That's an interesting way to frame things. Kind of like President Barack Obama. See Gateway Pundit, "Unreal. Obama Says Taliban Killers Should Be Part of Afghan Government."
Horton: ... I wanted to bring you on the show today was to talk about all the antiwar protests going on around the country, and I guess I just assumed you guys would be involved with that. And yet I’m reading in the Christian Science Monitor that you’re rethinking your call for a pullout from Afghanistan, and that you’ve had your mind changed about the Afghanistan war due to a recent trip that you took there. Can you elaborate on that?
Benjamin: I don’t think that piece really reflects our thinking. We took a delegation there and just got back yesterday. And we certainly did hear some people say that they felt if the U.S. pulled out right now there would be a collapse and the Taliban might take over, there might be a civil war. But we also heard a lot of people say they didn’t want more troops to be sent in and they wanted the U.S. to have a responsible exit strategy that included the training of Afghan troops, included being part of promoting a real reconciliation process and included economic development; that the United States shouldn’t be allowed to just walk away from the problem. So that’s really our position. Not the one that was implied in the Christian Science Monitor.
Horton: Well, and you know I actually considered setting up the first question that way. This is probably sloppy reporting. I can’t imagine that you guys just flip-flop. But again, you sort of seem to be saying, well this is what the people in Afghanistan told you and now that’s your position. Is that it?
Benjamin: Well actually, there were many different opinions in Afghanistan and unfortunately because of the security situation we were very limited in who we talked to. We didn’t get out to the countryside, we didn’t talk to people who had been the targets of U.S. bombing, we didn’t talk to people who lived under Taliban control. We, in a week, got to talk to an amazing variety of people, but they were all working inside Kabul, many of them coming from outside Kabul. We are putting up on our Web site interviews with some of the women who did tell us that they thought more U.S. troops would mean more civilian casualties and more recruits for the Taliban. And they said it very clearly. One of the women is a member of parliament. She comes from Wardak province, she’s a medical doctor, and she says that this is the best way to recruit the Taliban is to send more troops, that it’s time for another approach.
Horton: Hmm… Well, I appreciate that about you’re going ahead and stating that you were basically stuck in Kabul, you weren’t allowed to go around and see what it’s like on the other side. You know, it’s interesting the way you kind of gave it… especially in your first answer… "Well, we talked to people who said this and we talked to people who said that." And the way the Christian Science Monitor article is written is that these are all the reasons why you were convinced to change your mind to what they’re saying, when really it sort of sounds like you’re basically just reporting what you were told and then you have your own thing that you want to say that’s not necessarily – you know, [that is] separate from that in its own way. Right?
Benjamin: Well as in all discussions with people, it really depends on how you phrase the question. If you say to people, "Do you want 40,000 more troops, or would you like that money to go to economic development, healthcare, education?" They almost always said the latter. So people told us that war was not the answer. That after eight years of U.S. presence and billions of dollars being thrown into this conflict that the lives of people, especially those living outside of Kabul have virtually stayed the same, and that even women who know that the Taliban has had a very retrograde position in terms of women’s rights, even they told us that, look, the majority of Taliban are just poor villagers who don’t have another way to earn a living. We’ve got to reintegrate them into society, we’ve got to have peace talks and we’ve got to find ways other than through guns and bombs that we solve this conflict [emphasis added].
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Scott Horton interviewed Medea Benjamin following reports that Code Pink was "rethinking" its call for a U.S. troop withrawal from Afghanistan: