Transcript: Interview With James Jones

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Below is the full text of Steve Inskeep's conversation with National Security Adviser James Jones about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

Steve Inskeep: There was a Dutch general who was quoted the other day in Afghanistan saying, "We've had the concept for a while. We're finally resourcing the concept." Is that a fair way for me to think of this strategy?

Gen. James Jones: That's exactly the right way to do it. Yes, that's what we're doing now.

Obviously the last administration was talking about strengthening the government of Afghanistan and strengthening the government of Pakistan, which will make people wonder what's really different here.

The main difference in the strategic approach is that in order to deal with Afghanistan, you also have to deal with Pakistan. You have to deal with things as a region. The Pakistan side of the coin is the one that's least developed because it's the most recent. In Afghanistan, you think of the presence of the U.N., of NATO, of the EU, of the World Bank, of the IMF. And so you ask yourself, why is there a sense that we're backsliding in Afghanistan? And part of it is that we just haven't been able to coordinate all three legs of that stool that I was referring to. And this is a different approach. It's the one that people have been asking for. It's the one that makes sense. And it's the one that we're going to have to do well if we're going to be successful.

When you focus on the situation in Pakistan, what's within your control to influence or change, and what's out of your control?

Well, what's in our control to influence and change is our diplomacy. Obviously a sovereign nation is going to have the right of refusal. But we've already reached some accord with the Pakistani military that they would appreciate some benefit of some training. It's extremely important, for us to be successful, that we remove that safe haven of operation that insurgents have been able to navigate in, and I'm quite sure that with our plan right now, that we'll get there.

The British defense minister said in January that NATO has to step up more — that if the United States is an insurance policy for Europe, that NATO countries can't forego paying the premiums. I'm paraphrasing here, but that was the analogy that he used. Is that really the situation, that Europe needs to step up and do more?

Well, I think all allies need to do what they can. France has already announced that they're going to do more things. Germany's excited about it; Italy's excited about it. A lot of the major players in the alliance have already signaled their enthusiasm. And frankly, including the softer power of things, we're doing exactly what people have criticized us for not doing in the past. So, we'll see how far we go.

What can Iran add to that mix?

Well, Iran is a regional power, and it has great concerns about their borders being used for drug-running. I think we can have regional economic conferences that could probably do more to stimulate trade, part of a kind of a broader approach to stabilization that we hope to bring to the issue.

I'm trying to understand that a little better. I mean, if you go to a particular European country, you could ask them for troops. They might or might not agree. You could ask them for any number of civilian kinds of assistance. What's something specific you could ask Iran for?

Well, we're not planning on asking Iran for anything. We're certainly not thinking about troops from Iran or anything like that.

Of course not, of course not. But I'm trying to get a sense of a concrete way that they could be helpful.

I think this is very embryonic, and we'll just have to wait and see what's possible.

Do you need Iran's help to solve the problem of Afghanistan?

We need regional stability, and to the extent that all countries can participate in stability in the form of economic stability, political stability, that's helpful. We'll just have to wait and see exactly what they decide to do or not do. I want to be very clear that we're not asking Iran to do anything in particular in Afghanistan except not to make trouble.

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