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tv   Washington Journal James Carafano and Adam Weinstein  CSPAN  August 31, 2021 9:25pm-10:26pm EDT

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the agency's role in responding to hurricane ida and the latest on the u.s. troop withdrawal from afghanistan and the impact on veterans with military times deputy editor leo shane. watch "washington journal" wednesday morning and join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, text messages, and tweets. marine corps commandant speaks to the center for studies about the state of the u.s. marine corps live at 11:30 eastern on c-span. online at, or you can listen on the free c-span radio app. with the u.s. military withdrawal from afghanistan now complete, we are joined next here on "washington journal" by two military veterans and
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defense policy analysts. james carafano is a west point graduate and a 20-year army veteran who served as vice president the heritage foundation. adam weinstein is a research fellow and a marine veteran of afghanistan, serving there in 2012. he is with the quincy institute for responsible statecraft. gentlemen, welcome to "washington journal." james carafano, we will start with you and ask both of you this question. the question we have been asking our viewers this morning on the legacy of the afghan war. guest 1: legacies are interesting, but the purpose of statecraft, the question today, not only the last 20 years, what are you going to do to protect america's interests going forward? i think, what is important to understand, is the purpose of america and afghanistan has
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changed over time, as this situation on the ground. the events of 9/11 really did not have much to do with why the u.s. forces were still in afghanistan. i think the two reasonable american interests, one is we did not wanted to become a terrorist sanctuary again, particularly a situation islamic terrorists that really had a global agenda of terrorism, focusing on destabilizing the middle east and on attacking the u.s. we saw that happen in the 1990's, when al qaeda built up infrastructure in afghanistan, and we saw it with the isis caliphate in iraq, we saw it in syria, we also saw efforts in libya. so i think not having, facilitating a terrorist things working but i could potentially be a threat to the united states and friends and allies with legitimate interests, and i think generally, the stability of south asia is in the u.s.
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interest. india is an important u.s. partner, a free endo pacific is important. south asia is a part of that. i think the question is -- what are we doing to protect those interests going forward? and i think that is where the focus of the statecraft and policy debate ought to be. host: adam weinstein, an afghan bet of 2012, your feelings as an afghan bet, your legacy of the war and some of the things jim carafano talked about and what the united states is facing now that it is out of afghanistan. guest 2: i think the legacy of the intervention of the war has been one of failure. as time goes on, i think we will see support for withdrawal on the increase. we already see it hovers around 58% in support of president
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biden's decision to withdrawal, which i will point out was a decision that president trump made. here we have two presidents who disagree with each other on most issues, but what they understood was that it was in the strategic interest to remove this conflict, and it is also what the american people wanted. i think they both have default on the nation in that respect. i agree with jim that it is important to have stability in south asia, pakistan, and in the. it is important to deal with the terrorism threats. but i do not think the intervention in afghanistan was a stabilizing factor. i think it destabilizing the region. ultimately, what presidents have to do is prioritize response to risk. is there risk to operating in afghanistan? sure. does that risk justify delivering young americans to the battlefield to be killed in what became an endless war, that lasted an entire generation? no. host: jim carafano in terms of
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the way the war ended, the withdrawal, started in the trumpet administration, what were your views then and what are your views now? guest 1: i think we all agree -- and i know adam and i agree on this -- that u.s. forces should not be any places where they should not become aware they are not efficacious, where they don't advance america's interests. the question is what was the best way forward for afghanistan? this is where adam and i this agree, one, the efficaciousness of the american president, and i think poll numbers are interesting. i don't think they are current. and as a real concern of whether the popularity will remain, and actually declined significantly come over how we left afghanistan, and there was a question about how popular it would be in the future if the consequences of leaving develop to do bad things, including terror attacks.
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so the assumption that the american people are with the president are with this i think is a very open question. so what was the alternative? we had 2.5 thousand troops in the country that had not taken a casualty in a year and a half. that had proven to be an effective deterrent against the taliban invading over running the country. it was costing afghanistan less than a week, and we used to spend in a year, and for that price -- here is where adam and i disagree -- i think our allies had enormous trust in us, in addition to not turning the country -- no analyst disagrees that it is going to become a terrorist actuary. everybody agrees on that. we were safeguarding the lives of 38 million afghans. i am not a fan of nation building trade adam is not a fan of nationbuilding.
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nationbuilding, in this situation, was virtually impossible. having said that, in that instability, economic activity in afghanistan was actually growing. afghanistan was actually doing better economically than a lot of other countries on the planet. so the life of the average afghan was better. south asia was much more stable. ironically, afghanistan, the rights of women in afghanistan were better off than in most of the greater middle east. children could go to school. you had an entire generation of people that never lived under the rule of the taliban. now, i do not think we were there for nationbuilding. i think we were there in our own interests. but the fact is afghans were better off, whatever, 20 years ago, the cost today was relatively.
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minor the situation was relatively stable. host: how long do you think that should have continued for, though? guest 1: i don't know. this is where i am a huge fan of what president trump had attempted, which was if you could no go sheet a process with the taliban in which you had real political integration and a stable security situation, then u.s. forces could have gone to zero. but i think the difference between the two plans were the trump plan was conditions-based on both security and political deliverables on the ground, and they were going to come out at the end of that process, not at the beginning. i think the biden decision was largely the withdrawal of u.s. forces, and "let's see what happens." host: adam weinstein, care to respond to jim carafano? guest 2: jim is the honest one, who says he does not know how long we would have to stay in afghanistan. a lot of analysts were
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disingenuous, "just another six months," "just another year," and he has been honest. i disagree over whether the interests justify the cost. let's talk about the costs for a moment. it is true we did not have u.s. casualties for about a year and a half, but that is precisely because of the agreement president trump worked out with the taliban, which was an agreement to withdraw from afghanistan. if president biden had ripped up that agreement, you can believe that the surge in violence we saw in the last couple of months in which the taliban targeted the afghan military would have been directed at the u.s. military. s if we look at cost going back throughout the war, it is pretty high for the united states, in my view. 2448 deaths, not including the marines, the sailor, and the u.s. soldier killed last week.
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we have hundreds of major amputees. these are people who will never have normal lives. these are americans who will have to live with the legacy of losing a leg or an arm, in some cases double amputees, quadruple amputees, and some cases, and they are going to have to live with that forever. so what were the costs? what was the cost between the u.s.-taliban agreement? in 2019, we had 23 k.i.a., we had 192 wounded in action. in 2020, we had 11 deaths, partly because the u.s.-taliban agreement came into action, you know, at the very beginning of the year, and, sure, without that agreement, we would have seen numbers closer to 23, 24. i think the question we have to ask ourselves is, is it acceptable for 24 flag-draped caskets to be landing in dover airbase for a mission that most people agree is not sustainable land can't be dictated by
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military force? whatever flaws were enhanced by the u.s.-taliban agreement, that was a reflection of the fact that we did not have a partner in afghanistan that could stand on its own two feet. i commend the bravery of the afghan security forces, but the reality is this unfolded in a couple of months as soon as the u.s. government announced its withdrawal and began to implement it, before the last u.s. troops were out. i think if you go and you talk to americans on the streets and you say, is that is sustainable partner, is that something we can keep popping up indefinitely? i think the common sense answer is no. so what you agree with, jim, in the cities we saw incredible gains, we saw an increase in literacy of girls -- although it still remains dismally low -- we saw and access to
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education, maternal health. i was briefly in helmund, and i was on missions in kandahar, the reality for a lot of afghans throughout the years is they lived in taliban country at night, and there was not a real government present, and they actually had to navigate between a brutal taliban insurgency and throw the crossfire of u.s. troops into the mix. the afghan people did suffer throughout this 20 years, and i think we have to remember that. host: let's make sure our viewers and listeners know our phone lines are open, if you would like to weigh in on the conversation. it is james carafano and adam weinstein on the end of the afghanistan war. (202) 748-8001 for republicans. (202) 748-8000 for democrats. and for independents and others, (202) 748-8002.
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and from afghan war vets, let's hear from you, (202) 748-8003. jim carafano, let me touch on the afghan collapse of the government as well where you surprised at how quickly those forces folded over the summer? guest 1: first, the overwhelming majority of combat deaths were afghans defending afghans. they took the overwhelming number of t's. so the argument that afghans would not fight for their people is simply not true, and regardless of how you felt about the corruption and the issues of security in afghanistan, the way they were before yesterday, i do not think there is a credible person arguing that the people of afghanistan would be better under taliban rule.
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people are fleeing this country not because they are excited about the taliban coming back. many people feel a accidents from the country, and mass migration of people fleeing from the taliban rule. the taliban rule was brutal 20 years ago. when they come back, it will be just as brutal. i would disagree that the people of afghanistan's themselves did not agree that they were better off under the role of the taliban. they did fight for their country. they fought very hard. this was not a military defeat. there were very few battles. this was largely a political defeat. political leaders made a calculation that with the u.s. gone and the support gone and logistics and everything else, that fighting the taliban was going to be a failure. it literally told the military units to stand down.
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i guess the irony here is we built the afghan military the way we did. we built it on a supposition that we were going to continue to support them. and then we didn't, and that military fell apart. well, of course it fell apart. it fell apart because we built it, not just american support, all of nato was there, it was built to be sustained with western support. why was anybody surprised that when the western support abandoned that, it fell apart? "why didn't we build a better military?" that is a fair question, but what kind of military did you want? remember, the taliban every day -- there was no invading army from pakistan. the taliban were they are. the taliban did come out at night, because they came out with money, they would say here, and go right some people. so they would always respond to pakistan, and they could always come back.
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so what kind of military were you going to build that would protect the afghan people? and building one that was sustainable for a scenario when you could not going get the enemy, because they were always going into pakistan, and they could always come back to afghanistan and find someone to would take an afghani dollar and go and fight in american. you had a security force that was relatively robust and sustainable over time, and that was expensive. but that, again, would have been a very moderate cost. i think adam and i completely agree on this. getting out of afghanistan was the right thing to do, i think, if we would have done that in a way which would have been able to sustain the afghan security forces. you know, it might not have been a land of milk and honey, but it would have been real against the expansion of the taliban in afghanistan. and the region will not be more stable. i think adam understands that.
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there's nobody, not an analyst in the world, that thanks south asia will be more stable now than it was a week ago. host: let me ask you both about the process of statecraft, a comment from if you are in wilmington, delaware sent this, "this agreement did not bind a nonsigning president." i will start with you, jim carafano, how this process with the biden administration picked up on what the trump administration did. your thoughts on the statecraft involved here. guest 1: well, the reason the evacuation unfolded the way it did is the u.s. gave away all of its levers on the front-end. it assumed the goodness of the taliban and then we just withdrew. in some ways, i am not critical about the military, because they had very few options, because we took away all the real leverage. look, this is the hard power
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world that people live in, and we respect hard power, and when the united states withdrew all of its support for the military and all of its own military support forces, it had very little leverage over the taliban, and it will have very little leverage over the taliban in the future. host: adam weinstein, your thoughts on the process leading up to the withdrawal. guest 2: i think i need to qualify something. the fact that india did not fight in the final months does not reflect an endorsement for the taliban by the people. i think the majority of afghans believed in the republic. they were just not willing to die for the administration, which had become a corrupt administration. but i do not believe the war, which was only sustainable with 10,000 casualties per year, is something we should just shrug off. jim said it was isley correct, which is that this was not a military defeat of the afghan government, this was a political defeat, and that is exactly why the u.s. military presence could not provide a solution for what
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was, at its core, a political problem. when you look at statecraft, the requirements on the u.s. side were very clear, and the requirement for what the taliban had to do were much murkier, that is an agreement the biden administration inherited. do i think the biden administration had at hand tight and had? to go through with the agreement not necessarily. but at the end of the day, it was a strategic agreement to withdrawal or lose more americans in this war, it was a tragedy, and we should determine what went wrong with this evacuation, but many hundreds of americans died before them, and i see the same level of oversight from u.s. congress. we reflect what went wrong for 20 years of war. going forward, i think we will
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see the withdrawal decision as one of the best decisions that happened in this war, and that is going to be the legacy of this withdrawal. i think the american people are capable of understanding that the withdrawal was the right decision, but maybe the evacuation did not go as planned. and i think the american people understand that the dysfunction we saw in this evacuation over the last week is an extension of the dysfunction we saw over the last 20 years. host: our guest, adam weinstein, who is with the quincy institute of responsible statecraft, a marine veteran, 20 12, afghanistan, and james carafano, jim carafano the heritage foundation, a 25-year army veteran. let's go to your calls. we will hear first from wanda in new jersey, democrats line. caller: hi. good morning. , gentlemen. good morning to my beautiful country. i am so grateful to have president biden as our leader to put an end to this senseless war
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that we cannot win. those people are totally different. they will never be westernized like our country. they hate us. they are the seed of ishmael, the seed of war. you will never, never change their minds! and look at their leaders. they took off and took the money with them, over $100 billion these people ran off with. the president of their country took off, but they want us to stay indefinitely? to do what? set up our own government there? host: all right, we will get a response. jim carafano, if you want to take that first. guest 1: i find that call quite racist. it is light brown lives don't matter and these people are subhuman. i think adam and i agree. adam served in that country.
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yes, the government had flaws in it was corrupt, nobody is arguing that, but it was unelected government, as imperfect as the election was. what the afghan people needed, more than anything, was basic security, so their country would not be overrun by terrorists. let's be honest, that is the outcome that we got. host: do either of you think there should be any consequences for the president who fled, ashraf ghani, or any afghan officials who fled the country, and how would that be done? guest 1: absolutely. [laughs] as a criminal, he stole the money of afghanistan. of course he should be held accountable. host: adam weinstein, what are your thoughts? guest 2: i agree with most of what jim said. it is a wide brush, a very diverse society. they did not want international war. i think the afghan government,
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at the senior level, was corrupt, and i think there should be consequences. the fact that they ran away i think speaks to the failure of nationbuilding, and that we can't change a country through the barrel of the gun. host: let's hear from dan and columbia, maryland, on the republican line. caller: yes, i want to first state that i may it vietnam veteran, infantry veteran. 20-year wars do not work. we had a one-day attack against our country, and we turned around and resulted with a 20-year war. it is ridiculous. same thing with vietnam, we just cannot continue putting troops all over the world and having extended, extended, extended nationbuilding type wars. sometimes our leadership has to smarten up and we have airpower that can solve things really quick, a one-day attack from our
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country. host: all right, we will hear from kenneth in diamond, missouri. kenneth, go ahead. republican line. caller: good morning. i am a vietnam veteran, too. and it's apparent that we have to learn from history. you go back and do the same thing that you did in vietnam. the trouble is we got politicians that ron wars. we don't have the military running it. we have got politicians. that is the reason we lose all -- all the equipment we left and everything else, because politicians run the wars. we didn't learn nothing. thank you. host: either of you, what is your sense of the loss, in terms of just equipment alone, and what that might mean for future security concerns for the u.s.? guest 1: adam, go ahead. guest 2: i think, in terms of
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security concerns, i am not as concerned as some folks are, because i simply do not think the taliban can maintain this equipment very well, at least not the sophisticated equipment, and they already have the unsophisticated equipment. i am not deeply concerned. they may coerce them to make a propaganda video, which they already have, but long-term, i do not think they are capable of maintaining this equipment. the bigger concern is to the u.s. taxpayer. it is painful to see how much money we spend on this war, depending on the methodology, it ranges from $1 trillion to $2 trillion. but whatever you believe in, whether you believe there should have been tax cuts for building schools, that is money that should have been in the pockets of american people. but in terms of security, i do not think the taliban are capable of maintaining that equipment. host: jim carafano, what do you
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think the u.s. can do to protect home unsecured committal national security concerns about developing threats in afghanistan and in that region? guest 1: i want to, if i could, i think adam's answer was excellent. he goes back to the nationbuilding. nationbuilding is largely a myth. nations do not build other nations. nations build themselves. japan rebuilt japan. germany rebuilt germany. the marshall plan, those countries largely took responsibility and rebuilt their nations. it happened in austria and a number of other countries after world war ii. the difference is they weren't being invaded when they were trying to rebuild. and in a situation like south vietnam and afghanistan, nationbuilding is a bit like sand castles.
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it is virtually impossible when you do not have a stable security situation, and the people cannot look after their own future. and i think we did waste a lot of money and afghanistan. i actually agree with adam, because nationbuilding is kind of a non sequitur effort. on the other hand, providing basic security was in the best interest of the afghan people, and it did make the region more stable. i think if we focus on that, which i think president trump had it exactly right. he skirt the cost in terms of human lives, casualties, and the money we were spending on the ground is something that was very, very small, and in comparison to the value we got for that, i think was a good deal. in the end, dealing with the taliban, and it led to political and security integration on the ground, it would have been truly worthy of a nobel peace prize. so going forward, and, again, i know adam and i agree on this, our concern is america.
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i think there's a couple of things there. we would like to see problems before they are coming and stop them, particularly if we're not going to be, you know, occupying and having bases in place. right now, we don't have very good situational awareness of what is going on in afghanistan. we know al qaeda will be back. we know that because the haqqani network, which is a criminal terrorist organization which spans afghanistan and pakistan, they are routed -- they work closely with the pakistan intelligence services. they believe in the global terror campaign. they are the ones who insisted the taliban invite osama bin laden and the first place. the senior leadership is in iran, if you can believe that. the taliban may not be interested in another 9/11, but people like the high connie network -- haqqani network are.
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i think adam and i would agree that the idea of the united states going around and flanking people with drone strikes now and again is both risky, not terribly humane, and not likely to significantly deal with this. how do we gain situational awareness, partnerships? i think the borders are a significant issue. the problem on the board are transnational cartels, not terrorists. if they are going to come, they will get on a weekend flight and come here, because terrorists like pretty debility, and they know what they will face could more than likely, they would just recruit somebody here to do something. i never looked at the southern border as a major national security threat. i think that has changed. when you have literally millions of people crossing the border and it is unbelievably easy, and you have no idea who they are, if i were trying to bring
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terrorist assets into the united states, that is how i would walk in, frail bunch of reasons. we need security at the southern border, but national security is one of them. we need partnerships, and those partnerships are going to come, despite the people -- a lot of nations are disappointed in how we love and the lack of consultation and worrying about the cooperation. these will be the same people that worked with us before, countries like china and russia, they will not work with us on this. actually, they are happy if the terrorists come after us. i do not think they will be state ponders of terrorism, but they will be the same partners we had before. host: let's hear from edward in jersey city on the line. go ahead. caller: hi. good morning, everyone. it has been a little while since i called into c-span. as far as afghanistan goes, i think it is a total waste of our
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resources. back in 2004, when i voted for the first time, i voted against george bush. i voted for john kerry, because i am against the war, against nationbuilding. everything mr. adam has to say, i am agreeing with. i had know idea what is going on at the heritage foundation. thank you very much. host: adam weinstein, you touch briefly on the cost of the afghanistan war appeared what are your concerns going forward about how that will affect u.s. military spending, u.s. social spending? guest 2: we have to learn the right lessons and learn that these protected interventions simply do not make sense for u.s. citizens. they don't make sense for our country. in most cases, they don't make sense for people we are trying to help, even if the alternative is also bad. i am glad that we all agree that nationbuilding is not a
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productive use of our resources and young american lives. i think where we disagree is the idea that we can be involved in these boots on the ground, counterterrorism campaigns without them transitioning into nationbuilding. in the case of afghanistan, at least, because our partner was a corrupt government, and that is, by the way, not an indictment of the afghan security forces who fought bravely for the country, or regular afghans trying to serve their country, or even the lower level governments that it a lot at the provincial level, but at the senior levels of the afghan government, you are dealing with corruption. with that kind of partner, the mission could not be anything other than nationbuilding. if you look at the callers who have talked to us today, the vietnamvets who voted from across the political spectrum, you cannot just stay in afghanistan with a low footprint
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, because it inevitably becomes a nationbuilding exercise. i do agree that leaving afghanistan increases the risk of terrorists using the country to engage in plots against the united states. we are not going to be able to generate the same level of human intelligence and having boots on the ground. again it comes down to priority. we are a country that faces many risks. americans are facing financial risks, pandemic risks. the violence we see in our country. there are terror threats that emanate from around the world. doesn't make sense to stay in afghanistan keep hemorrhaging our money and young american lives, whether it is hundreds per year or dozens per year, it is too many if it is for a mission that is unachievable. going forward, we will have to work with regional countries, including china and russia, for that matter. i think the countries in the region, like pakistan, iran, russia, china, became very
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comfortable with the taliban slowly gaining territory, but the united states just spending tons of resources to try to keep the afghan government intact. and then basically getting to have their cake and eat it, too. they were supporting both their afghan government and the taliban at the same time, and we were paying the price. the party has ended, and now these regional countries are going to be faced with a taliban-let afghanistan, and al qaeda are certainly not fond of china and iran and russia, either. i think despite our differences with these regional countries, there is room for limited cooperation and intelligence sharing to address the most serious threats, like al qaeda, like isis-k. host: let's hear from nick in delray beach, florida, republican line. caller: good morning. two quick points. the first is anyone who thinks
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this ashraf ghani guy will be brought to justice in any manner can forget about it. this guy is so in bed with the old obama administration and now the biden administration pure he was basically appointed by the obama administration, and a head professor from some left-wing american college. you can forget about him being brought to justice. this guy was buddies with antony blinken. host: your second point is? caller: there is a reason why may 1 was the target date to be out of afghanistan. it is because they're fighting season is in the summer months. they wanted everybody out before they could start fighting again, and there was a way you withdrawal. if you are in a burning building, you don't withdrawal the firefighters first. host: ok, i will let you go and get a response from both of you.
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we will start with you, jim carafano. guest 1: i would like to go back to the point that out a maid because i think people are often, you know, argue that we always disagree, and i think that is exactly wrong. adamant i agree. the most important thing is -- what are america's interests? and then we have a legitimate, honest debate about those priorities and the best way to do that, and i think that is healthy and productive, and i think if we had more that in this country, and people were more engaged in national security and foreign policy and understood the fundamentals and basics, i think we would demand, actually, better policies than we get from the government. instead of saying look at jim and adam argue with each other, i think we are doing what we are supposed to do, which is having on estimates good i enjoyed the last question. yeah, when the fighting season
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is really matters in afghanistan. you cannot fight in this country in midwinter. in afghanistan today, people say we ended the war, the war is not over. there is a resistance in afghanistan today. they are fighting. you know what they are trying to do right now? they are trying to live through the summer, because they know if they can get through the winter, there is no way the taliban can get them, and they will come back next fighting season, and they will take territory back from the taliban. looking at how things really go on the ground, that really matters, because the reality, when you are actually planning military operations, real politics, real people, what human beings are actually doing really matters. you sit back and wave your hand and ignore the map and ignore the reality on the ground and just make policy in washington, that is what gets people killed. host: adam weinstein, do you want to wait in? guest 2: i don't have anything to add to that. it is true that the fighting season is spring and summer, and that is where the majority of
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casualties on all sides happen. i think the reasoning for the may deadline, the reason it was part of the truck-negotiated u.s.-taliban agreement might have had something to do with that. i guess we will never know what would have happened if we had left on that date, but i think what is clear is that if we had blown past that date without committing to a withdrawal -- we have to remove or what president biden did as he committed to a delayed withdrawal, and the taliban knew it was in their interest not to start a fight with u.s. troops on their way out. if president biden had said no, we will stay a little bit longer, u.s. troops would have been entangled in a very brutal fighting season, just like all of the fighting seasons have been brutal, and we would have seen u.s. casualties, and i think they would have been higher than what we saw at the airport. but any casualty is a tragedy. guest 1: can i just disagree with that slightly?
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we only had 2500 troops there. they were not going to be fighting with the taliban. they had good force production. those 25 hundred troops are doing advise and assist missions. to launch a major offensive campaign would have been very, very difficult with what we had in the country, the ability to do that. i honestly disagree with you on this. i think president biden scared himself out of afghanistan. i think he believes he thought it would be a generic matter, and rather than worry about the 38 million afghans and the production of american interests, he just did not want to be the guy with the saigon moment, and he thought the way to do that with be to just leave as quickly as possible. but the problem with that is, as our last caller pointed out is, he took out all of the capability to either support the afghan military or to do a sensible evacuation, and so we were left, essentially, with no leverage, no real military force to go on the ground, and that is
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what evacuation was a disaster. host: let me get back to the calls here. allen in new york city, independent line. caller: i would like to understand why america believes that they can lose a war by force. host: ok, we are going to move on to kim in iowa, democrats line. go ahead. caller: i agree with biden on withdrawing, and how he did it, it was not going to be pretty at all, because we have been there in afghanistan for over 21 years, since 2001. we had done the war, god bin laden, and then what we we trying to do? force our will on people, the afghan people, and we did not
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ask them if they wanted to have western values. we need to start doing diplomacy around the world and stop spending our money, our money here. the other gentlemen who called here talking about lefty and righty and all that, we have got to clean up that mess here. host: did it feel, when you were in afghanistan, that the u.s. was trying to force its will, to use the caller's term? guest 2: i think that depends on which afghans you ask. again, this is a country of 38 million to 40 million people. in the rural areas, where there was a lot of fighting, i do not know if i would call it "forced its will," but what we basically did is afghans were held hostage by this protracted conflict between the taliban and the u.s. forces, and they were caught in the middle. these are people who were just trying to eke out a living, and they were basically being forced
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to work with both sides, and they were victims of the crossfire. look, i disagree with the notion that we could have captured 2500 troops in afghanistan going forward had we not agreed to withdraw, because that number was a product of the u.s.-taliban agreement, and the low enforcement required for the production was a product of the fact that the taliban stopped engaging with u.s. troops. if we had stayed in an open-ended way, i think we would have assuredly seen the number going up. what would the casualties have been? who knows? i think it would have been one to many, but the number would have assuredly gone up. i think the american people reject any plan that leads to another 10 or 20 years of war. and i have not seen this argument from opponents of staying in afghanistan, whether using a low foot rent or just for going back through the surge era, i have not seen a single argument on how it would have led to another decade of work it
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i have been a longtime's are of "washington journal," and i have to say, normally callers are much more divided on issues. but we have callers from all different backgrounds. what is the crux of what they are saying? we don't want to be there in any manner, and we have seen that consistently from today's caller s. the reality is the american people sometimes have a lot more common sense than our politicians on a lot of these issues. host: let's hear from john in illinois. caller: yes, we entered afghanistan because of 9/11, and 9/11 would not have happened were not for all the explosives set in the building. host: that has been proven to be untrue. let's go to steve in new york city on the end.
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caller: hi. it appears that the united states and taliban have a common enemy, with isis and other groups in the country. do you have any thoughts on the future relationship between the taliban in the u.s., to work together to alleviate terrorism in the country and possibly build a longer-term relationship that can include trade and maybe an embassy in the near future, or even for future? host: thanks, steve. jim carafano, we will start with you. guest 1: that is a great question. it is very complicated. right now, i actually think isis-k -- so isis-k is an offshoot of isis. this is an organization, the caliphate that exploded in iraq and syria, which try to proliferate chapters all around the world, and isis-k is one of the. isis-k actually at times has been hunted by the taliban, they have been hunted by pakistani military intelligence.
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they fundamentally believe in the global campaign. their goal is a long islamist caliphate that would cover a good portion of the earth, and governments, whether the pakistani government or the afghani government, get in the way of that, and governments that support and engage these countries, whether they are beijing or moscow or the united states, get in the way of that, so they are the enemy. but isis-k in afghanistan is not very strong. it is not a major threat to the united states. right now, i actually think they are kind of the useful idiots for the taliban. on the one hand, the taliban can use them as leverage for the united states, hey, look, you have to work with us. we are worried about this isis-k . but on the other hand, they are fine with isis-k attacking and killing americans, because they help chase us out of the country. once we are out of the country, i do not think the taliban have much use for these guys. but there is a bigger threat,
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which is the haqqani network, which is, again, this rooted fundamentalist organization, which spans afghanistan and pakistan. they have both capability and influence with the taliban and with pakistani intelligence services. they have global design. they are going to consciously work to bring groups like al qaeda back to afghanistan, to reignite the global campaign. the taliban are not going to want to take them on, and isi is not going to want to take them on, so the pakistani intelligence service is going to be fine with this, as long as two things happen -- as long as they do not destabilize the pakistan government, and they are threatening india, pakistan intelligence services are fine with whoever they are. so they are fine with the isi, as long as they do not
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intervene with pakistani war. and the china network does not care, because they do not affect the uighurs, and the chinese could care less. the russians could care less, because it has nothing to do with russia. no one really has a vested interest in curbing global transnational terrorism running wild in afghanistan. and i think the taliban feel pretty confident now that the way america left, the way nato got burned, nobody's going to try to come in and take the country away from them again. it is kind of the perfect scenario for this. host: adam weinstein, to the caller's question, what does the relationship look like, some of the broader issues, perhaps, the jim carafano addressed. guest 2: the relationship will depend on the taliban and the united states. it is determined by both. the united states should
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maintain policy but diplomacy does not have to mean recognition. i think that is a mistake we often make in washington, the assumption that merely talking to an adversary is a legitimizing factor. perhaps it is to an extent, but if you look at how other countries operate, including china, they are talking to everyone, and it is not necessarily the same as granting legitimacy. if we are going to maintain our influence in the world, we have to be able to talk to people and maintain diplomacy, including advocacy. including isis-k, it is the perfect sample of the last 20 years of these interventions. isis rose out of the instability that existed in the middle east, partly due to the invasion of iraq, which i think most people agree was an unnecessary invasion. and then it's affiliate, isis-kp or isis-k, got a foothold in afghanistan. this is precisely the type of terrorist group that u.s. troops
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on the ground could not stop to it i mean, we saw an attack on a school that killed dozens of schoolchildren in may, when there were still u.s. troops on the ground in kabul. the maid before that, we saw isis-k attack a maternity ward. there were over 8000 u.s. troops at that time. this is precisely the kind of terrorism that having the forever u.s. troops on the ground could not deal with. we so i strike the other day that was supposed to target isis-k, and it killed an afghan family instead. our intelligence was bad, even when we were on the ground. so i agree with the other guest that we should not engage in a drone war going forward, so i am glad to hear when he said that, because isis-k is precisely the kind of group that the u.s. presence, in some ways, encouraged rather than discouraged. and i do think the taliban has an incentives to fight isis-k.
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when you look at other groups, like al qaeda, i think they also are targeting regional powers, even if their focus is not the united states. i disagree that countries like pakistan, iran, russia, and china don't have an interest in counterterrorism in afghanistan. there is a wild card here which has not been mentioned, which of the pakistani taliban, sometimes called the ptp. when they took over and released people out of prison, they released plenty of the ttp members, we do not hear about it on the media here, but almost on a weekly basis or every other week, pakistani soldiers are being killed by the ttp. this is a group that will target schools in pakistan. this is a group that has killed chinese nationals in the last couple of months. this is a group that blew up the hotel where the chinese ambassador to pakistan was
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staying. so, yes, the chinese, the russians, the pakistanis do have an incentive to work on counterterrorism. it might not be precisely lined up with the united states' interests there, but there is room for cooperation. and if there is any lesson from the last 20 years, we have to remember that the united states cannot dictate interests to the rest of the world. every country have their own interests. it is the job of u.s. diplomats and u.s. presidents to find common ground, and that is what the biden administration is going to have to do going forward. host: we have about five minutes here. i want to make sure we get a couple more calls before we wrap up. baltimore, maryland, andrew go ahead. go ahead. , democrats line. caller: thanks for taking my call. what happened to the u.s. policy of not negotiating with terrorists?
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has that been thrown out the door, and we don't do that anymore, and that is an old thing we used to do? as far as the previous administration, the president who plead with millions of dollars, what is going to be done to hold those people accountable? host: jim carafano, did you want to respond to that? guest 1: adam made a great point. all of these people are going to have to respond, and they're going to have to respond to them as much as the terrorists threat in their country. they could care less about global transnational terrorism threatening the united states or western allies, and they will close a blind eye and watch it happen, so they are not our partners, and they are not going to cooperate with us. the taliban is not going to be our partner, and we do not have any significant leverage over the taliban. they are happy to take money. what are they going to use money for? exactly what adam said.
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they pay people to kill people and control other people. they do not need money for rebuilding schools, because that is not what they do. they are going to run the country like they did 20 years ago. the new taliban will be like the old taliban, just better on social media and the western press. we are going to have a situation, which is, and many ways, nablus to the wild west -- analogous to the wild west, and if we do what bill clinton did and try to raise cruise missiles or things from the side, we will fail in the same way if you die agree with adam, we should use diplomacy. we live in a hard power world, and people who want to kill you sometimes are just not interested in negotiating or taking foreign aid. host: to gary in pikeville, kentucky on the republican line. go ahead. caller: yes, what i want to do is talk to them about no
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americans left behind. when you go back and obama was president, and biden was vice president, a deserter was traded for four of the top taliban leaders, who are in control today. now they leave americans behind, and how joe biden has changed on this policy, and their world several looking for him and trading for these four deserters out of guantánamo. that is my comment. host: thanks for that, gary. that earlier caller brought up this notion of not negotiating with terrorists. clearly we have had to use partners, to affect the evacuation, the military and others, from afghanistan. guest 2: that is true. the united states has a history of talking to adversaries,
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including terrorists. if you look at history, we do talk to terrorists, and, in fact, talking to terrorists can be effective, in terms of disarming them. i agree that we need hard power. having a more restrained foreign policy is not just about disavowing hard power, but the balance has been out of whack for the last 20 years, and we need to be focusing a lot more on issues at home, and when it comes to issues abroad, we need to focus on diplomacy and the filament. yes, hard power will always have a place, but you cannot lead with hard power in most of these situations, and the same goes for talking to the taliban. look, i agree that the taliban ideology is as rigid and as rotten as it has ever been, and i guess we will have to wait and see if they have learned any lessons over the past 20 years. but talking to a group in order to advance american interests is
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not the same as endorsing the group. host: i will get one more caller and give both of you the chance to give final comments. first we go to roy in montana on the independent line. caller: thank you. i think that the biggest problem the united states has had with afghanistan is that we go put ourselves in the position of of the taliban. we view them as terrorists. the taliban views themselves as fighting a holy war and that gives them extreme tenacity. they can hijack planes and fly them into trade centers and pentagons. they can strap on bombs and blow up people. glorious resurrection in the next life. that is not the way we think.
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we do not put ourselves in their thought. it leads to a disadvantage because they remain relatively undefeatable. host: some final comments, james carafano? guest: we should use prudence and judgment and a mix of hard and soft power to advance america's interests. we agree on that and we should have a debate. it is important at this point that we have an independent, nonpartisan investigation on how we did this withdrawal from afghanistan so we can learn lessons from that going forward and understand the threats and challenges we have going forward and what is the right way to address them. guest: we should have an independent got nonpartisan investigation that includes the evacuation, which i agree had many flaws. it should also include the wider legacy. i do nothing we can compartmentalize the evacuation from the rest of the war effort.
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it is the final chapter in 20 years of failures. a lot of decision-makers need to be asked to explain. going forward, we need to learn our lesson, which is that endless war does not work. saying just another six months does not work. the american people have rejected that. the american people understand that another six months meant another 10 years. that is why we saw two presidents who disagree on almost everything but understand the will of the american people was to leave these wars that had lasted a generation. i think policymakers should listen to that and also consider our strategic interests. that is going to require a repeal of a blank check for use of force abroad and require congress to go back to doing what it is supposed to do, which is provide oversight and
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balances and checks -- checks and balances to the president and the military. i agree there should be an investigation. we need to look at the big picture. host: adam weinstein is an afghan war marine vet with the quincy institute for responsible statecraft. and james carafano, a 25 year army veteran might thank you both >> this year marks the 20th
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anniversary of the september 11 attacks. join us for live coverage from new york, the pentagon, and chainsaw, pennsylvania starting saturday, september 11 on c-span. watch online at or listen on the c-span radio app. >> president biden gave remarks on the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan, marking an end to the war effort 20 years. he spoke for just under 30 minutes.


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