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Interview With Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani; Interview With U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield; Interview with Former U.S. Marine Corps Infantry Officer Ian Cameron. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 22, 2021 - 13:00 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.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We know that we are stronger as a nation if we stand with other democracies and
stand with our allies.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): Is America back or is it America first? Taking the temperature at the U.N. General Assembly with the U.S. ambassador, Linda
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We emphasize here the importance of the international community's continued support to Afghanistan at this
AMANPOUR: Urging the world to continue dialogue with the Taliban.
I speak with the new regional power broker, Qatar, and its deputy prime minister.
IAN CAMERON, FORMER U.S. MARINE: The fact that Americans are less in the line of fire does not reduce our responsibility.
Former U.S. Marine Ian Cameron says he killed Taliban fighters from an air conditioned room. He talks to Hari Sreenivasan and about what it was all
for and what happens now.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Opposing world views front and center this week at the United Nations General Assembly. After President Biden's maiden address condemned the iron
hand of authoritarianism, China's President Xi Jinping hit back, saying that democracy is not the highest virtue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): One country's success does not have to mean another country's failure. And the world is big
enough to accommodate common development and progress of all countries. We need to pursue dialogue and inclusiveness over confrontation and exclusion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Iran's new hard-line leader, Ebrahim Raisi, also blasted the U.S., criticizing Washington's withdrawal from the nuclear deal, saying the
policy of maximum tyranny is still on.
To add to all of this, Brazil's health minister has tested positive for COVID after he mingled with world leaders, even shaking hands with the
British prime minister, Boris Johnson.
I have been speaking to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, America's ambassador to the U.N., about President Biden's pledge to set the global stage for the
AMANPOUR: Ambassador, welcome to the program.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much. Delighted to be here.
AMANPOUR: So, it's your first UNGA. And it is the first one face to face, by and large, since COVID. And you mentioned that you were worried it might
become a super-spreader event.
Sure enough, true to type, the president of Brazil publicly announced that he refuses to be vaccinated. Then his health minister says he's got COVID.
And then he's shaking hands with everybody. How worried are you? I mean, what kind of message does this send from one of Latin America's biggest
countries on this serious issue?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, it is incumbent on every leader from every country in the world to take this pandemic seriously.
The United Nations has taken some mitigation efforts that we know will help improve the situation. They're doing intensive cleaning after each speaker.
We worked with the city to put a van right outside U.N. headquarters to do testing and provide vaccines to those who wish to have vaccines.
And we will continue to work with the U.N. and with the city to ensure that this does not become a super-spreader event.
AMANPOUR: Would you urge your president not to shake hands with Bolsonaro, and not just as a petty gesture, as a diplomatic gesture to show that
enough, enough on this?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, you will notice, if you see pictures of us in -- at the United Nations, that we're doing elbow bumps, we're doing fist
bumps, we're putting our hands on our hearts.
There's very little shaking of hands. But if we do somehow shake hands, there is hand sanitizer everywhere. And people are being encouraged to use
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about the other substance, because COVID is clearly substance.
President Biden saying we're not going to a new cold war with China. We want to lead. We want to work with alliances. President Xi saying in his
tape to dress that, don't talk to us about democracy. Democracy is not just the preserve of one country.
The Iranian president, himself sanctioned, one of the biggest violators on the international stage of human rights, talking about American tyranny and
mentioning the anti-democratic forces that stormed the Capitol on January 6.
Where do you see the United States being able to lead here? And are you concerned that there is a growing dysfunction between all these big power
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Their views were predictable. It is not something that we didn't expect.
But our view is that the values of democracy stand strong. And President Biden displayed that very, very aggressively at the United Nations, noting
that we're going to lead with diplomacy, with our values, and we are going to lead by our example.
We don't run away from our shortcomings. We acknowledge those. But we know that we are stronger as a nation if we stand with other democracies and
stand with our allies. And that's the position that we took at the United Nations. It's the position that President Biden laid out very, very
strongly in his speech.
And I will tell you that his speech was well-received by all of the countries that we have engaged with. He got resounding applause for the
speech that he gave. And our return to the multilateral stage was most welcomed.
AMANPOUR: I wonder if it was warmly received by the French. I'm being a little wry here. You obviously are in the middle of a great big spat with
one of your oldest and longest allies, the French.
President Biden and President Macron are speaking on this day. And I wonder whether you think that this relationship could be put back on track after
the submarine crisis, and what it will take.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I would describe it as a bump in the road.
Our relationship with France is strong. They are our longest ally. They're our strongest ally. And they are a friend. And we work closely with them at
the United Nations and around the globe.
And this is a bump in the road that will be smoothed out, I hope, with the conversation that President Biden will be having with President Macron.
But, again, I think there's no doubt that our friendship will remain a strong friendship moving forward. And we will find ways to continue to work
together on common interests and work for the common good.
AMANPOUR: Yes, the United States describes it as a bump in the road. It would. It is the superpower and it wants to get past it. The French say
they have been betrayed, that it's a crisis of trust.
The substance is that the United States also was considered to have betrayed or blindsided their alliance over Afghanistan. Are those
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we're in a new day and a new world. And we have new challenges to deal with, both internationally and in our bilateral
And we're taking these into account. But I can assure you, we are consulting on a regular basis with our allies. We're working closely with
our allies. And we're looking for ways to work with those who we're not always aligned with, so that we can find a path forward to deal with all
the challenges that we're facing.
We're facing a global pandemic. Climate change is upon us every single day. We're looking at attacks on democracy across the world, increasing coups,
authoritarianism. There's a lot of work to be done. And we know that, in order to accomplish things, we have to work together. And that's what we're
trying to do at the United Nations.
It's what we're trying to do with NATO. And it's what we're trying to do in our bilateral relationships. And, again, it's not always a smooth path. And
we try to smooth out those bumps when we come across them. And I think we have succeeded in doing that.
President Biden has been clear that we are going to lead relentlessly with our diplomacy, and we're going to lead with our values, and we're going to
lead with our example. And I think everyone saw that on display when the president gave his speech yesterday.
AMANPOUR: So, let's take COVID about leading relentlessly.
Yes, the president has said what he said. Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of American doses of vaccine going around, but not nearly enough.
This is what the head, the secretary-general of the United Nations said about this terrible inequity that persists to this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: The surplus in some countries, empty shelves in others, a majority of the wealthier world
vaccinated, over 90 percent of Africans still waiting for the first dose.
This is a moral indictment of the state of our world. It is an obscenity. We passed the science test, but we are getting an F in ethics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That is very, very strong from a U.N. secretary-general, using the word obscenity, failing the ethics test.
How do you substantively expect the president's COVID summit today to change anything on the distribution, the ramping up of vaccine doses for
those very countries who've received almost nothing?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: That's the whole purpose of the summit today, is to encourage countries, companies, NGOs, the world, to come together to find a
way to address this pandemic.
The U.S. has given 600 million doses of the vaccine. We have already delivered over 160 million. We gave to COVAX $4 billion. And we do plan to
give more. But the purpose of the summit is to encourage others to give more. It is also to look at how we can strategize to address this.
And it's not just producing vaccines in our own country and delivering those vaccines free of charge without strings to other countries. It's also
finding ways to produce the vaccine in other countries. And we have been looking at working with the Africa CDC, for example, in Africa, and working
with countries in Africa to produce the vaccine.
It's a challenge. I don't disagree with the secretary-general. He laid out that challenge before us. And our job is to find a way to address it. And
we can't sit on our hands. So we're going to have this summit today that the president will be hosting. I will be there with him, co-chairing a
And we will be bringing leaders from around the world to recommit and to make even stronger commitments to getting vaccines in the arms of every
single person in the world.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador, doing all this stuff requires, as you have laid out, global cooperation amongst leaders.
You sit at the U.N. In the Security Council, there are the U.S. and its allies. And then there's China and Russia that seems to veto or abstain or
say no or obstruct just about everything the democratic forces of the world want to do.
What exactly is your relationship with your fellow Chinese ambassador or the Russian when you sit in that room, and you know that, on COVID, on
climate, on all the things you have just been talking about, you actually need cooperation? Is it even possible?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It is absolutely possible.
And we have had some successes. It's not a perfect world in the Security Council, but we do know that we have to work together to deliver to the
We were able to get a resolution on continuing to maintain a border opening in Syria, and the entire Security Council voted for it. It was a complete
15-0 vote. We were able to get a resolution Afghanistan. And while the Chinese and the Russians abstained, they didn't veto.
So we do have areas where we can work together. And we try to reinforce that -- those efforts. But I'm not Pollyannish here. There are some
challenges. But we are continuing to make some progress.
AMANPOUR: What exactly is the Biden doctrine?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Our doctrine is to work with our allies to make the world a better place for everyone.
And we will lead by our example. We will lead with our values, our values related to human rights, our values related to democracy. And we will
consult with our allies. We know that we can't do -- we can't do it alone. We have to work with others.
And I think they all see it. And they all believe in it. And I think, as you look at what we have been able to accomplish, it's been a success.
AMANPOUR: OK, you're grading yourself there, Ambassador. We will see.
But let me ask you now. You have got something very real to decide, I guess as a U.N. The Taliban has requested accreditation. Do you expect the
Taliban to be accredited, to address this session of the U.N. General Assembly?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: This is a decision that gets made by the credentialing committee. We're on that committee.
I doubt that a decision will be made over the coming week. The credentialing committee, I think, is scheduled to meet again in November.
And that's when I would expect that they will take this up to address.
AMANPOUR: Do you think they should be recognized? In other words, should a U.N. body, or the U.N., recognize them, in order that you all can help
Afghanistan, the people of Afghanistan, in other words, pragmatic operational relations?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Our position has been clear. And it's been unified with the rest of the international community.
We will not recognize the Taliban until they earn recognition. And they earn recognition by their deeds, not -- and -- by their actions, not by
their words, which we will be watching closely, whether they provide free passage for Afghans and others to leave the country, whether they allow for
humanitarian assistance to be brought in and delivered directly to the people of Afghanistan, whether they give rights to women to work and rights
to girls to go to school.
AMANPOUR: And, finally, because it's happening on your border at this time, you see that there's been a crisis of abuse, as the Department of
Homeland Security has said, by Border Patrol against Haitian migrants, and it's just escalating right now.
I wonder what you think about that. We were told by immigration experts that it's a particularly cruel targeting too often of black migrants. And,
in this case, they're Haitians. And what do you say when other world leaders either ask you about it or put you on the defensive about it or
wonder what you're going to do about it as a country?
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: First, I was appalled to see it. Secondly, I was embarrassed to see that happen.
You heard what Secretary Mayorkas said on CNN yesterday, that he was investigating, and he would hold people accountable. As I have said
regularly at the United Nations, our country is not perfect. But we work every day to perfect it. And we don't run away from our shortcomings.
So, while we were appalled by this, and we were embarrassed by it, we are going to deal with it and look for ways to improve how we address the
situation on the border. And I think you will see things change very, very quickly as it relates to what we saw on television earlier this week.
AMANPOUR: Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, thank you very much indeed for joining us.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much for having me, and I look forward to talking to you again.
AMANPOUR: Another important player at the global table is Qatar. One might call it the little Persian Gulf state that could, because, since emerging
as the key player in the region, hosting the negotiations between the Taliban and the United States, Qatar seems to be everywhere.
And since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban last month, Doha, home to America's largest military base in the Middle East, has become a diplomatic
hub for many Western nations.
Sheik Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani is Qatar's deputy prime minister and foreign minister. And he's joining me now from New York.
Welcome to the program, Sheik Al Thani.
Can I ask you? You just heard the U.N. ambassador say that, quite frankly, the Taliban would not even have its credentials addressed until the next
session of the committee in November. Do you agree that it should not have been given permission or whatever to address the U.N. now and should
MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN BIN JASSIM AL THANI, QATARI FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, thank you very much, Christiane, for hosting me today.
And let me start with by wishing you well and fast recovery.
Regarding the comments about the credentials for Taliban, actually, I think that the Qatar position has been very clear from the beginning, that we see
that isolation is not the way forward and recognition is not a priority right now.
We believe the priority for all of us right now, to stay engaged with Afghanistan, and not to abandon Afghanistan, in order to be able to help
the Afghan people. And what Taliban has put out as statements I think needed to be translated into actions.
And the entire international community, as Qatar, is watching what the actions will be. So, for the time being, we need to see some progress in
inclusiveness of the government, which we have seen probably some small positive steps yesterday.
But, also, there are other steps that's required to be done in order to ensure that Afghanistan will be a stable country in the future. But the
main thing that we need to remain focused on is the humanitarian situation over there.
And this humanitarian situation needed to be independent from any political progress.
AMANPOUR: So, Foreign Minister, we have talked to U.N. officials, and they agree with you. Everybody thinks that the Afghan people need to be helped,
particularly with food and refuge and shelter and all the other things humanitarian-wise.
But I want to ask you, because you have just raised these two issues. Why do you think that they have showed any inclusivity? I think the
international community was quite shocked that they reverted to type when they names their so-called interim government, hard-liners across the
board, no women, no ethnic minorities, nothing that showed -- no opposition parties or whatever, nothing that showed that they would be inclusive.
And subsequently, as you know, they have prevented girls from going to school in the latest intake. They have closed down the women's ministry,
and you know that the women's issue is vital to the international community.
Where do you see any inclusivity or willing to play international ball by the Taliban right now?
AL THANI: Well, actually, what I have just referred to, I totally -- first of all, I totally agree with all these points that you have raised.
And we want to see an inclusiveness and to see an inclusive government to sustain the peace and stability in Afghanistan, because we know that
excluding any party or any minority won't be sustainable for a peaceful Afghanistan, for the stability of Afghanistan.
Yesterday, announcement of the appointment of some from different ethnicities, whether us from the Tajik or from the Uzbek, and there is also
a one deputy minister, I believe, from the Hazaras, and some professionals, as I mentioned, was a just a small positive step toward inclusiveness.
We should keep urging them to open up and to be more inclusive, to include women, of course, in senior minister and -- or ministerial position over
But, also, on the issue of girls going back to school, we always call and urge the Taliban to be -- to preserve the rights of the Afghan people,
including women and men.
And the decision that was being taken like a week ago about preventing girls from going back to school is unacceptable. And we have been conveying
these messages and urging them, in order to make sure that whatever has been achieved in Afghanistan not reversed.
And I think the entire international community is united in that front.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to just dig down in that with you a little bit.
But, first, I want to see whether you agree with what the U.N. high commissioner for refugees told me this week about finding some space to
work with the current Taliban government. Let's just see if you agree with what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FILIPPO GRANDI, UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: I think the space exists. There is a possibility. I remember the Taliban in the late
'90s. I met them. And it was much more difficult to even raise these issues. Now we can. We have to do with what we have.
But the important thing is to continue to engage. It will be slow progress, if we're lucky. There will be progress. But it will be slow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, Qatar has been hosting the Taliban and its office for years now, not to mention these latest negotiations.
Do you agree that they're different? You have been able to observe them close up.
AL THANI: Well, I think what we can judge with is the actions -- are the actions, not the statements or the position that's been said verbally.
And what we have experienced in the past few years, during the negotiation, there are, of course, changes for the Taliban, who has been exposed to the
world and interacted with the international community. But we cannot expect the same version inside Afghanistan who have been fighting for years.
We believe that what we need to do as an international community is to stay engaging on Afghanistan, stay urging Taliban to translate these statements
into positive actions for the stability of Afghanistan, for the future of Afghanistan.
The U.N. agencies, we have been facilitating for them some of the visits, facilitating some of the humanitarian aids that have been transferred to
Afghanistan in recent days, and has been moving in a smooth way.
It's not -- it has some challenges, yes, but it wasn't as difficult as it was expected from the beginning. So we hope that these small positive steps
are something good that we can build on.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, you know that, even before there was al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden or 9/11, the world was focused because of the original
Taliban government on the cruelty and the complete disregard for women in Afghanistan.
This has been an issue for nearly 30 years now, or at least 20 years, in Afghanistan. Does Qatar care enough about women's rights to really hold the
Taliban's feet to the fire? Afghanistan is not surrounded by countries that are known for their respective women's rights.
Do you at least have enough care about this to really make them accountable on this particular issue?
AL THANI: Well, definitely, it's very important for Qatar. And it's unacceptable for us to see any mistreatment for the women in Afghanistan.
And it cannot be also tolerated to be -- to see Afghanistan transferring to a breeding ground for their terrorists and terrorist organization. We have
been advocating for this, urging for this, and we are drawing the example as state of Qatar is a Muslim country with this -- with an Islamic system.
And we have the numbers of women participating in the government work force are more than the men, and also, in the higher education, we have more
women than men. And we are showing them that these are examples for a Muslim country that can progress with the active participation of women.
And there is nothing in our religion preventing them from going to school or letting them just staying at home, which is not acceptable at all for us
in the state of Qatar.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you now about Qatar's, it seems to be, relatively new strategic power?
Not only did you host the negotiations with the Trump administration and the Taliban, but you don't need me to remind you that, under the Trump
administration, they did try to blockade you. There was a sense that an anti-Iran alliance between Saudi Arabia, Israel, the UAE, the Trump
administration needed to isolate Qatar.
That's obviously come full circle, and you're anything but isolated. How do you feel about that? I mean, do you feel like you have been vindicated?
What do you feel?
AL THANI: Well, actually, what's happened in 2017, and when the Gulf -- when the Gulf crisis has started, it has affected the progress of the GCC
overall, and has a greater impact on the bigger region, on the wider region.
And we have seen that the policies of isolation or crisis without engagement and dialogue won't lead anywhere. And we have been very positive
and constructively engaging with other GCC partners. And we are very happy to see the progress after summit, and the restoration is coming back to the
And we have seen a desire and willingness from the other GCC members to restore the GCC. And Qatar will be, of course, engaging positively in that
On Iran matter, we see that Iran is part of our region. Iran is our neighbor. We are surrounded, as it is with Saudi, with UAE, and other Gulf
countries. Iran is part of that neighborhood. And we always encourage all the parties and all -- the entire neighborhood to start -- to engage
together and to have -- to stabilize our region by engagement, by dialogue, and to try to agree at least on security principles that we ensure that
there is no -- any issues that can face us, can deteriorate our security, security situation.
Gulf countries has been for a long time the stabilizing factor in our region. And we need to remain as a stabilizing factor and remain
stabilized. And this will only happen by dialogue.
AMANPOUR: Well, are you still divided on the merits of rejoining -- the U.S. rejoining the Iran nuclear deal? President Biden said he wants to,
will do it in full compliance if Iran does it in full compliance.
You have just returned from there. Do you see any indication that this is going to happen?
AL THANI: Well, we are hoping that this happening as soon as possible, because we cannot afford to see a nuclear or an arms race in our region.
JCPOA is a very important agreement. We are encouraging Iran to reengage and to be back in the deal, and also encouraging the other Gulf countries
to engage with Iran directly to address the other concerns.
Of course, the U.S. role is very important, and their engagement in the JCPOA. And, also, the U.S. and other members of the JCPOA is important --
playing an important role in supporting any engagement between the GCC and Iran.
We have heard yesterday from the president, Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian president, that they don't want to have a nuclear weapon. And this is
something that we share. And we don't want to see nuclear programs developing in our region.
So we hope that these statements will be followed by reengagement by both parties.
AMANPOUR: Can I switch to a completely different issue, but one that much of the world, the football-, soccer-loving part of the world, is really
eager? And that is the World Cup that would be held in Qatar in about a year from now.
But rights' groups, migrants' groups have consistently raised this real problem that so many migrant workers have been killed and have died in
unsafe situations. And they complain that your government is not doing what it pledges to do, either keep these workers safe or even investigate what's
happening. Why not, Foreign Minister? This has been going on for a long time and sure a lot on your copy book?
AL-THANI: Well, Christiane, I think the progress that's been achieved by Qatar in front of labor rights and the human rights in the last 10 years is
something ahead of the entire region. And the reforms and laws and the government engagement in that front were different. International
organizations and NGO has been very actively engaging. The ILO (ph) has acknowledged all the progress that's been achieved by Qatar.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of misinformation and misreporting about the facts and the numbers. When life for anyone who is living in Qatar matters
a lot for the government and we cannot leave it like this without any accountability. And the government is launching always if there's any case
of death an investigation about it and they held the parties accountable.
In fact, the numbers that's being published about the death on the World Cup sites is misleading and the number of deaths related to the World Cup
projects in the last 10 years has been only four or three laborers. So, I think the most misleading information, sometimes unfortunately, being used
for reporting is misleading, the public opinion about the situation over there. So, we've been very open, inviting everyone to come to Doha to see
the progress their selves. And we are proud with the progress that we have achieved. And then, also we are always --
AMANPOUR: OK. Very quickly, Foreign Minister.
AL-THANI: -- looking at ourself to improve as well as there any conditions that --
AMANPOUR: Good. Well, I just wanted to ask you about the improvement thing. I'm literally running out of time. But it is still an issue. But I
just want a yes or no answer. Would you, you know, reopen or go deeper into an investigation if that was called for now?
AL-THANI: Definitely. If there are -- if there is anything require any investigation by government, the government taking full responsibility for
that and we'll do it.
AMANPOUR: OK. I appreciate it. Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Al-Thani, thank you for joining us.
Now, of course the Afghan people, as we said, continue to suffer greatly. Many refugees face a desperate journey as they flee their homeland.
Correspondent Arwa Damon speaks to Afghans as they try to cross into turkey from across the Afghan border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Up in the darkness on the side of a steep hill, dozens of mostly Afghan refugees are
picking their way through the thorny rocky slopes. They crossed the Iranian border into Eastern Turkey. The handful of Turkish security forces we are
with are scattered below, being guided by others manning a thermal camera.
DAMON (on camera): OK. They're telling them to go left into the front.
DAMON (voiceover): Turkey doesn't want the refugees here. And their final destination, Europe, doesn't want them there. The shots are blanks intended
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two. I go up, you direct me. Stand, stand, stand. Surrender. Down. Go down.
DAMON (voiceover): For these small group of Afghans, it's over. And yet, despite the grueling journey, the sudden evaporation of his dreams, one of
the young men realizes, I am struggling with the slippery descent and insists on helping. He's an athletic student, a sprinter. Another in the
group, a pro mixed martial arts fighter. They don't want to appear on camera. They say it would break their parents' hearts to see them captured.
It was dark, so dark. Zenap (ph) who we met a few days earlier in a deportation center remembers. It was their son, Amir (ph), just 10 years
old, who kept them going.
DAMON (on camera): What were you thinking when, you know, you were going through all of this and you were pulling your dad and carrying the bags?
DAMON (voiceover): I was just thinking that we have to reach a country that is safe, he responds.
DAMON (on camera): You're very brave.
DAMON (voiceover): It was for his future, his sister, Sada (ph) says. I can't study in Afghanistan. Zenap does not want her daughter to be robbed
of her right to learn, not the way she was 20 plus years ago.
DAMON (on camera): So, you went to a secret school, one of the secret underground schools? It was under a house, she says. The door stayed shut
so no one know girls were there. She's broken in more ways than she could put into words. They all are. She doesn't know how long they will be here.
Turkey halted deportations to Afghanistan after Kabul fell. Some of those who evade capture hideout in small ravines, waiting for their payment to
the smugglers to come through so they can move on to the next leg.
DAMON (on camera): So, you were in the military?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, in Afghanistan.
DAMON (voiceover): He was part of a local anti-Taliban unit. He sent his wife and three children into hiding after receiving threatening phone
calls. He left them behind so they can be reunited in a better place, one day, someday. Suffering through the humiliation of waiting out here. Many
of those we spoke to said it took them numerous attempts just to get across the border into Turkey.
Turkey has been beefing up its border security. Doubling the number of guard towers, infrared cameras, motion sensors with Europe's support.
Turkey is pushing refugees back, at times forcefully and violently. The day after crossing the border, the captured refugees we met had already forced
back in to Iran. They say, they are now hiding from thieves, but nothing will stop those that have nothing left but broken promises.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are very sad. We don't have a home. We don't have a country. We don't have -- why?
DAMON (voiceover): A question that should echo throughout America's halls of power, whose policies failed the Afghan people and led to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Even before this terrible catastrophe, the accidental killing of Afghan civilians by American air power dogged the 20-year mission there and
turned many people against it. And now, the White House backs an investigation into the latest such calamity that killed 10 civilians in
Kabul last month, initially the U.S. claiming they had ISIS-K terrorists in their sight.
Now, as a marine infantry officer, Ian Cameron, oversaw air strike which killed more than 300 Taliban fighters. Now, he wonders, did it even help?
Here he is telling Hari Sreenivasan he thinks must be learned from America's failed war there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Ian Cameron, thank you for joining us.
Now, you were a marine infantry officer and one of your roles was assisting in the targeting of Taliban on the ground in Afghanistan. You did this
basically like a 9 to 5 job as you wrote in your recent op-ed. Tell me what an average day is like for you working in this unit that targets people
with fighter pilots or with fighter planes or with drones?
IAN CAMERON, FORMER U.S. MARINE CORPS INFANTRY OFFICER: An average day for me, it's one of the -- in some respects, one of the most boring nine months
of my life and in some respects, some of the highest intensity nine months of my life.
You know, every day, wake up. You know, a military base, an American military base in a combat zone in the 21st century, can often be a somewhat
comfortable place which is another strange part and something I didn't anticipate. I had my own room. Woke up. I went and ate, you know, eggs to
order cooked by Indian contactors in the mess hall, walked across the street to this air-conditioned room where I brew a cup of - a pot of coffee
and sat down and did my shift for eight hours in which I killed men every single day.
Finished that shift on schedule every day at 4:00 p.m., turned it over to my counterpart, I go work out in the gym, take a hot shower, Wi-Fi
connectivity allowed me to call my girlfriend in the States. I'd read a book. You go to bed. So, the juxtaposition between a comfortable, very
regular existence on an American military base in the 21st century and the very violence operation we're conducting within that eight-hour shift is
definitely something that I wanted to share with folks in this article that I wrote and something that I think will continue to see moving forward if
continue with remote targeting as a way in which we carry off foreign policy objectives.
SREENIVASAN: Did that seem strange to you that this was going to war on schedule?
CAMERON: It definitely was a strange experience and one that was very different from the one that I prepared for. Growing up, I attended naval
academy as an 18-year-old and in the early and late 2000s, watching the images of the war, that's what I anticipated my experience would be like as
an infantry officer in a combat zone.
It turned out it was very different. But I believe that it's emblematic of many service members' experiences in Afghanistan and will continue to be so
in future conflicts moving forward.
SREENIVASAN: So, give me an idea. Most people have never seen what you've seen inside the room. The perspective of a drone. How -- what's the level
of detail that you can see on the ground from something that's so far up in the sky?
CAMERON: It really kind of depends on the particular system that we're using. But it's detailed enough that there's definitely a contrast between
-- there's a very systemic way in which we track targets in a combat zone. But the drone and the images coming from the drone often paints a pretty
intimate portrait of that person's daily activity. And as you follow around a target, gathering additional intelligence, you'll kind of become apart,
you'll be sucked into, you know, his daily life and his daily routine.
And so, it's enough to give a sense of -- a little bit of sense of the daily life of that person and that target that you intend to kill.
SREENIVASAN: Now, you wrote that you could even see the sequins on a baseball cap or cap, I mean, at that level from so far up?
CAMERON: In that particular strike, yes. And there's enough granularity to be able -- it's important, especially in an environment in which the
Taliban, in this case, are blending in with the local population to be very precise and very, very discerning on tracking individual target. And so,
there are many different cameras typically involved and there's many people watching that and keeping track and correlating the intelligence available
to us with that particular target is of utmost importance and something that we spend hours every day doing to make sure that the targets that we
were -- and the people we were killing matched up with the incredible intelligence that we had.
SREENIVASAN: Do you remember how many targets you had acquired? How many people it was in the time that you were there?
CAMERON: 305 Taliban killed during the time -- during my shift, and that's just because we kept very detailed accounting of what we thought happened
to create the best picture that we could of the effects that we were having in that battle scenes. And what that meant on an operation basis
(INAUDIBLE) conducting about a strike or two every single day.
SREENIVASAN: What does that do to you and the group of people you're working with? I know that you were not operating the drone. You were
assisting in this whole process. But if you're watching someone all day and you can look at them close enough to see the sequins of their hat or see
what they're doing, and you are authorizing their life to be extinguished, I mean, how do you clock out of that and go back to, you know, eating
dinner at the mess hall and do it again the next day?
CAMERON: For me personally, Hari, and I can't speak for the personal experiences of hundreds and thousands of other service members who have had
similar experiences. But for me, personally, there was definitely an in the moment, an ability to look at it, you know, very clinical, almost surgical
perspective and conduct my assigned mission and job to the best of my ability.
Nevertheless, the portrait that a drone in the 21st century paints of facts on the grounds, those are real and those are something that you see every
day. So, I can tell you that that's something that I was able to compartmentalize while I was conducting that job, but definitely something
that I struggle with today and I can't speak for the thousands of other service members who have been in similar roles, but I imagine that they
might feel similarly.
SREENIVASAN: Do you carry this with you after you leave? I mean, is this something you speak to a psychologist or a therapist about? Do you have any
semblance of PTSD?
CAMERON: It's definitely something I carry with me, Hari. I want to be clear that I'm proud of my service and I'm proud of the service of all of
the marines that I worked with, and I think we carried out our jobs to the best of our abilities.
I think that the consequences of this war in Afghanistan is something I carry with me but I think that's something all Americans need to reckon
with, and it's not just the service members who went to Afghanistan but it's the voters who voted for our elected officials who chose to go to the
war in -- who chose to prosecute a war in Afghanistan and who chose to continue that war. And I think the lesson moving forward is that just
because we're able to remove ourselves from the battlefield by a technology does not diminish our responsibility to engage in the conflict as a
political body from both a moral and a political perspective.
SREENIVASAN: Tell us your reaction when you first learned and you watched the Pentagon say that we had killed an Islamic State extremist and then, it
turns out -- it was a tragic mistake. It killed 10 people, including an employee at a humanitarian organization and as many as seven children.
CAMERON: I think my first reaction was relief. You remember, just, you know, two days before, there was a horrific attack at the Kabul Airport
resulting in 13 -- the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and dozens, in fact hundreds of Afghan civilians. And there were very creditable reports
coming in about an imminent suicide bomb attack at the airport again.
And so, you know, when I first read about the strike and the first reports that, you know, they have hit their intended target, I was relieved. And
then subsequently, we learned that, in fact, it was a tragic failure of intelligence and the target was executed -- was prosecuted. And so, that
was -- I mean, I -- that emotional arc from, you know, triumph and relief to preventing a suicide attack to the heart wrenching reality of civilian
casualties, you know, that emotional arc definitely -- that resonated with me and especially because I had been in a very similar seat before.
SREENIVASAN: You've been in the room where it happens, so to speak, so many times and so many different missions. What happens when there is
collateral damage, when there's an investigation? What are the people in the room feeling when you find out that perhaps there's an innocent
bystander or a child involved?
CAMERON: I think what's important to note is that precision targeting is anything but precise. There's incredible technology that allows the United
States to put ordinance in very specific places. But at the end of the day, it's the intelligence behind it that is never precise. And there is
exhausted procedures that we go through to vet our intelligence to make sure that the target that we're intending to shoot is our intended target.
And I can't speak to this particular scenario, but I can imagine the pressure, especially given the intelligence reports and the events of the
couple previous days with the suicide attack at the airport. Nevertheless, there's a process that followed. I have confidence that process was
followed in this regard. If it wasn't, I'm sure an investigation will turn that up and I encourage the Pentagon to fully investigate this, as we have
throughout this point of your (ph) conflict and as I've experienced as well.
When precise targeting becomes imprecise, we take a very hard look at what went wrong and why, and what we can do to prevent it in the future.
SREENIVASAN: You know, I can hear someone in the audience saying right now, think about all of U.S. service members, military lives that have been
saved by the fact that we didn't have to be in harm's way.
CAMERON: That's right. And I think that that is, you know, something that this technology has allowed us -- has blocked too (ph) conflicts and has
allowed the United States to prosecute its foreign policy objectives with less direct risk to U.S. service members. And that's a good thing, Hari.
But what we can't abdicate is our moral responsibility for the consequences of those actions.
Just because the United States service members are no longer or are in less direct danger when conducting remote targeting, doesn't mean that the
effects of that remote targeting has devastating and lethal consequences. And our responsibility to -- for those consequences has not diminished.
SREENIVASAN: I want to touch on something you mentioned earlier, which is kind of this level of detachment that remote targeting allows us and the
fact that, you said, hey, you know what, we've paid a ton of attention as the withdrawal happened and we paid a ton of attention right after 9/11.
But there was a pretty big gab in between where we weren't paying nearly as much attention. And how much of that is because we have this technology now
and this isn't a war that was -- you know, we were drafted into service, it didn't cut across all socioeconomic backgrounds equally, right?
We are seeing that there is a technology and potential for us to keep soldiers out of harm's way, perhaps here in Nevada and be drone pilots for
something that's happening way over there.
CAMERON: Yes. Hari, the -- I was 11 years old -- nine-year-old. I -- you know, my formative (ph) years growing up saw some of the highest intensity
conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I watched that on television. When I ended up deploying to Afghanistan in 2018, the Afghanistan war was still
happening. But when I told one of my friends who I hadn't seen in a long time that, you know, I was going to be doing that for nine months, they
said, oh, we're still in Afghanistan?
And now, while, you know, that fact might not have been lost on most Americans, the level of attention that the United States paid to the
Afghanistan conflict was minimal compared to many previous conflicts that we've had in our history. You know, when was Afghanistan a major election
issue at any point in that 20-year conflict? I can't remember that being a make-or-break issue for any presidential candidate or any congressional
candidate or any Senate candidate. And I think that speaks to the effects that this remote targeting has had on how we think about these engagements.
Nevertheless, the consequences are still real from a moral perspective and from a political perspective. And the fact that Americans are less in the
line of fire does not reduce our responsibility to engage critically with the immense power that we yield as a nation.
SREENIVASAN: I don't know if this is too overarching a question, but depending on why you enlisted, was it worth it?
CAMERON: It was worth it, Hari, and I would do it again and I would encourage those that I care about to join the U.S. military. And what I
think is important, Hari, is that we have people who care about the mission and who are willing to serve our country. And I'm glad that I had the
opportunity to do so.
What I hope that we learn from this conflict in Afghanistan is our need to continually engage with the conflicts that we choose to send young men and
women to fight. And I think that there might have been points in the 20- year very long conflict that we lost sight of that. That's what I hope we take moving forward and I hope that there will continue to be conscientious
young men and women willing to serve their country where their country calls them to serve.
SREENIVASAN: Ian Cameron, former marine and infantry officer. Thanks so much for joining us.
CAMERON: Thank you, Hari.
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AMANPOUR: And indeed, of course, that leaders will learn to not always fight the last fall but know really what is ahead of them.
And finally, tonight, a little '90s nostalgia.
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AMANPOUR: The U.S. hip-hop super group, the Fugees, have announced a comeback. Just as it sounds, the name Fugees was inspired by refugees and
the Haitian heritage of band members, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel.
Now, along with Lauryn Hill, they're returning to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their record, "The Score." One of the bestselling albums of
all time. Today, they're kicking off a new tour at the U.N. themed Global Citizen Live event in New York doing their bid to highlight the global
Thank you for joining us. See you again tomorrow night and let's leave you with one of the Fugees' classics.
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