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Obama Fires Gen. McChrystal, Replaces With Gen. Petraeus; World Cup Update

Aired June 23, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET



BARCK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or a president.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): And with that, President Obama relieves the general, Stanley McChrystal, of his role as commander of international forces in Afghanistan. A big name replaced by perhaps an even bigger one, General David Petraeus. Tonight, how the power shift will be received on the ground in Afghanistan, and the political impact of that, we'll have.

On CNN, this is the hour we "CONNECT THE WORLD."

(on camera): Well, he was running the war in Afghanistan but it was, quote, "the wimps in the White House," that McChrystal apparently considered his real enemies in a story that resonates around the world. Tonight, as cracks are exposed in the U.S. leadership of the war, we get reaction from NATO on the impact on the ground. And we speak to the Afghan president's spokesman about why he isn't happy with the decision.

Also tonight, Jamaican police finally arrest a drug lord wanted in the U.S. We'll have that story and how that might have a regional impact on the trade of illicit drugs.

And a day of decisive results at the World Cup as the U.S. and England advance to the second round. Highlights of those matches and the latest results that I've been tweeting throughout the games. Follow me at Becky at -- @beckyCNN and weigh in with your thoughts.

Well, "I welcome debate but I won't tolerate division," those words today from U.S. President Barack Obama. He said the Afghanistan War demands a unity of efforts and therefore a change in command.

Let's begin with Dan Lothian at the White House.

A big day and a big decision, Dan?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It really was a big day and a very big decision here at the White House. We had heard yesterday that the president and his top team here, his national security team was not very happy at all with the comments that were expressed, those quotes in the article, in that interview with "Rolling Stone." And so today, finally, the president, coming out to the Rose Garden, accepting this -- what many had really expected, that General McChrystal would step down and resign. And, in fact, he did, and the president accepting that. But clearly, this administration had lost confidence in General McChrystal.

Now, let me take you sort of behind the scenes a little bit to lead up to when the president came out and made his remarks.

First of all, the president had about a 32-minute meeting, a face-to- face meeting with General McChrystal. We are told that the president wanted him to come here because he wanted to meet him face to face and have a -- and give him sort of a time for him to explain himself. It's unclear at this point whether or not the president had made up his mind to actually accept that resignation. After that, for about 45 minutes, some others, including the vice president, also Secretary Gates and others, met for about 45 minutes to decide the next steps, the steps forward. Then, the president met with General Petraeus. At that point, he offered him the position. He accepted. Then, the president went in to meet with the larger national security team where he explained his decision.

He walked out to the Rose Garden and talked about why he accepted that decision today.


OBAMA: War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or a president. And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe that it is the right decision for our national security.

The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system.


LOTHIAN: Now, we're told by a top aide that the president was very stern. He also said, while he accepts disagreements among his team, he doesn't want any pettiness -- Becky?

ANDERSON: Dan Lothian in Washington for you.

Well, President Obama says he's not dismissing McChrystal over personal insults, yet many of the biting remarks in the "Rolling Stone" magazine interview were personal attacks and not policy critiques.

A few examples, "Rolling Stone" quotes McChrystal as saying, with a laugh, "Are you asking about Vice President Biden? Who's that"? One of his top advisors then responds, "Biden? Did you say: Bite Me"?

One aide, she is also quoted as calling U.S. National Security Advisor Jim Jones a, quote, "clown, who remains stuck in 1985."

Aides said General McChrystal once described President Obama as looking quite "uncomfortable and intimidated by a roomful of military brass." And they said the general was "pretty disappointed by his first meeting with Obama," calling it "a 10-minute photo op." They said the president "clearly didn't know anything about McChrystal and didn't seem very engaged."

Well, this is a huge decision. It's reverberating all the way to Kabul and beyond, of course. Despite all the uproar, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had wanted McChrystal to stay on the job, calling him the best commander for the war.

So what is the feeling in Kabul now?

Atia Abawi joining me with some reaction from there -- Atia?

ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Becky. Well, we spoke to the -- President Hamid Karzai's spokesperson, Waheed Omar, who was supposed to be on your show, unfortunately, cannot be reached at the moment because of the phone systems. He says that although they really like General McChrystal, and yesterday they did say he was the best man for the job here in Afghanistan, today, they're saying this was an internal government matter in the U.S. and they respect President Obama's decision in the matter. And they hope by appointing General Petraeus that this will further strengthen the partnership between the U.S. and Afghanistan.

And the spokesperson, Waheed Omar, also said, "Petraeus is a man with vast experience in Iraq, at CENTCOM and this region, and we know he will continue the strategy that he, in fact, helped McChrystal implement here in Afghanistan."

There was some tension here in Afghanistan with the government, wondering if McChrystal would be let go. But obviously, with the appointment of General Petraeus, it has softened the blow -- Becky?

ANDERSON: Atia, did you put it to the -- it sounds mighty weird to let -- to call it that -- that just 24 hours ago, they were saying that they would -- they didn't want McChrystal out of the job. And surely the perception is, to a certain extent, a fairly destabilizing one, isn't it? 24 hours ago, you say, listen, he's the man for the job. We don't want anybody else. Please don't get rid of him. And then 24 hours later, they're saying, hang on a minute. OK, no worries. Petraeus can get on with it.

ABAWI: It is strange. But at the same time, it's understandable. General McChrystal and President Karzai formed a very strong relationship in this last year that General McChrystal was here. They formed a bond. They formed a friendship. It seemed as though General McChrystal was the only one in the international community that didn't betray President Karzai, that didn't go behind his back and say that he wasn't an effective leader, that he wanted to work with him. And, in fact, the last couple of months, they've been traveling around Afghanistan, trying to get support of the Afghan people, showing the united front with the Afghan government and the NATO forces, with the two of these men taking the lead.

I think the fear was that it wouldn't be someone like General Petraeus, that it would be someone else that they don't know and that it would be a destabilizing effect here in Afghanistan. It's in a very sensitive situation. Marjah, the operation that was supposed to be a success, obviously not a success yet. The Kandahar operation being pushed back, not even being called an operation now, being called a process because the Afghan people were adamant on not having violence. What they wanted was a different strategy. And they have to adapt to it, making it more of a political strategy. So the fear was it wouldn't have been someone like Petraeus, it would have been someone else -- Becky?

ANDERSON: All right. Atia Abawi with reaction in Kabul to our top story today.

Here are the fast facts on troops in Afghanistan for you. A reminder, currently, the U.S. has got roughly 94,000 boots on the ground, with another 4,000 troops expected to be deployed soon. Most of those troops come under the command structure of ISAF, as it's called. That's the NATO- led security mission in Afghanistan. In all, 46 countries are taking part.

Well, next to the U.S., the U.K. has the most troops with 9,500, followed by Germany, 4,300. France, Italy and Canada, all big contributors as well.

As one newspaper puts it, the "Rolling Stone" interview raises a troubling prospect of a U.S. war effort at war with itself.

President Obama said he made the decision that McChrystal should go because he had, quote, "failed to meet the standards that should be set by a commanding general."

Well, earlier, I spoke with a NATO spokesman, and started by asking him whether he was concerned by the dismissal of the man charged with leading both U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. This is what James told me.


JAMES APPATHURAI, NATO SPOKESMAN: Well, this was President Obama's decision. The commander ISAF post is one held by an American. It's for the president of the United States to decide who's going to serve in that. Of course, it has to be approved by the American government.

But from our point of view, General McChrystal did a very, very good job. The allies endorsed the strategy that he's carrying out. And as you heard from President Obama, President Obama remains fully behind this strategy, so does the secretary-general. General Petraeus knows it well, had a good hand in crafting it. So we look forward to implementing it, continue to implement it with General Petraeus.

ANDERSON: But, James, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had indicated that he didn't want to see General McChrystal replaced, with his spokesman describing him, and I quote, "as the best commander in nine years of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan."

You must be concerned about that reaction from Kabul and, indeed, for troops on the ground.

APPATHURAI: Well, let me say two things. One is, there is a command team in Afghanistan right now and they're carrying out operations, taking care of and guiding the men in the field. The operational commander, General Rodriguez, is working minute to minute, just as he was yesterday, and he'll be doing it tomorrow. The deputy commander is running things right now until General Petraeus arrives. So there is no problem with the command of the operation in this interim period. And I don't think anyone doubts the qualifications of General Petraeus, who is obviously very well known, known in Afghanistan, knows the operation. So we don't have concerns that General Petraeus will not be able to do the job. He will.

ANDERSON: Well, it has been reported in the past couple of weeks that Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, is disappointed with U.S. and NATO strategy in Afghanistan. And, indeed, he's looking to Pakistan for answers at this point. Your reaction to those reports and, indeed, by the fact that Karzai's going to work with anybody going forward.

APPATHURAI: President Karzai gave a strong endorsement today of the approach that General McChrystal has been carrying out. It's the same approach that General Petraeus will be carrying out.

But we all need a good relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan if we're going to find answers to the security challenges that both countries are facing. So a good relationship between the two governments, by which I mean Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a strong relationship between our operation and the Afghanistan government can go perfectly well together, and we hope they do.

ANDERSON: James, I want to nail you down on this point. How long are NATO troops going to be in Afghanistan?

APPATHURAI: Well, unfortunately, you won't be able to nail me down. We have a very clear idea of what the strategy is and how to go forward. We will start, at the end of this year, the beginning of next year, handing over, province by province, lead responsibility to the Afghans. But the conditions have to be in place. We're investing very, very heavily in Afghan security forces. And by around this time next year, October 2011, there'll be 300,000 Afghan security forces out in the field, increasingly experienced and increasingly taking the lead. So we will shift to a supporting role. And then, at a certain stage, we'll start to draw down our forces as well. And there'll be reviews along the way.

But what we cannot afford is to walk away too early. If we do, Afghanistan will once again be a safe haven for terrorism that poses a threat to the region, including nuclear-armed Pakistan, and to all of us. So we have to stay the course, and we will.


ANDERSON: NATO spokesman speaking to me from Brussels just from earlier on.

There's reaction coming from 10 Downing Street tonight. In a statement, the spokesman said, "The U.K. and the U.S. governments remain absolutely committed to the strategy in Afghanistan, and agree that General Petraeus was the right man to take command."

British Prime Minister David Cameron also expressed gratitude to the out-going General McChrystal for his service in Afghanistan.

Well, ahead, we're going to take a look at the U.S. military upheaval there. Does Stanley McChrystal's dismissal signal a sea-change even if the White House says it doesn't in its war strategy? An expert weighs in live from Washington.

Also, your comments on the blog. It's your show, of course.

This is "CONNECT THE WORLD." From London, I'm Becky Anderson. Back in about 90 seconds.



MICHAEL HASTINGS, CONTRIBUTOR, ROLLING STONE: I think it reflects parts of General McChrystal's personality which we've seen in the war over the past year. General McChrystal and his staff are willing to take risks and they push the envelope. So I guess what I'm saying is it's a failure in judgment, but the fact is McChrystal is acting as McChrystal acts. He's usually a risk taker. And sometimes they push the envelope to get their message across. And perhaps this time, they might have gone too far.


ANDERSON: Well, a failure in judgment perhaps, pushing the envelope too far, maybe. But that's the take by Michael Hastings, "Rolling Stone" contributor, on why the general agreed to the interview that ended up costing him his job.

Here's what we've learned so far about what is our top story this year.

A Pentagon report explains why President Obama removed General Stanley McChrystal earlier today, saying the Afghan War efforts demand unity.

Then, in Afghanistan, we learned that President Hamid Karzai wanted McChrystal to keep his job but supports his replacement, General David Petraeus.

And finally, we learned that NATO is taking it all in its stride, it seems. Its spokesman told us, here on CNN, the alliance has complete confidence in the replacement, David Petraeus.

Well, President Obama made it clear that this is a change in personnel and not a change in policy. But does his decision run the risk of telegraphing that he's unsure about strategy. And if that is the case, how damaging is that for troops, the Afghan people, and the entire region.

I want to bring in two guests for you tonight, experts on the issue. Teresita Schaffer joins us from Washington. She's a former South Asia expert at the U.S. State Department and is now based at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Also joining us from Pakistan this evening is the -- for the Pakistani position on this, of course, is the prominent journalist, Najam Sethi, from Lahore.

Let me start with you, Teresita, if I can. This may have been carefully calculated, as some people say, by the White House to send a message to Americans about exactly who is boss. But was it the right decision?

TERESITA SCHAFFER, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES & FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SOUTH ASIA EXPERT: I think it was absolutely the right decision. You can't have general's mouthing off about the leaders that are in their chain of command. That is contrary to any notion of military discipline. And it's also contrary to our fundamental system of government.

And I think the president is absolutely right furthermore in saying this is a change of personnel and not of policy. The policy was developed in broad consultation across the government. The military strategy was the brainchild of General McChrystal but he was working hand-in-glove with General Petraeus.


SCHAFFER: This is not going to be a lurch in strategy. And there's no earthly reason for anyone to think so.

ANDERSON: Najam, do you agree or does this look like a leadership in disarray from your side of the fence, as it were?

MAJAM SETHI, JOURNALIST: The other perspective or the situation here is that most people are thinking that American foreign policy vis a vis Afghanistan is in total disarray. The perception is that the generals are fighting amongst themselves. The civilians are squabbling amongst themselves. And the civilians and the generals are fighting amongst themselves. And that this shows that there is no unity of command and that therefore American foreign policy is doomed.

And so, you know, people over here think that now America will become even more dependent on General Kayani, the Pakistani army chief in terms of trying to find a solution to this.

And I'm sure the Taliban must be very delighted today. No unity of command. This is almost -- I think this is even worse than the signal that was sent out when President Obama, for domestic political reasons, said that a withdrawal would begin next year. And the Taliban took it to mean that, well, the American's are on the run. And so --

ANDERSON: Teresita, you response?

Sorry, my love.

Teresita, your response?

SCHAFFER: My response is, certainly, there have been people squabbling. But it does seem to me that this is an action that reinforces unity of command. The president made his decision. The generals are clicking their heels and saluting. He selected a general that is one of the architects of the same policy.

Yes, there are lots of problems. And there are always personality divisions one can find. But it seems to me --


ANDERSON: Yes, but this is a war, Teresita. This is a war. People are dying. 302 troops, British troops, you know, it goes on and on and on. And you've just heard the response from across the fence. You know, the idea is --


SCHAFFER: I'm disagreeing with the response from across the fence. I'm saying I think that's wrong analysis. Yes, this is a war. It was essential to reinforce unity of command. And I think that's what the president has done.

ANDERSON: Najam, does this decision, coming on the eve of an offensive in Kandahar, do you think, risks further derailing of Obama's strategy if already that's what you're seeing from Pakistan?

SETHI: Absolutely. I think the view here is that that military strategy was failing, which is why Karzai was compelled to open the political damage into it. And that people in America weren't terribly happy about it. McChrystal was doing the fighting, Taliban. And Karzai had begun to do the talking. And, you know, American administration officials were toing and froing. Some were saying that, yes, we don't support this. Others were saying, well, there's no harm in trying to find the (INAUDIBLE) on the Taliban out there.

So this --



SETHI: -- right now, if I were in Karzai's situation, I would think that, hey, this is the end of the line. I've now got to find new allies because the Americans are not reliable.

ANDERSON: Teresita?

SCHAFFER: I would say that the -- the question of political talking has been very much on the table since late last year. That was the main subject at the London conference. There are sharp differences of opinion among Afghanistan, the United States and Pakistan as to what a political situation -- solution means. For Pakistan, the army, the Pakistan army expects to be right in the middle of any such discussions. For Karzai, he expects to be the one making the decisions as to which Taliban might be able to be rehabilitated. And for the United States, only those who have broken with al Qaeda are considered acceptable to talk to. Now that is a serious division that has not yet been resolved.

ANDERSON: All right, last word from you, Najam. Keep it brief. I've got to take an appetizing break.

SETHI: Yes. You know, the -- this is a country where conspiracy theories abound. The latest conspiracy theory is that the justice, Mr. Eikenberry, was accused by the -- by McChrystal of looking to the history books. People here are saying that McChrystal was probably looking to the history books. He knew the war was doomed. He knew he wouldn't get his own way. He didn't get his troops. People are not listening to him. And he found that this was the best way to make an exit.

ANDERSON: Fascinating stuff from both of you. We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us from Washington tonight and, indeed, from Pakistan.

Your picture from the U.S. and Pakistan with our experts tonight. That's our top story.

I'm going to be right back after this short break. Please stay with us.


ANDERSON: All right, I just want to update you quickly on an epic match today on one of the side courts at Wimbledon. American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut have shattered the record for the longest match in the history of tennis. And let me tell you, it is not over yet. This one match has lasted for more than 10 hours over two days. It began yesterday but was stopped because of darkness. They resumed playing today and battled it out for more than seven hours before stopping again because it went dark again. They'll return for day three tomorrow, picking up where they left off, tied 59-59 in the first (ph) set.

It's just exhausting thinking about it, even watching it.

Well, starting, breathtaking action today at the World Cup as well in South Africa. An injury-time goal pushing the U.S. into round -- the round of 16. England also advanced, and that was just the start of the day.

In just completed group D action, Germany defeating Ghana, one-nil to win the group. But they were in the -- Ghana. And at least in the other group D match, Australia won, 2-1, over Serbia. But a goal deferential sends Ghana ahead and soccer is home.

Let's bring Isha Sesay from Johannesburg.

Isha, maybe, just maybe one of the wildest days of the tournament so far.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Becky. What great football has been played throughout the day in the tournament. So much excitement.

Let's start with those early games that you mentioned. Of course, the U.S. progressing to the round of 16 after that victory over Algeria. It has to be said, Algeria, Becky, did have the brightest star. But once the U.S. got into the match, they certainly dominated for long periods of time. You know, they had chance after chance after chance in this game. But, you know, some combination of goalkeeping, poor finishing and the woodwork (ph), they just couldn't find the back of the net. And when they finally did, on the 15th minute, I should say, Clint Dempsey had that ball ruled out, but off sides. They weren't given that goal. You see Bob Bradley is furious there at that decision. And so at this point, you know, they keep trying, throwing everything they had at Algeria. But they just couldn't find the finishing. It's kind of -- I want to say they showed their lack of quality. I'll just leave it there. But finally, after all these chances, they left it late. And, Becky, in the dying minutes, the man of the hour that finally got them that goal was, indeed, Landon Donovan. And when it came -- we're still showing you those chances. We're going to get to that goal any second now, coming in the dying minutes of the game. And there you have it. That is the moment every American will be talking about. Landon Donovan getting the goal and the U.S. going through. The last time they scored that late in a World Cup match, Becky, was back in 1930, the very first World Cup.

All right, Becky, let's tell you about the match between England and Slovenia. Let's tell you about that match, Becky, because, at the end of the day, this was a do-or-die match for England. The fans have been pretty unimpressed with the performance by England up until this point. Becky, I know you know that they had that uninspired match against the U.S. and they had that terrible match, which was a goalless draw against Algeria in Cape Town. But the goal came on 23 minutes. Jermain DeFoe, the man with the goal. Some nice work by James Milner (ph) down the right. He crossed it in and wins. Jermain DeFoe, you see him there. He did not miss the target. England able to hold on right to the very end to claim the point. England going through, Becky, runners up in group C.

Back to you, Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, runners up in group C. Runners up. We didn't (ph) do that well, did we.


ANDERSON: Thank you for that.

Isha Sesay in South Africa for you.

Defying the odds, a Mexican border town puts out the welcome mats for tourists, but the violent drug war may roll it right back up again. That, and your headlines, up next.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. It is half past 9:00, in London. You are with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson.

Coming up, as a reputed drug lord is arrested in Jamaica, we look at how drug wars are turning tourist hot spots on the Mexican border into ghost towns.

Twelve years old, and 250 pounds, what many shakes and Sprites did to this child on the inside.

And before the end of the program your "Connect for the Day" answers your questions. Today, former first lady of Britain, Cherie Blair, tells us why she wants to empower widows across the globe.

All those stories ahead, but first, though, this half hour let's get you the main headlines.


ANDERSON: Well, Coke is accused of leading Jamaica's Shower posse, which allegedly traffics cocaine across the Caribbean, North America, even to as far as here, England. Authorities say the gang runs drug operations in 20 U.S. cities, including New York, where the group supplies weapons, too, and controls street gangs in Toronto and other parts of Canada. They are also linked drug runners in Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.

And in London the group has taken the name, President's Clique, another alias of alleged posse leader Christopher Coke. Let's dig deeper into the international implications of Coke's capture. CNN's Karl Penhaul, you'll know, has been covering, reporting extensively on the global drug trade. He has just returned from Mexico, which is caught in a violent drug war. And he joins us now.

Firstly, what is the impact of Coke's arrest in Jamaica?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, of course, Jamaica is a major trans-shipment point through the Caribbean, on route for drugs both to the United States and to Europe, as you have said there.

But if you look at experiences in other countries, particularly Colombia, for example, there was a saying there that after Pablo Escobar, there were many Pablo Escobars. And so in a sense, I would expect, that just as Coke is arrested now, there will be many more Cokes, ready to step into his shoes.

Especially when you at the kind of neighborhood where he lived, the kind of area that he ran, he was seen as a Robin Hood, because they have got social problems there as well. And so the cartels, the drug runners, are seen as local heroes, because they are the ones giving jobs, they are the ones giving money. And so while that social problem persists, then the whole drug problem there will persist as well. And there will be another guy, as big, or bigger than Coke to step into his shoes. And then on the wider issue there, whatever, happens in Jamaica really isn't going to stop the cocaine trade to the United States or to Europe, because with the shift, as the Mexican cartels are taking over a much bigger portion of the market from the South American cartels, in terms of the transport of the drugs, then much more drugs are going through Central America and through Mexico, than they are through the Caribbean now, Becky.

ANDERSON: You have been bringing us a series of reports this week, from Mexico. I know you are just back from there, what have you got for us tonight?

PENHAUL: Well, we're looking at a town, Nuevo Progresso, which is just on the Mexican side of the border. Previously it was very popular with Americans who would flock across there for cheap medical treatment and other forms of tourism. And this town just as much as many of the other border towns is being left high and dry, that is hitting business. And also the few Americans that do cross over, are exposing their lives.


PENHAUL (voice over): It is a half-hearted tune, but these days few people are listening, anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, Sir. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) pharmacy. Best price, sir. Almost free today. Cheaper than Wal-Mart.

PENHAUL: On Main Street traders vie for a spot alongside the sandbag defenses of the Mexican army. Welcome to Nuevo Progresso, a Mexican border town, population 9,000.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make sure for next time, you come back, OK?

PENHAUL: American retirees once flocked here, hunting for bargain treatments for teeth, eyes and even a longer life. But the drug war came and the good times rolled out of town.

RAMIRO SANCHEZ, TRADER: We see in the newspaper, concerning about the shooting and the stuff, gangs members fighting against each other, and they fear for their security, to come over here.

PENHAUL: Now only the brave, like Texans Joel (ph) and Wanda Walden, trek a few hundred yards across the border.

WANDA WALDEN, AMERICAN TOURIST: I don't think I need a shot, though. You think?



PENHAUL: Wanda has had a crown fitted. They used to go further west in Nuevo Laredo, but now, that is a city at war. As the Gulf cartel fights with its former allies, the Zetas.

W. WALDEN: It got to where it was dangerous. We were the only ones that went over to Mexico, and we saw no-and they were shutting down their businesses, and then people said we shouldn't go there no more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the violence.

PENHAUL: On this day in Progresso, the biggest threat at high noon seems to be the killer Margaritas.

W. WALDEN: I like the tequila!


Makes you smile.

PENHAUL (On camera): But don't be fooled by that apparent relaxed party atmosphere, things here can change in a moment. For instance, after dark there is a self-imposed curfew. And if you look at some of the buildings they still bear the scars one of the latest shootouts.

(voice over): That was in December during a street party the Mexicans threw for winter Texans.


PENHAUL: Al Elvin, who is from North Dakota, wasn't here that day, but he heard the tale from a close friend who was.

ELVIN: Oh, there was one incident that started in Ranalsa (ph) and they chased these fellows, the police did, all the way over into Progresso, and they ended up here, right by the Red Snapper, we don't want to say that, but-


ELVIN: And there was some shooting and they caught them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to come in here, all the pretty girls are inside.

PENHAUL: At a nearby beauty parlor, they try to shrug off the violence. But Lidia Flores admits her business has dropped 80 percent.

LIDIA FLORES, BEAUTY THERAPIST: We have the soldiers here in town all the time. And only once, there was only a problem once, when we had a party here in the street. And because a guy, a guy shot a soldier. That was the only thing that happened. And the soldiers the killed the guy that killed the soldier.


PENHAUL: Down the street there is no takers for corn on the cob, cowboy hats, hand-stitched dolls, or clay firepots. The Koko Bombo, a bar that once offered hot girls dancing, has closed down. And hours before night falls, Americans scurry back to Texas.

ELVIN: We have a few rules. We don't like to down in the evening. We don't go off Main Street into the back streets, you know. We take care of ourselves.

PENHAUL: But that may not be enough. Along this stretch of border the U.S. embassy is warning firefights may erupt any time, any place.


ANDERSON: Karl Penhaul reporting after spending three weeks in Mexico, doing extensive work on the drug trade and its impact there. He'll join us on CONNECT THE WORLD again tomorrow, a special series of reports from Karl this week. And you can find more on our Web site, and see Karl's reports on Mexico's all-consuming drug war. Just click onto You'll find that, and more, on the site tonight.

We'll be right back after this.


ANDERSON: We are looking here at a 14-year-old girl who has weighed as much as 200 kilograms, until she had recently had a controversial surgery to help her loose weight. We brought you story on Monday as part of our week-long series of special reports on childhood obesity around the world.

On Tuesday we took you to China, where four young women, who once celebrated their size are trying to slim down. They have checked themselves into a hospital for help.

Tonight, we head back to the U.S. where nearly one-third of the all kids are overweight or obese. CNN's Doctor Sanjay Gupta shows us what all that extra weight does to young bodies inside and out.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As a father of three, it is especially hard for me to hear these stories. Children dying far earlier than they should, in some cases their lives cut short by decades, these are children. The worst-case scenarios of the nearly one-third of American kids who weigh too much.

(On camera): But you see the thing is behind all those stats, behind all those numbers are real stories. People are worried that what we are describing could happen to them. Let's go meet somebody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how are you?

GUPTA: How you all doing?


GUPTA (voice over): Just 12 years old and 250 pounds. Tiger Greene has a story. Call it the new American story.

TIGER GREENE, FIGHTING OBESITY: In our family, when you are happy, we eat. When you are sad, we eat. And when you are just watching TV, you eat.

GUPTA (on camera): What did you eat?

T. GREENE: Lunch. I have like a big 15 ounce steak or something and like five Sprites, and stuff like that.

GUPTA: Five Sprites, in one meal? I'm almost scared to ask about dinner. What is that like?

T. GREENE: Take lunch, times five.

GUPTA (voice over): It is hard not to smile, but also important to realize that Tiger didn't get here by himself. He had help from the people who care the most.

GUPTA: I have three kids, so I'm the last man in the world who preaches about anything nowadays, because I know the reality. What were you thinking when you saw him eating that much?

BRIAN GREENE, TIGER'S DAD: As a parent, you know, you know, you want to see your kids happy. And mistakenly, horribly mistakenly, when we were eating, we were happy. And somehow that computed to be good parenting.

GUPTA: Tiger's dad wishes he would have known this one startling fact, children with an obese parent are 50 percent more likely to be obese themselves, 50 percent.

(On camera): I think a lot of people focus on what is happening, what you look like on the outside of your body, have you ever thought about what is going on in the inside of your body?

T. GREENE: Not much.

GUPTA: Well, it is something I think I want to show you today. In fact, that is why we have got you here to this hospital. We are going to go in and take a look and see what is happening to your heart, what is happening to your liver. See what you think, OK?


GUPTA (voice over): It is hard to believe this is a child's liver. All that white filled with fat; fat, not just on the outside of your body.

(On camera): What is happening inside your body?

(voice over): For me, as a doctor, this is especially disturbing, because we see this with patients who are typically decades older.

(On camera): That is the top of your femur, that is the bone right here that goes into your hip. And it is pushing against the bone over here. You should have a nice layer of cartilage in between here, a nice cushion. And because of so much weight, that bone is literally pushed back and into that joint. That is going to hurt.

(voice over): Of course, your joints hurting, is not nearly as frightening as what all that fat is doing to your heart.

(On camera): His heart is having to work so hard, that muscle is just getting bigger and bigger, and bigger, which in the heart is a bad thing. After a while it is not going to be able to work as well.

T. GREENE: It is scary, because I know that could be happening to me, right now.

GUPTA: What we are talking about isn't just theoretical anymore. This is really happening, right now. In fact, Tiger told me a story that really stuck with me. When he was in second grade, just seven years old, he started to have chest pain. And doctors were concerned enough about his heart that he ended up in a place like this. Doctors checking his heart, doing procedures, doing tests to try and figure out what was going on. A second grader, and all of this because of overweight, and obesity. Can you imagine, as a child, ending up in a room like this. Doctors are worried that you might not even be able to survive.

DR. STEPHANIE WALSH, CHILDREN'S HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA: Might be one of those kids who has an early death from cardio vascular disease.

GUPTA: So, when you say early death are you normally talking about people in their 30s having heart attacks? What does that mean?

WALSH: Well, this is pretty unprecedented. We haven't really seen eight-years olds with Type 2 diabetes before. So we don't actually know what is going to happen. But it is very concerning. The good news is we can do something about it.

GUPTA (voice over): Tiger has already started.

(On camera): I mean, this is a pretty good looking refrigerator here. And you have a lot of fruit, obviously. You've blueberries, you've got strawberries, you have a lot of fresh vegetables down here.

(voice over): For Tiger it is a point of immense pride. He is now 30 pounds lighter. He has another 40 to go. And all of those lost pounds are adding years to his life and changing his body on the outside, and the inside as well. They were rapidly aging a boy into a sick old man, way before his time. And that smile, well, it means he's peeling off the pounds, and those years.


ANDERSON: Doctor Sanjay Gupta, reporting. We spoke to Tiger's father today, to get an update on the 12-year-old boy's situation. He says Tiger has lost roughly 10 pounds, but has gained a lot of muscle, and is not just overweight.

Tomorrow, our series continues in Mexico, which has an even higher percentage of obese kids than the U.S. Officials say junk food is so readily available, even inside schools. Now new rules will change that. But many parents say they don't go far enough. That is tomorrow, at this time, on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Tonight, we'll be right back with your "Connector of the Day".


ANDERSON: Whether it be doting, or critical, attention has never frightened accomplished lawyer Cherie Blair. In her roles as Britain's first lady, next to husband Tony Blair, she was both forthright and candid, making her friends and enemies, alike.

Never one to stand in the corner, Cherie Blair spent much of her husband's term in office in influential positions. For a decade, until 2006, she was chancellor of Liverpool's John Moore's University. And in 2000 she was a founding member of the Matrix Chambers, in London, which specializes in human rights law.

Since her husband left office and the couple left Downing Street, Cherie Blair has embarked on a series of personal endeavors. In 2008, she authored a memoir, "Speaking For Myself", which became a best-seller. And she has become president of the Lumba Trust, a charity which aims to reduce the plight of widows around the world.

Today, she is leading the charge to bring attention to International Widow's Day. A political force not to be overlooked, Cherie Blair is your "Connector of the Day".


ANDERSON: A fierce advocate of human rights, on both the world stage, and a personal level. I spoke with Cherie Blair a little earlier, today. And I began by asking why she chose this campaign? This campaign for International Widow's Day. This is what she said.


CHERIE BLAIR, CAMPAIGNER, INT'L. WIDOWS DAY: Well, I think it is partly because though my mother wasn't a widow she was an abandoned woman. And so I was brought up by a strong woman, and I knew the struggle that she had, particularly, in the 1960s, in a Catholic community, where the idea of divorce was unheard of. So, when Raj Lumba approached me just after I got into No. 10, and told me about the plight of widows at that time, in India, it struck a chord with me. The idea that widows were discriminated against, the idea that they struggle to bring up their children, and of course, I wanted to do all I could to help.

ANDERSON: Cherie, Jurgen R. Brui, reminds us that so often it is widows of war who suffer the most. Would you consider yourself anti-war despite your husband's decision to take U.K. into both Iraq and Afghanistan?

BLAIR: Well, I would say that there is nobody, no sensible person, could possibly be pro-war. But on the other hand there are times when there is no alternative, and certainly I supported all the my husband did and all of the actions he took.

ANDERSON: Ojie Uketi has written to us, he says, "he was just six years old when his mother became a widow. Now he is 34, he says, and he asks, "How do we change the cycle of poverty in Africa, for example, and conflict around the world, which are two reasons so often that we see so many widows."

BLAIR: Well, this is-this is absolutely the case. And it is one of the reasons why we have asked the U.N. to mainstream the issue of widows. One, by having a day, International Widows Day, which would be today. And the other is actually an over work to look at the position of widows. And I tell you why it is so important, because if you look at helping women to help themselves and their families, all the research shows there is an incredible return on an investment.

ANDERSON: Cherie, General McChrystal put his own stamp on the current strategy in Afghanistan, including key aspects such as, as he said, the need to protect the population. Given your work with widows, widows of war, that must be a strategy that you buy. I'm going to ask you this, should he stay or should he go?

BLAIR: I certainly don't think my opinion on this is really worth having. But I'm glad you mentioned Afghanistan. Because the report we did showed that the country with the highest proportion of widows to women of marriageable age, in the world, is actually Afghanistan. And one of the problems for widows in Afghanistan, is that particularly in areas that are not under the control of the government, women are not allowed to work. So, there you are, you are a widow, you are on your own, you've got children to support, and you literally are deprived of the ability to do anything about it.

ANDERSON: So, it is a very, very good cause. And we buy it.

Do you miss No. 10?

BLAIR: I miss the people at No. 10. But I have-we have a fantastic life now and I'm really committed to this cause, and my cause of my foundation, which is to bring economic independence to women across the world. I know there are many women in my own country and here in America, who are also committed to that cause. And it is great to be part of a team that works together for that.

ANDERSON: All right. What don't you miss about No. 10? Come on, give me something.


BLAIR: Well, I think, analysis of my appearances and of course, let's face it, I sometimes didn't help myself with the press. But I'm very glad to be a little more anonymous these days. I'm able to talk about really important issues like International Widows Day, rather than how big my bottom is.


ANDERSON: Do you think Tony's legacy is fair, at the end of the day?

BLAIR: I'm very proud of all that Tony has achieved in No. 10, but I'm also very proud of the work he's doing at the moment. And I think we've seen just over the last few weeks and days how much difference he is making in the Middle East. And I know he has a huge amount to give in the future.


ANDERSON: Cherie Blair, speaking to me earlier. And that interview, let me tell you, was conducted before General McChrystal's resignation was accepted by President Obama.

Do keep your questions coming in online, we'll be right back with our World Cup fan postcards and tonight there is a very special England fan for you. Keep guessing who that is going to be. We'll be right back.


ANDERSON: Well, scenes from the England/Slovenia match today. My team, I'm going to be part of them, here, I have the dumps (ph). (UNINTELLIGIBLE) England. Let's see the goal. Let's get the goal for you, shall we?



And guess who is our World Cup, that is Jermain Defoe, of course, putting it in the back of the net, at the net there, for England. Nearly got it, it was 1-0, our World Cup Postcard segment tonight, we'll it's me. Along with the disappointed fans from Slovenia. First the joy of victory.


You know, they don't make it easy. It's not easy being an England fan. We went into that match knowing we had to win it. We had to win it. And knowing that we have got the team that ought to win it, but when I saw the team that was going to put out on the field, I really thought, this isn't going to happen. We did it. I'm not sure we did have to go through on the performances to date. But this is what happened in 1990, as well. We were absolutely terrible, to begin with. And we ended up getting into the semifinals. So, you know, what we could do it. We can do it. In my heart, I know we should do it. Just cross fingers, cross fingers, I'm just pleased. I'm just pleased we're through.

UROS COLJA, SLOVENIA FAN: Yes, at the cost of the Slovenians, you know, this one goal was-yes, it was righteous, because you could see, if you are honest, England was really better on the field. But still, Slovenia was really strong on defending those opportunities it was, on and on, going on and on.


ANDERSON: Shame, huh? That could have been me.

I'm Becky Anderson, that is your WORLD CONNECTED this evening. "BACKSTORY" is up, right after this check of the headlines.