Program Note: Tune in to hear more from Christiane Amanpour on the challenges facing President Obama tonight on an AC360° special, "Extreme Challenges: The Next 100 days," at 10 p.m. ET.
CNN Chief International Correspondent
President Obama’s biggest challenge will be Afghanistan and Pakistan. He wants to beat back the militants, but all the U.S. commanders and officers I have talked to say that cannot be done by bombs and bullets alone. It must happen in tandem with development and promise of a decent life for ordinary Afghans. The most recent Gallup poll from Afghanistan shows people put their economic woes above all others, including security.
The new U.S. commander in Afghanistan must find a way to battle militants without causing the massive civilian casualties that are dangerously draining support for the U.S. mission and the U.S.-backed Afghan government. The latest poll shows only 1 percent support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. The U.S. needs to take advantage of that low figure and win hearts and minds.
Across the border, one possible positive side-effect of Pakistan’s offensive against the Taliban and other militant groups, is that it keeps them from pouring over into Afghanistan.
Program Note: Tune in to hear more from Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the challenges facing President Obama tonight on an AC360° special, “Extreme Challenges: The Next 100 days,” at 10 p.m. ET.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
Tonight, we are talking about a topic that I have been thinking about for nearly two decades. Health reform. In the early 90’s, as a medical student, I attended grand rounds where the topic might be spine fusion, but the side discussions were on federal entitlements. Over the years, I learned the perfect technique of removing a brain tumor and clipping an aneurysm, and spent my odd hour reading and writing about our health care system and its ability to provide very good health care to many, but certainly to the exclusion of some. When I worked at the White House in the Clinton administration as a Fellow, I saw firsthand how massive health reform might happen. It didn’t. And, now as a neurosurgeon, who has chosen to work at a county hospital, I spend my days taking care of people who are uninsured and as a result are sicker and more desperate – it is sad and heartbreaking. I have wondered out loud again how it might all be fixed.
I think it’s safe to say that no one thinks our health care system works well. I haven’t thought so, almost from the moment I entered it. Simplifying a bit, for the purposes of this blog, the two issues on the table are cost and access – and probably in that order. Having sat down with President Obama, I know he believes we should build on the current system. That is, people who have health insurance they like should be able to keep the same coverage. People who can’t afford it would be eligible for subsidies to help defray the costs. I have not heard anyone from the administration talk about completely overhauling the system or having it completely run by the government.
Program Note: Tune in to hear more from David Gergen on the challenges facing President Obama tonight on an AC360° special, “Extreme Challenges: The Next 100 days.”
David Gergen | Bio
CNN Senior Political Analyst
In our conversations for the Extreme Challenges special with Anderson Cooper, I was struck once again by both the enormity and complexity of the demands that President Obama will face in coming months. He started his presidency with the most daunting burden of any chief executive since Franklin Roosevelt, and if anything, it only seems to grow heavier.
As someone who has deep roots in presidencies of the past, I must say that I was among those who worried early on that he was taking on too much, too fast. My experience has been that a White House is able at best to handle one or two big issues, and when it suddenly has five or six balls in the air, it almost always drops one or two. Barack Obama has at least a half dozen flying above him - the economy, health care, global warming, Afpak, Iran, Iraq - the list goes on and on. So, I have been worried.
But one of the lessons I have also learned is that every fresh generation of leaders can teach a thing or two to older generations about how to get things done. And maybe, just maybe, we have a President who can do it all and do it with grace and style. (What did they say about Ginger Rogers: she showed that it was possible to dance as well as Fred Astaire and do it in heels and backwards?)
Dr Fred Boltz
Today, Conservation International will present Anderson Cooper with our most prestigious award – the Global Conservation Hero Award – in honor of the entire team responsible for CNN’s Planet in Peril Series.
It’s the first time that we’ve ever given the award for journalism. Previously it has gone to some very powerful people – the former head of the World Bank and to the CEO of Wal-Mart – for the huge strides that they have taken in protecting the environment.
This year’s award reflects the major achievement of Planet in Peril which has fearlessly engaged the American public in issues that the mainstream media had previously been reluctant to cover.
The key to the show’s success – and to the award that we are presenting to the team that made them – is their incredible determination to tackle huge and complex subjects head-on and to make them accessible to ordinary people. Whether it is the spread of diseases from wildlife to humans or the conflicts developing over natural resources that sustain us all, the shows made connections between what is happening in some of the world’s poorest nations and what is happening right here in the US.
And now, more than ever, it is critical that people in this country understand how completely connected the US is to the rest of the world. At the end of this year the governments of the world will meet in Copenhagen to agree a plan for what needs to be done to address climate change, and the US will be one of the most important players in that debate.
Zac Sunderland is sailing around the globe on his own and he's only 17, intent on becoming the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe. He's expected back in California next month, exactly where he started almost a year ago.
Sunderland says he was destined to live the "sailor's life". He comes from a family of yachtsmen and as a young child was "deciphering Lat/Longs, not streets and avenues."
But during what he hopes is his record-breaking voyage, a slightly younger sailor Mike Perham from England embarked upon a similar quest in a larger, faster boat, and threatens to upstage his Yankee counterpart.
Perham holds the world record for being the youngest person to sail across the Atlantic all alone.
I spoke to American Zac Sunderland today who says he and Perham have become good friends since meeting up in South Africa during their voyages. Now Sunderland is in Panama and heading north hoping to reach the California coast next month. Here's my chat with him via skype:
Check out Zac Sunderland's web site and track his progress:
Zac Sunderland's web site: http://www.zacsunderland.com
Follow David Puente on Twitter @puenteac360
Did you see both Pres. Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney give speeches today on national security? Tonight, we'll look at both of their messages. They're not on the same page.
Pres. Obama is sticking with his plan to close Gitmo despite opposition from Republicans and Democrats on Captiol Hill.
"The record is clear: Rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security," Pres. Obama said today in Washington.
Meanwhile, across town, Dick Cheney blasted the current Commander-in-Chief.
"In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed," he said.
Cheney is arguing Pres. Bush was right and Pres. Obama is wrong when it comes to national security.
Do you agree? Share your comments below.
Tonight, Anderson will be talking with Liz Cheney. She's defending her father. You won't want to miss this interview.
Join us for this story and more starting at 10pm ET.
See you then!
Tonight on 360°, a look a small town in Montana that would welcome detainees from Gitmo. Yes, they want them. Right now it's a prison with no prisoners. City officials want to fill it with accused terrorists. We'll take you there.
Don't miss Erica Hill's webcast on the prison and tonight's other headlines during the commercials. Watch our WEBCAST
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