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MSNBC "Hardball with Chris Matthews" - Transcript

Interview

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Jim Moran is a Democratic congressman from Virginia. And Wes Moore is a
retired Army captain and author of "The Other Wes Moore."
Well, thank you, gentlemen, for joining us.
And I guess the question comes down to numbers, 66,000 troops in country
right now. What should be it be five years from now?

REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: Well, I think we`re going to initially
withdraw to about 6,000 troops, Chris, in 2014.
I think a lot of work is going to be done by contractors, not U.S. troops,
but we can`t afford to continue spending the kind of money we`re spending.
You know, we have spent $557 billion up to today, half-a-trillion dollars,
and what have we gotten for it?
Burma, Somalia, and Afghanistan are the three most corrupt nations in the
world. And now almost 90 percent of that corruption is coming from
American taxpayers` money. You would be shocked at the amount of American
taxpayers` money that`s being spent over in Dubai because it came in to
Afghanistan.
This is a nation that`s -- and government that`s corrupt to its core.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: OK. Let`s talk about what we can get done in the year-and-a-
half we`re leaving now.
Wes, the question I always ask is -- and it`s why I`m generally against
intervention, because you have to eventually leave, and the question is,
when you leave, how is it any different than when you came? Do you really
change -- I think of all the powers that could influence another country in
history. The English were able to turn, wonderfully, the Indian people
into real democrats.
They believe in democracy. There`s so few other examples where a country
like ours can influence another country`s culture positively. Usually,
you`re just hated and kicked out eventually.

CAPT. WES MOORE (RET.), U.S. ARMY: And, actually, I would even answer that
question and come back to the first question.
I actually would disagree that this is about numbers. This is not about
numbers. This is about strategy. And what exactly are our goals and what
exactly is our intent for not just the short term, but for the long term in
Afghanistan? You look at the situation in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is not necessarily a military or kinetic issue that we`re
dealing with right now. It really -- the question of Afghanistan is not
security. The question of Afghanistan is uncertainty. The fact is we have
hit every single number that we need to hit as of right now in terms of
Afghan forces that we are training, in terms of Afghans that are going to
be on the ground securing their own prosperity.
The biggest questions they have is, what does Afghanistan look like in a
post-Karzai time? What does Afghanistan look like when they convert from a
construction economy, from a consultant economy, to a larger economy?

MATTHEWS: Well, my question to you, Wes -- and you`re a fighting man --
and Congressman Moran after that -- will the Karzai army that we have built
over there, the Afghan army, will they, when we pull out, fight?
Will they fight that terrific force of Taliban people coming out there who
are cutting people`s heads off, are ruthless, are ferocious? Will they
stand and fight in remote areas against these people?

MOORE: Honestly, Chris, that becomes the biggest challenge because we do
not know. There will probably be around 25 people who will run for the
presidency of Afghanistan.

MATTHEWS: But will they fight?

MOORE: They`ll fight. The question is: who will they fight for? And what
would that long-term strategic situation --

MATTHEWS: I`m only worried about the Taliban coming back in. The Taliban
bringing al Qaeda back in.

MOORE: And also, whether or not us having 10,000, 5,000, or 3,000 troops
is going to make any difference --

MATTHEWS: That`s my question to you, Congressman -- 6,000 troops. What
can we do? Can we prevent the remote areas of Afghanistan being taken over
by the Taliban, they start beheading women, outlawing movies? Whatever
they have to do? The more modest stuff to the outrageous stuff. Can we
stop that?

REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: Well, here`s the raw numbers -- 354,000
Afghan national army people roughly, but the problem are the Taliban, the
Taliban are Pashtun. Do you know what percent of that Afghan national army
are Pashtun? Two percent.

MOORE: That`s right.

MORAN: This army, they`re basically seen as northern invaders from other
tribes. They`re Tajiks, they`re Hazaras, who for the first time in their
lives have not been treated as a servant class. They make up the army.
But they`re not going to be allowed in the Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
That`s Pashtunistan. It extends --

MATTHEWS: So, we`re going to have a divided country like Lebanon all these
years, something like that?

MORAN: You`re absolutely right.

MOORE: In Harlem, we have to enact that -- is old --

MATTHEWS: So, the American people are going to be watching it on
television and reading in the newspaper about beheadings and awful
treatment of women in those areas controlled by the Pashtuns, right?

MOORE: Yes, they will, but the bigger question is what contingency of U.S.
troops will actually force to stop that? What contingency of U.S. troops?
And so, that becomes our question.

MATTHEWS: I love that question. In other words, if we`re not staying in
there big time, 100,000 troops basically, we might as well get out because
we can`t control the future of the country.

MOORE: And convert it to the operation that the president talked about,
where we`re going security and training and we`re doing counterinsurgency -
-

MATTHEWS: So, it raises the old question when you go in 11, 12 years ago,
you knew you had to leave. Are we leaving the country any different than
we came in?

MORAN: A little better in the cities. Certainly, Kabul is a little
better. Some of the women have been empowered.
But, you know, one of the principal reasons we`re going to have to leave,
Chris, is the same as in Iraq. We want immunity for our soldiers in the
allied forces. The Iraqi parliament wouldn`t accept that. And when Karzai
runs again, he`s going to have to agree with the parliament they will not -
-

MATTHEWS: Explain that issue.

MORAN: Well -- OK, it means that any crimes that American soldiers or
Americans in Afghanistan or allied forces commit, they can`t be prosecuted.
They`re immune from prosecution.

MATTHEWS: And why is it important for us to fight for that principle?
It`s logical. You don`t want some court over there to decide whether
American guy is guilty for reckless driving or something like that.

MORAN: Well, that`s right, and they`re going to make American scapegoats
quite likely. And when you have collateral damage with drone attacks,
they`re going to grab American soldiers, prosecute them. They`re going to
make show trials.
We can`t allow that. But I don`t think Karzai can any longer defend that -
-

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: A wrinkle that causes us to leave.

MOORE: And I say, in tantamount to that, there`s no country in the world
we do not have that policy with, and Afghanistan will not be the first.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, gentlemen. You know the military, you know it,
too. Thank you very much, Wes Moore and Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia.

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