LKL: "It's going to take a couple of miracles, a sprinkle of magic, and a good dose of some good luck."
Larry King was on live after AC360 and spoke to Michael, Peter Bergen, and Nic Robertson.
Michael again emphasizes that whether another 30,000 troops will help depends completely on where they are are posted on what their orders will be.
(I thought Nic's insight about the medical issues was very interesting -- we will have more fatalities because of the differences in terrain from Iraq, the lack of the ability to get wounded troops medivac'd to a hospital within the 'golden hour' after the injuries are sustained, which is a reason so many more wounded in Iraq have been saved.)
LARRY KING: First we thank them all for staying up late with us. In New York, Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, best-selling author. His books include "The Osama bin Laden I know" and "Holy War, Inc." Michael Ware, CNN's international correspondent, and Nic Robertson, CNN's senior international correspondent.
All right, Peter, give me your mini-analysis of the speech tonight.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, I think it did what it was supposed to. I thought it was a good speech in content. There's been a lot of focus on the pullout in 2011.
But there was a huge caveat in the speech, which is the withdrawal is going to be conditions-based, the transfer of authority to Afghan police and army will be conditions-based. Right now only one of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan is actually under the complete control of the Afghan military and police. That number could be two by 2011, it could be ten. Who knows?
So I think the idea that the United States is going to start withdrawing in significant number in 2011, actually it wasn't in the speech, even though some people have fastened on that as a fact. I think that there was a big conditionality that was in the speech.
KING: Michael Ware, is it going to make a big difference?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, depends how they are used, Larry. Put it this way. As it stands right now, the Taliban war machine hasn't even been dented. Their ability to recruit, to supply, to plan, to command, to execute operations remains untouched.
The U.S. military barely has enough troops to nibble away at them. Even the massive offensive currently under way in Helmand province is just one small bite of a very big apple.
And even these extra troops, which will bring the American presence to roughly 100,000, that's not enough to defeat the Taliban. You have no hope of beating them on their home soil.
So what you want to do is put enough pressure on them to bring about a political solution. And to do that, you're also going to need Afghan allies in the government and in the villages, the tribes, and among the warlords.
I thought the speech was a bit hollow, to be honest.
KING: All right, Nic Robertson, 36,000-plus injured and/or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since all of this started. Is it going to get worse before it gets better?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If you put more troops into Afghanistan, which is exactly what's happening, then more are going to get injured and killed.
One of the saving graces, if you will, in Iraq was there was this golden hour whereby any troops that were injured, you could get them to a proper medical facility within an hour. And that meant most people who were brought in there alive could be saved.
In Afghanistan it's an entirely different dynamic. The medical facilities that the troops had in Iraq aren't there in the same number and same distribution. It takes longer to get people from some of these remote mountainous places when they're injured to some of the major medical facilities. That's going to be a challenge.
Perhaps -- we've heard talk of this sort of pullback to around major population centers. That will keep the majority of troops perhaps closer to some of those medical facilities.
But it's not going to look like Iraq. There are going to be people who would have been injured in Iraq and survived, they will be injured in Afghanistan and they won't survive.
KING: Peter, are you more optimistic based on tonight?
BERGEN: Yeah. I mean, I think this is long overdue. Afghanistan was the least-resourced post-World War II nation-building operation, if you want to call it that. In Bosnia, the United States spent 12 times more per capita, in Kosovo I think it was 18 times more per capita than what was spent in Afghanistan in the early period.
The Bush administration had an ideological aversion to nation-building. You get what you pay for. The whole thing was done on the cheap. And since then, the Taliban have come back. This time they have morphed ideologically and tactically with Al Qaeda, and as Michael points out, they are quite an effective fighting force.
So this is long overdue. We've tried several approaches with Afghanistan. And after the Soviets withdrew, we basically paid no attention to it. The Taliban came in, Al Qaeda with them.
In the post-2001 period we did it on the cheap, and the Taliban came back, and, again, morphed together ideologically and tactically with Al Qaeda.
Now we're doing something somewhat serious. It has a fighting chance of success.
KING: Michael, are you pessimistic?
WARE: Well, no, I'm not. I mean, do I see hope. But I mean, honestly, Larry, it's going to take a couple of miracles, a sprinkle of magic, and a good dose of some good luck.
I mean, ultimately, pardon the expression, I'm waiting to see the whites of President Obama's eyes. This war can be won -- not that it can be won, but this war can still be a success if he's prepared to do what has to be done.
Now, tonight, he took one step in that direction, promising another 30,000 troops. But in his speech tonight, apart from that promise of the additional troops, you can throw the rest of the speech away. We've heard it all before.
Let's wait and see if he can follow through on the myriad of other things that he has to do, the building blocks that go into place.
This war, American troops are bleeding and dying because Pakistan tacitly supports the Taliban. Why? Because their rival, India, supports the Afghan government. You have Saudi Arabia in there playing the game, as they have been since the Soviet era. You have Iran protecting its national interest. China is spending billions in aid and reconstruction.
There are so many hands at play. So 30,000 troops and a finely worded speech are far to convince me. But do I give up the ghost? No, Larry, not yet. But I need to be persuaded.