CNN’s Ware: U.S. 'Cannot Win the War in Afghanistan,' Pushes 'Deals' W. Taliban

[Update, 2:34 pm Eastern: Audio and video clips from the report posted.]

Despite the change in administration, CNN’s Michael Ware, who regularly issued doom-and-gloom reports on Iraq in past years, bluntly stated during a report on Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360 that “America cannot win the war in Afghanistan...with bombs and bullets,” and offered that the only solution to the attacks on NATO troops was “cutting deals” with the Taliban and its leader, Mullah Omar.

Ware made this impolitic remark from the middle of the thoroughly Islamist border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The correspondent presented clips with interviews with Pakistani military and intelligence officials, and advanced the notion that Pakistan could serve as a mediator in such “deals” with the al Qaeda ally [audio clips from the report available here].

After giving a dramatic description of the region he had traveled to, Ware delivered his personal assessment of the Afghan campaign:

WARE: To put it simply, America cannot win the war in Afghanistan. It certainly can’t win it with bombs and bullets, and it can’t win it in Afghanistan alone. But part of the answer lies here, where I’m standing, in these mountain valleys in Pakistan on the Afghan border, because this is al Qaeda and Taliban territory. Right now, there’s as many as 100 Taliban on that mountaintop between the snowcapped peaks and amid those trees. They’re currently under siege from local villagers, who are driving them from their bunkers. But at the end of the day, it’s the Pakistani military who tolerates the presence of groups like the Taliban, and it’s not until America can start cutting deals with these people that there’s any hope of the attacks on American troops coming to an end.

It would seem that the Afghan villagers aren’t following the CNN correspondent’s advice. He then introduced Omar as the person that the U.S. would have to negotiate with: “The key leader the U.S. may have to deal with is this man- Mullah Mohammed Omar, the one-eyed cleric who actually created the Taliban and led its regime- the man who, after the 9/11 attacks, sheltered Osama bin Laden, choosing war with the U.S., rather than surrender bin Laden. Even with a $10 million reward on his head, Mullah Omar has defied all American attempts to capture or kill him.”

Despite this summary, Ware, as he introduced his first clip from his two interviews with Pakistani offficials, made a unsurprising revelation about the government of Pakistan: “Now, for the first time, in this CNN interview, the Pakistan military concedes it still maintains contact with the Taliban. At the military headquarters, we met Major General Athar Abbas, who concedes the army’s links with the Taliban were toned down after 9/11.” After Abbas’s admission, Ware continued that “more than talking to the Taliban, the general says the Pakistan military can actually get the Taliban to sit down with the United States and broker a cease-fire.”

The correspondent then introduced the second Pakistani official he had interviewed, “[f]ormer CIA ally General Hamid Gul, once the head of Pakistan’s equivalent of the CIA, known as the ISI, he is famed as the godfather of the Taliban.” This description of Gul is quite appropriate, but it doesn’t completely reveal the extent of the former ISI chief’s anti-Americanism- in 2003, the Pakistan Daily Times reported that Gul predicted that “God will destroy the US in Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever it will try to go from there.” He further added that “The Muslim world must stand united to confront the US in its so-called war against terror which is in reality a war against Muslims. Let’s destroy America wherever its troops are trapped.” Ware also described Gul as “one of the men who says he can help work that deal” between the U.S. and the Taliban:

GUL: The guarantees can be given, no problem.

WARE (off-camera): How? In terms of American national interests, who does America need to dialogue with?

GUL: Mullah Omar, nobody else.

WARE (voice-over): Mullah Omar, the most important Taliban leader- but to get him and the other Taliban to the table, Pakistan wants something in return. It wants the United States to use its influence to rein in Pakistan’s number-one military rival, India.

Michael Ware, CNN Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgWare concluded his report with another unsurprising revelation: “India’s close association with the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan worries the Pakistanis, and the Pakistanis accuse India of supporting armed separatists in one of Pakistan’s provinces. Senior U.S. officials tell CNN the Obama administration is willing to raise those concerns with India, and that the U.S. is willing to talk with Mullah Omar and other Taliban commanders.”

The full transcript of Ware’s report, which first aired 12 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour of Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program:

MICHAEL WARE (voice-over): I came to these mountains to unravel how the Taliban in Afghanistan are based from here across the border in Pakistan. In these remote mountain valleys of Pakistans Northwest Frontier Province, the Taliban can hide, train, smuggle weapons, and launch military strikes against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. For generations, the border here has been little more than a vague blur among the peaks- and that is what is crippling the American effort in Afghanistan.

WARE: (on-camera): To put it simply, America cannot win the war in Afghanistan. It certainly can’t win it with bombs and bullets, and it can’t win it in Afghanistan alone. But part of the answer lies here, where I’m standing, in these mountain valleys in Pakistan on the Afghan border, because this is al Qaeda and Taliban territory. Right now, there’s as many as 100 Taliban on that mountaintop between the snowcapped peaks and amid those trees. They’re currently under siege from local villagers, who are driving them from their bunkers. But at the end of the day, it’s the Pakistani military who tolerates the presence of groups like the Taliban, and it’s not until America can start cutting deals with these people that there’s any hope of the attacks on American troops coming to an end.

WARE (voice-over): The key leader the U.S. may have to deal with is this man- Mullah Mohammed Omar, the one-eyed cleric who actually created the Taliban and led its regime- the man who, after the 9/11 attacks, sheltered Osama bin Laden, choosing war with the U.S., rather than surrender bin Laden. Even with a $10 million reward on his head, Mullah Omar has defied all American attempts to capture or kill him. He still commands the Afghan Taliban, as they continue killing U.S. and NATO troops. He and other top commanders do all of this, according to U.S. intelligence, from sanctuaries here in Pakistan.

It was the Pakistan military who helped create the Taliban. When the CIA was funding many of these same Afghan groups in the 1980s in their war against the Soviets, it was the Pakistan military that delivered the money, expertise, and weapons, like Stinger missiles. Now, for the first time, in this CNN interview, the Pakistan military concedes it still maintains contact with the Taliban. At the military headquarters, we met Major General Athar Abbas, who concedes the army’s links with the Taliban were toned down after 9/11, but-

MAJOR GENERAL ATHAR ABBAS, PAKISTANI ARMY SPOKESMAN: But, having said that, it- no intelligence organization in the world shuts its last door on any other organization.

WARE: And, more than talking to the Taliban, the general says the Pakistan military can actually get the Taliban to sit down with the United States and broker a cease-fire.

WARE: (off-camera): And that’s where Pakistan can, perhaps, provide valuable assistance to the American mission?

ABBAS: I think, yes, that can be worked out. That’s possible.

WARE (voice-over): And this is one of the men who says he can help work that deal.

GENERAL HAMID GUL (RETIRED), FORMER ISI DIRECTOR GENERAL: People like me, who serve the cause of the freedom of Afghanistan.

WARE: Former CIA ally General Hamid Gul, once the head of Pakistan’s equivalent of the CIA, known as the ISI, he is famed as the godfather of the Taliban.

GUL: The guarantees can be given, no problem.

WARE (off-camera): How? In terms of American national interests, who does America need to dialogue with?

GUL: Mullah Omar, nobody else.

WARE (voice-over): Mullah Omar, the most important Taliban leader- but to get him and the other Taliban to the table, Pakistan wants something in return. It wants the United States to use its influence to rein in Pakistan’s number-one military rival, India.

WARE (on-camera): India’s close association with the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan worries the Pakistanis, and the Pakistanis accuse India of supporting armed separatists in one of Pakistan’s provinces. Senior U.S. officials tell CNN the Obama administration is willing to raise those concerns with India, and that the U.S. is willing to talk with Mullah Omar and other Taliban commanders.

 

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center