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Professor Discusses Government for Afghanistan

Aired November 20, 2001 - 10:49   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Elie Krakowski is a senior fellow at both the American Foreign Council, in Washington, and at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Doctor, good morning to you.

Let's draw some more lines. You just saw the piece from Bruce. How difficult, how complex a task is this, to form a lasting government, one that works, this time?

ELIE KRAKOWSKI, AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY COUNCIL: The answer to that is that it is both very simple and complex. It is complex because of some of the things that you have said. But more importantly, it is related to the surrounding state. And I would say, in a nutshell, that if the United States takes a much more forceful leading role -- by that I mean not turning things to the United Nations, but keeping it in its hands more directly -- then I think a government can be formed fairly quickly and fairly easily.

The problem is not so much the Afghans, although they are divided, but the surrounding states that have differing agendas. If the United States takes a leading position and makes it understood that it doesn't want a reassertion of old agendas -- the Iranians, for instance, have several thousand Shiites threatening if things don't go their way -- if the United States takes a leading position, I think it is doable very quickly.

HEMMER: Doctor, I understand your answer, but here's where logic fails to serve me. If you are going to include a broad-based government involving all these different ethnic groups -- after all, that's part of what Afghanistan has been at war at for so many years at this time -- how is it possible, and is there anywhere on the planet where it has worked?

KRAKOWSKI: The Afghans are not quite like others, in some ways, and I think that they know very well how to get along among themselves. If they aren't, strong pressures from the outside. These pressure from the outside different, from the Uzbeks, the Iranians, the Pakastanis, and that is what has started and maintained the war for the last 20 years.

If the United States, which now has a unique opportunity, takes a leadership role and gives to understand these various states that it will not accept this type of thing, and if the United States prods and encourages the Afghans to get together, they will. That doesn't mean...

HEMMER: Doctor, I apologize for the interruption. I do not mean to be rude -- Donald Rumsfeld is speaking in Washington. We will come back to that, Doctor.

(INTERRUPTED BY LIVE EVENT)

HEMMER: Back to Elie Krakowski, talking about the future for Afghanistan. The point I want to make, I want you to clarify this: Ultimately, a political solution will only work if the people on the ground in that country are ready for it; do you have any sense at this time that they are ready for it?

KRAKOWSKI: I think they are. I have been in contact with them, a number of the Afghan leaders, tribal leaders, and they have told me fairly unambiguously that they are. I have also visited the various surrounding countries over the past years and talked with officials there. I believe those countries are, but they expect the United States -- actually expect the United States -- to lead.

That doesn't mean we have to stand on rooftops and shout every step we take, but I think we can lead very firmly, remain directly involved, and avoid turning control over to others, such as the UN. In that way, we can push and prod.

The Afghans themselves are ready, and I think that there will be a fairly stable government if we put our act together and act firmly.

HEMMER: Got it.

Doctor, need a quick answer -- there meeting, possibly, in Berlin, on Monday. Some are saying it's more symbolic than anything else -- good start, or more to it?

KRAKOWSKI: I think that the meeting should take place in Afghanistan. And I think that the UN formula, which puts the king on a power with other groups, is not correct. The king is a symbolic figurehead; he should be above the others and help to unify. So not in Europe, in Afghanistan, and I think it is possible and feasible and not along the lines of the UN formula, but more even representative of the groups.

HEMMER: Enjoyed it. Doctor, thanks for hanging out. Elie Krakowski, live in Washington.

KRAKOWSKI: My pleasure.

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