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Pt 1/2 - Paul Jay & Abby Martin on Afghanistan and 9/11

In an episode of the Empire Files podcast, Abby interviews Paul about his investigation into the 9/11 attacks, his experiences in Afghanistan, and his interviews with climate scientists.

TRANSCRIPT

Abby Martin

Welcome to the Empire Files podcast. I’m Abby Martin. Today I’m happy to talk to my friend and colleague Paul Jay. Paul is a journalist and filmmaker who’s had a long career in media. He used to host a prime-time debate show on CBC News called CounterSpin. He’s produced several award-winning documentaries, and he created The Real News Network, where he was a primary host. Paul was also instrumental in helping The Empire Files launch in collaboration with TeleSUR as our executive producer for our debut season. I always appreciate Paul’s insight and analysis, which you can get all the time at his new site, theAnalysis.news, which hosts all of his interviews and commentary.

Paul, thank you so much for joining me on the Empire Files podcast.

Paul Jay

Thanks very much, Abby.

Abby Martin

So let’s start by talking about Afghanistan because we’re recording this shortly after [Pres. Joe] Biden gave his final talk about the official end of the war. Now that the last plane with the military personnel has finally left, what’s your reaction to his speech?

Paul Jay

Well, he was; if you want to talk about him as an individual in this situation, he was caught between a rock and a hard place. So you really have to give the context of how we got here, and it’s somewhat a false debate. His argument is if he had pulled all the Americans and Afghans out more gradually, earlier, it would have sent the message to the Taliban that it was only a matter of time quickly that the Afghan Army would fold. So they delayed pulling out for those reasons because they thought it would speed up the demise of the Afghan Army.

Within the context of that moment and the decision-making he had to make, I suppose it’s as reasonable as anything else. But for progressive people, for workers, for us to talk about the situation, the question for us isn’t whether it was a chaotic evacuation. Could he have left in a different way or a better way or whatever? You know, I used to produce this debate show on CBC in Canada called CounterSpin, and right after the first invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11, the Canadian media was all in a tizzy about whether Canadian troops should have armoured vehicles or not.

There’s a big debate about what equipment they are taking with them. Well, we did a debate which was about, well, if you’re really serious about democracy in Afghanistan, why the hell are you aligned with warlords? I mean, isn’t that the debate? Like, can you build democracy if you’re aligned with warlords?

And in fact, and I’ll give credit to this guy, he’s one of the foreign correspondents for CNN based out of London. I wish I could remember his name because he deserves a little bit of credit because he’s about the only one in the mainstream media that I’ve heard make the point that the overwhelming demand of the Afghans after the fall of the Taliban was if you’re going to invade; okay, disarm the Northern Alliance, disarm the warlords. If you have any seriousness whatsoever about democracy and modernization and so on— and let’s remember there was a sort of democracy in Afghanistan years before all of this. We can get into that. But if you’re serious, start with disarming these criminals, the Northern Alliance criminals.

Well, of course, we know far from doing that the Americans showed up, the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency] showed up with suitcases full of cash. They gave it to the Northern Alliance to buy them their cooperation in demolishing the Taliban. So, the fundamental objective of the United States was never anything to do with democracy or the interest of the Afghan people. Of course, it has all played itself out over the years.

I mean, the closest the rhetoric— well, there’s two moments of rhetoric, which the first one was kind of funny. I don’t know if anybody remembers this, but me. George Bush went on television not long after the invasion of Afghanistan and asked all the children of America to donate one dollar to a fund to help Afghan children.

Abby Martin

What!

Paul Jay

I, for the life of me, have been trying to find out what happened to that money because I’m sure a bunch of kids that did send their dollars—

Abby Martin

What the fuck.

Paul Jay

Really you can look it up. I mean, it was all part of this ‘we’re going to help the people of Afghanistan.’

Abby Martin

This is a group effort. Everyone in the country needs to pitch in, including the kids.

Paul Jay

Yeah, really. Yeah, the American government can’t afford to help Afghan kids. Now, as you know, I was there making a film called Return to Kandahar.

Abby Martin

I want to get into that. What was the other point of rhetoric really quick before we get into this next story.

Paul Jay

When [Barack] Obama had his troop surge, he said he called for a civilian surge. He said it’s not enough. We can’t do this with just troop surge. There has to be a civilian surge: of engineers, of teachers, of doctors. You know, we have to seriously commit to helping the Afghan people. Of course, that was— if you’re going to be there and you have any seriousness about the objectives you’re stating, well, of course, that is what was needed. Far more than any troop surge. Of course, that was just a bunch of rhetoric, too, because there never was a civilian surge.

Abby Martin

Right. Yeah, I mean, he said a lot in his speech, a lot of just kind of empty, baseless rhetoric. But I think that an important aspect of it was this rhetorical question that he asked Paul. He said, I respectfully suggest you ask yourself this question. He asked this to the press corps as well, which was bizarre because a couple of days ago, he was like re-asking the press this question. They were just like, why are you asking us questions? But anyway, he said if we’d been attacked on September 11, 2001, from Yemen instead of Afghanistan, we would have gone to war in Yemen. He’s basically like, would we have gone to war in Afghanistan even though the Taliban controlled Afghanistan in the year 2001? I believe the honest answer is no. That’s because we have no vital interest in Afghanistan other than to prevent an attack on America’s homeland and our friends.

We both know that is completely false, Paul. One only has to look back at the [Bill] Clinton administration and the nuisance that the Taliban was causing; it was a very unreliable business partner. There were plans for the UNOCAL [Union Oil Company of California] pipeline. You even see headlines from CNN today basically begging someone to go and extract the mineral wealth because, quote, unquote, the world needs it, and we can’t afford to have the Taliban be in charge.

Then you have him— of course, it wouldn’t be a speech if they didn’t talk about China. He definitely kind of hints to the Asia pivot; how we need to pull out of Afghanistan because we need to focus on Al-Shabaab, other countries in Africa and, of course, China and Russia. What I thought was also interesting is just pointing out that the war cost $300 million a day. Okay, horrible, so where else is this money going to go if now we’re going to be saving $300 million a day? And then, of course, closing out with this horrific drone strike that wiped out an entire family was reasserting that this was indeed legitimate because it did target ISIS.

If you want to comment on any of that before we go back a little bit to your film Return to Kandahar. I mean, you were in Afghanistan about a year after the U.S. invasion in 2002. So let’s talk about what the country was like when you were there, Paul, and if you wanted to comment on anything else.

Paul Jay

Well, I’m not so sure. In fact, I don’t know that there’s evidence that the United States, it would have been the Bush administration at that point, would have invaded Afghanistan anyway, without a terrorist attack. The Bush administration, actually, as far as I can tell from all the evidence, interviews, and whatever, actually didn’t really even want to go into Afghanistan even after the attack. The plan was always the invasion of Iraq. Afghanistan was a distraction that they had to do because the American public opinion, at least in their eyes, demanded retribution. It demanded revenge.

Abby Martin

Really, because there was even documentation that the Taliban was fully going to surrender if we gave them Amnesty, and they said no. I mean, there was complete hubris in the situation.

Paul Jay

Yeah, because, well, it wasn’t just if the Taliban surrendered were they saying no. Part of that deal was— and I actually interviewed it when I was in Afghanistan. A member of this, who was at the time a member of the Taliban Central Council. The handing over of [Osama] bin Laden was part of the deal.

Abby Martin

Yeah.

Paul Jay

In fact, in the first vote, Mullah Omar called the vote and the Taliban— according to this guy, and I believe him to be serious. We interviewed him in Karzai’s house. He was a real former member of the Taliban Central Council, according to everything we could find. There is some reporting from the Guardian and the Independent that verifies what I’m about to say. The Taliban Central Council voted to hand over bin Laden, even though Mullah Omar was against it.

The majority thought that Al-Qaeda had misused, misappropriated the friendship and the ability of Al-Qaeda to organize in Afghanistan. According to this guy, a lot of them were concerned about how close Mullah Omar had become with bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. So they actually had a vote, and the vote was to hand him over to an Islamic country and let a trial take place within an Islamic country. I don’t know if that would have been Saudi Arabia, which would have been ironic given the Saudi role in 9/11, but at any rate.

So, according to this interview, it’s in the film; a few days after the vote to hand over bin Laden there’s another meeting. Mullah Omar called a second meeting of the Central Council, or whatever it was called, and at the meeting, according to this guy, was the Pakistani foreign Minister. I kind of wonder if something didn’t get lost in the translation because I think it’d be more likely to be somebody from the Pakistani Secret Service, the ISI. But at any rate, according to him, some senior member of the Pakistani government was at the meeting and argued against handing over bin Laden and said he was a guest. These are martyrs. They fought against the Russians for you, and you cannot turn them over to the Americans. So there’s a new vote, and they voted now not to turn them over. There was a deal where bin Laden was going to leave with the support of Mullah Omar. In fact, this guy talked about seeing dozens and dozens of white SUVs pulling out one morning, which raises another question: if it was so damn obvious, others would have seen it too?

But just to get to your point, I remember very clearly those days, the public opinion and much of it generated by the press is they wanted an invasion. When I say public opinion, this is the public opinion the media creates; certainly, the elites create and sections of the military-industrial complex.

Abby Martin

Yeah. Aren’t you letting the Bush administration off the hook a little bit by being like this is all manufactured by the press? And then public opinion [inaudible 00:13:26] and forced their hand to invade Afghanistan?

Paul Jay

All the literature, everything you read from Gates memoirs, from people I’ve interviewed, [Col. Lawrence] Wilkerson, from others. They wanted to invade Iraq. That was the agenda from day one of the Bush administration. They never had an agenda to do anything but invade Iraq.

According to Bob Graham, Senator Bob Graham who was head of the Senate— Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Co-Chair of the congressional investigation into 9/11. He explicitly told me on camera on several occasions that Bush/ [Dick] Cheney, deliberately, in a planned way, allowed 9/11 to take place as part of a plan to invade Iraq and even went beyond a passive wall. We can get into that.

According to Graham, there were actually some proactive measures taken by the Bush administration to facilitate the 9/11 attack, but it was always about Iraq. I see no evidence that they wanted to go into Afghanistan until after 9/11, and then when they went, they didn’t go in a serious way. In an interesting way, this is why I said when the white SUVs all left Kandahar, why weren’t they bombed?

Abby Martin

Well, it’s very documented that bin Laden was allowed to leave the country.

Paul Jay

Well, that’s my point. Yeah.

Abby Martin

No, of course. It doesn’t make sense. But you have to admit that there are vital interests in Afghanistan.

Paul Jay

Yes. And no, if there were really vital interests, they wouldn’t pull out.

Abby Martin

They wouldn’t have been there 20 years trying to make it a neo-colony. What was the point?

Paul Jay

Why did the United States stay in Vietnam for so many years?

Abby Martin

Same reason.

Paul Jay

Well, because [Lyndon B.] Johnson stuck his dick out and said, we can’t be seen to lose. There comes the point where they know, like the Pentagon papers, made it clear they knew they were going to lose in Vietnam. They knew they couldn’t colonize Vietnam, and they stayed there for years afterwards, millions of millions of deaths.

Abby Martin

But that you could almost argue made more sense because they couldn’t let communism win, as like a precedent to be set. To me, it’s not the same in that respect. But for the sake of brevity, let’s accept your premise that they did not.

Paul Jay

Well, let me just finish the point here. Once they’re in, they can’t be seen to lose a war. Even though since World War II, they lose war after war. But they can’t— if you look at [Zbigniew] Brzezinski and chessboard and why he thought they had to send the Soviet Union into Afghanistan and why they have to project power in the region, you can’t be seen to lose to the Taliban. It makes you look weak. At least that’s what’s in their brains. Vietnam was about that.

You know, there’s a story that’s pretty documented in the White House where someone says to Johnson, you know, it’s clear we’re going to be there for years, and this isn’t going to go— we’re not going to win. Why are we still here? And literally, Johnson whips out his dick and holds it in front of them and says, because we don’t lose, we got the biggest dicks. I mean, you can’t underestimate the role of banality and stupidity in the making of history.

Abby Martin

No, I don’t. I think that we also lost the war in Iraq, but for some reason, it wasn’t the same as Afghanistan. I mean, I think that there was a lot of motivations, Paul, instead of just the imperial hubris and belligerence on behalf of military generals, just being like, we can’t afford to look like we’ve lost this thing.

Paul Jay

I agree. One of the things that were a strategic asset and this story has to come out more. You’re talking about the biggest producer of poppies, heroin, and such in the world, the massive amounts of money being generated there. There’s just no way that you export industrial amounts of poppy without the American armed forces knowing about it.

Abby Martin

Especially because the NSA [National Security Agency] has been fully documenting every phone call. One of a couple of countries in the entire world was Afghanistan, full surveillance of all phone calls. And you’re telling me that the CIA did not oversee this operation? I think that we’re going to be finding out a lot more about the opium harvesting and where this all went, Paul, later on, hopefully, some [crosstalk 00:18:14].

Paul Jay

Of course, the mineral wealth, especially lithium, but that’s not enough reason to fight— to keep what obviously was a losing hand for two decades in Afghanistan. I think the reason it changes now with the Biden administration, and why they are getting out now, and to some extent, it was the same equation for [Donald] Trump; I know a lot of the same people are advising both of these presidents, is China. Every foreign policy decision now they sit down and say, how does this impact us with China. Their conclusion here is that they’re tied down in a terrible war, and it weakens them in terms of China. They could argue the other way. Once you leave, it makes you look even weaker, and now China has openings in Afghanistan, but it had those openings anyway.

Abby Martin

I mean, I do think that the U.S. was chomping at the bit just to have a reason. I think that to invade Afghanistan, and of course, the main prize was Iraq. We all know that. That was explicitly documented through their plans, Paul, but let’s move on. You were in Afghanistan, which is incredible. I mean, you were there a year after the U.S. invasion. That’s pretty crazy.

Paul Jay

Less than a year.

Abby Martin

Less than a year after the U.S. invasion. I guess in what, early or spring 2002.

Paul Jay

The invasion was what, like—

Abby Martin

October 2002?

Paul Jay

October, November. And we were there in June.

Abby Martin

Jesus. So it was for your film Return to Kandahar. This was not a documentary. This was a—

Paul Jay

Yeah, it was a documentary.

Abby Martin

It was a documentary. So this woman was a real figure who was trying to find her friend.

Paul Jay

Yeah. What happened is Nelofer Pazira— there’s a film called Kandahar, which was a fictional film made by an Iranian filmmaker, [Mohsen] Makhmalbaf. She plays a character in the movie based on her story, but it’s not the real story. In that movie, she goes back looking for her sister, or something or another like that. So she was living in Toronto, and she was a guest on CounterSpin. I had her on, and I got to know her. When I heard the real story that her friend Dyana had sent her a letter, during, I guess around this would be 2001, she gets a letter from her friend Dyana, who says she cannot bear living under the Taliban rule. She’s confined to her house. She can’t work. She can’t go to school. She ends the letter by saying, you’ll have to live for both of us now.

The interpretation was, Nelofers interpretation was that she was going to commit suicide, but she never could find out what really happened to her. So I said, well, let’s go find her. Let that be the documentary. We’ll go look for Dyana. We’ll use that kind of as a motif to tell the story of how Afghanistan got to where it is. The years of civil war and the Americans arming of the Jihadists.

Abby Martin

Briefly explain that. Briefly explain through the lens of this film the potential that Afghanistan had before the Soviet invasion, before the dirty war, versus the war-ravaged impoverished nation that we all know today.

Paul Jay

Well, there are scenes in the film, in the early ’80s and such, when Nelofer was going to high school, all the girls wore blue jeans. She said, if someone showed up in a burka at her high school, they’d be laughed out of school. Burkas were things that people from the villages would wear when they came to a market in Kabul. Nobody in Kabul dressed that way.

The other thing, John Pilger, has actually written a good piece recently about this period, which is worth looking up. The governments that came to power after there was a coup against the cousin of the King, who was ruling, who would himself have a coup against his brother, the King. So in the early ’80s, before this thing started, I’m sorry, in the ’70s, there was real modernization going on.

In fact, the coup, which was fairly popular, was organized by the Afghan Communist Party. According to Pilger’s article, and he has some pretty good documentation, was not a puppet party for the Soviet Union. It was part of a sort of domestic, organic, urban Afghan politics. When they came into power, they got rid of this cousin of the King that apparently was quite hated, and then they developed reforms. The reforms, the most important ones, I guess, given what’s been happening: is all girls, we’re entitled to go to school, all women were entitled to go to work. While in the urban centers, that was already the norm. The countryside was very futile and very backwards, and women had no rights at all. And this communist government, quasi-communist, quasi-socialist government, started to impose these laws in the countryside.

You can argue they did it in a very authoritarian, very bureaucratic way. Instead of trying to persuade elders and villagers and create a process where the women could fight themselves, they imposed it on the countryside, and it gave rise to a lot of rebellion.

The elders, obviously, the men, started fighting against this government. And that’s when Brzezinski advises [Jimmy] Carter to start arming these village fighters that became known as the Mujahideen against the government. It was allied with the Soviet Union. But there’s some serious differences, too, between the Afghan Communist Party and the Soviet Union. But at any rate, to shorten this up, once the Mujahideen start getting American arms, including Stinger missiles, where they can shoot down helicopters. It starts to become a question of whether the Afghan government can sustain itself. The Soviets actually don’t like the way the Afghan government is operating, especially these kinds of more coercive ways of imposing these reforms. I’m sure there’s people that know this history better than me, but this is a broad outline.

The Afghan Communist government asked the Soviets to come in because the Americans were so interfering: arming both the Mujahideen and sending cash and arms through Pakistan. It was all being managed by the Pakistani ISI. The Saudis were helping finance and organize it. Long story short, eventually the Soviets have had enough. Now the Americans have had enough, and the Soviets withdraw. The Afghan government lasts a few more months. It actually lasted longer than this one did now.

Nelofer describes that when the Taliban marched into Kabul, they were seen as heroes. You know, people saw them— because the Soviet government had become— at least this is her take now, you know, I’m sure there were— like her uncle was very pro-communist. So it’s not as simple as her take on this.

Her take was that the Afghan Communists and then the Soviets had been so repressive and bureaucratic in the way they ruled. Even though it was great for women and education, literacy went up, you know, the Soviets, I think, were there eight, nine years. A lot of progressive developments took place. At any rate, the people that had enough with the Soviet occupation, in the cities, and certainly those in the countryside that hated the reforms. So the Taliban come in, as you’re reading in the press now, a lot of the same promises: oh, women will have rights, and this and that.

Anyway, Nelofer, and this is in the film, where she talks about it. They escape Afghanistan and go to a refugee camp in Pakistan. It turns out the refugee camp is actually run by an extension of the Taliban. And so, she gets a direct experience of what it meant to live under the Taliban. And she completely changes her mind to see the Taliban as a positive force, and so on. Then eventually, she gets to Canada.

Anyway, to jump forward, we head off in the spring of 2002 looking for Dyana. The situation is the Taliban have more or less left the country for Pakistan, Al-Qaeda, the Tora Bora things over in Pakistan. I got to tell you as much as I was opposed, at the time, to the U.S. bombing and the U.S. intervention— and I supported those people that argued that if there really was evidence that Al-Qaeda and Afghanistan were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. I’m at least convinced they were, and I’ve not seen serious evidence they weren’t. I believed they were. In Afghanistan, I was told they were, including this guy from the Afghan Central Council. But it could have been done like a police operation. In fact, from what I know, they even could have worked out a deal with the Taliban to get Al-Qaeda. But at that point, I think the last thing the United States wanted was a show trial with bin Laden. You should read bin Laden’s letter to the Americans if you haven’t. It’s brilliantly written.

Abby Martin

 I was going to say that everything that bin Laden’s written is actually really worth checking out because a lot of it, it’s the whole why do they hate us? They hate us because of our foreign policy, especially when it comes to the U.S. support of Israel. Bin Laden certainly articulates that in almost every speech.

Paul Jay

He has a great line. He says, if we hated you because of your freedom, we would have attacked Sweden. It’s kind of a wonderful life. If your style of freedom is the problem, we should have attacked Sweden.

Abby Martin

It’s unbelievable. Honestly, then you see people like Tulsi Gabbard, really quickly; Tulsi Gabbard had this really dumb take on the whole thing, being like the ISIS case suicide bombing was because they want us to convert to their version of Islam. It’s like, no, that’s not why this happened. But go ahead.

Paul Jay

So when I got there to Kabul, and I went with all my preconceived notions of how much I oppose the way the Americans: number one, bombed and invaded, allowed the Northern Alliance to come in. I heard from so many people, and we went all over the country, Kabul. We went down to Kandahar, and we went North to Mazar-i-Sharif. Over and over again, I heard: number one, such hatred for the Taliban, such relief that they were gone, and such hope. Number one, as I said earlier, that the warlords would get disarmed. Number one, demand.

Number two are the Americans, and NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] are they really serious about reconstruction? Because if they are, then, of course, we would welcome it. There was a kind of optimism that, well, as bad as the bombing of Kabul was, and as bad as so many people died in those attacks by the U.S., at least the Taliban are gone, and now there’s some kind of hope. Well, when we were there. We could see it already by the spring of 2002; the U.S. had absolutely no interest in reconstruction whatsoever.

The U.S. troops were chasing the Taliban and Al-Qaeda around mountains and borders. Honestly, it’s not clear what the hell they were doing. You know, they would do strikes that would kill people at weddings. But when you actually saw where there were attempts at reconstruction, like a building of a school, building of a hospital, it was always Germany, or Canada, or Norway. The U.S. said, you NATO countries, you go do the reconstruction stuff. We’re not into the reconstruction business, which means it never had real money behind it. It never had real force.

The whole U.S. line now, oh, we failed at nation-building, bullshit. There wasn’t a day they attempted nation-building. They destroyed the nation. That isn’t 20 years ago. They destroyed— the process of the destruction of Afghanistan is back to Brzezinski, Carter, and then Reagan, and the arming of jihadists that’s the beginning of the destruction of Afghanistan. But when there actually was a moment where if there was any seriousness in the rhetoric, Afghans would have welcomed it. There wasn’t; it was all B.S.

Abby Martin

I mean, it’s really sad to hear you articulate that because I don’t blame them for having hope and optimism for what they thought the U.S. really was trying to do. Unfortunately, Paul, that was so soon after the invasion; I would imagine that if you were to speak to the majority of Afghans today, they would have a much different view on the legacy of the last 20 years. I mean, we don’t need to go over the statistics here, but it is pretty horrifying.

I mean, let’s just look at who really reaped the profits here. Two trillion dollars of taxpayer funds were just funnelled into defense contractors. You had over $100 billion in public subsidies. Not to mention, as you said, the suitcases full of cash were just handed over to the people that fled. Now just the chaos, which again, all of this hullabaloo over the chaos and how the evacuation is happening. Look, ending the war is good objectively. I think that we can all on the left agree with that. But, yeah, I mean, it’s pretty devastating. The suicide bombing, the fact that facts are coming out about soldiers unloading into the crowds in a panic. The drone strike he promised and revenge that basically massacred this family.

I mean, there’s so much that happened. Now there’s hundreds of people left there. Not just the token Afghans that helped facilitate the occupation, or the translators, or whatever the CIA assets. Now it’s like, what is really going to happen to the people left behind? Now you have Biden, as you said, reasserting the Asia pivot and basically saying, look, we don’t need boots on the ground anymore. We can strike terrorists and targets anywhere with our quote, over the horizon capabilities.

So what is your take on that kind of this pivot and shift away from the concept of boots on the ground. And now, just saying the War on Terror is going to continue, Paul unabated.

Paul Jay

Well, why at this moment, both in Trump and now Biden decided enough is enough. They’ve already gone down to what, 2,500 troops or something.

Abby Martin

Yeah, it was basically—

Paul Jay

It was kind of over. I think it has to be the way they see contention with China because it is about this grand chessboard. I just want to add one thing to this earlier conversation. Well, we may not agree, but I don’t think there was a grand plan to invade Afghanistan, but I think once it takes place, everybody sees the money-making opportunities in such a war. And as you just said, at least $2 trillion, most of that gets paid to American companies and contractors, the poppy trade, and so on.

So I think it became a very feeding frenzy of these sectors of the economy. It’s reached the point now, and I think in terms of their contention with China, their logic is we’re just tied down here. We’re spending money there for nothing. And I think there’s another piece to this logic of why get out now. The same logic would have held earlier, but I think there was too many people making money out of it. Nobody wanted to wear the defeat.

See, I wouldn’t give Biden that much credit; that he was willing to wear the defeat. Maybe because he knows he’s not going to run for another term. But the other element here, which is why I think they can do this, is because they know who’s going to manage the situation in Afghanistan, and that’s going to be Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Pakistan, for them, is a bit of a wild card because of the influence of China. But the Saudis have enormous influence in Pakistan as far as I understand it more than the Chinese do. The Saudis are a fairly reliable ally of the United States, which is a whole another story to talk about. So the odds are that the Taliban will do stuff within the realm of what the Saudis and Pakistanis consider okay. So it’s not like they’re just handing Afghanistan over just to the Taliban. The Taliban are— they’re not puppets of the Pakistanis and the Saudis, but they’re very, very close.

Now, that being said, Al-Qaeda is very influential in the Taliban, too. So it’s a very complex thing. But thE— what was your question?

Abby Martin

Yeah.

Paul Jay

Oh, what about now?

Abby Martin

Yeah, I mean, just the pivoting, or just the comments that we don’t need to do this kind of warfare because we have the drone war now.

Paul Jay

It’s true. Biden sits down at the table. They take power. His people are there, and they say, listen, what is the real foreign policy, geopolitical issue facing us? It’s obvious the answer is China. So it means every single other subject, every area, every region, every decision, it should be measured under that thing. Like if you’re a corporation, what do we do? We sell cell phones. Okay, let’s not do something that doesn’t help us sell cell phones. That kind of focus. It’s a successful corporate mentality. And you don’t just do everything because you can.

Especially now, when for the first time, certainly, maybe ever, you’re facing a rival that is going to have an economy, or maybe already does, but soon will have an economy bigger than yours. That has a population that makes you look like a pygmy. That has a global strategy and is already the number one trading partner for most of Latin America, never mind Africa and Asia. It started to bubble to the surface with Trump in its own perverse way. And even at the end of Obama, you had the beginning of the Asian pivot; that’s Obama’s stuff.

So the consciousness has arisen in the elites, and the geopolitical elites, that now they’re facing arrival as never before. The problem is they don’t really know what to do about it. This is not the rival of the Soviet Union, which they didn’t like because so much of the global economy when you have a country the size of the Soviet Union wasn’t part of global capitalism. They didn’t like that. They didn’t like— even if it was lukewarm sometimes. They didn’t like whatever support the Soviet Union gave to national liberation movements. But still, it was never a threat militarily to the United States, even though they pretended it was. It was all bullshit.

I can get in my Ellsberg thing later, but that’s the essence of it. But now there’s a real thing. Let me if I can back up for a minute here. To understand Afghanistan, a lot of people are talking about Brzezinski, Carter, and arming the jihadists to bring down the Soviet Union. But that isn’t really the origin story of that phase of this kind of strategy.

It begins at the end of World War II, and it’s FDR that makes the original deal with the devil. And that’s when FDR meets with Ibn Saud of the Saud royal family and makes a deal. The deal is, we will keep the Saud royal family in power, and you’ll make life easy on Standard Oil, which they had already started to understand how much oil Saudi Arabia had. It hadn’t even fully revealed itself, but Standard Oil had a pretty good idea. They developed a strategy. The Saudi royal family will use Wahhabism to expand its influence throughout the Arab world on behalf— and an alliance with the United States. This actually gets articulated clearly under [Dwight D.] Eisenhower, where there is a quote from Eisenhower which more— I may not get it exact, but it’s pretty close. He, more or less, says we can use the Saudi Royal family and the fact that they are the defenders of Mecca to bring down and oppose Nasserism, nationalism, and socialism.

Let’s remember, in all the big Arab countries; the Communist parties were very strong. The socialist movements were very strong. So in order to oppose national liberation, nationalism, Arab nationalism and socialism, the American strategy, beginning with Roosevelt, is a lie with monarchal fascists. They spread the most extreme virulent form of a Hobbist religion to try to win the masses away from socialism and enforce very draconian regimes.

So the line doesn’t begin with arming the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. It begins with Roosevelt. Let me just add one more thing. This isn’t the demonized Roosevelt. It wouldn’t matter who the hell was president. The objective development, how global capitalism developed unevenly; you get at different times in history; certain countries become more dominant. World War II set the table for the rise of this American superpower. When you think of yourselves, and of course, everyone likes to think of themselves as good guys. So Roosevelt sees himself, and sort of the rest of the presidents, as the defenders of light, of enlightenment, of democracy, against fascism and totalitarianism. They set on this strategy after they just bombed Hiroshima, Nagasaki and firebombed civilians, right. These are the guys who think of themselves as enlightened. I mean, the hypocrisy is beyond— what can you say? This is how the world works. They just see opportunities, and they take them. So there was an opportunity to ally and use the Saudis. So they did. It goes on from there. The problem is the system of global capitalism, and it’s in the very nature of these big powers to expand and then run into each other. Now U.S. and China are running into each other.

It can’t be more dangerous because of climate. They’re not really focused on climate. They’re way more focused on rivalry with China. And maybe, in fact, from what I understand, China is actually more focused on climate than the Americans are, in spite of all the rhetoric. Because of the crazy shit in the American military-industrial complex, and you should add financial complex because most of the arms manufacturers are now owned by financial institutions. They have this massive push now to spend a trillion dollars on modernizing the American nuclear force, which is now pushing China to expand.

Abby Martin

Yeah.

Paul Jay

China was very modest up until now. Now China is talking about expansion.

Abby Martin

A lot of this is in reaction to the U.S., whether it be the space force or the modernization of the nuclear arsenal. A lot of it is done because the U.S. does something first, Paul.

Thank you very much for your time Paul and for coming on the Empire Files podcast.

Paul Jay

Thank you very much, Abby. I really appreciate it.

Abby Martin

Everyone check out theAnalysis.news. It is an incredible website. You deffinately want to get on the mailing list and not miss a single interview that Paul is doing.

Paul Jay

Thank you, Abby.

Abby Martin

Thank you so much, Paul. 

END

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2 Comments

  1. 2 concerns here. 1st is if Cheney et al weren’t really interested in invading Afghanistan,then how did they mount an invasion in 3 weeks? It usually takes about 9 months. This suggests the invasion was planned the day after inauguration.

    2. There’s actually No Evidence proving bin Ladens/Al Qaeda involvement in the actual events on 9/11. The FBI never indicted him,he publicly denied it and there are no videos showing any so called “hijackers” at any airport except in Maine.

    Then factor in the planes. Videos show No Commercial Jets. In fact early news reports were all about a small aircraft or Cessna as the 1st impact. The 2nd is obviously not even a real plane as it doesn’t impact the building but “dissolves” into it leaving No Debris Behind. Any real object striking multiple concrete floors of a steel frame building would be demolished instantly, except for the engines.
    When viewing any video of the 2nd impact look for the missile shaped object on the fuselage and the flash of light just b4 impact- traits no commercial jet ever displayed.

    Then consider that 3 steel frame buildings collapsed,Wtc7 at Free fall speed n the others at near free fall speed*.This is physically n scientifically impossible, unless it’s assisted by demolition or other means totally beyond the abilities of any middle easterners.

    Please review n reconsider your perspective on this.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. R.k. Barkhi

    *People forget the 42 steel girders running the length of the Wtc 1+2 cores/middle. There’s no pancake or collapse scenario in the universe that can explain them collapsing in the bizarrely short time the “collapse” took. None.

  2. about half of the total of $3.2m money as best I can tell

    https://reliefweb.int/report/afghanistan/americas-fund-afghan-children

    The President today is visiting New Windsor, Maryland, to help send off the first shipment of humanitarian aid purchased from funds donated by America’s children. To date, American’s children have donated more than $1.5 million to help the children of Afghanistan.

    The shipment will leave this weekend and will contain vital supplies and some fun surprises for the children of Afghanistan, including:

    — 1,500 tents to provide shelter for Afghan children and families. The Red Cross reports that these tents will provide shelter for approximately 10,000 children.

    — 1,658 winter jackets to help children through the winter.

    — 10,000 gift parcels, including winter hats, wool socks, soap, school supplies, crayons, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, candy, and toys to bring a little joy to children who have endured terrible hardship.

    — Each gift parcel is marked “A Gift to Afghan Children from American Children.”

    I wonder if they wrote that in Pashto, Dari or English.

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