You can't go wrong doing the opposite of almost anything Sen. Saxby "Toy Soldier" Chambliss, the man who specializes in smearing real soldiers like Max Cleland, proposes. And Dianne Feinstein, the woman who's never met a war or black-box op she didn't like? Rep. Jim McGovern, on the other hand, is a rare voice of reason:
A roundtable discussion on Afghanistan strategy from This Week with George Stephanopoulous:
STEPHANOPOULOS:There's a report in Newsweek this morning -- it's actually on the cover of Newsweek, where the vice president is pointing out that this year we're going to spend about $65 billion in Afghanistan, about $2.25 billion in Pakistan. And according to the report in Newsweek, this is what the vice president went on to say in the National Security Council meeting: "By my calculations, that's a 30-to-1 ratio in favor of Afghanistan. So I have a question: Al Qaida is almost all in Pakistan, and Pakistan has nuclear weapons. And yet for every dollar we're spending in Pakistan, we're spending $30 in Afghanistan. Does that make strategic sense?"
What's the answer?
FEINSTEIN: Well, this whole situation is a bit of a conundrum. I basically agree with Senator Chambliss in what he said. I think reconciliation -- the first thing has to be to stop the violence. It has to be security. The Taliban has to know it cannot take over all of Afghanistan because the next step in Pakistan. And that's very serious.
And the Pakistanis are only recently beginning to show, I think, their mettle. I think Swat was a big wake-up call for them. I listened to the Pakistani foreign minister yesterday, and they -- they seemed to have much more get-up-and-go, to really be -- be able to work with us in securing some of the FATA areas and other -- other areas. So I think that -- that's really critical.
This is not an easy situation. Nothing is straightforward. Our allies have 39,000 troops. That's a lot of people over there. They, I gather, will continue their involvement on that level. I think we ought to press for them to increase it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not going to happen.
FEINSTEIN: I think obviously -- I know it's not, but financially, we ought to have more financing from the rest of the world community. We cannot be everyone's gatekeeper, everyone's policeman, and I think what's lacking in the world is some universality of putting together movements which can change the dynamics in difficult situations.
STEPHANOPOULOS: General Keane, what do we do now in Pakistan? Three major attacks in the last week. Yesterday, the most brazen attack yet, the insurgents take over their army headquarters. It would be like coming in to the Pentagon. And how do you see the interrelationship between putting more troops in Afghanistan and putting more pressure on the situation in -- in Pakistan?
KEANE: Yes, the elephant in the room with Pakistan -- and, also, to a certain degree, with Afghanistan -- has always been, their lack of understanding that we're going to stay in that region. They -- they're not sure we are.
And -- and given our track record in Afghanistan and also in Pakistan, there's reason for that skepticism. That's why Musharraf and this regime to this day has a hedging strategy with the Taliban. We have to convince them that we're there, that Pakistan's stability is in our national interest. And we also have to prove that, as well, by stabilizing Afghanistan.
I agree with the senators. If we ever lost in Afghanistan, that contributes directly to destabilizing Pakistan. So our actions in Afghanistan relate clearly to Pakistan.
KEANE: The other thing, to get specifically to your point, we're starting to make some headway with Kiyani and the generals in Pakistan, to pull forces away from the Indian front, so to speak. We have great difficulty convincing them that the major threat to the nation-state is, in fact, the ranging insurgency inside the nation- state and not the external threat of India. To us, it's self-evident, but to them it's not.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's not.
KEANE: And that's the reality of it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're just about out of time. I want to go once around the table with this question: What's the one thing you want President Obama to have in mind as he makes these decisions?
CHAMBLISS: Our troops and the stability of our troops and -- and the fact that we're giving our troops what they need. And I mean, from the top down, we've got to make a decision from the leadership standpoint whether we're giving more troops, but we've still got to make that commitment of making sure that we're enforcing and reinforcing them like we need to.
MCGOVERN: I would urge them to keep in mind that stabilizing Afghanistan should not mean and does not mean enlarging our military footprint there. I think it would be counterproductive.
I also think we're going bankrupt. We have wars in Iraq, in Afghanistan, hundreds of billions of dollars that are all going on to our credit card. Our kids and our grandkids are paying for this. You know, we need to be smarter about where we deploy our -- our resources. And I think enlarging our military footprint in Afghanistan would be a mistake.
We need to come up with a strategy that includes an exit strategy because it'll also put pressure on the government of Afghanistan to step up to the plate, which it has not done so far.
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