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IN THE ARENA
Impact of Drawdown in Afghanistan; GOP Candidates Battle Over Pro-Life Pledge; Jon Huntsman Enters GOP Presidential Race
Aired June 21, 2011 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and thank you for joining us IN THE ARENA. I'm Christine Romans sitting in tonight. Eliot Spitzer is on vacation.
The time has come. Exactly 24 hours from now, President Obama will tell America his plan for leaving Afghanistan. The troop withdrawal he promised will begin next month, but the number of American soldiers coming home and how quickly they will return, that's still being negotiated tonight.
I'll have more on those numbers in a moment. But perhaps the most important consideration is this. What kind of country are we leaving? Sometimes a picture tells a story better than we can. These women are learning to read and to write in secret.
When CNN's Nick Paton Walsh spoke with them in Kandahar, they were afraid to show us their faces since many lied to their husbands to just be there. They are risking their own safety and their families just to read a book. They are scared of the Taliban but they are more afraid of ignorance.
Afghanistan is a country of hope and hopelessness. Women who risk their lives to learn, fanatics who want to kill them because of it. So who will win when we leave? I'll have more on all of this in a moment.
But first, a look at the stories we're drilling down on tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Jon Huntsman jumped into the race today, a Mormon who supports civil unions, an ex-Obama man who wants the boss' job. A closer look at the man behind the contradictions.
And Greece on the brink. A midnight vote of confidence. Protesters in the streets. E.D. Hill asks Ben Stein if Greece topples, will it take us down with it?
Then Fukushima. The disaster that won't go away. Nobody is paying attention. But is the nuclear meltdown more dangerous than ever?
MICHIO KAKU, SCIENTIST: It's like hanging by your fingernails.
ROMANS: Michio Kaku on the biggest industrial catastrophe in history.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Now back to our top story. President Obama's plans for a troop drawdown in Afghanistan.
Nick Paton Walsh is in Kabul covering the reaction there.
Nick, welcome. You know we're hearing the president plans to draw down 10,000 troops this year, another 20,000 next year. Does the size and the timing of the drawdown make sense, Nick?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think domestically, yes, it does. He's keeping his promises. But also it helps the military out to a certain extent. It gives them a pretty long time to keep working with those surge troops of 30,000, two- thirds of whom will be here for another 18 months or so.
That's enough time really for the military frankly to fulfill the agenda they have. But 10,000 this year it helps explain the narrative to the American public that they are succeeding here, they're bringing the troops home and get that transition story told ahead of the November 2012 reelection.
So yes, it makes sense domestically. I think on -- in terms of Afghans here, how they will perceive it, it's very much -- it's very much restructuring the NATO presence here, and giving them the simple idea that there's a new fiscal landscape ahead in which they're going to have to come to some kind of accommodation with the insurgency -- Christine.
ROMANS: Are the Afghan National Security Forces ready to step in. You know, some of Chris Lawrence's reporting has been that in many cases these are forces there that are not fighting forces by any stretch of the imagination.
WALSH: There's been many questions about the Afghan police certainly. Corruption, abuse on their part. They're not well liked in many towns we visited. The Afghan National Army considered better, but bear in mind also a lot of the time these are Tajiks, ethnic Tajiks from the north of the country sent into the southern Pashtun areas to fight the Taliban there. Already being a strong ethnic rivalry between these two sides.
ROMANS: You know you say that it's time for the -- for Afghanistan and for the people there, for officials and the population, Nick, to begin to adjust to a new reality. What about the reaction as we head into this very important speech tomorrow night by the president? What about the reaction from officials in Afghanistan?
WALSH: Absolutely. I mean, I think they aren't speaking directly about the withdrawal until it's made entirely public by Obama, but the public here frankly are beginning -- fear begin to be tired of the presence of foreign troops. They've had foreign troops that are out here for the last 30 years or so. And while many see the NATO contribution as having tried to bring a better life here to Afghanistan, I think there are genuine concerns that they need to get on with their lives themselves without foreign interference as some see here. Many refer to American troops here as occupiers, and frankly want to see them get hold of their own country, their own sovereignty again -- Christine.
ROMANS: Nick Paton Walsh, in Kabul. Thank you so much, Nick.
So what will troop withdrawal mean for American progress in Afghanistan? Tom Foreman has been looking into the military situation there.
Tom, who would we expect to be pulled out and from where?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Interesting question. Because you have to look at the lay of the land as you would with any battle field. This is Afghanistan here, Pakistan over this way. These are the areas where the Taliban has exerted the most control, down here in the south, and over to the east, we have the red, limited control in orange areas, encroaching in the yellow.
But this is the area where we really focused. Now look what happened as the surge troops came in. The troop presence came in and really filled it hard, with U.S. troops all in the most troubled area, Italian troops, German troops over here, some others as well but those are some of the major groups.
And look what happens when we mix them together. This is what we have seen. Really a substantial stabilization of parts of the country, at least compared to how it was before, with all these troops coming in here, and the Taliban largely being pushed down into areas like this and over here.
So who do you get out of here? You can take out the support troops who were involved in building bridges and roads and barracks, and all those things to bring in the extra troops. They could come away.
You could also possibly take out some combat troops if you take some of the calmer regions and say we don't need as many bodies there, although there is some pushback on that front from some generals saying no, no, no, take them from areas like this that you calm down, then you push them more to the east here where we need to finish the job, and that of course is the catch here, Christine.
Are you finishing the job or you're leaving it unfinished? Is it a reasonable time to start pulling out or is this the time to push all the way through?
ROMANS: -- time line. What kind of timeline are we talking about overall, and is this really the beginning of the end of American involvement in Afghanistan?
FOREMAN: The White House would say yes, it's the beginning of the end of involvement. But the numbers suggest not yet. Let's take a look at what we have if we have the troop layers here. This is from when it began back here in the early 2000s. And you can see how when it's sort of a low level here, went along, and peaked a little bit. The president came in, it was up at 34,400, and with the surge and everything else he's done since then, today it's up at 100,000.
If you took 10,000 out by the end of the year as some people have talked about, that's still a relatively minor part of this, even if you took out 30,000 by end of next year, which is what we are talking about here, 30,000 by end of next year, you can see you're still going to be roughly twice as many troops as when this president took office.
So that's some sense of what we're talking about. Even you talk about reducing, you're still talking about a lot of troops being there -- Christine.
ROMANS: All right. Tom Foreman. Thanks so much for that, Tom.
Now the war on terror is a decade-long, trillion-dollar struggle just in Afghanistan. In terms of American lives lost, more than 1600. As Defense Secretary Gates acknowledged recently, the American people are tired of the war, and that feeling, that wish for these wars to be over has become a major issue in Republican politics.
Jason Chaffetz, a conservative congressman from Utah, has been a consistent advocate for reducing military troop strength in Afghanistan. Bret Stephens, a "Wall Street Journal" columnist believes strongly that Americans must stay and fight to a winning conclusion.
Jason Chaffetz and Bret Stephens are with me.
Welcome, both of you this evening.
I'll start with you, Bret. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, all favor a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan. Jon Huntsman coming out strongly today saying we need to go, we need to get out. And Michele Bachmann told John King she's tired of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Why -- in your view, tell me why they are wrong.
BRET STEPHENS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the grownups have left the field of the Republican Party. And I think the spirit of Robert Taft, the isolationist Republican senator from 60 years ago, rides high again.
You know listening to a lot of the commentary about our situation in Afghanistan, I'm very much reminded of the kind of debate that we were having in 2006, 2007 about Iraq, but back then it was the Democrats who were arguing for precipitous withdrawal, saying that the war couldn't be won, that Americans were tired.
And in fact, it was remarkable that within two years, the American military had turned that war around so that we now have a successful outcome in Iraq. We ought to be patient and wait for that same outcome to happen in Afghanistan. We see signs of it.
ROMANS: Congressman, a decade and a trillion dollars, there are those who say we risk throwing away great progress if we pull back too quickly and too soon for political reasons.
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Well, there's always an argument to stay there forever. There are those of us that believe a good conservative position is to redefine the mission. In fact, one of the failings I think the Obama administration has is that it has not defined what success is.
There are those of us that believe we ought to be focused on counterterrorism which is a global phenomenon. It's not confined to the borders of just Afghanistan, but we should not be in the business of nation building. And really that's what we're doing. We're participating in nation building which by all accounts is probably going to have to go on for decades.
I just don't think we should be there with our men and women and I don't want to pay for it.
ROMANS: You know what, I want to clarify the trillion dollars. I mean this is the Pentagon saying that the war on terror now over the past decade has cost -- has topped the trillion dollar mark. That is obviously not just Afghanistan, but there's a lot there.
I mean, you say, Congressman, that we just can't -- you know, we just can't afford it, it's something that you hear from Democrats and Republicans quite frankly. Democrats for a long time have said we can't afford it, what are we doing? And now it's Republicans who are trying to use new fiscal austerity.
But the fact of the matter is, the United States is committed in this region. I mean this is something that successive administrations have gone ahead with it.
CHAFFETZ: Well, I think we are committed to counterterrorism. What I am not committed to is nation building. And I think we've had some mission creep there in Afghanistan.
This is the longest war in the history of United States of America. We should not be bashful, we should not be ashamed of bringing our troops home and fighting that global war on terror.
It's my -- the other person in the show said isolationism, this isn't about isolationism. It's about the fact that it's the longest war in the history of the United States. We've got to define success and then we got to fight the global war on terror, not just in Afghanistan.
STEPHENS: Well, the war is going to be a lot longer if we withdraw precipitously, we create a situation or allow a situation of chaos to be created not only in Afghanistan but on the other side of the border in Pakistan and we will be dealing with those consequences for many years to come.
So it seems to me that when you're talking about costs, the greater cost is what -- is the course that the congressman proposes.
CHAFFETZ: No --
STEPHENS: The people don't -- people don't appreciate -- if I can finish, people don't appreciate actually the astonishing progress that's been made throughout Afghanistan since David Petraeus became our commander there last year, and we should be capitalizing on the progress.
It's a little bit like saying after the union victory at Gettysburg, well, we've done pretty well enough, let's leave it alone because the cost of the war are going to be greater.
CHAFFETZ: That's ridiculous. The reality is the national intelligence estimate in 2009 said the Taliban posed no clear and present danger to United States of America. You had Leon Panetta, the CIA director at the time, said that there are less than 50 al Qaeda in the entire country, and that was a couple of years ago.
And so you have to look at the totality of the situation. Yes, we have a very difficult fight on our team, we're going to have to use hunter killer teams, we're going to have to go out and root out this terrorism, but we can't have 100,000 men and women on the street corners with rules of engagement that tie their hands, that we actually go and define counterterrorism and we fight and win that war.
That's what we've got to be doing.
STEPHENS: If we allow the Taliban to win in Afghanistan, not only will we be visiting disaster on Afghanistan and Pakistan, I should add, but we will be emboldening jihadists every where who will take it as a victory just as they took their victory against the Soviet Union as a reason to go after the other state and the United States.
I think the course that the congressman is proposing is ruinous and against the best traditions of the Republican Party.
ROMANS: Let's talk about -- Secretary Gates said today that the president should take public opinion into consideration as he plans for this -- for what's happening -- our next step in Afghanistan.
I want you to look at this CNN poll, gentlemen. Almost three quarters of Americans say they favor withdrawing some or all U.S. troops.
What about the public opinion, Bret, with so many people clearly tired of this effort? Or is it that leaders are meant to lead and that means sometimes they do things that are contrary to public opinion?
STEPHENS: That's precisely the argument that President Bush put forward when he -- in an equally unpopular moment -- proposed the surge, defeated the insurgency in Iraq. Part of the problem that we have here is a president who doesn't like to talk about Afghanistan, doesn't like to talk about the gains that we've made here, constantly sets unrealistic timelines which embolden our enemies, and give -- make our friends both in the region and in NATO worry that we're going to pull out.
So there is a job of leadership here which the president isn't fulfilling. And I wish we would see Republicans in Congress pressing the president to lead the country to a successful conclusion which is in reach instead of joining the Pelosi bandwagon of pulling out.
CHAFFETZ: But what is success? The president has not defined success. I haven't heard you define success. That's the problem.
CHAFFETZ: I believe that success is bringing our troops home. The 10 years our troops have been there have been very successful. They have rooted out terrorism. Are there bad guys in Afghanistan? Absolutely. But we've got problems in Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula, Pakistan, we have problems all across the world that we're going to have to deal with, but it doesn't mean we put 100,000 troops into those -- each of those countries.
ROMANS: Bret, what is success --
STEPHENS: Success is a reasonably stable Afghanistan which can defend itself, which doesn't pose a threat to its neighbors, which doesn't threaten to destabilize countries like Pakistan and doesn't threaten us as a haven once again for groups like al Qaeda, which is precisely what happened in the 1990s when we weren't looking, when once before we pulled up stakes in the region, when we felt we had accomplished the mission.
ROMANS: All right. Gentlemen, we have to leave it there. Clearly a division of opinion but a spirited conversation.
Bret Stephens, Representative Jason Chaffetz, thank you, gentlemen, for being with us on this important subject.
CHAFFETZ: Thank you.
ROMANS: Coming up, a pro-life pledge that's becoming a litmus test for Republican candidates. But first, E.D. Hill is here.
E.D., you're looking at the crisis in Greece with one of our favorites, Ben Stein, tonight.
E.D. HILL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right.
Well, any feeling of confidence there may be shattered by looking at the sea of protesters taking to the streets. And in today's global society, what happens in Greece doesn't stay there. I'll ask Ben what this means to 401(k)s and the pension plans of America -- Christine.
ROMANS: All right. Thanks, E.D. Looking forward to that.
And when we come back as well, a grassroots pro-life movement that's turning into a prairie fire. Stay with us.
ROMANS: Jon Huntsman showed off his conservative side today, kicking off his presidential campaign in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty just like Ronald Reagan did 30 years ago.
Some Republicans, though, aren't buying it. Within hours of the announcement, rival Rick Santorum launched an attack ad blasting Huntsman for failing to sign a pro-life pledge.
Just days ago, an anti-abortion group called the Susan B. Anthony List announced five Republican candidates have signed this pledge, with only three -- Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and Gary Johnson -- refusing.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the SBA List. She joins me now from Washington.
Welcome to the program.
Thank you. It's great to be with you.
ROMANS: Now I want to say that Romney, Cain and Huntsman, they're all now on the record as pro-life, strong pro-life candidates. And in fact the Huntsman campaign responded today saying look, "People who rely on pledges usually don't have a record. Fortunately, Governor Huntsman, a lifelong, no flip-flops pro-lifer has actually signed anti-abortion legislation into law. That's a signature that makes a difference."
He also goes on to say he's lived his life in this way. He's adopted two children, has seven children, has lived his life every day following a pro-life mantra. So isn't that enough for you?
MARJORIE DANNENFELSER, PRESIDENT, SUSAN B. ANTHONY LIST: Well, I think voters are really in no mood to hear trust me. They are in a mood of trusting, and then perhaps verifying. And being a governor is a very different responsibility than being a president.
We can't assume the past is prologue when one moves into the position of being the president of the United States. Symbolism and rhetoric and labels are great, but far more important are pledges to do things that actually act out and give teeth to what you believe in.
ROMANS: Now tell me what you are pledging them to do.
DANNENFELSER: Well, there are four aspects of this. One is to appoint judges who will not legislate from the bench but that are -- strictly adhere to the Constitution. The second is to appoint only pro-life Cabinet and executive appointments that are relevant to the abortion issue. The next is to -- is to answer the taxpayer demand to de-fund abortion that is now currently being paid for by the taxpayers. And the fourth is a piece of legislation that's been passed by five states so far that is really taking hold, and that is called Pain Capable Pro-Life legislation.
ROMANS: And that would limit abortions past, what, 21 weeks?
DANNENFELSER: Yes, about 20 weeks when science has shown that the unborn child feels pain.
ROMANS: And there's about five states that have signed on to that. But here's --
DANNENFELSER: That's right.
ROMANS: I guess here is my question then. I mean the attorney general, one of those what you say abortion relevant Cabinet level position, but doesn't the attorney general have to uphold the laws of the land, and if the law of the land is legal abortions, then what -- except for the very late stages, then what would the attorney general position, why -- what would you hope by getting an appointee in there who is pro-life?
DANNENFELSER: Yes. Yes, it's a good question because what anybody who is a pro-life president will do is advance pro-life legislation. Once that legislation is passed and signed into law, an attorney general, who is a -- who is a team member, job will be to defend that, once it has been enjoined, which almost all of it will surely be enjoined by pro-choice activists.
And it is attorney general's job also to vet judges. And there -- certainly abortion comes as a central subject of conversation in almost every federal judge and Supreme Court judge nomination process. So an attorney general is vital in pursuing the pro-life agenda that a president would have.
ROMANS: But isn't it central conversation in American living rooms when the top thing on the all the polls right now is the economy and jobs? Do you worry at all that among Republican candidates -- obviously one of them will be the one that you support -- that this is taking oxygen out of the debate where they can show maybe some of the other issues?
I mean do you worry that it marginalizes this as a wedge issue when so many people are focused on jobs and the economy?
DANNENFELSER: Actually not at all. I think what this does is put to rest to the extent that it needs to be where each of the Republican candidates and any candidate where they sit in terms of pro-life position. Once we know and the voters deserve to know what their position is, then it can be weaved into the context of all the other issues that America is talking about right now.
When there is problem is that when there is vagueness, when there is a lack of discernment or understanding.
ROMANS: So do you think --
DANNENFELSER: No one wants to get through the debate and have to define -- go through debates and look on the cutting room floor and try to discern where the candidates stand.
ROMANS: So Marjorie --
DANNENFELSER: They want to know upfront.
ROMANS: Is there vagueness for you about Jon Huntsman or Mitt Romney, or Herman Cain on their position on abortion?
DANNENFELSER: Well, we don't know what we don't know. What we want to know --
ROMANS: Well, they've come out very strongly -- they've come out very strongly pro-life, I mean, again and again and again.
DANNENFELSER: True. But in all -- in the case of all three, certainly without saying what they would do as president, which they haven't been yet.
DANNENFELSER: We definitely don't know. And certainly in the case of Governor Romney, who we agree with on all points of the pledge except one, we have not gotten a commitment from him yet that he would appoint pro-life attorney general, HHS, and NIH executive appointments. So that is key and that is the one appointment of disagreement in that situation.
ROMANS: All right, Marjorie Dannenfelser. Thank you so much for joining us. A really interesting subject. You've devoted your entire career to pushing this very important issue to use. So we'll continue -- we'll continue to watch. Thank you.
DANNENFELSER: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
ROMANS: All right. When we come back, who is Jon Huntsman? A Mormon? A moderate? And a man on a motorcycle? Stay with us.
ROMANS: Welcome back. I'm Christine Romans. Eliot Spitzer is on vacation.
As we've reported, another candidate has officially joined the crowded Republican field. But just who is Jon Huntsman? We know he was the ambassador to China and he was the governor of Utah. But is he a serious candidate for president of the United States? Some don't think so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": And the newest candidate, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is running. So we put together a segment for you folks tonight. It's called get to know Jon Huntsman. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's actually no reason to get to know Jon Huntsman. This has been "Get to Know Jon Huntsman."
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Others think he's such a threat to President Obama that the White House sent him to China to keep him out of the race.
Matt Bai, the chief political correspondent for the "New York Times" magazine, and in upcoming issue he has a fascinating profile of the latest presidential candidate.
Matt, thanks for joining us.
MATT BAI, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: Hi, Christine. Nice to be here. How are you?
ROMANS: Nice to see you. Well, look, it's just starting to get real interesting, isn't it? You know Jon Huntsman, he's been in China for the last couple of years, serving a Democratic president. He's missed a lot of the things that have energized his own party like the Tea Party movement and the birthers.
You know he's been away for two years. Does this help him or does this hurt him in the primaries?
BAI: You know, it's finally getting interesting. You know we waited so long for this to happen. So we're pleased about it.
You know in the piece that's -- it's online now and it's coming out Sunday, I compare him and I go to pains to say in a kind way to the old unfrozen caveman lawyer from "Saturday Night Live", you know, where he's been out of the country for two years, he's not really been I think closely -- able to closely monitor what's happening inside his own party.
And there are times where you watch him and think, you're like a Republican from another moment. Do you understand the fury in the grassroots? Do you understand what people have been saying about this president?
But I think, you know, Governor Huntsman is making a different bet. And I don't think it's so much about being necessarily a moderate, which I've heard people saying all day.
BAI: I think it's about being steadfast and constant. It's about the idea that Governor Pawlenty and Governor Romney were seen as your fairly moderate governors, particularly Governor Romney in Massachusetts. They're sort of roaring to the right wing of the Republican Party, trying to get the approval of activist base of the party.
And I think Huntsman is holding himself out as someone who's not going to shape shift just because the politics seemed expedient. He thinks there is a market for authenticity in the Republican field. And he may be right.
ROMANS: So authenticity and the economy. Two things you say he hasn't delivered on. But you know, what's his vision?
BAI: Well, that's an excellent question, Christine. And if you get him on, you should ask him.
ROMANS: I will.
BAI: I mean -- I heard the speech today and I found myself kind of wondering -- I was kind of confused about a couple of things. But you know I notice this in New Hampshire, too, where -- you know, there's all this talk about the tactics, the path to the nomination.
I've heard this phrase many, many times today and on the way overheard it on the radio. What's his path to the nomination? I think there's a lot of paths to the nomination. But the first thing I think you need to think about in terms of a presidential candidate is what's your argument? What do you actually want to say? Where does the country need to go?
I think Governor Huntsman had less time than the other candidates to think it through because of oddity of his campaign circumstances.
I don't think we are hearing what his indictment is of this administration, the direction of the country, what he would do, what he would say that's different from what other people are telling us.
I thought it was weird we didn't hear more on the speech today, by the way, about his record, which is a pretty good record to run on, one full term in Utah, and it was kind of buried in the speech and very short.
ROMANS: Because that record goes back to the other m word, not talking Mormon, I'm talking moderate. Does his record reflect he is a moderate and that doesn't play in the primaries?
You know, that you want to turn to get more moderate as you're in the general election, not a front when you're trying to appeal the debate.
BAI: You know, I don't think so, Christine. You can pick things out of his record to make that case. Civil unions being the obvious example. His support one time for cap and trade although others, you know, Governor Pawlenty also supported that and changed his mind.
But you're also talking and I don't want to make his case for him, but if you go back, there are tax cuts, there is a market base, health reform system that was put in place when he was there.
He did turn around the state's finances and build a surplus. All of those things are very relevant at the moment. He does not seem to be eager to go out there.
And really introduce himself in terms of his record, which would also have the effect of making his experience serving the Obama administration a little less relevant. And that confuses me. I don't really have an answer for this.
ROMANS: Probably the most important economic relationship in the world, United States and China, he was right there in the middle of it, knows what the administration's strategy and the importance of it, can either say it is not working or say that it is. Plus, he has a long business history so he is pro-business.
BAI: He is. I mean, on paper all of that is great. I mean, you know, one thing that interested me in talking about China in the moment is, you know, he compares himself to Reagan and of course, his backdrop today was very much like President Reagan's was when he announced his successful campaign.
And you know, he talks about the optimism of the future, but he also is very clear he thinks this country is in a downward period, that is less prosperous, less opportunity, that the country is in a funk.
He talks about that often. That's not, you know, Reagan who said I see no malaise in the country. I see no fault with the American people that's a considerably darker vision of where we are that I think reflects the realities of the moment.
ROMANS: It does reflect the realities of the moment, but don't you think it's interesting that the entire field so far isn't talking about hope and rising above it. But blaming either the Obama administration or reminding us that it is really terrible.
BAI: Well, all re-election campaigns are essentially referenda and that's particularly true when you have this economic moments. So I think you can certainly expect to hear a lot of talk about the conditions in the country.
And if they weren't talking about how difficult the conditions would be, people I think would say they were out of touch. But to the extent I think where the optimism comes in is you have to have a clear sense for people, beyond just lofty rhetoric and beyond, you know, talk about civility.
You have to have a clear sense for people where you're going to go, why it is different, the choice you're asking them to make, and why not everyone may agree with it, but why it is the way forward for the country.
I think Governor Huntsman has a good chance to get there. I mean, look, at this time in 2007, I don't think Barack Obama had a clear sense of what he was asking the country to do either. I was there watching, but he's not there yet.
ROMANS: Yes, we're all waiting to see how we're going to fix it. How do we fix it? What is exactly the plan? BAI: And I think Republican primary voters are waiting to hear the same thing. I really do.
ROMANS: Matt Bai, thank you so much. Thanks for your insight, an incredibly profile. Thanks, Matt.
BAI: Thanks. I appreciate that, Christine.
ROMANS: Up next, an exclusive CNN investigation uncovers modern day slavery, an in depth look at men, women and children who remain in chains that's when we come back.
ROMANS: It's simply a heart breaking reality for tens of millions of men, women and children. Victims of the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, it's human slavery.
Each day the young, poor, powerless, they suffer shocking cruelty of forced labor and prostitution. They are abducted, sold, beaten, even killed, often right under the noses of polite society. As part of the CNN's continuing freedom project, Becky Anderson reports in depth tonight.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you imagine a modern day slave, you may think of someone like Juliet. She says she was kidnapped from her home in Uganda and forced to join the Guerrilla extremist group, "The Lord's Resistance Army."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The rebels came to our home. They beat me (inaudible). I was put into sexual relationship with a man who was about my age. I was also taught to kill.
ANDERSON: She met me in London and relayed the painful details of life as a slave.
JULIET, FORMER CHILD SOLDIER: You are not supposed to cry, even for your own child die. You are not supposed to cry for your own child. Your child is not buried, just thrown in the bush like rubbish.
ANDERSON: But wherever there's slavery, it doesn't just happen in isolated instances. It is invisible tentacles may touch you in ways you may not even know.
According to researchers from Harvard University, up to 10 percent of shrimp is harvest by a modern day slave. Like these children in Bangladesh forced to work collecting shrimp, they are often paid than less than one tenth a cent for each prawn.
That's slavery. People around the world tuned in for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. Behind the scenes, sometimes children as young as seven help build the infrastructure, working in what many would describe as sub human conditions. When we asked for comment, the Delhi chief minister told CNN if the government had known then about these allegations, it would have acted against subcontractors using child labor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you see something that's about two and a half feet tall with two legs, you know that's child labor. When I say child, we literally mean child, four, five, six years old, with hammers and carting around gravel.
ANDERSON: That's slavery, too. In European red light districts, often in major cities and capitals, you find women being trafficked from countries like Moldova and Nigeria, forced to sell sex on the streets and in brothels.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want to beat me up, they raped me. They treat me like animal, you know. I was just, you know a thing.
ANDERSON: Slavery crosses borders, it affects every country. It destroys millions of lives. Becky Anderson, CNN, London.
ROMANS: This Sunday at 8:00 p.m., join CNN's freedom project and actress, Demi Moore for the world premier of "Nepal's Stolen Children."
It's a remarkable story of thousands of young girls sold for sex and the amazing woman who rescues them. CNN's 2010 Hero of the Year. We'll be right back.
ROMANS: Three months after the worst nuclear disaster in history there. A daunting news from Japan. Officials still are trying to cool three melted nuclear course with sea water, releasing radioactive steam into the atmosphere and creating vast liquid pools of toxic waste.
The situation remains incredibly dangerous. I spoke with Michio Kaku about this ongoing crisis a short time ago. He's a professor of Physics at City University in New York and author of "Physics of the Future."
ROMANS: Thanks for joining us. Do they have control of the situation at the site?
MICHIO KAKU, AUTHOR, "PHYSICS OF THE FUTURE": No, it is still a ticking time bomb. Realize that after the big Sumatra tsunami, 90 days, three months after that, there was a huge aftershock. If they have another aftershock and they are not in cold shut down until next year, the accident could start all over again. It is like hanging by your fingernails. Yes, it is stable, but you're hanging by your fingernails.
ROMANS: Americans think the crisis is over or some may think it is solved or contained. It is not. What's happening right now?
KAKU: In the last two weeks, everything we knew about that accident has been turned upside down. We were told three partial melt downs, don't worry about it.
Now we know it was 100 percent core melt in all three reactors. Radiation minimal that was released. Now we know it was comparable to radiation at Chernobyl.
And as far as evacuation, yes, 12 miles, that's it. They've done 12 miles. Now they find hot spots, four hot spots outside the evacuation zone, 34,000 school children now have radiation badges when they go to school.
ROMANS: Kindergartners with radiation badges.
KAKU: -- down to 4 years of age, can you imagine that, kindergarten kids with radiation badges going to school. So all the methodology of the accident has been turned upside down because the utility has finally fessed to how severe this accident really was.
ROMANS: In your view, did they not know how bad it was or they knew and didn't tell or they just were completely blown away by the scope of the disaster.
KAKU: I am a physicist. We try to reconstruct the accident in our computers, given the feeble amount of information they gave us. We knew it was much more severe than they were saying, because radiation was coming out left and right.
So in other words, they lied to us. They knew how much radiation was coming out. They knew the danger. They knew how much core melting was taking place, but they tried to put a happy face on it.
ROMANS: As a reporter within hours of the earthquake and tsunami within hours not even a day, there were already statements from the company and International Atomic Energy Association saying there had been safe shut down of all reactors.
We know, of course, in the end that simply wasn't true, but from the very beginning they were trying to tell us that this was a safe situation.
KAKU: Within hours of the accident, we know it was like the Keystone cops. People that are clueless, headless, just running around crazy not knowing what to do, we can now reconstruct that accident minute by minute, hour by hour, and we could see the chaos that erupted in leadership of the utility.
ROMANS: What's happening to the people working there now?
KAKU: As you know, workers are being sent in and getting, you know, like a year's dose of radiation just within in like 10 minutes at a time. At Chernobyl, 600,000 workers had to be mobilized, each going in a few minutes, each one getting a medal from Gorbachev.
ROMANS: This will be the 100-year clean up. How long will it take to clean this up in your view?
KAKU: Fifty to 100 years.
ROMANS: And we're not there yet. We're not to the point of talking about the clean up yet, because they haven't stopped the reaction.
KAKU: Clean up hasn't even started yet. They're not in cold shut down until next year. Cold shutdown is when boiling stops. It is boiling water right there at the reactor, releasing radiation into the environment and releasing radiation into gigantic vast..
ROMANS: how are they storing and disposing of the stuff?
KAKU: That's the killer because you have all these vats that are filling up now. They may have to dumb into the ocean again.
At that point, the Chinese, the Koreans, the fishermen, they get up in all arms because there's so much damage. Every time you put water in, it leaks right out again, highly radioactive, and it is filling at the site now.
ROMANS: So what do they do with it?
KAKU: Right now, they're just counting the number of gallons as they pile up. That's really trying to bring more vats in, but once they saturate. They're going to have to dump and at that point, it's another crisis.
ROMANS: Let's talk about the radiation in the environment and in the atmosphere. We've been told that it would be measurable, but minuscule amounts on the U.S. west coast, around the world. Is that true?
KAKU: It's still minimal around the world. Most of the damage is concentrated within 20 miles, 50 miles of the reactor accident site. That's where we have the hot spots.
That's where we have 20 times normal amount of radiation in school yards, outside the evacuation zone. But in New York City, you can actually see it in the milk. You can actually see it has iodine, 131, actually spiked a little bit in our milk in New York City, but it is very small.
ROMANS: Just even hearing that, though, even hearing that you can detect it, that there's a catastrophe, worst industrial catastrophe in history, we can see it in milk in New York, that's frightening.
KAKU: That's right. This could be the granddaddy of all industrial accidents, topping Chernobyl at 200 billion, topping the Gulf oil spill at about 15 billion, topping the Challenger, Columbia disasters in space at about 10 billion. This could be the world's record holder for an industrial accident.
ROMANS: How many - 100 years to clean-up the site, I mean, when you're look at this much radiation, three exposed cores, this much environmental damage, I mean, that must be staggering for that part of the country.
KAKU: It is unimaginable. Realize Chernobyl was one core's worth radiation causing a $200 billion accident and it is still on- going. Here we have 20 cores worth of radiation. Three totally melted, one damaged and the resin spent fuel pumps, 20 cores worth of highly radioactive materials.
ROMANS: And it is impossible at this point to imagine the long term health effects for the people in that area.
KAKU: At Chernobyl, even taking very, very conservative estimates, we were talking about perhaps 10,000, leukemia, thyroid cancer cases because of Chernobyl, this could be comparable.
ROMANS: All right, Michio Kaku, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it. Certainly a frightening story unfolding there.
When we come back, Greece on the brink of financial collapse. E.D. Hill and Ben Stein will explain why the entire world is watching.
E.D HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Important news in Europe tonight that will impact the global economy. The Greek prime minister survived a crucial no confidence vote that will keep the government in power.
But a measure to slash benefits needed to prevent Greece from defaulting still has to pass. So why should we care here in America?
Here to explain, everyone's favorite economics teacher, Ben Stein, the author of "The Little Book of Bulletproof Investing Do's and Don'ts to Protect your Financial Life."
Ben, thanks for being with us.
BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST: Honor to be here.
HILL: So make it real simple. Why should we here in America care what happens in Greece?
STEIN: One, we as municipality and individuals in pension funds own a certain amount of Greek debt in money market funds, a very, very small amount, but a little.
Second, if they default, it is likely or possible other countries with weak financial situations such as Portugal, Spain, or Italy might conceivably default.
Third, somewhere down the road, we're going to default if we don't do something about our fiscal situation. The real problem, there's nothing really between them and us except a certain amount of magnitude.
We also have spent ourselves into a very, very bad situation, so what will happen if we don't control ourselves.
HILL: We are looking at the video right now of the protests. It has been made very clear to the Greek citizens by the European Union and by the IMF that they have been spending way more than their government takes in.
Where exactly was that all spent and what lessons should we be learning here in the states from that?
STEIN: They were spending it on mostly the same things we're spending it on, social welfare programs, maintenance of living standards for not well off people, maintenance of living standards for retired people, and socialized medicine.
The difference is they have a small military and we have large expenditures for the military, but they were doing exactly what we're doing, only on a larger scale, and for a longer period of time.
And they do not have the ability to print money like the Federal Reserve can print money for us. The scary thing is how similar our situations are, not how different they are.
HILL: As our TV monitor says, so goes Greece, so goes Europe. And to the extent, that's true.
STEIN: That's a little --
HILL: Greece is small, but you look at the impact it would have on Germany, the impact, look at the French banks, there was threat of downgrading them. We have already seen downgrades of the U.S. system.
So this default does seem to have a domino effect, whether just a confidence level instead of basic fundamentals, it does seem to impact everyone.
STEIN: It has an impact on everyone. Germany is an enormously strong economy. It is not going to hurt Germany very much.
HILL: Let me stop you there, though, because the German citizens in my opinion, I look at what's happening there, they seem to be ticked. They have a pretty good social network there.
However, they had to take cuts. Right now, they are being faced with the choice of taking their money, even though they've had cuts, and paying for the Greeks to continue, and that doesn't seem to sit well with them.
STEIN: No, it doesn't sit well with them at all, but even so, they are terribly strong economy. They will have to make cuts to themselves just as part of their own lives, but nothing like cuts that the Greeks have to face.
But as I say if I may respectfully say this again, France and Germany are very strong economies, they will survive. Our economy will survive, but there's going to be a cost. All of this social spending of money we don't have. We're seeing far away in the land of the Acropolis and Parthenon the effect it has there. It is not going to be that different here.
How long will it be until there's rioting in the United States because of austerity measures. It's not going to be terribly long unless we do something fairly drastic.
HILL: Sometimes I think there's good that can come out of the negative. Here in the United States, one of the positive things I have seen is that personal savings rates have increased.
People feel very insecure and they're worried about that so we are starting finally to try to save money. The Germans have been doing that, but there seems to be a disconnect that in Washington.
We're telling them we don't like the deficit. We want you to get rid of that. But at the same time, there are a lot of people that argue we need that spending so that we don't default. We have that hint of default, that hint could hurt us.
STEIN: We are in a box of our own making. We want people to save, but we also want more consumer spend to go lift us out of recession, want to give a safety net to old people, unemployed people, but to do so it means running up the deficit even more.
We are in a box and it's not going to be easy to get out of this box. One solution that seems so incredibly obvious to me, raise taxes on extreme upper income people, I don't mean 250,000 a year, more like 2.5 million a year.
That seems so obvious to me and yet it seems to be ruled out as an ideological matter. I don't see any better solution than that to making at least a substantial start on our social and budgetary problems.
HILL: And how long do you think we have before we start to feel the impact if we don't take any action?
STEIN: I would say some day quite soon one of the big rating agencies is going to downgrade U.S. sovereign debt, and that combined with Federal Reserve no longer buying human amounts of government debt will cause arise in the interest rate, and inflation will be starting. For those of us that are out and about, it's already started.
HILL: Ben Stein, thank you very much for being here.
STEIN: Thank you.
HILL: On behalf of Christine Romans and the vacationing Eliot Spitzer, good night from New York. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.