Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) sits down for a conversation about his recent trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan with attendees of the Monitor Breakfast.
Senator Levin says U.S. forces are currently in the process of transitioning lead security responsibilities to Afghan forces. He also emphasizes the importance of adhering to President Barack Obama's July 2011 timeline for withdrawing troops. The date, he says, has given the Afghan leaders a sense of urgency to take the war into their own hands.
David Cook is Senior Editor and Washington bureau chief of The Christian Science Monitor. He oversees the Monitor's 9-person bureau in the nation's capital, hosts the Monitor's newsmaker breakfasts, and writes for csmonitor.com.
For over 40 years, Monitor breakfasts have brought journalists together with key public officials to talk about the issues of the day in a candid, in-depth fashion. Since their start in 1966, four US presidents, five vice presidents, and countless cabinet and congressional officials have been guests at the 3,600 breakfasts the Monitor has hosted.
When Monitor correspondent Jill Carroll was held captive in Iraq for 82 days in 2006, Cook served as the Monitor's spokesperson and appeared on numerous national broadcasts including "Today," "Nightline," "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer," and "ABC World News Tonight."
From August 1994 through July 2001, Cook served as editor of The Christian Science Monitor. During his term, the Monitor's print edition was redesigned, csmonitor.com was launched, and the paper won numerous awards including the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.
Previously Cook was editor of Monitor Broadcasting which produced daily radio news programs heard on 200 public radio stations. He also served as managing editor of the Monitor's Emmy award-winning nightly television news program "World Monitor."
His current assignment is Cook's third tour in Washington. During two previous postings in the nation's capital he covered economic policy. He also has been a Detroit-based correspondent for Business Week.
Cook was awarded a Bagehot Fellowship in Business and Economic Journalism by Columbia University. He is a graduate of Principia College, attended the Advanced Management Program at Michigan State University, and served in the U.S. Army. He is a member of the Gridiron Club, Washington's oldest journalistic organization, and the father of three grown sons.
Carl Milton Levin (born June 28, 1934) is a Democratic United States Senator from Michigan and is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. He has been in the Senate since 1979 and Michigan's senior senator since 1995. He is the longest-serving US Senator ever to represent Michigan.
Levin attended Detroit public schools and graduated from Swarthmore College in 1956 and from Harvard Law School in 1959. Soon after earning his law degree, he was admitted to the Michigan bar and opened a practice in Detroit, where he still lives. He received honorary degrees from Michigan State University in 2004 and Wayne State University in 2005.
He was state assistant attorney general and general counsel for the Michigan civil rights commission from 1964-67. He was special assistant attorney general for the State of Michigan and chief appellate defender for the city of Detroit from 1968-69. He was a member of the Detroit City Council 1969-77, the last four years as council president.
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) weighs in on a recent survey distributed by the Pentagon to 400,000 active and reserve U.S. service members about the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Levin says he believes it's "a very good idea" to survey the attitude of the troops, as long as the results are not made public. "It can be overdone," he cautions, "it's surely overdone with politicians."
Country, south-central Asia. Area: 249,347 sq mi (645,807 sq km). Population (2009 est.): 28,150,000. Capital: Kabul. About two-fifths of the people belong to the Pashtun ethnic group; other ethnic groups include Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazara. Languages: Pashto, Persian (both official). Religions: Islam (official; predominantly Sunni); also Zoroastrianism. Currency: afghani. Afghanistan has three distinctive regions: the northern plains are the major agricultural area; the southwestern plateau consists primarily of desert and semiarid landscape; and the central highlands, including the Hindu Kush, separate these regions. Afghanistan has a developing economy based largely on agriculture; its significant mineral resources remain largely untapped because of the Afghan War of the 1980s and subsequent fighting. Traditional handicrafts remain important; woolen carpets are a major export. Afghanistan is an Islamic republic with two legislative bodies; the president is head of both state and government. The area was part of the Persian Achaemenian Empire in the 6th century BCE and was conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE. Hindu influence entered with the Hephthalites and Sasanians. Islam became entrenched during the rule of the Saffarids, c. 870 CE. Afghanistan was divided between the Mughal Empire of India and the Safavid empire of Persia until the 18th century, when other Persians under Nadir Shah took control. Britain fought several wars in the area in the 19th century. From the 1930s the country had a stable monarchy, which was overthrown in the 1970s. Marxist reforms sparked rebellion, and Soviet troops invaded. Afghan guerrillas prevailed, and the Soviets withdrew in 1989. In 1992 rebel factions overthrew the government and established an Islamic republic. In 1996 the Taliban militia took power in Kabul and enforced a harsh Islamic order. The militia's unwillingness to extradite extremist leader Osama bin Laden and members of his al-Qaeda militant organization following the September 11 attacks in 2001 led to military conflict with the U.S. and allied nations, the overthrow of the Taliban, and the establishment of an interim government.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.Country, southern Asia. Area: 340,499 sq mi (881,889 sq km). Population (2009 est.): 174,579,000. Capital: Islamabad. The population is a complex mix of indigenous peoples who have been affected by successive waves of migrations of Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Pashtuns, Mughals, and Arabs. Languages: Urdu (national), English, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Balochi. Religions: Islam (official; predominantly Sunni); also Christianity, Hinduism. Currency: Pakistani rupee. Pakistan may be divided into four regions: the northern mountains, the Balochistan Plateau, the Indus Plain, and the desert areas. The Himalayan and Trans-Himalayan ranges form the great mountain areas of the northernmost part of the country; some of the highest peaks are K2 and Nanga Parbat. The country has a developing mixed economy based largely on agriculture, light industries, and services. Remittances from Pakistanis working abroad are a major source of foreign exchange. Pakistan is a federal republic with two legislative houses; its head of state is the president, and its head of government is the prime minister. The area has been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BCE. From the 3rd century BCE to the 2nd century CE, it was part of the Mauryan and Kushan kingdoms. The first Muslim conquests were in the 8th century CE. The British East India Co. subdued the reigning Mughal dynasty in 1757. During the period of British colonial rule, what is now (Muslim) Pakistan was part of (Hindu) India. The new state of Pakistan came into existence in 1947 by act of the British Parliament. The Kashmir region remained a disputed territory between Pakistan and India, with tensions resulting in military clashes and full-scale war in 1965. Civil war between East and West Pakistan in 1971 resulted in independence for Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) in 1972. Many Afghan refugees migrated to Pakistan during the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s and remained there during the Taliban and post-Taliban periods. Pakistan elected Benazir Bhutto, the first woman to head a modern Islamic state, in 1988. She and her party were ousted in 1990, but she returned to power in 199397. Conditions became volatile during that period. Border flare-ups with India continued, and Pakistan conducted tests of nuclear weapons. Political conditions worsened, and the army carried out a coup in 1999.