tv Larry King Live CNN November 25, 2009 12:00am-1:00am EST
submit your "shot" suggestions at ac360.com. that does it for this edition of "360." thanks for watching. "larry king" starts right now. please be seated. >> larry: welcome to a special edition of "larry king live." attending a state dinner at the white house. this is obama's first state dinner welcoming the prime minister of india. let's listen. [ speaking foreign language ] >> many of you were here when i was honored to become the first president to help celebrate the festival of lights. some of you were here for the first white house celebration of
the birth of the founder. tonight we gather again for the first state dinner of my presidency. the prime minister manmohan singh and mrs. gursharan kaur, as we celebrate the great and growing partnership between the united states and india. as we all know in india some of life's most precious moments are often celebrated under the cover of a beautiful tent. it's a little like tonight, we have incredible food and music and are surrounded by great friends. for it's been said that the most beautiful things in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us. mr. prime minister, today we work to fulfill our duty, bring our countries closer together than ever before. tonight under the stars we celebrate the spirit that will sustain our partnership, the bonds of friendship between our people. it's a bond that includes more than 2 million indian-americans who enrich every corner of our great nation.
leaders in government, science, industry and the arts, some of whom join us tonight and the bond of friendship between a president and prime minister who are bound by the same unshakable spirit of possibility in brotherhood that transforms both our nations, the spirit that gave rise to movements led by giants like gandhi and king and which are the reason that both of us can stand here tonight. and so as we draw upon these ties that bind our common future together, i want to close with the words that your first prime minister spoke at that midnight hour on the eve of indian independence. those words speak to our hopes tonight. the achievement we celebrate today is but a step. an opening of opportunity. to the great triumphs and achievements that await us. the past is over and it is the future that beckons us now. so i propose a toast to all of you.
does the prime minister get a glass? >> yes, he does. >> thank you. just logistically we want to make sure the prime minister has a glass here. to the future that beckons all of us, let us answer its call and let our two great nations realize all the triumphs and achievements that await us. cheers. mr. president, the first
lady, mrs. michelle obama, distinguished guests, i feel privileged to be invited to this first state banquet, mr. president, under your distinguished presidency. you do us and the people of india great honor by this wonderful gesture on your part. we are overwhelmed by the warmth of your hospitality, the courtesy you have extended to us personally and the grace and charm of the first lady. mr. president -- [ applause ]
mr. president, your journey to the white house has captured the imagination of millions and millions of people in india. you are an inspiration to all those who cherish the values of democracy, diversity, and equal opportunity. [ applause ] mr. president, i can do no better than to describe your achievements in the words of abraham lincoln who said, and i
quote, in the end it's not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years, unquote. [ applause ] mr. president, we warmly applaud the recognition of the committee, of the healing touch you have provided and the power of your idealism and your vision. [ applause ] mr. president, your leadership of this great nation of the united states coincides with the time of profound changes taking place in the world at large.
we need to find new partners of international cooperation that respond more effectively to the grave challenges caused by the growing interdependence of nations. as to leading democracies, india and the united states must play a leading role in building the shared destiny for all humankind. mr. president, a strong and sustained engagement between our two countries is good for our people and equally it is highly important for the world as a whole.
we are embarking on a new phase of our partnership. we should build on our common values and interests to realize the enormous potential and promise of our partnership. our expanding cooperation in areas of social and human development, science and technology, energy and other related areas will improve the quality of lives of millions of people in our country. the nearly 2.7 million strong american communities is a tribute to our common peoples.
they have enriched and deepened our ties and i thank them profoundly from the core of my heart. [ applause ] mr. president, i convey my very best wishes to you. mr. president, as you lead this great nation and look forward to working with you to renew and expand our strategic partnership, i wish you and the people of america a very, very happy thanksgiving. ladies and gentlemen -- [ applause ]
-- i invite you to join me in a toast to the health and happiness of president barack obama and the first lady, mrs. obama, the friendly people of the united states of america and stronger and stronger friendship between india and the united states of america. >> cheers. cheers. >> thank you. thank you, everybody. enjoy your evening. >> larry: and the dinner begins. this is an outdoor dinner.
it's under a tent on the south lawn of the white house. i've attended a couple of these. the ones i attended were inside. they hold a lot more people there. we'll have a major panel discussing all this. i want to get a word or two with sally quinn, who will be with us, the co-founder of on faith at washingtonpost.com and she's launched the party, a column on entertaining in the style tex of "the post." how important are these dinners, sally? >> i think the prime minister said it best when he said strategic partnership. you heard their toast. it wasn't anything about music, flowers -- well, it was some, but it was really about the strategy of our relationship with india and india's position next to pakistan and afghanistan and china and the fact that they are a huge democracy in the area, that we have so much -- we depend so much on india's friendship. they have the nuclear weapons,
the pakistanis have nuclear weapons. they are -- we export a lot of jobs to india. india is a hindu country although there are many moslems there, right next to two muslim countries where we saw there was a bombing in mumbai which was a problem. the indians and the pakistanis have a problems with kashmir. we need india, and we need them to be our strategic partners in that area if we're going to succeed in pakistan and afghanistan. so i think that the prime minister really said the key words, strategy, strategic partnership. >> larry: and sally will join us later when we talk about style. we'll talk about the white house menu with some people who really know what's cooking, next. welcome to the now network, population 49 million.
delicious life with paula deen." the former white house chef and author of "white house chef: 11 years, two presidents, one kitchen." roland, the former white house pastry chef. he spent 25 years creating elegant desserts for american presidents, their families and world dignitaries and his books include "all the president's pastries." and wolfgang puck, the award winning chef and restauranteur who homes many restaurants throughout the united states. paula, this menu included potato and eggplant salad, red lentil soup, a choice of posted potato dumpling or green curry prawns. are you familiar with that? >> not one of them, larry. how about you, dear? none of them sound familiar. ham and potato soup, yes. >> larry: the former white house chef -- hold it, hold it, paula.
hold it, paula. >> yes. >> larry: walter is the former white house chef. could an american chef come up with an indian dinner? >> oh, sure. american cuisine is a lot like the american culture. it's got influences from all over the world, none of them dominating but having an influence. obviously, there's a lot of familiar ingredients and i'm sure paula recognizes collard greens listed further down, pecans are all american, too. >> yes, i was impressed. >> larry: do you like -- paula, you're talking over me. >> yeah, paula, be quiet. >> well, you know, my years at the white house were a bit different. every dessert was a grand prelgs, as you know. every dessert was designed to
actually honor the visiting country and the visiting head of states. so the design was very particular and was only used once, never twice. and i've served the country of india many, many times. the flavor used in dessert will be flavored that i will recognize in india, that they can affiliate with and recognize. it's very important for them when they come to america or to any other country that they can see what they eat, recognize the food. >> larry: i think the same on the whole menu, they probably choose the pumpkin pie because of thanksgiving is coming up in two days. >> but what does thanksgiving mean in india? >> larry: wolfgang, could this be a challenge for you? the whole rest of the menu is indian. >> that's what i'm saying. >> larry: we're off to a good start here. >> the dessert reflects very much -- >> larry: i get it, roland.
>> i'm a little bit disappointed not to see something more grandiose, something more elaborate for a dinner of that status. >> larry: i gotcha. wolfgang, would it be a challenge for you to cook this dinner? would it be a challenge for you, wolfgang, to cook this dinner? >> actually for me it wouldn't be a big challenge because we have actually indian influenced dishes on our menu. we make a little eggplant puree and lentil puree and people love it and i love indian flavors. >> larry: do you agree with roland it should have been an indian dessert? >> i really think we should showcase what america has. we have so many great pastries, why not have the pumpkin pie or pecan pie. no, it's all about the presentation. it can be presented really, really big. >> larry: paula, would you like to cook a white house dinner? >> i would love to. i had the first lady, larry, on my show before the president was
elected, and i found her to be very down-to-earth in a very, very american in her tastes for food. i showed her how i fried shrimp and she ate even during the commercial break. she thoroughly enjoyed them. i asked what their favorite food was and they said hot wings. >> larry: deepak chopra is at the dinner. our famed friend who appears many times with us. what's it like, deepak? >> it's very festive. it's very celebrative. it's just lovely. the energy is great. the prime minister was very eloquent and president obama, of course, was wonderful. we all got to meet him and i'm sitting right next to colin powell, actually the president is on the next table and there's lots of wonderful indian people. i feel greatly fortunate that i'm both american and indian.
>> larry: can you pass the phone over to colin? >> no, he's sitting next to the president right now. >> larry: okay. i thought you said you were next to him. i misunderstood. >> i got out to speak to you. >> larry: thank you. >> i left the table to speak to you and i should rush back because it's not polite. >> larry: i know. go back. thank you, deepak. wolfgang, do you agree with roland the whole menu should have been indian? >> in the end the white house is a private home. mrs. obama will be the final determiner of what she wants. this is atypical of a menu but, again, it does represent making the guest country feel at home, the flavors will be very recognizable but at the same time go through all these different areas of india and you end up back home in a very down home -- paula will be happy with it -- pumpkin pie sort of dessert. >> larry: what do you think of bringing in a guest chef? what do you think of bringing in a guest chef? they brought in marcus
samuelsson. is that customary? >> it really isn't customary. but there's no such thing as custom at the white house. there's tradition but all driven by what the first lady wants to do. if she wants to invite a guest chef in, what a tremendous honor for marcus. i know chris, who worked with me for eight years, is helping him. 320 people at a pavilion is like off-premise catering. marcus will design the cuisine but chris and her staff will be the ones who make the dinner happen. >> larry: roland, how long do you work on a dessert for a dinner like this? >> for a dinner like this it could be seven weeks, starting first of all on mainly the decoration made of chocolate or sugar. first of all we have to come with a special design that we all know, all recognize. that takes a lot of research. we want to make sure we do not
commit any mistakes by having anything there that should not be there. sometimes flavor wise or design wise. so it could be several weeks working on a dessert like this until the last two days. this is when the actual dessert takes place and then the assembly will be done the night of the dinner so it's quite stressful to put one of those big desserts together because you cannot have oops. this is not allowed. no accident. >> it's not like a restaurant where -- >> larry: no oops. >> you can't give them 10% off the bill. it doesn't work that way. >> larry: wolfgang -- >> you have to remember that the white house, they do not wait for the food. when they say pick up, they mean pick up the food now. you cannot say i need five more minutes or ten more minutes, which this is why i'm totally against bringing guest chefs.
and for more than one reason. first of all, they do not know how the white house operates. the setup of the place for having disaster, terrible disaster and, number two, i think is a slap in the face of the chef who is there every day feeding the family breakfast, lunch and dinner and then when it is the time to shine we bring a guest chef. i think that's very offensive. >> larry: roland, i will tell you honestly, i never thought we'd have major controversy on the show tonight. you have provided it. >> thank you. thank you, larry. i'm always good for that, you know. >> larry: you are, i know. how do you know, wolfgang, if your meal has succeeded? >> well, i did a big state dinner at a williamsburg summit 25 years ago when reagan was president. and i think we trained our staff who came with us really, really well, and i know the timing is really important but, you know, we have an important restaurant
and we do important parties so really the way we serve the dinner, everybody wants to be served on time. obviously i think if i was asked to do a dinner at the white house i would work with the white house chef and say, you know the ins and outs in there and i will have my flavors in the dishes but you know the logistics, they know them better than anybody. >> larry: is the chef looking through a curtain now to see if they're smiling? >> i think i would be. like when i go to the oscars, for example, when we do the big party afterwards, i go out in the dining room. i'm sure marcus will not be able to go out. >> larry: and you're nervous when you do it. >> you're very nervous because you want it to be perfect. >> larry: i can't let it go without asking you, paula, you had a close encounter with a flying ham yesterday in atlanta. what happened? >> i did. well, larry, we were unloading the truck. smithfield and i had delivered
30,000 pounds of my hams to the food bank there and it was a young man's first day and he didn't realize that once in a while i'll send one of the guys with smithfield out for a pass. and he was so caught up in the moment, so excited, when the ham finally got to him, he said, paula, back at ya! and i thought he was just making a statement. i turned around to get another ham out of the truck and when i did, i was hit solid in the center of my face and i literally saw stars. but thank goodness i'm a bigger ham than that one was. i survived and i'm not even bruised, larry. >> larry: no, you're not. thank you all very much. >> well, no, when i blow my nose i'm careful. >> larry: okay. thank you.
>> thank you, larry. >> larry: all eyes are on michelle obama and what she's wearing tonight. the first lady fashion report is next. ve got some catchphrases that'll make these savings even more memorable. gecko: all right... gecko: good driver discounts. now that's the stuff...? boss: how 'bout this? gecko: ...they're the bee's knees? boss: or this? gecko: sir, how 'bout just "fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance." boss: ha, yeah, good luck with that catching on! anncr: geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.
>> larry: welcome back to our discussion about tonight's state dinner at the white house. nia malika henderson is a white house reporter. the white house reporter, the pool reporter earlier today when michelle obama unveiled tonight's menu and other details. she also covered the arrival of tonight's guests. naeem khan is an indian-american designer and first lady michelle obama is wearing one of his designs for tonight's state dinner. his father and grandfather are both designed for indian royalty. and sally quinn is back with us. we're going to talk about style. naeem, did she pick it out from many designs you gave her? how did it work?
>> actually, yes, she did. i designed her three or four things and the idea was she picked it out from there but the idea was india, chic, simple, but still very glamorous. >> larry: was she difficult to deal with? >> no. i mean, actually i didn't deal with her. i have to deal with her stylist who called me and i have to go through her. it was actually very, very easy. they had given me what they needed, i designed it, i sent it and left it for them to pick it. >> larry: do you choose the color? >> of course i did. i chose the color, i chose the embroidery, i chose the cut of the dress, everything. all i had to do was fit it to her. >> larry: now were you nervous when you first saw her walk out tonight? >> not nervous. i was so joyous. i mean, for me to be part of
this historic occasion, being indian and to be part of this was beyond amazing. i mean, i literally fell off -- it was an incredible moment for me. >> larry: sally, you're our style expert. give us your critique of the dress being worn by the first lady? >> i would like to congratulate naeem, it's one of the most beautiful dresses i've ever seen. the color was perfect, the cut was perfect, the fabric was perfect and i loved the way it flowed. when she walked, the bottom of the dress just shimmered. it was exquisite. so i think you've got a great career ahead of you, is all i can say. have you got any more of them, by the way? >> i make them by the thousands. >> larry: mia, you're there on the lawn. describe for us what the scene was like with the arrival of the guests tonight. >> reporter: it was very much a
red carpet arrival of many of the guests, the headliner was steven spielberg but other hollywood heavyweights tonight, blair underwood, alfre woodard, jeffrey katzenberg, david geffen and then heavy hitters from the world of politics, lots of governors, lots of representatives and top officials from the obama administration. some no-shows. i think people were expecting, there were rumors brad pitt would show up or even oprah winfrey. oprah winfrey did not show up but gayle king was here instead, her best friend, and also lots of folks from the obamas' personal life like marty nesbitt and his wife, delivered malia and sasha and he said the key was looking forward to reconnecting with his chicago friends tonight. >> larry: you know why they decided to hold it outside? >> reporter: one of the things they wanted to make sure they could have a number of guests. the state room fits about 150 guests and that's about the number of guests that bush had when he hosted the prime minister in 2005. tonight you had about 320.
bill clinton had a much bigger party, 700 folks there. this white house talked about wanting to have a bigger event, so that's why they held it outside. some people kind of look and say it's a tent. it looks more like a pavilion and of course they decorate this with a floor and lots of floral arrangements all around so you're not really thinking you're in a tent when you're there. you're kind of distracted by that from all the decorations. >> larry: sally what will this do for naeem khan's career as a designer? >> well, as i said, i'd like to have one of those dresses myself and i can't imagine any woman looking at that dress saying, how do i get ahold of him? i think it's going to really put him on the map. he's already a well-known designer anyway, but i think that from now on he'd better hire a lot more people to work for him because he's going to be inundated with orders. but i think one of the interesting things about this dinner, larry, was the number of
staff, white house staff on the guest list. the guest list was interesting. i've never seen that many white house staffers and state department staffers on a guest list at the white house and i think that may be one of the reasons they expanded it the way they did and i think this has been such a grueling year for the people in the white house on every level whether it's the economy or the wars or the environment or the health care, whatever, that i think this is a way of rewarding them and i think that's a really good thing to do. there are also a lot of african-americans on this guest list which i have not seen that many before and i think that obviously is a statement that they're making and then there's a tip of the hat to hollywood and bollywood, the indians have their own film industry. an awful lot of big donors, too. they had a lot of people to fit in. >> larry: have to get a break. we'll be right back. with copd, i was short of breath,
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is floral on a silk chiffon. it's so beautiful. it's totally handmade. entirely handmade. it took maybe three weeks by 40 people to make it. >> larry: where was it made? >> it was made in india. it's my family workshop. my father and my grandfather who started this business of embroidery so i come from a family that makes beautiful, beautiful fabrics for many designers and for many indians and most of my embroideries are made in my family factories. that's where it was made. it's an old tradition, many hundreds of years old. >> larry: nia, you were with the first lady earlier today. was she nervous? >> reporter: she seemed slightly nervous and she made this comment that on the surface she was swan like but underneath she was paddling furiously because
there was so much to think about for the evening. over the last couple of weeks you have seen a first lady become more of a first lady. we'll see more traditional events that she has to do over the next couple of weeks with december and the christmas holidays, tomorrow there will be the pardoning of the turkey. on friday the reception of the christmas tree. she very much is becoming more comfortable in the role as first lady. and tonight she had on this dress, obviously, that your guest here has described so perfectly. she talks -- you ask her, you ask her aides about fashion, and it's not necessarily her focus. she very much wants to focus on the work she's doing with the young girls, to bring them in today and important in terms of mentoring and leadership, so that's really her focus and as much as folks like to talk about fashion, she wants to change the subject and talk about mentoring and leadership and health care. >> larry: sally, fair or not, washington is not reputed as the style center of the world in fashion. how are the obamas affecting it? >> well, it's still not reputed as the fashion center of the
world. people in washington have to dress carefully because most people who work here are working in the government or something to do with the government and a lot of them are politicians who go and travel outside the country. and so you really can't sort of dress over the top here or at least most people who are in official situations. michelle obama has taken her style just to the right edge, i think. she's a little bit different, a little quirky sometimes. always very stylish. always looks very glamorous in her clothes. she takes risks which i like. and she dresses very youthfully and she dresses in american designer clothes which i also think is a great idea. but she's more informal than a lot of first ladies. she's not wearing the sort of little buttoned up st. john's suits, she's wearing skirts and
sweaters and i think that she's dressing exactly right for this moment, that people are not -- >> larry: well said. >> people are not as formal as they used to be and i think she's setting a tone. you can see it. she set a tone even that women on television in the last year since michelle obama started showing up in her j. crew sweaters people have stopped wearing sort of business suits, the women, the commentators, have started wearing sweaters on television. >> larry: true. thanks, sally. thank you all very much. the president's going to tell us next week what he'll do about afghanistan, about his options. some guys think it's cool not to use one. i like having fun -- but i always use one. we used one just last night. it was awesome. knowing you're safe makes it even more pleasurable. hey, the guys on my team, we'll share the same one... for like a month at a time. if you care about me, you're gonna use one.
>> larry: next tuesday the president will announce his decision on afghanistan. joining us to discuss it in washington, matthew hough, the first u.s. official to have resigned in protest over u.s. policy there. in memphis, tennessee, general wesley clark, nato supreme allied commander, and in washington, former nato supreme allied commander and in washington tom cotton, a member for vets in freedom, combat veterans of the wars in iraq and afghanistan. general clark, what should he do and what do you think he's going to do? >> i think he's going to build an exit strategy to get us out of there but i think it's going to entail more troops in the near term, a lot more assistance to the government of pakistan and pressure on the government of pakistan to do even more in the northwest frontier provinces. and i think he's going to try to start showing signs of progress so we can see an end in sight.
>> larry: matthew, if that's the case, what do you think of it? >> thanks for having me here tonight, larry. i think adding more troops is going in the wrong direction. adding more troops does two things. it reinforces the karzai government, a government we're propping up, you know, on the backs of our young marines and soldiers. by propping them up, that means the karzai government will not negotiate with the other side. the other thing this does by adding more troops is it only enforces or reinforces the taliban's desire to end the foreign occupation of the country. they're only going to fight harder. so by adding more troops you take away any incentive from the karzai regime to negotiate and you embolden the other side to continue fighting. my recommendation, of course, is to -- go ahead. >> larry: -- leave? >> oh, not leave.
no. because one of the things, larry, you can characterize it as being all in or being all out, and i don't think that's the case. reasonable people and rational people involved in the debate, i don't think anyone is saying all in or all out. i'm not advocating for washing our hands. i'm advocating for a political solution. >> larry: tom cotton, where do you stand? >> i support general mcchrystal's request for fully resorsd counter insurgency strategy. reports of his still classified review released in august said he's requesting anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 troops. i think 40,000 would be a reasonable but low-end figure. 60,000 would allow for a fully resourced strategy, and i hope the president next week will announce he's going to support the general and give him all the troops he needs for that strategy. >> larry: cnn is reporting the pentagon planners are expecting deployment of about 34,000 more troops. we'll ask general clark and our other guests about that after this.
>> larry: erica hill will sit in again for anderson cooper tonight to host "ac 360" at the top of the hour. what's up tonight, erica? tonight new details about the president's plan for afghanistan. we know he's going to make an announcement one week from tonight. already there are reports they'll be sending as many as 34,000 additional troops into the war zone. what exactly will that translate to? we're going to dig deeper. tonight with cnn's fareed
zakaria and michael ware. plus, it's being referred to as the botax. a cute name for a possible plan to tax cosmetic surgery and in turn help finance health care reform. who is really paying the tax and would it even work? we're keeping them honest. plus, much more from inside the obamas' first state dinner which i know you've been talking a lot about tonight, larry. that's all coming up at the top of the hour. >> larry: especially the desserts. >> especially the desserts. they should have been indian. >> larry: yes. that's what he said. erica hill at 10:00 eastern, 7:00 pacific. general clark, former vice president dick cheney has accused the president of dithering and suggested that his actions toward afghanistan are due to inexperience. how do you comment on that? >> i think it's been a very good process of the strategic review. i think they've worked it with the governments of pakistan and afghanistan. i think it's been time very, very well spent. i have to say i'm in sympathy with general mcchrystal's request for troops. i would request them if i were there. i hear what matthew is saying,
and i think that's the effort of the review is to square those two concerns. there are both sets of concerns, mcchrystal needs more troops. the government's not responsive, as legitimate as probably we'd like to make it. the other element, of course, is pakistan needs to do more because we can't succeed in afghanistan alone. it's not an isolated theater of war. all that is part of the review. >> larry: tom, every public poll says the majority of americans want us out. how do you respond to that? >> well, the support for the war can ebb and flow, based on the case our leaders make for it. one drawback of the long and protracted review is we haven't had the president and senior congressional leaders making the case for the american people for why we need to send more troop to afghanistan, what they're going to accomplish and how we can win. i think once that case is made and once the president explains
we have a victory strategy, not an exit strategy, the polls will begin to turn around and the center of gravity in the war, which is not the fight against the al qaeda terrorists or the fight against the taliban but maintaining public support will begin to turn around and the majority of americans will see this is a central fight we have to win. >> matthew, why did you resign? why not stay on and fight the fight inside? >> larry, as i said in my resignation letter, i lost trust and confidence in what we were doing there, why we were in afghanistan. i really came to find that majority of the people that our young men are fighting and dying against are people who are fighting us only because they're occupied. i came to realize that we're partaking one side in a civil war. our participation there is only continuing this conflict. our presence there is not doing anything to make the united states safer. al qaeda is not present in afghanistan. and then finally, hi moral
issues with us having our young men fight and die to support a regime like the karzai regime, which is corrupt and illegitimate. >> larry: other countries that have gone into afghanistan have left. russia most recently. is this a no-win? >> i think it depends on how you define winning, larry. i think we are a foreign element in a country that doesn't tolerate diversity. and i think we have to find a way to leave behind some kind of structure that we can work with that won't be a terrorist state. we have to get our troops out there. i believe that's what the obama administration is trying to do. but you can't do this if you're being forced back on the battlefield an can't maintain some control over most of the population centers. i see the increase in troops as essential weigh station on getting out of the country successfully. >> larry: and we'll be back with
more with matthew hough, general wesley clark and tom cotton. tomorrow night, jack hannah on thanksgiving eve is back with his animals. you're not going to want to miss this one. ( cluck, cluck, cluck ) oh, wowww ! that's fun ! you didn't say i could have a real one. well, you didn't ask. even kids know when it's wrong to hold out on somebody. why don't banks ? we're ally, a new bank that alerts you when your money could be working harder and earning more. it's just the right thing to do.
>> larry: the president's first state dinner as president. going on at the white house right now. they're eating dinner. they'll be dancing, entertainment by the great jennifer hudson. this really is a state dinner but not a state dinner because the prime minister is not the head of state. but they're calling it a state -- whatever the white house calls it is what it is. tom cotton, you've been in both places. didn't it get frustrating for you?
>> oh, there were days when it was frustrating. i can say, though, afghanistan in 2009 is nowhere near as bad or dangerous as baghdad in 2006 was when i served there as a platoon leader. as we learned over the last two years, difficult does not mean impossible. and hard does not mean irredeemable. if we can pull back from the brink in iraq, we can certainly do so in afghanistan over the coming two to three years with the proper number of troops and strategy. >> larry: matthew, are you pessimistic about all of this? >> i am, to a certain degree, larry. you know, i'm very hopeful that what the president has done these last few months, they've gone through a review of the strategy as general clark was referencing. and that we're going to see -- i know we'll get a troop increase, which i'm disappointed about. however, if we can get a withdrawal date or exit
strategy, we get a solution to afghanistan. the guys are fighting us only because we're there. it will keep happening until we withdraw. what we need to do is find a political st. louis that brings peace and stability. >> larry: general clark, the great general james, the late chappy james told me once no one hates more than the warrior. i hear that but did we ever have a general propose that we leave? >> it's very hard when you're in uniform to say something is not doable. and in this case, what the military is saying they need more troops but they also need a lot of other things. they need more economic advisers there. they really need a political strategy. they need stronger diplomacy in the region. they need to work india as well as pakistan in this. so the military is trying to do the best it can to do the mission they were given.
but you don't want to ask the military is it time to quit? that's the job of the president. he's got to look at the results. all the tools available. he has to listen to the best advice. these military guys are going to do the very best job they can. they're going to give it heart and soul, make incredible commitments to get the job done. it's up to the leaders elected by the american people to make sure the job they're given and the strategy they're given is the right one. >> tom, do you agree there has to be an exit strategy? >> i would focus more on a victory strategy than an exit strategy. i don't think we can set firm deadlines or timetables. you never know the course of events in war. in iraq, there was the debate about timetables. and, again, that was really setting a deadline to let the enemy know when we'd be leaving. we do have to be prepared for this to be a long-term, to-to-three-year troop increase as we restore some level of
security to the country and work with the government to restore its legitimacy among the afghan people. i don't agree right now -- >> larry: and we have a short time left. what would victory be, tom? >> a legitimate government viewed through the eyes of the people that can come through elections. which they just had. it can also come through the state having a relative monopoly on the use of violence inside its borders, control of the borders, the provision of basic social services and the defeat of the taliban and other anti-government forces inside of afghanistan. >> larry: in 20 seconds, general, do you think that's possible? >> i think something less is possible. i don't think this is unwinnable if you define the objective as we don't want a terrorist state there. we want to help the people of afghanistan as best we can. i think we can do that and the president's team can put together a strategy that will give us a chance to do it.