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The Future of Afghanistan; Where's the Money Gone?; Singing with the Soul of Africa; Imagine a World

Aired February 3, 2014 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

The clock is ticking in Afghanistan on the continuing presence of U.S. forces and on the presidency of Hamid Karzai. And yet Karzai has chosen this moment to lash out again at his supposed allies in the United States and the West.

"They did not work for me. They worked against me," Karzai said in an interview this weekend. "America has left me with a mess."

And it's just the latest broadside in a litany of anti-American diatribes. Karzai accuses them of, quote, "waging psychological war" on his people. He calls them "rivals," while calling the Taliban his "brothers."

And he's released dozens of prisoners over U.S. objections.

This also comes at a crucial moment for the very future of Afghanistan itself, just as the United States and NATO push him to sign a status of forces agreement that would keep some Western troops in Afghanistan and billions of aid dollars flowing.

Frankly, Karzai's erstwhile international backers are hoping that Afghanistan's presidential elections in April usher in a new, more workable relationship and the campaign has begun with several vying to replace Karzai.

My first guest tonight is one of them, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister of Afghanistan and also the runner-up to President Karzai in the 2009 election.

He's joining me now by phone from Kabul because the security risks are so high, we didn't want him to have to leave into the city in the dead of night.

Dr. Abdullah, thank you very much for joining me. And let's just start with the security risks, because two of your campaign aides were, in fact, killed this past weekend.

DR. ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, FORMER AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Christiane. Yes, unfortunately, on the eve of the start of campaign, throughout my campaign in Herat (ph) were attacked and what we need in that -- in that area about it is a thorough investigation to be launched as soon as possible. The investigation is that, but we want to has this outcome out of this.

So the -- that does not affect the other campaigners or other candidates throughout the country.



ABDULLAH: (INAUDIBLE), the environment is not risk-free. But when I look at the enthusiasm of the Afghan people to participate in the elections, that part of it is encouraging. And it's highly encouraging.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the security issues. And of course all this is also tied in the future to whether or not any U.S. or NATO troops remain.

Why do you think that President Karzai has suddenly turned against the United States, very publicly as I described?

ABDULLAH: It's quite a few years since President Karzai has made anti-foreign or anti-American -- anti-Americans line or rhetorics as a -- as is principle policy. And there is nothing to do in it as far as the interests of Afghanistan is concerned.

We need the continued military security and financial support from the international community led by the United States. So then something personal in it as well, so what we think it is, it's not in the interests of Afghanistan to turn the relations between Afghanistan and the whole international community to the status that it is at the moment.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you if you were elected or, you know, I could -- you know, the West seems to be hoping a new president of Afghanistan might sign the so-called status of forces agreement that would keep U.S. and other troops beyond the pullout at the end of this year.

Would you sign that?

ABDULLAH: Of course. When you're asking if President Karzai to sign it and we say that it's in the interest of Afghanistan that that agreement is signed, sooner rather than later, that we -- that we will be ready to sign it when times comes. Afghanistan --


ABDULLAH: -- needs for years to come the financial support, security, military support, in order to lay the foundation for the stability in this country and to be able to fight against terrorism and strengthen our own institutions.

So that is in the interest of Afghanistan and I think it's highly risky. But President Karzai is pursuing at the moment, it has created a shadow over every other thing which is happening in this country and the people are extremely worried, the people of Afghanistan.

AMANPOUR: And very briefly, you know, the U.S. special inspector for Afghanistan has issued a very tough report, basically saying that many of Afghanistan's own ministries are incapable of administrating all the money that the U.S. is pouring in.

What would you do to combat that kind of worry and to combat that kind of corruption that continues to plague even the ministries there?

ABDULLAH: Unfortunately, the issue of rule of law, actions of rule of law, and corruption in different institutions, this is something that we are suffering from it. And it needs a political will (ph) to begin with in order to fight it, to fight against it.

If somebody takes it like business as usual, and ignores it or while being criticized for not fighting against corruption, accusing (ph) the others of corruption, that's not the solution.


ABDULLAH: The admission of corruption in absence of rule of law, as big problems in this country, is something that there has to be done and then they resolve to deal with it. And then, of course, there is strategies and policies to be able to deal with it.

AMANPOUR: All right, Dr. Abdullah, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

And we will now turn to --


AMANPOUR: -- this issue, the age-old one of poor governance and that deep-rooted corruption, which does continue to plague Afghanistan, as I said now, a damning report alleges that it's putting $1 billion of U.S. government assistance at risk.

Over the past 12 years, of course, America has waged its longest war, lost more than 2,000 soldiers and pumped nearly $1 trillion into Afghanistan.

Joining me now, the blunt-spoken U.S. inspector general for Afghanistan, John Sopko, who is live from our Washington studio.

Mr. Sopko, thank you very much for joining me. We've laid out what your damning report basically said last week. Tell us how bad it is compared to at any other time in Afghanistan.

Do you hear me, Mr. Sopko?


AMANPOUR: I just want to ask you, because we've...

Mr. Sopko doesn't seem to be able to hear me.

SOPKO: I can hear you now.

AMANPOUR: OK, great.

Tell us what it is at risk in Afghanistan. I mean, the most extraordinary report that you said, that of the 16 Afghan ministries that you looked at, they can't be counted on to keep funds from being stolen or wasted.

Quote, "None of the ministries that our special ordered firm assessed could manage an account for funds properly."

How bad is it?

SOPKO: Well, we're very concerned about this because this is what USAID has found. They hired these accounting firms to come in. They've made this assessment. And their assessment is that normally they would not give direct assistance to these ministries because of the risks involved.

Now they waived their normal internal requirements and now our fear is that this money is at risk because of the waiver of their requirements.

You know, they came up with a number of recommendations to fix the problems and they only applied less than 10 percent of those. So that is 90 percent of their fixes they ignored.

AMANPOUR: You're talking about USAID and ignoring their own recommendations?

SOPKO: That is correct.

AMANPOUR: They're obviously -- I mean, look, you could imagine that speaking so bluntly has ruffled some feathers in Washington. Apparently the U.S. government didn't want your report out and people have been pushing back pretty hard including USAID and the State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, who said that "The ... report suggests that we should attempt to fix every problem in each ministry before we set up programs, regardless of whether the deficiencies in question have any bearing on the program we envision.

"Our view is that this is not a prudent use of U.S. government resources."

So do you agree that it's not even practical to try to fix these problems that you're talking about?


SOPKO: Oh, we totally disagree. And if you read the report and we hope the person who you mentioned does, we highlight a very successful program that USAID actually has instituted. And that was for one of the specific ministries.

And what we are saying is take that as a template and apply it to the other ministries.


AMANPOUR: Well, then tell me what that is --

SOPKO: And you don't know why they didn't.

AMANPOUR: They haven't? Tell me what that is.

What is the recipe for improvement?

SOPKO: Well, they're actually very simple recommendations, basic accounting principles, paying people not in cash, but paying them by check.

There's a whole series of them that they recommended for their public utility, DABS, its nickname. And we held that out as a best practice. And what we're saying is you should require the rest of the ministries or at least come up to it with a similar plan that you had for DABS and apply it to the other ministries before you give assistance.

So we're not saying cut off assistance. We're not saying cut off direct assistance. We actually think that's a good program.

But just do it smartly.

AMANPOUR: Well, the U.S. Congress has already, just before your report came out publicly, cut assistance by half, I suppose to indicate displeasure with the government in Afghanistan.

This is obviously the direct assistance, the backbone of the Obama administration's attempt to set up functioning institutions in Afghanistan.

Can you look at the 12 years -- or at least some of those years -- of the billions and billions and hundreds of billions of dollars that have been poured in and tell me whether there are, you know, real success when you -- when you look at it all and you ask AID or the military, what do they say have been the big successes?

SOPKO: Well, you know, they say health. They say education. And obviously there have been successes. But we've spent so much money there you would assume there were successes.

The question we ask is why aren't there more successes and can those successful programs be sustained?

You know, we've spent more money on reconstruction in Afghanistan, over $100 billion, than we have spent for any other single country in the history of our republic. And we are spending right now twice as much more than we're spending for the next three countries combined, Egypt, Pakistan and Israel.

AMANPOUR: Well, with the U.S. involvement dwindling and drawing down by the end of this year, at least the military involvement -- and maybe that'll affect aid as well -- what about something else you mentioned, and that is the poppy cultivation, the opium cultivation -- there's been a hard sort of drug combating operation.

Has that worked?

SOPKO: We've spent 10 billions of dollars -- $10 billion of every construction money on fight narcotics. And if you look at production, if you look at cultivation, you look at breaking the tie between the drug culture, the drug production and the insurgency, if you look at all three of those indicators, we failed.

And that's our concern because we now have what could become a criminal enterprise operating out there in the country in opposition to Jeroa (ph), in opposition to the Afghan government.

And that criminal terrorist narco nexus, those people don't care about women's rights; they don't care about education. They don't care about health care. They care about making a profit.

And if we don't do something about them, if that isn't a priority as we go forward, we could be risking every success that we've had over the last 12 years.

AMANPOUR: John Sopko, thank you so much. That's a very sobering assessment at this time. And of course, referring right back to those elections that we started the program with, Dr. Abdullah and other candidates in the upcoming vote are doing all they can to try to appeal to the people, and that includes using music with mixed results.

According to reports at one of Dr. Abdullah's campaign rallies this weekend, a band, which was composed of both women and men, took to the stage. But denouncing this as anti-Islamic, some men in the crowd staged an angry walkout.

However, the good news is that several thousand people remained to applaud and to cheer the band on.

And after a break, Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo sings a new tune aimed at women in Africa. That's when we come back.





AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. The Grammy-winning singer Angelique Kidjo has just released a bold new album and a revealing autobiography. She began her singing career as a small girl in the West African country Benin. And today, she's a big star the world over.

She's loud and she's proud and up front about her main mission: singing about what African women should never settle for.

Her latest album, "Eve," is the first she's done exclusively with and for African women. And on the eve of a new tour around the United States and the world, Angelique told me how this is setting her on fire.


AMANPOUR: Angelique Kidjo, welcome to the program. Good to have you on again.

ANGELIQUE KIDJO, SINGER: Thanks to be here with you again.

AMANPOUR: "Eve," your latest album, all about women for the first time.

Why now? What is your mission and what's the message right now?

KIDJO: Well, I started writing about women's issues in the world as a university goodwill ambassador. I've learned a great deal about female genital mutilation, early marriage, sexual abuse, domestic violence. And I realized that it's not only an African problem; it's a world problem, that every house you have abuse going on and everybody keep quiet about it. And then I was just wanting to talk about it like that. And then I went to Kenya. I went to Kenya for this taunting (ph) that we came to talk to you about on Tony Lake (ph) from UNICEF. That's where the inspiration of this album come from, because the women that I've seen in the second village, having the same stunting problem, but --

AMANPOUR: Stunting because of malnutrition?

KIDJO: -- malnutrition, and they have a different attitude because they're aware -- they realize the danger of not being in the program of UNICEF, where we teach them pretty much to find nutrients in their own food, not to go get them food from outside, from what they use to eat to get nutrients in.

And I walked in; I was on emotional roller coaster because the other village was just so dreadful. I was just like, ohh, where am I going to go with this? And then this beautiful gown (ph), they start singing and I start having a shiver. And I join in.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): So that was the moment that you decided this is going to be my album?

KIDJO: That's when women were, I said to myself, the African women have to be seen through the two lenses effect.

AMANPOUR: What the fourth lens?

KIDJO: The fourth lens is always showing the women being abused, being repidicant (ph), and walking around with their breasts naked, looking like zombie. They have no brain. I am so tired, as an African woman, to be portrayed in full people's lenses of crusade.

I'm not a cliche; I'm a human being. I have a brain. I can use it. I have a mouth. I can speak for myself. And that's what I want because here the beauty, their resilience, too, their voice, because music is at the hard core of what they do every day, tend the kitchen, they're singing; they're going to the market, they're singing.

Whatever there is, they wake up in the morning, the first thing they think is how am I going to --


KIDJO: -- make this day better?

AMANPOUR: Your mother was a profound influence in your life.

KIDJO: Right.

AMANPOUR: I mean, she wasn't one of those women who said, no, you're a woman; you can't do anything.

KIDJO: No, never say that. My mom, my father have allowed my mom to live of her passion. Her passion was here and put me on stage when I was 6. And all --


KIDJO: -- absolutely. She shoved me on that stage and she always said to me, your body is a sanctuary. The men have been telling the story of Eve. We are guilty of nothing. We can stand in our shoes through it.

AMANPOUR: So you became a massive international star.

What -- is it difficult for you to keep your connection with ordinary African women? You're obviously trying to tell them all of this. But you are on a pedestal that's so far above their daily experience.

KIDJO: No way. Every time I go to Africa, the best moment for me is when I go to the market. And sometimes out of the blue, I don't know, a woman just scream and grab me and shake me, "Thank you so much. Thanks for speaking for us. Thanks for helping us, putting our girls to school. You -- thank you. What can we give you?" And I'm like, "No, don't give me nothing."

AMANPOUR: Your very first song that you wrote was about apartheid, when you were 9, right?

KIDJO: No, I was 15 when --

AMANPOUR: Fifteen?

KIDJO: -- that song, that song, because I mean, oh, no; I was 9 actually. What I realized was something called slavery. My brother was listening to Jimi Hendrix. And because he was born bald -- he never have any hair today -- he was wearing an Afro wig. And I'm like do you need an Afro wig to play the guitar?

And he said to me, you know, I'm going to sound like him.

I said, by the way, I wanted to ask you, he's African, right?

Which language is he singing in?

He said, no, he's not African. He's African-American. And I look at him and I say, I'm 9 years old; I'm not stupid. You can be African, you can be American. I mean, it doesn't matter (INAUDIBLE).

And he said, no, he's a slave descendant.

And I said what is a slave? What is a descendant?

AMANPOUR: You'd never heard about slavery?

KIDJO: Never, never. And I never learn about it in school.

And I went to my -- I went to my father and mother and they say, we explain to you later, because I'm raised in a household where my father and my mother always say to us, you cannot judge a human being according to their skin color. The color doesn't define people.

No racism is discussed here. No anti-Semitism will be discussed here. No xenophobia will be discussed here.

So you're raised like that and you welcome everybody. You deal with people like you deal with yourself. And here come apartheid. And the both of them, the story of slavery and apartheid just collided in my -- I mean, it's just like...

And I turn around and look at my father, and said, why have you been lying to me? I was so mad, I was in tears. I was shaking of anger. So I went into my room then write the song called, "Azanapa," which means "The Day Will Come."

My first draft was so head blast (ph), I said let's get out there and kill all the white people. And my father said no. I don't care. I know how you feel. I know it's not acceptable. Every reason you can give me, I can understand it. But this house, I told you, no violence, no hate.

As a musician, you have to be the one that opens the door and sets up the platform for discussion. You cannot close the door. You cannot.

So I went back and we read the song that become an anthem of freedom, no one will oppress anybody anymore and there will be no more oppressors.

AMANPOUR: Angelique Kidjo, singing the good song, fighting the good fight.

KIDJO: I try.

AMANPOUR: Sing us out of this segment with a song of your choice from your new album.





AMANPOUR: And a final thought tonight on Hollywood and movies, Hollywood is no stranger to tragedy and today the film community mourns the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Hollywood is also no stranger to controversy. As Tinseltown prepares to roll out the red carpet for next months' Academy Awards, an accusation of childhood sexual abuse, a subject that we've covered extensively on this program, has cast a shadow on this year's Oscars.

Imagine a world where art and the artist collide with no happy ending. Woody Allen, one of the world's most acclaimed film directors, is nominated this year for Best Original Screenplay for "Blue Jasmine." And its star, Cate Blanchett, is a front-runner for Best Actress.

But real life seized the spotlight this weekend when Allen's adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, posted an emotional letter on "The New York Times'" website, going public for the first time to recount an allegation of sexual assault two decades ago.

Quote, "When I was 7 years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother's electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me."

The accusation first surfaced in the early 1990s, when a bitter breakup between Allen and actress Mia Farrow played out in the tabloids and in the courts. After it was revealed that he had begun a relationship with Farrow's adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, who was then around 20 years old.

Mr. Allen's representative furiously denies Dylan Farrow's accusations, quote, "At the time, a thorough investigation was conducted by court appointed independent experts. The experts concluded there was no credible evidence of molestation. No charges were ever filed."

Even though Allen's marriage to Soon-Yi in 1997 raised eyebrows, Dylan's letter is sure to raise questions, especially now around Oscar voting time, ethical and moral questions about just how an artist is judged, by his art or his actions.

It was a question that also haunted director Roman Polanski, who in 1977, pled guilty to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. But he fled the United States before he could face sentencing. He continued to make films and he was nominated as Best Director for his 2002 film, "The Pianist."

He won.

That's it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website,, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.