'This Week' Transcript: Sens Kerry and Lugar


This continues to be a very difficult endeavor, but I can report that thanks to the extraordinary service of our troops and civilians on the ground, we are on track to achieve our goals.


AMANPOUR: And joining me now, George Will, political strategist Donna Brazile, Chrystia Freeland, global editor at Reuters, and Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post.

Thank you all for being here. Let's go, George, to you regarding the Afghan review. Republicans still solidly on board. American people, though, the majority say, no, we've got to get out. How long do the Republicans stay with this war?

WILL: Well, let's step back a minute. When the president announced simultaneously the surge in December 2009 and the beginning of withdrawal in the summer of 2011, conservatives said he's a reluctant warrior. Not true. He's waging this war with -- with real vigor at this point.

However, in the 10th year of the longest war in the nation's history, our military -- superb military, funded as well almost as the rest of the world's militaries combined -- is facing an adversary with no artillery, no armor, no fixed-wing aircraft, no helicopters, no intelligence service. Wherever we meet them, we beat them. That's not the point. The point is, are we achieving more than, as the review just said, gains that are fragile and reversible?

AMANPOUR: Rajiv, you've been on the ground more than 12 times over the last couple of years.

CHANDRASEKARAN: There are pockets of progress, but overall it's still a very difficult, very grim picture. When you put more U.S. boots on the ground, you do get short-term security improvements. That's what we've seen around Kandahar. The review notes that.

But the bigger strategic questions, getting Afghan governance up and running, getting them to deliver basic services, getting them to build the necessary, most basic frameworks of a state so they can take responsibility of a situation, that still seems a long way off. And -- and this strategy hasn't yet yielded those sorts of gains and benefits.

AMANPOUR: And on the ground, also, the issue of constant re-supply of Taliban from Pakistan's side, but also there are internal divisions, stresses within the administration also on -- on this war. And you've been talking about it.

CHANDRASEKARAN: Indeed. I don't think the review that just came out suggests by any stretch of the imagination that there's agreement within the administration. They've kicked the can down the road until the spring, early summer, when the president is going to have to decide just how many troops to withdraw, and it's looking like there will be a meaningful troop drawdown by next summer. The skeptics are not convinced.

AMANPOUR: Donna? Because actually the can has been kicked down to the beginning of 2015.

BRAZILE: That's correct. Look, when the president went to Europe to the NATO summit and agreed with the framework that we would stay there until 2014 or longer, we now have a conditional sort of transition, so to speak.

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