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Is Afghanistan the Next Iraq?; Is Afghanistan Ready to Go It Alone?; Cameron's Euro-Woes; Imagine a World

Aired June 25, 2014 - 14:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight after the disaster in Iraq, could Afghanistan go the same way? The former special envoy, Marc

Grossman, joins me live.

And later in the program, the British prime minister in the firing line again. Why this time it really does matter.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Could Afghanistan be the next Iraq? The violence that's rocking Kabul and other parts of the country with another four people killed today and 27

dead since the summer offensive began, raises the harsh specter of an Iraq- like disaster, once U.S. and NATO forces pull out at the end of the year.

The Obama administration's confident claim that Iraqi forces were ready to take over back in December 2011 collapsed when they fled the ISIS onslaught

two weeks ago.

So should Afghanistan have any more faith in their U.S. trained forces, being strong enough to stand up alone? Of course Iraq's problem was

compounded by its hopelessly sectarian political leadership.

In Afghanistan, the hope as they aim for a successful transition that rests largely on a successful election. But even that is not going according to

plan right now, because after a successful first round in which he got most votes, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah dropped out of the race in

protest, accusing his main opponent, Ashraf Ghani-Ahmadzai and the electoral commission of fraud in the second round.

One commission member has now resigned and Abdullah is reportedly considering jumping back in. But the stakes could not be higher as an

emboldened Taliban steps up attacks ahead of international forces pulling out.

No one knows the pitfalls and the possibilities better than the former ambassador Marc Grossman, as special representative for Afghanistan and

Pakistan, he was the Obama administration's point man in some of the toughest yet vital peace negotiations.

So welcome to the program, Ambassador.

MARC GROSSMAN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REP FOR AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN: Thank you very much, Christiane. It's a pleasure to be with you.

AMANPOUR: Let me first ask you in this incredibly important election underway in Afghanistan, what are the perils and the pitfalls and do you

think it's going to be wrecked, this election? Or will it continue?

GROSSMAN: Well, I certainly think it's going to continue. I think your introduction was very much right on to talk about the challenges in

Afghanistan and compare them to Iraq. But if you think about there are many important differences as well. The first one I think that's most

important is President Obama has already announced and decided that there will be U.S. forces in Afghanistan, 9,800, after January 1, 2015. And I

think that's going to bring some international forces as well.

Second, when you talked in your very good introduction about the Iraqi military, I think so far the Afghan National Security Forces, police, army,

intelligence, they've shown themselves that they're going to fight because they've been fighting now for some months. Don't forget, it was in the

middle of 2013 that although there are still U.S. troops there, they're not in a combat role anymore.

So the Afghan National Security Forces, they're fighting; they're taking casualties and I think they will continue to fight.

And third, on the election, I've got to step back. The first part of the election, as you said, I think was a huge success and a testament to the

Afghan people. There's been some -- excuse me -- trouble in the second part of it. But I think, as you said, that Abdullah Abdullah has today

announced that he's again prepared to negotiate with the election commission that is a positive sign.

AMANPOUR: So let me just step back and take the election first before we go onto the forces and other such things.

What are the perils? I mean, some have suggested that even contesting this second round is playing with fire.

What are the perils if this election does not go smoothly and that there is not a clear and transparent winner that's accepted by all?

GROSSMAN: Well, Christiane, I think the perils are enormous. And you're exactly right. The standard here is a president of Afghanistan that is

seen by -- seen as legitimate by a majority of Afghans and they were well on their way to achieving that in the first draft and now have to come back

and work together to achieve it in the second.

And indeed, if you think about what the -- what the lessons of Iraq are, I hope that every Afghan is sitting in the evening, thinking clearly about

the lessons of Iraq and most importantly on this question of getting through the challenges of the second part of the election so that there is

a precedent; that president is legitimate and can lead the nation.

AMANPOUR: And if the election is slowed down, if the timetable doesn't go according to plan, that then, I understand, might threaten the whole

agreement to get the extra residual U.S. forces to stay, even to the end of 2016.

GROSSMAN: Yes, that's exactly right. Both candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani have said that they would, as a matter of priority, sign

the bilateral security agreement. It's the BSA, the bilateral security agreement which opens the way for U.S. forces to stay.

And so if it's not signed, as you say, there's a very big challenge. And that's something I hope that every Afghan is watching what's happening in

Iraq and make -- try to make sure that at least as far as that goes, it doesn't happen in Afghanistan.

AMANPOUR: Clearly obviously I hope Afghanistan really gets its act together on that because nobody wants to see what happened in Iraq.

But I do want to challenge you a little bit on your very confident statement about the Afghan forces. I want to play for you what then Deputy

National Security Adviser Denis McDonough said in 2011, just before U.S. forces pulled out.


DENIS MCDONOUGH, U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What we were looking for was an Iraq that was secure, stable and self-reliant, and

that's exactly what we got here, so there's no question this is a success.


AMANPOUR: So and none of those things were borne out, not secure, not stable, not self-reliant and most definitely not a success.

Again, why should anybody have any more confidence, given the incredible fighting that you point out is still going on?

Why should anybody have any more confidence that without a robust international force the Afghan forces will be able to stand up on their


GROSSMAN: Well, Christiane, I think three things. One is that -- and again, I don't make any comparison here to Iraq, to just talk about

Afghanistan -- is that if you consider what has happened in Afghanistan since 2003, Afghanistan's a different country for a very large number of

Afghans. And you and I know the statistics about all the changes that have come there.

The reason I raise it with you is that I think that Afghans are going to fight for what it is that they have achieved. They're not going to just

allow the Taliban to come back and say, hey, we're going back to 2001 or 2002. I think they'll fight for what they've got.

Second thing is, unlike Iraq, the president, secretary of state, all of us tried very hard, as you'll recall, to create a regional structure around

Afghanistan so that if the Afghans would be secure, stable prosperous, you hope, inside of a secure stable, prosperous region. And clearly Iraqis

don't have the same -- don't have the same possibilities today.

But I think Afghans do.

And third, really importantly as well, in both the NATO summit in May of 2012 and the Tokyo meeting in later that year, in July of 2012, countries

made very important promises to fund the ANSF for years to come, to provide development assistance for years to come.

And so if our countries will meet those obligations, I think Afghans have a chance to fight for what they've achieved.

AMANPOUR: Do you know, Ambassador, you just said if our countries will meet those obligations, and obviously everything hangs on that. And there

are many serious people who doubt that those obligations will be met once forces pull out.

But beyond that, you were also -- and you were right in the center of this -- trying to frame a pullout in a peace solution, in other words, trying to

get the Taliban from the battlefield around the negotiating table. And you said on CNN not two weeks ago, you said the following, that, "One of the

things I learned in all the years that I had the privilege of being the U.S. diplomat, that diplomacy has got to be backed by force."

That is what you said because at the time you described the Taliban walking away from the peace table as they saw the United States was pulling its

troops down. You even said, as those numbers went down.

So again, the perils of trying to achieve peace if the numbers are so clearly going down.

GROSSMAN: Yes, I still think that diplomacy has got to be backed by force, which is why I think President Obama made the right decision in making sure

that there were still going to be troops in Afghanistan on January 1, 2015. I mean, I'm no longer part of the debate, obviously, in the administration.

But I read in the paper that there were people who were arguing that that number might be zero. And if the number were zero, then the challenge for

our diplomats is exponentially more difficult.

But I think if you are the Taliban today -- and again, I don't know but let's you and I imagine that you're looking at this from the Taliban

perspective, you hope, Christiane, what they see is a successful election, a new president, a signed BSA, 9,800 American troops and perhaps some

number in the 3,000 of foreign forces, people meeting their obligations from Chicago and Tokyo and some economic growth that's happening in


And they have to look up and decide we're not going to win this thing militarily. Let's see if we can't find some way for Afghans to talk to

other Afghans about the future of Afghanistan.

We'll see. I don't give you any guarantee of that. But that seems to me got to be your working theory.

AMANPOUR: Indeed. And let's say that's the best-case scenario and that's the hope. But again, many people -- you're right -- thought that there

would be no residual U.S. forces left. And what we've seen is ,you know, pretty minimal, but important residual force there.

And remember only until the end of 2016 or only until 2016, I'm sorry. This is what I asked Hillary Clinton in the town hall I conducted with her

last week about the perils of owning such a small timetable. Listen to what she said about perhaps extending that.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I would only say this: if in 2016, you have a president and a government in Afghanistan that appears to

be doing everything it can to maintain security and provide services to its people and they were to come, not only the United States, but remember NATO

has an enduring presence, and they were to say, "We hope you will continue to help us in this way," that kind of thoughtful conversation will not be

rejected, in my opinion.


AMANPOUR: So I found that very interesting. She may or may not be a presidential candidate; she was secretary of state. And she's saying, you

know, this timetable may be fungible. We may keep them if the conditions are right even beyond 2016.

Do you think that would be smart?

GROSSMAN: Well, again, it would depend on the conditions. I think it would be smart to debate it if you had conditions that were either, let's

say, more negative than they are today or even perhaps, Christiane, more positive. I mean, what if things go kind of fairly well until now in 2016

and you thought for another few months, another year would cement that progress.

So I don't think it has to be just a negative or the positive. And the other thing is, again, when the president made this decision, he had not

yet confronted the ISIL in Iraq. And so, here again, you don't know what's going to happen. There are the 9,800 troops there. The president has

made, I think, a very important timetable. But again, events will tell.

I think it's also important to recognize -- you know, we talk about this; I saw a very good clip with Secretary Clinton -- you know, the American

people of course are tired of Afghanistan. And so whatever you would have to do, you'd have to make a pretty good case to the public.

AMANPOUR: That's what leadership's all about, isn't it, Ambassador?

GROSSMAN: Yes it is, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Marc Grossman, thank you very much indeed.

GROSSMAN: Thanks for having me.

AMANPOUR: And as Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, prepares to leave office under a cloud and also deeply estranged from the United States after

all these years, it's tempting to look back to 2001, two months after 9/11, when a charismatic young Pashtun tribal leader was rescued from certain

death at the hands of the Taliban by U.S. special forces.

With their help, Hamid Karzai turned his tiny tribal band into a small army and forced Kandahar to surrender before he got to Kabul. It was the first

step to becoming America's ally and the first step towards real hope of a nation being reborn.

And after a break, another world leader under a bit of a cloud, Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, his woeful week when we come back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Now it's fair to say that the British Prime Minister David Cameron has had better weeks. In an embarrassing airing of dirty laundry, leaked

recordings of the Polish foreign minister revealed with a string of expletives that he believed Mr. Cameron had badly handled his E.U. policy.

His strong stand against the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker is likely to leave him wrong-footed and isolated. And to the jeers of a packed

Parliament, Prime Minister Cameron had to apologize for ever even appointing Andy Coulson as his director of communication. That's after

Coulson was convicted of phone hacking in a sensational and costly trial here in London this week.

So with the U.K., a key U.S. ally and one who could play a major role on the world stage, I'm joined now by James Blitz. He's the lead writer at

the "Financial Times" and we want to see how this will affect Britain's profile and its clout.

Welcome. Welcome to the program.

JAMES BLITZ, THE "FINANCIAL TIMES": Thank you. Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: First, let me ask you about this trial and the conviction of Andy Coulson. Of course, today, some other charges were thrown out.

They'll have to probably go to trial -- again. But is this going to have a lingering effect, despite the embarrassment on the prime minister.

BLITZ: I don't think so. It's certainly embarrassing. Andy Coulson was appointed as David Cameron's head of communications when he was in

opposition in 2005 and then went to Downing Street with him. And many people said to David Cameron at the time, you really must be careful. This

man was editor at the "News of the World" newspaper. He had to stand down. There were allegations of phone hacking; this could come back to hurt you.

David Cameron ignored that and stuck with him. He really relied on Andy Coulson's advice, hugely when he was in Number 10. Now it's embarrassing

for him, but Andy Coulson has been convicted in the phone hacking trial. Andy has to apologize. But you have to ask yourself the question, how much

is the British public really following this kind of thing? At the end of the day, this is seen by a lot of British people as a kind of Westminster-

centric issue involving politicians and the press, not something that affects their real lives.

AMANPOUR: All right. But so does Europe affect their real lives?

How much is the British public following what also looks like a very inside politics fight over how much to belong to Europe and the prime minister

trying to make a strong stand against who actually is appointed to lead Europe?

How is that going to go for him? And how much does that matter to the Brits?

BLITZ: Well, that's a much more important question, I think, the much more important issue for him.

You have to remember, first of all, that Europe is a top tick issue in British politics and as in a number of European countries, a very

significant form of some European elections by the United Kingdom Independence Party, which is against our membership of the European Union

altogether. So this is a big issue.

AMANPOUR: Oh, we're really a rise of the Far Right and the eurosceptics this time around.

BLITZ: Exactly. So this is an important issue. And what happened here is that David Cameron is saying I don't want this man, Jean-Claude Juncker, to

be president of the European Commission. He's not somebody who's going to take Europe forward in the way we want to. He's one of yesterday's men.

He's not a liberalizer. And so he's fought this tremendous pitched battled against this man becoming president of the European Commission and he's

probably going to lose it.

AMANPOUR: He's probably going to lose it. But was he right to fight this pitched battle?

I mean, what does the "FT" say about Juncker being the head of the E.U. Commission?

BLITZ: Well, the view of the newspaper is that he shouldn't be. But in the end -- and that is our editorial stance -- that really Europe does need

to come up with somebody who is more modernizing and doesn't represent the past. At the end of the day, Juncker is seen as an integrationist; he's

seen as somebody who's very much connected with back room deals, the old ways of doing things. And you need a president of the European Commission

who is going to give Europeans who have voted significantly for, as you said, anti-European parties, a sense that something new is happening.

The trouble is that Cameron's tactics, not just on this, but generally -- and this is coming to the point that Radek Sikorski was making -- have

really not been helpful to his case.

AMANPOUR: Right. So the Polish foreign minister, Radek Sikorsky, in all these leaked tapes, you know, all sorts of swear words all over the place,

judging David Cameron's tactics and his negotiating skills, basically saying they were wrong. He was wrong-footed.

BLITZ: Yes. I don't think he's just talking about the Juncker case in those tapes, from what one can see. He's talking about the way Cameron has

approached the European Union --


BLITZ: -- yes, exactly. What's happened, I think the argument of many Europeans is we sort of understand what you're saying about Juncker, but

you have been so against everything in the European Union, Prime Minister Cameron, that we really can't back you.

He's gone for the referendum in the United Kingdom in 2017, saying we've got to renegotiate our position. He's stood up very firmly against

financial transactions tax, which the European Union wants to introduce. He stood up against changes to the constitutional structure a couple of

years ago. It's been a kind of one-man fight. And this very shrill tone has gone down very badly with European leaders, even those like Angela

Merkel, who actually privately don't think Juncker should be the man.

AMANPOUR: Right. So this leads to the very, very important situation about Britain's relationship with Europe.

Throwing red meat to the eurosceptics to try to quiet down his right-hand side, his right flank, what does the "FT" say about just the way this

referendum might go? He's now committed to this referendum.

What if they vote no? What will that do to Britain?

BLITZ: Well --

AMANPOUR: Referendum, I'm saying, in Europe?

BLITZ: -- I think we have to sort of get our ducks in the row, first of all. Obviously there will only be a referendum in the United Kingdom in

2017 if the conservatives are elected at next year's general elections. And that's something that has to be said. If that happens and Cameron

comes back, it is going to a very tough fight. He's not been very clear about what it is he actually wants renegotiated. There's clearly some

repatriation of powers, some sort of restrictions on migrants coming in and so forth into the country, some repatriation of powers greater say for

Parliament. A lot of European leaders believe in that. But the trouble is, as you say, and again going back to the Sikorski tape, he's constantly

having to throw red meat to the eurosceptics.

And so the question you ask yourself is where will this end? The real problem at the end of the day is that the Juncker nomination at the end of

this week will be the start of a difficult period for him. He will have to explain to the British public why he was against this man and why now

Britain should stay in the European Union when this man is in charge.

AMANPOUR: I don't envy him that challenge and that task.


AMANPOUR: James Blitz, leader writer for the "FT," thank you very much indeed --


BLITZ: Good to be here. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: -- thank you.

And if you think Prime Minister Cameron took his lumps this week, as we've heard, consider England's football team, brought to its knees and

eliminated from the World Cup without a single win. It's the first time that's happened since 1958.

And while Mr. Cameron has endured biting criticism in the House of Commons, Uruguay's Luis Suarez -- he's the one on the right -- has drawn outrage for

this, biting a member of the opposing Italian team. It wouldn't be the first time he's sunk his teeth into the opposition. But for all the

ugliness on the pitch, there is a reason they call football the beautiful game, especially in Brazil, where it's not a religion, it is much more than

that . We'll show you the proof when we come back.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world where football is more than just a pastime or a passion, it's a sacrament. Take a look.



CHRISTOPHER PILLITZ, PHOTOGRAPHER (voice-over): My name is Christopher Pillitz. I've been a photographer for 30 years, and in '97, I began in

earnest the project on football when in Brazil and what it means to Brazilians. Anybody can play a -- with a ball. And anybody does play,

young and old, women and men. You could be rich or poor. You could play it anywhere.

I went to a Petrobras oil rig off the coast of Rio and lo and behold, they were playing football on a pitch, a mini-pitch, enclosed obviously in a

cage, because otherwise the ball would be flying everywhere. And it was just a very special moment.

I did the same on a skyscraper in Sao Paulo, which I was very lucky to find, where these kids were defying gravity, playing football on a top of a

30-story building oblivious to the fact that the ball could just fly over the edge of the building and end up down 30 floors below.

Brazil is a multiethnic, multicultural, multireligious country. I specifically went looking for imagery that would reinforce those undeniable

facts about the link between religion and football. People will go to a priestess to bless themselves or bless the good fortunes of the team at the

World Cup, like they no doubt are doing right now. This is not purely an exclusivity about football. This is really about one aspect, one important

aspect of Brazilian culture as seen through the prism of football.


AMANPOUR: Our little slice of World Cup life.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.