CBS’s Logan: U.S. ‘Facing Strategic Defeat’ in Afghanistan

Lara Logan, CBS On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to foreign correspondent Lara Logan about the situation in Afghanistan and she declared: "So seven years later we have more troops in the country than we have ever had. And yet no one is admitting the fact that we are facing strategic defeat in a country that wanted us there. Unlike Iraq, they actually wanted us there."

Smith introduced the segment by proclaiming: "U.S. officials say attempts to root out Al Qaeda and the Taliban are failing. And for the second straight month in June, militants killed more U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan than in Iraq."

During the segment, Smith displayed his foreign policy credentials in reference to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border: "I've been reading lightly about these tribal areas. I was there about 20 years ago. I described it to a friend of mine, it's like the Star Wars bar. You can't trust anyone there. You don't know who's loyal to who." So Afghans and Pakistanis are like strange-looking aliens?

Later, Smith asked Logan: "Are there enough U.S. troops, are there enough NATO troops to fight this fight?" After Logan replied: "No, there aren't enough of either troops," Smith followed up by asking: "Now here's the other question. There may not be enough troops. Is there anything close to a coherent strategy to fight both of these elements?" To that question, Logan remarked: "No. And there hasn't been for some time."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:10AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: There is breaking news overnight in Afghanistan. U.S.-led forces say they scored a big hit against militants late Monday, killing more than 30 near the border with Pakistan. Despite this, U.S. officials say attempts to root out Al Qaeda and the Taliban are failing. And for the second straight month in June, militants killed more U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan than in Iraq. Joining us is CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan. Good morning, good to have you with us. What is the biggest problem U.S. and NATO forces face over there in Afghanistan, in particular in trying to root out these Al Qaeda forces and Taliban?

LARA LOGAN: That their enemy is safely located across the border inside Pakistan and they cannot go there. That they have to stand there, inside Afghanistan, watch them disappear to safety. They can't get at their supply lines, their command and control centers, their financing, their weapons, their training. They have regrouped inside Pakistan and we can do absolutely nothing about it because we can't cross that border.

SMITH: Right and I've been reading lightly about these tribal areas. I was there about 20 years ago. I described it to a friend of mine, it's like the Star Wars bar. You can't trust anyone there. You don't know who's loyal to who. And is that not an area where a lot of the Al Qaeda have reformed and are basically are running to reform in a way, maybe even stronger than they were five or six years ago?

LOGAN: Well, they've managed to do in that area, which is just across the border, they've managed to do exactly what they did in Afghanistan before, which is to set up their base. Al Qaeda actually literally means 'the base.' And from there, they can plan attacks, they can run attacks. And most experts believe that the next terrorist attack, the next 9/11 on the United States is being planned.

SMITH: Right.

LOGAN: And set up in that area right now.

SMITH: Right there, right now. Oh, my gosh. Are there enough U.S. troops, are there enough NATO troops to fight this fight?

LOGAN: No, there aren't enough of either troops. What's interesting is there are right now between 32,000 and 33,000 American soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan. The highest number since the war in Afghanistan began. So seven years later we have more troops in the country than we have ever had. And yet no one is admitting the fact that we are facing strategic defeat in a country that wanted us there. Unlike Iraq, they actually wanted us there.

SMITH: Now here's the other question. There may not be enough troops. Is there anything close to a coherent strategy to fight both of these elements?

LOGAN: No. And there hasn't been for some time. We've had sort of forays across the border with special operations forces, the Pakistanis didn't want that. We farmed out the hunt for Bin Laden, we basically said to the Pakistanis 'okay, you can do it then, if you don't want us there.' The-

SMITH: And they end up telegraphing the attacks as they're about to come.

LOGAN: Harry, I've been on that border with U.S. patrols where the Pakistani forces will put up a white flag or signal with lights to let all the militants in the area know that you're there. I've seen them in attacks firing -- providing covering fire for militants going over that border. And this is what U.S. soldiers have been putting up with for seven years.

SMITH: Lara Logan, thanks very much for being with us this morning. Do appreciate it.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC