Afghanistan And The Fall Of US Power

Afghanistan And The Fall Of US Power

[Music] hello everyone welcome live to the show i’m not actually in london now actually currently in sheffield where i was born a plastic yorkshireman uh but good to be back uh in my in my in my in my home domestic happy environment but it’s great to be able to talk to you today about a very very very very important issue of course which is the future of afghanistan which has now fallen of course to the taliban now we’ve got two absolutely fantastic guests today including someone who is live of course in kabul and will talk us through the developments on the ground what’s actually happening and the situation that faces afghanistan and we’re going to be talking about the broader context what this means for the u.s hegemon which of course has been the hegemonic power since world war ii after the defeat uh that they suffered in afghanistan and of course about the british parliamentary debate i wrote a column this week for the guardian about how divorced from reality much of those parliamentary proceedings were there was no attempt to or very little attempt to place it in the context of two decades now foreign intervention iraq libya afghanistan and the broader so-called war on terror about the situation that specifically faced britain in afghanistan britain essentially themselves withdrew from afghanistan of course many years before the americans did back in 2014 leaving only a skeleton force uh in their wake none of that was present in the debate and instead we had a former prime minister theresa may being applauded for talking about global britain about how global britain somehow could have unilaterally acted in afghanistan whether it be by somehow convincing joe biden to renege on his campaign promises or somehow to go alone um as though britain has had an independent foreign policy uh well it hasn’t since 1956 and the suez crisis we’ve got a lot to talk about today before i bring in the guests because we obviously gonna hear from actual specialists rather than myself just normal just quick housekeeping rules uh if you’re watching live hello do click through on youtube that helps support the show press like press subscribe that way you’ll get the videos um and if you’re listening on the podcast do subscribe as well spread the word uh to support the show and the documentaries we’re currently working on a documentary about who has uh who owns britain uh wealth and power it’s concentration uh in rural and urban britain all those documentaries are made possible on patreon.com forward slash owen jones 84 we try and give an alternative uh a voice to that being offered by much of the mainstream media in this country but you make that possible with our brilliant team or you can use super chat if you want to put questions to the guest and support the show click through to youtube and use super chat and like the video that helps the algorithm right that’s enough for me i’m now gonna bring in and we’re very honored to have uh straight from kabul and i’m gonna i’m gonna we we tested how i’m going to pronounce his name so let’s see if i can actually do this correctly which is obey the law baher who’s a lecturer at american at the american university in kabul thank you so much for joining us live from kabul thank you for having me on can you just talk us through firstly the situation on the ground in kabul what’s the atmosphere like at the moment in the capital city well the air is pretty dense outside people are hanging on the edge of a knife because there is much to be seen and much to be heard from the taliban they they did take over close to 10 days ago and if you go out you would see a very small number of people a skeleton number compared to how many people would be out in the city on normal days you don’t see really um you don’t see armored cars you don’t see big cars because i guess the taliban did manage to gather most of the armored vehicles the government issued ones um and i guess the others who have their own private armored vehicles are too scared to bring them out on the road the taliban patrol the roads they don’t really interact with a lot of people it’s very passive they don’t stop people there aren’t there aren’t check posts uh available so um it’s all of that i think mostly the shops have opened up back up the restaurants have um the banks are still closed which is problematic because the atms are out of cash as well um and uh there’s an absolute absence of governance so there is a power vacuum in afghanistan and which really helps the taliban to excuse themselves very often from things that their fighters do within the city but the taliban really need to rush into creating some sort of political structure within the country if they are to gain any of the trust that they really don’t have from the local population that has spent two decades growing up in a world that saw them as the enemy so there is much trust building that needs to take place so what how would you describe the mood amongst the local population in kabul following the taliban’s assumption of power well it took us by surprise it took everyone by surprise it took even the taliban by surprise they had no idea that they would be in kabul this early they have no plan for how to structure their government so they are doing all their homework they’re trying to learn on the job and all of that is obviously time consuming and it’s difficult because then we hear a lot of conflicting reports a lot of the times taliban say that they will provide amnesty that they will not harm specific minorities they will respect women’s rights but then we see individual instances of that being completely ignored by the fighters on the ground and the taliban then claimed that that’s insubordination or individual actions but if you are in a under a system and the or you are in a world that doesn’t have a system doesn’t have a government means that you are far more anxious for your own security because if individual cases of retribution are taking place that means that you could be next without anyone being able to stop it we’ve seen these terrible scenes at the airport and the latest report suggests seven died have died in the crowds uh amidst pretty desperate scenes of people trying to leave afghanistan how would you describe your what you know of what’s happening at the airport and i mean we’ve seen as we can see these disturbing scenes but how’s that playing out uh i think it’s better if we just look at initially the airport and the larger context of it so with regards to the airport we see that when the system fell when the government collapsed when the president fled a lot of people in their panic rushed to the airports tried to find the first flight out of the country it wasn’t that simple the airports got overcrowded the taliban were outside the international forces then later on came in on the inside it’s very difficult for people to gain access and so much so that embassies had set up mechanisms for transportation so you would go to the embassy they will transport you to the airport and inside the different bases that are within the airport or the camps and that has stopped happening since yesterday afternoon as well um and the problem here is the larger context is that there are no government organs functioning within afghanistan right now that means that we have an interior ministry that really isn’t doing anything because we don’t have an interior minister and the taliban are stuck between two stances where they want to introduce someone to temporarily take over um the ministries so that things can start functioning but on the other end they’re trying to take their sweet time in establishing a proper government as well so they say that we shouldn’t introduce interim people but we should introduce permanent members soon and it is most likely possible that they are waiting for the foreign troops withdrawal on 31st august to announce their government and i personally think that that would be too late because uh going another 10 days or nine days without a government is going to take its toll on the taliban’s reputation and on the trust levels that the people have with the taliban so far the taliban have been at great pains to try and project a kind of modernized moderated version of themselves that they’ve changed they’ve reformed that they’re not going to return to the form the extreme uh notorious rule that they had of course from 1996 until 2001. how much do you think that’s that’s true have the taliban changed or is this a pr exercise um look oh and two things uh one that the taliban had impeccable pr during the war so uh they outdid the government they outed even the united states with regards to the way they conducted their pr and how they went about this war and the second bit is that credit where creditors do okay the taliban 25 years ago would not have said half of the things that they did with regards to showing at least on the face of it the desire to create an inclusive government to sitting uh in the media and saying that they will respond to things that you never have uh telling them that they wanted segregated classes for the female students and they wanted female faculty to teach the female students now the university obviously told them that a they didn’t have enough classes to segregate b they did not have female faculty to teach the woman eventually the taliban said okay we’re going to deal with if you can find older men that are pious to teach the woman we’ll be fine with that also with regards to the classes maybe you can give us a counter proposal so that shows willingness of some sort of conversation and at a time when the taliban holds all the cards right so they have absolute monopoly over power no one’s here to challenge them as such they could do whatever they want but i guess they’re rational enough to understand the utility of international legitimacy uh of the pain of sanctions of the importance of foreign aid and i think that’s keeping the taliban root in so far so the international community really has to make a decision do you overuse your sanctions or you apply them and lose the taliban forever do you overdo your um your aid or whatever your or international legitimacy whichever whatever you can give the taliban to appease them to an extent where they’re really stopped uh stop falling in line so you have to balance it out to keep the keratin stick equilibrium right so that the taliban can at least keep complying um and start translating whatever statements they’re giving into actual actions and policies within afghanistan i mean as you say the taliban’s assumption of power took even then by surprise and it sounds as though things are very much in a state of flux and transition at the moment how quickly do you think a stable some sort of stable government will form and how stable do you think it actually will be i think the larger question the more important question is what does that government look like right and the problem is that the international community has been very cutthroat with regards to not accepting a return of the emirate now there are elements within the taliban that are propagating for the re-establishment of an emirate declaring a caliph or an emir within afghanistan and that would have its repercussions that would mean that the taliban will be back to their own ways there will be pariahs in the world but there is some sense within that group as well that is saying that no we will create an inclusive system as to what that would look like we haven’t really heard much they’ve met with uh political elite within afghanistan told them that they wanted them on board but never really said what they were asking them to be on board with and my best guess would be and this is something that i wrote about extensively in the past when we were talking about what political system would be a middle ground between the republic and the emirate and we could re-establish something that looks like the iranian system and this is not to say that the iranian system is really functional or ideal but this is probably one system that can work for now and satisfy the international community’s demands and have some level of inclusion that means you have an amir on the top you have a state uh council that is that advises the president has like a lot of power and then you might have a democratic structure you have both houses of parliament and and senate so um we have to wait and see as to what exactly they have in mind but they haven’t been really vocal about what that structure looks like and honestly that power vacuum just needs to be filled as soon as possible which is why people were throwing around the idea of an interim government until the taliban could figure out what to do in the longer run but the taliban don’t seem to be too keen on doing an intern set up but for now they need to get the government organs functioning and this state cannot be paralyzed for much longer um i mean the taliban has adopted in tone again quite a concillatory tone including towards their defeated opponents i mean how much do you think or do you fear repression by the taliban whether it be against political opponents academics like yourself journalists as well of course women and girls the major fear amongst the population is that the taliban are behaving well relatively and that might actually be because they know that the international community’s eye is on them that there are foreign troops yet present in afghanistan and the fear is that when they leave they might actually create more larger policies of retribution of cracking down on dissidents and so on and so forth so that is a real fear and that’s something that the taliban would really have to address and if the taliban aim to establish their government after foreign troops leave that itself creates a sense of suspense and suspicion from the population with regards to what their goals are so let’s just hope they don’t do that but i and i don’t want them to go to the other extreme either look afghanistan failed as a democracy why did it fail as a democracy there are a hundred different stakeholders involved including the west majorly as well but one of the major reasons was the um was the apparent uh corruption right and that means that the same figures that are sitting in kabul that didn’t flee that are now negotiating with the taliban are the same people that were the major cause of the failure of the previous regime now do the taliban include them for the appeasement of the west saying well i’ve created an inclusive system or do they actually create illustration process to block these people out of following governments now if they do it themselves it appears like it’s victor’s justice it appears like the taliban are exercising monopoly on the justice system but what they do in return what they should do is actually involve a third-party organs create bodies that look into the profiles of these people and they could even if not prosecute them at least ban them from participating in the future or something that the taliban can do is pro develop institutions develop a mechanism to weed off these people in the future in case they do cause or take part in any form of corruption but all of that is right now in the air and is all based on assumptions and it’s really tiring you know like we’ve been holding our breath for so long um wanting to see what happens next and uh we really don’t know we really don’t know what’s going to happen just a couple of other things just specifically of course on the us withdrawal i mean what’s your what’s your own take on i suppose the debate which is taking place in the united states over the nature of the withdrawal uh joe biden’s defense of the position i mean what’s your take on the circumstances that led to the us withdrawal and the debate that’s taking place in the west about it from your own perspective because uh a few days back about news he’d done for the avant people after the withdrawal and i said that it felt like biden was someone who punched you in the gut and then told you all the amazing things he did for you after the punch and that got misquoted some people actually took it up as me saying i want to punch the american president in the gut so i was like there goes my prospects for any visas to the united states ever um but honestly uh the afans didn’t want the foreign troops to stay forever right they had to leave they were the mean um so every war in order to happen has to create its own truths and myths so in order for me to convince you when to go and and fight and kill people with me i have to create this story for you like why are we doing this because obviously your natural sense would tell you why am i going there risking my life killing people so we have to create this grander story grander myth right and what happens is within afghanistan the united states chose to withdraw fine good by us but then what they do is they do it in such a half hazard way it’s unconditional it’s done after giving the taliban complete legitimacy by signing a peace deal with them by undermining the republic um and the way that it was conducted gave a very um bad sense of defeat which fed into the taliban narrative of having impending victory that meant that they were going to win one way or the other and if they could defeat the world hegemon then defeating the ivan puppet regime was very easy for them so they fed into that momentum right but all of that’s in the past what are they doing now right um they could negotiate a very complex peace deal with the taliban with multiple appendages that were never the school disclosed to the populist or the world yet they cannot engage with the taliban enough to discuss a third party coming in and holding and conducting either a humanitarian corridor into the airport or bringing in a third party’s armed troops to conduct the processes of the airport we don’t have administration in the airport the director general of aviation has flown out has left the country and with regards to the security we have the united states troops inside we have the taliban outside zero communication between them people cannot get across to go in so at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter if you have a thousand flights leaving kabul if no one is on those flights if you don’t have a mechanism for processing paperwork if you don’t have a mechanism for people reaching the airport um people are hiring sirs on the ground people are paying the taliban to get them into the airport and all of that is a very complex process that not everyone has access to so all of those are the legacies of the united states they turned off their lights at their biggest military base and flew out in the middle of the night they didn’t even have it in them to communicate with the iran authorities or the upon defense forces that we were leaving how is that how the the united states policy makers should hang their heads in shame for what they’ve done to a very proud nation these are very proud of hans who are pleading who are bleeding on the tarmacs of the airport trying to get out from a war that the west that the united states that the british government created in afghanistan right where is the sense of responsibility towards the victims where is the sense of responsibility and why have we created a social hierarchy for people’s humanities because when you hear biden stand up he doesn’t talk about the plight of advance he says we’re trying very hard to get americans out on the first level we’re going to get the america the irans that help the americans on the second level and then the common africans maybe they can be accommodated as well which is really sad because that’s how you view us and it hasn’t changed we are still a lesser children of god to the policy makers in the west which is heartbreaking which is why this vicious cycle of violence is not going to end you left afghanistan as a fragile state which will be ruled by the taliban if you sanction them if you ignore them you will just have another return to 9 11 in a decade or two again then we will have a war again then we will have false dreams fed into the iran population then they will be stripped out of them again people have left the educated people of afghanistan are leaving every day this country is going through a brain drain and i really don’t know how this government is ever going to function or be sustainable without all of that expertise and the institutional memory that has left the country and just lastly because we’re very lucky to have you and i know how busy you are just just lastly you mentioned corruption and corruption being i mean the u.s of authorities essentially fueled that corruption and an investigation by the washington post found how the us essentially fed corruption by in exchange for uh for information and intelligence on the ground but what other reasons would you describe for being why the u.s suffered after two decades of occupation a defeat i mean it is a defeat uh which has been compared of course to the fall of saigon um and finally the other we’ve been asked by tad about the opposition in panja valley ex-government soldiers forming a new northern alliance uh of course before 2001 uh the taliban ruled two thirds of afghanistan but the northern alliance uh ruled about uh about a third or up to a third uh so the the situation the countryside as well outside of the major cities look the united states um failed to have any sort of cultural insensitivity they choose chose brute force they chose to bulldoze through their problems and when that failed they brought in bags full of money and they tried to buy out the loyalty of people and the concept is when you buy people out it’s very temporary and they will switch switch sides when their benefits align with another group or another vision just not investing on institutionalization afghanistan was kept as a failing state as a fragile state throughout the years and what happened was initially the united states steps in complete cultural insensitivity not conducting their counterinsurgency strategies in a way that fits the avant culture running into people’s houses raiding them bombing people torturing them creating more and more enemies within afghanistan then when the united states decide to take a backstep they bring in diaspora from the west and hand them over all the important offices of afghanistan what does that mean this diaspora acts like janassaris acts like people who are raised in the west and would do anything to appease the west that means they start imitating everything that the united states had done everything that was wrong that means that they never localized their context uh with afghanistan so in order for peace to be successful you have to look at a localized version of it even with the fighting they had to create a localized version of how to conduct those fightings there were attempts but there were constant failures and again a lot of people made a lot of money from this war in afghanistan it made a lot of private armies very rich it made a lot of um arms uh industry people very rich and i guess that’s looks like that was part of the point to have a war going long enough for all of those pockets to be filled so and also with regards to the pincher resistance right now there are conversations happening there are negotiations happening between the taliban and the number of people that gathered in panchayat after fleeing kabul i don’t think that they have the military might to really stand up to the taliban but this is an important moment of testing the taliban’s diplomatic sensibilities and as to whether they can reach out and have a uh have an understanding with them at the end of the day uh the fear is the inclusivity of afghanistan’s future governance the fear is what sort of toleration they would have for different views um and uh once in in in a way it’s good as well because that creates the sense that the taliban have other entities that they will have to accommodate but on the other end it’s also problematic because really we don’t want any more bloodbaths we don’t want another civil war um and if the taliban are the new reality of afghanistan let’s try to get the best out of them it’s not ideal but it’s what we have and it’s what we have to deal with and make most out of obey the law we really appreciate you joining us live from kabul a very tumultuous time and we really appreciate those insights and your your very very grounded views of exactly what’s happening on the ground in afghanistan and i know people watching it hugely hugely appreciate your contribution so thank you so much for joining us in and stay safe out there uh youtube uh please uh take care of yourself and lots of uh love and respect to everyone back there uh in england thank you so much love and solidarity and speak to you soon see you bye see ya great stuff very lucky of course to have such a brilliant guest who’s live from kabul and has been witness to obviously these historic events currently taking place now i’m really really honored to be joined by professor paul rogers who’s professor of peace studies at bradford university in fact it’s just down the road for me at the moment i could probably just probably just pop down the road and do this in person but it’s great to see you nonetheless uh paul great to see you how you did i’m fine thanks erin and thanks so much for having me on i thought that interview with uh abidor was extraordinary i mean the insights there’s so many of them almost every other sentence so yeah i really appreciated that and being able to listen to him to it yeah he was he was really fantastic we’re very lucky to have have had him i’m also very lucky to have you and uh i said i said this to paul when i met him several years ago at a talk in yorkshire uh that i mean this is probably quite an annoying thing to hear when i was you know when i was a teenager paul’s work had a very big impact on me and uh encouraged me down the line of the work that i do so you’ve got lots to answer for um paul can you just give me just just give us a sense you’ll just initial sense kind of taking a bird’s-eye historical view i suppose of what happened in the last couple of weeks in afghanistan how would you what’s your just overall general take on the events well the general take is obviously that um the government collapsed much faster than anybody expected and as far as we can tell uh faster than the taliban themselves expected and i think in many ways i would have really demonstrated some of the reasons for that the the long-term corruption all the problems that the afghan national army had i mean you’ve seen over the last year the taliban have played it very cleverly in many ways there’s been virtually no uh conflict with americans or indeed the small number of british or germans in afghanistan and talking about the military they kept away from any sort of risk of loss of life but they used sort of many capabilities to keep the war going against the afghan national army and apart from the relatively small numbers of special forces in the army which may have not have numbered more than five to ten thousand we’re not quite sure then the ordinary soldiers were finding they were short of food not getting their salaries short of ammunition and as soon as you have this kind of domino effect of some parts of afghanistan some of the towns and cities going over the taliban with very little fighting then the thing was very rapid i mean i think people from outside still seem to think well the taliban came in from somewhere else uh that’s a nonsense you’ve had the many links with the with the pakistan and i think the involvement of the isi is probably far more important than realized but essentially the taliban is primarily within afghanistan and as he was just saying you know the taliban people in and around kabul and were before what has happened in the last couple of weeks and this i think helps to explain it in that the fact was that taliban controlled a large part of the countryside probably getting on for half for a long period and they’d established a way of doing things it could be brutal it could be rigid but it worked to an extent you found that roads in areas that are under taliban control were possible you might have to pay one sort of uh fee to get through but you then get a receipt so there’s another roadblocks you would just go through very different from the sort of mandatory you’ve had but what it meant was that in the countryside itself they were already there and what changed dramatically was the way that once they started to move into the larger towns and the smaller cities and the fact that with the exception i think of lashkar and kandahar one or two others there was very little fighting essentially it became obvious to people on the afghan national side that you could do local deals and walk away without getting killed or engaging in fighting and this i think is what led to the speeding up the process which has led to all the problems of vacuum of administration and governance that we would just heard from so graphically now i mean one of the i suppose travesties of the parliamentary debate we had here in britain is lots of mps were ringing their hands about afghanistan and many of them hadn’t spoken about the issue for a very very very long time in fact it really hadn’t punctured political consciousness for a very long time britain essentially withdrew back in 2014 something completely missing from the whole debate itself but do you just want to describe if we i mean over those two decades basically what went wrong how did we get to this particular point when two decades ago following 911 we saw the occupation of afghanistan uh and you know victory was declared as victory was declared of course infamously in iraq mission accomplished what went so horribly wrong for the u.s led occupation i think you’ve got to go right back to the beginning and i think we have to recognize particulars non-americans that the 9 11 attacks were absolutely visceral in the impact on the united states they were far more than the sort of the one that is compared the the japanese raid on pearl harbor pearl harbor in 1949 was a japanese raiders tie of high tension by a potentially belligerent power it was in a military attack on a military base uh not even in the continental united states and not in the television age 911 was quite different and of course it was it hit two huge symbols of different kinds of american power the world trade center in new york which was seen as almost the iconic center of american financial power and the pentagon the headquarters of this unbelievably powerful military force which in the in 2001 was very much still a superpower and i think that meant that this could be very little alternative to the americans reacting very strongly with military means for what it’s worth i think that if in fact um george w bush hadn’t won the 2000 election and al gore had won it he probably would have taken action afghanistan but very unlikely in iraq as well but the point was that we were set for war but from the taliban point of view and the hide a point of even more so for al qaeda this was what they wanted i mean you have to remember that within the thinking among many of these people 20 25 years ago in the 1980s it was a majority with arab fighters and others who basically got rid of the soviets and in their view and it’s only an exaggeration not hugely more than that they’d helped bring about the end of the soviet union and i think what we didn’t recognize at the time or very few of us were even suggesting this was the thing was to some extent a trap by al qaeda you draw the united states into southwest asia and bit by bit over many years you weaken them and you argue in fact now we’re in the extraordinary position where the united states in terms of status has actually been weakened so i would actually argue and i mean i was working with oxford research group at the time and i remember seller elwood and i did an immediate analysis and we basically said do not go to war this was after 9 11 before the war started that’s a very difficult thing to say because of what had happened but i have to say looking back on it it was probably the right analysis the problem was that of course that it appeared to be very successful primarily because al-qaeda was able to disperse itself pretty quickly uh taliban melted away some into pakistan a boat both down into baluchistan and also the northwest territories most people just went back to their homes and towns with their weapons intact so it was a false kind of vacuum and what should have happened then and some of the really good un people were saying at the time you need a major stabilization force in afghanistan to enable the afghans to rebuild their own security i’m not talking about loads of western peacekeepers people like lactobahimi who was a key point man for the un at the time and had previously been a foreign minister of algeria so he was experienced practicing politician people like him were saying you need several tens of thousands maybe 30 000 people bought in from a range of countries including islamic countries lots of aid in every respect to help basically fill that gap isaf the international security assistance force was set up but it only had about 5 000 people for the first two or three years enough to basically provide a security in kabul and kandahar and maybe sharif and herrera and one or two others nothing beyond that and so the taliban were quickly re-establishing themselves even by two thousand three two thousand and four and bit by bit you’ve seen the deterioration since and of course the other thing that was going along with this and you see it in the state of the union address that bush delivered in january 2002 which is almost a sort of victory speech and basically he extended the war to the axis of evil and it was clear even by march 2002 the united states would go to war with iraq and so basically afghanistan did not count and where the americans i think expected the europeans to come up and provide the aid europe did not either are only on a very small scale and i think it’s that early period you have to go back to it’s being forgotten now but the reality is there was a problem with the whole concept of a war on terror and of course we’ve seen the failed wars as you said in iraq in libya and the more recent bitter air war against uh isis in iraq and syria 2014-18 so it’s a long chapter of mistakes and behind this and coming back very quickly to what you’re saying about the debate has this perception in the united states and in dear old great britain that we are the great powers and we are the police of the world and that i’m afraid is a terrible error but it’s behind a lot of what is going on i’m afraid at the moment but before i ask you about u.s power i mean that debate you just alluded to again here in here in britain what struck me what was missing as i said earlier was any sense of uh context so of course we saw what happened not just the wider occupation in iraq but the british component where in basra effectively the british army were essentially driven out of the city by shiite militia who ruled the roost and then because of the humiliation of basra the british government felt it wanted to prove its military work to the united states and having because i think there was a an arrogant british sense that they understood counter insurgency better than the americans and that seemed to be discredited in in terms of what happened in iraq and then you have the surge of course in hellmann province and that ended very badly for britain didn’t it i mean they got bailed out by the united states marines and then britain essentially withdrew in 2014. so but in the parliamentary debates you saw theresa may the former prime minister and others being applauded either suggesting that britain had leverage over the united states to prevent them from withdrawing all that britain could somehow go it alone as though britain has an independent foreign policy i think this partly comes back to the long-term history of britain in its international role i remember this i won’t say how many years ago well certainly over 50 years ago when i was at college i had a friend who was a ghanaian student and he was remarkable one day almost in passing that you know paul there was this saying that the sun never sets on the british empire you know there’s always somewhere in the sunshine he said the reason for this was because god didn’t trust the british in the dark now the point about that was it’s a completely different view of britain from uh from basically much of the rest of the world if you’d cracked that joke in 19th century london say 1880s 1890s people would would not have been able to understand it at all even now i think it’s very difficult for many british people to take on and much of all the debate and controversy over brexit is about this idea that britain is a great power and the problem is i mean i think there are only two european countries that have this to the same extent and those are france and britain and each of us has a delusion of post-imperial grandeur made more solid by our possession of nuclear weapons and a place on the uh um security council with a veto and so we see ourselves as so important so much so that we have this extraordinary flotilla of a giant aircraft carrier somewhere i think it’s somewhere about japan at present with all the ships accompanying it it’s this idea that we are a great power and i think much of the way that that debate was going on last wednesday was a reflection of that complete misunderstanding of what role a country like britain could play i mean as far as i can see for what it’s worth in an era of pandemics and impending climate breakdown a middle-ranking state like britain could actually be significant but not in a military sense i mean as far as military concern you can’t even approach those problems with traditional military thinking so we have this huge problem of needing to rethink security it’s going to be even more difficult in britain than many other countries i’m afraid people are generally well versed with the atrocities committed by the taliban but as we just heard for example from um from live from kabul we a brilliant guest spoke about the raids on houses and so on uh which were committed by u.s forces but i mean you know if we look for example at the afghan local police 30 000 strong pro-government militia mobilized by the us guilty of murdering civilians committing fraud theft rape kidnapping drug trafficking extortion the cia-backed coast protection force huge human rights violations uh the fact that warlords and afghan warlords that the u.s chose us allies were human rights watch said uh you know they thought that they could help provide security and stability despite their records of abuses the opposite proved to be the case they said attacks villages raped women summarily executed civilians stole livestock and land i mean to what extent do you think those atrocities which are not reported widely at all in the west people are not familiar with them whatsoever and that has been instrumental in terms of the west presenting itself for local for domestic consumption as the just the good guys how much do you think that played a role in the revival of the taliban i think it would have helped a lot and certainly that’s even more uh clear in uh in iraq where we on a few occasions the mainstream american press uh reporting with some of its really good reporters like pamela constable were reporting what was going actually going on but that was rare in afghanistan it was even less and the problem was that the impact it had was to give a false picture of what was going on and in a way it’s part of this wider culture in countries like britain and united states and france that we are we are the good guys and the rest of the bad guys it’s as crude as that and we don’t do things that we accuse them of doing and when you appear a little bit below the surface it’s very different here and there occasionally a country will face up to this uh i think what has happened recently in australia over the last year or so with the controversy over the appalling behavior of the scottish of the australian sorry of the australian special oh hold on paul sorry i think we just we just lost you there slightly paul one second we’re gonna we’ll we’ll get you back we somehow for some reason seems to have lost sound do you want to try reconnecting bear with us it’s okay these things happen oh hello paul do you do you want to try just quickly if you exit and re-enter let’s try that and while paul’s doing that i will continue uh to to babble um about what we’ve got coming up in the next week while paul’s just reconnecting uh because this week as i said we’re working on a documentary about wealth and power uh in britain we’re going to be looking at a a range uh of different topics in terms of who owns land landowners landed property but also within the major cities as well um and that’s thanks to your support we really appreciate that we’ve also got an interview with clive lewis who is a labor mp who is a military veteran he actually served in afghanistan uh back in 2012 uh and he wasn’t called by the speaker um in the debate he was the only afghan veteran not to be called by the speaker in the parliamentary debate so we’re very lucky to have had him uh to interview so we’ll be sharing his interview this week about his experiences in afghanistan what he learned and what he would have said in parliament if he’d have the chance paul do you want to try speaking see if we can hear you now [Music] no it’s a very interesting sound it sounds quite musical actually i mean paul what i’d say suggest just quickly is if if you close if you log out and then log back in again let’s try that if that’s possible if you can hear me not sure yeah there we go we’ll try that uh these things happen it’s it’s it is live it’s i mean i think what it is is having ridiculed gb news so extensively on the show and their technical mishaps uh this is karma this is the great revenge of gb news uh to be fair we don’t have a multi-million pound budget so we do actually have more excuses uh than they do uh what i’m gonna do is have a little look as well people are uh what people are people are saying uh david barrata who’s a regular asked if abadela behaves going to be safe anything we can do to help him like a fundraising uh fund to help get him out i will speak to him afterwards i’ll let i’ll let everybody know next week how he’s doing i think he’s okay let me just check with paul now paul yes all right i don’t know what’s going on the trouble is i’ve got a good system here but i’m low-tech but i have sons who are high-tech so they set it up but they’re not at home at present so i’m sorry you now you’re now crisp and clear again so yeah just what i was going to ask the other question i was going to ask is just about u.s power and what this means for us power because if we look back in you know this is obviously compared to the fall of saigon in 1975 the defeat of the united states in the vietnam war after far more american soldiers died but also three million people died of course in southeast asia in vietnam lives in cambodia but that was seen as a big traumatic defeat and at the time u.s power seemed to be in decline because you had various soviet-aligned forces on the march across africa asia and latin america but then of course you had the collapse of the soviet union which left the united states as a global hegemon so what does this mean has is this now how how severe are the consequences for u.s power that’s a really difficult one because it’s so complicated because we had the four years of donald trump which is all about quotes making america great again but actually withdrawing into itself to be great and now we have the biden coming in trying to restore things to more or less the way they were before and you’ve had this huge disaster as far as he is concerned uh with what has happened in afghanistan um i think we are probably in a period of decline but in a sense you have this problem as one well knows that if you have a really powerful state particularly a world power which is to some extent in decline that is when things could be most dangerous that is when it is more likely for people like trump to come in i remember at a british international studies association meeting about um about seven or eight years ago it was at the end of uh of obama’s first term and quite a lot of the people were discussing this and were very critical of that obama wasn’t living up to scratch or one of these sort of specialists in american foreign policy said look you’ve got to realize that obama has probably the most difficult job in american politics he’s presiding over country which is beginning to be in decline in terms of relative power so i think it’s very difficult for the united states to do it as to what this means i think it does mean into a period of some decline this of course is when the growing power without a doubt is china which has its own sense of manifest destiny with all the problems built into that and i think it’s also an issue where we simply don’t know whether it’s going to be a slow change down or whether you know like the old road runner cartoon you know the road runner goes over the cliff doesn’t realize it’s over the cliff and then suddenly comments down it may be sort of sudden demise what it does mean of course is that you know for a state like britain which thinks it too is global and does it by sort of hanging onto the coattails in the united states that it’s not in a good position to be in at any time and certainly not after brexit so the many implications for british politics going back to your earlier question this is what comes out of that debate last week it was so unreal in terms of the relationship of what was going on in the world as a whole and in britain’s supposed role in it i mean that was the other thing you mentioned china i mean i am interested in where this leaves the kind of shift that that’s happened in terms of the global balance of power towards china i mean the financial crash accelerated it covered has essentially uh but also these you know the defeats the west suffered in iraq uh in the middle east generally and now afghanistan where does this leave china and what sort of power do you think china will will emerge as what how will it exert its power as as it increases in many ways that really is interesting if i use that term interesting for something so serious i mean when the americans went into afghanistan back in 2001 2002 what they did at the time was to establish bases in i think it was tajikistan and uzbekistan and possibly even kazakhstan as well and that basically increased their influence in central asia it was not something that beijing or moscow liked but it certainly happened now basically it’s reverse and what you do see is that the countries that are going to gain most in the short term from what is afghanistan or certainly pakistan particularly the isi with all its taliban links and all probability china now iran over in the west it will be significant but the iranians are always rather cherry about the the taliban and partly goes back to the murder of those iranian diplomats more than 20 years ago but china is a different case in point that it really is significant that less than four weeks ago there was a major taliban delegation invited to visit china spend time with the foreign minister and basically look at future relations for the chinese they would like to be in a position where they can have proper direct physical links with afghanistan remember the wakandan corridor goes right through to a high pass which technically does allow you to get from afghanistan into china it’s that one common point that could be converted with tunnels on the rest into an all-weather capability china from the point of view of the taliban would want assurances that the weaker paramilitaries that have formed part of the taliban force would be reigned and held in check and so basically the position in xinjiang province would be eased for the chinese point of view the taliban could benefit from rapid aid to development the chinese will get new routes through to gwadar and through to the west and will also be able to help develop the very strong mineral resources in afghanistan so in crude terms like that i don’t know whether it will work out but the prospects are for increased chinese influence moving from eastern asian through towards west asia and made easier by what has happened that will depend very much on the taliban’s attitudes whether they really want to open up but by the very fact that you had this uh summit meeting four weeks ago which may turn out to be one of the most significant developments this year then i think we are in for a time of change and that does lead to a diminishing of u.s power concerning india because indian influence is decreasing and so there is a shift going on basically one it’s in the early days very difficult to break what it will go but it’s not going to be the way things were before i’m pretty sure of that and just finally where do you think this leads leaves future western military interventions and as we’ve said we’ve had two decades now we’ve had afghanistan disaster libya disaster iraq disaster the war on tariff we look at the 16 years before 2001 compared to the 16 years afterwards over twice as many people a year on average died because of terrorist incidents following the war in terror than compared to the 16 years before so i mean on their own terms they’ve all been very catastrophic huge amounts of lives lost and trillions literally trillions of dollars it’s about six five trillion dollars six trillion dollars spent by the united states on these various wars where do you think this leads future military interventions i think large-scale military interventions by western states in other words tens of thousands on boots of the ground are almost certainly going to be a thing of the past and maybe of the distant past the very clear move that you see happening now and its extension of what has been developing over 15 years has been the move to what we used to call remote control warfare now more generally remote warfare so basically instead of the kinds of forces that were put in the past you will have the use of arms drones strike aircraft with long range standoff weapons special forces privatized military cyber attacks the use of local militias and you see that already i mean essentially what will the united states do now if it suspects that al qaeda or even isis units in afghanistan are being allowed by the taliban uh to present a threat to quotes american interests elsewhere and maybe even the continental united states what the united states has clearly said it will do is it will engage in remote warfare almost entirely using drones and strike aircraft it’s already been doing it in a sense and that is what is happening in other conflicts the united states and britain are still regularly doing airstrikes in iraq and syria against isis forces who have mostly gone to ground but not entirely you’re seeing it i think most in extreme form right across the sahel in africa and right down through east africa i mean we’ve had outbreaks of a kind of um radical islamist paramilitaries recently in the drc the congo just across the border from uganda and in mozambique in both states uh aid is being provided either from the united states or portugal or france in support of the special forces in those countries so nor already of seeing those kinds of forms of warfare taking place and i think the thing here is that that represents a shift but you will not get the very large numbers of boots on the ground but given that the war against isis between 2014 and 18 was largely remote warfare and that has not worked isis is developing in other parts of the world even that kind of warfare is is basically i think obsolete that will not be recognized because the military-industrial complex worldwide is so incredibly powerful and influential but the reality is we have to go for fundamental rethinking what we mean by security uh the lessons of the last 20 years are the way that things are done are not working and there’s no remote way they will be relevant in an era of climate breakdown there has to be some pretty fundamental rethinking and it has to be done quickly paul it’s been a massive massive honor to have you sharing huge your huge wisdom talents and insights on all of this whenever events of these importance happens you’re always one of the first people i always look to in terms of your work everyone do go on to open democracy if you do search paul rogers open democracy you’ll see a very extensive catalogue of articles uh on many of these issues which are exceptionally educational and informative but honestly paul it’s a real honor i know you’re a pint so i’m sure we’ll meet in real life okay i’ll settle with that be very happy with that and thank you very much for having me and letting me grab it at this length i’m afraid no not at all it’s it’s it’s a it’s a real honor and we’re we’re always very lucky as i said to have uh guests of your caliber on the show uh but it was exceptionally educational and uh i think if we contrast this to the parliamentary debates it’s uh so quite quite the contrast uh but cheers paul really appreciate it take care thank you very much thanks take care bye um i better go quickly actually because i just realized the camera just malfunctioned you didn’t notice it slight technical uh issues which we’ve i think we’ve smoothed over but i think the camera’s gonna turn off any minute uh so i’m now gonna go for brunch with my family in sheffield but i learned a huge amount from both those absolutely fantastic guests both of them extremely uh insightful and as i’ve said far more educational than most of the coverage that we’ve got from the media and certainly from the speeches we heard in parliament and from u.s politicians as well this week so thank you so much to both those guests as ever you make this possible with patreon.comjones84 and the documentaries that we’re currently working on you make possible we’re also by the way going to do a documentary at labour party conference so that’s in a month’s time i see an interview with kirstama in the observer in which he essentially just says that he’s abandoning the 10 pledges that he made in order to be elected leader of the labour party and i suppose what i would say to that is where does it leave a politician if they admit that they said things promises made promises in order to get elected which they have no intention of honoring if they did that once they’ll do it again pretty fatal thing for a politician to do it’ll be very interesting to see what happens at labour party conference but we’ll have a documentary thanks to you you make it possible we’ll also do a documentary conservative party conference by the way that’s a uh regular feature tradition that i do do look up our previous documentaries at uh conservative party conference but again that’s made possible by you patreon.com as well as people on superchat brilliant as ever like ted cantwell like rory mclean like david barrata like sm is the dog uh thank you so much to you to all of you if you’re watching this please press like and subscribe do listen on the podcast as well uh the podcast is doing very well so thank you for all the support uh there and spread the word we’ll be back live i’ll be in okay i’m leaving the country for the first time uh malta but i do intend to do a live show from malta next weekend uh let’s see if the wi-fi allows me to do that but i’m hoping it will i’m there for another wedding weddings every single week uh because obviously there’s a bit of a backlog because of the pandemic so i will hopefully be live from malta and half the british left will be there because it’s uh a a prominent left-wing commentator is getting married let you guess who that is uh but lots of everybody will have as i’ve said the documentaries uh coming out very soon uh thanks to you and lots of interviews including clive lewis a labour mp veteran of the afghan conflict but lost love everyone take care of yourself and i will see you soon [Music] you
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Afghanistan And The Fall Of US Power

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