tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg August 20, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
efforts to complete the first democratic transition continue. a deal brokered by john kerry appears to be in pearl. -- peril. differences are emerging between efforts to complete the first democratic transition continue. a deal brokered by john kerry the two camps. as withdrawal of the u.s. troops move closer, the taliban are making military gains in the south and near the capital of kabul. my guest bruce riedel has written a new book, "what we won: america's secret war in afghanistan, 1979-1989." i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. and i should say that anyone who wants to understand afghanistan and pakistan turns to you, including the president of the united states because you are principal advisor as he was formulating policy. even bob woodward said the foremost intelligence advisor has produced a vital and concise history of that part of the
world. that is still president obama's award today. what is the future of afghanistan? >> we are at the moment of truth in the future of afghanistan. first, the presidential election. we are on the precipice. one of these two individuals is going to have to admit that he lost. that is not going to be easy. it is not easy for an afghan politician to admit he has lost. he will have to admit he cheated on an industrial scale and tried to steal the election. that is going to be hard. let's assume we can get over this hurdle, we can get behindai the presidential elections, and one of them is president. then next year we will see whether the resident's gamble that we could build an afghan army good enough, the president of the united states' gamble that we could build an army good
enough, it has always been a gamble. at this point, indications are it looks like the afghan army is holding by and large but there are troubling individual incidents. some fights in kandahar this last week in which the afghan army looks like it did fairly poorly. we will be watching this fairly closely for the next two years. it could unravel like iraq unraveled. that is why we need to be careful not to set all of our decisions about what our force posture will be in january 2017 today. the president has backed himself into a corner. >> why did he do that? >> i am not a psychologist. i do not know why he didn't. -- did it. >> very few people think that was a wise thing to indicate a date. when you would withdraw x number of troops.
>> well, in any war one of the , most important things you want to do is keep your enemy and doubt in what you are going to do. it has always been a mistake to signal in advance we will be at this date be at this level of force and then at zero. the good news is, i mean, they decided to set this so far in advance the president has time to change his mind. the lesson of iraq ought to influence that. we used kind of an egg timer approach. it turned out afterwards that we have miscalculated whether al qaeda or al qaedaism could have recovered. >> we also miscalculated in terms of what the government of afghanistan will be like. >> we need to keep flexibility. >> you stay there until how long?
>> i would continue on the path we are on moving down to half the number, 3000 or 4000 in 2016. but i would not decide what 2017 is today. i would wait and see. maybe we need 2000. maybe we would need nobody. >> you know everything i know and then everything ellis. there are stories that what happened to all the weapons the u.s. provided. they do not have the accountability of whose hands they are in. >> this president inherited a disaster in afghanistan. when i did the strategic review in 2009, this country was on the verge of catastrophic failure in afghanistan. >> yes, no one did bookkeeping. no one had any idea who the enemy was. no one realized that pakistan was playing both sides of the fence. >> and still are. >> and still are. you start from that base, of course you're not going to know how much arms are in the hands
of the afghan army at this stage. we did not do our homework for seven years. it is a little hard in a conflict to start to catch up in the eighth and ninth year of the conflict. >> why is it so hard to build an army in a country like afghanistan? >> a good question. the soviets in the 1980's built an afghan air force, which is three or four times larger than what we have built in afghanistan over the last decade. that is amazing to me. why could the soviet trained -- train them to fly airplanes and not us? could we get russian manuals and teach them in russian? it comes down to a question of resources. for a long time, no resources went to and. they went to iraq. when we started the resources in 2009 and 2010, we imposed a
timeline on how long it was going to be. we can still pull those out but all along the way the day we went into afghanistan in 2001 we have inflicted damage on ourselves over and over again. >> was the biggest damage the invasion of iraq? what absolutely. the best and the brightest, the u.s. intelligence community have been sent to afghanistan in 2001, early 2002. they were all pulled out. >> where are the smart people from the pentagon and national security counsel when that decision was made? >> a lot of people protested it but they did it very quietly. >> do not do this now because o. afghanistan. >> right. >> not about whether they were weapons of mass distraction. because what happened in afghanistan will be eroded. >> right. if you wanted to try to take over country like afghanistan which in 2002 had known 20 years of war, they had been invaded
not by one superpower but by two superpowers which had been poor to start with and try to get back on track you needed to put in resources. what did we do, we put in roughly 10,000 troops for the next three years. it was putting a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. >> could we have not done anything about corruption? >> corruption across asia is a big challenge. we are not going to fix it. >> what do you leave once you defeat al qaeda? >> i think one of the things we need to leave is some kind of residual counterterrorism capability. i will be clear what i mean. it drones. that does not mean we have cap drone strikes in pakistan every day or even every month. but i would like to know that the u.s. has the unilateral counterterrorism capability to deal with the revival of al qaeda and pakistan for the foreseeable future. because one thing we know for sure, the government will not do
anything about the revival. >> i want to come to that in a moment. with respect to the surge which came out of the decision making that you were involved in, was that a good idea? >> yes. i did not think we had much choice. >> things were so awful. >> if you look at stanley mcchrystal's report which anyone can read on the "washington post" website, he says we were on the verge of catastrophic defeat. he said the prisons we were operating in afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 were incubators for the taliban and al qaeda, they controlled the prisons. in a counterinsurgency if the prisons you are running are an incubator for the enemy, you are in deep, deep trouble.
>> flip over to pakistan. isi has always allowed in north waziristan a safe haven for the people who were fighting in the u.s. and the afghan government so they could slide back and forth at will. >> that is right. >> generals i have interviewed at this table said you can never win as long as they can do that. do you agree? >> it is awfully hard. very few countries in one generation fight the same or -- war twice and we have done that in afghanistan. the biggest take away for me, it is a whole lot easier if you have the pakistanis helping you overthrow the government in kabul than if you were in kabul trying to fight the insurgency. the 1980's war works for us because the pakistanis essentially took all of the risk, all of the casualties, and
were strategic masters of the war. it was not charlie wilson's war. it was a dictator. >> but a good friend of charlie wilson. >> a great friend of charlie wilson. we have tried to do the opposite in the last 12 years and it is very, very, very hard to do. the only solution that makes any sense is to build up an afghan army that can deal with that sanctuary for the long haul. >> you just said which is an interesting historical point and it is wonderful reading. it is the idea that we are familiar with the idea that the soviet union came in and essentially occupied and controlled afghanistan. and conventional lore is that the afghanistan tribes kicked them out because they got sidewinder missiles and charlie wilson played a role in that. you're saying who really kicked out the russians was the president of pakistan, a
military dictator. >> that is right. in essence, i will put it this way. jimmy carter and ronald reagan made the same kind of deal with zia that churchill made with joseph stalin. we needed a bad guy on our side, and that was the bad guy that we got. there were consequences, to that, inevitably, there were going to be consequences. jimmy carter and ronald reagan knew that there were be consequences. if you step back and look at the whole thing, the secret war in the 1980's was a global game changer. the cost of $3 billion and not a single american casualty. the soviet union was defeated. within six months the wall fell. the warsaw pact imploded. the cold war ended. >> it began with kicking the soviet union out of afghanistan.
>> i think that is right. i think that was the catalyst for it. we will never know if the soviet union had not been defeated what would have happened. >> we will never know if someone different than gorbachev had been head of the general secretary of the party and resisted more. >> that is right, but we do know what did happen. what did happen is they lost and the cold war came to an end. and the danger of thermonuclear war between the u.s. and russia. >> were there lessons to be learned for the u.s. after it kicked al qaeda out or the taliban? >> i think the big lesson there is you cannot just walk away from afghanistan. this is very dangerous part of the world. it seems to be a place where important things happen because not only was a global changer in terms of the end of the cold war, we can say 25 years later, it was the start of the global jihad. >> but at the same time, it was
often repeated by the media and her buddy my every analyst would come to this table. if you read your history the afghans are so tough and independent and so trouble that in the end they will kick you out. look what happened to the russians and before the russians and the u.s. >> it is the graveyard district. it is bad history. a lot of countries have conquered afghanistan. the arabs and alexander the great and the mongols and the british. the british actually won the second anglo war. history is helpful. when people give you these nice slogans, you should ask you that is right. >> exactly, and then, you think of exceptions and you know it is not. so then, the dictator of pakistan get some credit in your judgment, a lot of credit, primary credit with the help of american arms, sidewinder missiles and the rest of them to kick out the russians. >> right. >> and then, what happened to afghanistan? >> we lost interest.
there was a terrible civil war. the city of kabul was not destroyed in the war between the mujahideen and the russians. it was destroyed in a war dean -- thelush mujahideen. looking back, we can all see this. dean -- now, to be fair to president george bush, senior, he had a pretty full plate. eastern europe, the reunification of germany, the iraqi invasion of kuwait. afghanistan which had been number one or number two on president reagan's priority list went president reagan's priority list when down to maybe number 50. the consequence -- bush 41, with no attention to afghanistan it
disintegrated into civil war and became a broken state. and from that, emerged the taliban. >> in reading a book, you get the idea that this was an admonishment by charlie wilson. if you abandon this place. >> i think charlie wilson's war is a great book, and even a better movie. it puts a little bit too much on a texas congressman, an interesting texas congressman. >> there is also this, isi and osama bin laden. tell me what you know. >> what i know for sure is that osama bin laden arrived in pakistan within a week after the soviet invasion. the soviet invasion takes place disintegrated into civil war and
on christmas eve, 1979. osama bin laden shows up within a week or so. before the first cia arms and on christmas money even arrived. he starts off as basically a fundraiser and then he becomes a combat engineer. he was building tunnels and underground storage facilities for the isi to assist the afghans. he actually built one inside of afghanistan. that was the family business. construction. >> he was an expert in construction. >> he was a real engineer. he knew what he was doing and he had access to his family's huge fortune and their construction gear. the isi had to be intimately involved. >> there was a relationship between the isi, the pakistani secret service and osama bin laden from the get-go. >> right. absolutely. the second thing we know for sure is it was the isi who introduced osama bin laden to mullah omar when osama bin laden came back to afghanistan.
he starts off as basically a in 1998. remember, he left and goes off to the sudan and the u.s. gets him chased out and he comes back and it is the isi that connected them. the third thing we know, when president clinton fired tomahawk missiles after the attack on the embassies in east africa, we know who was at that location. 20 isi officers, 10 of whom were and it is the isi that connected them. the third thing we killed. we know that for fact. now, what were they doing at that location? obviously, they were getting ready to meet osama bin laden. >> did he leave and turn one way rather than another way? >> there are all kinds of stories. he may have been there, a half hour off, what we do know is who was there and that is the isi. when this connection, when this relationship came to an end or if it ever came to an end is one of the biggest mysteries we
still do not know. >> the relationship came to an end. >> between the isi and osama bin laden. >> if it ever came to an end. >> if it ever came to an end, it has seals found him and brought justice to him in 2011. very suspicious. >> he could not have existed like that. >> he was hiding in the facility less than a mile from the front door of the pakistani equivalent of west point. a closed military zone. pakistani generals routinely overflew that facility and helicopters day in and day out. none of them ever saw this tall man walking around on the roof, nobody in the pakistani intelligence service ever wondered what is going on in that building? the people in the region referred to the house as the waziristan house. still do not know. they knew someone who was from
waziristan or who had connections. >> why would they know that? >> it must have been clear to people in the neighborhood that somebody important -- >> you believe this went up to the chief of staff of the army. >> i know a lot about the isi, i they knew someone who was from have studied them, have worked with them. the isi is not a rogue institution. you do not get promoted by blowing up embassies and not telling them. if the isi knew, it would be a risky career move. >> they would not be hiding osama bin laden. i have had one u.s. official after another sit at this table and say as far as we know they did not know. >> we have no smoking gun that is true. there is no smoking gun. would you expect you're going to find, a button inside the hideout that said in trouble, push this button and get the general from isi.
>> that is right. >> i do not believe you're going to find that. >> we thought he was our -- >> he would know. >> that is the nature of the beast. >> and we thought he was our friend. >> pakistani generals have a remarkable capacity to persuade americans that they are on our side. >> and that includes general musharraf. general musharraf to general -- looking them in the eye and believing they are on our side. to give jimmy carter and ronald reagan credit, they looked into those eyes and knew that he was on our side this weekend for this objective. they did not come to the belief that he was eternally on our side. >> there is that famous story about richard armistice going over there. -- armitage, going over there. if you are against us, we will
have to do terrible things to you. >> i am sure when he tells you your with us or against us it is a powerful threat. your with us or against us it is a powerful threat. >> and you know what he means, don't you? >> exactly. i think general musharraf looked at this and said, ok. i have to make some adjustments. i have to play the game carefully. but in time, i can go back. exactly. in his book, which is a fantastic book, general musharraf's memoirs which should be in the fiction section, he says he did a wargame and concluded that pakistan and the u.s. went to war, and it would be the biggest in a fishy area. -- it would be india that would be the biggest winner. i do not think he really did a wargame. how does this influence our
relationship with india? >> kashmir has a huge impact. >> exactly. >> back to afghanistan. you believe that they had to know from the get-go, they had to know when he came there because general musharraf never lies. he sat in this chair and said he was not there for five years. was it longer but he said shorter. he was not there for five years. >> right after osama bin laden was killed, musharraf pointed out, i remember that house, i remember her jogging by it. he had that item pulled off the internet because it was too revealing about what he should have known. musharraf's motives are hard to understand. >> this is way off the wall. we know a bit about how to turn
people and how to get people for a price to come over to our side. we have done that in our history. could we find someone at isi to say he is at the military academy? >> he was threat number one. when we went in and got osama and lot in the reaction of most pakistani generals was not, oh, my god. where are the nuclear weapons? when we went in, the reaction of most of the pakistani generals, most pakistani generals' response was if they can do this, could they steal our nuclear arsenal? it is apples and oranges. one person versus a couple hundred nuclear weapons is hugely different, but their reaction tells you they did not regard us as the stench of threat along with india.
>> it is sometimes said that if in fact iran gets a nuclear weapon that the saudis would go to their friends and pakistan that they have given a lot of money to and say we need some weapons. is that your understanding of what might happen? >> there are certainly a lot of smoke about that. very close relations. there is no closer relationship than the one between saudi arabia and pakistan. prime minister sharif this week , they are meeting and spending time there and meeting with all of the senior saudi royals. yes. i do not have proof positive, i do not have a signed contract. i do not think anyone has a signed contract but in extremis if saudi arabia goes to pakistan and says we need nuclear weapons it will be pretty hard for any pakistani leader to say no. >> no. i hear you.
there's also this question. do the saudis worry about the fact that the arab spring could come to them? >> absolutely. when the arab spring began king abdullah invested $30 billion in buying off the saudi population. that is a lot of money even for saudis. that tells me he and the other royals were worried it could happen to them and they responded in the best way they could. make sure everyone has got everything they want, try to buy everybody off. it worries them a lot. i think it is one of the reasons why they supported the military coup in egypt. they were the first within minutes to endorse the sisi government. >> and protested the overthrow of mubarak. and even blaming the united
states for being too quick to call for his resignation. they are propping him up. >> the egyptian government is less dependent on the united states. >> less dependent. >> a point they make every time. every chance they have. >> right. i think the saudi's were scared to death and they feel a little more comfortable now but not a whole lot. the middle east that surrounds them must look very dangerous. the iranian enemy, isis, the sworn enemy of the saudis. isis in syria and iraq. and islamic extremists are not the pro-saudi islamic extremists. the guy says he wants to be a caliph. that means the king of saudi arabia is illegitimate. custodian. >> he wants to be the king of all of islam. >> if you're sitting in the royal palace in riyadh it is a pretty dangerous situation all around you. you have some success. in egypt, you rolled back
history. >> by getting sisi to overthrow mohamed morsi. do you think to -- that they and said to sisi, him, you can do it? >> sisi was in the past the egyptian defense attaché at riyadh. it was a long-standing relationship with the saudi intelligence services. >> it shows you to understand history you look at the relationships. when sisi took over and king abdullah called him, i do not think that was prearranged. i do not think it was, hey, i am watching cnn, let me call you up. it was partially made in saudi arabia. ♪
in from king hussein saying i need your help right away. israelis have done something in my capital city which is inexcusable. they have tried to kill a guest inside my country. let me call up bebe, and he said, we did it because the team that carried it out were captured by jordanians and he agreed to send over the serum. >> is that because king hussein called bebe or he knew the israelis will? or because president clinton called bebe and said, get the serum over there? >> clinton's call was critical. bebe was in a way out place. >> he had reached too far. >> and he fired the head of the
mossad who had carried out this operation. >> what about him, what does hamas want? >> hamas wants to survive in gaza and wants to come out of this war. they want to still be standing. >> becoming once again more prominent in the arab world and palestinian world. >> to show that they are, they call themselves the resistance and fatah and the palestinian authority are collaborators. that is what they want to show at the end of all of this and it is a terrible tragedy. that so many gazans, so many israelis are living in a hell. >> i never quite understood, i said they came there and the israelis came to you and they're
leaving, we are giving it to you. we're going to hand it back to you. this was ariel sharon. and he -- probably the only person who could have done that. >> he was ailing person. absolutely. >> and they threw it away. they threw it away because of real grievances. >> they had grievances then. >> they gave it to them but they left it difficult for them -- >> the big mistake is in hindsight, unilateral withdrawal was a mistake. sharon should have negotiated withdrawal with the palestinian authority in which the palestinian authority got credit. i doing it unilaterally he undermined -- he did not want to wait and he didn't like the palestinian authority.
>> what will happen in gaza? >> it will get worse before it gets -- >> how worse will it get? >> it could mean israel re-occupies in effect the gaza strip. if defense forces stay there they will be occupying about half the gaza strip. >> they believe they will do that because they will wipe out hamas once and for all. is that the goal? >> they want to eliminate the tunnels. >> what do they mean? >> they would like to see hamas collapse but that is dangerous because who will take their place? >> is it possible for hamas and fatah or the palestinian authority to form a palestinian government that is not dedicated
to the overthrow of israel and believe it is possible to live in a two state side-by-side solution? >> i believe that the solution to the airport for an israeli conflict has been staring us in the face since camp david back in 2000. bill clinton's camp david and the parameters that emerged out of the end of it. that is basically what you laid out. a two state solution on the lines of the 1967 borders. >> some definition of the right of return at work. >> the right of return will be to the west bank of gaza. it has been staring us in the face for well over 15 years. it is a question of political will. it is clear on both sides. >> to take the risk interest the other side but verify. >> it is increasingly clear that that political will will probably not generate from within the region. it will take the united states, a very tough series of negotiations to provide the political will.
>> could it be aided by the arab league or some -- >> there are a lot of people who could help. whether they will or not is another question. there are a lot of people who could help. >> why does qatar support hamas? >> qatar is a strange state. it has a rivalry with saudi arabia. qatar is a tiny little city state and saudi arabia is a big country and home of the two holiest places in islam but qatar does not want to be told how to do its business and it has enough money that he can spite the saudi's and do whatever it wants to do and it has become a habit. now they like to spite the saudi's and the saudis are anti-muslim brotherhood.
>> they've created al jazeera. >> they gave the u.s. a crucial military base. they are playing both sides. does that make them smart? >> and makes them clever. whether it makes them smart, i do not know, but it makes them clever. from the saudi standpoint, qatar is the village that got out of control. >> what are they prepared to do about the village out of control? >> they have withdrawn the saudi ambassador. this is the toughest play. >> they are talking all the time. the week i was there. >> they may be doing something else. it is interesting that qatar's bid to host the world cup of soccer is the subject of all
these revelations of corruption. wonder where all those revelations are coming from? >> you think it is a neighbor? >> i do not know but it would not shock me at all. >> they support hamas to spite their neighbors if they want some kind of islamist street credit? >> that is an important factor as well. the only arab country actively supporting hamas, the qataris are eating a lot of credit on the street. that they are supporting the palestinians who are fighting and dying. >> innocents dying. israel. do you believe that they want a two state solution and do you believe they really want best interest of the palestinians or do they like the situation now,
and they want just to play that out? >> most israelis -- >> i am talking about the people and power. >> netanyahu and the people in his government were quite content and felt they could manage it and keep it where it is. bebe is not an enthusiastic supporter of the two state solution. >> only after his arm had been wrenched behind his back. >> they -- just to carry it out. suppose you had bebe on the phone as you did when you were in the room with clinton. when you tell him it is in your national security interest to solve this problem? >> i would tell him it is in israel's interest. find a solution that strengthens
the palestinians who want to make a deal and you figure out how to do that. i am willing to give my advice but that ought to be your prime objective. >> rabin believed this, the national security interest with israel. he hated going to the white house and shaking arafat's hand. >> bebe has failed to focus on the real issue facing israel and that is the palestinian issue. he focuses on the iran issue to divert israeli opinion. this is a man who spent hours in meetings with the prime minister over many years, and i think he has a right. >> he focuses on iran to divert focus from the palestinian issue. he says iran is the big enemy and nuclear weapons by iran would be the worst thing that
could happen. >> the real problem israel confronts and it is obvious to anyone watching tv today is the relationship with palestinians that are not 1000 miles away but our next-door. israelis and palestinians have to find a way to live with each other. otherwise -- >> and a strong, economically vibrant palestine next israel with strong economic trade, strong bonds of that kind is the best thing that could possibly happen for israelis' long term security. it is time not on israel's side? >> if you look at the development of al qaedaism, i do not think time is on israel's
side. the idea of al qaeda is that jihad is the only solution to the problems of islam. it is a growing idea. you see it in iraq and syria and yemen. five years ago you did not see al qaedaism in syria. you did not see it in egypt. now we see it in egypt. i think -- >> it is growing. >> those trends are very disturbing if you are someone who cares about the survival and security of the state of israel. >> it is threatening to the security of a lot of places. >> absolutely. target number one, osama bin laden, everything he said in his entire career, when we have defeated the americans, then we'll move on israel. that is the target number one. >> he wanted to drive them out of the middle east.
>> osama bin laden basically took what he did or what he was part of in winning the war against the soviets in afghanistan in the 1980's and said let's do the same thing to the americans. we will encourage them to come into afghanistan and we will fight a guerrilla war against them and sooner or later, they will be exhausted and defeated and go home. he did not realize he was going to get a bonus that the americans were not only going to go into afghanistan, they would go into iraq and he would have to quagmires to bog the united states down and. fortunately especially in afghanistan, we were able to find afghans who wanted to be on our side. that is a big difference between the soviet war and the american war. in the soviet war, the vast majority of afghans were on the side of the mujahideen. they are on our side, at least they have been until now. >> there is a rise of islamism,
or radical jihadism, an important point to make. is that the most vexing challenge to america? it is not a state. >> it is vexing in two very dangerous ways. al qaedaism, al qaeda 3.0 is a threat. the national counterterrorism center has raised the alarm that all these westerners going to iraq and syria are going to come back and just like the volunteers who went to afghanistan in the 1980's they will come home with an agenda. not just to burnish their medals from the battles, they will be
new tackles ahead. that is what concerns me. the global jihadist in pakistan which are under pressure now from the american drone operations are the most dangerous at the end of the day because what they want to do is provoke a war between two nuclear weapons states, india and pakistan. that to me is the worst possible outcome of all the foreign-policy disasters. groups see india as an artificial creation and they want to restore the empire. there is crazy as this caliphate in iraq but more dangerous because they're talking about playing with nuclear weapons. >> they had enough money to buy one. >> it is a vexing issue.
i think if you look at the revelations put out from edward snowden about what america's top intelligence priorities are, if you look at that paper, it says that pakistan's nuclear weapons in the security of the nuclear weapons are among the top two or three or four intelligence priorities of the world. helping the pakistanis keep them secure, the pakistanis do not want our help as they are convinced that any help we give them in securing their nuclear weapons is actually an effort to clandestinely find out where the nuclear weapons are in they're probably right about that. >> they will not let us talk to a.q. khan. >> he was able to fly around the world on a pakistani air force
jet and sell stuff and have it delivered. the last time i checked on expedia you can i get the pakistani air force jet to deliver your stuff. the military was intimately involved in everything he was doing. a lot of pakistani politicians, including benazir bhutto, were involved. she was involved in early negotiations with north korea on exchanging nuclear secrets in return for missile parts. she admits it in her memoirs. if mr. khan was on your show and told you the truth, it would be highly embarrassing for the government of pakistan and many pakistanis. >> he is a national hero in pakistan. >> he is the father of the
nuclear weapon. the only muslim country that has a nuclear weapon. >> who is most likely to get it next? iran, obviously. >> iran, there is a chance for this yield is a thing seven parties to this deal would prefer deal to nuclear war. p5 plus one and the iranians. >> they did not want to be decimated. >> iranians do not want to be decimated. they will put a hard deal on the table. what concerns me is with the ukraine situation we will see the russians fall off the wagon. >> it did not happen but we are looking back and it is one of those what-if questions. suppose jimmy carter had said i will level iran and we have the nuclear weapons i can do it and i realize i am sacrificing great americans but i am prepared to do it because you are setting a precedent. this is embarrassing.
worse than embarrassing. it is a declaration of war. we're going to win this war and we realize there will be casualties, but you will be one of them. what would have happened? >> i suspect he would have called his bluff. >> because he was a religious fanatic? were you aware of information to believe that? >> i worked on that problem for 444 days. there was pretty strong information that khomeni was prepared to sacrifice his country. intelligence information from people who knew him. i will give you a counterpoint. when jimmy carter was told that the iranians were seriously thinking about putting their hostages on trial as war criminals and spies, he sent
that message, if you do this to my there will be war. they never went on trial. >> that seems to me to be contradictory. >> i am afraid my answer is contradictory in that one. my gut tells me he would have called our bluff but when carter did send a very tough message in august or september of 1980, they never went on trial. >> do you know any other way they could have gotten the hostages out other than the way they tried? >> no. the desert one tragedy was, of all the possible outcomes of that mission, much better than some of the disasters that could have happened later on. >> like?
>> had we gotten into to run and getting the hostages in the commandos all the way outside iran, a really difficult mission. that is why bob gates when he looked at the mission to kill osama bin laden his mind was occupied with desert one. it was a real long shot and it failed early on. it could have failed even more catastrophically on the streets of tehran. >> he was in the cia then. the interesting thing is what he wanted to do is he was prepared to go and bomb the hell out of the building and take him out whether he was there or not. that was a gutsy call. >> a very gutsy call. a remarkable call. i would have advised him to do that. >> suppose bob gates stood up and said you know how hard this is and this could turn out like
desert one, what would you have said? >> i have a long history of bob gates telling me i am wrong about something. i think the world of bob gates but the president did the right thing. one more thing i would say about that call. when he decided to send the seal team in he also made the decision not to tell the pakistanis and when you stand back, think about it for a minute. by 2011, two presidents, bush and obama had given pakistan $25 billion, billion dollars in aid since september 11, why? to fight al qaeda. when the president was told this is where he is he decided he could not trust them. $25 billion. we continue. >> what if we had not given them
the $25 billion? >> $25 billion was in my view a worthwhile effort and seeing if we could bribe the pakistanis and we know the answer. we could not. so my response today would be, we tried it and it was worth a try, but do not keep trying to bribe them. it is not going to work. >> did you believe the mission could work? general mccraven said, this is what we do. we send helicopters into places and pick them up and bring them home and the president said ok. >> i think that ten years of warfare and iraq and afghanistan have honed the capabilities of our special forces to a level that is unique in the world. >> what are you writing your memoir? when do you get clearance? >> there is a lot i cannot talk about so they would not be much talk in that.
>> live from pier 3 in san francisco, this is "bloomberg west" where we cover innovation, technology, and the future of it is nice. ahead, hewlett-packard is getting a boost from improving pc sales reporting third-quarter earnings topping analyst estimates. this gives meg whitman a boost as she works to turn around the pc maker. we will take a look at the pc numbers in just a moment. twitter ceo dick costolo says they are suspending accounts that show imagery of american journalist james foley and execution. a video was posted on youtube but later removed. this is the latest change from the open interneli