All-Star Panel: Where does situation in Afghanistan stand?

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 10, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The fundamental mission in Afghanistan is to establish an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself and ensure that Al Qaeda never again finds a safe haven within Afghanistan from which to conduct attacks on the United States or any other country.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Defense Secretary Panetta at the end of last month talking about Afghanistan. The mission on Sunday was to save the life of this man, Dilip Joseph, a Colorado Springs doctor who had been kidnapped with two other Afghans working for an NGO in Afghanistan. And the operation was dangerous.


BRIG. GEN. GUNTER KATZ, ISAF SPOKESMAN: It was a combined operations in order to rescue this individual. During that operation, seven of those captures were killed. And it has been decided to start the operation since the assessment was that there was an imminent danger of injury, or death to the individual.


BAIER: And Petty Officer First Class Nicolas Checque, 28 years old, a Navy SEAL, member of SEAL Team 6 was killed in that operation. Our condolences to his family. We're back with the panel. We don't talk about Afghanistan a lot, Charles, but this mission, the doctor is alive. He is well.  He's free. That Navy SEAL dead tonight.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The fact we don't talk about it and that we only do when we hear about a mission like this I think is what makes it doubly tragic.  Obviously, there is a terrible tragedy that we lose a brave soldier who gave us life ultimately to save another American, which is sort of the tradition of these incredibly brave soldiers.

The tragedy I think -- the double tragedy is why are they dying? Why are they over there? We heard the secretary of defense say our mission is to establish, to leave behind a government that will maintain itself. That really isn't our mission. If it were our mission, Obama would not have aborted the surge in mid-September, which he did before the election. He would have kept it into the winter season. If that were our mission he would have honored what the military commanders had asked for at the beginning of the surge, a way to control the south and the east at the same time. In fact, he cut the number of troops so you could only do the south. We are never going to do the east. Essentially, we're simply trying to hold on so we have a decent interval between our withdrawal and renewal of the civil war.

And if that is the case, if the mission is not a success, if Obama had cut back and never speaks about this -- this is never in the consciousness of the nation. I don't think there has never been war in our history where a president speaks less about and garners less support of behalf of a real, ongoing operation where Americans are dying. If that is our mission, which is minimal, getting out, why are these brave soldiers dying?

BAIER: Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: I don't think it's Democrats that are not talking about the war. I go back to the Republican convention. I think your nominee didn't talk about Afghanistan.

I think real issue here is, what can the United States rationally expect to accomplish before leaving? We have been there ten years, not like we just showed up and now we're quickly, the white of our tails is showing as we run away. We have been there. We have – it has cost us lives and it's just cost us another life. And you can see that a good American doctor was there trying to help in terms of a rural clinic. There is no shortage of American commitment to Afghanistan. The problem is that not only Americans but people who have come before have tried to stay and we have seen the result. There is no way that any foreign force is going to set the future of Afghanistan.

BAIER: So pull out?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think in fact, the American people -- if you just look at what the polls say, now would be a good time.

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: This kind of reminds me of the end of the Vietnam War, where there were a lot of clever maneuvering by Henry Kissinger and peace talks in Paris, and this that and the other thing, and at the end of the day it was all basically a game to set up a plausible political climate for bugging out. And that's sort of where, I think, the Obama administration is.  Whether that's good policy or is not is a different conversation. But these talks about whether we're going to pull out by 2014, expedite things or not, these are all ways of basically saying we're done with this place. And I don't know that you couldn't have dramatically more success if we committed troops and resources the way some people wanted too, but there is simply not that political will in Washington.


BAIER: We won't stop talking about it. That is it for panel. But stay tuned to see what makes this the most wonderful time of the year. 

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