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Video: Fox News Sunday Panel on Afghanistan

7:00 AM, Jun 14, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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KRISTOL: We understand that we could pull them out very slowly, and Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton sort of walked it back after President Obama announced it. Over there it sounded like the U.S. is getting out, and everyone's got to hedge and cut their deals.

I think the single best thing the president personally could do now is explicitly say, "Look, we hope to begin drawing down then, but we are here to stay." He needs to...

LIASSON: He said that.

KRISTOL: No, he has not gone on national television once and discussed Afghanistan since this December speech. And you could look pretty hard in his -- for a more than occasional reference to Afghanistan from the White House. And half the White House senior staff, incidentally, are briefing on background that, you know, Karzai's horrible and we have to get out.

The second thing is diplomatically, politically, we're not doing our job over there. The military is doing a good job. General McChrystal's right to say let's get it right rather than doing it quickly. And I think on the whole that General McChrystal certainly knows what he's doing.

The diplomatic effort -- and this is coming from people who are sympathetic, who are on the soft power side of things, who are, you know, from liberal non-governmental organizations -- is that our effort has been bad. It's not just that we lack a reliable partner there.

Richard Holbrooke, the senior diplomat who's in charge of it -- everyone agrees that it's been a fiasco. He's not -- he can't set foot there because Karzai doesn't get along with him. Ambassador Eikenberry doesn't get along with General McChrystal. He doesn't get along either -- Eikenberry, that is -- with Karzai. All the burden has fallen on the military.

When you pick up the newspapers this morning, there's a story about how the military is trying to work out the diplomacy with the Afghan government. The military's trying to work out what happens in Kandahar. Where are our civilian and diplomatic assets? They've really been wanting. And that is where the White House can play a role.

I ask well, what is the White House doing about this. Well, they're very distant. They assume that this -- Holbrooke and Eikenberry know what they're doing. They need to be serious about resourcing and supervising the diplomatic and civilian side of the effort. General McChrystal has got the military side, I think, under control.

WILLIAMS: Well, I think there's a reason that the Obama administration set a deadline. And I don't know how it's playing in Afghanistan, but I'll tell you how it's playing here at home, which is that most of the American people at this point, according to a poll this week, think that it's not worth it.

And when you look at the death toll -- this week you had 39 international troops, 27 American troops, killed in Afghanistan -- and you look at the cost of the war, and you look at the likelihood of success, I think the American people -- and by the way, increasing numbers of Republicans -- are saying it's just not worth it.

Exactly what are we doing? If we are fighting the Taliban, if it's about going after them, we've got to go in to places like Kandahar and go across into Pakistan, and we've got to go at them directly. OK.

But what are we doing with General McChrystal's strategy of nation- building? Now, how are you going to nation-build when, in fact, the Karzai government is not worthy of trust because they are so filled with graft to the point that his brother is a power in Kandahar, and his brother -- you know, the suspicion is that you give power to the brother and he's going to make his own deal with the Taliban, and he's got drug trade and drug deals. The American people say, "This is a mess. What are you doing?"

HUME: So what...

WILLIAMS: "This reminds us of Vietnam."

HUME: So you got (inaudible) Juan, the polls are not good on this issue at the moment. So what should the policy be?

WILLIAMS: The policy should be here is a clear and straight goal. Here's what we are trying to achieve, which is to defeat the Taliban and stop terrorists from coming over to the United States.

HUME: Right, but you...

WILLIAMS: In terms of nation-building, Brit, I just don't think the American people feel it.

HUME: Well, I know, but if you go in -- no one doubts the ability of the United States military to go down there and take over for a period of time Kandahar and suppress the Taliban in the region. The question arises, then what, particularly if we ever want to leave.

We can stay there and have a sort of a military viceroyship there for a period of time under our control. But you need local authorities eventually to be in charge there. That's nation-building.

WILLIAMS: All for it. Let local authorities be in charge.

LIASSON: They can't.

WILLIAMS: But let them realize that the minute that they engage in terrorist activity or support of terrorist activity, the hammer will fall.

HUME: In other words, our military will still be there to do this.

WILLIAMS: Our military will come back. But we don't need -- we have 100,000 people...

KRISTOL: Well, then look. It's fine. Juan has a -- has articulately expressed a point of view which is not President Obama's point of view. But it does not excuse the president from not making sure this thing works. He committed the troops. He said it was an absolute priority to win there. And I do not believe he is...

WALLACE: Do you think there's -- do you think -- and we've got less than a minute left. Is there a right way to handle Karzai? You obviously think we've done it the right wrong. What's the right way?

KRISTOL: I think we have a lot of leverage on President Karzai. I think we probably should be tougher with his brother. It's distressing that the two respective ministers quit a couple of weeks ago.

I don't think we've been effective in using the leverage we have on Karzai. Ultimately, Karzai's better off with us winning than with the Taliban and the Pakistanis winning. He can hedge all he wants, but that's not a bright future for Hamid Karzai. We have to use our leverage intelligently, and that requires diplomacy.

HUME: And it probably requires some different people from those who have so manifestly failed so far.


LIASSON: Yeah, I think probably that's true. I think that if you can't get somebody who's able to do the holding after you've done the clearing, you're not going to be successful.

WALLACE: All right. Thank you, panel. See you next week.

And don't forget to check out the latest edition of "Panel Plus" where our group here continues the discussion on our Web site, And we promise we'll post the video before noon Eastern time.

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