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tv   Rep. Peter Meijer Fmr. Diplomats on Afghanistan Withdrawal One Year Later  CSPAN  August 15, 2022 5:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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strategic and international studies. >> go ahead? ok, great. go ahead? ok, great. i'm dan and i hold the chair here at csis. we are having a conversation about afghanistan one year later. the consequences of withdrawal, and what are our responsibilities to the afghan people and ourselves. i really did not want to convened this meeting. i would rather we did not withdrawal. maybe i'm in the minority but i think there were a bunch of bad consequences to withdrawing, but i know there are a lot of different views and many may not agree with me. i do think that there were short-term and long-term consequences from this. i also think this will
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reverberate for a long time and it had implications all over the world, not just in afghanistan that here and in other parts of the world. i think we are going to have a very long and interesting discussion about this. but one of the things i worry about is because afghanistan is in a forgotten corner of the world, it is easy to sweep under the rug and think about other things. we have lots of other things going on in the world, so it is a small place but it has the ability in the grand scheme of things, to come out and reach out and touch us. i remember 9/11 clearly, and that's why i think we were in afghanistan and i don't want us to ever have to go back there in a military way. i worry if there is some other debate and some other bad event were to happen it would force us to go back and i don't want that to happen.
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so we've got a number of thoughtful speakers. we start with congressman peter meijer with prepared remarks. he represents a district in michigan and is a military veteran and served in afghanistan. we will play the tape and then we will hear from my friend, a visiting fellow here and we will have it panel discussion. let's roll the tape to congressman meijer. [video] rep. meijer: this is congressman peter meijer, and i'm honored to be speaking on one year anniversary of the withdrawal of afghanistan. we were in the republic of afghanistan and to be speaking at csis at this momentous occasion, i live in a unique position as a member of congress but also as someone who fought in iraq. i know what it is like to have
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body armor, armored vehicles, air support, medevac's and all of those things that are -- our soldiers and sailors have abroad. but also that have spent time in afghanistan as a humanitarian aid worker. when afghanistan fell, that was a scenario we had been concerned about for a while in congress, specifically concerned, and this coming from somebody who believes in the need for us to move toward a negotiating power, that the only way we could achieve peace in afghanistan would not have been through unilateral engagement on behalf of the afghan government, but the only way this would end peacefully was to review a power-sharing agreement hammered out that had clarity and would respect all parties of the conflicts. 20 years on and one year post
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the end of the american efforts in afghanistan, 20 years on i think it is important to reflect on where we came from and where we are going. where we came from, in the pre-9/11 moment was the collapse in afghanistan that led to the rise of transnational terrorist organizations that could strike the west. specifically, that was al qaeda. 20 years later we are on the same precipice of concern and state collapse that could lead to the rise or empowerment of these organizations. the presence of the number one and al qaeda, at least from open-source source reporting, who was in the statehouse protected, under the temporary protection of him and his
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loyalists, is concerning. whether or not al qaeda was actively planning to strike at the united states, that is a violation in the most obscene and transparent way of the doha agreement that was signed in 2020. but more importantly it strikes at the heart of what should our main priorities and objectives be in afghanistan today? that is what i want to focus on. i am a big believer that the united states cannot afford the same decent interval we had in vietnam. the question of engagement, the question of choosing who we talk to and where and how, we are not in a position to put ego first. we are not in a position to act on the basis of emotion. we need to be focus on
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strategic, long-term international interest and competition. we need to focus on understanding and never forgetting why we went into afghanistan in the first place. we have a vested interest in making sure that afghanistan does not collapse. that there is not an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe that will only empower those who seek to do the last part. we have that on the one hand. but we also have the strong desire in my view to make sure that afghanistan does not return to the fold of actors who are fundamentally underlined or opposed to the strength of the west. afghanistan today is caught in an interesting conundrum. they have a long among the taliban and the network. they have a long standing support network in pakistan.
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they have ties to the chinese and russian government. but among the leadership, there is an interest, and i cannot claim the degree of sincerity, but there is a degree of interest in engaging with the west and taking on more of a saudi model, getting to the point where the west recognizes that afghanistan will not be a perfect jeffersonian democracy tomorrow, but that there is a big distinction between that and what we currently have. i think that is important for us to focus on, and that is important for us to remember at the end of the day. it is very easy to fall victim to delusions of grandeur, the idea that there is some wonderful rebellion that is going to come from there and sweep into kabul. if you recall from 2001 and the
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taliban protestations against surrendering, al qaeda figures who were in afghanistan have been planning to attack the u.s. and there was a fine line going back to the late 2000 what -- 20 01 period, where we had the question of will they release figures or will the u.s. have to invade? they fell back and said we would need to come get them and they would not cooperate. i hope, and my prayer is that in a post hot moment -- joe half moment -- doha moment is that we can figure out that what is the long-term interest of the u.s. is not polluted with short-term concerns. what i saw on the ground at the international airport last year, it was -- and this was a comment made to me by a number of
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american and international personnel -- it was a sincere belief and sincere surprise that frankly the united states and coalition personnel worked closely alongside the taliban. the taliban were not the focus that were trying to kill us in that window. this was something that shocked many of us who were there expecting resistance. expecting confrontation, difficulty when the approach they took was we signed an agreement, what can we do to help? how can we be of assistance? i think it is continuing to be a reality that we have not grappled with, we have not been able to set aside our immediate
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prior with where our long-term interests are that region. i hope we are able to get to that point. i think it is imperative that we get to that point. because the threat of a widespread humanitarian catastrophe in afghanistan will be tragic on a moral standpoint and on a strategic standpoint for the united states. we have invested too long to turn our backs on this region and we don't have the luxury we had in the post vietnam period to have that interval where we adjusted reassess. i know i am probably taking a position that maybe unpopular in some quarters, but we need to be real about our strengths and weaknesses, and about our dynamics in afghanistan today. i think there is tremendous opportunity. we should not shy away from engaging and from holding them
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accountable on issues from humanitarian aid to disavowal of al qaeda and getting women back in school. those are areas where we should not take the first now for the answer and walk away from the table. we need to recognize that we have mall, strategic considerations that have to be taken into account. i'm excited to hear today. i'm sure we will hear from members of various organizations that will place impacts to be focusing on what the long-term impact looks like. we cannot remain stuck in the past. we cannot be solely focused on what has occurred. we need to hold that in balance with what has yet to pass and what is coming down the pipe. because those are equally
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weighted when it comes to the future of american security in central asia. thank you. >> hello, how are you? >> thank you so much. as you can imagine, not only me but i think most people are not in a good situation mentally, emotional. -- emotionally. it is a hard moment for us. >> we would welcome any additional thoughts. you don't have to say much because i know it is a difficult thing to discuss, but i know you were there and i think it was quite dramatic. you were there and i think you are the unwelcome -- you were held as -- i'm going to -- four
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a prisoner in kabul before you were allowed to leave. your husband was in essence killed by the taliban and you were also the only woman member of the negotiating team. i know it is a difficult day because it brings up a lot frankly. but i think it is important that we hear from you a little more. i think it would be inappropriate to be talking about afghanistan without an important voice like yours here. i know there is a lot of loss, and i'm hoping we can find hope. it is not a particularly hopeful moment in the united states, but i wanted to give you a chance to reflect about what are some of the things you are concerned about, but if i can use the
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term, you can be minorly optimistic about given the circumstances and the fact that how you and so many others had to leave under such awful circumstances. >> thank you so much, and thank you for being -- for giving me this platform, to be part of this wonderful team at a of people. it is a sad day for people of afghanistan, especially for women and girls who had aspirations. today, with the memories of what happened last year on the 15th of august, and what happened before the 15th of august. on the fourth of july when the last american military airplane left the airbase, i -- in my
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intervention, i was saying we do not know who is going to be there one year come now. looking at the dynamic of regional interest and the growing influence of certain countries in the region, i think afghanistan once again is between the superpowers for important geographical locations, the security impact that the security in afghanistan would have added the consequences. i think it has created an analysis that we, the people of afghanistan, the partners need to believe that. the first is that we are the only ones that are able to fight . other groups are military groups including al qaeda. the narrative was that they have changed taliban 2.0 and three --
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they will reflect us. they said they want to be part of a political process. they find that even as of february 2020, committing the issues i mentioned. not women and human rights because there's no mention of that in the doha agreement. but since the handover of kabul to the taliban and two from the other, i think none of the narrative the taliban have created have come true. with military extremist groups and al qaeda, but also for my contact inside afghanistan and my wide network across
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afghanistan i know there have been a lot of military extremist groups from central and other countries using afghanistan. my concern would be that it may get out of afghanistan and put global security at risk. when it comes to the settlement, the doha agreement was signed and i went to talk with the taliban. i have realized they are not the same taliban with whom we work engaged -- we were engaged before. they have expedited the war. we have started negotiations and they have started the war, attacking cities, like in october 2020. this was against the commitment. when it comes to women and human rights, they are not up to scratch.
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what they do it when it comes to eliminating women's rights is they invest that time and energy on changing the economy or the security situation, trying to redefine a foreign relations policy, the situation would be different. but since they have taken over, they have issued 28 decrees eliminating women's freedom, from access to school, to work, to access to resources. which is sad. moving forward, i think the taliban are in a different kind of relationship with the regional dynamics of power. i know there is a lot of countries in the region that are in afghanistan, they have a lot of economies and i think the taliban have tried a foreign policy toward the region.
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the city as excepted the taliban's diplomat, and i think if they abandon afghanistan, if the u.s. think mission accomplished, in a country that both americans, european allies access, it is a treasure. if they walk away, the security consequences will be huge. so what should be done? you need to use your leverage for political purposes. that is with parse--participation. with international diplomats, there is not much literature. we went from one extreme to another. one extreme was fighting with the taliban, the other was making them be a partner by sending -- assigning a deal. there are clinical pressures, the taliban working with other
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countries, especially the members, the best pakistan officially, to make them promise , they have taken power. several of the countries in the region have created, that the reason for the economy is because of covid. the money needs to be returned to people of afghanistan because we are the main victims along with those -- but we need to keep in mind that the taliban creates income which pays for soldiers. they have increased the number. why are they increasing the number?
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to prepare themselves for a fight. we cannot, in a country that is full of these forces, we cannot continue forever. there should be more and the priority should be more political approach. the supported political process in the region, nobody else can do that. i think we must use leverage before it is too late. not for the people of afghanistan but for your own as well. thank you. >> thank you. i'm so grateful you agreed to be a visiting fellow. you will be coming next month to washington, making you feel welcome in d.c.. i know there are folks here who will want to help me and thank you for that thoughtful and important contribution. thanks for being here on this difficult day. i appreciate it.
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let me just say say one other thing. what i have said to senior leaders in some gulf countries is if you want your head of state to get the nobel peace prize, and most governments, most heads of state want to win the nobel peace prize, especially for less-developed countries. the way to get the nobel peace prize for a golf state or the head of the state of qatar or the prime minister of pakistan is to make sure girls can go to high school in afghanistan. if one of the countries delivers that, i will be the first person to nominate that head of state and i suspect many people will help nominate that head of state. if i'm the head of state of pakistan or qatar, one of the uae gulf states, they want to be heroes, they would help solve this problem. so i think her point, about countries that have relations with the taliban, perhaps it
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will be something to think about. let's get them a nobel peace prize. norway, if you are listening, help us out. but i'm quite serious. think about what other people's incentives are. i don't think we can kill people. let's appeal to some people with other interests. i wanted to have a conversation with people i respected and have a lot of thoughtful things to say. i think you will all agree that congressman meijer's comments were impressive he wasn't defeated two weeks ago in a primary and a number of bad actors intervened in his primary and so people should look at themselves in the mirror and if they participated and be ashamed of themselves. the second thing is, we are very grateful to have her, who has
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had her bodyguards and husband killed by the taliban. she was an unwelcome guest of the taliban after the fall of kabul. i am grateful she have time to speak with us. we have had a number of a voice here that i wanted to hear from to talk about what are the consequences and what do we owe the afghan people and owe ourselves. one of the regional and global consequences of withdrawal and what do we need to look out over the horizon on russian mark there is a temptation both in washington and among the american people to forget about it. it has receded from the front pages of the newspaper and it is a small, forgotten part of the world. we can't get there directly. for us to engage we have to have a relationship with somebody. we have to have a relationship with china, probably isn't going to happen. we need to have a relationship
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with russia, probably isn't going to happen. we need to have a relationship with iran, probably isn't going to happen. and we need to have a relationship with pakistan. you can only engage with afghanistan if you have the cooperation of one of those countries. i will start with the humanitarian issues and ask my friend bill o'keefe, the executive vice president permission, mobilization, and to talk about the current crisis and i hope you will briefly touch on how we are doing at receiving people here because we have a strategic responsibility to host as many people as we could whether in here or other countries outside of afghanistan. bill: i love your arterial for the nobel peace prize. i will put a check on that. catholic release services -- relief services been in
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afghanistan since 1998 and is supporting education, cash disaster response and agriculture. right now we are seeing what other humanitarians are and the u.n. is reporting that 41 million people in afghanistan, 92% are facing food insecurity. another 18.9% of that, our more life threatening insecurity, one of the highest levels around the world and about 1.1 million children are facing the kind of severe malnutrition that needs therapeutic intervention. without that intervention, many of those children may die. it is a terrible humanitarian situation and is aggravated by a couple of things. one, climate change and cyclical drought. in the 1960's, afghanistan experienced a drop every four years and now it is every other
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year. as most of you are aware, in poorer countries with the rate of drought picks up, the coping strategies get eaten away and people are more and more vulnerable, and we set in afghanistan right now -- and we see that in afghanistan right now. there is a breakdown of health system, covid, measles, dengue fever, hemorrhagic fears. it is quite a cocktail of disease impact on the population. in that kind of disease always impacts women and children most of all. there is a serious macroeconomic and liquidity crisis in the economy. so normal afghans are not being paid and can't get their money out of the bank and having all sorts of trouble with the basics of economic life because the economy has really been frozen,
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in parts because we and other countries have frozen assets of the afghan government and limited its ability to participate in the broader macro economy. civil servants are unpaid. many are unable to work, and employment is 40%. the sum of these impacts is really falling most severely on the most vulnerable people who did not cause this problem and who are not fighting and are watching what is happening now while suffering. and the cup location at this point in time, everything in afghanistan is of the context of the broader global food crisis caused by covid supply chain issues, the ukraine conflict, and so the global need of competing with needs in afghanistan, we need to learn how to multitask better and not
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move from just one crisis to another crisis. we don't resettle folks but we do work closely with groups who do. the status of people in this country who have been resettled is complicated. most came on a humanitarian parole and not the same as refugee status inward title to the same benefits and infrastructure. in the previous administration deconstructed the overall resettlement if a structure in the country, so groups that were resettling people in the united states were already facing more than they could handle because there infrastructure was disinfected -- this invested over four year period. many of those people are in legal limbo right now where the
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humanitarian parole expires. there is the afghan readjustment act and we are supporting that and think it is a sensible way to try to help move forward to provide legal status. >> you may not know the answer, what percent of the afghan population has gotten one dose of the covid vaccine? bob: it can be done, but it is low. there is u.s. interest in making sure everyone in the entire world, countries and we want
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have everyone in the world vaccinated that has negative effects on the rest of the world if not everyone is vaccinated. if you were a policymaker right now and thinking about the fact that we have to decide between funding humanitarian work or ensuring at the margins we can help girls go to high school or university, that means running money through some taliban-controlled government ministry, what is your view of that? this is a dilemma and what we are grappling with peer we don't want to help the taliban but we want to help the people. how do we deal with that? bob: we run community-based
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education programs in the central part of the country and many other ngos are supporting those activities and they need the compliance of the local education authorities but most of those people are part of the taliban government but they are civil servants and people who are interested in education so i feel very strongly and we feel we needed to work with those folks in order to advance the education and health and other social services for the good of the most honorable people but for creating a stable environment for growth in the country. both can be done. last thing, there is a central government. people think the government of afghanistan is like saying it is the government of the united states paid we have state county, government and municipal. --.
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have state, county -- states. we have state, government, and municipal. there has been too much focus on the national paired by decentralizing some of our work we can make progress. >> thanks for being here. you are the acting secretary of state for afghanistan and the deputy chief in kabul. a moral voice on afghanistan period wanted to make sure you came. thank you for being here paired i welcome any initial thoughts. -- here. i welcome any initial thoughts. the first is the urge and continuing need for principled engagement in afghanistan. as you point out, there is a tendency to put things on the back page. i think there are administration
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desires see this not talked about. so keeping this in front of us all as an urgent and important issue to continue u.s. engagement, this is something we should do beyond the anniversary date and there are lots of reasons for that. i will point to one which shows that what the taliban has done is created an inspiration for other groups around the world. we have that as a problem and also the generation of afghans either not going to school or if they do go to school, we don't know what they are going to be taught. so we have a concern in afghanistan what that country not only is fighting right now, but what it might symbolize and turn into four groups around the world who want to destabilize governments on their own. i think there is a driving need
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for consistent and multilateral face of engagement. the days of the u.s. taking the lead and speaking on behalf of the "west" should be over. among other reasons, besides providing a convenient foil for the taliban, it is more important to have an international voice that the taliban might actually listen to it which includes neighbors and some organizations that they really need. this is one of the reasons it is important that the u.n. security council has passed some good resolutions and very strong mandate for the mission in afghanistan. i don't think the mandate is being fully exercised peer we don't have to reinvent a role for the international community. it already exists and includes all of the very good work done
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on humanitarian aid which should be more localized. the mandate also calls for the international community to facilitate conflict resolution, which could start at more local levels and could provide a counterpoint for the vast majority of afghans who would like more say in their own lives and don't want to be centrally administered by the taliban to given the ability to speak up and to have their own version of self administration. i think we have to use the levers that we have of influence , the very few remaining, appropriately. every issue of recognition should be leaked -- linked to concrete steps on human rights. the levers of sanctions and sanction relief, and i strongly
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urge that the travel ban of the taliban officials be reimposed. everything about sanctions should be linked about better performance on counterterrorism. we should check the transparency on the part of the taliban of where the income is coming from and who is in charge of fundamental institutions like the central bank. thirdly, obviously, and i hate to have to say it over and over again, but it is the afghan voices that matter. they want the rights and they want their economy. so what are we doing to empower afghans in the country, peace groups, women's groups are there and organizing. what are we doing to empower their voices? the u.n. has had very important speakers at their meetings who represent the voices, do we hear
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them enough in the united states , in the oic? what are the afghans inside the country saying. i do want to mention the community here in the united states that cares and is working for relief for afghans but also the continued relocation of afghans who are eligible through special immigrant visas for the p1-p2 priority categories created last year which have almost not been used or those through humanitarian parole that would benefit from the afghan adjustment act. this is a hard day and americans who worked in afghanistan, myself included, wake up feeling guilty every day about our comfortable lives in the fact that we can do more.
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so in solidarity with the people who are left in afghanistan and the people who need help who are already here, i hope we learn something from the state and do better going forward. >> thanks for being here, you are a senior advisor here. you are an advisor in afghanistan and i am grateful you would take the time to be here today. >> thanks for the invitation. if i can start echoing her last words, we really can't forget what a tragic day this is. so we look at the coverage over the last few days, much of it focused on the consequences for the afghan people but also for the american people and it is important, as annie has pointed out, that we remember what the 20 years cost on very significant scale for our
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peoples and not just on anniversaries, which are said ones, such as the one today. three previous speakers have raised extremely important points and i was struggling to think, what can i add to the already very important issues which have been covered. i would start by following up on what the congressman said about, we cannot remain stuck in the task. -- stuck in the past. the united states historically has not done a great job of dealing with historical memory and the consequences of negative political developments, both inside our country and our engagements overseas. so there are lessons learned.
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there are certainly very important parts of the report. the oversight body appointed by congress to monitor the expenditure of u.s. funds both civil and military during the war's in afghanistan. they certainly began a very important process of looking at what happens in trying to explain what happened. we certainly need to go beyond that, because we are still absorbing the impact inside this country. first, on the failures of american political strategy, failures of american military strategy, the failures of american develop mental strategy across 20 years. this isn't a question of focusing on the moment. it is not just about the
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withdraw and the decision of how it was done, it is a question of why 20 years didn't succeed in building something more permanent owing forward. we have yet to see a concerted, dispassionate, objective, nonpartisan objective launch which can begin to look at what happened with our engagement in afghanistan and what we can do and learn going forward in terms of how we deal with conflict in the future, but also to help us decide how we deal with afghanistan today. the second component is afghan realities, and i think by now most of us will accept we did not fully understand afghanistan across the 20 years we were there. i think it requires us to sort
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of be more humble as we look to those last 20 years and recognize and ask ourselves, but these are questions afghans have to ask themselves as well. why across 20 years did the entire political leadership of the national and regional level not commit more fully to the transformation of the country? why, year after year did we deal with systematic undermining of efforts to build governance or systemic corruption on a massive scale? why didn't the afghan security forces built out as advertised, certainly by u.s. government reports but on the ground. it was a mirage, and we saw that in 2021 as the taliban began to stretch their advantage. we also did not fundamentally --
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misunderstood the taliban, it sets of purpose, a level of support which did exist for them inside the country, and so looking at afghanistan now, these are questions we have to come to terms with, try to analyze, try to understand if we are going to move on and do something constructive in supporting another transformation of afghanistan, hopefully in a better direction. the third issue is staying power. it is true global issues have moved on. we have ukraine, taiwan, our initial economy -- our national economy, climate change, we can go down the list of issues which are more important now, but it doesn't mean we can't multitask. it is important to continue to focus on issues in the region and an afghanistan in
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particular, partly because of moral obligation of 20 years of engagement inside the country, but also because what happens in afghanistan can begin over the years to have an impact on security matters that are important to the region, to our relationship with the broader south asia and central asia region. to look the other way is not an option. as we go forward and look at engaging on issues, annie's point about what do we do now, working with the multilateral agencies, working with governments, like-minded governments around the world with regional governments to see how we can affect change, continuing to monitor the terrorist threat. you want to look at terrorist threats and take a look at what is happening with the monic state and islamic offshoot or
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northern cilia -- syria and iraq. you have to address what could and is emerging in afghanistan. going forward, it just seems important to focus, keep afghanistan as part of our international engagement, address the important issues that have already been referenced into paraphrase the congressman, distinguish between the it fence -- the events of the last 18 months and our long-term interest in the region and we should not shy away from engagement. thank you. >> thanks for being here. i welcome any comments you have it i know you served in afghanistan. >> thank you very much.
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i was doing some quick math as i was listening to the ambassador. 21 years and four days ago, a very much younger version of me, my hair was darker and my heart was lighter, was very busy launching my squadron. i was a commander in the special community has -- at the time and you'd do so for the entire period. so everything i am about to say is to one degree or another colored by that experience. so for that reason, you should all take what i tell you with a grain of salt. in some ways i am a little too close to the problem. there are three things i want to talk about. the first is directly related to the ongoing need to be aware of the counterterrorism efforts in this part of the world.
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it is such a broad topic there is only one aspect i want to focus on, and that is the term that is being used in this town that is purported to be our solution for that problem. it is called "over the horizon for terrorism." the strike that killed the al qaeda leader the other date was a good example of "over the horizon counterterrorism." it took many months for us to develop the precise intelligence required to execute that strike and we have the technological and operational wherewithal to do it precisely and successfully. but here is the most important part that i think more people in this town and around the world need to grasp -- that connecticut strike which was highly successful, and i shed no tears for his loss, is a tactic, a very successful tactic. it is not a strategy and cannot be a strategy.
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we have developed, not just week, but many allies, have developed an exquisite ability given the time and resources and intelligence to go against any terrorist against throat and have a pretty good chance of success. that will not and has never brought an end to terrorism. it does eliminate a particular threat. it might save a life, but it does not solve the problem. and so i guess one of my greatest wishes on this again anniversary of that terrible day , is that i really wish we would stop treating a tactic as if it was a substitute for a strategy. it is not. the second thing i want to talk about is a personal point of view. i have no metrics for research to back this up but i am part of the veteran community that served in afghanistan. i spent many years of my life in
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that part of the world. i have never seen the amount of grief, sorrow, anger, and i am not a psychiatrist or psychologist but i will still call it psychological trauma and not in the retired community there are traumatized people serving in the government paired we all try to hide it that it is very real and has real consequences and i do not believe american society or the american government is adequately dealing with it. people are really suffering as a result of this withdraw. the amount of trauma i see in this community is astonishingly bad. a personal observation here or personal conclusion we have given populations and nations around the world a significant
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reason to no longer trust us. it is coming at a particularly terrible time for the united states. in order to rise to the occasion in the competition, we have underway with actors like russia, china, iran, north korea , this is a particularly awful time for people not to trust us. but whether it's awful or not really doesn't matter. we have given populations all over the world a very significant reason not to trust us. it doesn't have to stay that way but begs a question that i don't think we as a nation or government have answered yet -- what are we now prepared to do to get people to trust us again? thank you. >> thank you very much. ambassador wayne, thanks for
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being here. you have been an important moral voice here for many years and have encouraged us to work on the challenges in afghanistan over a number of years. i really appreciate you being here you are ambassador to argentina, mexico, and deputy ambassador in afghanistan, where you were in essence i would describe it as the quarterback and assistance for a year and the secretary for economic affairs. i appreciate you being here. >> thanks very much. i had the challenge of having a lot of insightful people spoken before me. i will repeat a few things they say and said and overly we can have a good conversation. first, it is important to look back and realize that we made serious stakes all the way
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through the 20 years, different kind of the states at different times and we didn't learn well from those mistakes. i started in afghanistan in the fall of 20 -- 2001 will -- 2001 when we started to plan for the rebuilding. since i came back from afghanistan, i have led a group of former officials who care about the country for the last six years or through. we have to be humble as we go forward, we have to be patient, and ready to act and ready to stay engaged. we do have a clear moral responsibility to those afghans who fought with us. not only the afghans who fought with us, the afghans who we educated and who are alive because of the medical systems
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we put in place, because of the education systems we put in place, because of the free media that existed. afghans are much more engaged with the world and i know many of them were not happy with the afghanistan before the taliban came in. talked about exit strategies. we really blew the departure from afghanistan. we had a terrible drawdown process, and we had a terrible departure process. the result of that has been massive suffering, people living on the edge of starvation and death from other hardships over the past year. we need to find ways to keep addressing those serious human needs as we go forward.
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we also need to address our security interests that are still in evidence. we are doing this with the least amount of leverage we have had since 2002 in the least amount of intelligence we have had for a long time about what is really happening. plus as none of us have yet mentioned, the taliban is internally focused. they are consolidating their rule. they do not care about what the international community thinks. they are happy to have the relief, but they are focused on maintaining their internal unity, deciding what they want their new regime to look like, they still have just a provisional government. in a lot of ways, part of the job is the intention of the taliban to doing the right thing and then having leverage to have them do that. we need to do that for our engagement.
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we have to have partners doing this. we have partners that agree with us and partners that do not agree with us. so far the international community has hung together because the taliban has been so reprehensible in not being inclusive in their government, including their treatment of women and children. as we go forward, we need to be patient and committed to a long-term strategy that looks for opportunities to get the taliban to do things they should do, but to make sure they are tied -- if we give something for that is tied to specific steps that are positive and we have to be ready to act if we discover new terrorists there and act forcefully and engage with
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regional and international players who still care. using the u.n., using other things. it is a tough agenda. attention to united states in these things rises to wayne and tends to wane right now. it is important to stay engaged. let's have a good conversation. >> i will suggest one of three things each of you could do. you can react to something someone else has said, that i will put two questions to this group and you can answer either one of these questions. i do not think anyone will say we should walk away from afghanistan. if we do not walk away from afghanistan what does engagement look like? you can react to what someone else has said or you can say tell me what engagement looks like even this.
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the other question i would put to you is there have been discussions about regional actors. i've put on the table, i am telling you, this is not a completely glib statement on my part, we should be thinking about what we could do to help one of the neighbors that has relations with the taliban get their head of state the nobel peace prize. if we could get girls in school through 12th grade or university again, something pre-2021, we ought to give them the nobel prize. that is far better than saying you can give a speech at yale or top to the world economic forum. that is a real caret for some actor who might be dissident about this to consider during this. how do we engage the regional actors? how do we engage them in circumstances or tell me
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something about what role regional actors can play given what we are talking about? then i will open it up to q&a. bill, go ahead. you do not have to respond to all of those things. >> i am going to focus on what is engagement and say someone of a controversial statement, which is for many this is a tragic day , but for many in afghanistan, not so's tragic because there is not fighting that there was for 20 years. many people are experiencing peace in a relative sense in a way they were not before. i think it is important to remember that. the cost of an ongoing conflict, good or bad, are extremely high on the most vulnerable people and there are people who are living much more normal lives farming, taking care of their
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families than they would have had the conflict continued. in terms of what engagement looks like, i will focus on the need to continue to support humanitarian relief, but also to move towards resilience building and community development activities for the long-term. one of the mistakes of the last 20 years was rather than a 20 year community development strategy that built the relationship between people and the administrative state by providing services people needed , we focused on a lot of money through a narrow central administrative pipeline, and when there is too much money in a pipeline it overflows and that creates corruption. that is what we got. we need to focus on local, credible actors and long-term community development activities that make people's lives better. we can do that, there is a way to do that and still avoid
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supporting the worst actors in a way that is contrary to american interests. that is the engagement i'm looking for. >> thank you. maybe i will push back on the idea that everything we did was a failure. also, that going forward it is somehow romantic to have a moral quality to what we see as our engagement strategy. i think the taliban are not the only ones allowed to have an ideology. we believe in the u.n. universal declaration of human rights and our path of engagement should be as multilateral as possible because we do not need the u.s., nato, etc., to again put itself in the savior category. what we need is a worldwide set of standards for the taliban to
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understand are nonnegotiable. they were successful in their negotiating strategy by sticking to what they believed in. i think we have beliefs too and that is where we are strongest. humanitarian relief is incredibly important. humanitarian plus is important. beyond that the taliban has taken over the responsibility for the feeding of every person in that country. what is it they are prepared to do in order to guarantee afghans can survive and thrive. we need to be as united as possible in order to make that stick. >> i will speak very quickly. dan will shut me off otherwise.
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the central question we are dealing with is what the taliban are doing with women and girls. it is the single most challenging aspect of their rule. it is gender repression on a scale we have not seen anywhere in the past 100 years. part of engagement is continuing to look for how to address that question. we have humanitarian needs, we have the response to terrorist links, to building out governance and so on. we should not lose sight that perhaps the biggest negative of the taliban coming into power was what happened to half the population. as bill already said, focusing on what we can do going forward, but bill's point about relative peace in the countryside.
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international crisis group visited 13 of the 44 provinces. that would not of been possible 18 months ago. speaking with not just government representatives but afghans across the board, something is happening, something different. we need to understand it more clearly. take into account what tony said about the taliban focusing in words, consolidation of their government, and divisions amongst the taliban, but also in things that do not happen. in december and january we were predicting famine by march. the international community marshall its resources and worked with ngo's inside afghanistan and prevented that from happening. the work has to continue. it was prevented. something is functioning inside the country. as we deal with engagement, it is important to realize even governments we do not like have not recognize the taliban.
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not the iranians, not the chinese, not the pakistanis. there is significant reserve looking at what they are and it should be possible to begin to leverage that. finally working with regional actors, we need to move forward and see how they are seeing it, seeing where they are prepared to use leverage, and be fluid. the situation is fluid, not static. everybody in this room feels we left a lot of people behind. we left people behind we worked with by the tens of thousands. it is unacceptable we do not continue to make that the most important priority in terms of our people. we have a responsibility we have not yet met. we do not want to wait 10 years
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to make that commitment -- to meet that commitment. daniel: general? >> you originally posed the question as one about engagement with afghanistan. i will take the liberty of broadening it to a question about engagement in the region. the reason i want to do this is because three of the four competitors that the u.s. has declared are important to us, russia, china, and iran are proximate to afghanistan. we also have the world most dangerous nuclear armed standoff between pakistan and india on the eastern border of afghanistan. i think it should be obvious this region is strategically consequential for the united states and its interests, not just in the region but around the world, whether we like it or not.
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it is very inconvenient truth but it is true nonetheless. that begs the question i will end with. if what i said is accurate, does the united states have a theory of success or a reasonably coherent strategic approach to rationalizing what we do regarding afghanistan with our strategic interests that are created by the fact afghanistan is proximate to all of these crucial national security problems for the united states. before i retired three years ago we did not have one. maybe it has been created, but it is one of the best kept secrets in washington, d.c. ambassador wayne? >> one of the keywords i would
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say going forward is engagement. i think there is a general agreement we have to stay engaged. what strategy that fits into is a question that remains to be answered. there is no question we need to talk to the taliban about women and girls. we need to talk to them about their economy. how will that support the afghan people. the talks u.s. officials were having about getting money flowing into the central bank again were a good thing to do. it is good to talk about that. our reflection on the money we have frozen and still have on hold in the united states and other capitals around the world is a good subject to explore with them. it does not mean we give it everything the taliban asks for. it means we keep working along with these things and we try to develop leverage with them going
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forward. i think there are taliban that will peel the responsibility to govern responsibly, especially the longer they have this responsibility. they are dealing with a battle of ideological purity in the taliban. it is clear there are already differences. part of what we are doing is staying engaged, staying true to our values, and putting it into a framework that can endure because this will take a while. we are talking years to engage these guys going forward and trying to keep afghans alive and to find ways to get more people out who did not work with us and want to leave and live not just in the united states but other places for the time being
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because of their own values that they developed during the 20 years we and other members of the national community where there providing various support, educational opportunities. that is the general direction we have to go and we should look to our administration to come up with a strategic vision they can sell to all of us. daniel: engage, revisit what kind of strategy, it is probably not jeffersonian democracy anytime soon, but maybe something along the lines of saudi arabia or something like that. i have several questions from the audience. let me put a couple to you. what is the status of afghanistan's foreign currency reserves? are they frozen?
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there has been some reference to some of that. what the current status is. there was a debate a couple of months ago. i think the u.s. government made the resources to take some of those to 9/11 families. >> the wall street journal reported the u.s. had decided not to allow the $3.5 billion they were originally going to allow to go. >> i will have you take on this issue of the reserves. the other one is how can the u.s. reset its relations with pakistan and other neighboring countries amid a humanitarian crisis in afghanistan? i think i said this in the green room. if you look at a map, it is china on one side, russia and central asia, if you want to get to central asia have to go through russia, from the others, or iran, or pakistan.
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you pick your poison in terms of how you engage with afghanistan. our decision was we were going to work with pakistan. the question was how can the u.s. reset its relationship with afghanistan. the other question is other than winning the nobel peace prize, what motivators exist to pull golf state interests into afghanistan. you can pick one or some of those but i would like someone to take on the issue of reserves. let's start with you, bill. bill: i'm not the expert on the reserves. i will started off and others can fill in. there are $7 billion of reserves in the afghan central bank that are held in new york, whatever that means, by our fed as part of the global monetary system. the biden administration said
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month ago that $3.5 billion was going to go to victims of terrorism -- victims of 9/11, making the logical connection this money is from the afghan government which is from the taliban -- eligible to be used as part of a legal processes ongoing, and the other $3.5 billion they were trying to figure out how to get to the afghan people one way or another. this morning my understanding is as reported in the wall street journal, they have now said because of concerns with the ability to monitor that money and anti-terrorism risks they are going to allow that to happen, that is my understanding. i do want to recognize the treasury department and the state department, usaid have
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done a good job figuring out how, within the respect of our anti-terrorism laws, making it possible for groups like catholic relief services to provide humanitarian assistance, basic education without getting crossfire from the terrorists. it is a web of anti-terror restrictions. they have done a good job and i want to give them a shout out. >> the united states and other countries -- afghan reserves in their central banks. in the united states there was a suit filed by relatives of the 2001 bombing claiming to get recompense from this money for their families. that suit is still ongoing. the court case is still ongoing
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in the united states as part of an effort to free up part of the money to go to meet the humanitarian needs of afghanistan in the short term. united states government made a proposal to allow about half of the money to still be treated by this court case. the court case still to be decided and not everybody supports the families of the 9/11 victims getting that. there are differences. some families say we do not need the money but give it to afghans who have been suffering. others say we have a different view. of the money they were going to give to afghanistan there was also a debate. part of the money, at least a couple hundred million dollars of that money belong to afghan private banks and was sitting in the fed. it was never islamic republic money. that is still also held.
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that makes it hard for afghanistan to function. this is all part of the discussion, how can we move this forward in a way that does return some money to be used for the good of the afghan people going forward. that is still in process. that is with the wall street journal was talking about, that people are being cautious. not surprisingly, in the wake of the terrorist being taken out in kabul. this will be a long process going forward, but an important one, because that is money. when the taliban regime fell and the new republic came in, i participated in negotiations to return a couple billion dollars
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that had been frozen in the united states during the 1990's. and were returned to the new republic as part of a negotiated agreement after the taliban left. this had happened before at a different scale in our own bilateral history. >> general? >> you already know the word pakistan is like red meat to me. about a year and a half ago my former special operations colleagues and once my boss cowrote an article about the relationship between united states and pakistan. it is a pretty boring article. i will cut to the chase and tell you what our principal argument was. one of the most difficult things in the world -- i spent almost three years of my life there -- is to have a functionally effective relationship with
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pakistan or between pakistan and the united states. it is unbelievably difficult. we argued the only thing harder than that is not to have relationship. >> 100% agree. >> the consequences of not trying to have an effective relationship are much worse than the frustrations come energy come in time you have to expand in having one. having said that, whatever america's aspirations, hopes and strategic goals end up being in this part of the world, not just afghanistan, the likelihood we will achieve them if we do not create a more functionally effective relationship with pakistan is zero. >> 100% agree. thank you for saying that. yes.
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it is the fifth largest country in the world, the most rapidly urbanizing. the only people in washington who know anything about pakistan are spies and generals. i support the troops, i support the military, but we have an overly militarized relationship with them and we look at them through a refracted lens of china, india, or afghanistan. >> i totally agree with you. it is a country run by an army. >> we have a more sophisticated relationship with brazil, indonesia, or ethiopia, all countries with 200 million people with imperfect democracies. we do not have an over intelligence community relationship with those countries. we have all of those equities but we have other equities there. our priorities are mismatched with the priorities they want to talk about.
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we talk past each other all day long. >> it is fair to say they contributed mightily to that relationship because of their bad behavior. >> every criticism of pakistan i believe in and accept, everything i just said. annie: i do want to go back to one other thing the general headset. to make sure afghanistan policy is nested inside other policies. one of the mistakes of thinking about it -- we have policies about the region, we have policies about russia, about nuclear proliferation, policies about women, peace, insecurity, about atrocity prevention. those are policies where i feel like there has been a line drawn around afghanistan.
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it is not one of the countries of the global fragility act. it has always been pushed aside into a separate category. i do feel need to take issue with the idea of the polls between jeffersonian democracy and saudi arabia on the others. whatever afghanistan wants, what the majority of afghans want in a reasonable sense, to find that out and act on it, that is imperative. there is no such model yet. >> what you think they want? annie: it doesn't matter, but a lot of afghanistan's are attached to the constitution in the sense it was a predictable document they could live according to and they believed in individual rights. how that manifested itself in between elections, what kind of
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government structure and democracy in every sense of the word, that was not well developed. all of the criticisms are true about what was or was not done by the previous government by well-meaning outsiders, that is all true. afghans in different parts of afghanistan did probably want different manifestations. the constitution maintained a lot of credibility and legitimacy all the way through. daniel: ambassador, i will give you the last word. >> i was going to remain silent. i think a lot of important points have been made about the complexity of dealing with afghanistan moving forward. the issue on reserves, how that plays into what approach we take to humanitarian assistance, a central question. by the way, parallels with what
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is happening elsewhere in the world. look at the debate over to use russian funds that have been frozen and whether some of it should be used for response to the devastation taking place in that country. it is alive and well. afghanistan is central to the present setting and questions like this should not slip out of sight. they are very important for deciding how to move forward. with the regional actors it is interesting to watch the changing dynamic, whether in pakistan, the approach to dealing with kabul is now very layered and nuanced as they think through the implications for themselves in terms of their internal security. i would point out the u.s. focus on the terrorist, he is really a simple. there is a significant issue
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with the terrorist groups on the ground in afghanistan and there will be over the course of the coming months and years. it is not just our preoccupation , it is a preoccupation for the region. many of these governments, which we have difficult ties with, will actually agree with us on the importance of containing that threat. simply as we approach any number of the issues we have discussed today there is a national component inside the beltway on keeping afghanistan not siloed, but part of our regional and global strategy imperative. it is also critical to keep it front and center in our discussions with the region. somebody asked in the audience about the importance of the emirates. all of these countries may now look at this as a situation that looks sort of stable, but they are watching because they have had to deal with the fallout for the past 20 years and they do
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not want to do that again. they are part of our engagement, they are part of the dialogue and thinking through what practical options are there for going forward. daniel: i do not feel better about this discussion, i do not feel more hopeful, but i have more clarity about some of the responsibilities we have in some of the steps we could take. it is still an awful day, but i think we have significant responsibilities in the message is we cannot look away, we cannot try to ignore it. we have a number of interests there, but i do not think we can solve this alone and we will need to find a ways to work with friends and not friends to deal with this. thanks, everybody, for being here. [applause] [captions copyright national
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operation. shop now or anytime that she c-span >> in the history of bullet surprises and the oscars, very few winners have turned down these awards. one of those who did was a famous armenian american, a writer from the 30's, 40's and 50's stop his name was william saroyan stop he turned down a pulitzer for a drama called the time of your life stop he said he was opposed in principle to awards in the arts and was quoted as saying such arts award embarrass art at its verily source. -- at its very source. he's written a lot about his father. we asked him to talk about his book, last rites, the death of william saroyan. >> on this episode of notes
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plus. it's available on the c-span now cap or wherever you get your podcasts. -- c-span now app or wherever you get your podcasts. >> nobody really thought this was ever going to happen, that paris would succumb to the nazis. it was unthinkable when it finally happened. the city of light was supposed to be this action of enlightenment and freethinking and just an open society. when the nazis had gone into poland, there are mass executions. it was terrible. they executed liberals, executed freethinkers, and everybody was scared as they came toward paris that was what was going to happen in paris as well. >> author of the book "taking paris -- germany's for your brutal occupation of paris and its liberation


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