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Crisis in Afghanistan; Interview With Kimberle Crenshaw. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 13, 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.
MARIO DRAGHI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER: The Talibans will be judged for what their deeds are, not their words.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): But, until then, they still stand to get a billion dollars from the G20 to help the Afghan people.
KIMBERLE CRENSHAW, CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AFRICAN-AMERICAN POLICY FORUM: We have to be willing to bear witness, to bear witness to
the often painful realities that we would just rather not confront.
AMANPOUR: Why black women's complaints are rarely taken seriously. I'm joined by Kimberle Crenshaw, the leading scholar who coined the term
intersectionality between race, gender and class.
GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL (RET.), FORMER U.S. COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN: I would have recommended that the labor force there. Had I had been
president, I would have left a small force there.
AMANPOUR: Stanley McChrystal, the American general who led international forces in Afghanistan, talks to Walter Isaacson.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone, I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Afghanistan is headed into a full-blown humanitarian and economic crisis. The country, which is home to 38 million people, is running out of food and
money, and also its health system is collapsing. This week, G20 nations announced pledges of more than a billion dollars to help the Afghan people,
but to distribute that, they will have to work with the ruling Taliban.
Of course, many of those countries spent the last 20 years fighting the Taliban, an awkward fact the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi,
acknowledged as he chaired that G20 meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DRAGHI: It's very hard to see how one can help the Afghan people, which is a big number, and Afghanistan is a big country, without some sort of
involvement of the Taliban government.
I mean, if they don't want us to enter, we don't enter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The United States says it's been having productive talks with Taliban officials in Doha as they try to figure out a way forward on aid.
The Biden administration making clear that it wants to provide assistance directly to the Afghan people. I say making clear, but there are no details
on how that would happen.
Joining me now to explain is Fawzia Koofi, a former Afghan politician who was part of the team that negotiated with the Taliban before its takeover,
and, from Kabul, we're joined from and by Mary-Ellen McGroarty. She's the World Food Program director for Afghanistan.
Ladies, welcome to the program.
Can I start by asking you, Mary-Ellen McGroarty, since you're on the ground there dealing with this humanitarian crisis, how bad is it? What are we
talking? Is food running out? Are there substantial numbers of people who face famine or starvation, as we have been led to understand?
MARY-ELLEN MCGROARTY, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: Good evening, Christiane, from Kabul.
Yes, the situation in Afghanistan is accelerating and magnifying at an incredible pace. We already had a dire humanitarian situation before all
this. And now, with the economic meltdown that's occurring, in addition to the drought situation, the legacy of COVID and conflict, people are just
being pushed to the brink of survival.
Jobs are being lost. Food prices are going up. Fuel prices are going up. And people just can't feed themselves.
AMANPOUR: Well, Jan Egeland, as you know, who is the secretary-general of one of the biggest organizations, the Norwegian Refugee Council, has said:
"The desperation is everywhere. Mothers I sat down with in makeshift tents told me their families have no income and no reserves, and they're worried
that their children will starve and freeze to death this winter."
So again, Mary-Ellen, are you seeing any way that aid could come in? When you see what the G20 has pledged, does that make you feel good, or are
there huge administration hurdles before you can get the food that's necessary?
Yes, I just want to confirm what Jan has said. I have been out across the country. And I have seen exactly the same scenes from women and young
children sick from malnourishment.
Yes, it can come in. I mean, the humanitarian assistance and the humanitarian funding can come into organizations like WFP. We're here on
the ground along with our sister U.N. agencies, with the staff and with the capacity to scale up the response.
So it can come in. And we're ready. We stand ready to deliver. We have been here throughout the crisis. Our trucks are on the road across the country.
AMANPOUR: So, Fawzia Koofi, let me talk to you in Doha there, which is kind of the center of whatever talks internationally are being held with
the Taliban and the political leadership there.
What do you think of the G20 donor conference and the pledges that have been made? Do you think that the technicalities, as Mario Draghi said, can
be overcome of dealing with the Taliban to get this distributed?
FAWZIA KOOFI, FORMER AFGHAN LAWMAKER: It is a very difficult situation, Christiane, because, on one hand, you have 35-plus population which have
not been paid for months, the staff salary.
People were already under poverty -- more than 50 percent under poverty line, with lack of any program or government program being offered to them
in the last -- even before. But in the last two months, since the new power has taken shape in Kabul, the situation has become deteriorating because
people are not paid. Poverty is there. People have lost jobs.
Especially, it becomes more difficult for women, because women do not work, basically. So -- but, on the other hand, you have a situation where the
line is very narrow. One has to really struggle how to find it, so that it does not really empower the ruling power in Kabul, because my major concern
is, yes, people, they need to be supported, because they are people.
And when I talk to you, Christiane, those people and their faces with whom on a daily basis I'm in contact are in front of my eyes, I really can
imagine them. On one hand, you have them, which are even not earning $1 per day. On the other hand, you have a group that could use this humanitarian
aid to boost their political position even more.
AMANPOUR: Well, that is the dilemma. It really is a huge dilemma. But, clearly, the ethical thing is to get lifesaving aid to the people.
So I said you're in Doha. You're actually in Geneva, Switzerland. But when you left Kabul, you said the city looked like a graveyard full of people
who were actually alive.
I want to just play, so we understand the gravity of what you're both telling us, from an unemployed man in Kabul right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I came here to go with someone who needed a laborer. I used to be a government employee and worked at the
Darul Ama Palace. My life was good. And I was receiving my salary.
But now it is different. For two months now, most people have been unemployed, and there are no job opportunities. We wander to find a piece
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, again, let me ask you, Mary-Ellen.
I mean, you're seeing that. Your staff and you are having to deal with this. You're there now. How are the Taliban treating you as an aid
organization? What are they saying to you? Do they recognize that there is this massive humanitarian crisis? Do they care?
MCGROARTY: I mean, I think they recognize that there is a massive humanitarian crisis.
I mean, we are getting access across the country. It's not completely homogeneous. But we are -- we are able to move. We are negotiating with
them so that we can bring access to the most vulnerable people.
And what I am seeing and what I'm experiencing so far is that we are getting that access and they appreciate -- especially with the impact of
the drought and the impact of the economic meltdown that's coming together, and just the very visible signs of desperation that we're seeing right
across the country at the moment.
AMANPOUR: So, when the U.S. says that it has raised the possibility of trying to get aid directly to the Afghan people, what is -- how?
How do you get a directly to each individual person or family, Mary-Ellen?
MCGROARTY: Yes, we work right across the country. We have offices across the country. We work with a huge range of partners who go into the very
communities that we are serving and bring it directly to those communities.
So, yes, we're going directly to the communities.
AMANPOUR: OK. But that goes through you. Let's be clear, it goes through an organization, right?
MCGROARTY: Yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Let me let me clarify then with you, Fawzia Koofi.
From what, what are the state of any political talks between the United States, other international partners and the Taliban right now on a range
of issues, not just the humanitarian crisis, but also on the issues that they have said are their red line issues, girls going to school, respecting
human rights, obviously, the terrorism issue and keeping it a terrorist- free zone?
What is the state of negotiations, Fawzia, as far as you know?
KOOFI: Well, I think a line of communication is important for the world to set conditions and to make their conditions clear, in terms of inclusivity,
because the government right now, the government that the power in Kabul established is by no means inclusive.
They need to make it clear to them that, without girls being in school and woman being in workplace and respect for liberties and freedom of speech,
there will be not a blank check to them again.
But I don't buy this idea of fighting one military extremist with another military extremist. In this case, fighting Da'esh by a Taliban or two
Taliban wouldn't make sense, because you need to really build institutions, strong state-building, and promote education, promote civilization to
tackle a military extremist group, because, at the end of the day, probably, after the fight between Taliban and Da'esh, you might have one
defeat the other one, but you don't have peace and stability in the region.
So that is not going to respond positively. But, in the meantime, it's important that the line of communication is kept for Taliban to understand
what the world wants.
And I think the expectation of people in Afghanistan, especially the woman of Afghanistan, is that the world continue to use their leverage for the
rights of woman, because, after 20 years, Christiane, for us to talk about the rights to education is heartbreaking.
Honestly, as a woman, it's heartbreaking for us to see that we're still struggling for our right to go to school. Also, when it comes to
humanitarian aid, I think we need to showcase in terms of women's participation from the decision-making, Afghan local women participation in
the aid distribution and decision-making.
From top to bottom, women need to be part of it. The aid should be distributed impartially, without any Taliban making the decision on where
the aid should go and where it should not go, because it has to reach the vulnerable people.
And that is the main objective of these -- of the aid.
AMANPOUR: Let's be brutally frank, Fawzia. You have been working on this issue for a long, long time. And, as you said, yes, rolling back the clock
But is it just a fantasy to think that what you say can actually happen today, that women should be part of negotiation? Of course, they should,
but the Taliban aren't even allowed -- allowing them to go to work, much less to school.
Let us play just this sound bite from one little girl, who still, despite Taliban pledges, cannot go to school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm a seventh grade student. The Taliban will not allow girls above sixth grade to go to school. So I work
on the street and earn 60 to 70 Afghani a day to buy food because my father is jobless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK, so that number of Afghanis, local custody -- local currency, amounts to about 70 cents a day. That's like nothing.
I mean, Fawzia, how do you suggest United States today, which has basically lost the war in Afghanistan, Taliban is back where it was 20 years ago, how
does it use any leverage? What leverage does it have to get -- to get anything done right now, especially since it wants to prevent people from
starving, and it's the right thing to want to do?
KOOFI: I think the world still has a leverage to use, political and economical leverage.
What the Taliban do in Afghanistan, we all know, actually, at this stage, does not represent Islam. Look what happened in the rest of Muslim
countries. In the same country that host Taliban for many years and host the negotiation for more than a year, Qatar, it's 12 percent of more girls
into school and universities than the boys.
So I think the Taliban represent is not actual Islam. And, therefore, I think the Muslim countries have a role to play there. The OIC member states
have a role to play. I think the world still can use their leverage, if they really want sincerely, to conditioning it to the Taliban.
They can clearly say that we will only work with you if you map out a clear road map in terms of women's rights, girls education, because it is not --
what they claim is not actually Islamic. So the Muslim world should come out and make a statement, because I think this is -- eventually also
challenge their own societies, because Taliban have inspired many military extremist groups in the region and beyond.
So, tomorrow, in their own borders, in the rest of Muslim world, other religious extremist groups could come out and could claim the same cause.
And, therefore, it's a common responsibility that we stand for actual, true Muslim rights for women of Afghanistan and for men, I would say, in this
And I think the United States, given their link in the region through the Gulf states, through the neighboring countries, they can use their leverage
for a better -- and even the E.U. I mean, one billion dollars, with the previous committed aid to the U.N. is now $2 billion to the U.N.
This is all the leverage we could use for showcasing. Like, for instance, in the humanitarian aid, we need to make sure that there are women in every
stage of this process, there are women organizations that are being supported. There are -- teachers could be paid still. It doesn't have to be
through the establishment in Kabul.
It could be directly to the teachers through their bank account. There are all means that we could do. We need to work out a mechanism that it is not
benefiting the power in Kabul, but, in the meantime, the people could benefit that.
AMANPOUR: When you hear all this -- I know you're not political, Mary- Ellen McGroarty. But when you hear all this, what do you think?
It's clearly -- we understand that they have to be held accountable, and not go back, which they are doing right now, to the way they were behaving
back in the late '90s. But, on the other hand, you have got a constituency, like half the country, that is on the edge of total destitution.
What do you think when you hear is what Fawzia is rightly saying, and this ethical dilemma about trying to hold the Taliban accountable?
MCGROARTY: So, I think it's incredibly and desperately sad, as a women myself, here in Afghanistan.
But, at the moment, what we're looking at across the country, and seeing how millions of innocent people, particularly the women and children, are
currently suffering, we need to separate the humanitarian imperative from the political discussions.
I think there are other levers that can be used against the Taliban. But, at the moment, we need to -- we need to focus, as humanitarian agency, on
pulling people back from the brink of the incredible destitution and despair and hunger that's sweeping across the country.
AMANPOUR: And just quickly to you, Mary-Ellen.
Winter is upon us, and certainly it will be very harsh, as always, in Afghanistan. What might we see in the next few months?
MCGROARTY: I think we're really going to see people struggling to feed themselves and keep themselves warm.
I was just in Kandahar this weekend. They were telling me that the price of gas has doubled for a K.G. from 40 Afghans to 80 Afghans for a K.G. And
that's playing out right across the country.
We're going to see really children continue to fall into severe malnourishment and families continue just to be on the very brink of
hunger. And we need to do as much as we can to avoid that happening.
AMANPOUR: And, Fawzia, again, you have left the country. I don't know whether you go back and forth. But how do you feel about what's happening
now after all the -- you said it's tragic that, 20 years later, we're talking about girls education.
And you were a lawmaker and then a negotiator. What do you feel you can do for your country now from outside?
KOOFI: Well, my plans, as you know, are to go back to Afghanistan and stand with those women who are protesting every day, risking their lives in
the streets of Kabul and other provinces.
So I'm not here for long term. But, in the meantime, the time that I'm here, I spend it with meeting political leaders, world leaders and
institutions around the world, including European countries. And I was briefing the Security Council, U.N. Security Council, yesterday, meeting
with political leaders to set certain conditions.
And the conditions should be based on the ground realities. I'm not here to talk about theoretical lessons. What I'm here to talk about is basically
what is needed on the ground. So, what Taliban -- in fact, you know that, in some parts of Afghanistan, in some provinces, the schools were opened by
the local commander.
So, sooner or later, this evolution where people from the local ground will be under pressure to demand -- to respond to the demand of people, the
Taliban in Kabul must listen to that. And I think the world will eventually have to listen and put more pressure.
So what I tell to the world leaders is that they have to really make their conditions strong. In the meantime, yes, there is a segregation between
humanitarian need and political pressure. But humanitarian aid is something which is essential, goes to my people.
My heart actually, Christiane, bleeds when people call me on daily basis asking for $10 support. Can you believe? These are highly educated people
with dignity and talent. They don't have even $10 per month. That is only the situation that people there could describe.
But, in the meantime, if this goes like that, a blank check, it can empower them. We talked about this.
So, therefore, I think what my message to the world leader was and to the world leader continue to be is that they need to make their conditions
stronger and get engaged with Taliban in a means of communication, for Taliban to respect those or slowly come to this understanding that they are
facing a completely different Afghanistan, a very empowered nation that they have to respect and adopt based on what they want.
AMANPOUR: It's really a heartbreaking and fascinating story to see how it develops.
Fawzia Koofi and, certainly, Mary-Ellen McGroarty, good luck to you there and thank you very much indeed for joining us.
And, next, we focus on the United States' domestic struggles, particularly the issues of racism and sexism.
My next guest, the Columbia law professor Kimberle Crenshaw, has become world-renowned for her work on where those paths cross. Preeminent in her
field, she coined the term intersectionality back in 1989.
In a recent essay for "The New York Times" entitled: "How R. Kelly Got Away With It," Crenshaw argues that the R&B star recently convicted of sex
trafficking and racketeering was able to dodge justice for so long because of a societal disregard for black girls and women.
And she's joining me now from New York.
Welcome to the program. It's good to see you.
CRENSHAW: Such a pleasure.
AMANPOUR: And your article was really fascinating. It's good to have you.
So, look, react to the verdict a little bit more, and lay out what really is a staggering situation, that this all happened in plain sight for so
long. And because it was black women who were the victims, it simply wasn't taken seriously.
Well, of course, it's a cause to be thankful that justice has finally been served, but it's not a moment for celebration. After all, this was not a
whodunit. The question was, does anybody care?
R. Kelly had used black women and girls as props. He had consumed them in full view of everyone. He even called himself the Pied Piper, both
literally and materially. He used his music to attract, to pursue, to use, to abuse black women and girls, and everybody knew about it.
So this isn't a question about something that folks just found out about. It wasn't a grand discovery. What shifted was the fact that there was a
movement primarily put forward by African-American women and joined by women who finally had some power to be able to bring him to justice.
So, while we should be happy that, finally, justice has been served, this is an opportunity for us to really think about why it took so long, what it
was about these black women and girls that allowed jurors to say, they didn't believe them. They didn't like the way they dress. They disregarded
everything, they said.
What was it about these victims that allowed superstars to continue to work with R. Kelly, music executives to continue to make deals with him,
consumers to continue listening to his music? This is a part of a long history of the way in which black women's sexuality, black women's
veracity, black women's vulnerability has been dismissed in our culture, in our politics and in our society.
This is an opportunity for us to really dig into it, rather than pat ourselves on the back.
AMANPOUR: And yet you say and you point out, when everybody asks, is this a tipping point moment, is it a watershed moment -- this conviction, I'm
talking about -- you recently wrote: "If the interplay of racism and misogyny that facilitates the abuse of black women and girls continues to
be taken for granted as background noise, the opportunity to correct the wider historical wrongs that this shameful saga represents will pass."
So, right now, I'm going to ask you, how worried are you that this opportunity will pass, particularly in light of some extraordinary facts
and figures? And that is that R. Kelly's music and sales and all the rest of it have seen a massive spike in profitability to him since the
What does that tell you?
CRENSHAW: Yes, there's so many dimensions of this that make me worry that, once again, this will just be a blip in the history of intersectional
injustice, some of the challenges that black women face.
So, as you point out, R. Kelly is once again streaming a lot of his music, because it's available on the platform for people to gain access to. So the
music is industry has not joined in, in a significant way in holding R. Kelly accountable. People are still consuming music that was basically
produced in the midst of and while black women were being abused.
And I will broaden it to say that not only do we have to worry about the fact that accountability seems to be in short supply, at least as far as
the music industry is concerned and consumers, but I'd say, more broadly, the history out of which this vulnerability arises, the fact that black
women's productive labor, sexuality was mobilized and used to really build this country, I mean, we do have to think about the fact that this
country's main property was property in slaves.
Where did that come from? That was forced reproduction. And there had to be stereotypes that were developed about black women that justified and made
it OK. There has never been a Juneteenth for black women. There's never been a moment where all of these stereotypes, about their veracity, about
their inability to say no, their -- the fact that they're literally unrapeable, that has been the deep part of our history.
And we have only begun to peel back and tell that story. And now we're doing it at a time where some people want to stop us from telling these
histories, stop us from thinking about these issues in an intersectional way, actually make it illegal to teach people these things.
And if it's illegal to teach people these things, it will eventually be illegal to research it, or at least it won't be productive to research it.
And then that means you can't even think about it.
So we're going in the opposite direction precisely at a time where we have an opportunity to move forward.
AMANPOUR: And I'm going to dive into that in a second. But, first, I want to ask you and pick up on what you said.
It's often black women and the black community, as you said, who are kind of forced into these -- in my words, a conspiracy of silence when these
things happen. And we spoke -- or I spoke to Joanne Morgan, the music producer, and Joan -- sorry -- Drew Dixon and Joan Morgan about their
documentary "On the Record" about this.
And they highlighted this double bind that so many black women face, saying that the they understand that the price we have been asked to pay to
support the struggle of racism is silence. "Our issues can be discussed at some later point, after everyone gets free, if discussed at all."
Here's the rest of what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOAN MORGAN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: There's also the issue of this feeling about -- in our community about airing dirty laundry. So you don't let
people outside of the community see the problems and the struggle, because there is an ongoing pressure to appear to the larger world as our best
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that's really difficult, when the community itself feels that if it steps out and calls out these crimes, that it's somehow a betrayal of
Am I right on that?
CRENSHAW: Well, this has been an ongoing problem that black women have faced for generations.
And it's a problem that's, frankly, a product of the failure to tell the true stories about what the history of anti-racism is. We confronted that
during the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, the anniversary of which just happened a couple of days ago.
The reality is that so many people in the African-American community responded positively to Clarence Thomas' effort to frame Anita Hill's
testimony as a high-tech lynching, in part because the story about how black women have experienced sexual racism and fought against it as part of
anti-racism is a history that is not told.
So we know that the history of Ida B. Wells, for example, who led the first anti-lynching campaign. People understand that lynching is deeply tied to
white supremacy. What they don't know is that she also advocated for black women and talked about how actually lynching was just a projection upon
African-American men of what was actually happening to black women.
We also don't know Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks, before she stood up against segregation, she stood up for black women who were raped in the South and
they never saw their assailants arrested. And sexual harassment itself. The early plaintiffs in sexual harassment cases were African-American women,
who understood that sexual abuse on their jobs was a form of discrimination.
Now, none of these stories were stories that people knew, they weren't heard basically because we haven't rehearsed how fighting against racism
and fighting against misogyny for many black women have always been one and the same. That's how we ended up with Clarence Thomas frankly on the
Supreme Court. Feminists, anti-racists were separated in that moment because they didn't know the history.
So, this whole story about having to suppress our dirty laundry has contributed to the crises between anti-racism and feminism. The bill has
become due now if we really look at the legacy of that hearing. All the things that were made possible because a coalition that should have
understood this history together didn't have it. And so, they were put at lagger heads with each other.
AMANPOUR: And as you mentioned, the high-tech lynching that Clarence Thomas said he was being subjected to then got picked up by supporters of
R. Kelly and before that, Bill Cosby as well. So, I can see where you're going with that. But particularly, I'm interested in what you're also
saying about a lack of understanding of history.
And so, I want to get to a critical race theory because I think that's where you're heading and clearly, that has become a buzz word that's being
taken and just thrown around. You didn't invent the term, but you certainly coined it when you were at Harvard Law School many years ago.
So, tell us what you meant by it then and what you see happening to this term now and why.
CRENSHAW: Well, critical race theory itself is simply the study about how racism and racial power is not simply a matter of individual level
prejudicial acts. Of course, prejudice and individual bias is part of the history and the legacy of racism in this country, but the broader, bigger
deeper picture is the way in which history still walks among us. History is embedded in our institutions and in what stories get told, how policies are
enacted. So, critical race theory was just one piece of a broader way of thinking about structural inequality.
Now, the way critical race theory has been deployed by those who would rather blame the people who are saying it's a problem rather than
addressing the problem that we have is that it's been used as a catch-all to try denounce all efforts to say that we still have a racial problem in
So, under the guise of critical race theory, some school districts have fired teachers for teaching Ta-Nehisi Coates. We've seen Martin Luther King
taken off of reading lists. We've seen stories about children having to struggle with segregation, being denounced as critical race theory. So,
what this actually is is an attempt to enforce a particular kind of narrative about American history. It's an attempt to create one story, a
story that is purely one of celebration, a story that says, we can't talk about how an entire country was grounded in things like slavery, manifest
destiny, genocide. These are all real policies that were legal at a particular point in time and their echoes of those policies that still walk
When we think particularly about how this moment with respect to black women is going to play out, if we can't talk about things that have not yet
really surfaced, we can't talk about the way that sexual racism has played out, we can't talk about the way that as a matter of law, black women
sometimes, a court said, you can't really believe them because they're known to lie. We can't talk about the legacies of these things. You can't
name a problem. You can't solve a problem. And that's dilemma that we're facing right now.
AMANPOUR: So, obviously, the backlash against critical race theory, as you laid it out, reached its zenith with the president, President Trump, who
issued all of these guidelines against teaching racial awareness, you know, anti-discrimination in the federal agencies. Obviously, Biden revoked that
now and it's allowed, clearly, back again.
But it's also, as you mentioned, and it's clearly a political campaign and clearly, you know, we know that it was somewhat started by this guy
Christopher Rufo who says, we've successfully frozen their brand, critical race theory, into the public conversation, and we are steadily driving out
negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we have put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.
So that's -- you know, that's what they're doing, and those are your opponents and do you have a method to confront that? Because it's clearly
very clever and obviously successful political campaign.
CRENSHAW: Well, one thing that's important is that we connect the dots. People need to realize that the same people who support the big lie about
the election, the same people who support the big lie about the virus, the same people who support the big lie about voting irregularities who are
trying to suppress the rights to vote in so many states, the same people who are opposing protests and trying to criminalize legitimate protests
against all sorts of conditions, the same people who are trying to take away the right to choice, the right to abortion, the same people who are
behind all these pushbacks are the same people who are behind the idea that to be anti-races is to be racist.
So, it's important for Americans, it's important for people all over the world to know, you don't have to have a Ph.D. in critical race theory to
see what's going on here. This is a tried-and-true play book. When you don't really have an agenda, when you basically are trying to tear apart
the democracy, you want to deflect, you want to give people something else to get upset about. And so, critical race theory filled that bill.
It is a part of the big lie. So, our strategy, our hope is to tell the truth. To tell people, you -- if you understand race and racism, you are
practicing critical race theory. When you get pulled over by a police officer and you are a black person and you move very, very slowly and
carefully, you are practicing critical race theory. When you go into a store and you are followed because you are African American, you are
practicing critical race theory.
It is simply an awareness that race still exists, that it shapes what happens to people and they need to be aware of it in order to navigate the
social terrain without some of the consequences that have befallen so many people. So, the idea is to simply say race and racism are real. The only
way that we're going to interrupt it and to dismantle it is to be able to face it bravely, truthfully and without fear. They're taking us in the
AMANPOUR: Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, thank you very much indeed for joining us tonight.
CRENSHAW: My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: So, as the world also grapples with the humanitarian fallout in Afghanistan, as we discussed earlier, our next guest is watching it unfold
knowing all too well what's on the line. He is the former four-star U.S. General Stanley McChrystal who commander of the American and coalition
forces in Afghanistan, drawing on this experience, his new book offers "A Users Guide to Risk." And here he is talking with Walter Isaacson about the
major global threats on his mind right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN HOST: Thank you, Christiane. And General Stan McChrystal, welcome to the show.
GEN. STAN MCCHRYSTAL (RET.), CO-AUTHOR, "RISK: A USER'S GUIDE": Thanks, Walter.
ISAACSON: You have a book called "Risk: A User's Guide." You talk about flaws in leadership today, and you say it really begins at the helm. Let's
drill down on that. Let's talk about COVID. What flaws in leadership happened?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Yes. They're huge, Walter. If you stop back and think about COVID, COVID is not an enemy that is 10 feet tall. It's something we
should have been able to handle. One, we know that viral challenges like that come with relative frequency. Pandemics come. We also know public
health pretty well. We have a history of that, experienced it. So, we know that it's coming, it's inevitable, we know what to do about it. And then,
we were aided by a scientific miracle. The fastest production of vaccines ever.
And so, if you line those three factors up, we should be having a celebration right now of how we fended off COVID-19 and we did it as a
united country because this was an enemy everybody could hate. Nobody could be sympathetic to COVID-19. And yet, that didn't happen. What instead
happened is very early, we started having communication that was confusing, in some cases it was contradictory. It was going to be incomplete because
you don't know enough in evolving situation. But instead of saying, we don't know enough, we put out partial information and sometimes, absolutely
incorrect information and we caused our society to go into tribes on that.
Similarly, some of the actions you have to take, the thing about a pandemic is you have to act early. That means you have to act before it's apparent
to the population, just how bad the threat is. And that risk being unpopular because you have to spend money or take actions that are
inconvenient or unpopular before people see thousands and thousands of people being sick, because you have to get in front of it. But they didn't.
They held off. They delayed. They waited until it was very, very obvious. And then, in many cases, that's too late. But that's what we pay leaders
for. That's what we select them for. And so, we've got to look for that in our leaders.
ISAACSON: Well, let's talk about right now. We're still debating mask mandate. We're still debating vaccine mandates. We're still making this
partisan and political. You advise a lot of states. Tell us what we should do in this moment on COVID.
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Yes. Well, personal opinion, we need to mandate masks. We need to mandate vaccines. If you think about a military analogy, the common
defense relies on a common set of people out there defending it. In this case, every American is part of that common defense. You can't have some
soldiers do their job and others not do their job or there's no coherent defense.
To have a common defense against COVID-19, every American needs to do as much as they can. I think the mandate is -- the mask mandate is table
states. I think the vaccine mandate is the same. I would advise the president now to take some steps like requiring vaccines to travel, to get
on airplanes, to get on trains, to do the things. It sounds draconian, but you've got to make it inconvenient, very inconvenient to be unvaccinated,
because you are leaving a hole in the nation's defense when you don't.
ISAACSON: Well, let's talk about the risks and the vulnerabilities that deal with China, and if China does something in Taiwan. What do you think
the risk of that is? How should we prepare for it and should we be prepared to go to war with China over Taiwan?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Well, the question you ask is a question that China is trying to get us to ask ourselves. So, the Chinese strategy now, over the
last 72 years has been to increase their capability so that they make our imply the security guarantee to Taiwan be very, very dangerous for us.
Expensive. They were -- for many decades, we could do it, we could counterstrike them to China. And so, if they did it, would be theoretically
much more painful for China than it would be for the United States.
Their military improvements in the last couple of decades have made it so that it would be difficult, not impossible, for us to do it, but it would
be difficult. They've raised the stakes for the sole purpose of getting you to table the question you just asked, do we really want to defend Taiwan?
Do we really care? It's a long way away. None of my relatives live there. You know, whatever mindset you want to put. And if they can convince the
United States that it's just not worth it, then suddenly, a couple of things will happen, the population of Taiwan will feel much less guaranteed
insecure and they'll probably recalculate how they want to move forward.
Also, our other allies in the region. I don't have a perfect answer for the question you just asked. I can't tell the president of the United States
what the right answer is, but I can say, that's the question on the table and the first thing we have to do is give ourselves as many options as
possible. So, the first thing to make sure that our military capability gives us that option if we choose that. We can defend Taiwan if we want to.
We can go head-to-head with the Chinese.
But then, we also have to build alliances in the region. We have to do all those other things because if you don't have options, it's not really a
question. You're just going to do whatever the Chinese say. If we have options, then we can have this discussion.
ISAACSON: As the U.S. commander in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, it must have been gut-wrenching for you to watch what happened in the past few
months with our withdrawal and how it happened. How do you think that President Biden assessed the risks and the vulnerabilities in pulling out
of Afghanistan this year?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Yes. I certainly won't speak for President Biden. But from where I stand, President Trump's administration signed the Bilha (ph)
Accords. So, there was an agreement in place that the United States would leave on date certain one May 2021. So, when President Biden came into
office, he had two choices. He could aggravate that agreement and stay, in which case, he accepts the risk of extending the forever war, which was not
very popular in the United States and was very much against President Biden's very public position on the war.
Or he could stick to the promise that we would pull all Americans out. He did delay it a bit, but he could do that. So, that's a tough choice.
Politically, he's going to get beat up either way. If he pulls out, they're going to say, you pulled out. And if ISIS or Al Qaeda does it, he's going
to be tagged with it even though the war goes 20 years. If he doesn't, you know, he gets tagged for not being courageous and not having the courage to
end the war. So, tough decision.
Then they make the decision to pull out. And there's been a lot of criticism of, you know, intelligence failure, this and that. Actually, this
is tricky business. The danger was not so much the Taliban because the Taliban were already incentivized not to attack Americans, but ISIS and Al
Qaeda, those in the country, were incentivized to do just that, to try to make us flee.
So, I think the calculation, and I wasn't involved in it, was try to extract the American force as quickly as you could to reduce the window of
vulnerability to ISIS and Al Qaeda attacks. And I don't think people saw that the government of Afghanistan and their military would collapse as
quickly as they did. You could say that's an intelligence failure, but that was less a military calculation than a psychological calculation on the
part of the Afghan people who just lost confidence.
ISAACSON: Do you think Biden made the right decision to pull out of Afghanistan this year?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Let me put it this way, Walter. I would have recommended that he leave a force there. Had I been president, I would have left a
small force there, but I'm clearly biased. I mean, I've got part of my heart and soul in Afghanistan. I think President Biden made a courageous
decision and I think once he made that decision, the American people should line up behind that decision and say, OK, this is what we've decided to do.
Admitting they were two tough courses of action. There wasn't an easy right and a stupid wrong. This was a tough one.
ISAACSON: You poured so much of your heart and soul in Afghanistan. Just tell me personally what it was like to feel that this mission ended, it
seems to me, in such a failure.
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Yes, it does. And it feels badly because many of us, me included, believed it was possible, believed that the Afghan people could
build a society, and in many ways, I think they did. I watched progress. From 2001 on, that the role of females in society, they have more females
in their parliament than we do in our Congress. So many things improved, but they just couldn't get the legitimacy of the government, you know, to
the point where it completely was credible to the Afghan people.
So, it was heart wrenching to see and to know that Afghanistan's young population particularly wants a different country. The Taliban are not a
popular revolution that took over and suddenly met the desires of the people. And so, there's a big part of the Afghan population that I think is
very disappointed. So, I share their disappointment and pain.
What I don't want to have happen now is that the American people say, well, Afghanistan was impossible. It was the great yard of empires. Nobody can
succeed there. Therefore, you know, we just made a bad mistake going there. I think that lets us off the hook. I don't think it was impossible. I don't
think it worked partially because we didn't do everything we could have. We got some things wrong. And there are other players too, the Afghans share
responsibility, the Pakistani share responsibility. But the bottom line is, our conclusion, in my opinion, we now be, we can never do this kind of
thing again, because we're going to have to help other nations again in the future. We just need to do it better.
ISAACSON: Let's talk about the January 6th insurrection, because in your book, you talk so much about the enemy is us in some ways. We've got to
figure out what to do in our republic. Tell me how communications and technology led to that and the risk you see coming out of the January 6th
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Yes. We'll start first with communications. We, I believe, are a society that is ahead of ourselves technologically than we
are in terms of maturity. Meaning, we have more technology than we are yet comfortable using. So, we can communicate faster than we can think, and we
We also have given opportunity for people who would leverage communication because the cost of passing information is essentially zero now. And so,
there's no barrier to entry in how much communication you can pass. So, someone who wants to leverage that to get people to do something,
particularly people who are already misinformed or are open to being misinformed is pretty dangerous.
In the book, we describe Adolf Hitler. He literally just takes a series of very basic messages and hammers them. And the scary part is not that some
fringe part of Germany followed Adolf Hitler. It's that parts -- massive parts of the German population did. And until the day he died in 1945, he
was still relatively popular. And so, the power of this should be daunting to us. We also --
ISAACSON: Well, let me ask you. Tell me about the parallels you see. Do you see a parallel with that?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I do. Because when people use the ability to inform and influence, in a form, I'll call it political opportunism. What they do
is they leverage up people who are reliant upon pretty limited forms of input information in some cases, you can get them to do things that, like
the January 6th insurrection.
I don't believe that everybody who went to the capitol was a bad person. I don't believe they were racist. I don't believe that they were trying to do
something they thought was wrong, and that's the part that should give us pause. Because they did something that I view as extraordinarily wrong and
dangerous, but they did it believing they were doing something that was right.
ISAACSON: So, who is to blame for that?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: I think President Trump is at the top of that list, but he has an entire of people around him, all of whom see some benefit for
themselves, either politically or otherwise to align themselves and use that. And I --
ISAACSON: So, what's the ongoing risk and vulnerability to our society coming out of January 6th?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Well, a fragmentation of our society. I think we come out of January 6th, it should -- just like COVID-19 should have been the
ultimate unifying factor. January 6th should have been a wake-up call. It should have been like getting cold water dumped on us and saying, wait a
minute. What are we doing? We need to stop. We need to sober up. We need to do whatever we have to do to come back to some kind of rational, political
discourse at the highest levels, people who are in the political sphere. And then, the rest of us need to get out of some of our tribal camps and we
start to interact. And the danger is, I think, in the aftermath, we haven't done that.
ISAACSON: At the recent rally in Des Moines, Former President Trump insisted that he won the 2020 election and he won a lot of the state, which
is, of course, incorrect. Does that concern you that it's almost like a coup and what do you expect for 2024?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: I think, first, I'll answer it in two parts. First, Walter, I think we need to look at our processes and we need to very
transparently communicate that to the American people so that the absolute facts as best we can know them are known to a number of officials and then,
potentially, then to every American. So, the truth is out there. The reality is out there.
Then the question is, how do we treat people who just claimed something that isn't so? I think if a person propagates the big lie, and we've had
the big lie propagated for years, American tobacco refined the process for decades and they did pretty well with it. And so, we know how dangerous it
is. We've got to have the courage to call it out. We've got to have the courage to say, that's just not true. And if you say things that are not
true, you are in all terms, a liar.
And our society can't celebrate that. They can't say, yes, that person is a liar but they're a good person or they do good things. I can't connect the
two. You know, there's a lot of people who say, don't pay attention to what a certain leader says, pay attention to what they do because what they do
is good. What they say doesn't matter. I think what they say matters, because if you can't pay attention to that, how do you know what they're
going to do? And so, I think this is a societal norm issue and then, it's one we're going to have to all take on.
ISAACSON: But it comes down to the question that as a military person, you know very well, which is collaborationism. People who are tempted to
collaborate, and you have a lot of Republican senators, people you know and congressmen from Leader McCarthy to Senator Graham who just seem to go
along with it. How dangerous are the people, including Republican leaders, who collaborate in this big lie?
GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I think to the degree any of us is tempted to collaborate, we become dangerous, even more so because we give credibility
to it. I would give a quote that I believe was used by Senator Cruz some years ago, he said, history will not be kind to the people who held
Mussolini's coat. And so, I think history is going to be really hard on those of us who don't stand up to our values when we know what's actually
ISAACSON: General Stan McChrystal, thank you so much for being with us.
MELVIN: Thanks, Walter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Such important reminders. And finally, on another major important existential issue, of course, and that is protecting our
Now, from reindeer locking antlers to playful polar bears, these are some of the winning images from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
The competition was developed by the Natural History Museum here in London. And there was a record 50,000 entries from 95 countries. And French
underwater photographer, Laurent Ballesta, has taken the top prize with his photo of camouflage groupers here leaving behind clouds of eggs and sperm.
They are a species of marine fish that are found in French Polynesia.
In other categories, winners include this curious grizzly bear. A pair of courting ravens. And this mountain gorilla who seems to be enjoying the
rain. A peaceful sight there.
And with that reminder of how special our wildlife is, that is it for now. You can always catch us online, on our podcast and across social media.
Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.