tv Charlie Rose PBS August 12, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
ambassador richard holbrooke, on the war on afghanistan and the floods in pakistan. >> nobody in the u.s. government feels that we have reached the goal encore ruption. president karzai himself has said to me and to other senior american officials that he knows it's a huge problem and he wants to do pore about it. he has said he's committed. >> rose: do you believe him? >> we can only judge by the events. they have upgraded the high commission on oversight, their major anti-corruption group. they set up the majors crime task force and the sensitive investigative unit. they have arrested a lot of people.
but the core runtion levels are, remain very high and everyone is concerned about it including president karzai. >> rose: also this evening a focus on lebanon and hariri assassination investigation with octavia nasr and robert worth. >> it is a dialogue going on as to what the prime minister, the son of the assassinated former prime minister, what is he going to do. he's now the richard. -- prime minister. and he heads the government. what is he going to do. how he is going to deal with hezbollah and this new evidence. how he is going to deal with the tribunal so the question of credibility is going it to be something to be addressed and addressed very soon. >> rose: the syrians now feel that they probably, probably they doesn't have enough evidence to go after them and their influence in lebanon in the meantime has been rebuilt considerably. in some ways they're in a better position than they were. they don't have to have military forces in lebanon but there are plenty of politicians who are willing to do their bidding. >> rose: richard holbrooke, october taria nasr, robert worth next.
>> rose: richard holbrooke is here, he is the united states special representative for afghanistan and pakistan. as the afghan war enters its 9th year there are growing concerns about the u.s. involvement. in bc news and the wage released a sub have a yesterday that public support for president obama's handling of the war has dropped to 43% down from 53% in march. the killing of ten aide workers earlier this month was reminding us of the trag dev this war and doubts about president karzai's commitment to fighting corruption continue. in neighboring pakistan floods have killed close to 2,000 people and affected 14 million. and the relationship between pakistan's chief intelligence agency and the taliban were raised again with the release of military documents by wiki leaks. i am pleased to have ambassador holbrookee back at this table. welcome. >> good to be with you again, charlie. >> rose: give us a sense of the afghan station today. >> okay. i'll be happy to. but i will say that today,
and i was at meetings with the white house by television, pakistan and the floods is our main focus because 14 to 20 million people are in tremendous danger. of course afghanistan, pakistan have always been closely related. from the day pakistan became independent they've had a bad relationship. and now we're in a situation where the sanctuary for the taliban in pakian poses thmost serious of all hurdles to our objectives in afghanistan, and also i in-- endangers our national security. that's why we're in the region with combat troops in afghanistan, and with massive aid, economic and military in pakistan. when you say where are we, i think the american public has a pretty good idea. we're engaged in a tremendous and, i think, highly qening conflict in afghanistan-- consequential conflict in afghanistan. we're foowing a strategy devised by general praeus
and his colleagues, counterinsurgency, which involves a combined civilian military approach to the issues. general petraeus now is commanding a force that is still growing in size, headed to about 100,000 americans, plus our allies plus the afghan forces. that force will... has done great damage to the taliban. i have absolutely no doubt about it i've seen the intelligence. they're under increasing pressure. at the same time the taliban is a resilient organizatio with... with as i said already, this sanctuary in pakistan. so it depends in the end on the ability of the afghan government to have a police and military which can take care of its own security as the international forces gradually leave the country over time. that process will begin as the president announced december 1st in his west point speech, in july of next year.
so that's where we are. and the key in my mind to everything in theend will be our ability to train the army and the police. and that's a difficult, difficult process. but it is essential. and the president is personally focused on every detail of that. we spent a great deal of time on it on our briefs. one last point, we have a superb three-star general. in kabul, william caldwell who now runs a unified training command with all our nato allies. until caldwell got there, until we reform the structure, there was for seven years, if you can believe it, there was no unified effort to train. the international training efforts were scattered and there was no literacy training even though the police were 80, 88% illiterate. you can't have an illiterate police force. you can't have policeman who can't read an i.d. card. and yet this is how the money was spent. so even though everyone points out that this is you
no in the 9th year of a long war, the fact is that in the training effort, until bill caldwell got there, very little was there to show for it. and this is a very serious problem given the importance of that issue. >> rose: just for my clarification, what is your responsibility? >> the president announced on his third day in office when he came over to the state department and announced my appointment with vice president biden and secretary of clinton, that i would be the counterpart to the centcom commander who was then david petraeus. now is james madus as petraeus went on to afghanistan, for civilian efforts. i joked at the time that general petraeus had more airplanes than i had telephones because the military is the overwhelming preponderance of the assets. however, we all agree that governance, corruption, building up the agricultural sector, dealing with drugs,
rule of law, those are issues which will determine the outcome just as. as military operations. those operations are coordinated in washington by my office. we have ten different agencies in that office. it's a multiagency office that reports through me to the secretary of state and through hillary to the president. it has never been an office like this in the state department. it covers both countries. those countries were moved from the regular regional bureau to report to me and then to hillary and the president. now one other key point about this, and there's been a misunderstanding. it's not our job in washington to do the job. our job is to get the other people in the agencies to work together to do their jobs both in washington and in the field. it is ambassador ikenberry's responsibility in the field to coordinate these things. and that embassy reports to the secretary of state through our office. >> rose: what's the difference in doing what you are trying to do and nation
building? >> well, what i am do something coordinating the agencies. nation-building has become a loaded word for some people. but i need to be very clear on this. we're not nation building. afghanistan is a nation. it's been a nation for centuries. we are constitution-- we are helping them rebuild institutions that were torn apart over 32 years of war after war after war. and nation building with all its connotation-- connotations just doesn't fit. afghans know... . >> rose: why doesn't it fit. nation building does not have to do with... . >> rose: . >> because the afghans know they are a nation. >> rose: nation building by the definition i understand has to do with improving the could passity of a nation to function as a more effective nation it to the going, creating some new nation where there was not one. it may be helping build political structures, civil structures, police, those
kinds of things. which you said were your responsibility. that's the goal. >> my responsibility is to coordinate those efforts. ai-- aid has the money. the embassy has the coordinating responsibility in the field. but when i resist the foration "nation building"s you used it is simple. we are institution rebuilding, rewe are nation rebuilding. this country was torn apart. even the united states in 1865 was a nation splintered and it took awhile to rebuild. but in 1865 the war ended and we never hadnother war. in afghanistan one war ended, the next one began, then the taliban came in. then to replace the second war after the taliban came the united states, because of 9/11. this country has had a series of mishaps, tragedies and challenges that even for any other country would have been unimaginable. but this is the poorest nonafrican country in the world. and it needs the outside world's help desperately.
>> rose: everybody, i think you included and certainly the president said, in the end there is not a military solution to this. >> we absolutely agree on that. >> rose: and the solution to this is building up the afghan state so that they can defend themselves against taliban, and therefore the taliban don't take over and make it a haven for al qaeda or anybody else. >> absolutely correct. but with two critical points i want to underscore. number one, we cannot repeat the 1989 mistake, the catastrophic mistake that when the soviet union was through, the west turned its back, the u.s. turned its back on afghanistan which lead the pakistanis to say wait a second, we better get an insurance policy. and that insurance policy was known as the taliban. that's point number one. point number two, after the combat troops leave, the u.s. and the nato and other combat troops leave, the world community lead by the united states will have to have a continued commitment of economic and development
aid and aid to the security assistance forces. the president, hillary, myself, bob gates, we've all said that. let us be very clear. this is a long-term commitment just as the united states stepped up to the plate in korea, when the fighting stopped in 1953 with aid and kept military troops there to this day, but without fighting. so i want to be very clear on what it is that will require stability in the region. and finally, and most importantly, our enemy is al qaeda. and they lurk across the border in the tribal areas of pakistan. the very areas that have been just hit by the floods. the point i want to make is there are about five of our most dangerous bad guy groups, all grouped in this area in pakistan where the floods are going on now. al qaeda targeting the u.s., britan, et cetera. you have the afghan taliban.
their expeditionary force in afghanistan closely allied. the pakistani taliban. now the pakistani taliban targets the pakistanis but the times square bomber went and got trained luckily badly trained, by the pakistani taliban. that's three. fourth, you have the infamous hakani group, a ruthless separate group focused in north wajiristan which is in pakistan but raids all the way into kabul. >> rose: fair enough. >> finally the last group just so that your viewers get the complexity of the situation s a group that the americans don't pay any attention to called the l-e-t but the indians play pay attention because it is they who attacked mum buy in december 2080. >> rose: faced in pakistan. >> all based in an area roughly the size of california in the tribal areas. if that enemy, so to get back to your core question, as the-- as we diminish our
combat troops over time according to the continues-- conditions we have to retain the residual capability to strike at these groups while we build up the afghan security forces. the sequencing and the level and pace of all that is something that the president will determine after he holds his policy review later this year in december, and then he will examine the conditions and the president will decide. the general structure of what we are do something very clear it seems to me. >> rose: okay. are you convinced that president karzai is committed to doing something about corruption. >> my colleagues and i have talked with president karzai many, many times about this issue. and it's no secret that it is widely believed, and i share this belief, that corruption is the levels it now exists in afghanistan, of course corruption has always been an issue in societies like afghanistan. there's corruption
everywhere in the world. but corruption at the current levels as perceived by the afghan public is a serious advantage to the taliban. it's one of their main recruiting tools. and therefore the american government and our allies at every level has talked about this with president karzai. and members of his government. all i can tell you is what president karzai has said publicly and privately. he knows it's a problem. he set up these anti-corruption task forces. he's working with us. we're giving him advice. since this administration took office we have made this a primary priority. >> rose: coy s this a fair statement. ambassador holbrooke is satisfied with president karzai's efforts to root out corruption in afghanistan. >> no, even president karzai says he's not satisfied. >> rose: with his efforts. >> no, we, nobody in the u.s. government feels that we have reached the goal encore ruption. president karzai himself has said to me and to other
senior american officials that he knows it's a huge problem and he wants to do more about it it he has said he's committed. >> ros do you believe him? >> we can only judge by the events. they have upgraded the high commission on oversight, the major anti-corruption group. they set up the major crimes task force and the sensitive investigative unit. they have arrested a lot of people. but the corruption levels remain very high and everyone is concerned about it including president karzai. are we satisfied? of course not. >> rose: does it stand in the way of you doing and wanting to achieve the objectives you have in the civilian area. >> does it stand in the way, you know, the way you phrase it, i'm going to say no because we have to continue the other things. agriculture, our highest nonsecurity priority. training the police and the army, and trying to get the police to be less corruption. they've been a huge problem. and policing ourselves, charlie. look, the major source or a
major source to be more precise, a major source of the opportunity for corruption is the international presence and especially these huge contracts for private security firms, for trucking, for logistics, for the goods that come up for karachi over the kai burr pass and into afghanistan and down to canned a-- khandahar. these are huge problems. general pet raiseus set up a task force call task force 2010 simply to focus on the american procurement contracts and their relationship to corruption. all of this is new. i know the american public is saying you know, we've been in this war for all these years. all we can say is we took office only 17, 18mont ago. we inherited things which even i and i have been a long time critic of operations, found stunning and the illiteracy of the police, the lack of attention to corruption. now david petraeus who is a great general and a very, and somebody i feel very close to, i have been his counterpart for all these months and still working closely with him on a daily
basis. david is focused on this stuff and really drilling down. our staff is. our treasury and fbi people, deia people work on it nonstop but it is a continuing issue. and let nobody watching your program tonight think other than corruption is an ongoing struggle. in wch we will not relent on because it's so important. >> rose: . >> i need to be clear. no one person in afghanistan could personally end a problem this deep in the culture and the history of the country. the question is it reaches levels which are incombatable with the goals that both president karzai and president obama have. and it is on those grounds that we jointly work on it. we'll never be satisfied. it's an ongoing struggle. that is true in every country. >> rose: othe ground in afghanistan, in the end
was-- successful as a military situation. >> i was in marja three weeks ago, very dramatic trip because our use pray got hit coming in and there were some people in the marketplace who had designs on us but we never got to the market pace because our schedule changed. in marjha the u.s. and the nato command, british particularly went into an extremely difficult area. buone at had had a lon pro-american tradition in the kennedy and johnson administrations. they were greeted as liberaters. thank you, you're back. we remember the americans. we want agriculture, we want security, we want roads, we want culverts, we want seeds. with the troops came our civilians. we have some of the braveest civilians, unarmed, working these streets, they're not even streets, they're just dust bowls. the dust is so fine in marjah that it gets through every mesh have you ever seen. it is astonishing and it is hot down there and these
joint civilian military teams are extraordinary. the process of bringing in the afghan government officials behind them is slow and difficult because of mobility. it's really hard to move down there without security. secondly, because of where, the isolation of it. and it's a dangerous area. so the press reported that marjah is a failure. what i would say is what general mcchrystal said before he left, and what genera traeus has sai, th marjah is a slow, difficult, work ining process. but to say it is a failure would be to misread it. and to say it is a success would be to misstate it. it is a work in progress. >> rose: is it liss than expected? >> well, you'll have to ask the military, for a very simple reason. it's their operation. i'll let them talk for themselves. >> rose: has the khandahar mission which has been delayed been influenced by
what, the success or lack of success in marjah? >> again, since it's a military operation i want to defer t david petraeus and i know you're going to have him on your program soon. but on general mcchrystal's last day, last two days before he left afghanistan, he and i went down to khandahar, and with ambassador ikenberry and our aid people and we spent the wol day planning it. and i think there was a big misunderstanding in khandahar it was not baghdad or fallujah. it was a different kind of operation. and the military details of it served no purpose by going into them by inn detail. but it was never going to be a huge force going into the city. the city is not held by the taliban. it's a complicated shadowing thing. there's one district of it which the taliban are dominant in, the central districts, our government. you can walk around them. troops are coming in to
create a security perimetre and then behind it have to come more services. and the key service in david petraeus's mind is electricity. we have to bring more electricity to the people on a per capita basis, every other city in afghanistan has more electricity than khandahar. so we have to show that services come with it. >> what's the difference between counterinsurgency and counterterrorism? >> it's a very perceptive, should i say typically perceptive question after all these years of doing your program. i think this is 20 years since you and i first did this. >> rose: very first one we did, very first national broadcast. >> with you, me and barbara walters. >> rose: yes. >> so this is a very interesting question for theorists. i will give you the theory. counterinsurgency,... no, let me start with counterterror. counterterror is just punching at the enemy, boom, hit them in the nose. you find the taliban, you go
after them with a night raid or a... . >> rose: sounds like special ops like what general mcchrystal did in iraq. >> exactly. exactly right. and and takes less forces. but it carries with it some downsides. because you are focused only on very kinetic operations and you're ignoring the population. counterinsurgency is a much more expansive theory in which the military forces create a security environment in which the government can provide its services and the people then rally to the government. now here's the critical fact we are counterinsurgency, it goes back to earlier conversation about the police and the army. counterinsurgency only works when the security is undertaken by the local government. it can't be forever the foreigners. and i, you know, i lived all this in vietnam, with the
same theories in a very different environment against a very different enemy. and i'm not comparing the two except to say that i studied and lived this theory. and it will only work when the afghans take over their own security responsibility. because as president obama said in his west point speech, our commitment in afghanistan is not open-ended. now as far as al qaeda goes, wherever they are, the president has said repeatedly that he will strike at them when and where he needs to to protect our national security. as far as counterinsurgency goes and the taliban, in afghanistan, that is a different kind of proposition. >> rose: i think the vice president has said we're in afghanistan to destroy al qaeda. >> well, i'm not sure which quote are you talking about but he, but we, our goal in afghanistan-pakistan is to dismantle, destroy and
disperse al qaeda and other extremist groups that threaten the united states. and if you drop the additional phrase which the president has said in every speech, then people get confused. >> all right this is the front page of the financial times. high profile aircraft to aid, pakistan flood relief effort. you just said that's the thing that is on the minds of most people and the president. what, tell us how severe these floods are with the potential dang certificate. >> may i make a point about this picture. this picture which is from the back of a u.s. transport plane shows what looks like the mississippi river. that two weeks ago that was a small stream through the town of mingorha in the capital of swat. that town is now under that water. there are floods. >> rose: so give a picture of the size of the floods, the historic dimension of the floods and the danger they provide both in terms
of human life but beyond that terms of other considerations. >> this is not just another flood in asia, headline which doesn't get much attention here. this is the worst floods, monsoon floods in pakistan's history since well before independence, 1926 was the last thing this size. secondly, it looks like the area affected has at least 14 to 20 million people in it. so far the death, that's far more than the tsunami and haiti combined. the deaths are far less so far, thank god, about two thousand. but we don't knows what he-- what's out there. 14 million people are in ha away. at least 350 bridges have been washed out. nobody knows how many roads are gone but the roads in that picture are all gone. schools, health clinics, homes, they're all gone. the, there's talk now that cholera is beginning. some of the natural gas fields are underwater and
the gas to some of the major cities have stopped. one city near the indian border has been evacuated, 700,000 people. hydrobad almost 2 million people lies in the path of an ancient british era dam with some slushs that don't work any more. if that dam doesn't hold this will be even more unbelievable. and i could go on and on it is an economic catastrophe, it's a political catastrophe, and it has huge implication for us because it's also in the area we've been talking about, petraeus sent two or three chinooks immediately that started rescuing people. the u.s.-- is on the karachi, on the port now, their helicopters have been deployed. the united states immediately gave about 70 million dollars in increasing. we've been going to country after country to get them to do more. the u.s. has done the bulk of the aid so far. the u.n. put out an appeal
yesterday for a half a billion dollars for starters. and that's just the rescue phase. the reconstruction phase is going to be staggering. we are-- we have, we're doing a worldwide appeal. one of the things that's kind of interesting is that we've done this new technology which we also did in haiti where you can take your cl phone, text swat for swat, swat, and then send it to 50555. that will, and then you punch yes and that means $10. but it's interesting. when we did this for haiti, we raised millions of dollars. when we did it for the swat refugees last year we raised a couple million. so far we've raised very little until tonight. and i hope this program helps change it. why? because people don't relate to a flood the way they do to an earthquake or tsunami which hits then it's over, the press comes in and does
the incredible stories of rescuesing people who have survived. here the press can't get in, charlie. we don't knows what's happening on the ground. all we have is aerial photos so far. >> rose: everybody should be doing everything they can. but it seems to me that with the united states having the kind of presence and commit testimony has to afghanistan and pakistan, you know, it is an opportunity to both do well and do good. >> we absolutely agree with you. and the president is very conscious of this. and we had a discussion of this in the white house. >> rose: very visible demonstration of america's commitment to... . >> my friend and colleague deputy national security advisor chaired a meeting at the white house this morning and made that exact point. and we all are conscious of it. we, it's very simple. if we do the right thing t will be good not only for the people whose lives we save but for the u.s. image in pakistan. it's simple. and so i'm focused only on the rescue mission and to get the word out.
and e people of pakistan will see that when the crisis hits as it did in 29005 perth earthquake, as it did last year in swat, as it did again now, it's not the chinese. it's not the iranians. it's not other countries. it's not the eu, it's the u.s. that always leads. >> rose: what's interesting, it is often as it was with the tsunami, it is an opportunity for the u.s. military which has the kinds of equipment that's necessary, aircraft carriers and helicopters to make a difference. >> absolutely. d nothing a dramatic as a helicopter in a situation like that. >> rose: all right. so you're hopeful that the funds will be raised by this and that there will be more attention and there will be more direction. >> you know, there's somewhere between a million and two million pakistani americans in this country. a lot of people can't afford big contributions. and but if they feel moved
by it as so many of my friends do, $10 goes directly, by the way, people ask me, that money goesnto some corrupt situation. no. the money goes to the united nations high commission on refugees. i should have missed that. >> rose: let me talk about pakistan. we had these wiki-leaks about isi and the relationship to the taliban. tell me what you think the situation is today between isi and the taliban. >> i have to start by saying that all of us who served u.s. government take a solemn oath of office. and the person or persons who gave tha information out to the public violated that oatin the most egregious and self-serving way. if they have a problem with policy, fine. let them quit the government and state their dissents. but to leak stuff which could damage the national interest or more specifically endanger people's lives is unconscionable. now on the specifics, i
don't know anyone who has read all 90,000 documents including, i'm sure the leaker himself. but the stuff i've read is stuff i think everybody was aware of. it's just a little bit of... . >> rose: but is it true today. they happened to raise it one more time of this link between is a, the pakistani intelligence service and the taliban. are they-- reasons well, 90% of the documents. >> rose: is there a relationship that continues. >> 90% of the documents are in the previous administration's watch. they lewd to a pattern which has been well discussed, a pattern which has concerned us, that we've discussed with the pakistanis repeatedly. >> rose: and how serious an issue is it in august of 2010? >> i'm not sure what "it" >> rose: the relationship between i-s-i and the taliban today not what these documents showed last year in 2009 but today? >> we have... we have
continued to work with the pakistanis to get them to work with us to do something about the taliban in the sanctuarys. they have worked with us in regard, remember the five groups i mentioned earlier, they've worked with us closely on going after the pakistani taliban. they, and they've taken over 4,000 killed of their own troops in that fight. and we've assisted them in that and we've had a lot of success. that's the group which trained the times square bomber. we worked with them very well on al qaeda. we are making in-roads in regard to the other groups but it's slow and tough going. they have a resource problem. a lot of their forces are still deployed against the larger country to the east. and they feel they don't have enough resources. and now with the floods, everything is in suspension. >> rose: who is protecting al qaeda in waz irstand. >> you know, i don't know and it's a very good question. i've asked it too. >> rose: what answer do you get when ask you it?
>> the intelligence clarity on that is not, there's an o passit ot this issue. >> rose: it's opaque. >> yeah, it is opaque to a certain extent. and furthermore, i don't think i can go into classified material. >> rose: i don't want to you go into-- this seems like so fundamental, hakani group network is very much involved with the moo handle dean as you well know. they seem to have some special relationship within pakistan. they have not seem to be an object of intent by the pakistani government so far. >> let me try to be a little more clear because i don't want to you think i'm trying to be evasive. there are a lot of things we don't know. if we knew them we would have been more successful in finding bin laden. >> rose: fair enough. >> than has been the case since 2001. but my impression reading the intelligence is that of the five groups i mentioned earlier, the one that's most protecting al qaeda and helping the most is hakani
group. and they, because they are up in the same general area. >> rose: if the pakistani government was serious about doing something to in wazirristan would they be going after the haqqani network with more aggressive tactics than they are so far? >> with great respect i would rather just punt on that question for now, except to say, except to say that it is a matter of great concern to this administration. and theubje of much discussion. but this is the pakistani military. i've spent a lot of time talking to general kaini about these issues. they know our views. >> rose: admiral mullen has been over to see him about 15 times. >> admiral mullen and i have gone together to see him. >> rose: so give us a measure of him, the chief of staff in of the army in
pakistan. >> general kaini. >> he is first of all a very powerful person and a very important fact never this equation. >> rose: and once led the i-s-i. >> he also went to forth leaven worth command and control college and is proud to say he is a member of the fort leaven hall hall of fame. >> rose: that would be in kansas. >> i believe so, yes. and he is among general officers i've known he's a remarkable strategic thinker. he's very smart. and he ask, he was involved from the war on bangladesh when he was a junior officer in 1971. is an enormously powerful political factor in th couny. and we have extensive discussions with him. as you mentioned earlier mike mullsen his primary. >> rose: you had all these conversations, is he worried and does he reflect this in questions to you and admiral mullen, the americans have left afghanistan before. if they leave now we need
some allies over there because we have a relationship and so therefore the people who have the relationship are the haqqani network and there you go. >> wel that's a very, very we phrased. and i think i'm not betraying any confidences when i say that general kaini has said repeatedly that his government, his country and his army do not wish to see a taliban takeover of afghanistan against. that would be against their interests. but they want and he has stated very clearly that he wants stability and peace in afghanistan. now president obama and the rest of us have also said publicly that to get to stability in afghanistan because it's a poor country surrounded by more powerful neighbors like iran on its western side and pakistan, and just beyond them, india and china has a common board we are afghanistan and russia just over the horizon,
given its location, which is why it's always been the center of such drama and competitiveness, that the president has said that we recognize that other countries have legitimate interests in the security in afghanistan. just the way we have legitimate security interes in regard to our neighbors. and in this regard we have said publicly and president o bam ha -- obama said publicly that we recognize that pakistan and other countries, and other countries have legitimate security interests in what happens in afghanistan. just like we have legitimate security interests in what happens in our neighborhood. whether it's missiles in kuba or what happens in mexico or haiti or whatever. and that was a major step forward in policy development. and this opened up the door to a very sustained sttegic dialogue with the pastanis which has been lead on our side by hillary clinton. she hosted. she's been to pakistan twice in the last nine months.
the first trip was very contentious. the second one last month was very successful. total turn around because we're giving them a lot of economic aid now, economic aid as a result of senator kerry and senator lou garz lead lugar's in the kerry lugar are. he had are coming back in washington in october. in these discussions we have had open and candid exchanges with the pakistanis on what kindf a security they want to have. now before you go on i need to make a key point there are other countries who are having similar dialogues with but not perhaps at this level and the two i want to single out are india and china. because they also have legitimate roles in the area. this came up when president obama went to beijing. it came up with hillary went to india for the strategic dialogue. you know she has had strategic dialogues in the last few months with india, pakistan, china and afghanistan. so what we're looking for
re is to embed the afghan challenge inside a regional approach and i myself have talked to all of these countries including russia. and we are looking very much at the bringing the region into a discussion of a peaceful country. >> rose: ambassador richard holbrooke special represent tough afghanistan and pakistan. back in a moment. we'll talk about lebanon. stay with us. lebanon seems to be on the brink of a political crisis again. a united snations panel has been investigating the 2005 assassination of former prime minister rafik har iraye. that t tbuneal is expected to implication members of hezbollah. in a presentation his son tried to implication israel which strongly denied all such claims. joining me from atlanta octavia nasr, she was born and educated in beirut. joining me from washington
robert worth "the new york times" bureau chief in beirut. i am pleased to have both of them on this program. octavia i begin with you. tell me about this investigation and what the conclusion seemed to say. >> many conclusions really over the years since the investigation began. but lately as you mentioned, hezbollah members seem to be heading towards indictment. as soon as the news broke we saw a lot of movement on the part of hezbollah basically trying to first of all flex muscles, the sg of hezbollah said that no one touches even half a member of hezbollah. later this week he showed what he called its evidence that could link possibly link israel to the assassination. so as far as the investigation goes, we really don't have any evidence that is put forth as of yet. we're hearing a lot of speculations. we're hearing leaks but also
those leaks are turning around and changing some times overnight. sometimes within weeks but certainly what hezbollah provided this week is about to change things around yet one more time because the tribunal is asking hezbollah to hand over all evidence they have so that they can look at it and then see if israel could be implicated for real. >> rose: so what is the next step? >> the next step is for hezbollah to turn the evidence over. and the problem with that is that hezbollah is calling this tribunal a puppet in the hands of israel and the u.s. so basically they are discrediting the tribunal to start with. as a matter of fact, just look at how hezbollah provided what they call the evidence, calling for a press conference, at the press conference he released the information. he didn't even go to the lebanese government with that information in that video. so hezbollah is acting pretty independently of everybody. what's next is going to be will hezbollah turn over the
evidence to the lebanese government or to the tribunal. and if they don't, where does that put the credibility of this tribunal, the credibility right now is very much in question. and you have been lebanon there is a dialogue going on as to what the prime minister, the son of the assassinated former prime minister, what is he going to do. he's now the prime minister. and he heads the government. what is he going to do. how is he going to deal with hezbollah and this new evidence. how is he going to deal with the tribunal. so the question of credibility is going to be something to be addressed and addressed very soon. >> rose: what do you think about that robert, the prime minister of lebanon and the son of the assassinated former leader. >> yeah, i think he has to play this very carefully. because he seems to reject the claims. it's easy in lebanon to paint someone as a zionist to that kind of thing. so i think he has to basically listen to this and be willing to be open to it.
and you know, we'll see what he does in the coming months. >> rose: he made a lot of trips to syria. the early expectation was that syria would be, and this was the early speculation after th the-- assassination that syria's intelligence service, other people if the government might shoun but implicated but that all seems to have gone away. >> that's right. now everyone briefs that hezbollah will be indicted. it's not clear whether they will be indicted for actually sort of being the cull polits in this kirling or merely being sort of felony murder type situation where they would have provided some, a car or explosive. in other words, having played some minor role. it's just not clear what kind of evidence the court has and they have been silent about that. >> rose: do you have any sense of who actually did it, who carryed it out? >> well, you know, ever since 2005 a lot of people have said the only people
with the ability to do something like that in lebanon would be the syrians. they had a tremendous network of intelligence surveillance. they were up until 2005 militarily occupying much of lebanon. and that's been the assumption. of course they have strongly denied that ever since. >> and so what are the implications for the syrians from this investigation now? >> i think the syrians feel they are now in a confident position because it's been years and the only people who were detained in connection with this investigation for top state security generals in lebanon have since been released for lack of evidence. these were men in particular one who were very close to syria. so the syrians now feel they probably there should the tribunal doesn't have enough evidence to go after them. and their influence in lebanon in the meantime have been rebuilt considerably. in some ways they are in a better position than they were. they don't have to have military forces in lebanon but there are plenty of politicians willing to do
their bidding. >> rose: but does that include hezbollah? >> oh, yes they have a long-standing relationship with hezbollah. although it's tricky and complicated. some people say syria might actually be happy to see hezbollah politically sort of taken down a notch by these indictments. there is no question, i think, that if the indictment does come out, even if hezbollah ignores them completely as he said he would, most people seem to think it would be sort of a moral strike against hezbollah. it would undermine the party's reputation for integrity. >> rose: what is their reputation in lebanon today, octavia? hezbollah, and how deep are they in the government? >> look, hezbollah is seen in lebanon as the resistence. it was establisisheas resistance to the occupation, the israeli occupation of southern lebanon it remains so. it's really got empowered in 2006 after that war between
hezbollah and israel, the mere fact that they survived that war, that they remained on their feet, that nass trala was still alive at the end of the yar that made them even stronger in the region. of course since they they also became part of the government in lebanon. so hezbollah is seen as an integral part of lebanon. they have a lot of seats in government. so they can play a role in blocking this tribunal, for instance. they can play a role in making life very difficult for the prime minister, for the country to move forward so they are a power to be dealt with very delicately. and it seems that this is how the lebanese government is dealing with them. as a matter of fact, as soon as the news of the indictment came up, we heard news that the prime minister, hariri went to nastrala the secretary-general of hezbollah and told him about the indictment. as a matter of fact we also heard news that hariri himself asked the tribunal to delay the announcement of
the indictment to avoid clashes, to avoid trouble within the country. so basically he went to him and said there will be indictments. that's what i am hearing. but these might be rogue elements within hezbollah. this doesn't mean an indictment of hezbollah the militia itself, the group itself. >> rose: and what's their relationship to iran? >> very close one. very, very close relationship to iran. iran provides training, weapons, money, support. it is a relationship that hezbollah talks about all the time. they're very proud of it. definitely not apologizing for that relationship. and not having a relationship in secret. so definitely a strong relationship with iran. and this relationship is starting to translate on the ground. for instance, when we had that clash last week on the border between the lebanese army and the israeli army,
it was very tense for a couple of days there. people thinking a war might break out because of that tension. as soon as we started hearing news, for example, that the u.s. is going to stop aid to the lebanese army, iran stepped in to volunteer to support the lebanese army. well this is the effect of iran and hezbollah being very close and hezbollah basically using the opportunity of a clash on the border between israel and lebanon and this time around it's the lebanese army and israeli army. and basically stepping in and saying we will support the lebanese army. iran stepping in immediately and saying we will support as well. >> and what's at stake for the united states and what leverage does it have? >> well, it's not clear how much leverage it has at this point. i mean the bush administration made clear that it took the side of what was then called the cedar revolution 2005 when there was a very strong anti-syrian movement. but gradually and a lot of
anti-syrian politicians seem to believe that they had the u.s. behind them at that time. that the u.s. might even intervene militarily. and push syria out. but gradually it became clear that this wasn't the case. that the u.s. was too tied down in other conflicts. and this really hurt the anti-syrian coalition in lebanon which was known as march 14th. you had a lot of defections. and that lead to this gradual rebuilding of syrian influence. now obviously the united states doesn't want to see hezbollah strengthened it doesn't want to see hezbollah take a greater role in lebanon it certainly doesn't want to see the lebanese army becoming mingled in some way with hezbollah. and the israelis obviously. the lebanese army has been seen for a long time as this neutral force. kind of an ineffective force but seen as this neutral force. if it is now seen as sort of aiding and abetting hezbollah and therefore able to make war on israel that's a bad situation for the
united states. >> what about france which has always had an interest in lebanon? >> i think their position is very much like that of the united states. they have on the one hand been very instrumental in making openings to syria. and you know, reaching out and engaging even before the united states did. there is commercial transactions there and so forth. but i think they thought the policy of isolation with syria didn't make any sense. nonetheless they also don't want to see a conflict in lebanon and they don't want to see any strengthening of the syrian hand in south lebanon or hezbollah. >> in a word octavia i assume that israel's fears are of hezbollah and how much it is rearming and how far reaching those arm aments and missiles might be. but what else does israel fear about the developments in lebanon? >> well, several things, really. and it depends who you ask
within israel. different groups have different fears and ode citizens of israel have different fears as well. ode citizens, for example, don't want war. you hear it from them especially on social networks, for example, on the internet. these are the people, the ode israelis that say we do not want war. and any time that you hear tension in the air, as a matter of fact, this is coming from both sides. the lebanese sides otherwise citizens and israeli as well. as far as the government is concerned, definitely the government of israel is making it clear that they will defend their border. they're saying that they are not going to stand up to, they're not going to accept anyone challenging the security of israel. they've maintained that position all along. so as soon as there was trouble last week with the lebanese army, of course the i-- saying that the lebanese army started shooting at the israeli soldiers and they returned fire but basically
they are saying they will protect their border and that is something that israel is very concerned about, security and they will do everything they can to protect their borders. now take it a few steps further and talk about you asked about the u.s. for example. and there is a group within israel that is not as keen on war or on conflict as others might be. and they're saying they don't want the situation to get out of hand in other words,. so trying to resolve the situation early instead of getting to a conflict situation where israel has to respond, because as soon as israel's board certificate threatened or israel's territory is threaterned, israel will retaliate so you have a group of people saying deal with the situation early on. don't wait for an explosio explosionive-- explosive situation because then it will mean more and then you have others saying would standing by any sign of attacking our borders or our
land, we will retaliate. >> one last question, robert. when will these indictments be returned? >> we don't know. the tribuneal has not said. the lebanese press has been full of reports about them coming in september. but they may welcome later. i might just warn if i could to the previous point and say that israel has said that if if there is another war it will be a much larger and more catastrophic one than the one in july 2006. and hezbollah for its part has answered that saying we've got better weapons than before. we're going to hit you harder, hit tel aviv. so there is a fear that this could not only become more catastrophic war in terms of casualties on the ground in lebanon and israel but might also draw in iran, might provoke a strike on iran from israel and become a broader regional war. and i any that is a big part of the fear. >> i think you put your finger on it. that is why lebanon is so potentially explosive. >> yeah. >> on that, thank you very much, robert worth, "new york times". octavia nasr, middle east