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tv   Council on Foreign Relations Discussion with Afghan President  CSPAN  August 13, 2020 10:58pm-12:01am EDT

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after months of delays, the president of afghanistan announced his government would release about 400 prisoners, including some who are members of the taliban. , ambassadorn effort spoke to the president. during the interview, they discussed the political process, relations with neighboring countries and afghanistan's role in combating terrorism. >> thank you very much. you on behalf of the members today for giving us time and opportunity to talk with us about the important things that are going on in this country and in the world. we have more than 300 people registered for this virtual meeting.
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get test many questions as we can in the second half of the discussion. i want to note that the entirety is on the record, our discussion now and later on. welcome. it is a pleasure to see you again. >> it is a pleasure to be with you. my prayers and wishes to the veterans particularly and to all the civilians that served with you. it is a great honor to be with you. >> let me say how much i and many other people in this country value our partnership with you and the afghan people over the past years. your country now is at a
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pretty historic threshold or at least potentially so. you and the afghan people through the loya jirga have made the decision to release the final prisoners the taliban had been demanding and opening the pathway to negotiations which reportedly would start and the e next couple of days. that is an extremely important threshold to cross, one that i know you addressed with great seriousness and conviction but also with difficulty, given the sacrifices your people have made in this conflict. i know very well you are a man who likes strategy and planning. how do you see this process now unfolding from this point, assuming the door is open to negotiations? >> i think a great tribute to the collective wisdom that the loya jirga grand council resolved what could not be
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resolved. an additional 500 people on our own, serious constitutional and legal issues. the moral basis the loya jirga provided of 2400 men and women, over 700 of them women, has given us and opportunity to break the deadlock and we hope during this process would be able to resolve the conflict. the key goal for the afghan people is to bring an end to
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violence which has haunted us for 40 years and we are prepared that our team is a national team representing a national perspective and in addition the loya jirga has provided a framework and key parameters that would enable us to talk. james: how do you see that escutcheon beginning and developing? i know you said it is a high priority to establish the cease-fire. how do you see that coming to be and how do you see the negotiations themselves proceeding? >> this is not a two way discussion, it has been a three way discussion because the united states has been engaged and the agreement between the united states on the 29th of february provided a framework which simultaneously we had the joint jekyll ration. -- declaration. some of the issues pertain to the united states.
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there is a second set of questions that relate to the way this capability and desire of taliban troops embraced this solution. during the negotiations, we are going to find out. up to now, they held their views to themselves that main issue is the continuation of conflict -- military and civilian fatalities and casualties. the violence has been very high. the test is to get a comprehensive cease-fire as soon as possible and to be able to talk about a political framework which would bring the parts of the taliban society in.
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james: so far, it's all about taking a pretty firm hardline view as they in the little bit they have said publicly about negotiations, do you expect when the actual negotiators and you have some great people on your side, i know, as i know many of them, do you think once the afghan side, the taliban side get together in a room, they will be able to have a serious, productive discussion about these many sensitive issues you are going to have to work through? pres. ghani: [indiscernible]
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the test is going to be once we encounter each other. what we have nationally is a very strong consensus and it has been -- [indiscernible] the loya jirga decided the question into two days. that shows that afghan society can assemble and express itself. second is the agreement with the international community, particularly with the united states on the end state of the talks. a sovereign, united, democratic that would be at peace with itself in the world. there has been a lot of pressure from the afghan government and now the balance shifts because we have taken all there is at stake.
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we were not party to an agreement to release 5000 taliban, but out of wanting peace, we did it. now we hope all of the actors will come together in the region and build this consensus. it will show whether the desire for a stable afghanistan that would be in everybody's interest prevails over a more short term view in whether the taliban would now show themselves capable of politics, imaginative, constructive politics or not. the question is open. james: it is a very important question, i agree. one of the key factors that needs to be examined is this process that moves forward for everybody, for the united states as well as your country and the region. let's turn to the region a minute because you mentioned the
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need for constructive regional support and engagement in this process as well. we collectively in the national community and in afghanistan have been talking about the need to train a constructive framework for afghanistan in many different facets, economic, security, and finally this search for peace. i know your government has been consulting closely with your regional partners and others for the last couple of months. if you think there is now the groundwork laid to finally bring some of this hope for regional cooperation into something that is actually constructive now as you are looking toward the future? pres. ghani: i very much hope so. i think there have been some
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fundamental changes. for instance, afghanistan, when i became president had a cold relationship with central asia. today, we have become an organic part of central asia. our trade, cooperation and very close coordination finds that it is reversed since the iron curtain. corridor after corridor is opening. the relationships are strictly constructive and there's an enormous potential economic dividend for all of us. we have a bilateral relation, but all of the issues are on the take.
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[indiscernible] china, india, turkey, the united arab emirates are large and the billion-dollar question, with a constructive discussion with our staff, the key issue is [indiscernible] we argue a stable afghanistan, we have coined a new term. a multi-aligned afghanistan, we have the greatest number of
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friends and don't get involved in the disputes among our friends and neighbors and do not allow our territory to be used and any of them can be an anchor for stability. this possibility has been acknowledged equally and afghanistan is trenched into a civil war or conflict could do substantial harm to its neighbors. this balances what we need to strike at the heart of strategy and tactics to break the balance. it is not the easiest balance, but it is a necessary balance to move us forward.
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james: i agree on the need to find that balance and we have been arguing, we americans have been arguing with your regional labors for some time that a stable afghanistan is of great benefit to the region rather then one that is in afghanistan that continues to be in conflict. i take it from your remarks that you think that argument is gaining traction now as time has evolved. keying on to that point will be important as you get through the negotiations as you get to outside parties to try to disrupt if they wish. do you think that realization is something you can build on as you continue your own diplomacy in the region?
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pres. ghani: our diplomacy has been constructive and effective. this future role of the united states in the region is a condition if not a determining factor. on the positive side, there is an immense interest in regional connectivity and the financial corporation has been very engaged in this process. the afghanistan pipeline is going to be constructive.
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the private corridors are moving forward and there is coordination now and we are connected with 50 countries by air. this is one part of the equation where asia is being changed from a notional geography for a literal economic conflict. if gena stands stability is very much part. on the other side, notion of lack of consistent, state responsibility and interference. we are at that critical moment and we are doing our best and the other issue that is one of
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potentional risk, we are very close and that is why i -- the american heroes that have died for your security and freedom. what is the limit of force and how do you think of politics that can truly eliminate the danger of terrorism. those questions are interrelated. on the positive side of the balance, there's an immense opportunity for cooperation. on the negative, the threats could bring us together or may take time to converge again. james: i think many people don't
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understand the need -- many americans don't understand how important a role afghanistan has played in a partnership with the united states and international community in combating terrorism. that is something we need to be very mindful of going forward. the politics and negotiations, however they proceed, there's going to be a terrorism issue to deal with and hopefully we can all find a way to cooperate on that. before we move onto another area, i want to ask a little more about pakistan given the crucial role pakistan plays in the conflict and in the region. i know you had a long meeting with one of the generals not long ago and pakistani rhetoric
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and some actions have been positive in terms of moving prospects for negotiations forward. i know how you hope pakistan's will evolve, but do you think it is possible to build a stronger political relationship with pakistan so they can play the kind of role we hope they would be playing as negotiations start and proceed? pres. ghani: [indiscernible] [indiscernible] of course india's rise and
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continued prosperity is something that is extremely important for all of us, the rest of the region, the major players. but ask yourselves some main questions regarding this. number one, will a taliban-run government serve anything? second, under what type of government can afghanistan enable the return of refugees? three, what type of government would be able to undertake the large projects of connectivity on the negative side if even out
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of central afghanistan, what would be the cost? what country would be most effected internally given its priorities? and i focus on poverty education as our central challenge. how would we be able to create a framework given corona, given the economic downturn? pakistan was an inherent part of a larger economic region in central asia and west asia. can you employ that type of dynamism? lastly, a stable afghanistan hopefully opens the way for resolution of fundamental issues that enable all of us in the region to benefit from what is clearly because of distance and
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perception, we are unable to use? james: thank you. let's go back and take another look at the future. i would be interested in your views about where you realistically hope to see afghanistan arrive at as a result of these negotiations we all hope are about to begin. a cease fire is a top ready because there's been too much violence and too much needless killing, especially now that we have an agreement you are going to begin what would be a search for peace. what do you think a realistic
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expectation is for the outcome of that discussion? afghanistan has its own record of achievement and you have your own record of achievement over the past decades, a constitutional system, elections, protection of media, progress on women's issues, things most afghan people welcome. how do you see reconciling that afghanistan with the views the taliban might hold about the future of the country? how does that happen? you say afghans have a long history of mediation, how do you reconcile those views that is quite different of afghanistan 20 years ago? pres. ghani: by taking each other and discovering each
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other, that is fundamental. except for the cease fire of 2018, that one was -- i initiated it and the taliban responded. it was a national celebration. during that incident, not a single taliban shot, humiliated, or attacked. it showed me that when society has an immense tolerance, acknowledging that fact is
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fundamental to moving toward peace. that -- now the question is will the taliban acknowledge that afghanistan has been created in the last two decades and particularly during the last six years, will they look at the loya jirga and see -- as the loya jirga you know cannot be censored or controlled. it is close to your town hall meetings in terms of its expression. during these discussions, afghan society will need to decide if a solution that is going to enable us a common future is possible or not. every desire including the last
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difficult vote to say that we want peace, the taliban cannot look for dominance. it has to embrace it. unlike their relations with the united states, [indiscernible] this time has to either be used productively or it can turn into destruction. how they talk, how they deal, how they frame the issues, do they search for common ground? your envoy may have had a deadline, but society does not
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have a deadline and that changes the nature of negotiation. james: well said and i want to congratulate you and your compatriots forgetting to this very important point. i know it has been a very difficult journey. at this point, i think we want to ask our members to join the conversation with their questions. i want to remind everybody again that this meeting is on the record and operators will remind our members how to join the question queue. >> ladies and gentlemen, to ask the question, click on the raise hand icon. when you are called on, proceed with your name, affiliation and question. please click on the link in your zoom checkbox.
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we will take our first question from peter galbraith. >> mr. president, good to see you again, albeit virtually. i wanted to ask you about the negotiations process and whether it would result in significant constitutional change in afghanistan. your lead negotiator has spoken at various times about a more parliamentary system and the other way one might think about it is a more decentralized or federal system in which the taliban might have the opportunity to govern part of the country. do you see either of those things are both as being a possible outcome of the negotiations? more parliamentary system or federalized system? pres. ghani: it is a great
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pleasure to see you virtually. i have with me my national security adviser, the minister of education, the minister of women's affairs and the minister of state for peace. and our lead negotiator. there is a clear mechanism should we need to amend the constitution. the taliban has historically been centralized, not decentralized. so that needs to be taken into account. whether they are ready for a parliamentary system without major parties that are implementing the law with
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regular elections, being cross national in offices, that we need, this is up to the people because any agreement that is negotiated by our negotiating team would need national approval again. we need to understand that this must have a base of approval because of this, we should avoid the scenario of columbia where the he steel was rejected, so getting communication from the people, women and men.
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>> we will take our next question from ken dozier. >> thank you mr. president for doing this. i wanted to ask if you felt pressured in any way by the trump administration to release the last tranche of 400 prisoners that u.s. official said include taliban members convicted of terrorist attacks and if you feel you can trust the white house to fairly negotiate on your behalf as well? finally, the australian prime minister has asked for a former afghan soldier that killed three australian troops not to be released. what would you do about that?
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pres. ghani: thank you for that important question. the request for relief came from the united states. without that, we would not have convened the loya jirga. it shows a strong national consensus for moving. until this issue there's a consensus on the desirability of peace, we now have the major installment of cost and that means piece will have consequences. the list is likely both a danger for us and to you because it has drug dealers and hardened criminals. that has been shared with all our allies and friends, but
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after the consensus of the loya jirga, i signed the relevant documents. we are focused on the request of the australians. i have spoken to the family years before. it is a heinous crime and we will see how we can do both. james: next question, please. her next question is from barbara. is a pleasure. i am with the atlantic cancel. counsel. my first question is about the nature of iran's nature -- relationship with the taliban.
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what is the impact of the u.s. maximum pressure campaign on iran? how has that affected afghanistan's potential? >> of course. my best of regards to the atlantic council. when the regime for the removal of sanctions was negotiated, it became important to should for us. our strategy is based on diversification and connecting. we want to be a connector for everyone of our neighbors.
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after financial transactions, it becomes important. i would also like to think the administration for giving us the exception. continueenable us to -- the illustration was a time of corona. when the market was extremely unsettled. india made a great gesture of committing seven 5000 tons of weight. they can have a very powerful economic relation. it usually results in economic relations underground.
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thetantially increasing economy. it is an issue that haunts society. we have a very detailed list of issues. that is a political constant and hoping to see a solution. it is a complex society with multiple regional agendas and relationships. of course, 1/5 of relationships
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and a review -- relation with the united states is something that is a factor in other relationships. >> next question please. >> we will take our next question. >> i wanted to ask about how you see this happening. the taliban are concerned that some of them will be attacked by either afghan forces or u.s. courses after their release. if talks end up starting early next week, how do you see that what --g in terms of how you layout and how the taliban will respond to that?
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>> i have spent very good times on that coast. so i am jealous. there is no fear of attack. say they take their civilian leadership extremely seriously. we don't attack that release. that was a factor. they managed to contain it.
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the success of the forces in , our society particularly in this province is mobilizing. it is because of the community pressure. we need to make sure on the logistics.
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[indiscernible] the discussion of political framework for ending the war. issues.with the key multiply that by seven. family members. it is this him -- the most significant set of issues. they are going to be going back a thousand years to when we were the center of islamic
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intelligence and the give-and-take of our system. all of our linguist equipped are extremely strong. that is all set to provide the employment. gainful employment. i hope it is from pure ideological issues. that, i think we would be able to make substantial headway. there isn't a word about narcotics.
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qaeda but the al ankle system of terrorism and how that would be tackled jointly. the key approach our team would it is a list of issues. >> i think the vice president has raised his hand to make a comment. >> you should be on muted now.
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-- un-muted now. >> is any time that he is now we will look for another question. >> our next question is from jim. >> thank you. it is the local experience.
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this is about secular developers in theve on on traditional communities. resented by the taliban. >> i would like to bring your attention to this. it is engaged with communities. the submission to you is that needs vision. my sentimentalism is no product
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of this. more has marginalized the wound. they are engaged with land or state. our founding fathers were there. whoectable different mats were not in government. only 44% of the people were under the direct influence. society needs to be listened to.
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it is a changed society. is to turn them into the roundabout. if we want transmission lines, what that all takes his highways to go through this land and enable us to develop. we need a consensus. second, the government is in the process of changing from being perceived as a master to being a servant. this is one of the youngest societies on earth. over 70% of our population is under 55. the image, people including me, the generation of 1960 is still
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very significant. we need to gracefully give way. there has always been these great divisions. same againsten the each other. we need to find common ground. one of the most significant things that the education will it will be the anniversaries. how do we regain back a tolerant sense of acceptance? is the height of the culture.
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>> we need to go back to that. children are thinking long term. i hope that our society will be and -- think median medium and long-term. >> we will take another question. >> we will take our next question. it is from janet. please except the unmute now prompt.
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>> it is an honor to hear you. i know afghanistan because of the former ambassador ted elliott. our foundation built a school. euros, some3000 very successful schools. my real question is are we at -- are we ate are risk here? we are building another school. are we at risk or do we just cross our fingers? wonderful to have the honor of meeting you. .y deepest prayers both of them were mentors.
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we have not stopped building. world --e give up our will to belt -- will to build, that will be the day that we will lose. ist is delightful about that they will convey regularly. how many of them want to become president? i would like to thank you very this.or supporting
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this was our iconic figure years ago. it comes from there and the message. >> next question please. >> we will take aaron ask question. >> thank you so much for taking my questions. i would like to ask this question. question is if there that it willtee
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not hurt any other american forces? thank you. >> those are great questions. i am delighted. they will be able to very successfully and ably manage this. risk, they are public. together brings us with an oma's amount of work on and move forward.
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no guarantee, who could provide you with a guarantee? the issue has been raised. it has not been answered. i indicated earlier that there are risks globally. a lot of them involve risks. those types of guarantees are not possible. we will find -- we will try our best. this will be a key indicator.
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they requested this. sure there risk management -- the risk management will mitigate any negative consequent is. >> we will take our next question from gustav. please except the unmute now but in. moving on. we will take the next question.
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>> a little justice project. i am interested in domestic justice issues in afghanistan. issuesthe most pressing facing courts and the legal system in afghanistan, this,ularly relating to thank you. >> it is great to see you. very happy memories. the first issue is i pride myself in not having once interfered in a judicial decision. our supreme court has gained an immense stature.
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there were thousands of cases. it was a very significant number of cases. what are the challenges? justice thatin of then theth police and attorney general's office moving to the courts, the chain of discovery and then back. there are challenges in enforcement. the problem is between justice
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and hate. took five months to look at each of the cases was because of our respect for justice. it united nations, undermines peace. the relief for these people pays a very significant price. a lot of judges are going to think twice. that is the reason we needed to grow again and have a basis for
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a decision that was not legally possible. they do not have the rights. people who committed homicide or kidnappings or cases of violence against women. if we get peace, i think the decision would be justified. is your andis what four. this would be marked as the day this brought the decision
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that weakens rather than strengthens this. >> i am afraid we have come to the end of our session. my apologies to the members who are still waiting to ask questions but we have run out of time. i want to thank you very much for being so gracious with your time and answers. and to say how good it has been for me to see you again. if you will permit me a second, i would like to send my best wishes. team.e a great i am sure that we all wish you the best of luck in the challenging days ahead. i would like to note that the audio and transcript of today's reading will be posted on the council's website. thank you again, mr. president. every good luck to you. >> it is great to see you. and many of your friends. we send regards.
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>> any decision that you make is purely internal. our society will always be buteful for the engagement it is about terrorism. it is not about punishment.
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that is not dependent on these presidents, it is the quality of the relationship. we are working for the best. i think the citizens both on the civilian side and the diplomats. my great thanks to the council. >> c-span's washington journal, everyday we are taking your calls, live on the air. on moments of the day and we will discuss policy issues that impact you. coming up friday morning, a discussion about women in campaign 2020 with the independent women's forum senior policy analyst. opposition to the biden harris ticket and the evolution of women in electoral politics with university of politics professor jennifer
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lawless. watch c-span's washington journal, live at 7:00 p.m. eastern. and live on sunday at 8:00 a.m. eastern, c-span's washington journal. the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage and the ratification of the 19th amendment. calls, take your phone facebook comments, text messages and tweets. sunday night, on q&a, journalist and author elaine weiss on her book woman's our about the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920 which granted the women -- granted women the right to vote. marginas passing by a that was very small.
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it passes in 2018 and it takes until june of 2019 before it passes both houses. descendent new that they were sending it out for ratification. legislatures were not going to be in session. that was sort of purposeful to make it more difficult. they had to convince 30 governors to call their legislators back into special sessions considering the amendment. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. >> >> our featured contender is eugene v. debs -- at the turn of the 20th-century, a five-time candidate for president on the socialist ticket, and the nation's most celebrated world war i protester. war i protester. this footage captures debs on

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