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What Should U.S. Do in Afghanistan?

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 10, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight: what to do about the war in Afghanistan.

In the wake of the bin Laden raid, there is new polling. According to Rasmussen, 35 percent of Americans now want U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan immediately. Twenty-one percent want to bring the troops home within a year. Just 30 percent want to keep U.S. forces there without a timetable. And 15 percent don't know what they want to do.

Joining us now from Washington, Fox News political analyst Charles Krauthammer. First of all, Charles, what should we do? What should the United States and NATO do in Afghanistan?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this may surprise you, but I think the original Obama policy of putting us on a glide path to turn it over to the Afghans in 2014 is just about right. I hope Obama will resist the temptation to use their great success in the bin Laden operation and the political advantage it gives him to want to give us a precipitous withdrawal, in part, perhaps, as a response to the polls and get us out in time for his re-election, which I'm sure would help him but would not be good for the long run. I think he may resist that.

O'REILLY: The latest information we have from the Obama administration is they plan to withdraw 5,000 troops this summer and another 5,000 by the end of the year. That will still have 100,000 U.S. troops there.

KRAUTHAMMER: That's right.

O'REILLY: But look, 56 percent of Americans don't want this anymore, and I understand. I absolutely understand. Ten years is a long time. And if the Afghans after 10 years can't defend themselves against an enemy they despise, because all the polls in Afghanistan show most of those people despise the Taliban there. They don't want them back. But they can't or won't defend themselves. And Karzai is a corrupt guy. And our guys are dying, and we're spending billions, hundreds of billions of dollars defending a corrupt guy, Karzai. You can understand why Americans want out of there.

KRAUTHAMMER: I do absolutely, and I agree with all of that except for one thing. I think we're looking at the Afghan-Pakistan relationship through the wrong end of the telescope. Conventional view is that Afghanistan is the prize and Pakistan is a bit of a problem because it works against us and provides safe haven, etc. I think it's the other way around. Afghanistan is not worth a hill of beans in and of itself. It reminds me of what Bismarck said about the Balkans. They are not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier. But what Afghanistan has is proximity to Pakistan. Pakistan is the prize. Or to put it another way, Pakistan is the problem. As we saw in the bin Laden operation, that's where the terrorists are living, all kinds of jihadists, in safety. Pakistan is the threat. A, it could become a nuclear state under the bad guys if the jihadists take over Pakistan itself. And, secondly, it's sort of home base for jihadists of all kind. And the reason that Afghanistan is thusly important is that it gives us a proximate base to then watch over, put pressure on, to kill, capture, etc., the jihadists in Pakistan.

As we saw in the bin Laden operation, remember how it happened. It came out of our air base in Bagram. The jumping off point was Jalalabad. Our presence in Afghanistan gives us intelligence, resources, air bases, drones, all of that. That's why Afghanistan is important, because it's a base of operation on which we can keep track of and to reduce and attack the jihadists in Pakistan.

O'REILLY: Well, it's almost the same thing in Iraq. We're going to keep a presence in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran.

KRAUTHAMMER: And that's a reasonable policy.

O'REILLY: Absolutely. And it's a smart policy. The problem is the country is bankrupt. We can't do these operations the way we have been doing them because General Petraeus...

KRAUTHAMMER: That's why…

O'REILLY: …General Petraeus is not going to take over the CIA thing. I think that signals a shift, by the way, of how we're going to do business.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it does.

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

KRAUTHAMMER: But look, nobody is arguing for sustaining this level, the surge level in Afghanistan, in the way that nobody advocated, you know, a decade-long surge in Iraq. You use the surge to press your advantage. We right now have an advantage. Every jihadist in the region is looking up in the sky and wondering if a SEAL is going to land on his head and shoot him in the eye. They are not in a position to be extremely aggressive, but this is the fighting season. The surge on the ground has had an effect, and the bin Laden operation is scaring the hell out of a lot of the jihadists are worrying about their own safety and not how to plan operations in Afghanistan. This is a time to press the advantage as a way to accelerate our withdrawal, which would end around 2014.

O'REILLY: OK, and I agree with you. I think Americans have to be a little bit patient in this theater, because there's a lot unintended consequences to pulling out too quickly.

KRAUTHAMMER: Exactly.

O'REILLY: Thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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