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Video: Mullen on Taliban, mission in Afghanistan

  1. Transcript of: Mullen on Taliban, mission in Afghanistan

    MR. GREGORY: But true or untrue, the big fear is that Pakistan 's working against us and not with us?

    ADM. MULLEN: In many ways, Pakistan is working with us. I mean, their, their military, their intelligence agency . I mean, we've got a very strong relationship in the positive sense with, with their intelligence agency . That doesn't mean there aren't some challenges with some aspects of it.

    MR. GREGORY: They are actively supporting elements killing U.S. soldiers .

    ADM. MULLEN: But they have, they have shared intelligence with us, they've killed as many or more terrorists as anybody, they've captured them. And certainly, the, the focus on changing the strategic shift, if you will, in that agency so that that doesn't happen at all, is a priority for us.

    MR. GREGORY: Fair to say that among the outcomes you would look at would be a scenario where the Taliban would have some power in the country?

    ADM. MULLEN: I think in any of these kinds of insurgency over history, in the political solution, those who have been insurgents at some point in time have been in a position of political influence at some point down the road. But I think we're way too early to say how -- what that looks like or when it might happen.

    MR. GREGORY: It -- it's -- it seems to be an important point, if you look at the cover of Time magazine , which has a pretty striking photograph of a young woman whose nose was cut off by the Taliban , a -- just one indication of how brutal and horrific these people are. And, and they've done this when they were in power and, indeed, even when they've been out of power. The grim reality, if that's an argument for why the U.S. should not leave, is that our central mission , the central mission of the United States is not to protect the women of Afghanistan . Is that fair?

    ADM. MULLEN: I think the central mission in Afghanistan right now is to protect the people, certainly, and that would be inclusive of everybody, and that in a, in an insurgency and a counterinsurgency, that's really the center of gravity.

    MR. GREGORY: But you said a year ago our central mission was to get at those who threaten us. Our central mission is not to protect the women , who could still be brutalized if the Taliban comes into power in any fashion.

    ADM. MULLEN: Well, the Taliban are incredibly unpopular with the Afghan people , even as we speak , and they have -- as they have been for a long period of time. The mission -- the overall mission is to dismantle and defeat and disrupt al-Qaeda . But we have to make sure there's not a safe haven that returns in Afghanistan . Afghanistan has to be stable enough, has to have enough governance, have to -- has to create enough jobs, have an economy that's good enough so that the Taliban cannot return to the brutality of the kind of regime that you just showed.

    MR. GREGORY: However, the United States could still withdraw and, and do so having achieved the mission , and yet women like, like those on the cover of that magazine could still be in danger.

    ADM. MULLEN: Certainly, the, the, the long-term goal is to make sure that the -- with respect to the population in Afghanistan , that there's a governant -- governance structure that treats its people well. And I -- but to say exactly how that's going to look and what specifics would be involved, I think it's just way too early.


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