate coverage on c-span2.
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>> in a few moments, white house press secretary robert gibbs is asked about the president's speech tomorrow on afghanistan strategy. in about 10 minutes, british prime minister borden -- gordon brown announces he will send more troops to afghanistan. after that, freelance journalist david acts on his recent trip to afghanistan. -- david axe on his recent trip 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 online at and auntie's band radio live at 8:00 p.m. eastern. white house press secretary robert gibbs was asked about the speech.
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>> i think the president will reiterate tomorrow when i have said a number of times, that this is not an open-ended commitment. that we are there to partner with the afghans, to train the afghan national security forces, the army and the police, so that they can provide security for their country and wage a battle against an unpopular insurgency in that country. that is first and foremost, i would say, our primary mission. >> it was said that we would not be there eight or nine years. will the president spelled out tomorrow? >> again, have found that job
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security policy is not to get too far ahead of where the president is. i think the president will talk about the fact that this is not an open-ended commitment. >> will he talk about -- you have given us figures before as far as what it will cost per soldier. will he talk about what it will pay for? >> i have not heard extensive discussion of that here. i know the president will touch on costs. i do not expect him to get overly detailed in a speech tomorrow. >> when more troops are sent in, inevitably, it results in more casualties. is the president going to -- is that going to be part of the president's message tomorrow, for people to be prepared for the fact of while an exit strategy exists, the next year or two is going to be perhaps bloodier than the last six months?
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>> we have seen this before. i think the amount of sacrifice that we have seen from our men and women there are ready is something that the president is assured by each and every day. i think-and letters of condolence -- i think he sent letters of condolence and meet with the families of those that have hung killed. obviously, the trip to dover -- that have been killed. obviously, the trip to dover is something that you never truly for debt. i think the president will reiterate the importance of why we are there, but also acknowledge the tremendous cost and not sacrifice to our men and women in uniform. -- and sacrifice to our men and women in uniform.
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i do not think there's any doubt that we are in of the commitment from our military and civilians in order to get this right. >> just in time -- in terms of defining our terms, where is it that we are making sure that we have a stable at afghan partner in nation building again? where is the line? is it a question of our responsibility, the u.s. responsibility been training afghan troops backed is it the safe and stable partner part? we have heard a lot about what the u.s. intends to do. if you could define the terms a little. >> i guess i would more ask you to -- i am unclear as to what continuant you are putting -- what continuum you are putting. >> well, the president has said
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about the new strategy that it is important that we have a stable ally in the afghan -- >> well, and a partner that understands, as the president has directly told president karzai in a telephone call in the oval office, that is time for a new chapter in our relationship as it relates to corruption and improved governance in order to address the security situation, not just through training and security force needs but also -- look, it is hard for civilians to go in and improve areas that are not secure. it is impossible. i would say this is all part of what has to be a partnership. and i think anybody would tell you, jayke, and i have said this
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and i think you have seen this from democrats and republicans in congress -- with our partners that are willing to do stuff in both afghanistan and pakistan, november -- without partners that are willing to do stuff in both afghanistan and pakistan, no number of troops can solve those problems unless and until those steps are taken inside both of those countries will we see a change in the security situation. >> a stable partner means a partner that is willing to have its own troops stepped-up. it does not mean a thriving democracy. it does not mean a great economy. thit does not mean school for girls. >> first and foremost we have to have a partner that can identify, recruit, retain a security force and a police force that are able to take improved security -- and
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improved security environment and eventually hold that area. once that area is cleared, that area has to be held, ultimately, the strategy will be to transfer the security responsibility of an area to the afghans. that is a big part of what you will hear the president talk about tomorrow. >> [inaudible] from the afghan government. >> i would say that is a big part of it, yes. >> you said that the president is not likely to get into much detail about how to pay for it tomorrow. why not one we are $14 trillion in debt? -- why not when we are $14 trillion in debt? >> i do not think you heard me say that he was not going to get into it. >> you said he was not going to get into it. >> he will certainly touched on the cost. this is not the end of this debate. i think you will hear the president reece -- acknowledge
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the resource requirements and the trade-offs that will have to be discussed both here and, more important, on capitol hill as they control the purse strings. the crux how will he offset the cost? 8 -- >> how will he offset the cost? a new tax? >> once there is policy, i think you will see those discussions in more earnest. >> president obama will outline his afghan war strategy tomorrow night at the u.s. military academy in west point, new york. -- at west point, new york. you can see that on these c-span that works come on line at c- and on c-span radio at 8:00 p.m. eastern life. -- live at 8:00 p.m. eastern. british prime minister gordon brown -- >> 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
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opposition party leaders and then questions from members of parliament. this is about an hour and a half. >> statement, the prime minister. >> with permission mr. speaker, let me begin this statement on afghanistan by once more paying tribute to our armed forces. since 2001 our forces have been fighting in afghanistan one of the longest military campaigns of recent times -- longer indeed than the world wars of the last century -- as part of our century's fight against global terrorism. and at all times our armed forces have shown the highest professionalism, dedication and courage which make them the best and most admired in the world. they have endured heavy and tragic casualties. they deserve our utmost gratitude. and let me acknowledge the presence as visitors to this house today of members of 19 brigade who have served with distinction in afghanistan.
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decisions to continue military action are as critical as those that commence military action. there are two prior questions people ask of our mission with our american and coalition allies in afghanistan, one about the present, one about the future. and, rightly, both questions have to be answered. the first is why today our armed forces are in afghanistan. and the second is how and when afghanistan can take responsibility for its own security so that our troops can come home. mr. speaker, the origins of our intervention in afghanistan and the scale of the terrorist threat are known to us all. around the world, thousands of men and women of all religions -- including thousands of the muslim faith -- have been murdered in al qaeda outrages. the london july 7 bombings cost 52 lives and injured over 750 people. gs cost 52 lives and injured over 750 people. plot, the 2007 london and glasgow bombings and then this
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year an al qaeda inspired conspiracy to target shopping centers. convicted terrorists serving sentences in british prisons. and the security services report 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
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we have both stepped extreme and violent ideologies do and to support to uphold the tolerance and respect for all. 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
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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. 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
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-- development program, on the border areas and on 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.
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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. 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
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take greater control of their own security. taliban we have to government at national level and at local level, too. this approach is built on the knowledge that the taliban might have minority support among the afghan people and our judgment that the long-term security of afghanistan has been secured by trimming the afghan army and police, build in a civilian government at a local as well as national level, and through economic development, giving the afghans a stake in their future. this set to be proposed as we work with stronger international civilian leadership to work alongside general mcchrystal through this strategy. it is and outlined a program that gives lead security responsibilities to afghans
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district by district with the first provinces potentially being handed over during next year. let us be clear that this process will depend on the afghans being ready to take responsibility and control, first through more trained afghan troops, secateurs better policing, and third tier better local and national government and fourth by giving afghans a stronger stake in their economic future. i can also say that over time, our objective is to work for and encourage a new set of relationships between afghanistan and its neighbors based on their guarantee of non- interference in afghanistan's future affairs and on the commitment to fostering not only its long-term economic and cultural links with other powers in the region, but immediate confidence building security measures from which all can benefit. which president karzai and the secretary general of the united nations have confirmed they will attend -- to unite the
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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 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 --
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an extra company for each afghan battalion there. -- 1,000 more troops -- will soon reinforce the afghan army's afghanistan. responsibility for security. 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.
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from now on all 400 provinces corruption with clearly defined roles, skills and resources. 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.
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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 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.
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programs funded by our this year create 20,000 jobs, and by 2013, raise the incomes of 200,000 people. deployments. 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
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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. 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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training in the next few weeks. 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.
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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. 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,
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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. 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.
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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 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
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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. 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 the second condition was to insure the the second step was to ensure the necessary equipment. while what he said about helicopters is welcome, is
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indeed the case that the support the u.s. forces have been holland is that they have far more helicopters available to them? it's and it's also in fact that they are connected to the 500 troops that we will be deployed -- that we will be deploying is that in fact the marlins were -- the marlins were there before the third condition was that additional afghan forces would deployed to helmand. the prime minister gave us the figures today. can he assure us that they will remain in helmand once deployed? and can he comment on this -- is it still the case that less than 10% of afghan forces are actually in helmand province even though most of the fighting takes place there? i have to ask why it is only
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now, 3.5 years after our forces arrive in helmand, that we are sending out such conditions. on the detail, is it credible to deal with the corruption of police in the six month timetable, and frankly, we have not managed it in the last 3.5 years. since my understanding is that most provincial governors are already in place, what does the prime minister mean by this pledge? does it actually mean that the current governors must be replaced? . . onference. -- 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 deliver stability?
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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. "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
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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 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
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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 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
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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. 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
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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. 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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, 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
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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 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
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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 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
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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 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.
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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? 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 of the mastiff, ridgeback and
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warhog vehicles, can he confirm that the snatch land rovers are no longer being used by any of our troops with -- in deployment in afghanistan? let me address the issue of troop deployments. it was the prime minister himself who said the deployment of any extra british troops would be conditional on other countries sharing the burden. he refuses to tell us today exactly what other countries are sharing the burden. since he has made that 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 their role be on the ground? for several years now, since our troops first stepped into afghanistan, the government's strategy has been overambitious and under-resourced.
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>> mr. speaker, again, i think we should concentrate on where we agree, and we agreed, i 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, strengthening local and national government free of corruption and giving people an economic 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 give a blank check to them.
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we must look to the promises they have made about delivering troops that can be trained in theater with britain and other coalition allies. but the test is not in the words that come from addresses and 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, as well as an anti- corruption task force, and more will be done, but we have seen a start to delivery on a number of key issues that we put to the 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.
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we have more mastiffs, we have more ridgebacks. i agree that what we must do is make sure that all our troops are the best equipped as possible. the truth is, we have had to move from a situation from face-to-face combat with the taliban members to a gorilla war conducted by taliban -- to damage our moral and damage and kill our troops. we have had to adjust our tactics with equipment, and 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
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than 1000, probably 1500 ied's have been dismantled. we have a responsibility to do more. that is why we have increased the amount of equipment. 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 provision of proper measures for 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 protection against explosive devices. >> mike gates? >> thank you, mr. deputy speaker. however effective the karzai government is in meeting benchmarks, we ourselves are in
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afghanistan for our own national security reasons. in that context, the prime minister rightly praised the efforts of the pakistani government, but how confident is he that the civilian government in pakistan has got the power to shift the focus of its military and intelligence agencies to combat al qaeda rather than its obsession with india? >> mr. speaker, my friend who is an expert is absolutely right to draw attention to the importance of pakistan. 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 defend ourselves within our own 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,
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as do other members of the government and our armed forces. we can be sure that the pakistani authorities are aware they have to deal with the threat posed by the pakistan taliban but also al qaeda. we have to take a long-term view of pakistan. the population will rise dramatically over future years. the numbers of young people subject to influence by extremist groups is large. the education system with a number of madrassas that exist is a problem for young people being indoctrinated by extremist ideologies. 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
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proposals that would improve the textbooks as well as the quality of education available in the schools in pakistan, to which we are prepared to devote substantial resources to enable pakistan to have an education system that is free of the influences of indoctrination. we want to work with pakistan on a comprehensive strategy. >> mr. deputy speaker, while we can ask proper questions about the details of this statement, and we can throw back at the prime minister 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
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afghanistan in order to help 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 argument but the beginning of many statements? >> i appreciate what he says as chairman of the defense committee. for all of us who share this view that there is a terrorist 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 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 strategy that is broad and supported
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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 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. -- earlier rather than later. will you confirm there is no truth to 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 germans are talking about it, and poland is having trouble getting their troops in? can he confirm these rumors? >> i cannot confirm all of these rumors. it is true that canada and the
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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. this includes members of nato and countries that are not 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 they are prepared to deploy. i think it is also true to say that he has indications from others they will make announcements soon. >> why has the president of pakistan just announced that he has given up his personal control of that country's nuclear weapons and transferred them to his prime minister, when for years we have been
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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. my right honorable friend rightly focused on the equipment. in a recent opening -- the secretary of state saw the fantastic work that is going on 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 honorable friend is absolutely right. the equipment being produced for our troops to deal with
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guerrilla warfare being practiced by the taliban is of very high quality and i am proud of the british firms that contribute to the equipment orders. we will we will continue to upgrade the equipment available to our forces, in addition to the defense budget, several billion pounds has now been spent on 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? will he accept that this is not only appropriate as they face the same terrorist threats, but their presence would reassure international opinion that, unlike iraq, our presence in
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afghanistan has the unanimous support of the united nations security council? >> mr. speaker, the former foreign secretary is absolutely right, that any sentiment that will ensure non-interference by other members -- it will have to include members of the countries mentioned. they can 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. but i take on board when he says, that there have to be talks with the countries in the secure the future of afghanistan and build the economic, cultural, and social links that are necessary if afghanistan is to control its own affairs. >> when i was in helmand this summer, i was able to see the very excellent medical
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facilities we had there. with the increase in numbers being deployed, will he ensure that there is a commensurate increase in the in-theater medical services and also the aftercare services in the uk? >> he is absolutely right about high quality, indeed, the superb service provided by 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 staff care for those wounded and injured. we have determined, working with the americans and other parties who share this medical facility, to improve it at all times.
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we are also determined that facilities at birmingham are the best for those members of our armed forces who are injured and for their recovery and rehabilitation. we have invested substantially in hedleycourt. >> the prime minister has rightly referred to the need to deal with the terrorist threat at its source. can he tell the house what proportion of terrorist threats or plots have been uncovered or disrupted in the last five years that have been directly connected with the afghani taliban rather than the pakistani taliban? >> i was talking about al qaeda and the threat posed in the united kingdom by terrorist plots either organized or in collaboration with people who are members of al qaeda in pakistan. i think the evidence is that many of the plots we have had to deal with, including the most recent plots, are inspired by instructions that come from al
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qaeda operatives. my point about the taliban is this, that if al qaeda were back in power, there would be a greater danger not just in the region but on the streets of britain. >> the prime minister mentioned the whole country and the whole country will be reassured by his statement today. was it not appropriate to remind the house that we are there in the united nations -- 43 nations are in the coalition and eight other countries have pledged troops? would it not be appropriate for the secretary-general of the united united nations to name these countries? >> my friend is absolutely right.
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this is a unique venture. it is difficult to look back on this where so many countries come together as part of one coalition, the leadership of nato and the united nations, and 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. these 5000 troops will be obtained as part of the pledge made by other countries.
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>> will the prime minister say what steps he will take to persuade the many countries in afghanistan whose forces are confined to a non-combat role to change their policies and be willing to share the burden of our own forces? >> there are some countries that do not participate 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 make contributions, either financial or of an equipment nature, as for example, 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
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contribute with military forces prepared to go to the front line. >> thank you, mr. deputy speaker. my right honorable friend knows well that we understand sacrifice well in plymouth. we are burying another young man this week. the second battalion, the rifles, 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. will my right honorable friend support -- the corporal's view? able to read out a letter from a serving member of our forces and i pay tribute to his work on behalf of the country and all those people from plymouth as well as others who serve in our armed forces. it is important to recognize the advances in equipment made in recent years. it is important to recognize we
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have had to change our tactics because of the tactics of the taliban. we are proud of everything our forces do. >> i thank the prime minister for the detail in his statement and say i generally hope the conditions he has set out will be met. however, he has quoted as saying that what we need now is a political push. given the united states are engaged in an exhaustive review of strategy, would it 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 in making out the statement i made that he will agree that i have tried to set forward the strategy that we have to pursue. i have tried since december, 2007, when i said this strategy must be one of giving afghan
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people more control of their own affairs and progressively building up the afghan army, police, and local government, that that is a consistent strategy we have tried to pursue and persuade our allies to adopt. i think it is important that we 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-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
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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 who are involved in afghanistan, and new zealand who were also present at the conference. 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. the numbers of troops in those provinces will rise. . . >> the prime minister has made reference to the 43 nations in
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the coalition, but he must accept the best majority of our allies have not contributed troops on the ground in afghanistan. can i ask him one specific question which i believe will be a great help for our service men and women and that is the deployment of more unmanned aerial vehicles to help detect terrorist activities? that. that the numbers would rise as an essential part of our strategy. that this surveillance take place so that we can discover and dismantle the ied's that 8% of the debts cross over the last few months have been caused by -- 80% of the deaths were caused by ied's. we also need engineers in the theater who are able to dismantle these weapons that
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on this more general point, week -- i do believe we will see additional troops coming from coalition members were not america or britain. >> is my right hon. friend aware that his cogent explanation did i hear him right to say that the program would report together now with the military under general mcchrystal and could this not be the opportunity of going all round the corruption that so besets the regime and it is the biggest threat to our being successful in afghanistan? could this not be put together under general was cursed -- general mcchrystal? the provinces there? >> i am grateful to my honorable friend to for what he says.
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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 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
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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 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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. >> 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
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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 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 by other countries before we rush to the concl >> we are probably something less than six months away from a general election. has the prime minister considered bringing and leaders of the main opposition parties to agree on a strategy for afghanistan, to ensure that afghanistan does not become a political football? >> i hope from what has been said today that a message is going to the country that
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despite our other differences, the leaders of the other political parties are all supported of the efforts our troops are making in afghanistan. agree that this strategy is one where afghanistan much -- must make more -- take responsibility for its own affair. we must work with pakistan as well as afghanistan. while it is a financial commitment that is strenuous, it is right to support our troops in a way that we are doing. >> even after the 500 additional troops, the total number of allied forces, including afghans, does not exceed the 27,5000 we had in northern ireland during the height of the troubles. given net helmand is four times the size of ireland, what makes the prime minister thinks that an extra 500 troops will make sufficient difference?
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>> it is not as he implies to his question, it is to build up afghan forces so that they are in position to take more responsibility and security for their country. although there are 90,000 afghan forces now, there will be in our view, 135,000 by next year. it is our strategy to train up these afghan forces so that they can hold the ground as well as take ground in afghanistan over time. that is our strategy, not to rely exclusively on allied forces, but to have allied forces working with the afghan army with a corrupt-free afghan police as well over the next few years. he has misunderstood the strategy. 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
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before the 20th of january? in april, if i remember the date rightly, the proposals that we afghanxzaton strategy. 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
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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 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.
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>> 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? >> 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
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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 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
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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. 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.
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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 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
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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 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
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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. 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
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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 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
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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 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. >> president obama will all line 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 that works, online at c- and on c-span radio, live at 8:00 p.m. eastern.
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-- on the c-span networks. >> in a few moments, freelance journalist david axe on his recent trip to afghanistan. in 40 minutes, a look at the recent iranian presidential election and subsequent protests. after that, all white house discussion on combating hiv aids. later, we will hear about airline pilot safety from the head of the pilots association. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> on "washington journal" tomorrow morning, 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 gerry connolly, a member of the foreign affairs committee and a former military correspondent
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for "the washington post". "washington journal" is live on c-span every day. a couple of live events to tell you about tomorrow. the senate commerce subcommittee on aviation looks into airline pilot fatigue. that is on c-span at 10:15 a.m. eastern. then the senate intelligence committee considers the pending nominations at the departments of state and hall and security. you can see that on c-span-3 at 2:30 p.m. eastern. >> free-lance journalist david axe was embedded with u.s. troops in afghanistan. in this interview, we talked about his experience with the u.s. army and air force. this is his second trip to afghanistan.
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>> my first trip was near kandahar about to be zero years ago. i wanted to go back to the south and see if i could detect progress or see if things had gotten worse, but also to explore new areas of afghanistan i had not visited before. in 2007, i spent most of my time in kabul. this time i headed out towards the agricultural districts, south of kabul to see a different facet of war. >> are there commercial flights that go into afghanistan? >> you can fly commercially into kabul or, less frequently, in to kandahar. so that is not as efficient as the u.s. air transportation system, but is it -- it is a typical commercial flight. >> how concerned are you -- the deadliest month was october for servicemen? how concerned are you for your personal safety and what measures to take to protect
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yourself? >> if you are embedded with u.s. forces you are required to wear the same protective gear, being a helmet and a vest with armored plates in it. you ride in the same army vehicles they do. >> they provide you with that year? >> no, they don't. you buy it and get it online at use military supply dealers or you get new. law enforcement here. -- law-enforcement year. the logistics of the trip are fight date -- far dicier. >> why is that? >> moving around afghanistan does not seem to get easier. it is a big country. the infrastructure is very poor. you have to contend with afghan bureaucracy, corruption becomes an issue.
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for instance, i had to get a week-long be set extension just to get out of the country and had been told prior to leaving that would not be a problem. of course, it was a huge problem. the paperwork and the officers i had to yell at. it took a week to get a week- long visa extension. . . the air force then handed me off to the army for a couple of
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weeks in a province called l ogar, and when all was said and done, the air force for me home. >> we will hear a lot about bagram air force base. tell us about it. >> is big, all former soviet facility, and a lot of the old soviet infrastructure is still there, including a decrepit runway that is being improved. it is the biggest military facility in afghanistan by some measure. tens of thousands, i am not sure the exact number, american personnel. a lot aircraft coming in, on loading things, reloading things, flying out the destination, it is a constant buzz of activity. it is like a giant that exit -- facility.
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>> there are nato troops there as well? >> there is hardly a base in afghanistan that does not have some eggs, whether afghans are british germans. >> what do you observe in the interactions between u.s. troops and afghan troops and others? >> u.s. troops and afghan troops work well together. there is a mentoring relationship. they bring along a a bunch of afghans, and a slot into the organization in a seamless way. they do not have the same capabilities and trainings as u.s. troops, 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 board operating base. the lawyers that exclusively theirs? babblers not exclusively, but french operations are mostly french. dutch operations are mostly
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dutch. american operations are mostly american. you'll see at comes -- you will see afghans have bring these areas for mentoring. if along with an air national guard see-130 crew on a resupply mission to the south. what happened was some shipments of food and water and supplies came men. it was either commercial aircraft for military aircraft, and that was broken up in the batches and loaded up on the seat-130's for delivery to the combat troops. this particular crew was carrying food and water to the south. taking off from bagram, a couple of hundred miles through the mountains down to the south of afghanistan, and the c-130 dead at passover the marines location, shove that stuff out the back, the marines broke a
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toe in and scurried off, and we went back to bagram. probably a dozen to a half dozen missions like that every day. it is the main way of getting supplies to the combat troops. >> those operations are fairly say. they do not encounter too much enemy fire or confrontation with the taliban or others? >> the taliban do not have an air defense network really. they could take a potshot at your airplane with their rifles, but the chances of hitting something flying at high are pretty slim. helicopters are a lot more danger. i imagine that the mountains are a bigger threat than the taliban. >> did it saucepot -- did it fly along with air support? >> as course like that are not really required. altitude is the main protection against the taliban to read.
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i am not saying that it is perfectly safe. the conditions are rugged and the air spaces crowded. but enemy fire is not a big red. >> but those jets to fall out of bagram -- to flying -- do fly out of bagram. what they doing? >> they are looking for suspicious things. if ground troops get into a sticky situation, they call those guys in. they can do surveillance and then when as, sweep in and drop the bombs. >> is that close air support missions an everyday occurrence? dollars probably buried the air force does not publish those statistics. -- >> probably. the air force does not publish those statistics. there is of -- they find other ways to deal with the taliban.
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general mcchrystal said himself that air power may contain the seeds of our own destruction. massive casualties are a big problem. it is better to actually accept some risk in an engagement with the taliban and not bomb them, then it is to risk killing civilians. >> the use of those drugs has increased dramatically in afghanistan. it -- the use of those drone s have increased dramatically in afghanistan. >> you can think of them is manned aircraft except that the man in the aircraft is actually sitting on the ground, still talking to the ground troops, and they actually use a chat program much like instant messenger, to do a lot of the communications with their customers, the guys receiving the support from the drums. -- drones.
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they do not carry a lot of large weapons are fire a lot of them. it's not like the b-1 bomber driving bombs. >> bagram is also a military hospital. >> by some standards, is the most sophisticated medical facility in all of afghanistan. it does everything from plastic surgery to trauma, emergency room care. >> they can take care of a lot of issues right there. they do not have to fly soldiers are personnel at a country? >> well, they could handle most things, but the idea is when someone is hurt, to get them to their long-term care facility as fast as possible. that would not be bagram. you do not want u.s. soldiers suffering from burns having to
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hang around bagram months at a time. the idea is that where that care needs to be provided locally, especially for afghans, it is possible. there are afghans receiving plastic surgery bagram when i was there. but the u.s. soldiers are moved out as quickly as possible. it combines both medical care and an evacuation role. there is actually a tent, lavishly equipped, outside the hospital. wounded troops come in, they receive the care that they need, and then when they are stable, they are moved into that tend to await a flight. and not light sleep frequently. it is hard because these guys for interviews because they move out so quickly. -- is higher -- it is hard to catch these guys for interviews because they move out so quickly. but the wounded troops on plans, with nurses to keep them
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safe, and off they go. >> you also spent time at a fort operating base. the air force handed to you off to the army and then you went to a fall or operating base. where was that? >> in the logar province, in a district called baraki barak. traditionally baraki barak grows much of the food that people in kabul eat. is connected by a 50-mile to our road. double hours a dusty road or a paved road? >> of paved road. not american standards, but you can make the trip and two hours. a bunch of farmers and shepherds tried to make a living. in some unforgiving terrain. >> why does the military have a base there? >> most afghans are farmers.
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one of the keys to winning hearts and minds and into bringing the population into the coalition polled and building support for the afghan government among everyday afghans is to talk to these farmers in a language that they understand. so the u.s. army has a battalion in the logar province. and those guys are spending most of their time trying to understand what kind of farming is going on here, but do the farmer need, how can we help, and in working with the afghan government to get them on that page, how can the afghan government help those farmers? it is like an agricultural commune that wears military fatigues. >> at this is an actual base that the u.s. has built, or was there some sort of facility there before? >> u.s. troops often fall in on
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existing facilities for convenience sake. this is the former site of a turkish gravel operation, a gravel company. the company based in baraki barak is a former russian base, back from the old soviet-afghan war. they have expanded and improved it. but some of these facilities have a long history of commerce for conflict. >> as you move further away from the creature conference of bagram air force base, what is it like to get your daily meals, where you sleep, had 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. and -- in baraki barak, it is not a lot of active combat. for the most part, they are out there talking to farmers,
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working with farmers, dealing with animals, and so is static and up and the routine is sad enough that the company there, with the leadership of a very good first sergeant, has managed to build quite a nice little place. the food is hot and frequent, there is running water that does not always run, but there are showers. wooden huts and reinforced a tense, and some old russian buildings. it stays warm night. it is fairly comfortable. by contrast, in kandahar, many of those troops sleep out in the open, even in the winter bird that is a place where there is a lot more combat and moving around, more fluid and dangerous. troops do not have the leisure and the time to settle into an ice retain. it depends on where you are and what you're doing. the bigger bases are not always more comfortable, because these days they are way overcrowded.
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the infrastructure in afghanistan was sized for about 50,000 to 70,000 strong force. there's still more plant, and becoming reinforcements, the spaces are just overcrowded. there's no place to sleep, long waits for food, the traffic, things like that. >> in the port operating basis, if you talk about agricultural community spirit what is the local government like there? >> spotty. the baraki barak sub-governor is co located with the american base in baraki barak. well, actually, it is the afghan forces in the afghan governments and the u.s. state department, they are all collected it. which is delivered in a good idea. they work together run a daily
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basis. it is the challenge working with the local afghan government, because 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 largely a state in government role? >> increasingly, yes. you see a surge in other non- military agencies moving into the area since the beginning of the year. more u.s. troops, too, but they are trying to cede some of those development and government's role is to government civilian spirit and --. in baraki barak there was a district support team, which is a state department team that sense and experience foreign officers -- are in service officers to try to show the government this is what it looks like to run a local government. you need to walk around, talk to your constituents, find out what
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they need, find out who has resources, and try to make that link up. they would be joined by a experts from land grant universities in the u.s. to come and work with the farmers. >> how large candy -- can get? >> in baraki barak, aqi get to about a dozen people. -- it could get to about a dozen people. the local language and baraki barak would be dari. elsewhere, the speed op -- they speak pashtu. and like other farmers, i hire interpreters. if i am in bed -- embedded, i would use military interpreters.
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you do not know exactly what language are going to speak. will the speaker dari or pashtu? you may plan ahead and think you need a dari interpreter, and then the speaker pashtu. >> did they have enough translators? >> note, they never have enough translators, and never good enough. even though you may have your allotment, that will not be the best. that is a constant struggle. and until we have all large number of americans speaking dari, or more afghan speaking english, that is going to be a challenge. >> david axe, you spend some time and kandahar. what was your unit there?
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dollars there were two organizations, one was a training group from the u.s. air force that mentors the afghan national army air corps. in other words, a bunch of americans who are trying to build the national air afghan air force on u.s. air force- models. in addition, i also spent some time with the 62nd expeditionary reconnaissance squadron, a drug unit -- drone unit. >> the unit that is training the afghans, this is a big part of both nato's and the u.s. push for the afghans to take on the security role in the country. how the u.s. military officials that you speak to think the afghans are coming along? >> slowly. it is hard to -- i am not going to call and pessimists, but it is hard to be optimistic. they do their job and they are dedicated to it, the americans,
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that is. but you will not hear them speak badly about the afghans, but from my point of view, it is very frustrating. you see almost no progress in the two years between my trips to afghanistan. i did not see major signs of progress. on almost any front. >> why do you think that is? >> it is a matter of culture. we have embarked on an effort to reform our culture, to change a culture. i am not even going to use the word reform because that implies that they need to be like us. the initial goal in the afghan war was to disrupt al qaeda and to do what it took to make happen so that we decided that meant eradicating the taliban as well. or least removing the taliban from power and disrupting them as well.
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eight years later, there's very little cockeyed in afghanistan. -- al qaeda in afghanistan. very little taliban as well. but somehow the mission has morphed into not just disrupting those organizations, but building a society, and almost western-style society to replace, i don't know, the taliban as a form of government, i guess. that is not going well. >> does afghanistan had any history of a unified military for a force that serve the country in the past? >> i do not know. i am not actually an expert on afghan history. recently, no, no, no. under the soviets 20 years ago, there was a partnership with elements of an afghan federal government, just like there is
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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 the u.s. or nato forces trying to work with local officials, trying to eradicate poppy fields? >> i did not see poppy eradication but there is a good reason for that. we have moved past eradication. it is no longer the emphasis. when it comes to poppies, it is not really in the forefront anymore. the drugs -- the reason that the military cared about poppies is that they were a source of revenue and are for the taliban. but the taliban now has multiple incomes strains and that was just one. and trying to eradicate the poppies, you cause more damage
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to your own war effort. you heard more than you help. in eliminating the sole source of income for a lot of farmers, you create new extremists and new enemies. it is better to find other ways to disrupt the taliban and to try to eliminate one of their income streams that so many people depend on for their livelihood. >> tell us about a typical operation that you witnessed on the unit that was involved in the predator drones. >> there are two dorne units in afghanistan. one handles the north and one handles the south. the south is the bigger and busier of the two. these numbers are not classified, but i would guess 100 predator and reaper drones. the predators look like a model airplane, about the size of a small compact car. the reapers look about the same,
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but they are twice as big. they look more like an honest to god fighter jet than they do model airplanes. and you can hang missiles and bombs on these things. in their noses, they carry different sense source, cameras, radars, things like that. and these things can stay in the air along time. the exact number depends on what you are carrying and where you are flying, but a day is not impossible for one of these 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 could hear them when you are on the ground. if you cannot receive them. they are too small. you can hear that little whine, and some like lawn mowers, but you cannot see them. >> did you see a unit in action actually attacking a specific
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point? >> note, the drone units in afghanistan do not handle many attacks. the drug operations of bifurcated. most of the drone of operators, tastier and see what that runcie's, most of those guys are in las vegas. they work in the air force bases in nevada. the guys in afghanistan just launched and recovered the drones and they are responsible for small areas, usually around the air base. what happens is a 24 hour operation, were the air force guys and contractors are constantly dragging drones off to the air strip, launching them from their trailers by remote- control, and then they pass them off to the guys and las vegas. and a gazan las vegas will fly around for a day or so. they will return the drum to the guys -- return control to the
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guys in kandahar, and they can keep it for about an hour. there were fly over kandahar to look for a roadside bombs or rockets or individual -- enemy activity. >> could you get a chance to see the imagery? >> they had video cameras, just like a tv camera. and also high density -- high- definition radar to take snapshots of the terrain. in the morning, you take one step shy appeared in the evening, you take another and compare them. if you see differences, like the corner has been disturbed like someone chopping up the ground there, then you might have spotted a roadside bomb. that will come in and berry at what you are not looking you can change detection. that is a lot of what they did. they revisit areas and take radar snapshots and send in ground teams to dig those things out. >> in your month in afghanistan,
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and you are with several units. what sense did you get from soldiers, airmen, about the redeployments, about the multiple to plummets to afghanistan? >> a lot of the guys i was with were fairly young three front- line infantry young -- guys are often teenagers. many were on their first deployments. as you get older soldiers, more experienced senior ranking guys, they had been at this for quite a long time. i hear a lot about morale in the news here in the u.s.. it's funny, because it seems like they are taking -- talking about a different war or a different army. i'm not sure that morale means anything in afghanistan. it might for other armies, but the u.s. army, this is a professional army, probably the world's most professional army ever. they're highly trained, highly educated, extremely well
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equipped, and pretty well compensated, especially considering how things are back home. these guys do a job because it is their job. they are not drafted and most of them are not really is geologically motivated. they're there to do a job that they believe in, but they believe in the job, not necessarily some grand cause. they are able to separate their emotions and their personal feelings and even their personal politics from the job. and if you really boil it down to -- if there is an emotional motives to these guys, usually they are fighting for the due next to them, that small unit camaraderie that really motivates them, where professionalism does not explain everything. so i am not sure that morale is a huge issue, and it is certainly impossible to generalize about an entire army when it comes to morale. you can sit down with one
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soldier and say, added you feel? is your family suffering from the strain of you being deployed over and over again? he might have particular gripe spirit and the army, believe it or not, is pretty good about dealm. the army is making an effort to expand to get more people time at home. i've always heard for years that the army is fraying, that it is overstretched, and from a planning purpose that might be true. we don not -- we do not have enough troops to do everything we wanted but it does not like the army is imploding, some kind of psychic collapse going on where people are so demoralized that they are going to quit. >> you are in afghanistan at the start of this debate on how many additional troops the u.s. might send. what was your sense from talking to the more senior officers about what is needed there? >> there is a growing sense of realism that nobody is going to
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get everything that they want. mcchrystal seems to have set a pretty high bar for what he considers adequate resources. what is the number is growing around? another 40,000 troops are more? there's an understanding that that is not necessarily going to happen, and if it does happen, it will not happen fast. what is happening is that officers are making do, to make do with fewer troops. a lot of senior guys embrace this idea of the population- centric counterinsurgency, where your goal is to protect the entire afghan population from extremist aphis, and by protecting them, you win them a new excise whatever extremist elements managed to win their way into the population. that is impossible with limited resources. you need a lot of troops to do that. what is emerging is a hybrid
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strategy for you protect major population centers, you try to win hearts and minds through indirect means, outside those population centers. >> the last time you are in afghanistan was what year? >> 2007. >> how have things changed? >> they have not. there is no major progress to report predicts 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 it has made a massive difference. it might make a big difference in certain localities where there have been big troop increases, but broadly speaking, it is still a huge country and the coalition is still comparatively quite small. the major obstacles remain. the thing is, i am not sure that unless you want to fled afghanistan with 1 million foreign troops, i am not sure
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that troops are really the answer. it is increasingly clear to me, having visited the country twice, more than the taliban, the enemy is corruption. it is an afghan government that has had a chance to pull its act together and has declined to do so repeatedly. it seems that most senior afghan officials, ashley most afghan officials, senior or not, just want to get rich, just want to gather power for themselves and they do not care about afghanistan as a state, and certainly don't care about the constituents. you can kill taliban all day. you're going to end up creating more by creating martyrs. you cannot win this war by the definition of war that we have settled on. not until there is an afghan
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government that takes governance seriously, and that is just not happening. >> your shot a lot of c-span video for us. what was the most interesting thing you saw? >> getting blown up and shot at. we were ambushed baraki barak district, back in mid october. we're on the way back from a visit to a local mosque appeared there was a 20-minute firefight with no american casualties. a truck was destroyed but it protected the occupants. it was an interesting experience because i had been shot at before. and throughout those experiences, and i had come to really believe in american technology. i'm actually sad that i feel this 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.
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we sat there and absorb a bunch of taliban bullets, and everybody was fine. and then we shot back. that tree line that goes taliban were shooting from was just demolished. >> how far away was it from your position? >> i would have to guess 100 yards. but the father, probably farther. -- may be farther, probably father. the amount of firepower that they drop on that tree line was hilarious and all-inspiring. and we may kill the calgary you did not want kalikow because it makes the farmers of said. -- and we may have killed eight cal -- a cow. you do not want to kill a cow because it makes the farmers upset. i could not get any video out of
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the hatch. so i could only shoot inside the vehicle of the two infantry soldiers with me. it was tough because i did not want to shine a light into their face, it might ruin their night vision or just above them. they had a job to do. so was it was only able to get snippets of video of them going about their job. killing taliban. which is something they do not do often, something that they realize is not doing their job. >> did you get a chance to talk to them after the fire fight? >> shore. -- sure. >> and what was their impression? >> i 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. it was an unusually long.
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the taliban did not usually hang around that long. they just kept shooting this time. he talked about his mind set, when he is in a situation like that. he said, "the key to surviving ironically is to not care about surviving." he said that 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 get out of the vehicles, they get out of the vehicles, and a gain some high ground and looked around at the enemy, and then colin all tilbury and mortars and fired a round grenades down. that requires being exposed, getting out of the vehicle and moving around, which is scary, but in the end, is safer to get out, take care of the problem, then just to hunker down and let them shoot at you forever. so you survive by embracing death.
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he and his unit are lucky. they have not taken a lot of casualties. and one of the reasons is because they fight so bravely and they are willing to confront death like that. >> you mentioned their training earlier. do you really see that action -- in action? >> yes, and an 18-year-old kid who within seconds of getting blown up and getting peppered with gunfire is calling in altering -- in all artillery, and coordinating the movements of troops all over the place, firing his own weapon, dealing with a pesky little porter to shining a light in his face, all at the same time? well, i don't know, maintaining a pleasant attitude throughout? extremely impressive. >> tell us about the mechanics of your job. how do you make sure they you have enough tape, that your batteries are charged, all of
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that. >> i did not spend a lot of time sleeping outdoors in the desert. in a baraki barak even where they ambushed a place, we would return home to a quite nice little base. i had a very good first sergeant they're responsible for building the huts and getting power and things like that. he really cared about his guys. so i can put things in and night and recharge them. it is expensive work, extremely expensive, flying over there, ms. zeleny -- miscellaneous expenses, and it is not always easy and comfortable. but it sure beat embedding with the taliban. as an american, i will probably make it through. >> david axe, thank you for your work and thank you for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> video journalists david axe
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has covered the war in iraq and afghanistan as well as the conflict to dudan. you can watch programs produced with the materials and this interview on our web site. the to the search box and type and axe -- and type in axe. dollars the senate has started debate on the healthcare bill, and majority leader harry reid has warned senators to expect evening and weekend sessions. all this on c-span2, the only network with gavel-to-gavel coverage of the u.s. senate. and to read the house and senate versions, go to our health care hub. >> the senate gavels in at 10:00 a.m. eastern to continue debate on health care legislation, including an amendment on health care services for women, and a motion to send the bill back to committee to address medicare reductions.
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watch live coverage on c-span2. in a few moments, a look at the recent iranian presidential elections and subsequent protests. in all less than an hour and a half, all white house session on combating hiv and aids. after that, we will hear about the airline pilot safety from the heads of the pilots association. and later, off 4 among u.s.- china relations. -- a forum on u.s.-china relations. >> 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. why the 8:00 eastern. -- live at 8:00 eastern.
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>> american icons now available on dvd. i unique journey through the iconic columns of the three branches of american government. cds with the detail of the supreme court through the eyes of the justices. go beyond the velvet ropes of public tours into those rarely seen public spaces of the white house, america's most famous home. and explore the history, art, and architecture of the capit ol. american icons, a three-disc dvd said. it is $24.95 plus shipping and handling third order online at dollars of free-lance journalist talks about his detainment in an iranian prison following his coverage of the iranian elections and the subsequent protests. this is all less than an hour and half.
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i like to welcome those who are viewing us today on c-span. today's session will focus on iran said elections and a tumultuous aftermath. i wanted offer a word of welcome to the woodrow wilson center, the nation's official moral to our 28 president. the mission of the woodrow wilson center is to provide a bridge between the world of learning and public policy. it has sponsored research and some 800 meetings a year that we host. of which this is 13 today we're particularly pleased to be partnering with a pulitzer
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center on crisis reporting, are relatively new organization that has already made quite a mark on the field as the news industry goes through the transformation that is going through right now. the pulitzer center is providing are really unique product. and we will hear more about that today, an example of it. i just heard a cell phone. i'll ask you all to please turn your cellphones and other such devices off. we are being broadcast live today. with that, let me turn the floor over to john sawyer, founding member of the pulitzer center. he created this organization and found it did it, and for many years he was the bureau chief of the st. louis post-dispatch. from his washington base, he
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traveled the world to some 60 countries doing reporting. it is a particular pleasure to be partnering with a pulitzer center and john himself for today's meeting, which could not be more topical. john, is a pleasure to welcome you and your colleagues to the center. the floor's yours. >> and think it is c-span for bringing this to be -- bringing this to the world beyond washington. our guest books are among the most lucid and insightful treatments of the countries that we face. his experience with iranian detention has taught us a lot about the nature of that country's current government. we have been seeing the past six months headlines about the tumultuous political campaign,
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it's violent aftermath, continuing protests, and right up to this morning where the government of ahmadinejad shouting a defiant note to the international community's demand for pulling down its nuclear program. on today's panel, i am very pleased to be part of this, two people who know much about iran, about the internal politics and how it has been portrayed in the western media. our first is a writer, a photographer, and documentary filmmaker. he has been covering middle eastern affairs from his istanbul base. is a nieman fellow at harvard university and also lived in tehran for three years while pursuing graduate studies. he was reporting on our runs presidential elections last june -- are ron's president elections last june when he was jailed at the direction of the intelligence ministry and held
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for nearly three weeks in solitary confinement. he was a consultant on "i stepped in iran," a documentary for frontline that aired earlier this month. barbara is one of the most experienced diplomatic correspondence and editors and washington. currently an assistant manager at "the washington times," she is responsible for world and international coverage. she serves as a senior reporter for "usa today," and has written for many magazines. a graduate of harvard university, she has also been senior fellow at the u.s. institute of peace, and is the author of "better friends, bosom enemies -- iran, the u.s., and the twisted path the confrontation." i want to tell you about how the pulitzer center became involved
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in this project. it is a non-profit journalistic organization founded almost four years ago in january. we're in the business of filling gaps in coverage of systemic crises around the world. we collaborate with major news media outlets across the country and in europe and around the world. television, and we also have a very active presence on the web and in our education programs that high schools and universities in which we take the journals and that we sponsor out to younger audiences and try to engage them in the international issues that affect us all. at this point, this year, we are doing on the order of 50 projects around the world. we have partner with everybody from "newshour" and the "new york times," the "washington post," most of the major news
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outlets. the "washington times" has been a wonderful partner of the pulitzer center and supported some really unique and and and reporting we have commission in a number of countries around the world, so we see our approach as 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. i met yachts and when he was a harvard fell almost two years ago, and we talked about projects we might do together, and the first present to do was looking at internal conflict in turkey as part of the project we did last year. he went on from there to do work for us when there was a student protest in greece, and that developed into a project for the pulitzer center. in the spring, we decided together that it would be very
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good for him to go to iran to cover the elections, and as a general rule, the pulitzer center is not about covering elections and the immediate aftermath of breaking news because we see that as something that i shall read the news media does do, the conventional media that, despite all the cutbacks, they still devote resources to those issues. but in this case, we knew that he was extraordinarily well versed in iranian politics and culture. his exhibit on children of the revolution, his photographic exhibit, was displayed here at the wilson center last year and across the country, and he has done some extraordinary writing and photography on iran based on the three years he spent their. became fluent in farsi and had a wide range of contacts in that country, so i hope going in that he would be able to report not only on the election, but on the context behind it in a way that many other reporters,
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journalists who were coming in for a short term without the kind of background he had, would be able to do, so we were pleased to get him to tehran and to work with ed harris, to know that he would have out with in the american and european media. we were less pleased that a week after the election, that on his way out in with his visa had expired, he was taken into custody and detained and held in prison where he had nearly three weeks of exposure and it is very interesting, and i hope we will talk some today about his experience and compare that to the "newsweek" correspondent who just came out i guess after almost four months of detention. they were in the same prison, came in about the same time and had different experiences. after iason cannot, he continued
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to cover the story in iran. i think that his perspective on trends in iran and looking at the media coverage and how the media function in a situation where first they were under extraordinary restrictions as to where they could go, what they could do in the immediate aftermath of the election, and then, you had people being arrested, and most of the foreign journalists being taken out of the country so that there were not able to report firsthand. how the report on the situation as it unfolds in that circumstance? so i think we will begin with iason to talk through the experiences that he had and his perspective on iran today, and then we will turn to barbara, also brings tremendous background on the subject to get her perspective as well, and then we'll open it up, i hope, to q&a. >> thank you very much for coming today, and thank you very
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much for posting me. it is wonderful to be back at the woodrow wilson center. as john mentioned, -- as jon mentioned, we met on my lehman year, which came on the heels of three years living in iran. in fact, i made a secondary fortunate clinton's -- fortunate acquaintance that year, who was also sitting on this panel, who came to give a talk on her new book mit while i was at cambridge. this serendipitous of clinton's has led to us in a way being here today and along the way has led to some journalism being manufactured. i am half greek, half english. i grew up there and learned english when i was about 10, and that opened the way to learning more languages like arabic at university. then i went to iran were either
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in person, and now, i am trying to learn turkish in istanbul. the whole idea behind journalism is to -- well, we're basically no longer in the age of the old foreign correspondent, who would parachute in somewhere, live life in a world of lesser are in an exotic capital and basically get the job done by his local contacts. local contacts are absolutely crucial today, more so than ever, but certainly, the budget that used to allow that kind of lifestyle no longer exists. so for someone who is by cultural -- bicultural and more greek and english, it has been a real challenge trying to follow this path of journalism, which basically involves learning foreign languages, understanding foreign culture, and only then
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trying to write about them. hopefully, i would cover a culture with slightly more sensibility 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 specific affiliation, who speaks their language, this is in a way to challenge.
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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. 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
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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 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.
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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 be the first people to actually be attacked. of of a sudden -- all of a
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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. >> 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
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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. it is perfectly natural. >> a columnist for a hard-line newspaper plants the violence on opposition -- on the opposition
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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 art of tehran, the largest since the 1979 revolution, a fact not lost on a former revolutionary elite, who has turned against the regime. >> they do not want to accept. they do not want to understand. this is the people of iran.


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