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Video: Pentagon responds to planned Quran-burning

  1. Closed captioning of: Pentagon responds to planned Quran-burning

    >>> well, president obama 's surge of troops to afghanistan is complete and the pressure for progress is intense. defense secretary robert gates just back from the region is trying to get real about what can really be accomplished there and how soon can he show some accomplishment?

    >> secretary gates met with some key players in the after began government and u.s. military but not before giving his opinion on how americans will look back on the war in iraq . a fascinating statement. let's get into it with jeff morel, press secretary for the pentagon. there's plans of a florida church to burn korans and general petraeus quite strong saying it puts american troops' lives at risk.

    >> here we are trying to win the trust and confidence of afghans, of iraqis, obviously, predominantly a pastor down in florida who has thenened to burn korans. clearly not helpful.

    >> the last time there was a story, you remember the "newsweek" story three or four years ago when allegedly interrogators at gitmo had flushed a koran down the toilet. it sparked protests around the world that killed a dozen, 15 people. that story turned out to be wrong. here we are, this koran burning has not even taken place yet and there are already protests in afghanistan . we have 50,000 forces in iraq . tens of thousands elsewhere throughout this muslim part of the world. it would clearly put them in jeopardy and even greater jeopardy than they are. it's not helpful. i don't understand why -- what would cause anyone to do such a thing at a time we're trying to win the trust and confidence of the arab world .

    >> do you guys need other religious leaders to start speaking out? do you need republican leaders to start speaking out not south?

    >> i don't know that i'm an expert on that, chuck. whoever can prevail upon this guy not to proceed with this and potentially put our forces in even greater risk, that would be helpful.

    >> talking about secretary gates' visit to the region, afghanistan and also iraq . a lot of people took notice some of his remarks. he's not really one for happy talk, but on the other hand, he seemed to be pretty restrained in his characterizations of what can be done there. in particular this reassessment of progress in december in afghanistan . i mean, the church troop surge is finally there. the clock is ticking. three months until this review. what should people expect?

    >> i think he comes away from this trip rather encouraged. he was down south. we were in kandahar city proper and district southwest of there and the troops he met with in both locations really feel as though the strategy is working where he is applying it. we have forces going into a neighborhood of kandahar city that not even the soviets were able to get into. they feel as though there is something afoot within kandahar city proper in terms of the mood that's changing. people are seeing how serious and committed we are in changing the security dynamic down there. he comes away encouraged. we've only had the surge forces at full stroent for a week. three or four months before this evaluation takes place. he's not ready to pronounce the strategy working definitively but he is encouraged by what we're seeing thus far.

    >> we have to leave it there. i know he said some very blunt remarks about the iraq war which we talked about. he admitted very clearly it's going to be a while before americans are ready to reassess this again.

    >> remember, he's a historian. it's going to take time to look back on this and make a final pronouncement. if iraq is stable, democratic, if it's influenced for good in the region, it will be a success. i think he would tell you that we are safer because of the success. if we had not surged and put back the al qaeda front that was taking place in iraq , it would have been a huge strategic defeat to the country.

    >> the question though has always been should we have gone in the first place?

    >> he believes history will have to judge.

    >> thank you, thank you.