Sunday, October 11, 2009

'Meet The Press' Transcript, Video (10-11-09): Sen.Graham, Levin

Read the complete transcript. Excerpt below:
GREGORY: But doesn't it flow--war of necessity, massive counterinsurgency strategy announced in March, handpicked guy goes in there, an expert on counterinsurgency, says, "I need at least 40,000 more troops," doesn't it flow that the answer would be yes?

SEN. LEVIN: The flow is that you want to succeed, and what--how do you maximize the chances of success? That is the question, and that's what the president is struggling with. We don't know what all those recommendations are, by the way, of General McChrystal. But General McChrystal said a number of things, not that he just needs more resources, whatever that number is. He also says we need a new strategy and that that is even more important than the resources. Those are McChrystal's own words. He also says deliberate, take the right amount of time to think this thing through. And he also says that what is even more important than numbers is the resolve. And I had a personal conversation with McChrystal, and what he says is that you want to find ways of showing resolve to the people of Afghanistan. There are many ways to show resolve in addition to more and more combat forces, including many more trainers to get the Afghan forces to be a lot larger and a lot stronger.

GREGORY: Right. You say no, don't send more troops?

SEN. LEVIN: I'm saying at this time don't send more combat troops, but I say focus on the Afghan forces, the army; faster, larger, better equipped. Why are we shipping--why don't we have a great plan to ship equipment from Iraq to Afghanistan? We ought to do that to strengthen the Afghan army. So there's a lot of ways to show resolve other than more and more combat forces.

GREGORY: Senator Graham, where are you?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think I'm with General McChrystal. He says that the force structure we have today--68,000 American troops plus our NATO partners plus the Afghan army--are not sufficient to turn around the momentum that the Taliban have gained. I am all for more trainers. The president says we're not going to withdraw. He's rejected the counterterrorism strategy. The only difference this morning is whether or not you put combat troops in to enable the trainers. The Afghan national police are getting slaughtered. It's hard to train people, send them off to fight when they get killed at their first duty station. So without better security, the training element will fail. That's exactly what happened in Afghanistan. So we need more combat power. General McChrystal says 40,000, in that neighborhood; I would go with the general.

GREGORY: There, there's a larger question of what the nature of the fight is right now, and I'll turn to the two generals here. This is how The New York Times reported it on Thursday in terms of the debate that's taking shape within the White House: "President Obama's national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against al-Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States." In fact, General Myers, the current national security adviser, General Jones, says there's fewer than 100 al-Qaeda fighters actually currently operating in Afghanistan. What is the central front here in this war?

GEN. RICHARD MYERS (Ret.): I think the central front is against violent extremism, which plays out in both Afghanistan and, as we saw just recently in the last several months, in Pakistan as well. So I don't know how you differentiate between violent extremists that have an extreme view of their religion and are willing to take--go to any means to achieve their political goals. And, and we--we're seeing it play out in Afghanistan, we're seeing the Taliban in Pakistan. So it's, it's more than Afghanistan, it's Pakistan as well, it's the region. Uzbekistan has terrorists that have found safe haven in Afghanistan before. And then it's--I think that, that's spills over into the, the rest of the world, matter of fact.

GREGORY: But where should the fight be, General McCaffrey? I mean, in--within the White House there seems to be a very strong view that the focus on Afghanistan and counterinsurgency against the Taliban might be misguided. We went to war after 9/11 to take out al-Qaeda, and they don't appear to be there in big numbers in Afghanistan.

GEN. BARRY McCAFFREY (Ret.): Well, you know, I actually think Senator Levin sent the--set the argument up correctly. The last thing we ought to debate is whether the answer is 40,000 or 10,000 troops. The real question is you've got this giant nation, 32 million people, it's 500 miles from the sea, which complicates matters. Our logistics lines go through Pakistan. The question is do we have resolve to build a viable state in Afghanistan? And that's a function not just of troop strength. Now, having said all that, there's 25,000 Taliban on the ground now is the unclassified number we're talking about. The country's then quadrupled in terms of direct enemy threat, we're about on the verge of losing small U.S. combat forces. I don't see how the president can't back up his ground commander in the short run.

'Face The Nation' Transcript, Video (10-11-09): Sen. McConnell on Afghan War

Watch CBS News Videos Online
Partial Transcript (full):

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Just how dangerous and fragile the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is was underscored this weekend when the Taliban forces who had taken over Pakistan’s army headquarters were finally ousted by government troops.

Order has now been restored; hostages who were taken have been rescued, but there was a bloody battle. All this as President Obama reconsiders our strategy in this part of the world and whether more troops will have to be sent there.

To discuss it all, we turn to the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell -- he is in Kentucky this morning -- and one of the key Democrats on the Armed Services Committee, Jack Reed , who is in Rhode Island.

And we go first to Senator McConnell. Senator, there are all kinds of leaks coming out of the administration this week about where we go from here, including one that, apparently, one thing being considered is whether we now seek to find some way to find an accommodation with the Taliban in order to focus more attention on Al Qaida and that terrorist organization.

In light of this new violence, do you think it is wise for the United States to be looking for some sort of an accommodation with the Taliban?

MCCONNELL: Yes, Bob, I would say, to the extent that there is anything to those rumors, it is certainly troubling because, as you just indicated in the opening of this show, the Taliban attack in Pakistan underscores the danger of the Taliban, not only in Afghanistan but in Pakistan as well.

And you do get the impression the administration is -- at least some in the administration are trying to distinguish between Al Qaida and the Taliban.

Well, they are different. But they are inter-connected. We know that, when the Taliban was in charge in Afghanistan, Al Qaida was allowed to operate freely. We know they launched the 9/11 attack from there, planned it and launched it from there.

I think the smart thing to do here -- and I hope this is what the president’s going to do, and if he does, I think he’ll have broad support -- is to listen to General Petraeus and General McChrystal. They were highly successful with the counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq.

Most people think that that’s the best chance to succeed in Afghanistan and, of course, in Pakistan. You can’t completely separate the two. They’re interconnected in terms of the threat the Taliban poses in both countries.

SCHIEFFER: Well, as you well know, apparently General McChrystal has come back and said, in order to stave off failure, he may need 40,000 more American troops. Do you think there are the votes in the Senate to approve that, Senator McConnell?

MCCONNELL: Well, I would hope so, if that is in fact what the general has recommended, and we believe that it is. Because, look, this is not just about nation-building. People use the term “nation- building.” This is about protecting the United States of America.

We know that we can’t have a haven over there for the reconstitution of Al Qaida and attacks against the United States. We also know that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. The Taliban taking over a country like Pakistan would be completely and totally unacceptable, destabilizing not only in that area of the world but all around.

SCHIEFFER: Do you actually think that is a possibility? I mean, how much urgency and how dangerous do you think this situation is right now?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think it’s very dangerous. And our generals have told us the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. We know, over in Pakistan, the Taliban has been a problem there as well, as illustrated by the attack yesterday. And I think we need to take this very, very seriously.

SCHIEFFER: Well, if, in fact, the president comes to the Congress and says, “I’m going to need 40,000 more American troops,” you would support that and you think that the Senate would support that?

MCCONNELL: If that is the recommendation of General Petraeus and General McChrystal who got it right in Iraq, I think Republicans almost overwhelmingly will support the president if that is his request.

ABC's 'This Week' Transcript (10-11-09): Afghanistan, Health Care

Read the complete transcript. Excerpt below:

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... the former vice chair of the -- the chiefs of staff for the military, Jack Keane, retired general, architect of the surge in Iraq, Congressman Jim McGovern from Massachusetts, the author of a bill calling for an exit strategy from Afghanistan, and Senator Saxby Chambliss, member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence Committee.

Welcome to you all.

And, Senator Feinstein, let me begin with you. You met with the president this week. He had a group of members of Congress and senators down to meet with him. And I -- we -- we know -- and you saw Secretary Clinton say that, as well -- the president seems to have ruled out immediate withdrawal...

FEINSTEIN: That's correct.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... from Afghanistan or a major increase of troops, in the hundreds of thousands. But did he reveal anything else about his thinking? And what did you recommend to him?

FEINSTEIN: Well, what he revealed was his thinking up to this point, and that the fact that he wanted to hear from various members, and some of us spoke up. And I'll tell you what I said. I reviewed all of the intelligence and looked at the situation, and it was pretty clear to me that violence was up 100 percent, 950 attacks in August. The Taliban now controls 37 percent of the people in the areas where these people are. Attrition in police is running 67 percent, either killed or leaving the service.

And the mission is in serious jeopardy. I think General McChrystal, who is one of our very best, if not the best at this, has said a counterterrorism strategy will not work. The president said to us very clearly, just as you said, George, we will not pull out.

Now, if you're going to stay, you have to have a way of winning. The question is, what is that way? And I think the counterinsurgency strategy, which means protecting the people, not shooting from afar, but securing, taking, holding, and providing security for a period of time is really critical.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How many more troops does that take?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't know how many he's proposed. I only know what I've read in the newspapers. At the same time, there has to be a process of reconciliation. At the same time, there has to be a process of finding out, which of these people can we work with and which can we not, like the Haqqani network, which really need to be taken out? How do you grow this sort of feudal-type warlord government into stability? How do you strengthen Karzai's spine, if you can?

And I think those are all questions that have to be put together into a strategy.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of questions there, Senator Chambliss. Does that lead you to believe that the president should approve General McChrystal's request now?

CHAMBLISS: I don't think there's any question (inaudible) going to have to, and I think it's the right thing to do. He sent General McChrystal over there in the spring and said, "You go see what it's like on the ground. Give me a report, and let's devise a strategy for going forward." He's done that, and Dianne's exactly right. It's a very fractious government over there. It's a lot of corruption within the Karzai government and not much stability.

CHAMBLISS: But if we're going to move forward, we've got to do two things. First of all, we've got to think about the civilian side and what we're going to do with that government. From the standpoint of trying to help the Afghan people clean it up, in order to be successful at doing that, then we've got to quell the violence.

We've got to slow down the Taliban. That means prevailing militarily. And, obviously, that's where the additional resources in the form of troops come in. That's where General McChrystal has -- has recommended. And I think the president has got to follow his commanders on the ground...


CHAMBLISS: The situation in Iraq that Jack was very much involved in is -- was not unlike where we are right now. The Iraqi government was very unstable. The violence was up. We stopped the violence for the most part, and then you saw people have confidence in government.

I just saw Terry Bradshaw look to the ceiling and say that (verbatim) that we should all be grateful to the big guy upstairs who makes all of this possible. He then says its Rupert Murdoch that has made it possible. Since he owns FOX. Apart from being sacrilegious, this ironic crack demonstrates how powerful Murdoch really is. He has become almost godlike in the media world.

SNL Video: President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize - I'm Not George Bush

If you didn't see last weeks show. How ironic. SNL makes fun of the President for accomplishing "jack" and "squat".

U.N. Official: 'Widespread Fraud' in Afghanistan Election

This is probably the main reason we can't "win" in Afghanistan: corruption.

in reference to:

"The head of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan acknowledged Sunday that there was "widespread fraud" in the August presidential election but refused to give specifics or lay blame to avoid influencing the ongoing recount.

Kai Eide appeared before reporters to respond to allegations by his former deputy, Peter Galbraith, that the Norwegian diplomat had sought to cover up evidence of massive fraud allegedly committed on behalf of President Hamid Karzai during the Aug. 20 balloting.

Galbraith, the top-ranking American in the U.N. mission, was fired Sept. 30 by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the widely publicized dispute over how to deal with the fraud charges, which threaten to discredit both the Afghan government and the international strategy for combating the Taliban insurgency."
- U.N. Official: 'Widespread Fraud' in Afghanistan Election - (view on Google Sidewiki)

Weapons Failed US Troops during Afghanistan Firefight

If it weren't bad enough that Americans are forced to fight seemingly outnumbered, in a war that has a small likelihood of success. Now we learn that their weapons are putting them in danger. We should have the best rifles. Why are AK-47s the rifle of choice worldwide? Aren't we a society obsessed with guns?

in reference to:

"In the chaos of an early morning assault on a remote U.S. outpost in eastern Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Erich Phillips' M4 carbine quit firing as militant forces surrounded the base. The machine gun he grabbed after tossing the rifle aside didn't work either. When the battle in the small village of Wanat ended, nine U.S. soldiers lay dead and 27 more were wounded. A detailed study of the attack by a military historian found that weapons failed repeatedly at a "critical moment" during the firefight on July 13, 2008, putting the outnumbered American troops at risk of being overrun by nearly 200 insurgents.

Which raises the question: Eight years into the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, do U.S. armed forces have the best guns money can buy? Despite the military's insistence that they do, a small but vocal number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq has complained that the standard-issue M4 rifles need too much maintenance and jam at the worst possible times."
- Weapons failed US troops during Afghan firefight (view on Google Sidewiki)

Greg Mortenson Deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize (Video)

It's a shame that politics went into selecting this year's Nobel Peace Prize. It should go to people who have succesfully dedicated their lives to bringing peace to the World. Even if it's on a small scale. Greg Mortenson is just such a person.

The bookies put the odds at 20 to 1 for Greg Mortenson to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but on Saturday — the day after the Nobel committee bestowed the world's highest humanitarian honor on President Barack Obama — it was clear many St. Louisans had their hearts set on the big guy from Montana.

"He should've gotten it," said Alison Gonzalez of Creve Coeur. "It would have been so much more meaningful."

Mortenson, a once aimless mountaineer and Army medic who found his life's work in the wilderness of Pakistan, visited the St. Louis area this week, speaking about his efforts to build schools for girls. On Saturday he gave the keynote talk at the Big Read book festival outside Clayton High School, where his arrival was greeted by a cheering crowd.

Mortenson became a humanitarian celebrity with his book "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time," which has spent 140 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The book chronicles his life, from his childhood in Tanzania to his first shoestring attempts to build a school in Pakistan and beyond.

Mortenson's story, which emphasizes the importance of building human relationships with the Muslim world, is now required reading at many U.S. schools as well as for top military commanders.

"Politics will never bring peace," Mortenson told the crowd. "People will bring peace.