tv President Goerge W. Bush and the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars CSPAN May 25, 2015 10:30pm-12:40am EDT
counseling clients in health care, regulatory law international relations, oil and gas, and alternative energy. from 2005 before this appointment he was u.s. ambassador to the holy seat during which he was knighted by john paul ii for his human rights. ambassador nichols has been the director of the new community development corporation commissioner and the commissioner on the defense advisory on women services. he was the chairman of the national committee from 2007 to 2001. lawrence wilkerson is distinguished adjunct profess or at the college of limb and mary.
he served in the u.s. army from 1966 until 1997 excuse me. while in uniform. he was a member of the faculty of the u.s. naval war college, special assistant to general colin powell when colonel powell was chiefs of staff. from 2001 until 2002 he was associate director of the state department policy planning staff. colonel wilkerson's last position was chief of staff for u.s. secretary of state co len powell from 2002 to 2005. so the journalists and scholars that we have present. first he was a journalist that served as an afghanistan correspondent for "the wall street journal" for "the christian science monitor" and reported in asia and middle
east for several other publication. mr. napol has extensively interviewed both sides of the afghanistan conflict. this is cited in his critically acclaimed book "no good men among the living: america, the taliban and the war through afghanistan eyes" which was a final list in the national book award and the helen bernlstein award and recipient of the ridnour prize. he was an inside fellow at the new america foundation. peter baker is the chief white house correspondent for the "new york times" and the cribbing writer for "new york times" magazine. he's covered three presidential times in his previous boggs "the washington post." he won a prize in the beckman
memorial award for white house coverage. he was the bureau chief for "the washington post" during the rise of vladimir putin. he's the author of "days of fire." which provides a comprehensive look in the bush administration from the election to the iraq war to the bush and chaney white house. he's serving as a distinguished conference scholar for this conference. and phyllis bennett is a director of the new internationalism project at the institute for policy studies in washington, d.c. and is a fellow of the trans national institute in amsterdam. she's been an ackvists in u.s. ish shoes an speaks widely as
part of the global peace movement. she continues to serve as an advisory for several top advisories in the middle east. she's the author of eight books including 2003 book, before an after u.s. war on on terror. and the 2005 book challenging empire how people governments and the u.n. define u.s. power. so please join me in welcoming this distinguished panel. [applause] so the format, we're going to have 10 to 12 minutes for each of our guests here. and then there will be a question an answer session and possibly in between a moderated discussion depending on how much time we have. so we will essentially go in
the order that's listed in the program. so first mr. basile. >> thank you paul, for that introduction. always great to be back at this campus. it was 18 years ago that i served on the student for the bush 41 conference and during the conversation i got to trail around john se knew new for denew new who happens to be the faster walker i'd ever encountered. and joe is following me around. and joe, i'm sorry you got stuck with me. but i really appreciate the invitation with dr. bose and the calico center not only as an abum us in administration but also an alumnus of this
university. it's wonderful to see how the political discourse surrounding the presidency affected so dramatically. it's good to see secretary nichols here with whom i was so fortunate to share a very wonderful and for me a very meaningful and emotional moment in american history when we were both able to attend president bush's meeting with john paul ii at the vatican in 2002. so it is good to see you sir. >> for my len yeah. the causes of war and the strategies associated with it were defined by particular margins involving a combination of resource and territorial acquisition therefore producing conflict population. and i suggest that for most people in paradigm continues to drive perceptions of war and war-making.
i sub bhit the close of the cold war and the rise of the united states hegemony, the breakdown of certain alliances that we witnessed in the rise of al-qaeda and the decision-making of the united states and the aftermath of 9/11 was a sharp departure from the usual war making paradigm. i feel that we are in a transitional phase as it relates to this country handling the military vat ji to account for this shift. the administration of george w. bush was the first administration to have to deal with this paradigm shift. during the bush presidency, the white house was faced with the challenge of facing the territorial and institutional impacts of war in the form of external forces such as terror groups embedding the governance of state actors. the viral nature of the radical
islamic movement and the exploitation of governments of state actors of the new global paradigm that had emerged after the end of the cold war. it was a historically complicated confluence of circumstances that led to both afghanistan and bush mission. the bushed a mintstration had to cope with the conflict of trying to fight mobile terrorist groups and dozens of countries while fighting traditional territorial balts rebillingd infrastructures an institutions in afghanistan that perhaps may not have existed. in the case of iraq projecting out the impact that state actors might have who may exploit and support the efforts of the terrorist enemy. we spent a great deal over the last decade and a half on whether we should are gone into afghanistan or whether we should have gone into iraq.
the reasonable man test comes from the old chancellor report. the president of the united states faced with the confluence of circumstances that i just described in a general sense buttress by specific intelligence act in a certain way. keeping in mind that saddam hussein had been declared a state sponsor of terrorism and regime change had been the poll soif the u.s. government since the cointon administration. i believe that president bush made the correct choice for military intervention in both of those circumstances. however, i believe the more relevant conversation for all of us remains once you make the decision to go to war what is the principle purpose or desired outzphom you have several choices. you can, one, you can remove saddam hussein and the taliban
which i believe is a false choice. you can two, remove the leadership and grab some general and ex-patriot and impose them basically trading one dictator with another. that's particularly for bush the moral and political argument fails there as well. or three, you could attempt to secure the done fri and build institutions that could support not what some people had suggested some things americans call style democracy but a pleuralistic and confluence structure. this historical gathering of maligned members in our corps have the responsibility to get the economy growing an establish security and a political framework that were established goal number three working together with an iraqi population that is more supportive that is generally
accepted they tackled it with great commitment and their earths going unlargely unnoted as the situation worsened due to sectarian violence and a white house that as the mission went on often failed to defend its own policy in iraq. president bush understood several key points very well. one, he believed that left unchecked it was likely that we stay with developed a nuclear weapons program. two, hughes sane had funded external terror groups and it was believed that he would be supporting other terror groups. three, the war on terrorism was a long-term global threat that involved dozens of groups. so closely aligned, some loosely aligned not only with each other but also state actors. and we're seeing this today as you see isis and ack tack and
boko haram and anala shry y an and all these folks are are network and a very powerful one at that. four he believes this is a general's long fight. and it would require long-term and aggressive engagement. and addressing the freedom deficit in the middle east and countrys that serve as incubators however long-term and complex that strategy might be was essential and in toward sharing a more peaceful world and further to end terrorism networks. where it fell short is how to fight them simultaneously. we weren't just protecting the territorial boundaries of a
nation. we were trying to fight an insurgency while attempting to build new governments and social and political institutions. on my first day in iraq i got off at the baghdad airport and i put on my vest. i put on my helmet. and i got on the bus to go to the compound. they said by the way the road is closed. the road between the road and the compound was closed because the army was not able to secure it. they call it the road of death. people were dying on it virtually every day. that was my first day and my hour by knew that we were going to do have man power issues that plagued the iraq army early on and were very real. the administration had a vision for a lighter fleet footed
high-tech 21st century army. and that vision has merit. but it was incompatible with the mission that we had at that particular time. for our part nearly every civilian and military liaison agreed from the outside that we needed to maintain overwhelming foresize in order to accomplish the mission. today, at the white house former john hopkins university professor and noted economists the newly elected president of afghanistan told the american people thank you for the work that have helped give them a shot to instead of being a burden to the world to actually have a shot at a free future. but we are clearly seeing the beginning of what the president called generation of process --
a generational process of development. in iraq despite poor intel regarding infrastructure, military assets, essential services, mass looting the iraq mission realized not sufficiently promoted by the administration and not promoted by the media. it began within weeks of the promotion of the c.p.a. which enabled anybody by the rate of colonel to go to the army. but they were better trained, better equipped. the central bank was reopened. and the transition within the first six months. it took us two years in post world war ii germany. oil production increase. dozens of schools were we built, a constitution was
developed which shiah, sunnis and kurds and turkman's on the table to create an election in a degrading security environment. and let's not forget that more than eight million people voted in iraq's first election. perhaps most importantly al-qaeda and iraq had been decimated due one of the boldest foreign policy decisions in my opinion of the last half century made by george w. bush. delayed admittedly but necessary search. by the time bush left office the economy had increased in size several times over under its time under hughes sane. life expectancy had risen. and security forces had secured most of the forces due the training an ongoing assistance from the united states. despite the consequences of a precipitous withdraw of troops administered by the current administration and the insistence of both pears via
cnn which left iraq all by defense fless the face of isis. we also recently just saw the four peaceful transition of power between governments in iraq which is something that had never before been accomplished in the middle east with the exception of israel. none of these positives can negate the challenges that persist. but they can when added to the conversation give us a better understanding of the need and the ability to move nations toward a freer more pleuralistic construct. in my time in iraq i saw conviction of a people anxious to build a new nation. it overshadowed by a security situation that we were unprepared to address. as we look back there were many issues to be learned. few are certain that -- thank
you. the world has changed. the changes we face and the challenges we face rather have changed. but getting people chance to be free and to self-govern is the surest way to greater peace. i saw first half of authoritarian an oppression and the evil that sapped the soul of people and nations in regions in a way that we cannot fully appreciate here. and you haven't exerntsed the power of freedom until you talk to somebody who has never known it and they realize for the first time that participatory government isn't some abstract theory. it is real an it is works an is achievable with great effort and sacrifice. george w. bush did not buy into the bigotry that suggests that there are certain people in this world who do not deserve or are too unsophisticated or
incapable of handling what we call freedom. i consider it an honor to have served him and i look forward to a meaningful discussion tonight. thank you so much for your attention. [applause] >> good evening. i really appreciate here at -- being here at poster university participating in the panel with these distinguished people. and i appreciate what you're doing at hofstra with this conference on the george w. bush presidency. and we won't agree here on everything that is said, i'm sure. but i bet there's one thing about which we can agree and that is that whatever is said here tonight about the george w. bush presidency will look different to us in 20 years and different again 20 years after
that. george w. bush's presidency must be declined by the etchts of september 11, 2001 when the united states of america was viciously attacked by an enemy who's leader osama bin laden stated as far back as 1983 that the united states was the mortal enemy of islam an must be destroyed. a 9/11 president bush declared to the president of america an to the world that he would do whatever was necessary toe protect our country to keep it safe and to keep it free. this became the mantra of the g.w. bush presidency. president reagan had his mantra that was to bring down the soviet union and to shut down the cold war. so did president bush.
his global war on terror kept us safe and kept us free. so let's start with that. president bush foretold the kind of decisive leader he would be at his acceptance speech in august 2000 at the republican national convention in philadelphia. i remember it well because i was there and i was a chairman of convention as the chairman of the republican national committee. and then candidate bush said " if you give me your trust i will honor it. grant me a mandate i will use it. give me the opportunity to lead this nation and i will lead." little did he know then of the events that we befalls us a year later. but we found out soon after just what a leader we had. it started immediately at 9/11.
the context is worth a reminer. the president was at a school in florida but immediately authorized the shooting down of the civilian jet liner. the white house staff were told to evacuate. and evacuated in a hurry. the women were told to take off their shoes so they can run down the street. the reason was they thought a plane was about to slam into the white house. you have to think about when the last time the white house was evacuated under similar circumstances. the only time it comes to mind is when the british burned the building during the war of 1812. soon after the president went to new york city to game three of the world series to throw out the first pitch in a sense that was a small act. presidents throw pitches all the time. but in this case in new york,
while the fires were still burning at the world trade center an when the entire nation was on edge about another terrorism attack it was a big deal ha the president went of the ballpark and stood on the mound. he demonstrated that he was not afraid, that we should not be afraid and the game and the business and life of this nation must go on. the president addressed the nation at a joint session of congress. he was in command and he was comforting on safety and patriotism. an interesting side note on that date which was september 20th 2001, the philadelphia flyers faced the new york rangers in an exhibition game. the teams played two periods. and the jumbotron switched to the president's speech.
it was a live shot. when it was time to restart the game the third period, the jumbotron turned off the president and turned back to the game. the response was overwhelming. people started booing and demanding that the president be put back on. for a moment americans tuned in and heard what the president's say. they never played the third period and they ended up in a draw. so i think we can stipulate that war defined president bush's presidency. presidential his tore yeah author schlessinger he said of all the crises war is the moat fateful. all of our best presidents were involved in a war either before or during their presidency
saved thomas jefferson. he further opined that crisis helps though who can rise to it. and the association of war with presidential greatness has its ominous aspects. let's start with afghanistan. even the pope support ud us going into afghanistan. i showed my credentials to the holy father on 9/13 of 2001 at the palace. and we had prepared remarks to help me prepare. the first thing we did was said a little prayer for the victims and then talked. and i -- by then was able to give him a brief of what we thought, you know, the derivatives of what had happened were -- and he said to me, he said ambassador
nicholson we must stop those people who were killing in the name of god. an that was not a privilege communication. so i was able to report that and put that out there and it really helped us in putting a coalition together to go into afghanistan. but the pope did see iraq differently. he expressed his opposition emphatically during his annual address in january of 2003. and he looked directly at me and said, no to war. war should only be a last resort. that was his affirmation to us. but it was not a surprise. it did set off our biggest challenge as the ambassador and our most robust endeavor to convince the holy father of the
need to invade iraq who would not go to our lead. i looked at them to come to rome and assist ne an educated effort both at the holy sea and in italy. the professors both posessing cherished over their apartment welcome which means they have wonderful bona fides with the pope. but they felt the same way we did. we held meeting and talked about the need as we saw it to go into iraq. but the pope continued to view this on presemp active. but despite these personal
interventions in a session with the pope's personal emissary with the president cardinal piolagi who went to see the president in the west wing in the white house for long encounter which i attended. the pope dispatched a french cardinal to talk to the people there will to see if they could get it. of course, neither were success ful but the president understood and often said that the pope was a man of peace and he had different responsibility. importantly, though, the pope never said it was immoral for us to go into iraq. and he really couldn't because it would be violative of the
doctrine of the church which said there are evil forces an there are innocent people that are to be protected from those evil forces and that does on occasion require, you know, the institution of war an violence. in fact, today in the train. ing up to new york i read a report from a distinguished writer for catholic news service suggesting that pope francis may indeed end up advocating the use of force against isis. so there are precedents for this. and we of course are unsuccessful as i've stated with pope john paul ii in trying to underwrite or affirm our endeavor to go iraq. as we all know in march, 2003 we entered iraq for the purpose
of protecting our country and eradicating our threat possessed by saddam hussein. the case had been made to our citizens to our friends, to the pope and to the world, really, and the facs as we saw them were that hughes sane was a threat. he had invaded kuwait and iran. he used weapons of mass destruction on his own people and on the iranians. he shot at our planes an ally planes. he was working evade international sanctions. he failed to comply with numerous u.n. resolutions that required him to prove that he had. he payed the families of sd bombers. he gave every indication that he maintained stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. he remained belligerent and
violent and refused to adhere to international demands and was interested in supporting attacks on the united states. he would unite with terrorisms and provide them with weapons of mass destruction and every material needed to attack american targets. of course, no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were found. nonetheless he was a threat to peace. and due to his continued hostility to go to war, we chose war. hughes sane was toppled and iraq did catch a glimpse of freedom and democracy. their courageous partis passion in elections demonstrated their hunger and their appreciation for freedom. in fact, i will never forget just weeks after we went into
iraq, the caldean catholic patriarch came to rome and asked if he could visit me. i received him at my residence in rome and hevs the leader of about 850,000 cal deian catholics and for whole hughes sane sort of kept in a protected status, you know, in the dispute between the sunni and the shiah. they were kind of off to the side. they knew that this would probably be disassembled. he didn't walk. he ran up the steps to my residence where i was standing and thrust his hand and said thank you for coming to my country and freing us exhibiting that innate desire that man has for freedom and the euphoria that he exhibiting was exhilarating that that were
in as a result of this. but you know, one can debate the conduct of this war as many have and one can argue that we should not have dismissed the sunni baath party dominated army and the police forces. i think that would be a very legitimate thing. one could argue that we shifted too soon on nation building an democracy building in lieu of law and order building and infrastructure particularly law and order infrastructure. there were mistakes made certainly. abouo grab comes to mine. those were fair discussions as far as i'm concerned. but i will end the way i started which is to say again that president bush after we were invaded on 911 said he
would do whatever is necessary to protect our country. he did. he kept americans safe for the next seven years as our president. was war necessary? was it worth it? did it matter? the final report of the chief weapons inspector for the u.n. concluded saddam wanted to recreate iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability after sanctions were removed and iraq's economy stabilized. i agree with those who say that had saddam done what we -- had done that we would have seen an arms race develop between iraq and iran and the sunni-shiah terrorist arms race with the possibilities of biologically, chemical or even nuclear weapons being in the hands of terrorist would have increased greatly. the possibilities of a dirty
bomb being exploded in our country. the pressure on our friends like israel, kuwait, saudi arabia and the u.a. would be greater today. and a result american people would be left safe as well. only time will tell about president bush. all i can say that he is looking better and better as the world becoming more and more dangerous. and we become more vulnerable to those who want to destroy us. what is a president's most important job? it's to keep us safe and he did it. thank you very much. [applause] >> yeah. ok. i'm going to take a little bit different tact. i'm going to try to look at or hope i have time to look at
three similar episodes in what was my life after 9/11. once the very chilling effects of that attack had sunk in and we had realized at the state department, i think it's safe to say throughout the government that the pro-funded di of what had happened to us and what kind of action we were going to present to the world. we sat down on the policy planning staff as did some other people in the state and we thought about it. one of the things that impressed us majorly was the phone calls, the letters if you will that were coming in, the tv scenes. it was a moment of incredible global solidarity. my god we even got a condolence message from fidel
castro. the most influential paper in paris ran a headline, we're all americans. it was a moment of incredible solidarity and my boss and his boss decided that one of the things we should try to do, remember we're the diplomats former soldiers but we're diplomats now was to captain lice on that moment of global solidarity not just for what we knew the president wanted to do with regard to afghanistan. but in so many other realms that we had problems. so we drew up a matrix and on that matrix were the missions and the countries and the people who would do it. in some cases like pakistan, it was the president of the united states and the secretary of state who would talk to the president mue sharif and the
i.s.s. and so forth. in other countries it was our ambassador. donald rumsfeld wanted to get back to philippines for example. saif was a terrorist group in the philippines that we could capitalize on. so we were going to try to talk with the philippine government and get u.s. forces back into the philippines in some significant sort of way. it was a huge task sheet that basically capitalized on this moment of global solidarity. iraq completely shattered that. the invasion of iraq and the run up to that shattered that global solidarity. shattered the diplomacy that was associated with it. shattered our hopes on the wings of that, if you will.
but it also occasioned the second episode of disgust. no one knew better than former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff colin powell and i was his special assistant at that time what we had done to the armed forces and what earlier was called the peace dividend. it wasn't president clinton who delivered it it was george h. w. bush. he delivered it because the congress of the united states demanded it. we cut the armed forces 25%. that was a huge cut, biggest cut since world war ii, really especially if you look at how we did it. bases and everything. bill clinton came with his secretary of defense and cut another 3%. what relevance does this have to this? powell was former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
and even though dick cheney told him that, he felt it was his responsibility saying we can't do two wars at the same time. we destroyed that with the 28% cut. so we better finish afghanistan. no one's arguing with you about afghanistan. you better finish that before you do iraq otherwise you're going to negligent afghanistan which is what we proceeded to do. so we shattered the global solidarity and we went to iraq with too few forces in the first place because donald rumsfeld decided that that would be the amount we would send. some of that amount was based on the give and take with the military commander tommy franks who powell had told on two different occasions you have too few troops and whom the general told the congress we had too few troops for which, of course, he was release.
you had too few troops to lead iraq and that would lead about 100,000 contractors that would do the ultimate public function. and we're still living with it, ladies and gentlemen. still living with it. we haven't put it to rest yet. the other item that powell brought to the president's attention other than timing and foresize was legitimacy. legitimacy and the shape of the united nations, other allies other than britain and so forth. we went of the u.n. in november of 2002 and we got a 15-0 vote unanimous vote proving 14-41. again, we had sort of rezz recked a little bit of that global solidarity. but what that would say to others at the iaei that they
could go and do their jobs. they could go and continue the inspections, but you can't continue the inspections if you've already martialed 160,000-plus force and started them on their way. we call it in the military tip-fitting them. you've already started them. the excessive heat in iraq. so if you're doing this, you're probably going to have to cut the inspector short. if you're really intent on going to war, you're going to have to do it even without. that's the second point. third point, my boss got put out for the united states secure council to give the most species presentation on iraqi m.d. that anyone has ever been
called on on in american government to rendure on the american council to the american public and to international community. and powell showed afterwards it was very effective. why was i very effective in because it was colonel powell which had mother teresa poll ratings. he was 77% on the polls an she was about 80%. you're looking at the individual who went out to the c.i.a. and prepared colin powell for that presentation in terms of orchestrating all the analysts from 16 different intelligence agencies working daily and nightly with george tenet and frankly on three pillars of that presentation, mobile biological laboratories, existing stocks of chemical an
biological weapons, a nuclear program and then a forth one which was tantamount to the biggest lie of all formidable contacts between saddam hussein and al-qaeda. on one occasion powell grabbed me, put me down in a chair in the national intelligence council spaces where nowhere else was, closed the door. and he said take all that terrorist crap out. none of it is believable. take it out. i said boss, don't shout at me. we'll take it out. within 30 minutes, colonel powell told them about a high level operative who had been interrogating and revealed substantial contacts between the secret police and al-qaeda to the use of chemical and
biological weapon, that was a total fabrication. he gave a presentation that he believed in that had been orchestrated by carefully orchestrated plot, if you will between the vice president's office, the undersecretary of defense for policy in the defense department and the c.i.a. certain allies that were given to me by george tenet as gosspell. and he presented that to security council the american people in the national community to bring about a war that he had already seen destroy his strategy for exploiting the solidarity 9/11 has produced for good for diplomatic purposes and destroyed any hope of legitimacy and was based on false intelligence. it was not just an intelligence failure it was that too. but it was orchestration of
that intelligence to make it present a picture that simply was not true. and there were people in that administration who knew that. so those are my three similar events about this particular war and in that sense i think i'd say disastrous decision and a disastrous aftermath. we've already heard about that. we can go into detail about that. my time is up. not a good time for the united states of america. [applause] >> thank you very much. i'd like to pick up where you left off. interesting hearing the first two speakrers endoused in inducing the fits of nostalgia.
back in 9/11 i viewed the world through the language that they employed. was living near the twin tower. i had lost friends in the attacks. i believe that the war on terror was one that was against people who hated our way of life, people who hated freedom people who were hell-bent on destroying everything that we stood for and maybe some of that is true the thing about al-qaeda but what i learned very quickly it's much more complicated than that. i moved to afghanistan in 2008. i hit the road very soon after. i took a motor cycle i lived in villages and i got the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. and what i learned in that -- in those trips is that those ideas -- really those mannequian ideas weren't very accurate. i pulled into a village after a
few days of travel and meet a tribe out there that -- tribal chief out there. and he had lived thrupe 30 years of war about 30 years of war. we got to talk about the american invasion. at one point i asked him, why do you think the invaded your country? and he knew about 9/11. but for him 9/11 was a far away occurrence the way a famine africa is for us. he looked at me and he said, the u.s. invaded our country because they hate our way of life. there was phrase for me. but i didn't necessarily agree with him. but he put it in this way which was talked about back in 2001 it was a watershed moment for me because it spurred me to
investigate how afghans really view the war on terror and the american war particularly afghans who were living in the south. so not living in those areas that were peaceful but living in the areas that there's constant fighting until this day. here's what i found. after 2001, al-qaeda had fled the country after the u.s. invasion. we know that. al-qaeda went to pakistan. eventually some of them regrouped in iraq. so after the 2001 invasion of afghanistan there were no al-qaeda in iraq -- in afghanistan, sorry. at the same time the taliban from the rank in file to the senior leadership quit. they surrendered in 2001. and in subsequent months every
single -- most of them or every single one from the senior officials like the minister of justice, the minister of defense all the way down to rank in file field commanders surrendered and tried to switch sides. the reason they tried to switch sides is not because they suddenly felt that they believed in the american ideals of freedom or they loved the united states but this is how war worked in afghanistan over the last two or three decade. if you go back to soviet occupation. when they left in 1989 a lot of the afghans who called themselves communist rebranded themselves as muja hadine because in a consulate where things can get so deadly you
learned very quickly that you would switch sides depending on how the wind blew. there were a number of high profile incidents that were covered at the press at the time, covered in the "new york times" and other places at which time they tried to cut a deal with the new officials and find a way to not be persecuted. as an example in early january of 2002, there were efforts to erase funds for the taliban by radical pakistani clerics. they were going to madrasa and trying to get donations in an effort to bring the taliban back on their feet. at the time the finance minister of the fanl regime he said publically to reporters please do not donate to us because we are defunct. please give your money
elsewhere. as another example in january of 2002 the minister of defense along with minister of justice and a number of other top officials publically cut a deal with the afghan governor and handed over truckloads of weapons in exchange for staying at home and living in that area. so you had a particular situation in january of 2002 where you had thousands of soldiers mostly special forces soldiers on the ground and in afghanistan but the taliban as a military movement was defunct. so in other words you had thousands of soldiers on the ground without an enemy to fight but we had a political mandate and that mandate was that we were here to fight a war on terror and you were either with us or against us. this world view categorized afghans into two categories.
really doing away with all that make the reality in afghanistan. this is a contradiction. how did it get resolved? the u.s. allied were the war lords local commander and strong men, had an effective the enemies of those war lords game enemy of the united states. there were no cell phone towers some of most of the intelligence is human intelligence not signal intelligence. so all of the intelligence is coming to the u.s. it was coming through local proxies, local war lords local commanders who had a very complicated history on the ground who had their own enemies who had their own riflery who is had their own hatchets to bury.
and in effect their enemies became our enemies. and so the u.s. didn't go to afghanistan and create a dictator or, you know, one of you refered to one of the options of the american policy. but what you did in afghanistan was create hundred drodse upon hundreds of small dictators in villages and in districts around the country men who were armed who were paid who were given contracts to the detriment of state building an nation building over the years. i'm going to give you an example of this which happened to a friend of mine in kandahar plo convince and he was somebody who lived across the street from me. he was like 80, 85 years old. he was an old fighter who fought against the soviets. but he was in retirement. and he would come sometimes to a bakery that he owned early in the morning, 4:00 or 5 a.m.
he would knead dough. his name was sharaf houdine. they showed up. and they asked for him. they said are you sharaf oudine. he said yes. we have information that you are a terrorist. and they arrest r arrested -- and they arrested him. they handed him over to u.s. special forces. there he had metal hooks inserted into his mouth. they september saying that he was a taliban mastermind and they were convinced that they had information from afghan war lords. he kept insisting that he was no a mastermind. soer chevpb lullly they turned him over to the militia men.
these afghan militia men took him to a private jail in kandahar city, took him downstairs and they hung him upside down to 18 to 20 hours a day. and they whipped him. he was hung with other people who these militia men watched extract intelligence from. one of them was awe famous one and he was whipped so much that he was eventually killed. saraf hue -- dine he realized that they were after money. if he were to pay he was given his freedom. the family delivered it to his captor and he was released. the problem is that once he demonstrated that he was able to pay for his release then he was a marked man.
like hog work every few months he was arrested again. he was then transferred to kandahar airfield who was accused of the mears mind. he was hung upside down and whipped until he could be paid again this charade went on for two or three years in 2005 until the commander of the u.n. was killed in a ss attack. and the -- major commander of the intelligence services that ran the militia that was torturing him he now lives in california. he was brought here and he had many family members who are american citizens. so this is -- this is the situation. i can repeat hundreds of stories like this. in fact, my books have hundreds of stories like that of people are caught on the war on terror. in fact, in afghanistan turned
time-out be wars against local communities in which certain war lords and certain commanders were eliminating their enemy or using the united states to gainl riches, to gain power. we live with that legacy today. i think the process cease that created the insurgency in afghanistan in 2002 and 2003 by 2004 the taliban had reconstructed itself as a fighting force and who was now based -- the leadership was based in afghanistan. and the level of opportunity existed and now was very hard to undo what was do and we're stilling with the consequences of that. when we think about legacy in the war in afghanistan an legacy of george w. -- we think about what that means on the ground and interrogate about why fighting continues in afghanistan today. thank you. [applause]
>> we've going to switch the order around. i'm not peter baker. i play him on tv. i'd like to thank hofstra and all of the staff for inviting me. i'm delighted to participate tonight. i want to start discussing george w. bush with a hero, a woman named diane nash. have people heard of diane nash? diane nash was a great hero of the civil rights movement. at the age of 18 or 19 she was the one who orchestrated the marriage in selma. and on the commemoration of the march of selma she was being honored of those many the front row of those who were going to
commemorate that experience. at the last minute she said this she refused to marriage and he said "i refuse to march because george bush marched. he was in the front row with her. i think the selma movement was about violence and peace, and democracy and george bush stands for the opposite for violence and war and stonal election and his administration had people tortured. so i thought this was not an appropriate event for him." . she was right. it was not an appropriate event for him. this is not an appropriate event for him either. i would think an appropriate event is to be on trail in the hague for war crimes. [applause] -- and when we look at war crimes it's important that we
interrogate it more thoroughly than we sometimes do. both in my view, the wars in iraq and afghanistan were illegal. in afghanistan the claim was made that this was a war for justice and for self-defense when in fact, it was about revenge and propaganda partly to prepare the way for the coming war in iraq which was the primary war. it was illegal because it was not self-defense. article 51 of the u.n. charter is very specific about what self-defense is and what is not. and a country has the absolute right of defense until the critical word "until" until the security council can meet and decide what to don that particular crisis. what the security council, if you remember, and those of you who don't remember i don't want to hear from you. the security council met within 24 hours of the attack on the
trade center. the building was still smorleding. diplomats had lost friends. it was a terrible event for those in new york and washington as well. they would have on that day passed anything the u.s. proposed. but the u.s. did not propose an endorsement of the use of force. it was a very specific decision not to do that, not because it wouldn't have passed. it would have passed unanimously and with great ferver as the resolution did. it call for a varietyy of things having to do with tracing the money and several other things but it was not a resolution to be taken under the terms of chapter seven the criteria in the u.n. charter that is the only basis for the use of force. and in that sense it was not self-defense and it did not meet the standard for self-defense in the united
nations and under article six of the u.s. constitution treaties are part of the law of the land. treaties include the u.n. charter. so that was clearly a violation. whether or not the president makes a decision, congress makes a decision doesn't determine whether international law has been violated. and in this case it was violated. in the question of iraq -- i would just say one other thing on the question of defense. the u.n. had scrambled a second plane that was about to crash into the towers that would have been a legitimate use of self-defense. going to war three weeks lateren -- later against a country on the other side of the world was not self-defense. for iraq it was weapons of mass destruction. of. it was the possibility of
weapons. it was yellow cake uranium. it was all these things. well, as we know none of those were true. it was a war fought for a host of other reasons. i'm motte going to get into those reasons that have to do with power, oil and other issue of resources and power. but i think that we do have to recognize that the region is more dangerous now because of the illegal wars waged by george wmple bush than would have been the -- by george w. bush than would have been the case. i think when we talk about war crimes it's also important that we distinguish -- the war crimes that have to do with how wars are carried out from other kinds of war crimes, the kind that has to do with how the war was carried out are more common in much of our discourse so the
issues of collective punishment, shock and awe the massive civilian deaths that were known that were going to occur and the acts were carried out anyway, the thousands that were killed. the rendition the black sights of torture all of those things. the determination that some prisoners somehow don't deserve the zeevea convention as though that the right of lawyers of the u.s. department of justice decide that some prisoners do not deserve to be treated turned conditions of the geneva convention. all of them were war crimes. they have to do with specific things on the geneva convention. article 29 says that says that a party of the conflict the government of one side in that conflict is responsible for the treatment of people living
under occupation regardless of who -- what agent of that government carries out the action. that goes to the question of command responsibility and the obligation otches the commander, the commander in chief and all those up and down the chain of commands to be responsible for that. we saw none of that. we saw low-level accountability against three or four people in the abu ghraib scandal and nothing -- nothing above very few very low ranking soldiers. article 47 of the geneva convention says that people who are protected under the geneva convention cannot be denied protection by actions taken by the occupying force or by the government in place. so things like dissolving the military and sending home 300,000 former soldiers without a job was a violation of the gee nueva convention.
all of those are talked about -- not nalls the conflict of international law but they're talked about a lot as the legacy -- as part of the legacy of the bush administration. what's not talked about very often is what justice jackson who was the supreme court justice as you all know and served as chief prosecutor. what justice jackson called a supreme international crime. which was of course, not a violation of the geneva convention which didn't exist at that time. it was the crime of aggression. but that was the fundamental crime, the supreme crime from which all the others stem. and these were wars of aggression. they were the supreme
international crime. they were grounded in the concept of american exceptionalism something that has guided u.s. forum policy from the first settlers on this land which took it as manifest destiny their right to slaulter the people to claim the lan of their own. that we are better. we have the right to take the world to war because we have been the victims of a terrorist attack. imagine if another country were in that situation. let's take an attack that did happen years earlier in 197 . cuba was the victim of a terrorist attack when terrorists put two bombs on a civilian airliner that crashed over the mediterranean, killed 73 people. among them the entire young
cuban sensing team, several government officials. it was a clear act of terror. one of the known master minds of that terrorist act luis posada cerreas waslying if more years in miami. he was first charged at one point where an immigration violation and was put on house arrest but he was never jailed, never tried for the terrorist attack. what if cuba had decided that because they had been victims of a terrorist attack that they now have the right to send drones to attack him or someone else in miami or to take the world to war to revenge that attack? would we have said well, that's their right? they have been the suct of a terrible attack and therefore they have the right to go to
war? i don't think that would have been our response. the u.s. only allowed itself to violate international law within impunity and to demand the world stand with it. that was the nature of this point of whether you're either with us or you're with the terrorists. it wasn't just amount reclaiming the global solidarity that we saw during those first hours and those first days when the world said we are all americans now. it was about to say if you are not prepared to go to war with us we will treat you as if you were terrorists an we will go to war against you. it was that kind of mannequian approach. and it has to do with this notion that we heard from george bush. it wasn't on september 11. it was september 12, i would submit that changed the world. not september 11th.
september 11th was a horrific crime, a crime against humanity. september 12th was the announcement that the response to that horrific crime would be to take the world to war. what we heard that the only choice we had was to either go to war or to let them get away with it. unfortunately, we hear that now. it wasn't true then. and it isn't true now. there is never only the choice of war or nothing. there are always a host of alternatives and it's our jobs as students an activists, as elected officials to find those alternatives and that didn't happen. justice jackson said something else in at the time of numberburg and he said and i quote him here, if certain acts
and violations are crimes, they are crime whether the united states does them or germany does them. we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct that we would not be willing to have invoked against us. justice jackson was betrayed by george w. bush and his administration. it was in the context of that refuse sal to -- refusal of international law. and i know there are people here either in the audience or listening on -- long distance who don't believe international law doesn't have any role to play. i would say for those of you in that porks you might want to think of this, whether you want to accept the position of international law frankly doesn't matter. but it does matter in in sense it is how the rest of the world
views our actions. it is about how theory 1 7 countries around the world view what we do. it is -- it is about how the rest of the 197 countries around the world world view what we do. it is for that reason that the legacy of george w. bush is going to be that of a war criminal. [applause] >> ok. great. can everybody hear me? >> you can see i'm physically off the table and that may be metaphorical as well. i think what has been transpired here is fabulous actually. as a journalist as somebody who spends a lot of time in washington on these debates, i very much enjoy hearing such a great diversity of points of view a real range. and i don't have very much to
add. i'll say a few words and we can continue this conversation because i think hofstra should be praised for bringing together people who can have a vigorous and vibrant debate about these things all the way from a stirring and wringing defense of george w. bush all the way to a pretty sharp indictment of what he's done here. i would say that as a reporter, i was in afghanistan in 2001 before any americans arrived because i was based in moscow at the time and the only way through was there fagistan. i spent months in the time of war. i went from there to the middle east and spent about six months in iraq when saddam was still in scharge and during the initial phase of that war and came back to cover the second
term of president bush. as a journalist, i had a chance to see a little bit from both sides of this period. one point is how different it looks from these different vantage point answered how complicated these issues are whether you agree with secretary nicholson or colonel basile, everybody is making different arguments but these are, in fact, such -- such -- they go beyond the easy conversation. and i mentioned that the afghans told them they invade our country because they hate our way of life and that reminds me of my colleague tom ricks and anthony shadi who were in baghdad in the early days after the fall of the
saddam government and they decided to test -- in fact, this consider conundrum of the different perspectives. each of them rode along with an american military procession throughout the city. tom ricks who was our very, very able military correspondent rode with the american troops and anthony shadi who is our foreign correspondent and he's passed away unfortunately walked alongside and talked to the iraqis. and the troops came away from this event and talked to tom and said boy, they're waving at us and they're happy and they seem happy to see us and very supportive. and shadid who was speaking to them in arabic heard anger and resentment that would fuel a lot of trouble to come. and i think that it's that sort of disconnect that has -- that has flavored this period in
which we have tried to find solutions and it has not been a lot easier for president obama. phyllis would say a lot to say if this were an obama conference. this didn't -- this has evolved and changed over time as now two presidents have struggled to know what to take from it. i would argue the first anti-war phrase sentiments that came when he took office. president bush took a different tact. anecdote stude out when they came to the white house who said we've got intelligence suggesting ha the syrians have nuclear facility and we think you should vomit and president bush gathers his team amidst
the same team that he had in 2002, 2003 when he was making the decision to go to war in iraq. in 2002 they all more or less said, yes, we think you should go or you're ready to go. even -- even general powell in the end said i'm suiting up at that point despite his misgivings he had expressed up to that point. the president kicks them all out of the room. and it's him and president chaney. flash por ward and this question about what to do with syria and the president has the same people in front of him. and the vice president is asked to give his opinion. the vice president said we should go ahead and bomb. you have laid down a red line on the issue of proliferation and you should follow through
on that. the president asked if anybody agrees with the president and nobody's hand goes up. the path from that point from 2003 to 2007 shows how much iraq and afghanistan had gun to weigh on even president bush in his second term. he did not take military action against iran despite the urgings of some. he did not take military actions in darfur to try to intervene in the genocide despite desires of some. because he too by that point was struggling to figure out what had happened, what had worked. i don't the he regrets hi decisions, at least he wouldn't say that out loud and he would defend it on strong terms on some of the terms that tom mentioned earlier. but by the time he left office he himself was trying to figure out what was the appetite for
military action versus diplomacy. he has instituted that the millity lateral talks with iran basically continued and accelerated by president obama now playing thought week, in fact, in sit swer land he engaged in multilateral diplomacy on north korea's nuclear program and tried to repair the relations and began to least move some of the people in guantanamo and began a shift and accelerated with president obama. and this is what happens in the country. we have national security crisis. go to war. we often find situation where is we take actions and we -- that end up evolving over time. lincoln and the suspension of hapes you corpus f.d.r. and the internment of the japanese. john adams and his position to
act. i find all that to be an important part of the overall story of how we gotten frp there and here where president obama himself is still struggling with these very same issues and sees choices that he doesn't like in front of him whether come to isis, iran or ukraine or adding a number of different scenarios that confront them on how he chooses to respond. we have more to say on that i'd rather hear -- i have questions for everybody up here if you want to go through them. thank you very much. [applause] >> actually you summarized everything really nicely and you're the moderator at this point. made my job easier. but i do think it's a good idea because so many issues have been exposed from different vantage points to open up with some questions back and forth
would be most productive, in fact. and then we'll of course take some time for audience questions too. but there's a lot to discuss here. we have core differences on the need to the war, the different ways that it was fought. legality so there's a lieutenant on the table than could productively debated. so with that i guess i'll open it up if people want to have specific responses to each. >> can we hear from the audience? >> certainly, but we have a panel of discussion was what i was thinking first in a sense. so actually, yes. peter do you want to answer a few questions. peter: i have a couple questions. i guess i'm curious -- tom and phyllis and maybe you guys can
maybe bring this into sharper relief for us. tom, you were in iraq and you make the argument that a member made of a logical decisions that had been criticized afterwards with regard to the army and so forth. and your argument was if i remember correctly or stated correctly is that we went under resourced and we didn't -- we didn't properly commit to what was going to be necessary. i'm curious if you have other thoughts about what our understanding of the war of sunni vs. shiah whether we understood the pot broiler that was there to be awakened. whether you think more resources would have made a difference. how is this inevitable. i would ask you -- talk about they didn't ask the security council immediately after 9/11 to authorize a strike against eaching.
i guess i'm curious. are you saying -- let's just say they had. had they ask the council clearly would have gone along. do you think that would have been wise or not wise to have proceeded with the war? was the only question whether the u.n. authorized or was it unwise toe go in, period, despite that they seemed to have a sanctuary there? >> well, that's a lot to handle but thank you, peter i enjoyed your book. and i recommend i. peter: thanks. >> let's address these one at a time. intel going in. let's not forget that secretary powell did go to langley for three days and you know really sat there and went through the intelligence. this is not just our intelligence. we had a number of different intelligence sources including french and the israelis. when we went to the security
council we didn't gate veto. they also understood that there was a strong likelihood that saddam hussein had chemical and biological agents and that -- and somebody who's been in saddam's 300-room subterranean bunker which even our most powerful weapons did not penetrate, i walked down in the dark with a flashlight and saw all the chem bio gloves and suits that you could buy. i often speculate what was there? was there anything ever there? was -- what was he telling hi leadership? these regime elites have a very sort of cloistered circle of people that they deal with ok? there's a lot of show. there's a lot of sort of --
there are a lot of mirages that these author tarne regimes have to construct in order to continue to exert authority over their regime members but then also the larger public. so, you know, i think that that's -- you know, clearly we can -- we might be able to say that that was an intelligence failure but there were also -- there were others. i remember very clearly walking in and talking to people and said look, we had no idea that it was this bad in term of the degradation of the physical infrastructure some of much of the resources had gone up to building up the military. so much of the resources had been consolidated by the regime over a number of years that nothing worked -- nothing much worked before the war and definitely didn't work after the war, after the looting.
so when we talk about resources an we talk about intel you have to maintain and overwhelming miss cal force in order to secure the secure and maintain the infrastructure. it's really the first thing that we did not do effectively. you know, nature, of course, is a vacuum. when you're dealing with the situation when you're going into a country, if there is a vacuum of -- of force then what you're going to see is people filling that void, people filling that vacuum. and that's where you saw some of the sectarian militias. it's important to remember in iraq that this was a nonsectarian country. there was a separation of the state for many, many years. saddam viewed himself as this islamic leader in the middle east really since the -- after
the first gulf war when he was trying to sor of reassert some of his authority in the region. and you had enter marriage in iraq between sunnis an shiah. you have sunni shiah and turkman who were living in the same numbers in baghdad. so when i say that you talk to rank in file iraqi these people wanted to move on with their lives. they were sot saying, ok. i'm going to -- this guy next do to him, he's a shiah. let's go kill him. that was not part of the psychy of the country. and i believe that as the insurgency and the foreign fighters come in, you saw still the vast majority of iraqis still want to get on with their life but you saw the sectarian militias want to feel their power. they felt that opportunity
because we didn't have enough people to adequately secure the infrastructure in the streets. with respect to the army and this is probably the most talked about issue. when you discuss the immediate aftermath, i have the benefit of actually sitting and speaking with walt slokham under president clinton who was over in iraq who was one of the architects of this strategy and actually getting in the car and going out and visiting some of these military facilities or what was left of them. and there, i know there are people on this pa nell
you have no place to feed them or it you have no way to pay them because of the infrastructure breakdown. you have to understand that unlike in the first gulf war where we took literally thousands of pows who are members of the fighting force in iraq this time around we took i believe less than 1000. these guys were so poorly equipped, they actually went to the plant where they were making their uniforms and helmets to their helmets were like the things you give to a five-year-old kid. hard plastic. a lot of this stuff was for show. they had big numbers. they have an officer corps as it was essentially a patronage den of not very well trained generals, officers, and ncos. we had a very little
intelligence at battle. fighting these officers would have been very difficult to do. the first thing they did was say, look there is not an army to really reconstitute. what we need is a professional fighting source. in order to secure this country and put ourselves in the game to secure the country, we need a professional fighting source trade within 60 days of his arrival, 60 days, not six months, not a year, not two years. within 60 days of his arrival we started training the first classes of a new iraqi army. anybody up to the rank of colonel, from the old army was able to apply and 80% of the new army was folks from the new army. you need is have the components, including in ceos and officers
and places to feed these folks to train. i would like to add that we did try once, no one talks about this, we did try once to actually reconstitute an old division of the iraqi army. that was in 2014 and the battle of falluja. the variance of found a general from the old army who was actually halfway decent on paper. he had training. he was not just a buddy of someone and that is how he got his rank. the sky was able to locate a core group of his ncos in his infantry. the marines wanted to use him to go into falluja. they did that and it was a disaster. it was such a disaster to the point have of those guys ended up fighting on the other side. i know this is an easy thing for
people to say, this was a crazy idea. someone who actually saw the facilities, met with these folks, and saw the operation and how they tried to reconstitute these folks firsthand. there were certain, very real reasons why that was done, and why we tried to remedy it as quickly as possible, because we knew we had to. >> briefly, i heard one thing i absolutely agree with, regime a leave have cloister groups of people around them. that was absolutely true of the white house. many of them knew far more about iraq than anyone in the white house. >> there you go. >> i think that on the question of what was there, one thing we knew was true was received stock
for biological weapons had been sent to iraq in the 1980's, we knew that because they came from the united states. not clandestinely, but officially. they came from the american type culture collection. we all have the documents. what is also true is that the use of chemical weapons was done with the help of the united states military who provided targeting information to saddam hussein's military. in that war, while the u.s. was supporting both sides, kind of hoping both sides would kill off young soldiers and destroy resources, we weighed more on the iraqi side because they were the weaker side. the point about the destruction of how bad things were. there was tons of information out there about what 12 years of
crippling sanctions had done. after the iran/iraq war, iran built quite well. the sanctions had destroyed not only be physical infrastructure, but most of the social fabric of the country. this was the famous statement by madeleine albright who said when she was asked about the 500,000 children who had died as a result of sanctions. her answer was, we think the price was worth it. i always wanted to asked, she had two daughters, i wanted to say if it were your children, would you still think the price was worth it? she would not deny the figure, she knew it was 500,000 children. she said we think the price was worth it. this is not a partisan issue. finally on the question that you raised first peter, about if the security council had had
endorsed it. i think there has been a difference about legality and legitimacy. i would not have considered it legitimate, it would have been illegal if the security council endorsed it. in 1990, for the 1991 war, the bush one administrators -- administration used a wide array of punishment to force other countries to vote in favor of the war. at the end of the day there were only two countries that voted no on the security council, cuba and yemen. yemen had just been reunified. yemen voted no, no sooner had the yemen ambassador put down his hand in the security council meeting, eu and -- u.s. ambassador to the u.n. was at his side and said that will be the post -- most expensive no
vote you cast. the remark was picked up on an open mic. the u.s. cut aid to yemen. it is the poorest country in the arab world. me and others wrote at the time that we did not think it was a accident. he knew full well it was an open mic. it was a message not aimed at yemen, but the rest of the world. if you cross us on an issue, you will pay a price. at the u.n. they call it the yemen president. -- precedent. other bribes had to do with arms sold to columbia that had not been given -- the u.s. had not been willing to sell arms because of human rights violations. there were oil deals cut threats, punishment, and wide
variety. the result was they got a majority of votes. the war was legal, but not legitimate. that does matter in the eyes of the rest of the world. >> there are so many issues we could get into and discuss amongst ourselves. alternative is not taken, etc.. so many things have been arisen as important issues. let's turn to audience questions. two things, try to asked short questions -- asked court short questions. >> hi. this was a great panel. there was a lot of, in my opinion, crazy things said.
it is hard to pinpoint what i want to question. they made one, mr. scope hall, that was an interesting story and i think it was fascinating that you lived in afghanistan for a while. the basic gist of what i got from what you're saying is that when we got there and realized al qaeda had fled and the taliban had quit, should we have packed up and gone home and let them go back to afghanistan and plan another attack? in my opinion, it sounded like you were saying we should of just let the country go back to exactly what it was. one of the worst countries in the world run by some of the worst people in the world. we could go on and on about how that they were. they were obviously going to return if we left. what should we have done instead? >> there was a real opportunity
at 2003, what i want to draw attention to, two different concepts, date building and counterterrorism. afghanistan shows that because for every dollar spent on the central government, on institutions, there was an equivalent amount builds on -- spent on building personalities. let me give you an example, the afghan national police, there was an attempt to build one. there is a number of ways one can build a police force. one is to create a national academy to train people, hire people from around the country instead what happened was the police force built with a conglomeration of local militias. the militias chosen were those
most effective at killing bad guys or people who were deemed bad guys. not those who are most effective at writing law and order. the effect of that was now today we have militias all of the country, the police are considered probably [indiscernible] in 2002, if we were serious about state building we would've privilege the building of institutions. all of that would be a tall order. it would be a radical break from the paradigm that has dominated the last 13 or 14 years, to counterterrorism. that would be an alternative. i don't believe that what actually has happened coming given the state of affairs in
2002, the united states would have been serious about state building. it was never serious about state building. another example i was traveling last week, looking at schools, i was interested in the question of education because supposedly the united states has helped bring education to millions of afghans post 2001. it turns out particularly in the south, many schools built were actually contracted to the warlords and strongmen. the building of the schools actually deeply damaged local communities in ways that probably would've been better off if they never done so in the first place. they brought answer is if the u.s. was serious about state building, it had to be serious about actually building institutions. instead we focused on
counterterrorism and now we have no state and terrorists. >> [inaudible] >> it depends where you look. there are part of the country where life is significantly better today than it was under the taliban. there are parts of the country where life is worse. i will focus on part because it is counter intuitive. in southern afghanistan for women, they were kept away from health care, education today in southern afghanistan women are still locked in homes and kept away from education and health care, on top of that they live in a war zone where their husbands and brothers can run over roadside bombs. i was just in southern afghanistan and i did not see a single woman the whole time i was there.
it is a complicated question. for whom is it better? for many afghans, life is not better. that is an indictment of what is happened in the last 13 years. >> hi, thank you all for giving up your time for coming to talk to us. mr. baker, you mentioned you worked with a colleague named thomas rick, a couple of months ago i read a book for my class that you know well. with that said, what do you think can be taken from his books and be applied right now to what is going on in iraq and afghanistan? mr. baker: i don't want to answer tom. but i think his book was a
fabulous encapsulation of what went wrong in iraq. ira member when he came to the newsroom and said he would write it. he said he was worried it might be too strong. he said his worry with -- is someone else would do it first. he had a very good sense of it. he had a lot of experience with these officers. he was seeing it through their lens. i think tom later wrote the next book called "the gamble" about the three us -- petraus. that book could come away with lessons that could flow from fiasco. tom left the washington post and
wrote another piece recently for foreign policy about how in the last number of years he has been -- i wouldn't be sure if he says radicalized, he now have a much more -- liberal would be the right word. he was tight with the military for many years. he is come away very sour. depressed -- the right word -- it might be the right word. he talked about posts to medics stress after covering the awful things that happened. it has made him rethink -- i think this. has made a lot of people who felt strongly about the war -- it is important to remember this
is a bipartisan vote in congress in 2002. there were people across the ideological -- and party as phyllis pointed out. lines who supported things and change their view have become distressed. i think there are very few people with a stronger and more vigorous feeling than the kernel has had about what happened, why it happened, why it shouldn't have happened, and so on. i don't have any good lessons. i would leave that to smarter people than me. >> let me touch on another point you in every young person in this room and across the country should be concerned with. this is 14 years of war. the gauge commission that was set up for president nixon and
tom has talked about this too made a mistake. it did not contemplate anything like this for one thing. it didn't contemplate what would happen once 1% of the nation was bleeding and dying for the other 99%, particularly for an extended. of time and over the active and reserve components. and all volunteer force, i recommend a book called "skinning the game." the force alone would be almost the entire portion of the defense budget for those services in another 15-16 years at present rate of increase. the all volunteer force is not working. think about what you have to do if you give a war no one comes. phyllis would probably say, that would be wonderful. i'm not that far yet.
phyllis: give it a month. >> one reason we go from 2% women to 4% has nothing to do with eager -- ecotality areas we can't find men. we are taking criminals, people with drug records, people who are mentally unstable, it is incredible what we have done to the armed forces. the reserves have become an operational reserve rather than strategic reserve. think about that, young people. >> can i asked about the military? i work with iraq veterans against the war. it is the organization of mainly young veterans of both iraq and afghanistan. one of the things we have talked about a lot is what the statistics showed, particularly from iraq about who it was from the u.s. who was dying in those
wars. phyllis: after age, the single most common threat among those thousands killed in this war from the u.s. was that they were from either rural areas or towns in less than 25,000. they were not from big cities. they were from places where there were were no jobs, there was no opportunity to go to school. many of them were very impoverished. they did not have options. they did not have other choices. because they were from a small towns, gathered -- scattered around the country, they were not from a big cities were overwhelmingly people who work in the media come from. people who work in the media today, and i have many friends in the media and the work i do is the same. some of my best friends are media. me and my best friends know very very few people in the military.
part of the reason is, i know lots of people who don't know anyone in military or anyone who has ever been in the military of this generation. that is a reflection of who it is that is being drafted by lack of opportunity, lack of other choice malacca jobs, poverty, a range of things. it is not quite as volunteer as the name sounds. those who are writing a history of today in the newspapers, online, on blocks, on the radio and tv, often have no clue who these people are. that affects how the coverage happens. what does and doesn't get covered. that is one of the aspects we have to look at when we talk about the problems in the military. >> the author of "matterhorn," one of the best war books written calls it the all recruited force.
that is what it is. you would be stunned if i gave you the figures of what the army alone spent to recruit that force, especially during the height of the iraq conflict. we're talking about six, 7, 8 $9 billion being spent just to pay for this force. it is not get much better. -- it does not get much better. >> let's take advantage of us having this behind us. >> this is were phyllis. you mentioned earlier there are alternatives to instead of going into war in afghanistan after 9/11, can you mentioned some of those alternatives that the u.s. government could have taken instead of war? phyllis: one of the great things i got to the when i wrote this book about 9/11 was right the speech that george bush should have given when he dropped the
helicopter down to land when he was circling. i think the first thing was to recognize it as a huge crime against humanity rather than a act of war. that implies another country is somehow guilty. going to war against afghanistan when the hijackers were not afghans, they were saudi's and egyptians. they had not trained in afghanistan, the trains in germany. they went to flight: minnesota. here we were saying we were going to bomb afghanistan. that was certain to creating more terrorism later. the first thing would be to recognize what is going to create more terrorism, and don't do that. that meant recognize it as a crime, recognize the need for international justice. there was a lot of talk about justice. it should've been a moment to say this is why we need a viable, functional system of international justice. why were -- why we were wrong to oppose the criminal force, why
we were wrong to weaken it even though we had no intention of signing on to it. in that context to say, first, too many people have died today. as president i am going to make the pledge, not more -- not one more person will die in the pursuit of justice for those who did die. that is not a way to bring justice. it means treating it as a crime treating it with international engagement, not telling the rest of the world you are whether -- you are either supporting our war or we will treat you as a terrorist. it means cooperation, police cooperation. it means engaging, not through military, but through law enforcement, to do some of the things the u.n. was called on to do but not given the resources to. in terms of identifying funding sources. the fact the u.s. refused to put
pressure on its ally, saudi arabia, known to be the source of much of the funding for al qaeda in that stage and today. the u.s. is too worried about the relationship with saudi oil relationship with the saudi monarchy, military roles etc.. it means putting aside all of those concerns that have to do with the usual diplomatic relationship. it means improving diplomacy and taking seriously the need for diplomacy. these are lessons we need to apply now when we look at what to do about isis. the choice is never go to war, or do nothing. it means putting in normative amounts of money people, the best minds available to figure out what kind of negotiations would work. not necessarily negotiations directly with al qaeda but negotiating with those who are
enabling al qaeda. how do you put pressure on the people funding them? those questions were not only never addressed, but those who said they should be addressed we have to understand the root cap -- causes of why it happened in the first place. many of us were called apologist for terror. if we were not supporting war, we were somehow apologizing for terror. we were sucking up to saddam hussein. the insults were pretty constant. that was what we needed to do, figure out root causes. maybe you can't prevent and extremists of some sort who is a so she'll have -- sociopaths. you can figure out why people from many places around the world think that maybe it was not such a bad idea, and look at what those reasons were. that makes it much harder to ever do it again.
if your goal is to prevent it from ever happening again, you have to start with figuring out why it happened the first time. we know it was not because they hate our freedom. they hate the fact that we are denying them their freedom. it was a huge challenge never met. there are always alternatives. you need to put your best minds influx of resources of money time, attention and people to figure out what those alternatives are. >> just in response to that, i am stretching for how to actually address that. as she says, it was not an act of war. letson is where i started, the paradigm of what we consider to be war has shifted.
thomas: this is the change and these are the new challenges our world faces. this speaks to something the colonel said earlier. we wasted and opportunity because we went into iraq. there can be no doubts in the kernel's defense, there can be no doubt certainly that george w. bush earned a lot of capital going into iraq. don't ever think that just because you hear about iraq or afghanistan in the news that that was the extent of what this president did to keep us safe. george w. bush and for those of you who think on the panel that we just threw bombs and killed lots of people in iraq and afghanistan to -- this was the strategy. this government after 9/11 initiated operations, in conjunction with the fbi, cia the u.s. military, and the
intelligence agencies in governments working together with government of 62 countries to interdict terrorism. we have the cooperation of 62 countries. for different types of operations, intelligence gathering, diplomacy, economic and military pressure, and other types of work to interdict terrorists networks. this was not about identifying al qaeda is the only threat and then saying, if we are done there, we are moving on. the president had a global view of this. he happy relationships and the administration built relationships, productive relationships with countries all around the world to help, not only protect our interests, but also there's.
while yes, political capital with bert, i think that bold decision-making makes that a necessity. but please do not think that iraq is the only estimate of what george w. bush did keep this country safe and initiate a global effort that had global participation, cooperation, and reach to entered it -- interdict terrorism. >> i was asked a question -- i am burning to know your answer phyllis. while your response to the young man's question might be intellectually appealing to me, it might appeal to my humane side, how would you ever get the american people not to impeach? phyllis: that is easy.
i think at the time of 9/11, we go back in history and remember no one was alive at the time of 9/11 who had ever seen an attack on u.s. soil by a foreign country. the attack on pearl harbor hawaii was not a state at that time. this was unprecedented in the life of everyone in the country. people were terrified. people were desperate for leadership. there was a moment when i think i know that people, many people have followed any kind of leadership. there was a danger. that is a dangerous moment in the life of the country that people can be pushed to take positions they would never take in normal times. when you have an abnormal situation.
people were desperate. if that leadership had given another alternative i think there would've been massive support from the state to stand with the french saying, we are all americans now. to stand with the people of the world who were sending these messages of solidarity and human connection, in many cases for the first time. it was the first time in a generation or more than america looked vulnerable to anyone else. that had never happened before. i think many, huge numbers of people and the country would have wanted to follow that kind of leadership. we were never given up -- we were never given that option. >> how would you explain that, 51-52% continued today identifying torture as necessary . phyllis: 88% supported a war in
afghanistan at the time. by three years ago 82% or 83% were saying it was never worth it. obviously that included a lot of the same people. statistics are snapshots, they are useful for gauging where public opinion is at a given time. depending on how the media is covering stuff. we all use statistics, it is not to say they are not valid. they are limited. it depends on how you asked the question. >> it is one of my greatest concerns about the american people. phyllis: if people are going to believe that it works and somehow it is legal because some lawyer in the justice department said it was legal, it is the ultimate ecology --tutology.
that is not how the law works in this country. you say this is a country of laws and not people, we don't do that anymore thankfully. it is a country of laws and not a people, that means the laws have to have some credibility not just some lawyer who happen to have riser in law school to say -- whether it was you or someone else to say yes, i think it is legal. and then they say if the president says it is legal it is. >> we have already taken over our time. i want to thank our panelists for illuminating discussion, lots of great debate. hopefully we will continue this discussion throughout the conference, but think each and everyone one of you for coming in making this a very informative and interesting panel. [applause]
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