February 19th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

GPS web extra: Dempsey skeptical about Taliban talks

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.

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Topics: Afghanistan • Diplomacy • GPS Show • Taliban • United States

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Dempsey is right about the difficulties to negotiate with the Taliban: "I think there's no one Taliban. You know, there's big T and little T".
    There's a frog-analogy that describes such efforts. A bazaar merchant tries to balance the weight of frogs on opposite trays of a produce scale. The merchant loads frogs on one tray. But as he begins to load the second tray, some of the frogs on the first one jump off. And as he reloads them, frogs on the second tray leap to the ground. Eventually, even the most determined merchant will have to give up.

    February 21, 2012 at 4:31 am | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    In the old days the Brits sent their prisoners or foes to Australia or elsewhere. Unfortunately there are no unclaimed and remote lands for discarded people nowadays. The Guantanamo detainees will be happier anywhere else.

    February 21, 2012 at 4:45 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      Quite true, j. von hettlingen. Gitmo needs to be closed once and for all. Moreover, Vice President Joseph Biden had the very nerve to criticize the Chinese the other day on human rights but he seems to have forgotten about the tortures that go on day after day at Gitmo by our military!!!

      February 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  3. rightospeak

    Gen. Dempsey beats around the bush about a simple problem.He , like many before him in VietNam kept us in useless, stupid wars because they lacked the courage to tell the truth. Dempsey needs to tell Obama : " I am tired of having my fine men killed , depleting our treasury and paying the Communist Chinese interest on borrowed money while you nation build and our country is threatened from within with bankrupcy. Let us get all our troops home ,like Ron Paul says, and start addressing the problem of open borders which is a threat to our National Security." The honest general that spoke the truth in Afganistan not long ago ,got repremanded instead of getting a medal for doing his job well. Gen. Dempsey needs to learn from that general and start being a general and a patriot instead of being a political wimp.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply
  4. Mohammad A Dar

    Dump hindu, criminal Dempsey for his drummed up hinduism, criminality against humanity. He deserve nothing better than to be in dump of hinduism, trash for his hinduism criminality along with his hindu criminal santatan ism, goon ism.

    February 22, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • Sid

      Are you high?

      February 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  5. Bill O'Reilly

    I have a big poop in my pants. Anyone have some TP?

    February 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  6. Dennis Rydgren

    Interesting. The Taliban reconciliation do sound a bit like plan-c at this time. A winning "reconciliation" is only as good as your grip on the opponent, and everyone knows the US wants out. But leaving might weaken the Taliban(s) by taking away their common enemy. Let's hope and think of the Taliban when we deal with the Muslim brotherhood around the mediterranean. . A possible friend if we respect their choices when voted into governments.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  7. zrasul

    Reblogged this on opinionscan and commented:
    If you are skeptical about talks, the only other option is a military response. Is that feasible at a time when US is scaling down in Afghanistan and is in a war of attrition with Pakistan?

    February 24, 2012 at 8:21 am | Reply
  8. Miro

    It is not McCain's values that are the issue.It is the leiradshep skills, and that is what is so needed right now.Remember the Republican advertisement, that kept quoting the parts of the Debate where Obama agreed with McCain?I don't think Obama is that Marxist, nor do I think that everything Marxist is bad. There is this tendency to lump the whole package into one bucket and label it as bad, because some elements of it are bad.IF given the choice between a government that redistributes wealth up, versus one that redistributes down, I prefer down (I am more likely to end up there).But really I prefer that each just pays their fair share in the cost of running the government, corporations are allowed to profit per their value added but NOT allowed to manipulate to avoid paying the true cost of the infrastructure that helps them profit, or the externalities they inflict on others. Obama is fine with lowering corporate tax rates as long as the loop holes are cut out.Think about that.What does that really say.He seemed to get less and less Marxist as the campaign progressed, and as he continued to study the actions and results of leaders he admired. He seems to have an insight and ability to see what is going on.But it doesn't matter how much he learns, and how well he applies the leanings. You will never see the good, only the bad.We have corporations that pay NO tax, and still profit, and pay multi millions of dollars to top executives, due to tax breaks (loop holes).Obama is seeing the web of favors, lobbiests, and corruption that has enacted laws to favor the interests of large corporations over that of small businesses and individuals.It is a mess.It needs to be cleaned up.It is this very mess that puts our country at risk of Socialism.To save Capitalism we need to clean it up, and regulate it, so that the holes (the profit without value added) are closed as much as reasonable.Explain why the same group that was mostly in favor of the Financial bail out; is not in favor of the auto industry bail out?Personally I am not in favor of either bail out.But what does the split tell me.Who does each bail out serve?Who is looking out for who?While I didn't vote for Obama, if I were voting today, I think I would.Unity matters.Leadership matters.A slight left lean is not going to destroy this country to the same degree that corruption will.I am glad that the Dems did not get 60 Senate seats.

    April 23, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Reply

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