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Kabul Reacts to President Trump's Decision to Commit More U.S. Troops to Afghanistan; Interview with NATO Secretary General on Afghanistan Strategy; Advocating for Anarchy; Three Brothers Saved from Rubble After Italian Quake. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 22, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET


[14:00:00] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: We'll have reaction from Kabul to Donald Trump's decision to commit more US troops to the fight.


ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, CHIEF EXECUIVE OFFICER OF AFGHANISTAN: We hope that it will change the balance on the battlefield in the course of time in favor

from Afghan security forces.


HOLMES: And from Brussels, the NATO Secretary-General who has some 5,000 troops there tells me staying the course is in everyone's interests.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: We have suffered many casualties. There is a high financial cost. Bu we have to compare that

cost of action with the cost of inaction.


HOLMES: Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the program. I'm Michael Holmes in London.

Well, before he became president, Donald Trump had many times said America should abandon the longest war in its history and pull out of Afghanistan.

But he told Americans in a primetime address being in the White House changed his mind.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts. But all my life

I've heard that decisions are much different. When you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.

One way or another, these problems will be solved. I'm a problem solver. And in the end we will win.


HOLMES: But the president was unclear what winning might look like. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan are now higher than at any point since the

U.N. started keeping track in 2009. On average, more than nine every single day. And Afghanistan's security forces of being killed at an alarming


President Trump's plan to give the military more control over how to conduct the war, including to add thousands more to the 8,400 American

troops there. Abdullah Abdullah us the chief executive of Afghanistan's unity government, and he told me he has high hopes for the president's



ABDULLAH: We welcome the announcement of the policy as well as the process that the policymaking went through -- intense consultations here in Kabul,

but mainly that in Washington. And then as a result, a comprehensive policy which we hope that it will change the balance on the battlefield in

the course of time, in favor of Afghan security forces.

HOLMES: In the eyes of man, it was very vague though. It was basically defeat ISIS, defeat al Qaeda, defeat the Taliban. It sounds like what the

aim has always been. Why would this change the battlefield?

ABDULLAH: This time around, with the regional aspects of the policy as well as clear messages, in very resolute and firm messages, (INAUDIBLE) to

the Taliban, Daesh, terrorist groups altogether, to their countries of the region, as well as the fact that it's not time bound but rather condition


These are the elements of the policy which makes it different. And also there is another factor that in the three (ph) years, Afghan security

forces have proven themselves to be effective -- to be effective forces. But at the same time in need of support.

HOLMES: You mention regional players and that was a very important part of this speech. The president basically warning Pakistan that aid could be at

risk if it continues support and safe haven for elements of the Taliban.

There's been a lot of pressure on Pakistan before, under previous administrations, and it has not worked. Why would it this time?

ABDULLAH: I would say that this around, the message is much more clear than any other time in the past. And also while that has been announced by

the President of the United States, we continue to extend hands of friendship towards the regional countries based on the fact that these

terrorist groups, including Taliban, will not serve the interest of any country in this region.

HOLMES: I want to play just part of the president's speech, if I may, and then ask you a question about it.

Let's listen to that.


TRUMP: From now on, victory will have a clear definition -- attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from

taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge.

[14:05:16] Military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in that country. But strategically applied

force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.


HOLMES: The president there says that your military power alone won't bring peace. But a lot of what he was saying in his address is about

military power.

Do you think enough is being done in the political sphere to bring about a negotiated settlement, to bring the Taliban to the table?

ABDULLAH: Yes, sir. In order to -- to achieve those conditions, Taliban needs to see pressure. And if they believe that there is no pressure, and

there is uncertainty about the future, and they can only count -- they can only count on their own violence and also on their links with the other

terrorist groups with the hope to win the war. And also earlier, as the policies of previous administrations when it was announced that Taliban are

not the enemy, or when the date was announced -- withdrawal date was announced, that was of course with intentions, with good intentions, to

encourage Taliban to -- into the peace process.

But the nature of these sort of forces are that, unless they see the pressure, they will not -- they will not come forward.

HOLMES: You mentioned advances that are being made by the regular forces in Afghanistan over the years. The reality is that they're taking a lot of

losses on the battlefield, more than ever before. The other reality is the Taliban have been making battlefield gains.

Given that situation on the ground, what's in it for the Taliban to negotiate? If they're winning on the battlefield, why should they give

that up?

ABDULLAH: There used to be altogether 140,000 international troops on the ground. Today, the number is less than one-tenth. That means that the

main burden is shared by our own forces, and that comes with heavy price in terms of the casualties.

The point is that when the exit date was announced, Taliban thought that it's only a matter of time before they get back. This making it condition

based is also -- is also a new situation, which will have an impact on the outcome of the war in Afghanistan.

HOLMES: You've got senior U.S. military officials who variously said that the war is at a stalemate, or the U.S. we are not winning was it was

another quote.

Staving off the defeat is very different to winning, of course. The president said, quote, in the end we will win.

What does victory look like to you in Afghanistan?

ABDULLAH: Although the argument by senior U.S. military officers -- officials earlier, about this statement, it was the right argument. And I

think that was an important factor in shaping the policy towards Afghanistan.

Winning in Afghanistan would mean that the Taliban would come to the conclusion that they cannot win the war militarily, and most groups amongst

them become ready to talk and to negotiate to give up violence and also links with the terrorist groups, and be a part of the political process.

Of course, that's some times to come. That's not today, that's not tomorrow. But with the clarity of the policy in from position in this

regard, I hope the impact will be sooner rather than later.

HOLMES: Chief executive for Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah. Thanks so much for your time today.

ABDULLAH: You're welcome. Thank you.

HOLMES: Well, of course the United States is not going it alongein Afghanistan. NATO has about 5,000 troops there. And President Trump plans

to ask for more.

Jens Stoltenberg is NATO's Secretary General. I spoke with him earlier from Belgium.


HOLMES: Jens Stoltenberg, thanks so much for being with us on the program. The president basically has said that we will attack the enemy and we will

win. What's new about this?

STOLTENBERG: Well, this is an important speech because it shows a very strong U.S. commitment to Afghanistan.

[14:10:07] It underlines that this -- the conditions on the ground that will decide how long we are going to stay. And also the very strong focus

on the region, the regional approach. Especially they address the problem with the sanctuaries in Pakistan that has to be addressed to -- if you're

going to win and make progress in Afghanistan.

HOLMES: There was one interesting quote in the speech where the president basically said we will ask our NATO allies to, you know, keep up their

commitments in line with ours. When he says we will ask, was this not run by NATO beforehand?

STOLTENBERG: Well, this is a NATO mission and operation in Afghanistan. It's NATO's biggest military operation ever, and there's a strong

commitment in NATO to Afghanistan. We have to remember that the reason why NATO is in Afghanistan is an attack on the United States on 9/11/2001. And

hundreds of thousands of European soldiers, Canadian soldiers, and partner -- soldiers from partner countries have served alongside U.S. soldiers in

Afghanistan for many, many years.

So this shows that NATO is important for Europe, but NATO is also important for the United States, because we invoked our Article 5 defense clause

after attack on the United States on 9/11.

HOLMES: It's a good point that you raise, Article 5 as being a mutual defense, and the defense in that case of the United States after 9/11.

Sixteen years later, is the defense of the United States still the reason that NATO is there?

STOLTENBERG: Yes, because we are there to make sure that Afghanistan not once again becomes a safe haven for international terrorists, able to

organize, to plan attacks against the United States like we saw on 9/11 ,but also of course avoid that or prevent that from happening against any

other NATO-allied countries in Europe or Canada.

So the reason why NATO and NATO allies are in Afghanistan is our own security. It is a way to fight terrorism. It is a way to reduce the risk of

big terrorist attacks against our own countries.

HOLMES: When the president says we will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support this new strategy with additional troops and funding

increases in line with our own, do you think the NATO membership will go along with that? Do you think there will be an increase in troop numbers

and funding them in line with what the Americans are planning?

STOLTENBERG: Well, we are now closely consulting and discussing these issues with the United State and other NATO allies. And we have already

decided in NATO to increase our presence -- 50 nations pledged in June that they will have to increase the froce contributions to our mission in

Afghanistan. And the European NATO allies and Canada and partners have already also committed $1 billion U.S. dollars or funding ever year for the

Afghan national army and security forces.

So NATO allies also, non-U.S. allies, are committed.

HOLMES: When the president says we will win, what does victory look like to you?

STOLTENBERG: For me, the most important goal, aim, of our military operation in Afghanistan is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a

platform, a safe haven, for terrorists to organize, plan, train, for attacks on other countries as we saw in the United States in 2001, but also

we have seen other places in -- in Europe.

I agree that there's a high costs with our presence in Afghanistan. We have suffered many casaulties. There is a high financial cost. But we

have to compare the cost of action with the cost of inaction. And to leave Afghanistan now will really increase the risk of making Afghanistan a

country where al Qaeda, ISIL, different terrorist organizations can operate freely and plan, prepare attacks on our countries. And that cost is higher

than the cost of staying committed in Afghanistan and gradually helping Afghans to be even better in fighting terrorism themselves.

HOLMES: It's just been such a slow process, has or not? I remember being in Afghanistan with Afghan helicopter pilots being trained seven years ago.

And we're still talking about this.

I'm just wondering, you know, do you think that victory is different to staving off defeat? And do you think you and I could be having this

conversation and four years, in the next the president's term?

[14:15:03] Or 10 years?

STOLTENBERG: I will be very careful about predicting about the future, because we have seen many times that there are surprises. There are many

different or difficult challenges in Afghanistan, and I remember I was prime minister back in Norway when we started to go into Afghanistan as

NATO, as the NATO alliance. And I didn't believe back then that we were going to be there for 17 years.

But having said that, again if we compare the alternative to continue to be in Afghanistan, which -- with a much smaller force than we had just a few

years ago, compare that with leaving, I'm absolutely certain that to stay is the best alternative.

HOLMES: And there goes Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, thanks so much for your time today.

STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much.


HOLMES: And after a short break, democracy feeling the squeeze in the United States. My next guest says anarchy is the answer to our strange

new world. That's hwen we come back.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. President Trump is back on the road. He's heading to Arizona tonight for campaign-style rally, leaving behind the

controversy over his comments on Charlottesville and surrounding himself with his loyal support base who like his anti-establishment style of


Well, my guest says the best kind of government is no government at all, or anarchy.

Carne Ross is a former British and U.N. diplomat who resigned over the Iraq War. He's the author of the book, "The Independent Diplomat", and the

subject of a new documentary, "The Accidental Anarchist".

And Carne Ross joins us now in the studio. Geat to have you here. Let's start up with anarchy, which is your thing. To a lot of people, that sort

of evokes images of young men with masks and black T-shirts throwing Molotov cocktails in the street. But you, I know, are against violent

anarchy. What is your simple definition of what it is?

CARNE ROSS, AUTHOR, "INDEPENDENT DIPLOMAT": Two sentences. It's the rejection of one person having power over another, of hierarchy. And,

secondly, it's people being part of and taking the decisions about their circumstances and futures. Self-government, if you like. That to me is


The view of anarchists as violent rejectionists, as kind of fringe radicals, is a way of dismissing the importance of these ideas.

HOLMES: When it comes to Donald Trump, you have really a shining example of somebody who does not follow diplomatic or political norms.

ROSS: The fact that somebody like that, as objectionable and racist and divisive as that, can come to be the president of the United States is a

great indictment of that system. And partly it's come to pass because that constitutional system has become, in many ways, dysfunctional.

A great many people feel disenfranchised, not only on the right, but across the board in America. There's enormous cynicism about the (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: But is his chaotic style -- and it is chaotic -- is that not shaking up the system itself?

ROSS: Not in a good way. You know, clearly in Charlottesville, the shaking up of the system amounts to appealing to and, you know, in a dog-

whistle implicit way endorsing the views of the far right.

[14:20:09] So, you know, you're shaking up the system, but in the worst possible way.

HOLMES: When you look at the rise of populism in general, do you think that this is a symptom of that, what we're seeing with Donald Trump in

Charlottesville and other parts of the world? Or do you see this as a solution in a way, populism?

ROSS: I find populism as a term difficult because I don't really know what it means. It doesn't unite -- you know, we shouldn't use it to unite very

different phenomena.

What I think is that we're looking at a crisis of late stage capitalism. Capitalism as iterated in the West is not working for a lot of people.

They don't feel their interests are being attended to. They feel they're getting worse off. A small majority -- a small, very small minority, sorry

-- are getting much better off. People are feeling cheated by the system. That is a common phenomenon.

But, in America, populism is working out through the ghastly manifestation of Trump. And in America, it's a lot about race, which is a peculiarly and

unpleasantly American phenomenon, which I think has gone unacknowledged through American politics for very long time and is now bursting into the


HOLMES: You were advising the Syrian opposition, you know, who you obviously feel were abandoned by the West in many ways. There's a clip in

your documentary that I want to roll, and then we can talk about it, after that. Let's play it.


ROSS: You could almost make a kind of inverse paradigm. The shabbier the collective chamber, the better the democracy. The more ornate and gilded,

the more -- the more jaded the democracy, the less representative.


HOLMES: Now, this was in Rojava. And I'm curious, you've worked in some of those places. I mean, you've worked in governments and the U.N. and the

like. What was it about that place that made it so effective?

ROSS: Well, it's an extraordinary implementation of a very radical but actually very necessary idea of bottom-up democracy that is, above all,

inclusive. Above all, women and men, that there's a very, very deliberate attempt to put them on equal terms in the forums of democracy, including

the systems of justice but also decision-making forums. Also different ethnic groups. That is really remarkable for the Middle East and indeed

the world. And I think there's a lot to learn from what's going on there.

HOLMES: And it's a great idea but could that work on a grander scale? Can that work in larger style democracies? The European nations?

ROSS: This is a common, you know, reservation about the anarchists' model of bottom-up democracy, that they can't go to scale. But what I see is

democracy that has going to scale, for instance in America, has been a disaster. You know, the idea that 300 million people are represented by

the grotesque leadership that you have in America today is to me a grotesquery. And a very urgent call to revise how we look at --

HOLMES: But he won the election.

ROSS: Yeah, I know, but with fewer voters than his opponent, through these bizarre machinations of the electoral college.

But that's one matter. But I think the -- what Rojava demonstrates is actually a very plausible model of how to govern a large number of people,

a large area of the country. That if you allow decision-making to be done of the bottom level, there's no reason why those decisions can't aggregate

up to a larger scale through a confederal system, for instance. There's no particular reason that this is beyond the wit of humans to make this work.

HOLMES: Do you think you can give anarchy a good name? And do you think it will catch on?

ROSS: I am trying to promote these ideas and ask them to be taken seriously. Almost everybody now accepts there needs to be fundamental

reform of how we govern ourselves and how our economies are run. These ideas need to be taken seriously.

HOLMES: Carne Ross, thanks so much.

ROSS: Thank you.

HOLMES: And when we come back on the program, we look to the earthquake shaking a small Italian town. And imagine the miraculous rescue of three

young brothers cheering the community. That's next.


[14:26:16] HOLMES: And finally tonight, imagine a buried world breaking through to the surface.

On Monday evening, the picturesque Italian island of Ischia felt the first rumblings of an earthquake that is the community, killing at least one

person, injuring dozens more. It can seem an inescapably dark story, but some light comes in the rescue of three brothers, all trapped when the

shaking earth made their house collapse around them.

Their father had tried to dig them out of the debris himself by hand, and relief teams then worked tirelessly to free them.

First, seven-month-old baby Pascquale emerged crying but alive. And then eight-year-old Mattias, who'd hidden with his older brother under the bed

when the tremors began. And then finally, 16 hours after the quake, 11- year-olds Ciro brought out alive to cheers from people at the scene.




HOLMES: Some joy there amid the tragedy.

And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can listen to our podcast, see us online at, follow me on Twitter @HolmesCNN.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Goodbye for now from London.