Mitchell Reports | March 11, 2013
>>> defense secretary chuck hagel 's first trip to afghanistan as pentagon chief has been headline-grabbing for all the wrong reasons, including accusations by hamid karzai that the u.s. is in collusion with the taliban to extend the war. former defense secretary bill cohen from the clinton administration joins us from new york. thanks very much, bill, good to see you. let's talk about this, the initiation rites for any pentagon chief, or foreign cabinet secretary , to deal with hamid karzai , i know he's doing it for local consumption. but at some point, isn't enough enough?
>> at some point he's going to hurl an accusation and an insult which is going to break the back of the camel here. or that of the united states . and i think we've seen over a period of time, his capacity to turn to these kind of rhetorical flourishes, to cover a large part of his anatomy. but i think that we have to take that in the context of his survivability as such. that goes a bit too far under the circumstances, to say we're engaged in collaboration with the taliban in order to occupy his country for its resources, we're there to help stabilize his country and the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for that objective are to be praised and not used cynically in this fashion. in any event, chuck hagel my good friend and former certainly exercised a great deal of discretion, did he not engage in trading insult for insult. but i can say it from this particular platform. the last comment of karzai's is an insult that goes yont the pale. in the meantime the most important part of the travel in a secretary hagel has undertaken is to go and visit our droops and to see what took place. a major attack upon the ministry of defense and we have the green on blue attacks, once again, taking place. this is something that's going to require a great deal of more careful vetting of those we are training. those afghan police and soldiers that we are training to make sure that we're training the right people. not simply taliban who are wearing the uniform to them launch a machine gun attack or suicide bombings against our troops and those of the afghan people . so it's, those two stories about the bombing and the suicide attack have been overshadowed by the president carsi's statements and it's unfortunate. i think it's an important trip for secretary hagen and i'm sure he will come back and report to the president and members of congress and give them better insight in terms of how long we're going to be there and how many numbers we will have along with our coalition forces .
>> meanwhile, north korea canceling the 60-year arm cities with the south, the peace agreement that ended, a truce that ended the korean war . back in 1953 . and we have new military threats from the north today . tom donnelly at the asian society the national security adviser has said that no country, including china, should conduct business as usual with a north korea that threatens its neighbors. so he and the white house are putting a lot more pressure on china to not only enforce the sanction it is went along with at the u.n. last week. but to put more pressure on north korea as only china can.
>> i hope the chinese are listening. i will be in china shortly and spending some time with chib he's leadership. i hope they're listening to what mr. donlan is saying.
>> you see the sentiment starting to surface that perhaps south koreans want to have access to nuclear weaponry on their own what we want to see is north sit down and find a way to negotiate its way out of having these weapons and destabilizing the entire region. but the first thing we have to do is lower the rhetoric and make sure we're not elevating the amplitude of the rhetoric going back across the north and south dividing lines here. and secondly to intensify our training and modernization efforts to make sure we're ready to go into conflict if we have to, we hope we never have to do that. but keeping those troops trained well and exercising with our south korean allies and others in the region will be important. and finally, we have to make sure that we still reach out to the north koreans and say, as the president has said, we have an open hand that we're willing to extend to you. but we can't grab a closed fist and what we're getting from the north is a closed fist and a lot of rhetoric which is very dangerous. it could end up in some kind of a provocation. we expect some kind of a provocation in the next several weeks or more. that they will try to test the new president. that has been the history of the north and we'll have to anticipate something will be done. we have to make sure that the response is very carefully calibrated so it doesn't get out of hand.
>> bill cohen who has been there and seen this all before. thank you so much former defense secretary , thanks.