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U.S. Policymakers See Potential Shift in Afghanistan

Gwen Ifill speaks with policymakers about the American response to President Karzai's victory this week.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And now Gwen Ifill examines the American response to the Karzai victory.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    President Obama said he would not decide whether to send more troops to Afghanistan until the election was over. Now that it is, will a Karzai presidency make that task easier or more difficult?

    For that, we turn to Congressman James McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat who's called for the U.S. to ramp down its military presence in Afghanistan, and James Dobbins, career diplomat who was a top — the top U.S. official at the international conference that installed Karzai as president in 2002.

    He thinks the U.S. military presence should be increased.

    Welcome to you, both.

  • REP. JIM MCGOVERN, D-Mass.:

    Thank you.

    Congressman McGovern, what is your initial reaction to the reinstatement, I guess we can call it, of President Karzai?

  • REP. JIM MCGOVERN:

    Well, President Karzai won by default.

    You know, this — this whole election process was deeply flawed. We're told by Peter Galbraith that at least 30 percent of Karzai's vote was fraudulent.

    And, you know, this is the guy that we're going to rally behind? I mean, do we really think that there can be a happy ending with this man, who has been there now for almost eight years? And corruption is not something new. Corruption has been a problem for all the time he's been there.

    And, in the New York Times dispatch that just came out, he was asked if dealing with corruption might involve changing important ministers and officials, because as — you know that some of the people he's appointed are of questionable character, his response was, these problems cannot be solved by changing high-ranking officials. We will review the laws and see what problems there are in the laws.

    I don't believe he's serious about changing the character of his government. And — and I, quite, frankly am very, very concerned about the future of our policy.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    James Dobbins, you — not only Mr. McGovern, but also at least 50 of his colleagues agree with him in the House, that this is — this is something the U.S. should be pulling itself out of.

    What do you think, in the wake of the election results?