NOW with Alex Wagner | January 07, 2013
>>> afghan president hamid karzai is on his way to washington right now where he will meet with president obama and defense department officials later this week. the prime minister of afghanistan calls this trip one of karzai 's most important visits and believes it will cast new light on the future relations with america . part of that future is what happens after 2014 . the scheduled u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan . the weekend the " wall street journal " says the white house is deciding between keeping 3,000, 6,000, or 9,000 troops affect withdrawal. it is an apparent shift from what was recommended by general john allen who wanted between 6,000 and 15,000 remaining soldiers. this is not the first time the president and the pentagon have failed to see eye to eye . in a new book released today former commander in afghanistan stanley mcchrystal writes that he saw the emergence of an unfortunate deficit of trust between the white house and the department of defense largely arising from the decision making process on afghanistan . to me it appeared unintentional on both sides, but over time the effects were costly. meanwhile, president obama and president karzai may ob the same page about at least one thing. accelerating troop withdrawals, but for different reasons. karzai has supported a quicker drawdown and has publicly blamed -- in an interview last month he said this.
>> there is for a number of years now a growing perception in afghanistan that -- that a significant part of -- in afghanistan is caused by the way the united states and some of its allies promoted lawlessness in afghanistan by spreading corruption in afghanistan .
>> after 11 years of war 2,000 american lives lost and more than $1 trillion spent. karzai 's assertion that the u.s. is part of the problem is hardly an incentive for a continuing investment of american blood and treasure. p.j., we still have you with us. let's talk a little bit about the withdrawal. i mean, at this point is there any incentive to stay there any longer than we have to and to not accelerate the timetable for withdrawal given how both sides feel about this?
>> it really depends on what you want to accomplish in the future in afghanistan . i essential agree with the premise that the sooner that we can get from the war footing we're currently on to a long-term partnership however that's going to be shaped the better. it's better for afghanistan . it's better for the united states . that's what the leaders will talk about this week. we know that there will be a fundamental change come 2015 . it's how do we get from here to there? what's the ramp in terms of the withdrawal of current forces there. now, a lot depends in 2014 . john allen wants to keep more there longer, to have one more full fighting season. that has some advantages and lots of disadvantages. at the same time come 2015 , as you were talking about, alex, with these various troop levels, depending on the number of troops, are you there to continue to battle insurgents in pakistan? are you there to try to continue to help afghan forces mature knowing that the cost of that is are these episodic, you know, blue on green, you know, shooting episodes that we've tragically seen, you know, in recent months and are you there in case there is, in fact, a political settlement between the afghan government with pakistan's help and the taliban ? are you there to assure that whatever political agreement comes forward is actually enforced. it depends on what you want to try to do that will tell you what the nature of the partnership should be going forward.
>> dave, in terms of the legacy -- speaking of the taliban in terms of the legacy here. the taliban released a statement on wednesday. they want to flee from afghanistan just as they turn tail and ran from vietnam. when america faced utter destruction in vietnam, they came up with the formula declare victory and run and want to utilize the formula of transfer security and run here in afghanistan . what do you make of that?
>> taliban has a p.r. shop. who knew?
>> who knew?
>> the taliban .
>> where is it written that the united states in its adventures abroad has to acquire such perplexing enemies and really irritating allies, like president karzai ?
>> as well.
>> here's a guy who is coming to washington to ask for certain things, and he is saying you caused all this corruption here. you know, he is something of a -- we did pour billions of dollars in there. there was probably insufficient supervision of what they were doing with our money but really he has been sort of an irritant for 11 years, and he is about to exit. things will change .
>> maggie, in terms of sort of anything that might have bipartisan support, getting out of afghanistan would seem to be one of those things that nobody really wants to talk about, and that everybody is sort of -- if you are talking about right and left, that it needs to end, but what happens after that? will there be, you know -- the general consensus is it's not going to look pretty no matter what happens, no matter what our timetable from withdrawal is. does that become a liability for the president or democrats moving into the next election cycle?
>> it's a real issue, and i think it's also really revved up in what we're going to see with the nomination with chuck hagel right now. it's impossible to sort of separate out these two conversations. i think that you are going to see people on both sides of the aisle press hagel during his nomination hearings assuming that we get to that point, and i assume we will, because i don't think this is going to get yanked for any particular reason barring anything new coming up. i think we're going to see him get pressed for specifics about exactly where he stands. he has said he is going to follow the president's policy, and so this is going to be used to try to extract as much of a bit of information about that as well.
>> the fact that he is a decorated war hero , hagel is. they've said that, inasmuch as anything. i think these are decision ez will make with full heart and sound mind.
>> hopefully we'll go to the exact point that p.j. was making. it's sad that 11 years later we're still having this conversation later. what are we trying to do? let's declare vikt have i and figure it out and go. that's part of what americans are feeling, and i think both sides politically would like to find an out on this one because it's getting uglier and uglier, and they're losing support from the american people .
>> the president said in may of this year, but the answer is clear. our goal is not to build a country in america 's image or to eradicate every vestage of the taliban . these would require many more years. our goal is to destroy al qaeda , and -- narrowing the definition of what constitutes a victory in afghanistan to basically show us the exit.
>> it would have been great if that was the strategy from the -- five years ago. i don't envy any of these people, their position. karzai is in an awfully hard position. obama is too. this is not going to be a pretty chapter in our history, you know, at all.
>> it is, indeed. former assistant secretary of state p.j. crowley, thank you, as always, for your time and expertise, my friend, and thank you to our panel here in new york. david wood , maggie haberman, karen finney, benjamin wallace wells. that is all for now.