tv Washington Week PBS May 14, 2011 2:00am-2:30am PDT
gwen: osama bin laden's dead, so what's next for afghanistan and pakistan? newt gingrich is running for president -- what's next for 2012? we tackle it all tonight on "washington week." >> osama bin laden will never again threaten the united states of america. gwen: but nearly two weeks later, the fallout from the death of public enemy number one continues, especially in afghanistan and pakistan. >> pakistan is not the birthplace of al qaeda, we did not invite osama bin laden to pakistan or even to afghanistan. gwen: as the u.s. braces for retaliation we learn more about what bin laden planned and what happens next in south is asia and the middle east. on the domestic campaign trail,
more candidates join the republican fray. >> i'm newt gingrich and i'm announcing my candidacy for president of the united states because i believe we can return america to hope and opportunity. >> there is an old saying, three's a charm. gwen: and others edge toward the ring. how long can the democratic president capitalize on the g.o.p.'s uncertainty? covering the week, nancy youssef of mcclatchy newspapers, david sanger of "the new york times," dan balz of "the washington post," and john dickerson of "slate" magazine and cbs news. >> award-winning reporting and analysis, covering history as it happens, live from our nation's capital capital, this is "washington week with gwen ifill." produced in association with "national journal."
corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> this rock has never stood still. since 1875 we've been there for our clients through good times and bad. when our needs changed we were there to meet them. through the years from insurance to investment management, to -- from real estate to retirement solutions, we've developed new ideas for the financial challenges ahead. this rock has never stood still and that's one thing that will never change. prudential. >> corporate funding is is also provided by boeing. additional funding is is provided by the annenberg foundation. the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you. once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening.
tonight, we talk fallout -- osama bin laden's death solved one mystery but has opened a pandora's box of complications. at the top of that list, what happens now with u.s. involvement in pakistan and in afghanistan. the two allies present separate dilemmas, but each turns on how much money and how many troops will be devoted to the relationships with each nation. beginning with afghanistan, nancy, where do things stand? >> well, this week we heard a lot from secretary of defense robert gates and some of the commappeders in afghanistan their hopes that the death would lead to reconciliation between the coalition and the afghan government and some of the insurgent groups there. the problem is so far that hasn't happened and it seems that these groups are starting to think about what they should do if the united states leaves. that isn't reconciliation but wait the clock as they watch the debate here about whether the united states should stay engaged in afghanistan of the gwen: fair amount of distrust
right now, and same thing in pakistan, right? >> it is. but long behalf -- pakistan has been long before the bin laden killing the hardest single problem in american foreign policy and it's just gotten a whole lot worse because you have a country caught between its islamic roots and this strange alliance with the united states. it was forced to make a decision after 9/11 to be with the u.s. instead of with the taliban and it never really made that full conversion, and now we're really back where we were on 9/11 where this is -- there is this deep is suspicion especially in the congress of the united states where the pakistanis are fighting on our side on mondays, wednesdays, and fridays and on the taliban side tuesdays and thursdays. gwen: today 80 people were killed in afghanistan tanned -- and the taliban took
responsibility. >> the taliban said they were doing this in response to the bin laden killing, but let's remember there were explosions like this, bombings against pakistani troops in particularly that area long before the united states knew where bin laden was and that's part of what is haunting this whole thing, is that the u.s. is is sitting on this treasure trove of information from the bin laden house and the pakistanis don't know what's in it so they don't know what the u.s. knows about who was that support network, to use president obama's phrase, that was keeping bin laden alive and well a half a mile from what was basically the west point of pakistan. gwen: one more thing about afghanistan and you guys can jump in but it seems also that part of the question for most americans is is whether this is a military enterprise driving our continued involvement there
or is it a political enterprise, a nation-building enterprise? >> well, here's what the u.s. military will say. they'll say we weren't in afghanistan to do after bin laden. that's a shocking statement for a lot of people. we're there to make sure it's stable so it doesn't become fertile ground for terrorists to hide and plot against the united states. i've talked to troops who say we have more options there, we have to stay until the mission is complete, so you're starting to hear the united states military argue the case for staying in a war that many americans see as done with the death of bin laden and the prospect. of what the united states military is asking for is an expensive one. >> nancy, what does that mean for the review that is supposed to be underway? does that mean the military is going to be on the side of those in the administration who
say even before the killing we've got to be drawing down in afghanistan? >> yeah, we started to see that schism this week. "the wall street journal" reported that the team behind general petraeus is proposing withdrawing 5,000 now and 5,000 at the end of the year. it's the opening bid, if you will, that the military is putting forth as far as what is an appropriate withdrawal. interesting because when you ask the military what kind of withdrawal needs to start in july, they say the 30,000 surge troops. ask the white house and they say it's the total package. so we're already seeing that divide about how quickly the drawdown needs to happen. >> how much pressure do you think they're beginning to feel at the white house or the pentagon about growing evidence that there is war weariness, and why can't we jut draw down
significantly more than 10,000? gwen: if i can piggy back on that for you, david, there's a lot of questions raised in congress about what our involvement is in pakistan especially when it comes to money. >> well, the u.s. military answers that we can't leave that backing -- that vacuum there. we've seen historically what happens in afghanistan when it is a vacuum. what if it becomes a proxy war? for soldiers it's hard to think of investing that much in terms of time and treasure and not leaving some semblance of a stable state, and so they would argue the war was never about bin laden, which again is very shocking to people who always saw that as an effort to go capture bin laden. it's about regional stability. those sort is of two vuvese the war are butting up against each other. >> and at this point the united states is such an overwhelming part of the tiny afghan economy
that if the u.s. pulled out in a big hurry, the whole place collapses and becomes all that much more vulnerable to the taliban. for example, the u.s. and its alleys -- allies are spending more on the training of afghan troops just to replace the u.s. than the entire federal bfpblg afghanistan. far more. which raises the question, if the u.s. leaves, how do you keep doing that? i can't imagine congress wanting to spend that money long after the troops are gone. >> and pakistan? >> pakistan is not as dependent on the u.s. funding, but pakistan has got a lot of leverage. almost all the food, medicine, the ammo we send into afghanistan goes through pakistan. and pakistanis are paid for that. there is a sense that if the united states pulls completely out of pakistan in economic terms, that the u.s. loses a
window into pakistan's arsenal of 100 nuclear weapons and one -- while it's not discussed very publicly, the weapons are a lot of what this is about. it's about the concern that al qaeda could get at those weapons. it's about the concern that pakistan's arsenal is growing so quickly at a time the u.s. is funding pakistan so much. it's kind of like when people say it's not about the money, it's usually about the money. in pakistan when people say it's not about the nuclear weapons it's almost always about the nuclear weapons. >> given that, where is the discussion about u.s. aid going to pakistan? i know there is a lot of outrage that the united states spent $20 billion in aid to pakistan but doesn't seem like we've got our investment back, a return. >> some of that is military reimbursements and it's supposed to be for
counterterrorism activity. literally the pakistanis would send a bill to the pentagon which somebody who have to go review for their activities in crunt terrorism. well, since they have been very reluctant to go into some of the areas that the u.s. has been most concerned about, a lot of people in congress are asking why are we paying this bill? gwen: are serious people asking that? >> some very serious people are asking that. john kerry, while he has not advocated cutting it, has raised the point that many of his colleagues have been advocating cutting it. not just people driving by. gwen: you know we have been obsessed, focused like a laser beam as they say, on what's been happening in south asia and northern africa and the middle east especially in the last couple months. this whole arab spring idea, i know you've just gotten back from spending a lot of time in
libya, nancy, is it stalled? we saw today that george mitchell is leaving after two years. does it feel like we're stuck? >> i think in egypt and tunisia , what we saw is the protesters got rid of the dictator but not the addict atorship. and the truth is it takes a long time to do the kinds of reforms to have a real revolution, if um. so far it's been a revolt, not a revolution. in my time in egypt it was astounding how much had changed and how difficult they were finding it to make real reforms. they made more aeau -- amendments to the already overamended constitution in an effort by mubarak to keep his sop in power. and then if gaddafi goes -- >> that's a big if and it's not a strategically vital place to the united states. but when you look back at
january and february i think there was a how much amount of enthusiasm. a tremendous amount was about to change. that's not usually the way revolutions go. i ran into henry kissinger today, the grand sage of american foreign policy. he was making the point and he's made it many times in recent weeks that the people who start revolutions are rarely the people who finish them. we've seen a lot of revolutions hijacked. think of iran 1979. revolutions that start with some promise and then some other force moves in. i think that's the biggest challenge president obama faces now. when he goes out to the g-8 meeting in a few weeks in france you are going to see a huge aid package to egypt in an effort to try to guide that. if they lose egypt, the rest is not in good shape. gwen: ok. thank you both. on the domestic front, things
are heating up slowly but surely in the 2012 presidential campaign. to-wit, two more candidates are in the republican ring -- texas congressman ron paul and former house speaker newt gingrich. plus, mitt romney began a separate is campaign, defending himself against critics who say his massachusetts health care plan was the blueprint for president obama's. >> a lot of pundits around the nation are saying that i should just stand up and say this whole thing was a mistake. but there's only one problem with that -- it wouldn't be honest. i in fact did what i believed was right for the people of my state. gwen: when you see mitt romney there with the collar open and gesturing and making the case that he was right on his health care plan, who is he pitching himself to? >> well, at this stage they're all pitching themselves still to a relatively small circle of people. in this case he's pitching himself in part to the conservative elite which has been all over him on this issue.
"the wall street journal" wrote not one but two editorials denouncing romney and what he did in massachusetts. the editorial that ran the morning he was to give the speech was as tough and harsh and vehement and editorial as any of us can remember they wrote about anybody on the conservative side. so he's trying to con vips people there. he's also trying to convince activists in the early states and he -- and elsewhere that it's not going to be so debilitating the gwen: does newt gingrich see an opening there? >> well, they all see an opening. they recognize that this is a weak field without a front runner. we talk about governor romney as the nominal front runner, yet we know he has weaknesses. so they all say why not me? you look at somebody like newt gingrich who has both strengths and weaknesses and a lot of
people say he can never get through the process is. he has a sense of history and of the party that says to him, "i can still do this." gwen: so if you're the political director in chicago and looking at this, coming off a week of pretty good foreign policy news are you chuckling to yourself, resting on your laurels, saying the republicans can't get their acts together? >> well, you're happy that the republicans can't get their acts together. and some democratic operatives from -- were on twitter joking that romney gave such a good explanation of the individual mandate that they should put him on cable for an explanation of the president's plan. but the clips in the regional papers, they care a great deal about the national media of krs -- >> a lot! [laughter] >> but they care about the regional papers.
le -- they loved this wednesday in the "detroit free press," "jobs near precrash levels," the headline about g.m. adding 4,000 jobs. this is important because the midwest is a swing state area and jobs are necessary. also they can make a turn here and say the president's plan with g.m. which was to get in there and a lot of people said just let the car companies died but he went in there and revived them and the white house put out a release that said "how tough love averted catastrophe and led to 4,200 new jobs," about as subtle as an atom bomb. but if they can sell the economy, they'll be in good shape. >> all the candidates you have been discussing are familiar faces to us. romney tried and didn't make it last and i'm.
grippinggring invokes images of 1995. ron paul was joking himself that is the third time around. is the party going to have a come to a moment where they have is to make a old -- new or old party decision like the democrats did? if so what do the polls tell you about which way they'll go on that? >> well, every party wants a new face in a situation like this. the fact that romney's been around the track once i don't think is a significant problem because in many ways it makes you a stronger candidate the second time around. newt gingrich has a different problem because he comes with so much history, and p all of it is good. he's been a force in the party, the ideas machine of the republican party, but he carries a lot of baggage both in his personal life but in his professional life as well and how he's conducted himself.
gwen: but there are people who are new to most people, like john huntsman and mitch daniel. >> and tim paulenti, former governor of minnesota. i don't think -- pawlenti, former governor of minnesota. i don't think at this point people are making a conscious choice of new or old. they are thinking who would be the strongest person to rin -- run against not a come bent? that's the question. will a fresher face do that more effectively? that's the calling card for somebody like john huntsman who really is not at all known around the country. he was governor of utah and then ambassador to china. but he is somebody beginning a very active consideration and is likely to run. tim pawlenty has remained in single digits, not surprising, but he is beginning to attract
march -- more 0 tension. there is a great hew and cry among some in the party for mitch daniels, governor of indiana, to get into the race. >> and what gives them hope is that president obama's nubbeds on the economy are still -- numbers on the economy are still so low. even congress' approval rating went up and congress didn't have anything to do with the bin laden killing so the general good feeling should have gone outside of areas specifically related to bin laden but on three polls where -- on the economy, how people felt about his performance on the economy were at record lows. the majority of the polls showed him going down and the problem for the president is, there are two elements, one is the things people care about, gas prices going up, there's not a lot he can do. the cbs had a town hall where he said -- where one of the
questioners said what are you going to do about gas prices? and he said later he didn't give me an answer. it's not about things people want short-term solutions on, it's all over here on the deficit and the debt and it takes a long type to explain to people how that affects them. they mostly hear about the pain it is going to cause and don't have a clear idea how all that pain is going to lead them to some day a better day. >> are there realistic options? ? there aren't a lot of options. usually when a white house or a candidate has a problem they hold an event. you can't hold a gas price event because all it does is highlight and hang a lamp on it and you can't do anything about it. in this town hall, the president has to show that he cares. the great death of a candidacy is if you don't show empathy with the voters and thmp -- their concerns. the problem is is that there is a bit of an empathy trap
because voters start to want things from you you can't deliver. many shall the wopt -- president was asked by a woman who had lost her job as a federal worker, "what should i do?" and suddenly he's a job counselor. it creates this tension and he was asked if her job would come back and he said, "well, i hope so. " i asked the audience later if anybody thought the federal jobs were going to come back in this atmosphere of cutting. no one thought they would. gwen: doesn't that put the republicans in the trap as well of people expecting the government to fix things? they're going for greater fiscal displifpblet doesn't that put them in a different kind of trap? >> well, it can and i think the democrats think they are already caught in that trap overt proposals from paul ryan on fundamentally shaying -- changing medicare.
this is a big philosophical argument going on and we're seeing it in different forums, in the negotiations between the white house and the democrats and republicans in congress over first whether to shut the government down, now raising the debt ceiling and later assuming they don't get everything solved in that set of negotiations, what you do about entitlements. all that is out there. i go back to a point john made to double back on romney and his problems on health care. one of the things a romney survivor -- advisor said today is look, we think this election in the end is still going to be about the economy, not about health care and we are going to talk about economic issues and mitt romney is best positioned in the party, we think, to be the person to make that argument against the president because of his private setor background. >> dan, you mentioned the debt limit. we're the only country i think that even has something like this where you vote on a been
and then on how much you can borrow. i don't know anybody who thinks that the debt limit won't be raised sooner or later. the question is at what price? i'm wondering what you think the price is going to be. >> well, that is what they're figuring out. we've seen this before, these moments where we have a huge crisis and both sides seem like they're not going to budge on either. the inside game is joe bade -- biden is constituent -- sitting down with leaders of both parties and they're doing the math, saying what can we cut here? there are plenty of democrats, including the 23 democratic senators up for election, who want a lot of spending reductions if this debt limit is going to be increased. that's the inside game. the outside game is that john boehner gave a speech this week and said the spending cuts have to equal the amount of the debt limit increase. a $2 trillion increase? that's a whole lot of cuts. trying to get those numbers to
match up, that's a huge problem. gwen: and the republican candidates are happy to watch from the sidelines. thanks, everyone. we have to stop here for now, but i guarantee you the conversation will continue online, on the "washington week" webcast extra where we'll talk about the john ensign investigation and immigration politics. you can find us at pbs.org. keep track of daily developments on air and online on the pbs "newshour," and we'll pick up from there again next week on "washington week." good night. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- gwen: download our weekly podcast and take us with you. the "washington week" podcast at washingtonweek online at pbs.org. >> funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> we know why we're here.
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