Are Pakistan havens a danger to U.S. troops?
Dr. Stephen Biddle discusses problems on the Afghan-Pakistan border
- Duration 10:11
- Date Mar 22, 2012
Dr. Stephen Biddle discusses problems on the Afghan-Pakistan border
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Joining me -- in Washington is actor Stephen -- used to seeing here.
Military Belle -- -- -- council on foreign relations and he's also the author of a book called military power explaining victory and defeat in modern battle.
I'm doctor -- can you hear me.
You're advocating here.
I can hear you know -- out.
Okay -- -- is at the council on foreign relations is a senior fellow for defense policy events that he's the author of a book called military power.
Explaining victory and defeat in modern battle.
That does little I was very interested because a couple of weeks ago you were on the show and we talked about Afghanistan we talked about the military successes.
In Afghanistan you -- is still really interesting points.
You said that well militarily is one thing.
But we still have the safe havens in Pakistan that our military is not taking out on the Pakistani military is taking out.
And you also talked about the Karzai government.
Could you elaborate.
Mean for our viewers why you think those are still problems.
Well I mean -- the pakistanis believe the the United States is not certain to stick this out.
And if the United States leaves before the problem in Afghanistan -- the result would be chaos and instability on -- border which of course they worry about.
They try to maintain a safety net for themselves to plan B in the event that the US project and Afghanistan fails and for them that plan B is the tell bond they created the -- -- -- They have historically been sympathetic.
To them -- aligned with.
One of the reasons they maintain.
And permit safe havens for Afghan -- in Pakistan.
This because that's their guarantee against the prospect the US mission failing in Afghanistan.
Similarly with respect -- Karzai.
He's not exactly sure how much support he's going to get from the United States or from the west or what kind of relationship is gonna have with Pakistan is.
Karzai's plan B.
Constitutes in part relationships with a collection of warlords and power brokers of various kinds within Afghanistan.
That he hopes can deliver for him political support and some degree of security on the ground.
In the event that he doesn't get that he doesn't get the support from the United States that he wants.
Both of these plan -- Both of these hedging behaviors by critical players within the region make it less likely that plan -- is going to succeed.
And that's of course a serious problem for us.
What do you think then that's a big -- administration Bush Administration Obama administration goal of a stable.
Self sustaining in Afghanistan -- just a bridge too far.
It's getting further and further as time goes by I don't think it's too far yes in part because.
What we actually require of Afghanistan in terms of our national security interest -- fairly.
We need an Afghanistan that is not going to come a source for her base for terrorists who attacked us in a source of instability in the region and especially -- stability for Pakistan.
That's not a particularly high bar that doesn't require an Afghanistan that looks like Switzerland that doesn't require a modern centralized administrative state.
Given that what we need from this conflict is relatively modest I think there's still some chance that we can secure it.
Good time is wasting especially with respect to some critical governance changes that we need in Afghanistan and that possibility won't exist forever.
Okay now -- -- your definition you didn't talk about the Taliban.
You said that it would be we a lot of Afghanistan that would prevent their return.
The Islamic radicals who would launch attacks on the United States but she didn't say thing about the -- so.
Is our goal in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban are merely to make sure that even if the Taliban comes back.
Stayed out -- -- with al-Qaeda.
Defeating -- -- about as a means to an end it's not the end in itself.
The end in itself has to do primarily with threats to the United States per say.
-- can't hold -- don't threaten the continental United States some of their friends and allies do.
And in the event that.
Afghanistan's current government collapses the -- -- come back to power and that causes.
Instability to flow back across the border to Pakistan.
That could create threats to the United States.
Means however that we don't necessarily have to and -- -- -- the Afghan town hall of -- to secure our national security interest in the country we could live for example.
With a negotiated settlement that involves a legalized.
Existence for the -- on some role for them in a post Karzai Afghan government.
As long as that role is still limited.
And doesn't create the danger that the -- -- friends set up base camps in Afghanistan to attack us -- that the -- friends destabilize the state of Pakistan.
In your book -- military power and you talk about the idea what his victory west defeat in the modern battlefield.
You know if you look at America's military engagements and major military engagement snap a little raids that the prolonged military engagements whether it's.
Korea and -- Iraq Afghanistan and these don't look like what we think that is victories -- explain why -- -- era.
We're may be talking about a very different definition of victory and -- defeat.
War isn't a football game.
You don't win by crossing the goal line being declared by the referees to be the Victor -- and have everyone walk off the field at the end.
War is a means to political land since it's a device that's designed to serve some policy objective the right way to think about success and failure or -- -- like winning and losing.
Is the degree to which the fighting realizes the political goals support state when you set out to wage the war.
Most wars and was only partial realization of even the winners political goals.
When we get what looked to us to be unsatisfying.
Only -- results.
Like for example the end of the Korean War.
That's often because in fact you rarely end war get a kind of a -- -- solution which one side is simply annihilated -- to sprinkle on the ruins.
They cease to exist and never return.
You often get partial results compromise solutions in which both sides continue to exist.
And in which the political goals of people -- the war for realized partially.
I think certainly again with respect to the Korean War for example the central US national security interest.
Of not allowing.
-- -- Communist threat from the east to pose a danger to the political independence the United States.
Clearly we don't have to worry about Korea in that context South Korea has continued to be.
The vibrant vital economy and political community that part of US interest -- realized.
North Korea however remains that the result of that war wasn't told whole complete.
One sided carcinogen in result in which North Korea and the congress presence there was simply eliminated but the result was tolerable.
I think similarly for Afghanistan were unlikely to see a result of this war in which the -- -- simply cease to exist.
Can never return play no role in Afghanistan.
But I do think it's possible to get some kind of being negotiated settlement to the war.
In which the really critical.
US national security interest of the conflict are nonetheless preserved.
All right then let's try that same -- and talk about Iraq.
Iran's growing nuclear weapon friends how do we stop Iran is they're going to be an Israeli strike against Iran would be United States be drawn -- -- some more.
By those definitions is that the kind of war that we would.
We would be successful -- or is that just another starter Craig quagmire that we can be drawn into it like Tuesday.
Have a very unsatisfactory.
I I think it's very unlikely -- -- Iran were going to get a wholly satisfactory.
Desirable from the US perspective.
I think in all likelihood we're going to get either -- Iranian nuclear weapon that we have to -- terror and contain and live with.
He -- a significant risk of waging a long war involving Iraq.
Neither of those two comes right deal.
The only way to get something that's more decisive and less -- -- and that.
Is sit in mobilized to a degree and -- a degree of cost.
The Iranian regime destroying the Iranian military and imposing a new political solution on Iran that I don't think Americans -- interest and paying for.
Given that we -- not I suspect willing to make that scale of investment in this outcome.
I think with Iran as with most things we're going to end up living -- outcome that is not ideal that represents only a partial realization of our hands.
And what our goal ought to be it seems to me is to do relatively better rather than relatively worse we're not going to get a complete decisive.
Military solution to this problem in and of itself.
Okay what actor Stephen -- I think it's.
What you're saying is if you want to have us happy endings where we -- and the wars.
Go ransom -- World War II movies because modern warfare isn't going to be like your grand as war.
Stephen -- From a -- on -- -- relations thank you for joining us is the author of military power -- victory and defeat in modern battle.