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The Situation on the Korean Peninsula; Liberia's Rape Epidemic; Facebook Map Shows World Connected by Friendships. US Launches Lawsuit Against BP. US Troop Surge Helps Afghan Town Kandahar. No Real Strategic Improvement in Afghanistan. Mark Zuckerberg named "Time" Magazine's Person of the Year. Parting Shots of Protests Around the World.

Aired December 15, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: South Korea holds its biggest ever security drill. It may just have been an exercise, but the people take it very seriously.

This as Washington says the North in enriching way more uranium than previously believed.

Well, a top American diplomat heads to Pyongyang. The only thing is, he's not representing his country.

So what's going on and what's next?

Going beyond borders on the day's biggest stories, on CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

Well, they've scared the South and China and frustrated the United States. North Korea's government remains one of the most enigmatic in the world.

With the connections, I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

Also tonight, anger and violence on the streets of Athens. We'll bring you the pictures and the story.

And later, reviewing a war.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There has been some important progress in halting the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan.


ANDERSON: A lot of people would disagree with Washington's assessment. We're going to have the view on the ground for you.

And coming to a newsstand near you, Mark Zuckerberg is "Time" magazine's Person of the Year. But it turns out the people's choice was someone quite different. We'll explain and we'll have your views on this. Sound off on our Facebook page,

That is CNN in the next 60 minutes.

Well, it began like any other day in South Korea -- crowds of people making their way to work, traffic beginning to snarl and then this...


ANDERSON: South Koreans fled to underground shelters as air raid sirens sounded across the nation. Vehicles abandoned, leaving the streets eerily empty. This was a full scale drill, the largest ever in South Korea, as the country prepares its citizens for a potential attack from its northern neighbor.

Civil defense exercises of this kind do happen on a regular basis, but it's a simulation many in South Korea fear is getting closer to becoming a reality.


CHUNG WOO-SUB: It normally happens every month. It's a monthly event. But we actually don't participate very well because nothing would ever happen between North Korea and South Korea. But recently, we had it - - there have been. So it's very serious for us to think of these kind of events for us.


ANDERSON: Well, for once, South Korean civilians were preparing for the worst.

Our Brian Todd explains why Seoul is ramping up its war readiness.


TODD (voice-over): For someone who runs such a closed country, his methods of communication are often very public and sometimes lethal. Recently, Kim Jong-Il and his North Korean military machine have launched a deadly attack on a South Korean island, killed dozens of sailors in sinking a South Korean warship. And now, U.S. Officials say they're enriching more uranium in more nuclear sites than previously thought.

P.J. CROWLEY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: It certainly reflects work being done at at least one other site. So this remains a -- a significant area of concern.

TODD: The atmosphere is as tense as it's been since the Korean War. If there's one more provocation from North Korea, former director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, says South Korea wouldn't launch full- scale war but...

DENNIS BLAIR, FORMER DIR. OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: They will be taking military action against North Korea.

TODD: Enter Bill Richardson, who's entering North Korea for the eighth time. He's not going on behalf of the U.S. government or in his capacity as New Mexico's governor. This is a private trip. He was invited. A source with knowledge of the visit tells us Richardson assumes the regime will relay some kind of message to him to pass to U.S. officials.

Mike Green spent four years in the National Security Council dealing with North Korea.

(on camera): He was invited by the country's chief nuclear negotiator.

But what hand does Kim Jong-Il have in this and what does Kim hope do accomplish?

MIKE GREEN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: What Kim hopes to achieve, in effect, is a deal with the U.S., wherein we acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear weapon state; we lift sanctions; we push Japan and Korea to give them aid, give legitimacy to the regime, and, in exchange, they promise not to give their nuclear weapons to anyone else, and perhaps to cap or control one part of it.

TODD: That's a deal Green says the U.S. will never take. But he says Richardson's visit is a way to keep channels open.

Richardson is unlikely to meet directly with Kim Jong-Il, but he may be able to pick up much-needed signals about the hermetic leader.

GREEN: Kim Jong-Il, at 69, is suffering from the effects of a bad stroke. Reports are he's smoking heavily again and drinking heavily again. And he is trying to quickly build a cult of personality in support for his third son, his young son, Kim Jong-un.

TODD (on-camera): Green says that's a transition that may well be violent. He points out, in the 1980s, when Kim Jon-Il was getting ready to succeed his father, he orchestrated a deadly attack on South Korean officials and the bombing of a South Korean jetliner. He says the recent violence may be a signal that Kim Jong-un is getting ready to take the torch from his father or the younger Kim may stage some kind of violent spectacle later. Either way, it adds to a very tense backdrop for Bill Richardson's visit.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, the American diplomat's private mission comes amid calls for a resumption of six party talks. China, Pyongyang's closest ally, remember, claims North Korea has agreed to resume talks.

Russia also doing its bit to get Pyongyang back to the table, hosting the North's foreign minister this week. Those talks began with Moscow expressing, quote, "deep concern" about the country's new uranium capability.

Well, the U.S. sharing that concern. According to "The New York Times," American officials have described North Korea's new nuclear enrichment facility as, quote, "significantly more advanced than Iran's program."

On top of that, intelligence sources have told South Korea's "Chosun Ilbo" newspaper that the North has dug a tunnel at its nuclear test site and they suspect another test is imminent.

Well, we are going to talk now to an expert who, like Bill Richardson, has had face-to-face dealings with officials in Pyongyang.

Leon Sigal has repeatedly said punishing North Korea is not the answer.

Here's what he told the Council On Foreign Relations recently: "South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's people made a fundamental error when they came into office in February in 2008 and said we're going to show North Korea who's tough and who's boss on the Korean Peninsula."

Joining us now is Mr. Sigal.

Firstly, let me take you back to what happened today, before we move on.

South Korea, a big deal today, people stopping in the streets, it -- it was a big test. Obviously, it was -- it was just a test.

What are they trying to achieve there?

LEON SIGAL, AUTHOR, "DISARMING STRANGERS": Well, I mean, first, you have to take precautions. You have to alert your citizens that things could get on one hand.

On the other hand, they are creating the atmosphere of confrontation, which makes it harder to get back to the negotiating table, which is the only way to fix the problems we have.

ANDERSON: They're search -- certainly ratcheting up the rhetoric against North Korea at the moment, as are the U.S., to a certain extent.

What do you read into that?

SIGAL: Well, the U.S. is caught in a -- in a very difficult place. I mean the first thing you do when you're in this kind of crisis is you try to reassure your ally. And that makes a lot of sense. But -- but also, our ally has to be restrained at this point. I mean we -- we do not want the -- a further escalation of -- or tit for tat, more artillery firing by both sides. The only thing that that will end up with is more dead Koreans.

The -- the hard part is how to bring South Korea along so that it joins us at the negotiating table, because South Korea is the key to negotiations. We need a peace process. A peace process cannot function without South Korea and the United States willing to negotiate.

Similarly, on the nuclear side, part of what has to happen in terms of the advantages we have, to the extent that North Korea wants a new relationship with us and South Korea, that gives us potential leverage. But we can't use it if South Korea doesn't want us to get to the negotiating table.

ANDERSON: You've been in the North somewhat -- five or six weeks ago, not at the behest of the American government. You were there for others, as is Bill Richardson, we are told.

What did you learn and what will he learn on this strip?

SIGAL: Well, the North Koreans invited a number of Americans in sequence. And the first thing they did was they showed us the threat or their enhanced bargaining leverage, depending on whether we choose to negotiate. They did it in the form of showing us a very modern enrichment facility, with a much more modern set of centrifuges than Iran is mostly using. And -- and that exposed the potential threat and their enhanced leverage.

On the other hand, they also made it clear that they were -- they wanted to negotiate. And not for the purposes that Mike Green told your reporter.

They -- they are clearly willing, in return for a -- a fundamental change in relations with the United States, as well as South Korea and Japan, to do things to constrain their nuclear program. This is not about the U.S. negotiating to recognize them...

ANDERSON: All right...

SIGAL: -- as a nuclear weapons state.

ANDERSON: Leon Sigal, is anybody listening?

SIGAL: At this point, no, because we're in crisis mode. But when the dust settles, cooler heads will prevail and they'll figure out that the only way back is get to the negotiating table. The Chinese can't bail us out on this. The North Koreans want us.

ANDERSON: Fascinating.

We thank you for joining us, a regular guest on this show, it seems, at this point, in 2010.

Leon Sigal, we thank you for joining us.

Well, still ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, here live from London, an in- depth report on one of the worst legacies of Liberia's civil war.


SEEMA MATHUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The number of children raped post-conflict is staggering. According to the Ministry of Justice, 40 percent are under the age of 12.

DR. WILHELMINA JALLAH, OBSTETRIC GYNECOLOGIST: It really breaks your heart and brings tears to your eyes. You know, just imagine if it was your own child, how you would feel. So every time one of these children come to me, it really breaks my heart.


ANDERSON: We'll see how the country is struggling with a rape epidemic and ask the top United Nations official what the world can do to help.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: This isn't a story that is making headlines, but it should be.

Is saying sorry enough for committing mass atrocities against civilians?

Our focus this week is a series of special reports from the West African country of Liberia.

Yesterday, we told you about a warlord turned preacher, former General Butt Naked. He got that name by fighting nude as an intimidation tactic during Liberia's civil war. He was a kid at that time.

He's admitted responsibility for rape, torture and murder on a mass scale, including killing children and eating their hearts before going into battle.


JOSHUA MILTON BLAHYI, FORMER "GENERAL BUTT NAKED": There was a pole here that we would stretch the child around so that we have access to their ribs and use an ax to rip their back off.


ANDERSON: The ex-warlord is a free man today, pardoned by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission created after the war. Well, the panel did recommend sanctions against hundreds of people, but not General Butt Naked, because he expressed remorse when admitting his crimes.

We talked with the chairman of that commission.

This is what he said.


JEROME VERDIER, TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION: Forgiveness is an integral, perhaps, spiritual part of the Liberian way of life. But as a national institution or as a state, there is an obligation to ensure that issues of impunity are redressed, given our experiences of the conflict and no matter how vigorous we may pursue justice by prosecution, it's going to be virtually impossible to prosecute all 100,000 ex-combatants who have so far been identified by the conflict.


ANDERSON: Well, sexual violence was used by fighters on all sides during Liberia's civil war to spread terror and demoralize enemies. It's been seven years since the war ended, 2003. Yet rape is still widespread. In fact, it's the highest reported crime in the capital, Monrovia, today. More than half of the rape cases involve girls just 10 to 14 years old.

A United Nations report in 2004 estimated up to 70 percent of all women in the nation were assault victims. A 2006 government report said that of 1,600 women they surveyed, 92 percent reported some kind of sexual violence, including rape.

Well, the trauma stays with rape victims long after the assault is over. Many attacks are so violent, the victims are physically scarred, needing reconstructive surgery. They're also scarred emotionally, of course, and often stigmatized.

Well, today's report from Seema Mathur looks at the effects part of Liberia's rape epidemic.

And I've got to warn you, the subject matter is important, but it is extremely disturbing.



MATHUR (voice-over): These Liberian women sit for hours on plastic buckets awaiting surgery, a procedure that could transform their lives. In anticipation, they sing, "Thank you, lord, for healing our sickness."


MATHUR: Some shed tears as they recount how their condition has left them feeling stigmatized. The condition is known as fistula -- a tear in the vaginal anal area that can often be fixed with a surgical procedure. Most of the fistulas here are caused by prolonged labor during childbirth. But doctors here say 30 percent part of the cases they see are caused by trauma from rape.

That's what happened to Olivia (ph), according to the child and mother. Normally, we would not identify the victim of a sex crime, but Olivia and her mother felt it was important to come forward to tell their story.

JALLAH: That rape must have been violent and maybe repeated. The little rectal area was totally open. The vagina area was also destroyed from the hole that was made.

MATHUR: Olivia is 11 years old. Her mother says the rape happened when she was six. She's had to wear a colostomy bag since, making everyday life even more difficult.

She says, "If I go to school and my bag is dirty, then my friends will laugh at me."

Olivia's case is all too familiar to Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah. The number of children raped post-conflict is staggering. According to Ministry of Justice, 40 percent are under the age of 12.

JALLAH: It really breaks your heart and brings tears to your eyes. You know, just imagine if it was your own child, how you would feel. So every time one of these children come to me, it really breaks my heart.

MATHUR: Throughout Liberia's 14 years of civil wars, experts say rape was standard operating procedure, used by all fighting factions as a tool of suppression and to instill fear.

At the end of the war, most ex-combatants received about five days of counseling for trauma as part of the disarmament process.

(on camera): More than seven years post-conflict, some experts say one of the consequences they're seeing of using rape as a weapon of war is a current spike in rape cases.

CHRISTINE TAH, JUSTICE MINISTER: Sexual violence has surpassed robbery. And we think that the whole problem has been accelerated and exacerbated by the experiences that our people, especially the young men, have had during the war.

MATHUR (voice-over): A recent U.N. survey found that more than 20 percent of randomly selected respondents nationwide knew someone who had been raped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the Liberian women Democracy Radio, the lights on...

MATHUR: One effort by the government to raise cultural awareness about crimes against women and girls...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This program is designed to discuss women's issues.

MATHUR: -- messages of gender sensitivity and equality are broadcast on the radio. And a big change in the legal system. A special court was established in late 2008 to enforce a revised rape law. That court convicted this 20-year-old, who admits to fighting as a child soldier, but denies being a rapist. Under the revised rape law, he's sentenced to life in prison with no option for parole. And while the harsh punishment is hailed as a victory, he is just one of six men that the new court has convicted for rape. Hundreds of accused rapists have been released before standing trial because of a backlog in cases.

TAH: But we don't know who's really innocent or guilty of those who are in pre-trial detention status. So we just let everyone out because it's in their longer than the time that he should be there before they go to court. We also run the risk of jeopardizing the safety of the community.

So we are working on this balancing.

MATHUR: The suspect in Olivia's case was among the hundreds released without being tried.

TAH: It seems like we're fighting a losing battle, you know, for her, there's no ju -- no justice will be done on her case.

MATHUR: Because Olivia's mom boldly pressed charges, defying social norms, she faces a backlash.

JALLAH: Well, the families in the community where they live, they do not want it exposed at all. So right now, she said, OK, she cannot go back to that village.

MATHUR: She says, "I just want my daughter well."

It will be a while, though. The doctor says because of the extent of the tear and because the tissues weren't fully developed, she likely can't have surgery until she's 16, which means it will be five more painful years before Olivia can even hope to begin healing.


MATHUR: Seema Mathur, CNN, Monrovia.


ANDERSON: Well, that report really does beg the question, are we really helpless to stop these outrageous attacks against civilians, especially those of that age.

Let's bring in the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict.

Margot Wallstrom is in New York for you this evening.

I don't know what you say when you see a report like that, surprised and disgusted, I think, is the way that most of our viewers would react to that report.

How come, after seven years of what is supposed to be believed is peace is rape so widespread in Liberia?

MARGOT WALLSTROM, U.N. REPRESENTATIVE ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT: Because we have learned not -- by now that what is a way of war becomes a way of life. And this is why it leaves such a heavy footprint on society. This is why it is such a -- a heavy impediment to creating long-lasting peace. And that is why it has to be stopped.

We have to end impunity and we have to show the real costs of this being done to thousands and thousands of women.

ANDERSON: Margot, lest our viewers be left with the impression this is only going on in Liberia, sadly, we got a report that it's not just there. The use of rape as a weapon happens in conflict zones, of course, all over the world, but perhaps nowhere is it more dangerous to -- to be a woman than in, for example, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rapes occur there, I'm told, at mind-numbing rates, as rival militia try to terrorize villagers into submission.

Let's just bring up a couple of maps for our viewers at this point.

Chicago is the size of Western Europe, so it's pretty hard to police. Yes, it's also home to the largest U.N. peacekeeping mission, of course, in the world. Nearly 20,000 peacekeepers stationed there have been unable to stop the violence.

And we've got some film to show our viewers. Just a few moments ago, you may remember that hundreds of women, and even some baby boys, were gang raped in Eastern Congo. The attack lasted four days and took place within 30 kilometers of a U.N. peacekeeping base, as we bring up some of the video here at CNN.

Margot, you sit in a position to do something about this.

What is the U.N. doing?

WALLSTROM: Well, we have to make sure that this doesn't go on unreported, unaddressed and unpunished. And that is also why the Security Council, of course, has to use all the tools in its toolbox to address the fact that the women have to walk in shame and the perpetrators walk free.

So tomorrow, under, I would say, the able leadership of the United States of America, a resolution -- a very important resolution -- will be adopted that sets out a system that will bring together the whole U.N. system to -- to address this problem. We'll make sure that the Security Council can use everything from sanctions to the ICC, referring cases to the ICC, to make sure that we go after the commanders and those that are responsible for these types of crimes.

ANDERSON: Is there anybody...

WALLSTROM: And, of course, it is important...

ANDERSON: Is there any country -- sorry, Margot.

Is there any country that is likely to -- to veto that legislation?

WALLSTROM: No. I hope not. And I think that the U.S. also being -- presiding over the Security Council now -- have prepared it so well that we will have it adopted unanimously. And that will be a very important tool.

It takes, also, strong leadership like the -- the leadership that has been shown by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her government in Liberia. I have myself visited both Liberia and -- and the DRC and Sarajevo, because it is a scourge, unfortunately, that we will see traverses both time and continents. So it exists everywhere.

But it has to come to an end. And we have to address the problem of impunity and amnesty to these types of crimes.

ANDERSON: You're confident...

WALLSTROM: It cannot continue like this.

ANDERSON: You're confident that we won't be talking about this a decade from now, are you?

WALLSTROM: No. I hope not. And we will do everything we can to bring the U.N. together in a more coordinated way to address it. We will also work with leaders everywhere in the world, both women and men, to make sure that this is -- this is stopped, and, of course, with military commanders and with the whole justice system, to address it.

ANDERSON: OK. Margot, we're going to leave it there.

We thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Margot Wallstrom for you out of New York this evening.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

We'll be right back.


ANDERSON: Welcome back.


I'm Becky Anderson.

We've got a special image to bring you, here. It sort of reminded us as a team of our CONNECT THE WORLD background. But this is one very special map, because it shows, I'm told, friendship.

It was made by Facebook from one of their interns, Paul Butler, his name is. He took about ten million pairs of friends from their data ware house and merged it with the longitude and latitude of each city. It was a bit more complicated than that, but the overall effect is incredible.

These lines reflect real human relationships, I'm told. Can you see them? And how we keep those connections alive. Amazing stuff.

And while these interns have been busy with those maps, the boss himself has a picture that's also quite an achievement. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and co-founder has been named the magazine's Person of the Year. We'll be speaking to the managing editor of to see just why.

And a military surge brings business back to the city of Kandahar, but just how long will this recovery last? Our week-long special on Afghanistan continues after your headlines, after this short break.


ANDERSON: A very warm welcome back at just after half past nine in London, you're back with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. Coming up, another lawsuit against BP in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and this legal action could be the big one.

"Time" magazine's Person of the Year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Does his selection rate a "like" on your Facebook page? We'll talk about that a little later.

Also, the Afghanistan surge. Tens of thousands of additional US troops there, and it seems their presence is paying off, at least in Kandahar for now.

Those stories are ahead in the next half hour. As ever at this point in the show, let's get you a very quick update on the headlines.

Protesters in Greece threw fire bombs while police fired teargas. The demonstration was part of a week of strikes against the country's austerity cuts. Everything from public transit to schools affected.

Partners, not rivals. That's how Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has described his country's fragile relationship with India on a three-day visit to New Delhi.

Officials say they've arrested the mastermind of two bombings that killed at least 32 people outside a mosque in southeastern Iran. The blast targeted Shiite pilgrims celebrating the holy day of Ashura.

The international criminal court is accusing six Kenyan leaders, including a deputy prime minister, of organizing the deadly violence that followed Kenya's disputed presidential election in 2007. They're expected to be charged with crimes against humanity.

Gruesome allegations by the Council of Europe of human organ harvesting, implicating Kosovo's current prime minister, who celebrated recent election results. It allegedly happened during the war between the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbia. The government there says it is a lie.

The US government filed suit against BP and eight other companies for damages stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The suit will join nearly 80 others.

While this US government case is not the first, of course, to be brought against the companies involved in the Gulf spill, attorney general Eric Holder says it won't be the last.


ERIC HOLDER, US ATTORNEY GENERAL: Even though the spill has been contained, and even though it no longer is the focus of the round-the-clock news coverage that we saw and the subject of front page headlines, the department's focus on investigating this disaster and preventing future devastation has not wavered.

While today's civil action marks a crucial first step forward, it is not -- it is not -- a final step. Both our criminal and civil investigations are continuing, and our work to ensure that the American taxpayers are not forced to bear the cost of restoring the Gulf area and its economy goes on.


ANDERSON: Not the final step, we're told. For some analysis on this lawsuit, I'm joined by legal expert and CONNECT THE WORLD panelist Steve Greenberg. It's not the final step, may be one of the first steps. What do we know at this point, Steve?

STEVE GREENBERG, LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Well, the government is just trying to make sure that these companies don't shirk their responsibilities. The companies to date, specifically BP, has said that they're going to pay for the oil spill damage anyway, but I think that the government wants the force of law, they want a judge to be able to enforce claims against BP if, for some reason, BP decides later on they're not going to pay.

And they also brought in some other companies, the drillers and some of the companies that were working. There's a limit for pollution spills, and there's a $75 -- $75 million limit on liability for companies under certain circumstances that can be greased or pushed aside, but you need a judicial finding for that.

ANDERSON: Take a look at BP's share price at the close of play today. It was about two percent lower. Certainly those in the markets don't believe this is a disaster as far as the oil company is concerned. How strong is the US government's case?

GREENBERG: The government's case is probably pretty strong, because I think BP has already said, "We messed up," and we've seen other evidence that there were problems with this rig, that maybe they were negligent in safety matters.

There's some allegations that the cement that was used -- and I don't know how oil drilling works but, apparently, there's cement used around the hole. The cement was substandard and watered down. So, I think the government's got a good case.

Look, you're never going to find -- the case was filed in New Orleans. You're never going to find 12 jurors that are going to find in favor of BP or any of the companies --


ANDERSON: How long is this going to take, I guess, is the question. And furthermore, how much is this going to cost these companies going forward?

GREENBERG: Who knows how much it's going to cost the companies? It's going to be a mother load for the lawyers that are involved in the case.

The Exxon Valdez is probably the closest you can come, where the Exxon had a boat that crashed in Alaska and caused a great deal of environmental damage. That case, I think, is still going on some 20 years later, has generated billions of dollars of legal fees as well as billions of dollars of recovery. So, this could go on for a long, long, long time.

ANDERSON: Steve Greenberg, a legal analyst and a big thinker on this show. Steve, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Ahead, the US troop surge in Afghanistan. Is it working? We're going to take a close look at conditions in Kandahar on the eve of a report on the US war effort in Afghanistan. That is after this very short break. Do stay with us.


ANDERSON: All this week on CONNECT THE WORLD, we are taking you behind the battle lines in Afghanistan. Yesterday, Nic Robertson visited an area of intense fighting that happens to be a key gateway to Kandahar. He showed us how American forces there are winning support of a local population through a jobs and development program.

Monday, Nic brought you the story of so-called Taliban turncoats, fighters who say after nine years of war, enough is enough. Several hundred of them have laid down their weapons to push for peace.

Well, now, the US military surge in Afghanistan. President Obama's sent in 30,000 additional troops, as you'll remember, the last of them arriving in November. So is the surge helping? US Defense Secretary Robert Gates says yes. Nic Robertson visited Kandahar, where Gates's claims appear to be accurate with one very big condition.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Kandahar City, stores are busy. Shopping malls -- yes, new shopping malls -- are doing brisk business in a city where, a few months ago, fear of the Taliban was rampant. Not so, now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very good business. Very good situation, we are very happy.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Indeed, whoever we talk to, from the roadside puncture repairman to these door makers. All told us security was improving.

This baker, who's turning out more biscuits, told us it's all down to better police, a new governor, and more US troops.

It's a boost in confidence that's being felt beyond the city, according to the governor. Outlying districts want to share the security.

TOORYALI WESA, GOVERNOR OF KANDAHAR: We are telling the soldiers, we are willing to go back, just give us some support, and we'll go and reactivate and reopen our districts and take it from the insurgents.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): But better days in Kandahar have not come easily, and the governor is not sure they are here to stay.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Can these insurgents come back to the city and regain a stronghold as they had before?

WESA: Maybe yes and maybe no. I will go for a maybe not.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): He is not alone in his uncertainty.

ROBERTSON (on camera): From cell phone salesmen to mechanics to bakers, no one is afraid to say security is better, but listen to what happens when I ask them what they think about the Taliban.

Can the Taliban come back here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. Because I am a businessman, I'm not a politician.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): It's a question most people would rather dodge. "I don't understand," he says, smiles, and turns away. Recent history is not encouraging.

WESA: Last time field operations were taking place, the areas were cleared, but the forces were gone, which was very easy for the insurgents to come back and reoccupy the places.

ROBERTSON (voice-over) The surge commander here insists that won't be happening this time. He's committed more troops, more experts, and there won't be any drawdown until Afghan security forces are ready to take over.

JEFFREY MARTINDALE, COLONEL, US ARMY: And if I leave here and we still haven't been able to thin the lines and go to other places, we'll still have won where it's most important. That's in the city.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): While many people here hope he's right, they're used to hedging their bets. Nic Robertson, CNN, Kandahar, Afghanistan.


ANDERSON: Well, there is a reason that we are running these reports this week. Tomorrow, of course, the White House releases that much- anticipated report on the war effort in Afghanistan. Our next guest believes no matter what it says, the situation in Afghanistan is alarming, and he says that the Taliban controls most of the country. Fawaz Gerges joins us, now.

Nic's reports have shown slices of life, as it were, that is getting better, as far as the reports seem to be concerned. And a semblance of security in some parts of the country.

FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Absolutely. The United States will release in the next few days the so-called, the National Intelligence Estimate. The National Intelligence Estimate, Becky, is one of the most authoritative reports in the United States. There are 16 intelligence agencies. It's the consensus of the 16 intelligence agencies in the United States.

Three points. The report says the war cannot be won in Afghanistan as long as Pakistan supports the Taliban in Afghanistan. And the report says based on everything, that Pakistan will not change its conduct vis-a-vis the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Secondly, the National Intelligence Estimate, which is based on 16, the 16 intelligence agencies says that even though NATO has achieved major tactical gains in Kandahar and other areas, most sections of the country are controlled by the Taliban directly or indirectly. That is, the Taliban have shown to be very resilient, despite all the firepower, despite the surge.

And finally, and the most important point, the report, the National Intelligence Estimate by the 16 agencies says that little progress has been done on institutional building in Afghanistan. That is the police force, the security forces. Corruption is pervasive in the country.

So, really, on multiple levels, Pakistan is playing a pivotal role in empowering the Taliban in Afghanistan. That is, tactical advances have been done by the western forces. The tactical advances have not changed the strategic landscape.

ANDERSON: Let's just hear what the spokesman for the White House, Robert Gibbs, had to say a little earlier today. Have a listen to this.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There has been some important progress in halting the momentum of the Taliban in Afghanistan. We have seen through counter-terrorism success at degrading al -- senior al Qaeda leaders. And we've seen greater cooperation over the course of the past 18 months with the Pakistani government.


ANDERSON: So, is that just gloss?

GERGES: It's absolutely correct. Some progress has been achieved. Tactical progress. The question on the table, Becky, is the following. Do the tactical advances alter the strategic picture in Afghanistan? They don't.

The National Intelligence Estimate of the United States will say, strategically, the situation is as gloomy as it was, and Pakistan is playing a critical part in Afghanistan, and the institutional building is not going too far. That is, the war in Afghanistan cannot be won.

But what do you expect the poor Barack Obama to say? He is, basically, being pressed by the military. The military would like to escalate. And also, by his base, his liberal base wants to, basically, deescalation, not escalation.

ANDERSON: So, Fawaz, what happens next?

GERGES: Well, this is the question. I think the strategy of Barack Obama as he will release the strategy tomorrow will be stay the course. Will be to show results for the American people, and also to try to convince the Taliban that the United States will not pack and leave Afghanistan in the next few months or next year. That is the goal. The strategic goal is to degrade the ability of the Taliban as much as possible and force them to negotiate.

The question on the table is the following. Who has the political will to stay the course? Can the United States stay in Afghanistan for ten years? Will the Taliban be able to really wait the United States out for the next few years. It's a very, very difficult question.

And Becky, don't remember, the war in Afghanistan is costing the United States of American $100 billion a year. Can the United States afford to spend $100 billion a year for the next few years?

ANDERSON: Fawaz, how big a loss, finally -- and, of course, it was a very untimely death. But how big a loss in the AfPak strategy is Richard Holbrooke who, sadly, passed away this week?

GERGES: He's a critical player of the team. But remember, and this is the irony, Becky, Holbrooke did not believe there was and there is a military solution to the Afghanistan war. He believed all along that Barack Obama's strategy of the surge, the surge, the 30,000 troops will not work in Afghanistan. And the National Estimate that is -- that will be released in the next few days says exactly that. There is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

ANDERSON: Fawaz Gerges, always the pessimist, sadly, on this show. But we appreciate your thoughts this evening.

Next up on CONNECT THE WORLD, "Time" magazine's Person of the Year. It's the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. But did the magazine make the right choice? Our viewers are going to weigh in right after this.


ANDERSON: You're with CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson. Nearly one out of every ten people on the planet is on Facebook. So, it may come as little surprise that the social networking site's founder, Mark Zuckerberg is "Time" magazine's Person of the Year. I want to discuss the selection with Jim Frederick, who is the managing director of -- I'm sorry, the managing editor of Got to get these titles right amongst us journalists.

Mark's been around for some time. Why, then, does he make the top of the tree, as it were, in 2010?

JIM FREDERICK, MANAGING EDITOR, TIME.COM: Well, Facebook has been around for some time, and it's been a global phenomenon for some time, but this is the year that it actually hit critical mass, where it has insinuated itself utterly into, not just the internet, but global culture in terms of intimacy, privacy, and what the nature of friendship is.

This was Facebook's year that it turned, in the words of Lev Grossman, the author of the article, "a species-level event."

ANDERSON: This is -- this is some commendation, making "Time" magazine's Person of the Year. What is the criteria?

FREDERICK: Well, we should be clear. It's not an honor and it's not an award. It is by consensus of the editors of "Time," it is the person who had the greatest impact for better or worse on global news or global culture for that year.

ANDERSON: All right. Have a listen to this. Because while "Time" has announced its pick for the year 2010 Person of the Year, the man behind WikiLeaks won the most votes in your magazine's online poll. Out of more than -- I think I've got this right -- one million votes cast, Julian Assange was the clear favorite among readers. He rated more than 382,000 votes.

Prime minister of Turkey Erdogan was distant second. Pop star Lady Gaga, I think, was third, followed by the comic newsmen from America, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and conservative commentator Glenn Beck rounds out the top five.


ANDERSON: "Time's" editors' final choice, Mark Zuckerberg, came in 10th in the online poll. So, how does that marry up?

FREDERICK: Well, Julian Assange is absolutely a worthy contender for the Person of the Year -- being named Person of the Year. And we discussed it for a long time.

In the final analysis, we decided that WikiLeaks and the WikiLeaks phenomenon is based primarily on potential. That if you look at what WikiLeaks has accomplished over the past year, it hasn't really altered global diplomacy, hasn't really taken down any bureaucracies, hasn't fundamentally altered the way governments are run.

And our answer was, if you look at the person who has insinuated himself into more people's lives across the globe, there's no question that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook has a greater impact on people's daily lives throughout the past year than anyone else.

ANDERSON: Let me ask you this, because we're all wondering where social media fits into the mainstream media which, to a certain extent, "Time" magazine and CNN are. When will the year come, do you think, when it's the online vote that matters more than the gatekeeping from the likes of you and me as editors, as it were?

FREDERICK: I think it's always a combination of the two. Social media's very important to "Time" and "Time" magazine. We have 2.2 million Twitter followers, and we announced one of the primary announcements was through Twitter. We communicate with our readers every single day on a variety of platforms. And so, I think what old media like "Time" and CNN are learning to do is that it's a collaboration between content producers, editors, and viewers and readers.

ANDERSON: Yes. And Jim, we're going to do exactly that, now. We thank you for joining us, Jim Frederick is the managing editor of And we get you involved, as we should. We're asking you on Facebook if Mark Zuckerberg's selection is the right choice.

Giovanni Sarza tells us, "Definitely. He is very much deserving and at par with anyone else."

Hashir Khan thinks "He should be named person of the century." Not bad, given it's 2010.

But Lucciana asks, "Why? It's not like he did something amazing for the world."

Keira Rodriguez has a mixed view. "I don't particularly care for the guy," she says, "but there's no denying the greatness of Facebook in terms of global impact and connections."

Omar thinks Zuckerberg is the wrong choice. "No! No! No! Assange deserved to be the Person of the Year!"

Anie Sara says Zuckerberg "is a genius, but Assange is brave, a genius, and deserves to be named."

Come and get involved. We're not old media here. We enjoy what you say. Get your voice heard, You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD here on CNN. We'll be right back after this.


ANDERSON: We can't leave you without our Parting Shots tonight. Explosions, anger, and protests in the streets of Athens.




ANDERSON: A week of nationwide strikes climaxed Wednesday in a showdown between police and protesters. Workers and unions are fighting changes in labor laws and pay cuts. Tough new measures required by the 110 billion euro bailout, you'll remember, that Greece received back in May.

A 24-hour strike, the seventh this year, grounded flights, closed factories, disrupted hotels, hospitals, and shut down public transport across the country. It's expected to continue throughout the week.

Demonstrations also going on in New Delhi. These are Tibetan exiles marching through the streets, there. They're protesting Beijing's rule over Tibet as China's premier pays a three-day visit to India. Wen Jiabao is there to strengthen business ties, calling on the two countries to open their markets and partner rather than compete.

And Italy has also been dealing with more unrest. Protests exploded on the streets of Rome on Tuesday after Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in the parliament.

Anger and violence from Greece to India to Italy in your Parting Shots this evening. I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected this hour. "BackStory" up next here on CNN, right after a very quick check of the headlines.