OTR Interviews

President Obama, the Next 4 Years: Fear of 'dropping the ball' in Afghanistan persists

President Obama,the Next 4 Years: Foreign Policy - What will happen to Afghanistan as US troops withdraw from the region?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 21, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: 2014 -- now, that is when the U.S. plans to end its combat role in Afghanistan, ending the longest war in our nation's history. But how many U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after that is still unclear. The Obama administration has lots of decisions to make. So how will the president's policy towards Afghanistan unfold in his second term? Once again, our foreign policy experts.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: When Afghanistan ends, it needs to end well. We need to bring most of our troops home. But if you left 15,000 or 20,000 behind in Afghanistan with airplanes and helicopters and special forces units, that'd be the end of the Taliban, and those young women would have a chance.

If we leave Afghanistan like we did Iraq, it's going to fall apart. Obama had Iraq inside the 10-yard line. He had lot of problems to deal with. Iraq was a success story in the making. Not leaving any American forces behind in Iraq -- and 10,000 or 12,000 would have done it -- has let the country deteriorate. Everybody's gone back to their sectarian corners.

Iran has more influence in Iraq now than ever. They're overflying Iraq to reinforce Syria. It breaks my heart that we were so close to winning in Iraq, and Obama administration dropped the ball right on the goal line. And if they just talk about leaving Afghanistan, rather than getting it right, that will haunt us for decades.

And when it comes to Iran, why should the Iranians believe that the Obama administration is serious about stopping their nuclear program when all we talk about is leaving the region? If you're going to allow Assad to kill 32,000 of his own citizens and do nothing about it, let it infect (ph) the whole region because you have a hands-off approach to Syria, what kind of signal is that to send to Iran?

VAN SUSTEREN: Afghanistan -- as you look at Afghanistan, where is that country headed?

DR. HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: When you make a list, like we are doing here, then you can see (INAUDIBLE) why anyone would want to be president because it's a problematic country (INAUDIBLE) We have given a date of withdrawal by 2014. So have all the other countries. And we say that by that time, the government in Afghanistan will be able to stand on its own feet.

I think that's a very problematic assumption. I think that government will be under horrendous pressures from the Taliban and maybe from other surrounding countries because, historically, Afghanistan has been sort of the transit area for the forces that emerge in that area.

So I understand the desire to withdraw, but I've been urging, and I continue to urge that we try to engage the other surrounding countries in some agreement as to permissible actions inside Afghanistan so that it doesn't turn into a terror center and that it doesn't become, through neglect, the place where all the countries begin to fight their own battles.

And this (INAUDIBLE) the context of what I said earlier. We cannot do everything ourselves, but I don't think we should leave Afghanistan without a political framework that prevents it's being turned again into a terrorist center.

VAN SUSTEREN: If we were sitting down six years from now, we're talking about Afghanistan, what would be the conversation?

LIZ CHENEY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'd say it will depend who follows Barack Obama. I think that if we continue down the path we're on and we end up with massive troop drawdowns, fast troop drawdowns, like it looks as though we're on the path to, you could well have an Afghanistan where the Taliban or their allies are in control, where al Qaeda has again found a foothold, where all of the sacrifice that we've made in blood and treasure, and we end up in a situation that we saw in the 1990s, where we walked away from it, and again, terrorists that want to kill Americans, that threaten our security, were able to gain a foothold.

I certainly hope that's not what we'll see, but I don't have a lot of confidence, given the path this president has put us on, that we will leave Afghanistan in a way that we can ensure that our enemies don't take control again.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you and I were talking four years from now talking about Afghanistan, what would the conversation be?

AMB. JOHN BOLTON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It would be about how the new Taliban government has repressed women's freedom almost entirely, how Afghanistan is once more a base for al Qaeda international terrorism, and quite possibly how Pakistani Taliban has taken over that country and its supply of nuclear weapons.

The Obama administration policy of withdrawing Americans from Afghanistan is going to bring Taliban back to power. The only question is when. Will it be in 2014, or if we withdraw earlier, will it be in 2013? This is more bad news for the United States and for our friends and allies in the region.