Peter Tomsen discusses reconstruction and fighting terrorism in Afghanistan

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Six children were crushed to death by a collapsing wall during an assault by U.S. forces on a compound stuffed with weapons in eastern Afghanistan, an American military spokesman said Wednesday, the second time in a week that civilians have died in action against Taliban and al-Qaida suspects. Today on MIDDAY, an update on the situation in Afghanistan and a discussion with Ambassador Peter Tomsen.

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(00:00:00) From Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Greta Cunningham November housing sales in the Twin Cities were strong enough to ensure that 2003 will be a record year for residential real estate in the 13 County Metro Area the 52,000 existing homes sold in the first 11 months of the year exceeded the total for all of 2002 the president of the st. Paul area Association of Realtors. Bob Clark says low interest rates have helped the growing number of people who are ready to buy it number of people that are coming into the marketplace is expanding. So, (00:00:33) you know people that were formerly renting or people that have immigrated and minority populations larger percentage of them have become homeowners throughout this last 12 months and all those factors have contributed to the record numbers (00:00:47) last month's median sale price stood at two hundred and four thousand dollars. That's up 7 percent from the year before Washington Dakota and Chisago County showed the strongest price increases Governor. Tim pawlenty is getting ready to leave for Looking at tomorrow plenty is scheduled to visit Minnesota troops stationed in the region. The 1100. Minnesota troops are part of a nato-led force of about 12,000 soldiers from 30 countries that have prevented Civil War from resuming North Dakota Health officials say the flu is coming on strong and the state has 483 new cases of the illness this week that compares to 292 cases of the flu last week Health officials. Say 205 of the cases are among children younger than 10 years old the forecast for Minnesota today calls for a clear to partly cloudy skies with continued cold temperatures highs today ranging from five above in the north west to near 18 in the Southeast right now Bemidji, it's mostly sunny nine below zero Duluth report Sunshine is zero with the windchill index of minus 19 in the Twin Cities for above with a wind chill index of minus 14. That's news. I'm Greta Cunningham. All right. Thanks Greta. It is 6 minutes now past 11:00. And good morning. Welcome to midday on Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten glad you could join us this could turn out to be a watershed weekend for the people in the future of Afghanistan 500 delegates from around Afghanistan are scheduled to begin meeting on Saturday to start drawing up a constitution for that Nation national elections are scheduled to follow next summer. But even as this Loya jirga begins its work problems are mounting in Afghanistan. Taliban forces are stepping up their attacks on us and government forces. Aid workers are being kidnapped and killed Reconstruction is lagging military mistakes are mounting Osama Bin Laden and mullah Omar are still at large and some officials are warning that unless more International Help is forthcoming. Afghanistan will be lost. Joining us this hour to bring us up to date on the situation in Afghanistan is Peter Thompson a fellow at the center for Afghanistan studies at the University of Nebraska. He was a special us Envoy and Ambassador on Afghanistan from 1989 to 92. It's currently working on a new book titled Afghan nightmare the rise and Retreat of Muslim extremism in Afghanistan. It is always we invite you to join our conversation. If you have a question or a comment about the situation in Afghanistan number to call is six-five 12276 thousand 6512276 thousand our toll free number is 1-800-218-4243 or 1-800 to for to to 828 Ambassador Thompson. Thanks for joining us this morning. My pleasure Afghanistan. I think it's fair to say has been generally pushed off the front page by Iraq, but nevertheless we have over. Thousand US troops in Afghanistan a lot invested in that country. What is the current situation? (00:03:57) I think the current situation has the problems that you outline but there's also a lot of Reason for Hope even though the International Community is not come through with the resources that the Afghans hope for still there has been a lot of progress in Road building and education two million kids are back at school both boys and girls, I think 40 percent of the population of school children is our girls and most important we have this overall process, which was called the bond process formulated in December of 2001, which was a step by step approach to restoring a legitimate government in Afghanistan supported by most Afghans and looked on by both most Afghans as But that was not the case with the Taliban who were never selected by Hopkins. They were imposed from the outside from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and radicals generally in the Muslim world. And before that the Soviet invasion, of course imposed communist puppet regime. Now this process is set up a transitional government as you remember last year in June when Hamid Karzai was chosen at a Loya jirga by secret ballot. And now this Loya jirga is a Next Step the second Loya jirga to create a constitution and then there will be a presidential elections next year and a year from then they will be parliamentary elections and all of this is sponsored by the International Community can call attention in this regard to the White House. Spokesman says comment last month on this Loya jirga to lay down the Constitution by this was by At McClellan presidential spokesman and he said quote the public issuance of this very important draft the product of consultation and dialogue among Afghans marks an important milestone in Afghanistan's political development. The Constitution is a democratic Constitution. It calls for an Islamic Republic but it's a moderate Islamic Republic. Let's remember we have one in Bangladesh. In fact, there's a woman president that was elected in Bangladesh and that's true for Indonesia to the largest Muslim country in the world, which is now on a democratic track. So it's not only Islamic but it's Democratic moderate Democratic not fundamentalist and there's a strong presidency called for in the Constitution A two-house legislature and a supreme court. There is a separation of powers in the Constitution which calls for three branches of government like our own but it's a unitary not a federal state that's called for in the Constitution. (00:06:50) Hmm, it's always tough to generalize of course, but would you expect that the average person in Afghanistan thinks of himself herself is better off today than they were two years ago, and they had a Taliban was ousted. (00:07:07) I think that the great majority of Afghans feel exactly that there's tremendous antipathy towards the religious extremists who followed the Communists and drove Afghanistan into a bloody Civil War for another what 92 2001 or what nine years. There's also a lot of antipathy towards the Warlords and the common off Khan wants peace. Most of all wants his kids to go to school want stability and economic prosperity to come back to Afghanistan wants to see the cessation of foreign interference from Pakistan, especially See now and this bond process which was overseen by the United Nations. We played a major role but was conducted and has been conducted by off God's is the way to the Future that they wish the Jihadi parties Taliban Al Qaeda are threatening delegates on their way to Cobble 300 of them have arrived. They had to postpone the meeting for four days because it's difficult to travel in Afghanistan. They've attempted to stop this process and they're not succeeding. They are succeeding in the way. You mentioned at the beginning crossing the border from Pakistan and kidnapping Aid workers killing Afghan local officials and attacking us outposts, but overall this process is going forward and it is supported by the great majority of the Afghan people (00:08:46) talking this our about the situation in Afghanistan. This weekend delegates are to Begin work on a new constitution for Afghanistan. We thought this would be a great opportunity to catch up on a on a story on a nation that we just don't hear all that much about even though there are as we said earlier 11,000 US troops in Afghanistan. If you'd like to join our conversation with Peter Thompson, former Ambassador on Afghanistan, give us a call here six five one two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities 1-800 to for 22828 this Constitution that the delegates will be will be considering as I understand it the the great fault line to the extent. There is one is just how strong the presidency is going to be. First of all, is that true? And if so, how a significant is that? What's at stake in (00:09:48) other words? I think that's right, Gary. In the deliberations, which will start Saturday and since it's an Afghan Loya jirga, it's going to continue indefinitely until they reach a consensus. This is their tradition in their history. They just talk things out but I think basically this strong presidential system will be approved but that will be one of the points of contention where some some will argue at the Loya jirga that the presidency is too strong. There should be for instance a prime minister that position established. But the main problem the main argumentation will be over religion where those extremists and fundamentalist Representatives attempting to impose Sharia, which is Islamic law that you see the system for instance in Saudi Arabia will attempt to do the same in Afghanistan. (00:10:47) And how representative are the delegates at this convention. In other words do all the people in Afghanistan have somebody there representing speaking for them. (00:10:58) That was the effort which I think is basically succeeded 19,000 Afghans around the country at the district level and at the provincial level were chosen by their Villages and towns to choose the four hundred and fifty delegates who have come to Kabul. The president has appointed 50 Hamid Karzai has selected 52 to round out the 500 membership of the Loya jirga. There was a four-month process of consultation with people around Afghanistan where the 30 five-member commission that drafted the Constitution. The draft Constitution traveled around the country held 550 meetings and met people and town-hall type meeting some getting ideas adjusting the Constitution to reflect input from the people there were 14,000 questionnaires distributed around the country where which people filled out and pass forward to the commission on on how to structure the Constitution what to put in it and there were tens of thousands of letters and petitions that came in from around the country from various Afghans to the commission with points which people around the country which to see represented in the Constitution. So this has been a consultative process it's gone on for over a year and it will continue in this Loya jirga this tradition that's 300 years old meeting in Kabul where the delegates will talk endlessly drink a lot of The and eventually I believe will reach consensus on on the draft which then will be signed by the president Hamid (00:12:55) Karzai one more question. I don't want to get to some listener calls here Armored Cars. Karzai says he's not going to run for president. If in fact the presidency is weakened. How significant would that be? I mean, is he a very popular guy or is he just somebody who got installed and and has been filling filling the space (00:13:18) the Loya jirga, which was convened last June. I'm sorry June of 2002 which selected him selected him by secret ballot eighty percent voted for Hamid Karzai. He is the single most popular off gone in the country in my opinion. I was there traveling with him last year. We went to down to the southern part about the ganas done. And stayed with him in Kabul in the palace with him for six days. And there is there is a Groundswell of opinion and Afghanistan that he represents the stability that they've had for the last two years in his the best. Hope for future stability. His father was the deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament, which is the most important House of the to house legislature under this draft Constitution as well. It's directly elected 222 250 members. So he comes from a democratic tradition with a small D, which I think the great majority of Afghans want as well to be restored now, I believe his comment. I didn't see his comment, but just listening to what you mentioned here. I think that that was political. He's attempting to preserve this strong presidential system with the belief, which is reflected. I think in the Constitution and by the Created it that Afghanistan needs a strong central system with a strong president (00:14:51) Peter Thompson is with us. He is a fellow at the center for Afghanistan studies at the University of Nebraska former special us Envoy and Ambassador on Afghanistan currently writing a new book titled Afghan nightmare. He has joined us this hour to bring us up to date on the current situation in Afghanistan what with the Constitutional Convention scheduled to begin in just a couple of days. If you'd like to join our conversation. Give us a call here at 6512276 thousand 6512276 thousand or toll free number is 1-800-218-4243 cure question, please (00:15:31) good morning. I've been extraordinarily impressed with Ambassador Thompson over the close to two years that you've been speaking with him about this and I just wanted to put that on the table, but I'm very interested in his views. Future role of the warlord's both ones who were supportive of the Northern Alliance and those who either was a part of the Taliban or see more ambiguous what what's happening to them and what their future role going to be? That's an excellent question mark in the warlord's like the Jihadi remnants operating still from Pakistan are great threats to Afghanistan's future stability and peace. You look at most of the Opium production in the country. It's in the areas controlled by the warlord's the warlord's only objective is to preserve their own power and will treat with anybody including the Americans or the central government or the Taliban to maintain their power. There is a process to address this. It's basically to fold two dresses problem. What is the building up of a national Army which will reach about 12,000 troops by mid-year that will be the largest military contingent. The country will exceed the size of any one of the warlord's forces as that National Army builds and also a national police force. even larger National police force is being trained and deployed over time that will weaken the control of the Warlords who are not popular even in their own areas for the most part some more Lords are like Ismail Khan and in the west does have a basis of popularity, but he's also aided in the pose by my many others, but most Warlords don't have a popular base of support and they just rule by by the gun the second process that's underway now and supported by the UN and the u.s. Is the disarmament and demobilization of or Lord armies so far under a un program largely financed by the Japanese 4,000 of warlord forces have been disarmed and given funds to start a different life and in there are Provisions being made for road construction where this these These Fighters will be absorbed into the Reconstruction process underway in the country that process is going to run into problems, but it is proceeding just yesterday. There were weapons heavy weapons that were handed over by a warlord in the Poncho Valley 11 tanks. There were 31 artillery pieces and a number of scuds that were sent down to Kabul by that local warlord. So this process is underway, like everything Afghanistan is going to go slow the the UN and the US and the International Community have to continue to to proceed by the side of the Afghans, especially the central government to sustain the process. (00:18:53) Let's get back to the callers here Nancy your question. Yeah, good morning. And thanks for taking my call. My husband was in Afghanistan in September and October kind of checking out the situation there and one of his reports and he came back was that the Taliban are very disliked and he could find no one that was interested in then cut them coming back to (00:19:15) Power which was we thought that was pretty great news. (00:19:18) The the question I have is I think maybe you already answered it but I'm just concerned about the security situation outside of Afghanistan and I was wondering how you saw that being resolved within Afghanistan mean outside of Kabul. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah outside of Kabul. Yes Ambassador, the the image we have is that well cobbled maybe kind of secure but the rest of the country is much too dangerous for (00:19:43) anybody the the areas that are really problematic are the Southern and Eastern areas along the Pakistani border. Now the Taliban cabinet almost to a man are in Pakistan and operating freely. They meet in groups and they also meet with Pakistani religious Fanatics and Arabs that are still in this area along the border and send people singly or in groups into Afghanistan. They pay them they give them weapons and explosives and assignments. So you see still this Northern area of Pakistan as a springboard for extremism into Afghanistan. Most Afghans is a caller noted including in the south and east and he's questioned areas opposed both the Taliban and the Warlords and they want to see stability and peace restored to Afghanistan. The Musharraf government has been playing two-faced role here. On the one hand, they are supporting the war on terror which we shot up announced. He would after the 9/11 attacks. And in number of al-Qaeda with Pakistani sport had been arrested in Pakistan, but on the other hand the Pakistani army, especially the military intelligence the inter-services intelligence directorate which built up this islamist infrastructure of Taliban Arabs and radical Pakistan. He's along the afghan-pakistan border Pakistani Border in the last 25 years do not want to see that asset go away that asset is important to build extreme Islamic depth against India. And for the Pakistani military, their major preoccupation is India that infrastructure spews out extremism and militants into Kashmir as well as into it as well as into Afghanistan now recently. NATO is taken over the international Security force is f responsibility and Kabul and their NATO units are going to start to be deployed to the province's to assist with stability there. But getting Pakistan to cease its interference and Afghanistan and control these radical elements along its northern Frontier is more important than NATO (00:22:12) expansion remind us Ambassador. Who is the who's in charge in Afghanistan at this point is that the United States is at the United Nations. Is it NATO? Is it somebody else? What's who who's the Big Kahuna at this (00:22:29) point? The Big Kahuna is Ambassador. Brahimi who is a special representative of the secretary-general unlike in Iraq. You have this un umbrella laid down at the Bonn conference which which oversees reconstruction military and other activities the major player at Bond as well. Of any nation was by far the United States and we have by far most most of the troops operating in Afghanistan. But NATO is agreed to take over the Internationals peacekeeping function in Afghanistan. This occurred a couple months ago and is beginning to expand outside Kabul, which is something the United States is now welcoming US Special Forces though are very important as a hammer along the Pakistani border to keep out this infiltration from Pakistan into Afghanistan. They can't of course succeed a hundred percent in that in that terrain and they're the Taliban do have allies inside still inside religious elements inside Afghanistan which cooperate with them, but by most of the country is Is peaceful and Northern and Western Afghanistan Central Afghanistan, really? There's not much there. There isn't much violence and the Reconstruction is slowly going forward the big problem areas are those areas along the Pakistani border (00:24:09) Patrick your question, (00:24:10) please I want to just get back to the the Democratic process of Ambassador refer to I was curious about the questionnaires and the town meetings and long process. If those questions were distributed to win women were invited to those Town Hall meetings. And if there were significant women female representation along the lines of this extensible Congress as it were at some point in the future. (00:24:36) Okay, (00:24:37) it's a very good question. Now there there's a requirement that about 13% of this of this Loya jirga be women that is In the form of representation from the provinces there has to be for instance at least two from each of the 32 provinces have to be women the representatives from each of the 32 provinces. And in the Constitution. There's a requirement to of women representation of for instance in the lower house and the Upper House the President appoints one third of the members of the upper house, and I'm sure that that will include a lot of women and there are there has to be a certain level of women's representation in the lower house from each of the provinces in the in the Constitution to there is article 44 which specifically Calls for a balance between boys and girls in education and the one of the biggest hurdles was just a statement of equality after this Taliban period when of course there was tremendous discrimination against women and that was handled by in the Constitution. It states that all off gone individuals are citizens of Afghanistan and article 22 States any kind of discrimination between and privilege among the citizens of Ghana's on has prohibited the citizens of Afghanistan have equal rights and duties before the law, but this is going to be an uphill struggle where and we will see this come out if the Loya jirga to there will be more conservative tribal and religious elements arguing against these provisions of equality. In the Constitution, but there were women on the Constitutional commission to who feel very strongly about that. They'll be present and will be arguing it right back. (00:26:55) We're talking this our about the current situation in Afghanistan big weekend for Afghanistan coming up delegates from around Afghanistan are meeting this weekend to start work on a constitution for Afghanistan this roughly 25 months after the Taliban was routed from that country. Peter Thompson has joined us to bring us up to date on the current situation Ambassador Thompson is a fellow at the center for Afghanistan studies at the University of Nebraska. He was a special us Envoy and Ambassador on Afghanistan from 1989 to 92. Again. If you'd like to join our conversation, give us a call here, six five one two, two seven six thousand 651227600. In our toll free number is 1-800-218-4243 or 1-800 to for 2282882 more of your questions here in a couple of minutes. Christmas does offer so many great possibilities with music. The intimacy of our concert is very important. The warmth of what we do is very important. No Ensemble spreads the warmth of the holidays like the Dale warland singers. Hi, this is Tom crean join me as Dale warland conducts his virtuoso Choir in this year's Echoes of Christmas concert Monday at 7:00 on the classical stations of Minnesota Public Radio, including 99.5 in the Twin Cities catch up on some headlines. There's got a cunning camera. Thanks, Gary. Good morning u.s. Military officials. Say three suicide bombers set off an explosion outside the headquarters of the 82nd Airborne Division west of Baghdad today. There are casualties reported but it's not clear if any Americans were killed. It's the third suicide attack on American troops in Iraq this week. No American deaths were reported in the two previous attacks. Both of which also happened outside of military compounds President Bush is defending the rule barring countries that opposed the Iraq War from bidding on rebuilding contracts. / says the Contracting choices will reflect the risk that Coalition Partners took in the war European and Canadian officials have denounced the rule which limits u.s. Administered contracts to members of the american-led Coalition. Some are saying it's illegal the start of the holiday shopping season has been brisk enough for retail sales to post an increase of nine tenths of a percent last month. It's the biggest Advance since August and it's better showing than economists were expecting autopsies are being done today on three bodies found buried beneath Concrete in the basement of a Northwestern Indiana apartment house. The bodies were found during a search for three area teens who turned up missing recently. The bodies have not been identified in Regional news. Criminal charges are possible for two young baby sitters who took a man's children for two days. The matter has been referred to juvenile court. The girls are 13 and 14 years old. So the nature of the charges and their custody status cannot be released. The girls were found in a South Minneapolis apartment Tuesday evening with the for children. Ages 1 to 3 and 5 they had been missing since Sunday the forecast for Minnesota calls for clear to partly cloudy skies. It will be cold today around the region with highs only raging from five above in the north west to near 18 in the Southeast right now Bemidji. It's sunny and eight below zero Duluth report Sunshine a temperature of zero with the windchill index of minus 19 skies are partly sunny in Rochester to above with the windchill index of - 18 it's three above and st. Cloud with sunny skies a wind chill index of minus 14 and in the Twin Cities Sunshine with a temperature of for above zero Gary. That's the look at the latest news. All right. Thanks Greta. It's 25 minutes before twelve over the noon hour. Today. We're going to remember Gisela konopka. She was well, she's got quite a story to tell or had she passed away this week. She grew up in Germany was part of the resistance movement against the Nazis ended up in the United States fleeing to the United States came to the Levin became an internationally acclaimed researcher with a special focus on adolescence and I think you'll find her story very very interesting. We're going to rebroadcast a voice as a Minnesota interview that was conducted with Gisela konopka to remember her. So that's coming up over the noon hour this hour we're talking about the current situation in Afghanistan over the weekend this coming weekend delegates from all around Afghanistan are meeting to Begin work on drafting a constitution for that Nation. Peter Thompson has joined us to share his insight into the current situation in Afghanistan. He is a fellow at the center for Afghanistan studies at the University of Nebraska. Special us Envoy and Ambassador on Afghanistan from 1989 to 92. Again. If you have a question, give us a call here, six five, one two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand toll-free number. 802 for 22828 mat your question Place. (00:32:00) Yeah, I guess I have a point of History. I guess Peter in your opening remarks. You mentioned sort of the history of this conflict stems back goes back to the Cold War. You mentioned that the Taliban is an unwanted was an unwanted regime in Afghanistan, but you didn't point out the fact that the CIA was responsible for sort of using them as a tool against the Soviets and empowering them and training them and I was wondering is there any particular reason you left it out to use think it was not germane to the conversation. Well, I didn't think we were focusing on that historical period but I would add to what you said that when the Soviets invaded we looked around to see how we could support the mujahideen and there was only one Avenue and that was Pakistan. We couldn't go to Iran which is in the convolutions of the Khomeini period and certainly not the Soviet Union China has a 50 mile border with Afghanistan, which is in the premier's there was really only one alternative that was Pakistan and the Pakistani he's insisted on managing the funds and the weapons that came in and they were supporting the extremists the Pakistani military then under President and CEO who was a general who seized power and executed the Prime Minister took over and use the isi the military intelligence which which then cooperated with the CIA and most of the weapons went to the extremists who are very much a minority in half. Aside most Afghans are moderate Muslims not extremists. And I think as you're pointing out here that that in turn caused a lot of problems after the Soviets withdrew when the Communist Regime was overthrown these extremists were in a better position to seize power and we're able to stay in the form of the Taliban until 2001. (00:33:54) Chris your question, (00:33:55) please. Hi. Yeah, I was I guess I was Disturbed recently to hear that 15 innocent Afghani children were killed as a result of US military action in the last week this information coming from the US military. I wonder if your guest has any estimate of the number of Civilian casualties since the US invasion. I've heard estimates of over 5,000 and I'm not sure if they're right or not. And one other quick question is he's talking about the warlord's being unpopular which I think everyone would agree with but recently, I understand that Rumsfeld met with the warlord's are certain Warlords and I was wondering if he had any insight into why Rumsfeld would do this. (00:34:39) All right. Let's take these in reverse order Ambassador. Why did Rumsfeld get together with those two Warlords? (00:34:48) Not only secretary Rumsfeld but also our military commanders in Afghanistan occasionally meet with major Warlords since when the Taliban were overthrown the US military cooperated and an armed these Warlords to destroy the Taliban Al Qaeda regime and then these Warlords stayed on in their areas and some some of them many of them received us stipends and are receiving us statements to continue. This has been opposed by many of us and we've asked for that many of us in Congress and elsewhere and newspaper articles have argued that we have to withdraw our support from the Warlords and support the central government in its attempt to spread. The sin has a strength of the central government around the country. I think that process is occurring, but it's going very slowly. (00:35:51) And then the issue of Civilian casualties. Are there any reasonably solid numbers as to how many civilians have died since the Taliban was ousted? (00:36:03) I think not there have been considerable. I don't know if it goes up to 5,000 but in a war situation, especially when it gets into the type of Guerrilla warfare now along the Pakistani Afghan border where these extremists come across and they meld into the villages there. You can't avoid civilian casualties. There just has to be I think more attention to avoiding them by our military and when yesterday secretary Rumsfeld and general Myers gave a press conference and they said every possible effort is being made to avoid civilian casualties in these and indeed. It hurts the it's counterproductive to what is Political as well as a military conflict along the afghan-pakistan border that's underway. Now you're going to alienate the population. Through these mistakes, but the question is is there a gap between what is being said from the Rostrum of the Pentagon on the one hand and those with the finger on the trigger at the end of the line on the other is a decision going to made what we'll just take out this target. I don't know if there is a gap or to what extent there is a gap. But I hope that that Gap is closed since it's very important in in the opcon context to avoid getting the reputation which the Russians had of firing indiscriminately at civilians and destroying villages (00:37:42) in general. Do you have a sense Ambassador as to how much support the United States has among the Afghan (00:37:49) population. We have tremendous support the Afghans want us there. They don't see us as an occupying power. It's not a hostile population. It's a receptive. Nation, and as Nancy mentioned earlier when her husband was it was out in Afghanistan last year. If you go to a village elder man on the street, they'll say please don't leave we need you here too. We can stabilize the situation so we should do it but we should do it. Right. I think we have the right level of troops. I would not increase the number of troops in Afghanistan and over time. We should reduce them because I've gots don't like armed foreigners running around in their country, but they realize that they need us no for security it while they build up their Central police and military and other Security Forces. They also need reconstruction assistance and much more of it to rebuild the roads and the infrastructure in the country that was destroyed during the Soviet invasion in 23 years of (00:38:50) war there was lots of there were I should say lots of promises of international Aid after the Taliban was ousted. Lots of money was pledged in the rest. What happened? Why wasn't that delivered? (00:39:07) I think it it's a number of reasons here. One is the incompetence of usaid. It's just in snarled and bureaucracy and when it when it does let a contract say for 40 million or 60 million, it goes to a prime contractor which then goes out and gets up contractors and they get subcontractors. And by the time the project is actually implemented actually very little of the original cost is expended most of its absorbed in the bureaucracy of a ID and then the infrastructure of these contractors and subcontractors a New York University study determined in June that only a hundred ninety three million dollars had had been manifested in projects inside Afghanistan, even though several billions of dollars has been appropriated by Congress, and we're not the only The guilty party here the UN is famous for its inefficient bureaucracy. And and also some of the other National Aid organizations. I think that we need to do a study of post-conflict assistance to societies that are coming out of the throes of War like in Afghanistan and Iraq. There should be commissioned to in to examine this and then come up with recommendations for the next Administration be a Democratic or republican as to how we can make our assistance more efficient and better targeted and more successful. (00:40:39) We're talking this our about the current situation in Afghanistan. If you tuned in late our focus on Afghanistan today is spurred on by what scheduled for this weekend this weekend delegates from around Afghanistan are scheduled to meet to Begin work on a new constitution for Afghanistan elections are scheduled to follow Next summer and seems to be a key moment in Afghan history. If you would like to join our conversation with Peter Thompson, give us a call at six five one 2276 thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities 1-800 to for 228286512276 thousand or 1-800 to for to to 828 Ambassador. There's some been some talk that the elections the national elections which are currently scheduled for June may have to be delayed because of the security situation. Would you agree with that? And if so, how significant would that be? (00:41:40) Great? I think it's I think it's correct it in terms of a parliamentary election. They just don't have the wherewithal to put together a program a road map in which the electoral districts are created around the country and then Of the Machinery put in place for parliamentary elections before that but a presidential election is possible and that my own opinion is that will go through on schedule. It might slip like things usually slip in Afghanistan, but definitely by June or say a month or two there after I think you'll see as per this bond process. You'll see the Milestone of a presidential election taking place in Afghanistan and then a year later though have the Parliamentary elections. Incidentally. This draft Constitution has a hundred sixty articles and when the dialogue was was commenced around the country consultations with Afghans in villages and districts around the country over that four month period there was a draft that was distributed and many thousands of copies were also distributed of the drought of the draft in districts and Villages and Towns and cities around the country for people to look at and comment on and it has been refined since that consultative period and that draft now is B will be placed. Actually it was formerly issued on November 3rd by Zahir Shah is now called father of the nation capital F capital n and Hamid Karzai at a press conference. So that will be tabled and it's in the hands of the delegates as they arrive for this Loya jirga, which will begin on Saturday (00:43:33) Jeff your question, please (00:43:35) hi. Thanks a follow-up about the security question. I've heard it reported that following the American success in the military operation a number of allies had offered troops, but we're told simply thanks, but no, thanks, and I'm wondering if this has had any impact on how long it is taken to improve security and the ability of the warlord's tours. Came their positions of authority as it were in outside of Kabul. Yes. This goes back to right after the Taliban were defeated and there were problems in the defense department with even accepting a International Security force in Kabul to maintain security help the Afghans maintain security there while a national Army and police force were built up but eventually due to a White House decision that was approved and I say F of I 5,000 some troops first the Turks and then the Dutch and Germans and the British actually the British started off and then the thirds of the Dutch and German is now it's a NATO presence in Kabul throughout these last two years. There has been pressure on the Pentagon to permit expansion of this Force into the Region's to help water down the control of the warlord's and that has been opposed by the Pentagon. Now the Pentagon is has approved it and that process is beginning in kunduz in the north where a German unit will still be NATO integrated NATO, but it's mainly German will be deployed to condos in the north. We now have four u.s. Provincial reconstruction teams around the country with about a hundred military at US military in each one and NATO will begin to deploy provincial reconstruction teams, and other for other places around the country. This gets complicated but overall a process of foreign troops moving out into these regions of Afghanistan to help maintain security and water down the control of the warlord's is taking place even though it's (00:45:51) belated what remind us of you what Ambassador what was the idea? Why was the Pentagon first of all opposed to any International? Troops at all and then one of them strictly kept in Kabul, what was that all (00:46:05) about? Well, I think that you have to speak to them on background but my own opinion is that they wanted a free hand. They didn't want to be tied down with logistical and other preoccupations with an international force. And if they wanted unity of command to on the combat side, they saw a Target. They wanted to go after it rather than have a multi lateral Force situation where the consensus discussions of other might be required. (00:46:39) We're talking this hour with former special Envoy and Ambassador on Afghanistan Peter Thompson. He served in Afghanistan from 89 to 90 to he's a fellow at the center for Afghanistan studies at the University of Nebraska working on a new book about the current situation in Afghanistan titled Afghan nightmare fuel. To join our conversation as we catch up on what's happening in that Nation number to call a 6-5 12276 thousand 6512276 thousand. Our toll-free line is 1-800-218-4243 bastard. Would it be fair to say that us interest in Afghanistan has been largely diverted by the focus on Iraq. Why have we been able to keep both balls in the air at the same time? Successfully (00:47:35) I would answer. Yes and no in terms of yes. I think the Administration has continued to give a lot of attention to Afghanistan Hamid Karzai has visited the Washington three times and met the president this year. Also met the president up in New York at the UN General Assembly secretary Rumsfeld with as you know was just enough gone. On he's made a number of trips there as have other high-ranking us officials. The problem has come down to resources and no side that until say mid year this year there when the rock supplemental went forward and everybody said Faith doesn't Afghanistan need more support Afghanistan really did not get much reconstruction Aid sort of Forgotten, you know, we've defeated the Taliban and we'll just let now we'll proceed towards Iraq, but now in that Iraq supplemental there have been funds appropriated and the fiscal year o for funds for Afghanistan reconstruction are more than the fiscal year old three funds. So finally funding is going into of course not but it still is dwarfed by what's going into Iraq like this General Petraeus has excellent General we have in Northern Iraq. Who is pushing reconstruction very hard? He has spent many millions of dollars in reconstruction project programs in his area. And he has the money and he has the Civil Affairs Personnel to to spend it and right away in Afghanistan. I was out there last year and the commander of our civil Affairs operations. There said I only have 14 million and I can use 24 million by the end of the year though. He still had only 14 million. So a lot a lot more can be spent in Afghanistan than is being spent. And I think we're starting to realize that starting move more funds that direction but much more could be spent (00:49:49) levena your comment, (00:49:50) please. My husband and I just spent the month of September in Kabul Afghanistan doing a feasibility study for the possibility of opening up an international school. And while we were there we did lots of different interviews and saw lots of different people in the government and the non-governmental agencies and also the world international programs like UNESCO and I think are feeling as we left was that the people said to us, please don't leave us please. Don't let Afghanistan get off the headlines in America. They are very appreciative our help and very worried that we will forget them again. One of the minister said They are very concerned about United States and hope that they will not be embarrassed by Afghanistan again. They're very sorry and sad that some a Bin Laden was in Afghanistan. They really are friends of our country and really want our support to continue even though there is a lot more emphasis now on other parts of the world. (00:51:07) Thanks for your comments. Thank you square with your impressions Ambassador. (00:51:11) Yes, it does completely and as I mentioned earlier the Afghans want us there they need their they know they need our support. They see the u.s. Is a friendly Democratic country, which the most powerful country in the world which at this point in history and their history as you mentioned Gary. It's really a difficult patch and really they can't survive without us they do though also have the Impression that we're not good finishers And when they see announcements like on in Iraq that there's been some announcements recently that will be maybe pulling back there earlier rather than later that that that really worries them and they think that we left them after the Soviet pull out as well and that we could we could do it again and we've done it in other parts of the world that we just don't have the staying power that that sometimes is required. So you're going to see this attitude sustained among this among the Afghans this fear that will leave before they can get their act together. Their country was essentially hijacked first by the Soviets and then by the extremists from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and and they need a period of Peace five to five years, maybe more. They're very stalwart tough people and eventually when they get their act together. They'll be able to stand on their own two feet. Incidentally. I'd like to add to what the caller said to that. There's not only stakes in Afghanistan. But success in this Democratic process in Afghanistan would have great benefits for US policy in the general Eurasian area and globally as well the Pakistani military and the Iranian Ayatollah has would would not would have to adjust their course if democracy in Afghanistan succeeds. There's already pressures from Below in each country to restore Democratic rule, which is you know, as being essentially rejected by dictators if democracy in Afghanistan succeeds, and this is an important Muslim country in the Muslim World, 25, 25 million people. It will have a ripple effect. Not only among a neighboring Pakistan and Iraq and Iran, but also in the Muslim World generally (00:53:42) Not a lot of time left, but I wanted to run one quote past you. Mr. Ambassador. The UN special representative was quoted as saying the u.s. Now sees the need to build a viable state in Afghanistan. We are no longer solely focused on just trying to catch those responsible for the 9/11 attack. Would you agree? (00:54:00) Yeah. I think that's true that the bond the bond process with working with the Afghans. The Afghans in the lead will end up with a viable State able to defend its own borders and stable and hopefully reconstructing eternally (00:54:16) and this Constitutional Convention presumably over the weekend another important step in that (00:54:21) process. Yeah. Exactly. That's it's a major Milestone is you mentioned earlier in the in the bond process. (00:54:30) Well, thank you so much for joining us. Mr. Ambassador. Really? Appreciate it. Thank you. Gary. Peter Thompson who is a fellow at the center for Center for Afghanistan studies at the University of Nebraska. He was a special us Envoy and Ambassador on Afghanistan from 1989 to 1992 currently working on a book about the situation in Afghanistan the title of which is Afghan nightmare or the rise and Retreat of Muslim extremism in Afghanistan as we been noting through the our the Afghan delegates to the Loya jirga or constitutional convention Grand Council of you will begin meeting on Saturday to try to draft a constitution for Afghanistan. Of course, we'll have continuing coverage of how that process plays out quite a break for some news headlines. And then when we come back we're going to remember a really terrific Minnesotan who had an Amazing story to tell Gisela konopka died this week. She managed to survive the Nazis. She came to the University of Minnesota won worldwide Acclaim for her work in the in the social work area specifically her work with adolescents. You'll hear her story right after the news. Jurors in the Lee Boyd (00:55:55) Malvo trial are hearing testimony about the teenagers State of Mind during the sniper attacks last year around Washington DC and in Florida judge has ordered a new trial for a teenager sentenced to life for killing a playmate. I'm Neal Conan kids and criminal responsibility next Talk of the Nation from NPR news (00:56:14) one o'clock this afternoon here on Minnesota Public Radio. You're tuned to 91.1 Cana wfm Minneapolis. And st. Paul Sunny sky for above the windchill 10 below and we can look for a high temperature today around 15 degrees. So it will warm up at and yet this afternoon, but it's going to feel pretty chilly with Northwest winds 10 to 15 tonight partly cloudy overnight low near zero and then tomorrow a partly cloudy Sky temperature high once again tomorrow right around 15 degrees little warmer weather is forecast for the weekend.


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