Tom Bowman, Chuck Hagel, Vietnam discussed on Here & Now
From npr and wvu are. I'm robin young. And i'm tanya moseley. It's here now. President biden is back at the white house after his first foreign trip. Which included meeting with russian president vladimir putin the g. seven england and the nato summit in brussels and the war in afghanistan was a major topic biden repeated his pledge to end the war by september. Eleventh which is the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Our troops are coming home. We agreed that our diplomatic economic humanitarian commitment to the afghan people and our support. For the afghan national defensive security forces will endure and that american withdrawal from afghanistan is now underway. Npr's tom bowman told us just yesterday. That all us troops could be home by mid july. Which is well ahead of schedule. Let's bring in former defense secretary. Chuck hagel for more and secretary hagel. Welcome back to the show. We actually haven't spoken to you. Since president biden announced his plan to end. The war is a good idea. It is a good idea. We've been there for twenty years. We've done a lot of good. But after twenty years i think we expect that the afghan government is strong enough independent enough. Do carry on without us. Now we're going to continue to support them diplomatically economically in every way. But we're not gonna continue the fight a war form. And i don't i don't think we should. There's no military resolution to this. It's going be decided by the people by the afghan people Diplomacy yes the military is part of it. But this can't continue to drag out. This is not two thousand and one. This is twenty years later. They're different threats. Certain to the united states in the world coming from all parts of the world so I think the reevaluation that president biden put into this is correct. I think is decision is correct secretary. You know the big worry though. Is that that this withdrawal will open the door wider to the taliban. They have not lived up to the peace agreement terms that they signed with the trump administration. Is this a concern for you. Well sure There are risks in every decision of president makes. And you've gotta decide where. America is going to place its resources. What are its priorities. And as i said after twenty years it would seem to me. And i think the american people would expect this to that win. Will the afghan government be strong enough to defend itself. I don't know what's going to happen there I suspect they'll be some compromise in how they a government. I don't know but there's risk and everything and i don't think you can as president be paralyzed by risks in going through a what. If what. if what. If scenario every day on every decision you gotta make a decision. I understand exactly what you're saying. It's been twenty years But do you have confidence that the the afghan government can stop the taliban at this stage from taking control of the whole country. They already control much of the rule areas. Yes well the taliban very strong but let's evaluate that. Why are they strong. Well obviously a lot of people in afghanistan or them now. They have brutal tactics intimidate but they couldn't be as strong as they currently are without the people of afghanistan or stripling. A large portion of people have ghanistan supporting him and if the people are against government. I mean i served in vietnam. That's a good example of what can happen. The people turn against a government. And there's nothing united states can do you can drop or kinds of bombs. Spent twenty years in a lot of casualties on both sides. And we've taken a lot. Thousands of dead americans and wounded. And so again you gotta at some point come to a point as a leader in our national interest make a decision and it is uncertain but i think the decision for the right reasons been made. I wanna ask you about something something else secretary. It seems clear. Though that the focus is now turning away from the middle east and to china and russia do these two countries now pose in your view the the biggest national security threat to the us and broadly. How does the administration counter that threat. Well yes i think. They do represent the biggest threats to this country those two nations as any nations out there today. The answer the question that you just ask. How do you counter this. I think it's exactly what president biden has done this week. You start with your friends with your allies. With your partner strengthening alliances we have formed and built since world war two. You're much stronger as an alliance as a group of nations in dealing with adversaries democratically economically militarily intelligence. You're far far stronger. I think president biden is wise in strengthening those alliances especially before he met with president putin president xi in china china's watching this. That's the first step. The second step is to be very clear very direct. As a president biden. president putin's conversation was according to reports. You come at this from a position of strength not weakness but strength as president biden said you. You lay down rules of the road now. That doesn't mean that the other countries are gonna follow it. The main do necessarily trust the other countries. But i think you've got to clear the air you have to engage. You have to be direct. And i think that's that's where president biden is headed former defense secretary. Chuck hagel secretary. Thank you so much for speaking with us well. How hot is it in the western. 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