CB: "Are you going to fight this war in all its manifestations -- guns and bullets, aid, roads, electricity, hospitals -- or are you not?"
Rick Sanchez fills in for Campbell Brown and hosts what he calls a "passionate discussion" with Christiane Amanpour and Michael about Afghanistan. There are a lot of opposing or overlapping views on the situation, and that includes between these two. (In fact, after the commercial, Rick says, "With Christiane and Michael Ware continuing their spirited debate behind me, let me tell you about something else...")
RICK SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Tonight, we're going to bring together a wide-ranging group of CNN reporters to talk some of the week's biggest stories. And, look, let's be clear about this. Even though it sometimes seems like war fatigue has set in in the United States, Afghanistan remains one of the most important stories that is impacting Americans today, still. So, let's talk about it. What do you say?
It's been a crucial week as President Obama moves ever closer to a decision on sending more troops into Afghanistan. Here's the big news. Afghanistan's president finally has agreed to a runoff election. Remember, we were talking about this earlier in the week? Will the results help make our president's mind? Does he need to pay more attention also to the new criticism being that is leveled by former Vice President Dick Cheney?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAHM EMANUEL, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It would be reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop level if, in fact, you haven't done a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there's an Afghan partner ready to fill that space.
CHENEY: Having announced his Afghanistan strategy in March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision.
The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger.
GIBBS: What Vice President Cheney calls dithering, President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BROWN: Now, CNN's Michael Ware is often on the front lines to bring the war story home to us. We have got him here tonight, though, and the host of "AMANPOUR" every Sunday, our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
Great to have both of you here. Let me read something to you. I just -- you know what I did? I went to the wires and I got the first wire story. This is a CNN wire, by the way. I'm going to read it to both of you.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That scares me.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some skilled reporting.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Don't be scared.
"Cheney in speech" -- all right? Let me go back here. Washington, D.C., dateline. "President Barack Obama could decide how many additional U.S. troops to send to Afghanistan before the country's November 7 runoff election, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said."
Are we assuming -- are we assuming that more troops are going to be sent, and, if so, when?
AMANPOUR: Look, who knows when or how many? But, clearly, they have already said they're not going to pull back or retreat. So, some number of troops are going to be sent, presumably.
The question is, to what end? As you know, there's a big debate in Washington, counterterrorism or counterinsurgency. Counterterrorism is less Afghan-based, more Pakistan-based. Counterinsurgency is much more Afghan-based, as per General McChrystal.
And, interestingly, interestingly, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been at NATO today and has had an endorsement by the NATO ministers and the NATO secretary-general of General McChrystal's plan, counterinsurgency, protect the people, finish the job that you were here eight years...
SANCHEZ: But let me ask you what a lot of Americans think as they watch this.
WARE: Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
SANCHEZ: And I want to ask you to take a look, because you've done the Iraq thing as well.
And so have you.
Are we trying to put down an ideology with military might? And is that possible, plain and simple?
WARE: No, no. You're way past that.
SANCHEZ: All right.
WARE: Maybe in the beginning, maybe in the beginning, just after 9/11. Certainly, going into Iraq, there was this ideal democratic vision, this ideology that was trying to be planted in soil where it simply wasn't going to grow.
SANCHEZ: You're saying there's not an ideology, an anti-American ideology, a pro-Islamic...
WARE: Oh, that you're fighting against?
SANCHEZ: Yes, in Afghanistan.
WARE: In Afghanistan -- look, in Afghanistan, the Afghans are worried about Afghanistan.
WARE: Let's face it. And you have stepped into a region -- you were brought there by 9/11, but you have stepped into one of the murkiest, most fiercely fought-over regions for influence. You've got Pakistan/India in there. India is in there. China is in there. Iran is in there. I mean, it is not a simple place to operate.
So, it goes way beyond anti-Americanism. And it's just about trying to get that country right to a degree that you can leave it.
AMANPOUR: Well, let's just sort of cut through all the huffing and puffing.
SANCHEZ: We like that. Let's cut.
AMANPOUR: Look, America sent the Taliban and al Qaeda packing in seven short weeks after 9/11. It was done. There was a huge amount of support for the United States and for its mission there. There was a huge amount of progress made and a lot of promise.
And then, quite simply, America diverted its resources and its patience and its energy and its war to Iraq, and took all the highly trained intelligence people, the people who spoke the language, all of those, away from Afghanistan and into Iraq.
So, what's happened? Yes, you have been at war for eight years. But, no, for those eight years, you haven't been focused on Afghanistan.
SANCHEZ: But let me say something. At the very beginning of this, there's one guy in Afghanistan we didn't get. We didn't get Osama bin Laden.
And the man that Suskind, Ron Suskind, says in his book that didn't get him is the guy who came out today and said this -- let me read this to you -- in a speech, again, CNN wires.
Dick Cheney said, this administration is afraid to make a decision, that they're dithering. "Make no mistake. Signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries."
That's Dick Cheney.
AMANPOUR: Well, here's the thing.
I'm not going to get into Washington parlor games. The fact of the matter is, as I said, that, for many years, the focus was taken off Afghanistan by the Bush administration. And now they're having to refocus to try to pull what was victory, to try -- which -- you know, defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory in the last few years.
But the most important thing for people to understand, I think, because this is crucial, is that the Afghan people don't see the United States forces as occupiers. They believe that the U.S. came in 2002 to help them, to liberate them, to set them on a better road.
SANCHEZ: Do you disagree?
AMANPOUR: No, the Taliban see them as occupiers -- the majority of the Afghan people -- this is very crucial -- do not...
SANCHEZ: He's giving me one of these, though.
AMANPOUR: Because -- he's not right.
SANCHEZ: Like maybe yes, maybe not.
WARE: Well, I just came back from the villages.
AMANPOUR: He's not right.
AMANPOUR: I have been in the villages, too.
WARE: I know. I know.
(CROSSTALK) AMANPOUR: No, this is really crucial.
AMANPOUR: It is a misnomer to call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires.
Yes, it happened to the Soviets. Yes, it happened to the British. But this liberation of Afghanistan by the United States was something very different. And, to this day, everybody, from the villages, up to President Karzai, and in between, say that, no, we believe that you came to do something good for us.
What you haven't done is kept your promises. And that's the debate that is going on in the villages of Afghanistan.
WARE: That's true. That's true. No, that's very true.
SANCHEZ: What's the difference that you find with what she just said?
WARE: Well, I mean, there's a degree to which the Afghans, you have to understand, are very Afghan.
WARE: Even a Pakistani who comes just from across the border is a foreigner.
When al Qaeda was there, in the last months, years of al Qaeda's presence there with the Taliban, al Qaeda was starting to take over a little bit, putting advisers in ministries.
The Afghans, even the Taliban bristled at that. They said, you may be good Muslim warriors, but you're still Arabs. Any foreigner in that country for too long comes to be seen as an occupier.
And we're drifting to that. Despite our intentions, and despite our good deeds and our misdeeds, there is a growing perception, particularly in the south -- which is where this war is being fought kinetically -- of a sense of occupation, good-intentioned, well-intentioned or not.
WARE: And that is what's drawn a lot of the tribes there who weren't fighting for the Taliban to the Taliban now. And that's why we're seeing the Karzai government step up and start to build militias.
AMANPOUR: What's drawing people to the Taliban -- which, by the way, is some 4 to 6 to 10 percent. Let's not exaggerate. The majority of the people in Afghanistan believe in wanting something better for themselves and believe in the government.
No, it's really crucial, this...
SANCHEZ: Go ahead.
AMANPOUR: .. because it obfuscates so much of the debate that's going on right now.
The fact of the matter is, the promises weren't kept. The eye was not on the ball. What had been a progress in security was allowed to fall apart. What had been progress, even in corruption, even in drugs interdiction, was allowed to fall apart.
And now what you have got is the result of the work not having been done. Meantime, the Afghan people still want progress, still want development. And it's going to take a long, long time. And the American people and the politicians have to have the patience, according to the Afghan people.
SANCHEZ: I have got to ask you this question.
I want to read General McChrystal correctly. And I'm not sure that the media has read him correctly. We keep reporting that he is all but insisting on sending more troops in there.
Is he really insisting, or is he saying to the administration, much in the way you just suggested, we dropped the ball for a long time; look, if you're going to do this, you have got to go in full-bore...
SANCHEZ: ... or forget about it; let's just walk away?
WARE: That's what he's doing.
SANCHEZ: Which is different from insisting.
WARE: Well, this is the fundamental question that's currently sitting on President Obama's desk. And it goes from the security aspect, where I focus, and it goes to the broader issues that Christiane is touching upon. Who cares how we got here?
AMANPOUR: Who cares? It was 9/11! It was 9/11 that got us here.
WARE: No, just let me finish.
Who cares how we got here? We're here, right?
WARE: Are you going to fight this war in all its manifestations -- guns and bullets, aid, roads, electricity, hospitals -- or are you not?
SANCHEZ: Down to 30 seconds.
WARE: He's got to -- this is what McChrystal is saying basically to the president. Stand up, fight the war, for once --
WARE: ... or let's go home.
SANCHEZ: Or walk away.
WARE: I guess it's pack up and go home.
SANCHEZ: Do you agree?
General McChrystal has been asked to give his advice on how to do it. If you want to do it like this, then this is how many troops. If you want to do it like that, it's this many troops. And they will salute and do the job.
WARE: Yes. He's a good soldier.
AMANPOUR: But the Afghan people want the promises that were made kept, and they want progress.
WARE: Very true.
SANCHEZ: And we will leave it on that passionate discussion. I really enjoyed this. We have got to do this again.
WARE: Oh, yeah.
SANCHEZ: Christiane Amanpour is back this weekend -- and you're both smiling over there -- with a report on the opium trade in Afghanistan. That's going to be good.
WARE: Oh, yeah, I can give some personal accounts of that.
SANCHEZ: "AMANPOUR" airs Sunday afternoon at 3:00 on CNN. Really great to have you guys. Really enjoyed it.
Two pilots fly for 150 miles before hearing the tower trying to reach them. And they say they were bickering. Were they really asleep?
WARE: No, no, no, no, no.
SANCHEZ: Also, the president hits Wall Street and it seems to be a political winner. Where's the opposition, though?
Stay right there. This gets good. We're talking to our people tonight.
Look at you over there.