On GPS this week, Fareed had an exclusive interview with the top-ranking military officer in the U.S., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey. Here's an additional, web-only excerpt with Dempsey's thoughts on the Taliban and closing Guantanamo Bay:
Fareed Zakaria: You said in Congressional testimony this week that you had some doubts about the reconciliation process in Afghanistan with the Taliban. Elaborate on that. Why do you have doubts at it? Everyone says we should be trying to get some kind of political deal with the Taliban so that we can stabilize the country and draw down forces.
Martin Dempsey: Well, I concede and am supportive of the effort because I concede that most every conflict that anyone has ever been involved with ends with some kind of political settlement.
I think there's no one Taliban. You know, there's big T and little T.
So to the extent that we can separate...the reconcilable aspects of the Taliban, with those who are irreconcilable, I think it's effort well taken.
If I'm worried about the immediate idea, it's because we might be addressing the ideological side of the Taliban before we get to those that might be a little bit less ideological. It's just not clear to me.
So it's not that I'm reluctant to try this. But it's pretty hard to be optimistic about it.
Fareed Zakaria: So it's a kind of practical concern that we might be talking to the wrong people?
Martin Dempsey: Well, that's my concern. And, you know, in support of the Secretary of Defense, who, by law, has to certify that this first tranche or whatever we end up agreeing to release, that they won't be recidivist, to the extent that he has to certify that they won't return to the fight, I think he shares my concerns.
Fareed Zakaria: So now this is about the proposal that five prisoners from Guantanamo be released in a good faith effort...
Martin Dempsey: That's right.
Fareed Zakaria: Right. And I understand your concern is that these people will go right back and start doing terrorism? Let's use that as a way of talking about Guantanamo...
Martin Dempsey: OK.
Fareed Zakaria: This is a place the president promised he was going to close. In fact, even President Bush talked about how he wished he'd be able to close it. But this has been the concern, has it not, which is that if you release these prisoners and you don't have some way of handling them - some other country that is willing to take them - they'll go back and start engaging in terrorist activities. Why is that a problem that isn't soluble? Why is it that, three years in, it hasn't been possible to close Guantanamo?
Martin Dempsey: Well, we haven't found a community of nations eager to have this particular population. And so from our perspective as the military, we don't necessarily care where we hold people in detention, just that we have to have the capability to do that.
And I don't think that the current policy of including all possibilities, meaning domestically and internationally, is the right policy - as many tools in the toolbox as we can place.
But to your point about why is it so hard to close Guantanamo, I mean this is the same fears playing out that have played out about what to do with this population of radicalized individuals.
Fareed Zakaria: And it doesn't feel like much progress has been made in terms of either finding homes for them, finding a process by which they can be moved out of this kind of legally ambiguous status of being at Guantanamo.
Martin Dempsey: I mean I share your feeling that there doesn't feel like we've made much progress. I don't think that's from lack of effort. I think it's just, there are problems that we confront that are harder than others. And this may be as hard as it gets.
Fareed Zakaria: So you don't foresee any near-term solution to the Guantanamo problem?
Martin Dempsey: I wouldn't say it that starkly. I mean I...I guess I would, if you said near-term. I think this will take time to resolve.