Should get out of Afghanistan or go all in?

Tommy Tucker, WWL First News
Monday, June 19th

Tommy talks with Michael Kugelman, Asia Program Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, about the Pentagon's decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

And have you heard this but a US jets shot down a Syrian jet yesterday and now Russia says that any attack on a Syrian plane will be considered an attack on Russia. And that's if they go west of the Euphrates River which is being explained to me as. And areas so close it would be as though one country was lying in Metairie and and candor and the other plane the other country was flying over the West Bank in the Mississippi River was separating. The two his first time in nearly twenty years US shut down any warplane fired air combat last time was in Tom. Serbia Kosovo. So it's a mess Michael cool woman joins us right now Asian. Program deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center good morning senator good morning. They were taken time where there's a first of all I guess who may as we'll get to the news. That broke first in terms of this. Shooting the jet down the Russians and it's going to be review was I just said considered day is an attack on them basically. And then this Euphrates and west of the Euphrates and you continue online context Flores and his sisters Saber rattling by the Russians and my first though was gee what could go wrong there and tell us how dangerous is Solarz. Tour well meaning that someone that's spent much of my percent professional time looking at taxpayers'. In a bit of the different part of the world in Asia you know I can say is what I think many other Americans the thing about this that we really need to be very. Suspicious. Skeptical about what we need to hear from and empower Russia I mean this is simply a country it's almost like the Cold War never ended in a it is this is in the country that is. Connie revisionists that path. To try to undercut. And influence us in any way that would make the United States. Look bad and that involves. Really trying to metal in Afghanistan for one thing but also on places like Syria or the US is obviously. Trying to do a lot of very complicated things I think that rushes in manually trying to throw a wrench in the plans and do whatever tend to. Undercover. Wherever it may be that said. Since you know Newt is just breaking I think it's that premature for me to make any package definitive assessment. At this time. Mom and I know that's not the area of expertise eyes and get your take on and so in Afghanistan. Taliban controls up to 13 of Afghanistan more than any time since 2001 when the war began. And I got this from CBS news. General I forgot his name said the wars at a stalemate. US troops peaked at 98000 at one point and we have a lot less now of course 4000 more go union. Longest war America has ever been in and don't thanking NC a case made for us. From sane and dare tell me MMI closer righter those facts accurate and and what is the situation that makes it's so. God awful difficult force in Afghanistan in the Taliban at center. I think ultimately it was right we actually and more than 100000. Troops in Afghanistan back in 20102000. Elevenths and that we are not able to obtain the insurgency much less in the war so. The idea of sending. Several thousand more troops in now. Would clearly not. Have any sort of different result on the ground I think that indicates your question of wise and so are wise too difficult because we look back at recent American history. We exceeded the United States has struggled to. Wins wars that involves tackling non state actors so US has been fortunate to have a lot of success. When fighting in other nations states go back to the world wars but now. Now you need to look at what happened. In Vietnam you look at what's happening now in Afghanistan where fighting an insurgency which is effectively the Talabani is. Really the I would say you rag tag group of fighters several thousand fighters number 2000 fighters. But that it can depend on the support of local population they can remain financially strong because they make its profit from the very robust drug trade and heroin trade in Afghanistan. And down you know you also have other complicating factors you have other countries that were getting in the way country like Pakistan which has provided. Support to the title on that countries like Iran and perhaps now also Russia that also provide a level of support to that how fun and you also have a government. An Afghanistan that is really troubled to be functional quite honest quite honestly it. It's simply suffers from internal. Personality dispute them corruption. And other things that make it very difficult to assert itself and come up with a very with a good strong plan. To go after the telethon and US. And its NATO ally is if we do that we do we can to try to help things along but ultimately this is this is Afghanistan war this is a war that. The government and the military in Afghanistan lead to take ownership over and deal with it it's very difficult given all the things I mentioned. Michael I get a couple of text here I'd like to get to why didn't we blow up or why don't we blow up the poppy fields. Well I mean you know this that it's. It's going to be very important point that and clearly this is one of the drivers of the insurgency the Pacific and before the in the column body is able to make a lot of profits profits. I think that the problem with doing something drastic is using military force against. You know poppies Vick could have a counterproductive. Per counterproductive effect coming tactically could be good in the sense that it could. You know destroy poppies but. You know I think that that's certainly the televised and also many Afghan farmers would simply be emboldened to. You know do more that Tomlinson as a way of defying with the United States meet me try to do and we have the the US government has taken some pretty robust measures against a drug problem in Afghanistan there is an effort to essentially spray pesticide. All over the yet the poppy fields in previous years but that. That backfired because then that poisoning a lot of things that it shouldn't afford. And you know bottom line is it didn't it didn't change the nature of reality on the ground that there still was no alternative livelihoods are still what they need to protect its substitute. For something as as profitable as easy as. As poppy and come to you know these really pour Afghan farmers. Another text comes in says if we leave Afghanistan bullets sent up what was there before 9/11. Haven for terrorists to plot. Plan coordinate gather resources etc. in order to attack our homeland doesn't as being there. Keep them occupied on fighting to maintain territory and on. Not attacking US nine elevenths style. That's a great question in my view that is the single biggest justification. For the United States to remain present and Afghanistan it's increasingly difficult to argue wine after sixteen years and somebody offline and how much money spent we should still be there. But I think that it's true that the big this year. Is that if we were to simply add to the exits. Then the be yet to stabilization it's been pretty rapid in Afghanistan but only intensify. And it could allow the towel bond to take over recent more territory there Doherty controlled. And it would then allow al-Qaeda which has not gone away accidentally it would allow kinda to essentially. We constitute sanctuaries is it's used in Afghanistan years ago and could indeed be in a position to have. History repeat itself Qaeda could use this territory. To plan another attack on the US homeland. But isn't a corollary of that then we can never leave because. When we do or whenever we do what you Jews said is gonna happen. Right now that's that's my very point that you know if we if you that I should have been more clear if we if we do leave. I'm not saying this is that this is certainty that it certainly is strong possibility. Could be stabilization that's been so rapid. Could simply intensify because. You know there is there is an effect there is a positive effect that you know 8500 US troops. Have on the ground stable basically to get worked the count on to do even bigger and better and better things. And again and allow al-Qaeda. To be in position to take over or quite frankly I think this could take over. You know these these large havens of lawless Serb held on controlled territory so. You know as I said before if you want to try to come up with a strong argument particularly in this day and age where we hero the messaging about in the American interest and America's first. I think is no bigger proponent of the America first ideal then they need to stick it out in Afghanistan. To prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming the site where plots terrorist plot on the US are on are hatched and carried out. And centrum and trying to be argumentative but I would ask then. Wind when do we get out are we there forever would how do we know when it's time to leave. Yet this in this in this is another big question. You know my sense is that this. New Afghanistan policy that the trump administration should becoming a with Cindy needs to delineate very clearly state stated objectives about. What exactly were doing there and why we should be there it does not have to come up with time and it did not need to say well we don't attain at. Spy why they were pulling out I think that effectively to help the title upon and the Obama administration essentially did that. I think it would pull out troops nucleus and the third and then. But I think that we could do is lay out clear yardsticks and objectives. And it calmed you know one or two years down the road these objective of not being achieved and I think it's much easier to make an educated decisions they will look. But we're trying to do is not working so. You know I think it's time to to pull up stakes and and pull out coming Mike. My major point here when people ask me you know how launch we'd be there how open ended commitment to this beats. I think we need to get one last shot by perhaps sending. Several thousand troops back which would help strengthen the yet training mission to try to make Afghan troops do. Do things better. We should also try to do everything we can and to the about any type of reconciliation process in which the towel Bonn would launch a peace process with the Afghan government. Very unlikely but that want to try it and then if we try these things and they don't work after year to understand it that much easier at that point to think about. Withdrawing in only leaving a very modest security force that will be meant to provide counterterrorism support defend against that possibility mentioned earlier about. About territory being used to plot terrorist attacks on US soil but there are no easy solutions here that would from the pitcher Matt. We have to go you have to Goebel one quick question we used to give Karzai. The literally briefcases full cash I think the other side was given a briefcase is fully cash as well it was planned both sides against the middle. Is is a government and a new present Ashraf Ghani is the government any more stable or any more less corrupt than it was before. Well I think it's less corrupt in the sense that I trip Connie himself. Is not corrupt he's been many years in Washington working for the World Bank disgusting. You know how to deal of corruption in conflict ridden societies he bankrupt he tried to deal with corruption but the problem that the governing structure. Is very dysfunction within national unity government which Connie the president rules with. Why would someone it's called the yet achieved executive officer. So bella these are two politicians that that's simply don't get along but I think that these two leaders are seeing is preferable. To Karzai because they're less corrupt and more willing to work with the United States but you know warning here when when Karzai first took office when he first became president. He missed that such a popular figure in the United States can see that the hero than a few years down the road he became very corrupt during anti American. So we need to keep that in mind to the leaders that we're dealing with now especially Connie again very popular with the Americans you know and you don't know what could happen a few years down the road. Michael appreciate your time and I really hope we get to talk to you again. Thank you go to your bed you have a good day Michael Cooperman major data program deputy directors senior associate for South Asia. At the Woodrow Wilson Center we want to give you have been information and now we're to talk about it phone lines are open T 60187. In. Are ready jaguar painful as the conversations give me about when it comes of the war in Afghanistan. Should we go all in or get all loads 66%. Saying get all around the other third single and with all due respect to Michael I don't see where two more years to make a difference.