'This Week' Transcript: Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Plus, the roundtable discuses the war in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON, Dec 5, 2010
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Welcome to viewers here and around the world. I'm Christiane Amanpour. And at the top of the news this week, culture wars in the United States military.
CARTWRIGHT: Being more inclusive improves the institution as a whole.
AMOS: My recommendation would be that this is a bad time, Senator.
AMANPOUR: Is "don't ask/don't tell" on its last legs?
MCCAIN: We shouldn't be exercising a rush to judgment.
AMANPOUR: Or will gays continue to serve in silence? We'll hear from all sides, as we go behind the headlines.
OBAMA: You're going on the offense. Tired of playing defense.
AMANPOUR: ... the start of an ABC News special series on Afghanistan. Nine years into the war, is there light at the end of this tunnel?
And damage done.
CLINTON: This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community.
AMANPOUR: We zero in on policy and personalities exposed by WikiLeaks. A special roundtable with former Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sakena Yacoobi, an Afghan women's rights activist, and ABC's George Will.
And the Sunday funnies.
BAYH: In all likelihood, there were gay Americans serving at Valley Forge.
STEWART: Evan Bayh expressing surprise that, despite clear reproductive disadvantages, gay people have somehow been around for hundreds of years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From all across our world to the heart of our nation's capital, ABC's "This Week" with Christiane Amanpour starts now.
AMANPOUR: Hello again.
Back in 1993, the top military brass testified before Congress that homosexuality was incompatible with military service. At Senate hearings this week, none of the military leaders testified that to be the case.
Seventy-five percent of Americans approve of gays serving openly in the military. And in the Pentagon survey of the troops that was released this week, 70 percent of those who responded said having a gay person in their unit would not have a negative effect on their unit's ability to work together to get the job done.
Still, time to act is running out. Congress has other priorities in this lame-duck session. And some in the military say that changing the policy now would distract them from their focus on fighting two wars. In a moment, we'll debate ending "don't ask/don't tell" with our guests here this morning.
But as ABC's John Donvan first reports, the issue of gays in the military is as old as the nation itself.
DONVAN (voice-over): Hear that sound? That's how General George Washington dealt with it. Informed that one of his officers had an interest in sodomy -- that was the charge -- Washington kicked the man out. Correct that: He had him drummed out, literally, a policy at least with clarity.
Today, on the other hand, we have our oddly-named rule.
MCCAIN: "Don't ask/don't tell."
(UNKNOWN): "Don't ask/don't tell."
COLBERT: "Don't ask/don't tell."
(UNKNOWN): "Don't ask/don't tell."
DONVAN: And a debate only now reaching its crescendo...
PROTESTERS: "Don't ask/don't tell" has got to go, hey, hey.
DONVAN: ... where not just the senators were arguing this week.
MCCAIN: I couldn't disagree more. If we think they're mature enough to fight and die, I think they're mature enough to make a judgment on who they want to serve with.
DONVAN: So was the top military brass. The Army's chief of staff...
CASEY: The implementation of the repeal of "don't ask/don't tell" in the near term will, one, add another level of stress to an already stretched force.
DONVAN: ... clashing with Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman.
MULLEN: War does not stifle change; it demands it.
DONVAN: And while it has been one long "don't ask/don't tell" punt by a president, who when he wanted the White House promised this...
OBAMA: ... which is why I will reverse the policy when I'm president of the United States of America.
DONVAN: ... it now appears with language in a Senate bill that would do just that and a report submitted by the Pentagon Tuesday that provides plenty of cover for a rule that was never anybody's idea of a good idea.
B. CLINTON: It certainly will not please everyone, perhaps not anyone.
DONVAN: Good call on that one, because 17 years ago, when he was just learning how to return a salute, he wanted no ban at all on gays in the military. But his generals...
(UNKNOWN): The question is, do you believe that homosexuality is compatible or incompatible with military service?
(UNKNOWN): Open homosexuality would be incompatible.
DONVAN: Admirals, too, of course, who were adamant that in this man's military, whether on ship or on shore, under shell fire or in the showers, homosexuals -- the term the military used then -- could never serve, could never share barracks without undermining U.S. security.
(UNKNOWN): Open sexuality in the unit setting is incompatible.
DONVAN: Then they hit on "don't ask/don't tell," a solution that he called...
B. CLINTON: The right thing to do and the best way to do it.
DONVAN: But the rule was always a logical and moral mish-mash. You can stay if you're gay, but stay in the closet? Number one, that's an inducement to lie, which does what to military honor (ph).
Number two, it made the argument not against gays, but behaving gay in the military. To people on both sides, it wasn't much of a distinction.
Still, the concrete results: some 13,000 service people expelled from the military since 1994.
But look who has switched sides and why.
POWELL: I'm personally of the view now that attitudes have changed, and I think it is perfectly acceptable to get rid of the law and the policy.
DONVAN: We're also at war. And scores of those dismissed under "don't ask/don't tell" could speak the languages native to the places where we are fighting.
But, notably, those closest to combat, like the Marines and others, were significantly less in favor of repeal. This week, the Marines commanding general said, if the law must change, then...
AMOS: And all I'm asking is the opportunity to do that at a time and of choosing when -- when my Marines are not singularly tightly focused on -- on what they're doing in a very deadly environment.
DONVAN: Timing. It depends, of course, on time, of which we've had plenty in the 232 years since Washington ordered that drumming out, plenty to think through what to do about an issue that still divides our military, and likely will for some time to come.
For "This Week," I'm John Donvan.
AMANPOUR: Joining me now, General Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme allied commander. He supports the repeal of "don't ask/don't tell."
Lieutenant Colonel Bob Maginnis, he served in the U.S. Army for 24 years. He was an adviser to the 1993 military working group that examined gays in the military, and he opposes the repeal of "don't ask/don't tell."
Elaine Donnelly is founder and president of the Center for Military Readiness, which is also opposed to gays serving in the military.
Clarke Cooper is active Army reservist who served in Iraq. He's also executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, which is challenging "don't ask/don't tell" in the courts.
Tammy Schultz is the director of national security and joint warfare at the Marine Corps War College. She studied the Marine Corps for 15 years and believes that "don't ask/don't tell" should be repealed.
And former Sergeant First Class Stacy Vasquez served in the Army for 12 years before being outed and discharged in 2003.
We welcome all of you to this panel to discuss this really important issue at hand.
First, if I might go to General Wesley Clark, my old sparring partner from the Balkan wars, General, let me ask you -- thank you for being here -- you have heard now what the service chiefs have said in the testimony on Capitol Hill the last couple of days. What do you make of where they stand and their -- their call that it shouldn't happen at a time of war?
CLARK: Well, actually, they didn't all say it shouldn't happen at a time of war. The basic stand -- what I got out of the testimony is, if you're going to make the decision, make the decision, get it over with, take us out of the middle of the game, and then give us six months or so to do the training and education and get ready so the leadership can handle this.
On a scale of 1 to 10, the report said this was about a 2 in terms of degree of difficulty and degree of disruption. Yes, it does add complexity, but not nearly as much complexity as the continuing uncertainty. The president said it's going to be done. I think, one way or another, what the chiefs were telling you, while they were trying to be loyal to all the people that serve under them, what they were telling you was, let's make this decision and move forward.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, let me ask our panel members right now. You heard the poll numbers that I just reported from the "don't ask/don't tell" survey. You've heard about Americans on gays in the military. Let me show you what they say, a poll that says, should gays be allowed to serve openly in the military? Yes, say 75 percent of the people of the United States. And if you go deeper into those numbers, the poll finds that it's a majority amongst conservatives, amongst Republicans, and among seniors who believe that.
And, furthermore, when asked about the actual experience of serving in a unit with a co-worker who they believe was gay or lesbian, 92 percent of those surveyed stated that the unit's ability to work together was very good, good, or neither good nor poor.
What do you say to that, Tammy Schultz? Is it time now, even though the nation is at war and even though the Marines, by a significant minority, oppose it? Those are the tip of the spear. And you are at the Marine War College.
SCHULTZ: I am. And let me -- let me first state that I'm offering my personal opinions here and not on behalf of the Marine Corps.
But I absolutely think it is time to repeal. Unlike desegregation, where the military was out in front of society, what the recent Pentagon study shows is that the military is actually in step with society on this one. In desegregation, you had 80 percent of the troops against basically desegregating the armed forces. Here you have, as the numbers that you pointed out show, an overwhelming majority that say that it will actually be just fine.
AMANPOUR: You're saying it's your personal opinion, but you have studied this on behalf of the Marine Corps and on behalf of the War College for a long time, 15 years or so. What effect will repeal have on troops, on Marines right now who are at war?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think it's important to point out that, although the Marine Corps was the least supportive of the services, there was still out of those surveyed 60 percent that said this isn't a big issue.
And I really agree with both the chairman of the chiefs of staff and the vice chairman, James Cartwright, who's a Marine, who said, you know what, war really focuses the soldier, airman, Marines' and sailors' minds. Now is actually the time for change. They're singularly mission-focused, and it's just simply not a huge deal.
Now, I do appreciate that the combat service numbers, the combat arms were less supportive. However, when you take away the stereotypes and you ask them about actual experience of dealing with somebody who believe they -- they believe to be gay or homosexual or lesbian, overwhelmingly the numbers were positive.
AMANPOUR: Elaine Donnelly, you are really the spokesperson for the conservative cause against homosexuals in the military. You've lobbied for a long time about this. What do you say, though, to a survey that now has surveyed the American people, surveyed the American military, in a most exhaustive fashion, that says it's time? They didn't talk about repeal, but about gays serving in the military, that it would have no negative impact...
DONNELLY: The question of whether the law should be retained or repealed was not even asked.
AMANPOUR: No, it wasn't specifically.
DONNELLY: The question -- the question you're referring to is, do you know or like someone who is homosexual? Well, everyone would say yes to that, almost everyone. But that's not a question that really matters. The combat...
AMANPOUR: Forgive me. The question also was about how it would affect their unit's ability to perform in combat.
DONNELLY: Right. Right. And people who do clerical work at the Pentagon may have a view that that's not going to affect me, but the combat troops are the ones who matter.
In the Army combat troops and Marines, the infantry, and the Marine Corps combat troops in general, 57 percent, 67 percent opposed. Those -- those troops said that there would be a negative effect.
Now, for anyone to say that it's OK to make military life more difficult and more dangerous, I don't think that's really fair, because it's like putting stones in someone's rucksack and saying, "OK, you're going to march the same length of time," and, yes, you can do it because you're such a good soldier...
AMANPOUR: All right. Let's just break this down. Let's break this down. Number one, you said that those surveyed were the administrative types in the Pentagon, where I understood...
COOPER: I'm a combat veteran, for starters. And all my men and the women that I went to war with, that I got shot at with during the Mahdi uprising, would go back to war with me any day. And they would say so on this program. And these include combat-hardened veterans.
SCHULTZ: And the survey shows that 84 percent of Marine combat veterans who worked with somebody who were gay or lesbian said it did not affect their ability to get the job done.
COOPER: You're mission-focused. The last thing you're worried about, you're wanting to stay alive and keep your comrades alive.
SCHULTZ: You don't care if somebody's straight. You care if they can shoot straight.
AMANPOUR: All right. But 40 percent to 60 percent of the Marines -- 58 percent, basically, of those at the tip of the spear -- said that it would have a negative impact. And I've obviously been in the field, have reported on Marines. I've seen what they do. Why do you think they are so particularly upset about this, then? Because they are.
COOPER: About a particular branch? Well, I would look -- I would look at what the Joint Chiefs have talked about, is that uniform behavior -- we're almost saying that we don't trust our servicemembers, regardless of branch, that they're going to be able to get in line.
For starters, there are cyclical, annual briefs that take place -- in fact, my unit's doing them this weekend -- about nondiscrimination briefs, suicide prevention and awareness, awareness of PTSD.
What's going to happen is, when repeal is instituted, it will be essentially, probably, either a bullet point or there will be training guidance as to leadership to say it is no longer OK to discriminate or to have an arbitrary discharge based on one's orientation.
It doesn't take -- it doesn't allow for bad behavior. And it may -- but everyone's still responsible under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And everyone still has to follow uniform conduct.
AMANPOUR: Isn't that right, Bob Maginnis, lieutenant colonel? There is a code of conduct for all serving in the military, whether heterosexual or homosexual or gay.
MAGINNIS: There's no question about it. And we do abide by the rules that civilians set for us. And, you know -- and, ultimately, you know, those -- those admirals and generals are going to take orders and do their absolute best.
The question comes up with what General Casey said the other day in testimony. Are we putting too much of a burden on our young people at a time of war?
And he said, look, something's not going to get done. And General -- or Senator Levin was very angry about that.
But going back to your original question, you know, on all-volunteers. This is a volunteer force. You know, we have to be sensitive to those that we recruit. Who do we recruit? We recruit people that come from multigenerational military families. That's the vast majority.
Then you recruit from people that come out of certain sections of the South or the Mountain West.
And then you tend to recruit conservatives. Now, not all conservatives, as Chuck indicates, are of this persuasion. However, you know, if you alienate that particular group, guess what? Congress has a much more difficult problem to resolve.
AMANPOUR: But getting back to the actual context and the issue at hand, the poll shows that, in America at large, there is a majority who believe that they should...
MAGINNIS: I've seen the polls.
AMANPOUR: ... including conservatives and Republicans and seniors, the very people you're talking about.
DONNELLY: ... a poll, too, that showed that the level of support was about 30 points less than what you're seeing from the Washington Post or other outlets. Civilians have a different view of the military because they lack the experience that the combat troops have.
AMANPOUR: All right. I'm going to go to -- to the Army general, General Wesley Clark. What about this notion that it cannot be done at war? And also, General Clark, if you could break down for us, when people talk about combat effectiveness, unit readiness and morale, what precisely are they talking about? And how could potentially having gays serve openly affect that, if at all?
CLARK: Well, first of all, I -- I do agree with the point that the chairman and the vice chairman made that, if the military's focused on war, this is the ideal time to do it, because we're talking about building teamwork around a common purpose.
And what the survey showed is that essentially all of the servicemembers, 92 percent, agree that they could serve -- they could serve in a unit in combat, and they could work together effectively, and it wouldn't compromise mission readiness.
I think a lot of the survey, honestly, it shows the effects of six, eight months' politicization, continuing coverage in the media, and some of it is just people in the military saying, just leave us alone and let us do our job. They come down on one side or the other of this. Let's just get on with it.
AMANPOUR: But General Clark...
CLARK: I think that when you put people in combat with and you organize them around a task, they're concerned about getting the job done. They're not concerned with what someone puts in a letter to home or who he or she holds dear in their heart.
AMANPOUR: Well, I'm trying to figure out, what is the definition of combat effectiveness and why that might be compromised by gays serving openly? Can you explain that?
CLARK: Well, I don't -- I think it's a very -- I think if you read the Medal of Honor citation that was recently presented in the White House, you would find what the definition of combat effectiveness is, is people are willing to risk their lives and give their lives for each other in combat.
And people do that because of respect. They do it because of teamwork. They do it because of training. But ultimately, those bonds are about being an American and being a team member. They're -- they're not about locker room talk, and they're not about sexual orientation.
We awarded a Silver Star to a woman who was fantastic in the -- in the Army clearing out a trench line of Iraqi insurgents in 2004, I believe it was, in Iraq. If you read her citation, it was as good as any citation I ever saw from the -- from the Vietnam War. She probably deserved more than a Silver Star and had nothing to do with her gender or her orientation.
And I think that when Americans are in combat together, they pull together on a task, they work together based on a common culture of being an American and a commitment to the unit. And I think that's what's overriding in this case. And I think that's the message behind both the survey and the -- and the majority of the chiefs' testimony.
DONNELLY: Christiane, you changed the subject, or the general is changing the subject. This entire report does not include one positive argument of why this should be done. That is its primary flaw. All it talks about is mitigating problems.
There was a phony argument that was raised, something about the courts will have to -- the Congress will have to work so the courts don't. The reason that's a phony argument is because a rogue ruling in San Diego is under appeal. The Supreme Court will overturn it. The courts do not have the power to run the military.
But if Congress acts prematurely, that precedent will stand, making all kinds of problems with the military.
COOPER: Let's talk positives. Let's talk positives.
DONNELLY: This is the case that you brought to court. You (inaudible) judge to say that she should be the supreme judicial commander of the military? It's ridiculous.
COOPER: I prefer the legislative process. That's actually ideal. Congress -- Congress born this thing. They should kill the darn thing. Let's talk about positives...
DONNELLY: But you don't -- you don't blackmail Congress and say a judge will do it first.
COOPER: Let's talk about positives, Elaine. For starters, there are people who've abused this statue to get out of their military commitments. There's nothing that ticks me off more as a combat veteran, a current serving officer, someone to try to get out of their commitment. It's a bunch of B.S.
And people have used "don't ask/don't tell" after being paid for medical school training or law school training and say, oh, you know what? By the way, sir or ma'am, I'm gay. And then they're...
DONNELLY: If they were not eligible to be in the service...
COOPER: That's -- that's B.S.
DONNELLY: ... they should not have been brought in, in the first place.
COOPER: So that's another -- that's a positive. We remove that.
DONNELLY: That's why the law...
COOPER: We also remove the specter of discharge...
DONNELLY: The law should have been forced as...
MAGINNIS: Well, that's Bill Clinton's invention, and you know that, Chuck.
AMANPOUR: OK. OK.
DONNELLY: We do not support "don't ask/don't tell," never have.
MAGINNIS: Most of us don't agree with that particular provision.
AMANPOUR: They -- they say gays should not be serving in the military at all.
DONNELLY: That's what the law saws.
COOPER: Well, they have been since the -- since the 1630s before there was even a United States, when we had -- when we were -- when we had a home guard here, so come on.
DONNELLY: The Pentagon encourages dishonesty, but that's not the fault of the law.
(UNKNOWN): Wow, it's a remarkable statement.
DONNELLY: What we should be looking about, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender law that -- what you are advocating. There is nothing in the report about the effects of zero tolerance.
DONNELLY: It would force people out of the military.
AMANPOUR: I want to -- I want to -- I want to raise what Admiral Mullen has said, because the idea of lying and compromising your integrity is what's really motivating him, as well as...
COOPER: Or compromising national security.
MAGINNIS: Oh, absolutely.
AMANPOUR: Let me raise what he said.
DONNELLY: It's the fault of the Pentagon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULLEN: Because I think it -- it belies us as an institution. We value integrity as an institution.
AMANPOUR: You mean forcing them to lie about what they are?
MULLEN: And then -- and then asking individuals to come in and lie about who they are every day goes counter to who we are as an institute.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONNELLY: He knows better than that.
DONNELLY: Because the law does not say that people can be in the military if they are less than honest.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me go...
DONNELLY: He knows that.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask Stacy Vasquez...
DONNELLY: Perhaps he ought to read the actual statute.
AMANPOUR: ... private first class, former U.S. Army sergeant, rather, first class. Stacy, you had to lie in order to serve, and you were thrown out when you were outed.
VASQUEZ: Yes, I was. I actually joined the Army right after high school. And every generation of men in my family had served in some conflict, and their service inspired me to go into the Army.
While I was serving for 12 years, I was promoted seven times, I was inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, and I was the top recruiter in the entire Army. I had the misfortune of being outed to my commander by a disgruntled wife.
And in my discharge paperwork that my commander wrote and signed, I'll actually read you a short excerpt, and it says that "Sergeant Vasquez's record is exceptional. She continues to demonstrate professionalism and dedication to all of the soldiers, and that should be emulated."
AMANPOUR: Was there any unit cohesion problems when you were -- when you were serving?
VASQUEZ: I'm fairly certain that the Army wouldn't have promoted me seven times and awarded me dozens of decorations if there was a problem with me and unit cohesion.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask General Clark in a second about leadership, but, first, I want to go to the issue of gays serving openly in some 35 or more countries around the world, including U.S. allies, countries like Britain...
(UNKNOWN): We talked about that.
AMANPOUR: ... which have stood with the United States and continue to do so. In England, it was in 2000 that the -- that the ban on homosexuals serving in the military was lifted, and it was actually done by the European Court of Human Rights.
Here's Jim Sciutto.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Patrick Lyster-Todd was a lieutenant commander in the British Royal Navy and gay at a time when homosexuality was still a criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment.
LYSTER-TODD: For me, I evolved a Jekyll and Hyde existence.
SCIUTTO (on-screen): Still a difficult and fearful, it sounds like, existence?
LYSTER-TODD: It was difficult.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Coming out or being outed meant dismissal. Mr. Todd chose to leave voluntarily in 1992.
Pressured by activist groups and dismissed servicemembers, the military explored integration. But in 1996, Homosexuality Policy Assessment Team report found deep hostility in the ranks: 91 percent believed homosexual behavior was offensive; 95 percent said integration would hurt service standards.
The report concluded, "There is a military risk from a policy change. We must," quote, "deal with the world as it is."
Admiral Alan West was convinced the military simply wasn't ready for them to serve openly.
WEST: I mean, I now find it amazing that back in the 1990s I could have thought that, hmm, this is probably too much to do and that I was willing to accept a status quo which was so wrong. And I was.
SCIUTTO: When the ban was lifted in 2000 with virtually no preparation, something remarkable happened: nothing, no resignations, no impairment of fighting ability, and almost no incidents of harassment.
TATCHELL: Some homophobic politicians and service chiefs played up and exaggerated their likely dire consequences of allowing gays to serve, but that was because they were against homosexuality. But when the ban was lifted, their fears did not materialize.
SCIUTTO (on-screen): Gay servicemembers were quickly given all of the benefits available to other soldiers and sailors, including shared quarters with their partners in barracks like this one. In fact, gay campaigners say that the military quickly became one of the most tolerant organizations in the country.
(voice-over): Today, in a sign of just how far things have come, the military even recruits at gay pride parades.
(on-screen): So if nothing happened, why do you think it took the British military so long then to do it?
WEST: We are a reflection of the society we live in, and we should be, because we are protecting and defending it, but we're always slightly behind it in getting there.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): For "This Week," Jim Sciutto, ABC News, London.
AMANPOUR: So one of the things that he mentioned inter alia was that against it was because people were against homosexuality. That's your position regarding gays serving in the military, correct?
DONNELLY: Our position is that military readiness should come first.
AMANPOUR: Well, we've just been talking about military readiness. So what is really the position?
MAGINNIS: Well, this particular piece that you just showed on foreign militaries -- I work with foreign militaries every day, still do, and have for many years.
You know, it's -- the U.S. military is about 18 times larger than the Brits. You know, to compare them to -- you know, to us is like comparing an M1A1 tank to a Roman chariot.
AMANPOUR: But the issues are the same. The issues are the same.
MAGINNIS: No, the issues are fundamentally about privacy, about unit cohesion, about trust and confidence, about readiness, about, you know, retention, you know, recruitment. You look at all those.
Unfortunately, Christiane, the -- the report that the Pentagon came out with, based upon a flawed survey, doesn't support that if you look at how they did the process. And, unfortunately, unless Congress does the right thing for the nation, you know, we're going to depend upon some pretty bad research that scientists are going to disagree with.
AMANPOUR: Is it about morality or is it about combat effectiveness? One historian has said the idea of unit cohesion was the only thing they could come up with, but it was based on very little.
SCHULTZ: Nothing will be good enough for the opponents who do not want to repeal "don't ask/don't tell." It's not about the evidence; it's about the ideology. They're saying, oh, you can't compare the U.S. military to other militaries. We're bigger, we're in war, et cetera, et cetera. But then they simultaneously want to say we have the most professional forces in the world, which we do.
AMANPOUR: But how do you answer -- how do you answer concerns by people who think that, if this is repealed, suddenly there will be an onslaught of openly gay behavior, the showers, the bunks, all the things that people who don't like this...
MAGINNIS: Don't put words in our mouths, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: You know, in general.
DONNELLY: The report says there will be no separation. The report says that, yes.
COOPER: Well, the Joint Chiefs said no separation.
DONNELLY: But there's no...
COOPER: But let's go back to combat readiness. I'll tell you one thing that I hear -- I hear about combat readiness. You know where I need help? You know where Captain Cooper needs help? I need more ammo. We have -- we have -- there are shortages on ammo for troop training. We need training. Training is part of readiness. And having been fully equipped is part of readiness and effectiveness.
COOPER: That's readiness and effectiveness. This is a burden as a -- it's a personnel nightmare for commanders. They'd rather not deal with this. Get rid of this. Clear the decks of this statute.
DONNELLY: But why then -- but why is your organization in court at war against the U.S. military?
AMANPOUR: Is this going to happen through the courts or through legislation?
AMANPOUR: Is this going to happen through the courts or through legislation?
DONNELLY: We're a Republican organization.
SCHULTZ: My hope is that it happens through legislation. As Secretary Gates and the number-one and number-two commanding men in the armed forces said, they can do this. They can do this without...
SCHULTZ: ... impacting military readiness...
SCHULTZ: ... so long as they have the time to do so.
MAGINNIS: Yeah, they aren't commanders. You only have...
AMANPOUR: But General Clark is a commander, and I want to ask him...
MAGINNIS: He was.
AMANPOUR: ... what -- once in the Army, once a commander, always a commander, I thought.
SCHULTZ: That's exactly right.
MAGINNIS: Yeah, well, I don't know about that.
AMANPOUR: General Clark, the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs have said the one thing it's going to require is leadership and training to implement this, if it is repealed. What precisely does that mean?
CLARK: What that means is not trying to make broad rulings, but if there are issues, that you deal with them at the lowest possible level. Look, there are troops who don't get along because they don't like each other's music. There are troops who don't get along because they play different sports in barracks.
But when you put them in the field and you work together, generally they do get along. It's a job of the noncommissioned officer, the junior officers to handle these kind of personal issues.
And I think the bottom line of this is that the society has moved on, the -- despite what General Amos says, that even people in the Marines understand that this is -- this -- the attitudes that were against bringing gays into the military, those are the old attitudes.
Society's moving on. The -- the Army and the rest of the services should reflect the society that they're protecting. And the people in the services are willing to do it. So I think what we need to do...
DONNELLY: No, they're not.
CLARK: ... is take the military out of the crosshairs of the culture wars. Let this policy be decided and give the men and women who are leading the armed forces the opportunity to do their job, get the policy implemented.
AMANPOUR: General Clark, all of you, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us. Unfortunately, we're out of time. There will be more opportunities to discuss this, and particularly to talk about all sides.
As we come up next, we have a special roundtable kicking off our special ABC News series on a status report on the military effort in Afghanistan.
And we'll also have analysis on what we learned from those State Department cables that were exposed by WikiLeaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We said we were going to break the Taliban's momentum, and that's what you're doing. We said a year ago that we're going to build the capacity of the Afghan people, and that's what you're doing. Because of the progress you're making, we look forward to a new phase next year, a beginning of a transition to Afghan responsibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That was President Obama speaking Friday to the troops at the Bagram Air Base, just north of Kabul in Afghanistan, making the case that his troop buildup, which he announced a year ago, is gaining momentum against the Taliban.
All this week, in a special series, ABC News will be assessing what progress has been made on the ground.
And joining me this morning to discuss Afghanistan and also WikiLeaks is George Will, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and to the United Nations and Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser, and Sakena Yacoobi of the Afghan Institute of Learning, a women's and children's rights advocacy group.
Thank you all for being here. So, Afghanistan, your area of operations. Is enough progress being made that the administration can justify the surge, the policy that's been in effect for the last -- for the last year?
KHALILZAD: I think the situation is rather mixed. On the one hand, I think there is some improvement, localized improvement in security in certain areas, such as central Helmand or around Kabul. And there is also the growth in numbers of the Afghan security forces, another component of their approach.
AMANPOUR: Areas where the U.S. forces are now?
KHALILZAD: Yes, that's where the surge has -- has -- has been taking place. But when it comes to the two or three other key components required for success, the relations with the Afghan government, there hasn't really been any improvement; dealing with the sanctuaries in Pakistan, no real improvement; dealing with topics (ph) among the factions in Afghanistan itself, no real improvement. In fact, things have gotten worse because of the parliamentary election. There is greater internal polarization than was the case.
AMANPOUR: So what's this mean, then, for President Obama's timetable, for his policy?
BRZEZINSKI: I think it means that he doesn't have too much time. He himself has said, in effect, he has three years.
BRZEZINSKI: Three years is not much. But I think there's an added dimension that has to be taken into account, namely, is the society underneath this umbrella of warfare actually making some progress? Or is it deteriorating? Is there more commercial activity? Is there some growth in income, however modest? Is there some consolidation of degree of security for the Afghans?
These are the kind of more background factors that have to be taken into account if we're to make a judgment whether overall some progress is being made or overall there is a deterioration.
AMANPOUR: Well, George, the ABC special series -- the poll is going to be released tomorrow publicly, but in general the metrics show a decline in the very areas that Mr. Brzezinski is talking about. What is this going to mean for President Obama, particularly since the deadline has been pushed? I mean, 2011 is now very, very soft and we're talking about the end of 2014.
WILL: Well, in response to your question, the ambassador gave a wonderfully diplomatic answer, "certain improvement in certain areas." That's pretty minimalist definition.
Now, the country has turned against this war. There's no precedent in our history for the country turning against a war and then turning back in support of it. The president's base, which is unhappy about almost everything he's doing, is particularly unhappy about what's gone on in Afghanistan.
Now, two years ago, I sat in the secretary of defense's office and asked him, what is our objective in Afghanistan? He said a strong central government. I said, when has it had that? He said, with admirable candor, never.
And fast forward two years to the WikiLeaks. They come out, and in it, it says -- you have Ambassador Eikenberry in Afghanistan saying our problem is we're trying to connect the Afghan people with a central government that is hopelessly corrupt.
AMANPOUR: So what does that mean on the ground, Sakena, a government that is perceived as corrupt, not just by the United States, but also by its own people? What -- what does that mean in terms of women and children's rights and the areas that you're involved in?
YACOOBI: Well, to tell you exactly my recommendation, what I see on the ground, that I see that people of Afghanistan, really, they are really lost their faith.
AMANPOUR: Lost their faith?
YACOOBI: They lost their faith. And the reason is that because there is no service available for the local people, for the local community. How is this working in Afghanistan? As -- as -- as far as I go for the improvement that concern Afghan women, children, they are working very hard, and they are really all doing for themselves. There is not a central government that's supporting them. There is not a service for the people of Afghanistan from the central government. So community by themselves, they are doing a lot. And...
AMANPOUR: Do they think, the communities, that they are better off with the United States forces still there and still trying to fight the Taliban back?
YACOOBI: Well, this is something that I really would like to talk to you about it, because on behalf of the Afghan women that I'm talking here, I really believe that, as an Afghan in the region, I think that the NATO allies should be in Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: The NATO allies should be there?
YACOOBI: They should be there, because -- because of the women and children of Afghanistan. Otherwise, the life of the women and children will be completely demolished in Afghanistan. This is my main concern.
Security is not there available for the people of Afghanistan. As the people of Afghanistan in local communities, they are doing a lot for themselves. What we can do about that, how we can change that, this is another issue.
But I really believe that, if the power be given to the responsibility up to the community, the people who have the responsibility, and they take that responsibility by providing more service to the people, by providing service to the communities that they can be empowered, that they can take charge of their lives, I think that we will accomplish (ph).
AMANPOUR: All right. The WikiLeaks, as George brought up -- and everybody's been obsessing over the last -- the last week, certainly -- about Afghanistan specifically, basically, do you believe that this administration has managed its relationship with Karzai well or not well?
KHALILZAD: Not well, I'm sorry to say. I think this goes back to the period before the WikiLeaks stuff, because, you know, Ambassador Eikenberry's cable as an input to the strategy review, a very highly classified cable was leaked, damaging his relationship with President Karzai.
And then all the discussions that are in the book of Mr. Woodward, the leaking of extremely classified stuff was far more damaging to the relationship and management of the relations with Karzai than -- than the WikiLeaks...
AMANPOUR: But, you know, I mean, Karzai went from being a -- a trusted ally of President Bush, had regular videoconferences with him, to somebody who's turned into a sort of paranoid leader -- if you believe what people are saying -- who thinks that the U.S. wants to overthrow him and topple him through elections.
KHALILZAD: There is a huge trust deficit. He would like to get a long-term security commitment with the United States. We're not prepared at this time to do that. Therefore, he's uncertain about how long and with what objective we're going to stay there. And -- and as a result, he is -- finds himself having to adjust to different expectations from different audiences around him, and -- and there is uncertainty and -- and change in his tactics and approach on a regular basis.
AMANPOUR: To move over to Iran and WikiLeaks, we've obviously all been poring over those cables, the whole business about the king of Saudi Arabia saying cut the head off the snake, Arab leaders saying, you know, go in and -- and topple the mullahs or get rid of the nuclear program.
Has this administration, despite all its talk about engagement with Iran, actually been able to further that agenda? Has it mismanaged its relationship with Iran?
BRZEZINSKI: Just one footnote to Karzai. You know, the lesson of history is that if you have a dependent leader who needs you for his survival, but he's the only leader you have, you don't discredit him, you don't undermine him unless you have a better alternative.
We haven't had a better alternative than Karzai. And yet some of our officials have made a sport of maligning him.
And this business of corruption doesn't take into account cultural differences.
And last, but not least, who are we here in Washington to be groaning and moaning about corruption?
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you then. Should Ambassador Eikenberry leave? I mean, has he done a good job, do you think, for the -- for the diplomacy, George?
WILL: Well, he has a hopeless job to do, so it's hard to say whether he's done it well. But whether or not he should -- I mean, if he should leave because, say, of what was said in the -- in the...
AMANPOUR: What he's written in the cables.
WILL: Well, who's going to be left in the government, starting with the secretary of state?
KHALILZAD: I think he has -- really, he's been damaged very badly by the leaks that have taken place here in Washington, before WikiLeaks and afterwards. And -- and -- and a trusting relationship, if that is the objective -- and I believe it ought to be -- would require, I think, changes in terms of personnel that are responsible on a day-to-day basis in dealing with President Karzai.
YACOOBI: Why -- why don't we stop the corruption? The corruption, why don't we stop it? For example, if a contractor from a government of let's say European or American wants to build a road or wants to build a school or wants to build something, they need the permission. And they are...
AMANPOUR: Well, the cables show four levels of -- of corruption and bribery.
YACOOBI: I just really want to just mention this. Why we don't stop? We don't stop those people that say don't give the bribe and let there be wide open that you are not getting the permit to build something in Afghanistan because you have to pay the bribe. Don't pay the big chunk of bribe. If you don't pay it, we are -- will be decreasing corruption.
Right now, Afghan people are suffering from that. To tell you the truth, people of Afghanistan don't have this kind of money to -- to pay.
But do you know? In (inaudible) we work -- I work -- I have been working 20 years right now in Afghanistan in area of education and health. We do reach thousands and thousands of people. We do have to get permission. But, yes, it's (inaudible) we want to get the permission. It takes time.
AMANPOUR: Don't pay the bribes.
YACOOBI: Don't pay -- don't pay the bribe.
BRZEZINSKI: But, in effect, we have to ask ourselves, what is our objective in Afghanistan? Is it to build democracy? Is it to shape a nation? Is it to change its culture? And if it is all of these things, we're going to be there for 30 years.
Or is it to make certain it's not a safe haven for a terrorist group that struck us? I think that's our objective.
AMANPOUR: That's what's been enunciated.
BRZEZINSKI: And that has to be -- that has to be sought (ph).
AMANPOUR: Tell me about...
BRZEZINSKI: But all of this talk about corruption, nation-building, democracy, people lose sight of what it means. It means we have to occupy the country, dominate it totally, crush all resistance, and have an undertaking that will last several decades. That is just wild.
AMANPOUR: But let me -- before I move on, I wanted to ask you again about -- about Iran -- but do you -- do you believe that it is a big player, that the -- that the relationship is being managed correctly there?
BRZEZINSKI: I think the president has tried -- and he has tried repeatedly, especially in his direct approaches to the chief ayatollah -- but we're undermining our objectives by some of our rhetoric, because at the same time we're maligning them, we're threatening them, we may be engaging in covert activity that outrages them. And we're unifying...
AMANPOUR: You're talking about the nuclear scientists?
BRZEZINSKI: I don't know whether it's us. But if it is us, that's a rather dangerous game, because it invites retaliation.
And last, but not least, we're unifying a country that's very nationalistic, even if not entirely united in favor of fundamentalism. Look about -- look at the opposition that surfaced a year ago. There's a lot of opposition, but we're unifying them by creating an impression that we're totally against Iran.
AMANPOUR: But do you think that -- I mean, here's an administration that talked openly about engagement and, frankly, didn't really go as far towards the -- the election -- the -- the democracy activists, the green movement, hoping that there would be engagement, that that would let them engage. But we're hearing there's no engagement. What's gone wrong?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, look, first of all, I don't want to blame the United States, because I think the Iranians are more to blame than the United States. They've been devious, fanatical, obnoxious, threatening, and all of that.
But if we don't want the regime to be perpetuated and to have popular support, we have to watch what we're doing and what we're saying. And I'm afraid some of the things we're saying and doing, and maybe even threatening, tends to unite and strengthen the regime.
AMANPOUR: Do you think -- I asked George -- Ambassador Eikenberry is doing a good job and should he stay in his -- in his position?
KHALILZAD: Well, I think he's doing a good job. He's -- but I think he's no longer an effective interlocutor due to the leaks.
AMANPOUR: Which means?
KHALILZAD: I think -- which means that, if we want to deal with the issue of partnership with the government of Afghanistan, if we want to deal with the issue of domestic politics effectively, of capitalizing cooperation, we would need to have a new team to be able to do that.
AMANPOUR: And last word, George. What has WikiLeaks done? Has it shown, actually, the United States engaged in -- in sensible diplomacy? Has it ruined the idea of diplomacy, as some people are saying?
WILL: Well, if you're the president of Yemen and it reveals that you were actually conducting -- you're claiming to conduct raids that America was conducting, it's injured you. If you're the defense minister of Lebanon and you realize that you're now on record as having sort of encouraged Israel or told them that you will not stand in their way if they strike again in the north, that injures you.
But most of all, it injures the United States. Keeping secrets -- whether or not we have too many is not the question. Keeping secrets is the government's responsibility. And it failed.
AMANPOUR: We have to continue this roundtable in the green room. I'm sorry. We're out of time. But that will be at abcnews.com/thisweek, where you can also see a special report on voices from Afghanistan and find our fact checks in conjunction with PolitiFact.