Peter Bergen

  • Aired:  01/17/11
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Peter Bergen says most people in Afghanistan want international forces to perform, not to leave. (7:15)

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS A SECURITY

ANALYST AS WELL AS A BEST

SELLING AUTHOR.

HIS NEW BOOK IS CALLED THE

LONGEST WAR, THE ENDURING

CONFLICT BETWEEN AMERICA AND

AL QAEDA.

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE

PROGRAM PETER BERGEN.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: THE LONGEST WAR.

AMERICA'S ENDURING CONFLICT

BETWEEN AMERICA AND AL QAEDA.

IS THIS OUR LONGEST WAR?

>> DEPENDING ON HOW YOU COUNT

THE VIETNAM WAR.

WE'RE GOING TO BE IN

AFGHANISTAN UNTIL 2014.

AS A MATTER OF FACT, IT IS THE

LONGEST WAR THAT WE'VE ENGAGED

IN.

>> Jon: DO YOU THINK IT MAY GO

FURTHER THAN 2014?

DO YOU FEEL CONFIDENT THAT

2014 IS A DRAWDOWN POINT?

>> I THINK WE'LL BE IN

AFGHANISTAN FOR AS LONG AS WE

ARE... WE'VE BEEN IN SOUTH

KOREA.

>> Jon: WE'RE NEVER LEAVING?

OOPS, DID I LET THE CAT OUT OF

THE BAG FOR SOUTH KOREA?

SORRY, SOUTH KOREA.

NOW, REBUILDING SOUTH KOREA

AND BEING THERE AS A

STABILIZING FORCE IS VERY

DIFFERENT THAN DOING IT IN

AFGHANISTAN.

ANOTHER DOLLAR JUST FELL.

MICHAEL STEELE MAKING IT RAIN

AGAIN.

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WE CAN,

YOU KNOW,... SOUTH CAREER I

CAN'T IS AT LEAST A STABLE

COUNTRY.

AFGHANISTAN, WE STILL HAVEN'T

GOTTEN IT TO THAT POINT.

>> TRUE BUT SOUTH KOREA HAS

SUFFERED TREMENDOUS DAMAGE

DURING THE KOREAN WAR, WORSE

SHAPE THAN AFGHANISTAN TODAY.

I'VE BEEN VISITING AFGHANISTAN

SINCE '93.

THERE HAVE BEEN SUBSTANTIAL

CHANGES FOR THE GOOD SINCE

9/11.

MILLIONS OF GIRLS ARE IN

SCHOOL.

THERE IS A FUNCTIONING ECONOMY,

KIND OF.

A LOT OF OF COURSE IS A DRUG

ECONOMY.

BUT THERE IS, YOU KNOW, THERE

IS PROGRESS.

>> Jon: DO YOU THINK THEIR

VIEWPOINT... WHY DID RUSSIA...

WHY WERE THEY NOT ABLE TO STAY

THERE AND YET WE SOMEHOW HAVE

MANAGED TO HOLD ON?

>> WELL, YOU KNOW, THE SOVIETS

FACED A COUNTRYWIDE

INSURRECTION.

EVERY CAST AND ETHNIC GROUP.

THEY HAD ONE OF THE WORLD'S

WORST ARMIES AND THEY WERE

HATED.

WE'RE NOT HATED.

62% OF AFGHANS TODAY HAVE A

FAVORABLE VIEW OF

INTERNATIONAL FORCES.

THEY WANT US TO PERFORM NOT TO

LEAVE.

>> Jon: THEY WOULD... IF

YOU'RE AL QAEDA, NOW, LET'S

TAKE IT FROM THEIR

PERSPECTIVE.

DID THESE WARS... WHAT WAS THE

BEST RESULT THEY COULD HAVE

HOPED FOR?

IT'S AFTER 9/11.

WHAT DID THEY THINK WAS GOING

TO BE THE RESULT OF THAT?

>> WHAT THEY WANTED WAS THE

UNITED STATES TO PULL OUT OF

THE MIDDLE EAST AND ALL THESE

AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES WOULD

THEN CRUMBLE AROUND THE

REGION.

NONE OF THAT HAPPENED.

WE WENT INTO AFGHANISTAN AND

IRAQ.

OUR RELATIONS WITH SAUDI

ARABIA AND EGYPT ARE STRONGER

THAN EVER.

>> Jon: THEY COULDN'T HAVE

BEEN THAT NAIVE.

THEY DIDN'T THINK WE'LL ATTACK

THEM ON 9/11 AND THEY'LL GO

AWAY.

>> THEY WERE THAT NAIVE.

WE INTERVIEWED OSAMA BIN LADEN

IN '97.

WE TALKED ABOUT VIETNAM, AND

THAT WAS HIS ANALYSIS.

WE WERE AS WEAK AS THE SOVIET

UNION.

>> Jon: ISN'T THEIR IDEA THAT

WE INVOLVE OURSELVES IN ALL

THESE CONFLICTS AND IT SLOWLY

BLEEDS US?

OF MONEY, OF WILL.

>> THAT'S WHAT THEY HOPE.

THEY'RE NOT ECONOMISTS EITHER.

WE'RE SPENDING 1% OF G.D.P. IN

AFGHANISTAN.

WE SPENT 10% OF G.D.P. DURING

THE VIETNAM WAR.

IT'S EXPENSIVE BUT WE'RE A

VERY LARGE ECONOMY.

>> Jon: BUT TO A CERTAIN

EXTENT THOUGH BECAUSE WE ARE

NOW AN ALL VOLUNTEER ARMY

WE'RE PUTTING AN INCREDIBLE

AMOUNT OF STRESS ON OUR

FIGHTING FORCE, ON THE MEN AND

WOMEN THAT HAVE NOW, YOU KNOW,

CAN WE SUSTAIN THIS WITHOUT

BREAKING THEIR SPIRIT?

>> BECAUSE WE'RE DRAWING DOWN

VERY SUBSTANTIALLY IN IRAQ

THERE IS SOME, YOU KNOW,

FLEXIBILITY NOW IN THE SYSTEM.

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU.

PEOPLE ARE BEING DEPLOYED.

I WAS IN AFGHANISTAN IN

DECEMBER.

I MET SOMEBODY BEING DEPLOYED

FOR THE 7th TIME IN

AFGHANISTAN.

THAT PUTS TREMENDOUS PRESSURE

ON THE FAMILY, THE PERSON, THE

INSTITUTION.

>> Jon: HOW BIG IS AL QAEDA?

DO THEY HAVE... YOU KNOW, I

NEVER UNDERSTOOD WHY WE SAW

THEM AS DANGEROUS AS, LET'S

SAY, THE SPREAD OF COMMUNISM

OR NAZISM.

IT SEEMS LIKE AN IDEOLOGY THAT

CANNOT EVER REALLY TAKE A

FOOTHOLD BECAUSE IT'S A LITTLE

DARK.

>> YOU KNOW, IT PROMISES A LOT

AND DELIVERS ALMOST NOTHING,

RIGHT?

THERE'S NO AL QAEDA SOCIAL

WELFARE OR SERVICES OR

HOSPITALS OR SCHOOLS.

I MEAN IT WOULD BE OXYMORONIC.

THIS IS A GROUP THAT PRE-TENDS

TO DEFEND TRUE MUSLIM.

A LOT OF MUSLIMS HAVE TURNED

AGAINST IT.

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION I

THINK AND I DEAL WITH THAT IN

THE BOOK TO SOME DEGREE SAW

9/11 IN THE CONTEXT OF A

THREAT LIKE NAZISM OR

COMMUNISM WHICH WAS CRAZY

BECAUSE THE NAZIS INSTIGATED A

GLOBAL CONFLICT THAT KILLED

TENS OF IN ILL IONS OF PEOPLE.

IF THE COLD WAR HAD ENDED WITH

A BANG INSTEAD OF A WIMPER, WE

WOULDN'T BE ON THIS PROGRAM

BECAUSE WE'D ALL BE DEAD.

>> Jon: SPEAK FOR YOURSELF.

BASIC CABLE, BABY.

I HAVE NO IDEA.

I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT, YOU

KNOW, THEY WERE ALWAYS... YEAH,

THEY HAVE THIS DARK IDEOLOGY,

WHATEVER.

AND THE DANGER THAT THEY'LL

GET THEIR HANDS ON THE WEAPONS

OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

IT WILL HAVE TO BE LIKE A ONE-

SHOT DEAL FOR THEM.

THEY'LL GET ONE SHOT AT IT.

THEY'LL BE TURNED TO, I GUESS,

GLASS.

YOU KNOW, THE IDEA THAT THEY

COULD PUT TOGETHER A SUSTAINED

THREAT TO OUR SOCIETY SEEMS

UNLIKELY.

>> IT'S SUSTAINED BUT IT'S NOT

AT A VERY HIGH LEVEL.

WE SAW ON CHRISTMAS DAY 2009

THEY ALMOST BROUGHT DOWN A

FLIGHT OVER DETROIT WITH 300

AMERICANS ON BOARD.

>> Jon: THAT IS NOT TO

MINIMIZE THAT TYPE OF CARNAGE

WHICH IS TERRIBLE.

BUT IT SEEMS LIKE TO RESPOND

TO THAT BY INVADING COUNTRIES

AND THEN HAVING TO STAY AND

THEN REBUILD THEM FOREVER

SEEMS LIKE IT MAY BE A

DIFFICULT STRATEGY TO SUSTAIN.

>> I DON'T THINK THEY'LL BE

INVADING IN ANY OTHER MUSLIM

COUNTRIES IN THE SHORT TERM.

>> Jon: YEAH.

WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT?

ISN'T THAT... IS THAT BECAUSE

THESE OTHER COUNTRIES WILL NO

LONGER PROVIDE SHELTER FOR

THESE AL QAEDA FORCES OR

BECAUSE WE'RE JUST TAKING A

DIFFERENT TACT?

>> I THINK WE'RE TAKING A

DIFFERENT TACK.

WE'RE INVOLVED HELPING THE

YEMENI GOVERNMENT WITH DRONES

AND SPECIAL FORCES AND SMALL

AMOUNTS OF MILITARY ADVICE.

WE'RE NOT GOING TO INVADE

YEMEN.

>> Jon: AS OF YET.

>> LET'S TAKE A BET ON IT.

I VERY MUCH DOUBT IT.

(LAUGHING).

>> Jon: I HOPE WE DON'T

INVADE... I'M NOT A BIG FAN OF

INVADING A BUNCH OF COUNTRIES.

>> YOU KNOW IT SEEMS.

>> Jon: I'M A HOME BODY.

I'D LIKE US TO STIFLE OUR OWN

CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT.

THE LONGEST WAR ON BOOK

SHELVES NOW.

IT SOUNDS LIKE THERE'S A

GLIMMER OF OPTIMISM IN YOUR

THOUGHT PROCESS.

THERE'S A LIGHT AT THE END OF

THE TUNNEL.

>> YEAH, AL QAEDA IS GOING TO

FADE INTO IRRELEVANCE

OVERTIME.

>> Jon: I WOULD LIKE TO SEE

THAT AS A BOOK TITLE.

THAT IS A BOOK THAT I WOULD

READ.

PETER BERGEN.

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