Monitor Breakfast: Anatol Lieven
Selected quotations from a Monitor breakfast with Anatol Lieven, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
WASHINGTON — "One very important thing to keep in mind is that it will never be over - the British fought in that part of the world for 100 years, and they never solved the problem.... We have to keep a close eye on this thing for a long long time to come to be sure. Afghanistan is a very very anarchical place much of which will be run by warlords and local tribal chieftains. There will always be the risk that some bit of it may become a haven.... and you know, a bit of Arab money, a bit of Gulf money goes a very long way in a very poor country. So there is always a danger they will be able to bribe some local group into giving them shelter...."
"We were not surprised they collapsed. We were surprised it happened so quickly. It was a combination of tremendously heavy air power which really, clearly had its effect on the Taliban in the north. But also, I think a great strategic error by the Taliban. I was surprised they were so foolish ... to fight for the north at all ... in an area where they had no real support from the local population. And then once they were driven out of their lines they couldn't retreat because they were cut to pieces on the road by US firepower. If they had been sensible they would simply have put up a very light fight in the northern areas and really put up a tremendous fight for Kabul.... (The Taliban) was a house of cards but a lot of the cards are still lying on the table."
"I think the chances of him being turned over now are extremely high because clearly you do have people quitting the Taliban left, right, and center. If they can pick up $25 million (in reward money) along the way.... I think there is a very good chance. The only thing is that knowing that ... he will do one of two things. Either he will try to make a run for it via Pakistan. If he is prepared to dress in a burqa, he could get a long way. In Kabul, women are throwing off their burqas and going back to traditional veils ... most of the Pashtuns remain in villages and (are) tribesmen - their women are not going to be throwing off their veils and celebrating. But it is more likely he will go down fighting with the remnants of his troops."
"It would be completely wrong to see this as a country which is about to fall into an Iranian-style Islamic revolution.... A lot of people sympathized emotionally with the Taliban to some extent but they were not die-hard Islamists. In the end they were going to go with what they saw as Pakistan's national interests."
"I would say be very, very careful. I have been told - I've talked to people from the Czech republic who are by no means sure that (alleged bin Laden colleague) Atta did meet with an Iraqi intelligence officer there. It could well be the Czechs being deceived by their own agents or wanting to please America ... maybe he did and maybe he didn't. Other western governments would need a lot more proof.... I have it on very good authority that if America goes after Iraq in a military way, even Britain is not likely to follow - not unless this takes place in the context of a true attempt at a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian issue."
"If it is true, which I think is very plausible, that the Al Qaeda B team leadership has taken refuge in Somalia, that is another big big challenge. And making sure the C team and D team doesn't actually succeed in basing itself in Pakistan, that is a big challenge. And continuing to go after Al Qaeda's basic funding in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, without destroying these regimes in the process, that is a big challenge. There's a lot to do."
"September 11 shows anybody more clearly who our real enemies are. Who are the people who really hate us and our system, want to destroy us and would destroy us if we have the chance. And other people - states - with whom we have differences, certain elements of rivalry but who are not a threat to us and our key allies. And Russia is one of those. There are differences but they're eminently containable.... Russia [is] not out to destroy the American system. They want to introduce successfully a version of that system at home. That doesn't mean of course there won't be rivalry on certain issues - on territories within the Soviet Union, and on NATO enlargement - but they are rivalries which can be diminished.... We need to exploit this moment of genuine warmth in some ways ... we really need to do things to tack this carpet down. I would like to see an agreement on reduction, a full-scale treaty on amending the ABM treaty, more than just words.
"If the antiterrorism campaign is to be carried further, then the support we have seen from Russia over Afghanistan can not be guaranteed and yet that support will be very very important..."