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Interview With Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; Taliban Take Over Afghanistan; Interview with Former U.S. Secretary Chuck Hagel; Interview with British Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 16, 2021 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what will happen tomorrow and what will happen after.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Fear and desperation. Afghanistan wakes up to a terrifying new Taliban reality. A special hour of news and analysis.
I will speak to the Taliban's main spokesman.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our friends are going to get killed. They're going to kill us. Our women are not going to have any more rights.
AMANPOUR: The fate and freedom of women and girls hang in the balance.
Peace negotiator and former M.P. Fawzia Koofi on the grave danger they face.
TONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We invested over four administrations billions of dollars, along with the international
community, in the Afghan security and defense forces.
AMANPOUR: America's 20-year war effort collapses with a whimper. I ask the former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel what the USA got so wrong.
Plus, what this says about the global democracy project with British M.P. and war veteran Tom Tugendhat.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, as the international community tries to deal with the total
takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.
Over the next hour, we will have news and analysis on the terrifying situation unfolding there, a foreign policy gamble by the U.S.
administration that ended a two-decade multibillion-dollar anti-terror effort that's been going on since 9/11, which has now collapsed at
Fear is spreading in Kabul, as the Taliban install themselves in the presidential palace. With thousands desperate to flee for their lives,
Kabul's airport is in a state of chaos. And these are pictures of desperate Afghans attempting to clamber onto a U.S. military plane as it leaves the
At least three Afghans were run over and killed.
The pictures of the Taliban ensconced and posing in the presidential palace tell the whole story of who is in power right now.
Earlier, I asked the Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, in Doha about the prospect of an inclusive new Afghan government, as they promise.
AMANPOUR: Suhail Shaheen, welcome to the program.
Can I start by asking you exactly what conversations are under way between the new Taliban leadership in Kabul and other Afghan constituencies? Is
there any talk or progress towards some kind of new government?
SUHAIL SHAHEEN, TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: Yes, our program is to form an Afghan- inclusive Islamic government.
So I expect that there will be inclusion, a few days deliberation for that.
AMANPOUR: Do you know who you are having those inclusive talks with? We understand former President Hamid Karzai might be involved, former Foreign
Minister Abdullah Abdullah.
Are these the kind of people who you are talking to?
SHAHEEN: Well, there -- I think there will be some well-known figures. But, right now, I can't say by name. But there will be some well-known
AMANPOUR: The Taliban and your leaders have said: The war is over. We have won. And the occupation forces have gone, and we now have our
Many believe that the Taliban simply wants to take total control and total power. Why should anybody believe that, under the circumstances, you are
interested in other members of the Afghan nation being involved in the future?
SHAHEEN: Because we think it is important for durable peace in Afghanistan, and because it is the basis of our policy that we do not want
monopoly of power.
And when -- we can have a comprehensive, durable peace when all Afghans have participation in a future government. That's why we called it an
Afghan-inclusive Islamic government. So, for that reason, we want to have this government, Afghan-inclusive government.
AMANPOUR: So, as you know, Suhail Shaheen, for the last several, I would say, months, certainly the Doha negotiations, the last several weeks and
days, as you have conducted this lightning and very well-strategized takeover of the country, most in the international community are saying,
well, we can't really trust what the Taliban says. Let us look at what they are doing.
So, you say no revenge, amnesty for even the other side, even the soldiers from the Afghan government side. And yet you can see the scenes of chaos at
the Kabul Airport, where terrified Afghans are escaping you.
They're trying to escape you right now, clinging to aircraft, falling from wings of planes, just scrambling to get out. They are terrified. They must
have a reason to be terrified. What can you say to these people?
SHAHEEN: I think they do not have reason, why we have issued statement after statement, why have I -- we issued remarks after remarks by the
So, why they are terrified? So, we are assuring them that there will be no risk to their property, to their lives, to their honor. So I'm also
surprised why they are terrified and fleeing the country, while the country needs them. This is our country, a country of all Afghans. This country
So that is the -- Afghans, they should come together and rebuild this country to have a peaceful coexistence and tolerance among each other.
AMANPOUR: So, obviously, Suhail Shaheen, many remember what happened when you were in charge in the late '90s, before 9/11. And there was a lot of
revenge and a lot of retribution.
But let's talk about just the last few weeks and months. As you know, we have discovered a video that's been all over the air from July with Taliban
fighters executing 22 Afghan commandos who are trying to surrender.
That is a terrifying thing. That is what people are looking at and hoping doesn't happen to them today. Human Rights Watch, the international
organization that monitors events in Kandahar, say that now the Taliban have been detaining and executing suspected members of the provincial
government and security forces, and, in some cases, their relatives.
There have been assassinations on the government side as you have moved forward and now into Kabul. So these are legitimate things that have
Why are you saying that this is not going to happen, when we're getting reports that it is happening?
SHAHEEN: About that video which was referred to, it is a fake video. I have already refuted that, and all our spokesmen.
And about if there is any case and they bring it, we will investigate that. On the basis of our policy, they are given amnesty, and there is no harm to
anyone. If anyone claims there have been any threat to their lives or any case of assassination or any case, we are committed to investigate that and
to bring the culprit to the court and to see his or her punishment.
AMANPOUR: I know you say that's fake video, and maybe you want to disassociate yourself from it at this point, but, certainly CNN and others
verified that video.
But let's move on.
SHAHEEN: Yes, because I investigated that video. That's why I'm saying it is fake.
AMANPOUR: Your statement recently says, or the Taliban statement: "All those who have previously worked and helped the invaders or who are now
standing in the ranks of the corrupt administration of Kabul, the Islamic emirate" -- that's you -- "has opened its door for them and has announced
So now let's talk about those members of the ordinary Afghan people who have helped U.S. forces in the past, who have worked as translators, who
have helped the current -- or, rather, the fallen government, who have helped NGOs, who've been on the forefront of women's rights and activism.
They are also terrified, and they're desperate to be airlifted out of Afghanistan.
What will you say and guarantee for those people who are Afghans who have worked with international forces in the past?
SHAHEEN: They should not be terrified or dispirited.
Our guarantees are official statements ensuring that there will be no danger to their property, honor and life. That is our commitment and also
guarantee, because it is something official which reflects our position.
So, and they can see right now in the districts that are under our administration. So, all the people, they lead their normal life. The
schools are open. The offices are open. And the businessmen do their trade and business.
So this is our practical example. So, why they are terrified? They should not be terrified.
AMANPOUR: Well, they report and we are hearing interviews from, let's say, inside Kabul that the Taliban are setting up checkpoints in various
neighborhoods, that they are very afraid of house-to-house searches, that many have gone to try to hide, particularly those who are more prominent
and who may be known for having helped international forces, et cetera.
And they are very concerned, as one said, that, should the Taliban come to their house and recognize them -- quote, unquote -- "They will get their
head cut off."
This is a very real fear, and it's not based on nothing. It is based on what happened the last time you were in power.
So, have you changed that much? And again, apart from your words, why should people believe you?
SHAHEEN: About the checkpoints, they are to prevent any insecurity that the thieves, the burglars, and the kidnappers do not carry out what they
want to do.
That is for the -- these checkpoints are for the security of the people. These checkpoints have not been set up to harass people, so, because there
was a welcome before, that we issued a statement that our forces are instructed to remain at the gates of Kabul city, and not to enter the city.
But when the Kabul administration forces, they left their position and their police station and everything, and there was a vacuum. The burglars,
the thieves, they came. They were looting people's properties, houses. That is why we were forced to enter the Kabul city.
Now we have set up the checkpoints in order to prevent anarchy, a chaotic situation, and to maintain the security of the city. So, they should not be
worried. Rather, they should be happy with that.
AMANPOUR: Well, certainly, women are not happy.
And I asked you, had you changed? And I just want to ask you to react to some of these. Some are talking about burning their certificates of
education, some of these women. And we have already heard from our own correspondents on the ground that the Taliban asked one of our female
correspondents to move aside because she was a woman, and that they shouldn't, women should not be interacting with anybody, any male outside
That young girls, you say there will be allowed to go to school, but we understand only up to a certain age and only to study religion. For women,
it's a very, very terrifying day to see the Taliban, you all, take over.
And I'm wondering what you can guarantee for women, so they can keep the rights that they have gained up until now.
SHAHEEN: The media outlets in Kabul, they are operative. They carry out the broadcasting activities.
There are many journalists right now based in Kabul. Foreign journalists, they carry out their work and filing reports from there. So -- and, also,
the schools will be open. And the girls and women, they will be going to schools and as teachers, as students.
So, you will see it in a few days. That is my expectation in a few days.
AMANPOUR: Well, we certainly will obviously be watching very closely.
But I want to ask you one final question. The former President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani fled the country. He seemed to indicate that it
was either a choice between being executed on the spot or fleeing.
What would have happened to Ashraf Ghani if he had stayed as your forces, your new leadership entered the presidential palace in Kabul?
SHAHEEN: Right now, Karzai is there in Kabul, Abdullah Abdullah is there. Nothing has happened -- happened to them, when their security is
If he surrendered to the people, to the will of the people of Afghanistan, and he avoided the bloodshed, it would be -- would have been better for
So, what he -- but when -- it would have been if he was fighting, and during fighting, he was harmed, that is another story. But if he had
surrendered and handed over the power peacefully, so, of course, he will not be harmed. His life would have been safe.
AMANPOUR: On that note, Suhail Shaheen, Taliban spokesman, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
SHAHEEN: Thank you. Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And now, before we turn to my next guest, who is a female Afghan lawmaker, let us just pause for a minute to remember how utterly brutal
life was for Afghan women when the Taliban were last in charge in those years before 9/11.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): For centuries, Afghan women have been ruled by the disciples of Islam and tribal tradition.
But when the Taliban were in power, they subjected women to a brand of barbarity more cruel and oppressive than we had witnessed anywhere else in
the world. The Taliban's vice squad would beat them for showing their faces, their ankles, or even if a strand of hair peeked through their
burqa, the suffocating cloak that all women were forced to wear.
AMANPOUR: So, you heard me ask Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman, about the plight of women in Afghanistan today.
He claims that they will keep their rights. But the reality is that many are terrified that history will repeat itself.
Fawzia Koofi is a former lawmaker, and she's also a member of the now fallen Afghan government's negotiating team in those peace talks with the
Taliban. And she's joining me now from Afghanistan.
Fawzia Koofi, welcome back to our program.
We have spoken to you over many, many months and years. And I'm wondering how you are dealing with the reality of your situation right now.
FAWZIA KOOFI, FORMER AFGHAN LAWMAKER: Thank you, Christiane.
This morning, when I woke up and I saw everything is reversed to 20, 22 years back, I couldn't believe that the whole 20 years was like a dream for
many people in Afghanistan to see where we went back.
It is shocking for many people how quickly and rapidly everything collapsed, and how military operations were undertaken to take over the
power while we were negotiating. And if only negotiations were preferred and expedited, I'm sure people would have celebrated today the stability
Unfortunately, many people are uncertain about what will happen next, especially the younger generation and the woman of Afghanistan, who are the
product of the past 20 years.
AMANPOUR: Fawzia, so many Afghans have been born in the last 20 years. It's a very, very young nation. Many do not remember or have any experience
with Taliban rule. And many have put their fate in a better future.
Certainly, women and girls have had a better future and a better opportunity. What are you hearing, if anything, from your female friends,
from parents with young girls? Are people hiding out? Are they waiting to see? Do they fear the worst? Do they believe what the Taliban is saying
publicly, that they will have their rights guaranteed?
What are you hearing?
KOOFI: Well, the situation is very chaotic, Christiane.
In a lawless society, where there is a vacuum of power, people have a right to be terrified and to be uncertain about the future. In my lifetime, I
have seen many regime change through a military coup or military takeover, but certainly not my daughters and not the younger generation of
They have grown up with the world technology and a different -- a different life, certainly, the life that I have not had when I was a child.
So, for them to see everything went back to scratch, and they see the flag changed very quickly in the presidential palace was -- it's shocking. Yes,
they were not -- many people, especially the young girls and boys who went to school in the past 20 years, they went to university. They are
financially self-sufficient, most of them.
They don't remember the Taliban or the civil war. But they have heard it through their parents. They have read it in the history. And I think now
they see it in some provinces. Unfortunately, in some places today, like, for instance, in Kabul, it was just the military. You could only see
rangers going from one location to the other.
Or in the other provinces, you could only see rangers going and military cars. We have also reports of women's rights violation and operation from
some provinces. Women cannot go out without male companion to work or to even get their basic supplies.
So, these are -- these are not new to -- in terms of the history for many people in Afghanistan. But after 20 years of blood and treasure, we were
hoping that things will be different.
I have said it in your program last time, and I also say that it is a failure of morale from -- for many of us, including for our United States
friends. I think, if the U.S. would have not rushed their withdrawal, we would have the chance to reach a political settlement in a way that
everybody could be part of a political power-sharing government.
Yes, people of Afghanistan were not happy with the previous president, and the way he flee Afghanistan, of course, raises a lot of questions. Most of
us are in Afghanistan. We have been with our people under extremely difficult times. We will continue to struggle for our desired country.
So, people were not happy with the previous situation as well. But they did not want to go from bad to worse. They deserve a better life.
Today, my heart actually were broken into pieces when I saw the footage of how everybody was terrified, running to the plane, go to nowhere. They
didn't know where are they going, but they just wanted to get out of this chaotic situation.
AMANPOUR: So, there are a couple of questions I want to ask you.
Obviously, those people who are trying to flee, many of them seem to be people who work for either the U.S. or other internationals. Women's rights
activists, we understand, are at the airport, many, many Afghans who feel that what they did over the last 20 years in the pursuit of peace and
freedom and human rights are going to make them targets for the Taliban.
Do you believe what Suhail Shaheen told me, and you were listening to the interview, that there will be amnesties, that Afghanistan needs all its
people, that the country needs to be reconstructed, that they don't want people to flee, and that they guarantee them safety and security. Do you
KOOFI: What is sad is, Christiane, you see all the educated, talented Afghans who want to leave their country.
That is -- for whom -- for each individual, the country has invested thousands of dollars to be who they are now. Their families, the society,
the government, invested on them. To see them being so disappointed.
Daily basis, I until now receive so many text messages, telephone calls, contact from people across Afghanistan. And trust me, even if I don't, for
whatever reason, reply to their -- like, just express sympathy with them, they -- the next question is, are you not in Afghanistan?
So, the fact that I'm in Afghanistan gave a lot of people a morale, give them a morale that it will be OK. So I think the Taliban, really, the
political office, I have been talking with them. They need to make themselves relevant. They have been speaking.
And their generic press reviews that have been nice indicate that they have shifted their policies. But that is not enough. Their foot soldiers are
doing differently. So, I think their political office really -- and this is something I have delivered the message to some of those people that I have
been engaged in negotiations over the past two, three days, that you have to really take bold steps to gain the trust of people.
This country cannot be built with a group of people with guns. We need the professionals. This country need the talents. And, above all, only an
inclusive government can bring peace and stability. Stability and not -- fighting is not peace. It is not peace.
People have to feel peaceful. People need to trust the government. And, yes, there is a military takeover, but we need to give the people the voice
they require, the share they deserve in the government.
AMANPOUR: Fawzia, you are in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan, which we are not going to reveal, obviously, for your own security.
It is interesting to hear you say you have been talking to those Taliban who you have obviously met during your role as peace negotiator in Doha and
otherwise. Are you afraid for your own safety? Do you fear a knock on the door at any time of day or night?
KOOFI: It's a very uncertain -- as I said, uncertain situation for many of us.
Some of us who have kind of invested their energy to serve the country and contribute to free, liberal, better Afghanistan feel more at risk. I have
been sharing my concerns over what I see from time to time to those who -- with whom we have been engaged in the negotiation.
And they have been giving me responses that this is not too -- this is not what they think has happened. But I think they seriously, seriously need to
take bold steps, first of all, to ensure that they will not repeat the things that they have been repeating so far, that their commanders listen
to them, that their foot soldiers listen to them.
And people should trust them. It is not just press releases that people can trust. They have to really -- I have seen -- today, I talked with some
female journalists, probably most of them. They were telling, this country is not anymore for us to live.
Only two months ago, when I talked to these women and I asked them, do you have any plan B, they said, no, this is our country. We will continue to
stay forever. Of course, there were poverty, corruption, et cetera, in the previous government.
But the fact that these people had the freedom to express those views, express the fact that they're suffering from corruption, from poverty, I
think that's what they valued. So, I think it's important that the Taliban should take bold steps to bring, to give people the liberty they desire,
and include people in the decision-making.
AMANPOUR: Fawzia, what would you say to the United States right now? I mean, do you feel abandoned? You clearly understood, I guess, that one day
the U.S. would have to leave Afghanistan.
What would you say, if you could to the leader, the president, anybody, if you were to see and talk to them right now, after what's happened?
KOOFI: Right now, I'm very, very angry. So, probably, right now is not the right moment to give my message, but I will give it anyway.
I -- we did not expect the United States to be in Afghanistan forever. Nobody wants any nation, foreign nation to be in their country forever. The
people of Afghanistan are very famous for fighting against foreigners throughout our history.
If you look at our history, it's a lot of fighting, and the people are proud for who they are. However, the United States came to Afghanistan not
because we invited them, but because they thought that Afghanistan can be a threat and it was a threat for their own national security.
Therefore, they came in Afghanistan -- to Afghanistan. We stood with them. We walked with them side by side. We promoted the common principles. They
decided to leave without even talking (INAUDIBLE) asking permission.
It's for -- everything is centric to the United -- to their interests. My message would be, if Afghanistan is not safe, trust me, your own borders
will not be safe.
AMANPOUR: Fawzia Koofi, thank you so much for talking to us under these very precarious conditions from inside Afghanistan.
And we will continue to follow you. We will continue to monitor. We will continue to watch and to talk to you. Thank you very much indeed.
So, where does the failure for this total collapse of the Afghan forces lie?
Chuck Hagel was the secretary of defense under President Obama. And he's joining me now from McLean, Virginia.
Secretary Hagel, you just heard a very well-known legislator, a member of the Afghan peace negotiating team, Fawzia Koofi, express her deep
disappointment in what the United States has done.
Can you understand that? And can you understand the anger she expressed of the Afghan people today towards your country?
CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I can. And it's a tragic situation, sad, sad situation, which I don't think anybody wanted to ever
see come. But it is here.
I think, in assigning blame here, we need to go back 20 years. That's how long the United States has been there. A lot of mistakes were made from the
time we entered Afghanistan.
One of the things that's been consistent, and you have talked a little bit about this with your guest, is that each president, four presidents since
we invaded and occupied Afghanistan 20 years ago, have said, we will be leaving, we will be coming out. It is the Afghan people's decisions to make
in what kind of country they want, how do they want to run their country.
The history of Afghanistan, we didn't understand at all. I mean, Afghanistan has never ever been governed by a central government. I mean,
the British found that out. The Soviets found that out. Alexander the Great found that out. We never understood the culture, never understood the
religion, never understood the tribalism. All the dynamics that make up a culture. And here we are 20 years as a Western power into this country and
putting a lot of money in, $2 trillion. Corruption. No secret the Afghan government is one of the most corrupt in the world.
So, a lot of mistakes were made by us, by the United States, and I think by the Afghans. The people who got caught in the middle, it's always the
people in the middle who have no say. That's the unfortunate part of this. Talk about women, girls, rights, education, driving good people, smart
people out of their country. That is a consequence, hopefully, that we won't see to the extreme. But I think you have got a survey and look at,
Christiane, the entire last 20 years.
One of the big mistakes that we made was we tried to mold an Afghan army in the likes of an American army. Well, that was a mistake. The Afghans'
culture, everything about them are different from us. It doesn't mean that they're smarter, not as smart, none of that.
But they have to have their own will do the things they want to do for their country, and we've got to respect that. I don't think we ever did
respect that enough. We tried to do so much and we did so much. We did so much good in 20 years. But unfortunately, it is where it is today. And that
I suspect a lack of planning for the worst.
In a situation like this, and fortunately we haven't been through many of them, but we've been through Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, you plan for the
worst. And I support President Biden's decision to leave. Lot of mistakes were made, I think, in the planning for that. Not planning well enough. I
don't know. I wasn't part of it. So, I don't know the details. But --
AMANPOUR: Well --
HAGEL: -- it's complicated. It is unfortunate and damn sad.
AMANPOUR: It is really very sad. Because as you correctly point out, a lot of progress was made for very important members of the Afghan nation, and
that is what's all at risk. Not to mention America's credibility as an ally, as foreign policy, you know, something to be an example in foreign
But I want to ask you because, you know, it is one thing to support your president. Clearly, a nation makes its own national security decisions.
Clearly, a forever war couldn't last forever. But as you yourself said, there was no contingency, there was no planning.
It appears that the United States, you know, certainly under President Trump who started these negotiations, kind of gave the shop away without
any conditions and without extracting any promises from the Taliban. Listen to the Taliban say one thing at the table while watching them strategize on
So, don't you think that the U.S., and you were secretary of defense, should have, I don't know, maintained air superiority, I don't know, kept
Bagram to an extent, used the time to keep the ability to use air power, you know, close to Afghanistan instead of far away in other bases? It
didn't really have to happen this badly.
HAGEL: Well, you mentioned President Trump and how he started that in February of last year in Doha. We eliminated the Afghan government.
President Trump did not have at the table in Doha the Afghan government.
We, the United States, cut the deal with the Taliban. Well, right there, that showed very clearly that we were going to cut the Afghan government
out and we were coming out no matter what. And all that came after that, that resulted after that, releasing 5,000 Taliban prisoners and so on, were
not in the interest in the Afghan government, and Ghani's government tried to say that.
But as you move this forward, and to your question, I don't think another year or another half year would made lot of difference. And I say that for
two reasons, Christiane. Over the last couple years, actually, last 10 years, but let's just take the last two years. Every news outlet in the
world has charted the progress and the control of the Taliban in Afghanistan. That they have controlled 50, 60 percent of Afghanistan. The
progress the Taliban were continuing to make was clear to everybody.
I don't know if our intelligence wasn't focusing on that enough or if we our government was? I don't know. But that was no surprise. As to how
things started to really unravel and unfold when this thing got to the point, OK, now, we are starting to bring our people out. I'm not so sure.
And the other point I'd make is how fast this unraveled. I mean, this was something I intercept no one predicted.
AMANPOUR: Well --
HAGEL: Well, that means to me they were --
AMANPOUR: I mean, you --
HAGEL: -- the Taliban was pretty strong in all these cases.
AMANPOUR: Well, yes, but you say, correctly, that every news organization in the world was witnessing this and reporting this. So, people should have
known about it, did know about it, and one of the people who didn't know about it, you know, even before he's addressed the American people over
this latest -- well, the fall of Afghanistan, President Biden essentially told the world that this, what has happened, was not inevitable. Here is
what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: You have the Afghan troops have 300,000 well- equipped, as well-equipped as any army in the world and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable. There is going
to be no circumstance where you are going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Whoops. Well, in fact, it did happen with lightning speed. And now, everybody's got egg on their face at the very least. So, my question
to you is, because you were defense secretary under President Obama. He had to decide and he did to follow the U.S. military advice and to keep adding
and maintaining American military presence there.
Can you explain to the American people, you did a little bit, but where those trillions or billions of dollars went in terms of -- and why -- or
did you mistakenly believe the Afghan government's side, when many, many people were telling you about the corruption in the Afghan government side
and the fact they weren't even paying their front-line forces, that they sent them to the front line often without food or water that we're hearing
now, much less arms or ammunition? What the heck was going on?
HAGEL: Well, in 2014, when President Obama said, we are going to end America's combat role in Afghanistan, then we pulled out tens of thousands
of American troops and closed hundreds of bases in Afghanistan. And President Obama said at that time, this is the beginning of us, the United
States, coming out, at some point, and we'll do that in a procedural and coordinated way with the Afghan government. But this was 2014. So, that's
seven years ago that we knew that we were coming out.
As to the other questions about money and so on, I don't know. I mean, I left the Defense Department in 2015. What happened after that, I didn't
stay involved. I mean, I read things but I was not privy to intelligence reports.
But my bigger point here is, and as I said earlier apart of this interview, every president has said, we're going to come out. That we were gearing
everything that we were doing with the Afghan government, with the Afghan army with the support of the United States for the Afghan government. And
the forces, Afghan forces, to get ready for the time when we were coming up.
We obviously made mistakes in that process. We obviously underestimated everything in that process. The president's comments, I don't know what led
him to make those comments or to be reassured enough to make those comments, but it is what it is.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me ask you finally -- well, it is what it is, is an unfortunate statement because it is not just mistakes, it is the handover
of what was a terrorist haven back to those who kept it as a terrorist haven.
So, what message did this send to the rest of the world about America's commitment in anti-terror or the spread of democracy and freedom and human
rights? And particularly, do you believe -- you may not be, you know, a current secretary of defense and you've left long time ago, but you have
also been a senator, you are very well informed, do you believe this is going to put at risk again Afghanistan as a potential terrorist safe haven
that could come back to attack the United States in some form or fashion or its allies around the world?
HAGEL: Well, it could. Yes. Absolutely. They are going to be consequences for this no matter what. There are going to be political consequences.
There will be security consequences. And diplomatic consequences. And you just noted that.
How other nations respond to this, I don't know. But I think other nations who have been involved with us in Afghanistan understand the realities of
what was going on. And -- because they were there and they saw it. I hope it doesn't cost this country a lot of diplomatic trust and confidence. It
might. It could. This is going to be with us for a while. We're not going to get out of this just after this episode. But we're going to be dealing
with this for a few years down the road.
HAGEL: And the other thing I would say though, this is 2021, not 2001. The threats, the capabilities, the capacities of the United States or our
allies, all that has changed. That doesn't mean that Afghanistan could get back where it was when we found it in 2001, a training ground for
terrorists. It could very well be that. But you have also got the interests of Iran, Pakistan, China, Russia.
AMANPOUR: All right.
HAGEL: They don't want that to happen either. And that is a diplomatic security factor --
AMANPOUR: Well, we'll see --
HAGEL: -- that's we're going to be in it. We'll see.
AMANPOUR: Indeed, if the United States can actually rally its adversaries, China and Russia. And this is very interesting, as you point out, and we're
going to keep watching that.
Former Secretary Chuck Hagel, thank you for joining us.
Now, here in the U.K., the government is also scrambling to get its nationals out of Afghanistan and trying to evacuate those Afghans who
worked with British forces. Amid those chaotic scenes at Kabul Airport, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, himself a former soldier, admitted in an
emotional interview that "some people will not get back."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN WALLACE, BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: We're not doing other diplomatic functions. We are simply there to process all those British passport
holders and all those people we have obligation too. And, you know, men and women of our armed forces risking their lives in doing that. But that is
the right thing to do. They have risked their lives for the last 20 years and, you know, at the very least, our obligation has to be get as many of
these people through the pipeline as possible.
But I think I also said, you know, and it's (INAUDIBLE) for me, some people won't get back. Some people won't get back and we will have to do our best
and third countries to process those people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: His voice cracking there with the severity and seriousness of the ethical dilemma that the West really poses now with its duty to those
Afghans who helped them. And my next guest has described the fall of Kabul as Britain's biggest foreign policy disaster since 1956 Suez Canal crisis.
MP Tom Tugendhat is chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and he's served as a soldier in Afghanistan. He's joining me from Norway right now.
Welcome to the program.
You saw your very own defense secretary breakdown town there. His voice cracking with the weight of responsibility that, clearly, he feels towards
those who have put their lives at risk in Afghanistan to help you all. Tell me how you feel about that and whether you think that you will manage to
get everybody out. He says clearly many will fall between the cracks.
TOM TUGENDHAT, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: Look, Ben has been working this now for many days and weeks, and I'm sure, sadly, what he says is correct.
He knows exactly what he's doing and has been working 24/7 for the last, God knows, many days, many weeks, to try and get a decent resolution. Not a
great resolution but a decent resolution that gets as many people out as possible.
I spent the last week, maybe two weeks responding, trying to get interpreters I worked with in Helmand, in Kandahar, Kabul, people who
served alongside us, the special forces we trained, anybody who I think we owe a duty to. I've been trying to get them into the airport, into the
process and out of the country.
But I have to say, I got a heartbreaking voicemail yesterday from a very dear friend who described how he was now waiting in his home, as he knew
the Taliban were knocking on doors as they went down the road and looking for him and his comrades. And well, he hasn't texted anymore. So, I don't
know what's happened.
AMANPOUR: Oh, God. Tom Tugendhat, that is just too chilling to even hear you recount. And you heard what the Taliban spokesman said to me, that they
will not be conducting revenge raids or going house to house. You have seen the pictures, which are horrific of Afghans trying to literally clamber
aboard a moving U.S. military transport plane on the tarmac there. Do you believe what the Taliban say about giving amnesty and protecting all
Afghans no matter what they did in the last 20 years?
TUGENDHAT: I don't believe them for a second. I can tell you why I don't believe them because I've seen in the photos that have been sent to me by
friends in Lashkargah and in Kandahar, the reality of the Taliban reoccupation. I've seen the photographs people we trained, people we served
with, people of integrity who did their best for the Afghan people, and their bodies are lying in a gutter.
You know, this is the reality of Taliban rule. We shouldn't have any illusion as to what's going on. This is an organization that is still
partnered with Al-Qaeda and ISIS. It is still partnered with these Turkmenistan Islamic movement. Those people, whether they'd be in Beijing
with Wanyi (ph) or in Moscow with (INAUDIBLE), who think that they've made a deal that is going to keep them safe, when all they're doing is throwing
meat at the crocodile in the hope that they will eat them last.
AMANPOUR: What do you think the United States and Britain, NATO, but the United States which led this withdrawal, this retreat, should have done as
a contingency plan given that presumably they weren't going to stay there forever, or do you think there is a scenario in which for a relatively
inexpensive investment in people and strategy might have been able to stay and stave this off?
TUGENDHAT: Well, look, this is being described as the forever war by some people. For some reason, nobody describes the defense of Germany until 1991
as a forever war or the U.S. military contribution to South Korea as a forever war or the U.S. military contribution in Japan or British military
contribution in Cypress. I mean, I can go on.
The basing in the Gulf. The support to counterpiracy operations. None of these are described as forever wars. And they are not. Because we recognize
that these are essential elements to defending ourselves by extending the perimeter of our security and making sure that allies stand with us when we
ask for them.
And I'm afraid the shortsightedness that we've made here is to confuse at sunk cost or the future cost. The sunk cost is real. We have spent
trillions of dollars in Afghanistan. I can point to the graves of men I've buried and I'm sure many other soldiers can do the same, but they are not
going to rise again just because we leave. That is a sunk cost I'm afraid. It is a sunk cost many of us have to live with every day.
And enduring cost is different. An enduring cost is something we need to make sure is affordable, that we can cope it. And in Afghanistan, I think
we could have got there. We chose not to. That is a political choice. And for 2,500 soldiers, what's that? That's half the crew of an aircraft
carrier. We've left. And we're seeing what that choice has cost.
AMANPOUR: It really is a tragic situation and the way you describe it is very clear. But I just want to ask you because you mention all these other
allies, these other deployments which have been, you know, taken place for a long-term reason.
But your allies in Afghanistan appeared to be somewhat unreliable, right? I mean, it seems that they -- the government was corrupt. The government did
not really pay or take care of its forces that you all were funding and trying to train and maintain. How much responsibility does -- do your
partners in Afghanistan, not the Taliban, but the partners on the government side, how much responsibility do you think they bear?
TUGENDHAT: Of course, they bear a responsibility. I'm not going deny that. Of course, they bear a responsibility. But after 40 years of war, it is
hardly surprising that it was a corrupt and broken state. That is not really a surprise. In the same way as Germany in 1950 would not have been
described as the reliable partner. The political leaders, and there were some very impressive political leaders in Germany in 1950, were not all
people that, with hindsight, we would happily have set down with. Many pasts that, frankly, left a lot to be desired.
But the idea that we could have pulled out of Germany in 1950 and expected the Wehrmacht to have stood up with the Soviet troops was ridiculous, and
we knew it. Because it takes more than five years to build a state. And the reality is that we've only just started easing down on the fighting in the
last three or four years. You know, the last British soldier was tragically killed in combat in December 2013 and the last U.S. soldier two years ago.
You know, this is a war that has been winding down. And what we just, I'm afraid, has thrown the fuel on it.
AMANPOUR: Thank you so much for putting this into such important and vital perspective. Tom Tugendhat, formerly deployed in Afghanistan, thank you
very much for joining us.
And finally, tonight then, let us flash back to one of my own reporting trips to Afghanistan. This was 2002, months after the Taliban was
overthrown. And I witnessed then the spark of hope and jubilation as girls were finally given the opportunity to go to school. A privilege that many
take for granted around the world. But I also discovered that even without the Taliban standing in their way, many would still not receive an
education. So, let's just look back to the future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voiceover): Everyone we talked to says only time and education will bring real rights for Afghanistan's women. And nowhere is that more
keenly felt than among girls who are now allowed to go to school. Under the Taliban, it was illegal. But teachers like Mrs. Zubaida (ph) taught in a
flourishing network of underground schools. Secret places like this in the countryside. Mrs. Zubaida (ph) set up her school above her husband's
office. He's a doctor.
Hundreds of girls learn to read and write here. And when the Taliban came to investigate, Mrs. Zubaida (ph) blamed the noise on her husband's
AMANPOUR (on camera): Was it difficult? Did you have to be careful in case the Taliban found out
ZUBAIDA: Yes. I was -- it was very difficult. I had to be very careful. Sometimes I was changing the time of these lessons. Sometimes I was
changing the place.
AMANPOUR: Why weren't you afraid? They could have done terrible things to you.
ZUBAIDA: I don't know. I don't know. I was not afraid at all.
AMANPOUR: But if they would had caught you, they would have whipped you, no, at least?
ZUBAIDA: But I had to help the people.
AMANPOUR: Were you girls afraid when the Taliban would come around?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes. We used to hide our books under our burkas to avoid beatings from the Taliban. But a few girls were
caught and roughed up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): One day the Taliban approached me as I was going to school. So, I quickly hid my books under a pile of
hay. And when they left, I grabbed the books back from the cows.
AMANPOUR: You really got to want to go to school. But you know what surprises me? That you girls would take so many risks just to learn
something, just to read a book.
ZUBAIDA: They love to study. They want it always, education.
AMANPOUR: What do you want to be when you graduate from this class? Who wants to tell me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Teacher.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doctor.
AMANPOUR: Doctor. You want to be a doctor?
ZUBAIDA: They have lots of wishes.
AMANPOUR: And lots of hopes.
ZUBAIDA: And lots of hopes, yes.
AMANPOUR (voiceover): But as we found, girls who make it to college in the big city are having a hard time. Most of the women at this engineering
school in Kabul have dropped out because the dorms were destroyed during the war, and they have nowhere to sleep.
After the Taliban fled, more than three million girls and boys rushed back to school. That is more than double what the government expected. But there
are still many girls who may never see the inside of a classroom. The father of these little girls keeps them at home weaving carpets.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Why don't the men let the girls go to school?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Our men are strict and they don't let the girls to go school.
AMANPOUR (voiceover): We put the same question to Mohamed Hussein (ph), the man of the house.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Why don't you let your children go to school, your girls go to school?
MOHAMED HUSSEIN (through translator): They are making $5 a month weaving carpets and I'm unemployed. If they go to school, we can't even pay for
AMANPOUR: But look, you have got all girls. And one day they are going to be able to make more money if they are educated. Do you understand that.
HUSSEIN (through translator): But poor people like us don't have that choice. If the girls don't work, we'll all be hungry.
AMANPOUR (voiceover): The women in this household want their girls to be educated. But in the end, it is the man who decides.
AMANPOUR (on camera): He is the one who sets the rules.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes, it's true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: An important reality check from a wife and a mother that 20 years of a multibillion-dollar international effort in one of the poorest
countries in the world means that many parents will choose, still, to keep their girls working and not learning.
That is it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.