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Hala Gorani Tonight

U.S. Military Leaders Face Day 2 Of Questions From Lawmakers; Prosecutors Share Details Of Sarah Everard's Final Hours; Women March In Latin America For Legal And Safe Abortions; North Korea Claims Test Of New Hypersonic Missile; China Accuses U.S., Australia, Canada Of Human Rights Abuses; U.K. Launches "Reserve Tanker Fleet" Driven By Civilians; Britney Spears' Conservatorship Case Returns To Court. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired September 29, 2021 - 14:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: Hello, live from CNN in London, I'm Max Foster in for Hala Gorani. Tonight, more tough questions for America's top military

leaders. While CNN is in Kabul looking at what U.S. troops left behind in Afghanistan. Plus, North Korea claims to launch a hypersonic missile, only

the U.S., Russia and China have that kind of military technology. We begin though in Washington where the three top U.S. defense officials spent a

second day answering questions on America's messy withdrawal from Afghanistan, this time in front of the House Armed Services Committee.

Lawmakers took the generals to task over key questions, like why after 20 years there, the American withdrawal was so messy and so haphazard. Here is

part of what we heard today.


LLOYD AUSTIN, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, UNITED STATES: As for the mission's end, my judgment remains that extending beyond the end of August would have

greatly imperiled our people and our mission. The Taliban made clear that their cooperation would end on the 1st of September. And as you know, we

faced grave and growing threats from ISIS-K. So staying longer than we did would have made it even more dangerous for our people and would not have

significantly changed the number of evacuees we could get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General McKenzie, did you receive advice from General Miller in the end of '20 and early 2021 related to troop levels in



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that advice?

MCKENZIE: The advice, his view and my view were essentially the same view. My view was that we needed to maintain about 2,500, and that we also needed

to work with our coalition partners who had about 6,000 troops in there, NATO and other core countries that would remain there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did your provisional military opinion change over the course of the Spring?

MCKENZIE: It did not.


FOSTER: Let's discuss with CNN Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann, he joins us from Washington. What new did you hear today, Oren, as opposed to

that series of questions yesterday that we covered on the program?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Max, certainly, a lot of it was the same topic but some more digging into depth on a few key questions.

And we heard some of them referenced there. One of the key questions, especially for Republican congressmen, was on the planning and the

execution that went into the evacuation and the withdrawal. The key question, was the advice of military leaders to leave 2,500 or 4,500 or

somewhere in there U.S. troops in Afghanistan to help and secure not only the Afghan military forces, to give them a morale boost as well as air

support, but also to provide and help with the stability of the Afghan government.

They made it clear that was their personal view, that is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs as well as General Frank McKenzie; the commander of U.S.

Central Command. But they also made it clear that they're not the decision- makers in this case, that it's up to President Joe Biden as the commander- in-chief to follow through on whatever decision he makes, and they will carry out those orders as long as, of course, it's a legal order. And

that's what they say happened. Biden ordered the withdrawal down to 650 troops, essentially the last troops that were supposed to protect the

embassy there, and that's the mission that went forward.

They detailed some of the planning that went into the withdrawal of U.S. forces as well as some of the detail that went into the planning of the

evacuation operation, 124,000 people moved in a period of just over two weeks. And that was planned for even if, as we saw the execution of it

started quite messy before it really got up and running. So, a lot of the questions focused on that. There also was some question, of course, of why

the Afghan military and the government collapsed so quickly. Why did former President Ashraf Ghani simply flee the country, and why didn't an Afghan

military that had some $80-plus billion of support from the U.S. collapsed in 11 days.

That point there once again that you can't, especially without advisors on the ground there which were pulled three years ago, look into the heart,

the mind of the Afghan soldier who quickly turned and fled or simply went over to the Taliban as the Taliban began sweeping across the country. One

of the other interesting questions, and they didn't dive too much into this because they were focusing on the withdrawal, not the past 20 years, was

the question of where did this all go wrong?

General Mark Milley; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said he knew five years ago it was a stalemate even though he too was surprised by how fast

everything fell apart and how fast the Taliban moved through. What contributed to that, not enough strategies, too many strategies, endemic

corruption across the Afghan government as well as the security forces, a number of problems that were festering and growing that the U.S. either

didn't see, didn't acknowledge or was blind to, led to what ultimately happened with the Taliban in charge.

FOSTER: Let's hear Milley on that, the lessons learned from this 20-year experience in Afghanistan.



MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF, UNITED STATES: There's a whole series of decisions that take place over 20 years. I don't think that

whenever you get some phenomenon like a war that is lost, and it has been in the sense of we accomplished our strategic task of protecting America

against al Qaeda, but certainly the end state is a whole lot different than what we wanted. So whenever a phenomenon like that happens, there's an

awful lot of causal factors and we're going to have to figure that out. A lot of lessons learned here.


FOSTER: It's very hard, obviously it's very complex, Oren, but for the layman watching, the lay person watching, what are the lessons learned?

What have you learned from these hearings?

LIEBERMANN: Well, that's an excellent question and I hope that answer is something as opposed to not taking anything away from this. But look, the

attention has already shifted away from the end of America's longest war. We're not taking these hearings live. That's because there's a great debate

in Congress about the debt ceiling and about the government going into shutdown, and that has already overshadowed the Afghanistan hearings. There

are plenty of lessons learned here.

Many of them already pulled out by SIGAR, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction who for the past decade or more has pointed out

a lot of the problems with the U.S. strategy and the U.S. positioning, the U.S. mission, the resourcing, and it seems that too much of that was

ignored, especially by certain people in the hearings today who haven't looked at what should have been the lessons drawn out of this to make sure

this doesn't happen again.

And that was one of the lessons in the final report from SIGAR, again, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. If the U.S.

doesn't learn a lesson from this, it could easily happen again with another country because these nation-building exercises and missions starts small

and then balloon into what we have seen in Afghanistan, which is more than a trillion dollars invested with an end state obviously, that the U.S. was

not looking for.

FOSTER: OK, Oren, thank you for joining us from the Pentagon. We go to Kabul now, CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward, was in

Afghanistan during the U.S. chaotic exit, of course, she's back in Kabul today. What sort of perspective are people giving those hearings from

there, Clarissa, because obviously they're having to live with the fall- out?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, Max, because obviously there was a huge amount of bitterness, of anger,

resentment, a feeling of abandonment, heartache, desperation, you name it. That was what we were seeing and feeling on the streets of Kabul during

that chaotic exit. I think now though, people on the ground here in Kabul at least are less engaged with what's going on in the U.S. in terms of the

soul searching and trying to understand better how this happened and lessons learned and what went wrong, and they're more focused on the

reality of their situation.

They're more focused on their pressing needs for eminent survival. Because in addition to all the fears that a lot of people have about what the

Taliban government will actually look like when it really gets underway, there's a sense now that we're in sort of a lull, an interim period where

the Taliban is playing its cards very close to its chest because it wants to show the international community that it's a bit more pragmatic. On top

of that fear, there is also a very real economic crisis playing out here on the ground, a desperate liquidity crisis, long lines outside of every bank

you walk past, staff salaries not getting paid, government salaries, teachers, healthcare workers, you know it.

So most people on the ground here in Kabul, honestly, Max, are no longer fixated on what the U.S. did wrong, how it could have been done

differently. They're very much fixated on how they can plan their lives and take care of their families and get through this situation one day at a


FOSTER: Lots of people are fascinated with, you know, what's been left behind there by the Americans. I know that you went into the green zone

there, one of the most secure areas in the world until very recently. Let's have a look at what you found.


WARD (voice-over): So, we're now inside the green zone. This is the area where all diplomats, international organizations were based, and it's so

eerie driving through. It's now completely empty except for Taliban guards.

(on camera): So just up here, these are the gates to the U.S. Embassy here in Kabul, and the Taliban guards are telling us that nobody has been in

here since the U.S. left this embassy just days after the Taliban took power. So you can see through here, this appears to be sort of the first

layer of security to get into the embassy, and now it's just completely abandoned.


FOSTER: What will strike many viewers, Clarissa, is how still it feels there, compared with your last tour of duty, if I can call it that, in

Kabul. How would you describe the difference between then and now?

WARD: I mean, it's a massive difference. The feeling before here on the ground in Kabul, it was fraught, it was chaotic, it was hectic, it was



The security situation was incredibly dynamic and not in a positive way. There were huge scenes outside embassies, people being evacuated, people

trying to get out of the country, people waiting in line in passport offices, and then coming back now, and you see a very different sense of

security in Kabul. It does feel secure on the surface. And what I mean by that is that we're not seeing the kinds of chaotic scenes we saw before

or the sort of bombings, at least here in the city, that we saw in that attack at the airport. The Taliban has slighted lifted or lessened,

lightened its footprint here.

So, they're still around, but they keep a slightly lower profile, they're wearing uniforms and they're not imposing themselves visibly on the streets

yet for the most part. So, there -- you know, with issues like social issues that the Taliban is known for taking a draconian approach to,

whether it's how women dress, whether men can shave their beards, whether they can smoke cigarettes. For now, the Taliban wants to show that they're

taking a lighter touch on these kinds of issues, but the veneer is this thin, Max. And when you -- and when you scratch that surface, you find that

there is a palpable sense of tension and fear for so many, a lot of whom don't want to go out on the streets, particularly women who see the writing

on the wall, who fear that their rights -- well, who already see their rights being subjugated.

So, it's a very strange interim phase where it feels calmer, it feels like there are semblances of normalcy. There's traffic on the streets, people

moving around, and yet beneath the surface, as I mentioned, there are all of these unresolved tensions and unresolved questions as people look to see

what style of governance the Taliban really is going to adapt.

FOSTER: OK, Clarissa in Kabul, thank you very much indeed. Let's look at the security implications here then because lawmakers also pressed the

generals on lessons learned after Afghanistan fell so fast and so easily back into Taliban control. CNN's international security editor Nick Paton

Walsh is in London for us this evening. Nick, should we be encouraged by this apparent stability that Clarissa is describing in Kabul right now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I think if you're an ordinary Afghan, tired of war for instance, of a number of years, then yes,

a brief respite certainly will be welcome but it may come at a cost, and the cost of course is Taliban control of society. What we heard today

though in those hearings was very interesting in a partisan way. Essentially, many Republicans trying to suggest that this entire incident

was the Democrats' fault, kind of overlooking the past four years of the Trump administration and how Donald Trump was the first to say they're

getting out and signed a Doha agreement with the Taliban.

The one thing I think that stuck in my mind after these many years of hearing the Pentagon present a narrative of great positivity about how well

their war in Afghanistan was going, was something that the Centcom chief General McKenzie said that how he realized the higher up and more senior

you get in the army, the harder it is to get the truth. And I think that's something he said he would be looking in to try to rectify, and clearly has

informed so much of what we've seen over the past months. Yes, they said they've made analysis, suggesting that possibly the Doha agreement with the

Taliban and corruption and the departure of troops could have caused this rapid cascade, collapse of the Afghan government.

But nobody really it seemed claimed ownership with the fact that there had been such an extraordinarily swift collapse. They said, yes, they swung and

they'd missed, using baseball metaphors there in terms of certain assessments. And it was interesting, too, to hear General Milley there talk

about the loss here, they're coming to terms, frankly, the U.S. military has to have now that this, their longest war, did not end in a way that

they wanted, and they have not been able to control the narrative of those final weeks. And Max, one other phrase seems to have sort of lived out of

this particular set of hearings, that this was a logistical success, the end, but a strategic failure.

Essentially, suggesting that they looked bad or they pulled off something which upset their allies or made the military not necessarily in the image

it wanted to on the world stage, but logistically, their evacuation operation was a success. I think there will be some critics who will say

the opposite, that there was a logistical failure here, and maybe a strategic success, that essentially the American forces there didn't move

fast enough, didn't move quick enough, didn't really understand the chaos and complexity of getting over a 100,000 people out of Kabul so quickly,

but in the long run, their strategic success is getting out of their longest war.

The big thing there that stood out for me though, al Qaeda may come back in six months, and that's what they may have to go back in to deal with, and

that, of course, makes any talk in the Biden administration of a wider strategic success here, something hard to sustain. Max?


FOSTER: Nick, let's hear what Milley said on that because it's certainly one of the key areas of concern, this idea that terror groups could rebuild

now that the Americans have gone.


MILLEY: I think that the -- it's a real possibility in the not-too-distant future, 6, 12, 18, 24, 36 months, that kind of time frame for

reconstitution of al Qaeda, ISIS. And it's our job now, you know, under different conditions, but it's our job to continue to protect American

citizens against attacks from Afghanistan.


FOSTER: As an American, you can be concerned to hear that. How can he protect Americans when they're not in Afghanistan?

WALSH: Yes, I mean, I have to say I was stifled to hear that, because for years, frankly, certainly months, the consistent message has been al Qaeda

has been defeated, is in real trouble in Afghanistan. There you have the top military official of the United States saying they're six months away

from being reconstituted -- well, reconstitute is frankly the wrong word, they're doing fine. There's plenty of them, a leading figure was killed

last year by a U.S. drone strike, and information picked up on that used to hit people it seems in Syria who are al Qaeda as well.

There's no doubt they're doing well, there's no doubt that ISIS is doing well. But to hear an assessment there of six months until that

reconstituted phrase I suspect means they're capable of attacks elsewhere other than Afghanistan. That should be deeply alarming, and it leads to the

second question, what capabilities do the U.S. have? Well, it seems nothing on the ground. It was clear from the testimony they haven't made deals with

neighboring countries to have bases or people on the ground there. So it's this over-the-horizon capacity where it seems drones or aircraft from the

Gulf most likely will fly for hours before they can get to Afghanistan and then take attacks based on the Intelligence they've gathered.

We've seen that tragically go wrong in Kabul where ten civilians, a family were killed, despite the fact the U.S. consistently saying that they were

looking for an ISIS cell there. They called it a righteous strike days after. It seems from this testimony we heard they were increasingly aware

they had hit civilians. So, I think that has caused many to be concerned about what capabilities they have.

On top of that, we did hear them today making it clear that that strike was not the model they see for this over-the-horizon capability going forward,

but it's a big exceptionally bad start they've got off to here, and many, of course, will be concerned how limited those capabilities are and, of

course, you have to be honest here, how the United States has been sold, this idea of al Qaeda having been defeated, and now, weeks later, are being

told they could be back in six months. Max.

FOSTER: Extraordinary words. Thank you very much, Nick. Still to come tonight, Sarah Everards family is speaking out forcefully against the man

who killed their daughter. More on the emotional hearing just ahead.



FOSTER: British prosecutors are sharing the disturbing details of Sarah Everard's final hours. The 33-year-old woman was kidnapped, raped and

killed back in March. A former police officer admitted to the crimes and is due to be sentenced on Thursday. CNN producer Nada Bashir joins us from

London with more details as we're learning them, and it's incredibly hard to hear.

NADA BASHIR, CNN PRODUCER: I mean, Max, these were incredibly harrowing details that were revealed by the prosecution today in court. Wayne

Couzens; the former police officer charged with the murder of Sarah Everard appearing in court, bowing his head down for most of the hearing, refusing

to look up at those in the courtroom, especially at the family members there, present. But the prosecution was able to share further details on

those last few moments of Sarah Everard's life. Perhaps most shocking and concerning though was the fact that Wayne Couzens, the former police

officer, then a serving police officer used his police authority to abduct Sarah Everard.

We were told that he stopped Sarah Everard on the street and may have used the breaching of COVID regulations as a reason for her false arrest, using

his police ID and handcuffing her before placing her in a private vehicle where she was then taken, abducted and later raped and killed. And we were

also told that as we knew previously, the postmortem revealed that she died as a result of compression to the neck. But we were informed today that

Wayne Couzens used his police belt to strangle her. So really, harrowing details there and really emotional as well.

We heard from Sarah Everard's family, her mother, father and sister addressing the court. Her mother gave this very emotional statement, and

I'll just read you a little bit from that. "Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I'm tormented at the thought of what she endured. He treated

my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed of her as if she was rubbish." And that's that emotional testimony from Sarah's mother. And of

course, we are going to return to court tomorrow to hear the second day of the sentencing of Wayne Couzens, and we are expecting the prosecution to

call for life order, a whole life order which removes the option of parole owing to the severity of the crime committed by Wayne Couzens. Max?

FOSTER: You can only feel for, you know, everyone related to her. But this has really hit a nerve, hasn't it, in the U.K.? Because a lot of women,

even before these details came through really related to the sense of fear that she must have felt that night.

BASHIR: Well, of course, and this comes just over a week after the murder of 28-year-old school teacher Sabina Nessa in southeast London, a very

similar story really, she was walking home -- walking from her home to meet her friend in southeast London, a very short walk, police say it should

have taken five minutes, and she was killed that night. And a man has been charged with her murder now. And there was a huge vigil for her just last

weekend, it's very reminiscent of the large-scale vigils that were held for Sarah Everard after her murder.

And it's important to note, of course, that there was a major backlash against police, the police use of force against women who took part in that

vigil in particular during the COVID restrictions as well. So it's a very visceral response from women across the country and it has really

reverberated and reignited the debate on violence against women in the U.K. Max?

FOSTER: OK, Nada, I appreciate that. Thank you very much indeed. Thousands of women have taken to the streets in Latin America demanding legal and

safe abortions. Demonstrators at Tuesday's International Safe Abortion Day events marched to make their voices heard in a region where only a handful

of countries fully allow the procedure, but not all was peaceful. These were the scenes in Mexico City where clashes with police left at least 37

people injured. Stefano Pozzebon is in Bogota, Colombia, he joins us by phone with more details on these protests. And obviously, this has been

building up and up and there's a lot of tension on the streets there.

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST (via telephone): Yes, correct, Max. Abortion remains at the center of the agenda in many countries in Latin America, the

day after protesters took to the streets so passionately to demand that the reflected right with the clashes that you're seeing in Mexico City left

dozens of injured on Tuesday. Abortion, Max, is a hotly debated issue across Latin America, and you can see how rapidly evolving the region is.

Earlier this month, Mexico made history when its Supreme Court ruled against the criminalization of abortion.


But it remains an exception, as you said, across Latin America. Most women can access abortion only in rare cases on strict medical exemptions with

millions of them resorting to illegal abortion in unsafe environments. Things are changing. For example, here in Colombia, the constitutional

court is due to take up the issue by the end of the year, while in Chile yesterday on Tuesday, legislators approved a plan to debate a bill to

decriminalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. And in Argentina, legalized abortions in a historic vote last year.

But the rest of the region is lacking. And in their final note, Max, this is an issue that takes together almost every country in Latin America, from

countries such as Chile which is one of the most conservative country in South America where the Catholic Church still wills a lot of power. To a

country like Venezuela, for example, that has -- that had a socialist government for the last 20 years, but where still abortion remains illegal

except for very rare and strict medical circumstances. Max.

FOSTER: OK, Stefano, thank you. Chaos has erupted in a prison in Ecuador. Clashes between criminal gang members left at least 30 inmates dead, five

of them were beheaded. Tactical units of the national police were deployed. One police commander said inmates even used guns and grenades during the

fight, 48 people were injured, and it's just the latest round of violence in Ecuador's prisons.

Still to come, North Korea says it's tested a new weapon, one that could have major implications for its neighbors' defense systems. And China has

some strong words for some of its rivals, leveling accusations of human rights abuses and threats to international security. We'll have analysis

just ahead.



FOSTER: Welcome back.

North Korea says it has test fired a hypersonic missile. State media is hailing the launch as a success. But South Korea says the weapon is

apparently still in the early stages of development. CNN's Will Ripley reports.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Korea is trying to downplay concerns at least immediate concerns about the threat from North

Korea's purported hypersonic missile test on Tuesday. The missile the North Korea calls the - was shown in state media for the first time.

Analysts looking at the image say it does seem to indicate a hypersonic missile in the early stages of development. And that's what South Korea is

Saying. They say it will still take a considerable amount of time for this weapon to be deployed.

But the fact that North Korea now joins a very small handful of nations that actually have this technology, only Russia and China are known to have

deployed hypersonic missiles The United States is currently testing and developing hypersonic missile technology.

It shows just how far this tiny impoverished country has come in their terms of their weapons development despite increasingly tough international

sanctions over its nuclear program. Now what we know about this particular missile is pretty limited.

North Korean state media says that it has a gliding flight warhead, which means the warhead would detach from the rocket portion of the hypersonic

missile and it could basically act like a hang glider as it moves toward its target.

What we know about hypersonic missiles is that they are defined as anything that can move faster than five times the speed of sound roughly 4000 miles

an hour around one mile per second.

But a lot of ballistic missiles also are known to travel at hypersonic speeds but analysts say the difference between a ballistic missile and a

hypersonic missile is that a ballistic missile travels on a set trajectory from point A through the air to point B the target that makes it easier to

track and trace and potentially intersect.

Hypersonic missiles can be launched at a very fast speed and then sort of zigzag their way to a target which makes it much tougher for missile

defense systems that are deployed in places like South Korea and Japan and the United States.

But at this stage, South Korea does say that their missile defense systems would be able to intercept this current version of North Korea's hypersonic

missile which they're calling the --. North Korea back in January said that this is one of the weapons that they're looking to develop and develop very


And there were other weapons on the list as well, including new types of ballistic missiles that use solid fuel solid fuel of course, it's tricky

because you can roll the missile out and launch it with very little notice.

North Korea also looking to develop a military reconnaissance satellite, new types of drones and even an intercontinental ballistic missile that

could travel some 15,000 kilometers more than 9,300 miles, putting well within striking range the mainland U.S. -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


FOSTER: China is accusing some Western rivals of human rights abuses and threatening international peace. It called out the U.S., Australia and

Canada for mistreating indigenous people and said a recent submarine deal in the Pacific could lead to a new cold war.

Despite its fury, China has managed to resolve other disputes with the West. Last week it ended an extradition fight with Canada and the U.S. when

a Huawei executive was allowed to return to China after being under house arrest in Canada.

After that, Beijing agreed to free two Canadian citizens, detained on espionage charges. And later China allowed two American siblings to return

to the U.S. after they were prevented from leaving.

China's growing assertiveness appears to be part of its more aggressive wolf warrior diplomacy. For more I'm joined by a senior fellow of The

Atlantic Council, Jamie Metzl.

What is this policy?

How would you describe it?

JAMIE METZL, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: The wolf warrior policy is, frankly, that China has given on up its former approach of peaceful rise and now has come

to the conclusion that bullying, harassment and abuse is the best way for China to achieve its strategic objectives, whether it is behavior in the

South China Sea, its massive human rights violations against the people in Xinjiang, in Tibet, preventing a full investigation into the origins of the


We see the same story over and over again, which China is telling the rest of the world that it is going to -- that China is going to live by its own

standards. And if others don't like it, tough.

That's why it is not surprising. We are seeing things like new alliances between the U.S., Australia and the U.K. and others to try to balance this

dangerous and aggressive behavior.

FOSTER: The returning Huawei executive, huge story obviously in China.

Are they using that to show that this new policy is working?


METZL: Well, they're certainly trying to do that with their misinformation campaign because Meng signed an agreement and agreed to an agreement,

basically assuming responsibility, that Huawei had responsibility for this illegal behavior. There's an ongoing case in the United States that this

essential confession will support.

Then, as you note, China took two hostages, two Canadian citizens as hostages and essentially blackmailed Canada to try to get those -- in

exchange for those hostages back. So, yes, China is announcing that this is a victory.

And if China wants to approach the rest of the world by hostage-taking, abuse, genocide, military aggression, they can do that. But they certainly

should expect a response from everybody else.

FOSTER: When they talk about a new cold war -- and, you know, this submarine deal potentially prompting a new cold war -- you could argue --

one perspective on that is that they see the Americans as pushing for a cold war.

But in light of this policy, you could suggest that they are being more aggressive and, therefore, they may prompt a new cold war.

How do we read this language?

METZL: Well, there's no doubt about that. China is engaged in a massive build-up of nuclear weapons. They've illegally seized islands in the South

China Sea. China is being incredibly aggressive at every front.

China is building -- I think 11 is the number of nuclear submarines. So the fact that Australia is -- has a plan to begin building its own nuclear

submarines so it can defend itself can't be called the beginning of a new cold war. It has to be called a response to China's aggression.

And I know it is very uncomfortable for people. Believe it or not, I am a liberal, progressive person. And it is difficult for me, as someone who

believes in peace and believes in harmony, to say that we need to be clear and identify an aggressor when we see it and we need to stand firm.

That doesn't mean anybody wants a cold war; nor should we. The last thing we want is a cold war. Even worse than that is a hot war. But the price of

peace cannot be appeasement.

FOSTER: Jamie Metzl, appreciate your analysis.

Now dealing with China is one priority for the man on track to become Japan's new prime minister. All of this will be very much weighing on his

mind. He is promising a lot. CNN's Selina Wang reports.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has elected a new leader Fumio Kishida, virtually assured to become Japan's

next prime minister.

He is known as a moderate liberal who represents stability, inheriting a Japan that suffered multiple waves of COVID-19, a stagnating economy and

rising tensions with China.

He is expected to continue to strengthen Japan's alliance with the U.S. and to work with allies to counter Beijing's growing military assertiveness. He

served as foreign minister under former minister Shinzo Abe.

In 2016, he helped arrange a visit for then-president Barack Obama to Hiroshima, the first time a sitting American president visited the atomic

bombing site.

A political veteran, he campaigned on narrowing the income gap and spending billions to help Japan's economy to recover from the pandemic. Headed into

this race, Kishida had lackluster public support.

Taro Kono, the vaccine minister, seen as a political maverick, was the public's favorite. But in what was the most unpredictable leadership race

in decades, party members ultimately chose what analysts say is the safe and stable choice.

It is unclear how long Kishida will remain in power for. Prior to Shinzo Abe's leadership, Japan churned through six prime ministers in six years.

The fear is that Japan may be returning to a revolving door premiership -- Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


FOSTER: Still to come tonight, supply chain chaos: the British army is on standby, ready to help stabilize the fuel crisis in the U.K. caused by a

truck driver shortage.

Plus, night is falling on the Spanish island of La Palma, now a disaster zone, with lava from the volcano flowing into the sea. A live update from

Madrid -- ahead.





FOSTER: The British government says soldiers will be on the roads in, quote, "the next couple of days." The reserve tanker fleet has been

mobilized to help ease the country's fuel crisis but worried motorists are still stockpiling gas. Joining me live from London, Anna Stewart.

This tanker fleet, no one seemed to know about it before they mentioned it today.

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we didn't know anything about this at all. And it sparked a few questions for the government.

What is this reserve fleet?

Why are you announcing it now?

If there were qualified drivers and tankers available, why weren't they enacted before?

The army is no longer on standby. They will be transporting fuel from refineries and platforms to stations that need it as well in coming days.

It is hoped this will help.

I have to say, we've had lots of positive noises, both from the industry, a joint statement from energy companies, including Shell, Exxon and BP,

saying they're seeing the situation improving. They think it will further balance out in the coming days.

And from the government, take a listen to what the business secretary had to say this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last few days have been difficult. We have seen large queues but I think the situation is stabilizing. We're getting petrol

into the forecourts. As I said yesterday, that was matched by the sales. So the situation and the stock is stabilizing and I think we will see our way

through this.


STEWART: This positive sentiment is being seen in parts of the U.K. It has been shared by industry leaders. However, Max, it is not what I have seen

on the ground today, unfortunately.

The petrol station here is now completely empty. They had over 30,000 liters of diesel and petrol delivered on Tuesday morning and it ran out in

less than 24 hours. There have been scenes of real chaos and frustration for people across the country.

And they keep being told, don't get fuel if you don't need it, don't panic buy.

But if you go along queues of drivers, waiting for hours and hours and hours outside petrol stations, you ask them, do you really need the fuel,

and they say, yes. Either they're a critical worker, they need the car, they're a taxi driver, a delivery driver, they have children at school in

the countryside in a remote area that doesn't have public transport.

Tomorrow will mark the second week of this petrol crisis and people need fuel. Max.

FOSTER: You know, one of the lessons of the government here -- because it is tricky, isn't it, because they tied themselves in knots a bit because

they've been talking about panic buying, blaming people effectively for causing this crisis, when many people who need to get to work, for example,

in hospitals and places are blaming the government for not having a backup system here and certainly instigating the new one that was just discovered

a bit late.

STEWART: Exactly that. Also the government pointed to the fact there's a shortage of truck drivers across the continent and in Europe as well. But

it has been hugely exacerbated here in the U.K. We have actually been talking about a shortage of drivers of trucks now for years, before 2019.


STEWART: And Brexit, of course, made this issue so much worse because a lot of the cheaper foreign labor that this sector had really relied on in

recent years have gone. The government have also issued 5,000 temporary visas for foreign truck drivers.

But they have literally moved on. All of the announcements are coming rather late in the day to solve this problem. And the truck driver

shortage, Max, isn't just an issue for petrol; this crisis may soon improve, particularly with the help of the army perhaps.

However it is a problem for food and drink, for cement, for industry, for supply chains on so many different sectors and we keep seeing these

flashpoints. This will likely not be the last crisis we have. I think we are heading into a pretty miserable winter of discontent. But sorry for

that gloomy end, Max. I hope I'm not here tomorrow.

FOSTER: Yes. Anna, thank you very much indeed.

Meanwhile, lava from the erupting volcano on Spain's La Palma Island has reached the Atlantic Ocean. As it hits the sea water, it is sending toxic

fumes into the air. Officials have evacuated people from the immediate area and warned other residents nearby to stay in their homes. Al Goodman is

monitoring the situation for us. He is in Madrid.

We are coming to you because this was the big fear, wasn't it, the moment the lava hit the sea water?

Just explain what happened at that point.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Max. Well, it was on the 10th consecutive day of eruptions by this volcano on La Palma Island in the

Atlantic that the lava finally hit the Atlantic Ocean. It was just before midnight late Tuesday local time.

It came down the hill and dropped off of this very tall cliff into the water. Now authorities had been expecting this since the eruptions first

started back on September 19th.

So there was an exclusionary zone at sea, with ships, except for official ships, kept way back and also on land, where they told people living on the

western side of the island to lock down in their homes, keep the doors and windows closed because the officials know from experience that, when the

lava hits the water, it emits toxic gases.

It can cause sort of minor explosions that can blow windows out miles away. So during this day, as we come to the daylight on this day, now the 11th

day, you can see the sort of damage.

The lava is not going underneath the surface of the ocean; it has come up, it has basically added to the coastline in sort of a triangular shaped

addition to the coastline, sort of a landfill, if you will.

What officials are doing is that, through many of the hours this day, Max, there were no particular fears about the toxic gases reaching the people.

There is some -- there are some reports that officials are getting a little more worried at this hour. It is a very long process and it could go on for

days, even a few more months -- Max.

FOSTER: People's livelihoods or people's lives also being affected, also their livelihoods, because of the impact on the banana crops.

GOODMAN: Indeed. On this little island, it is one of the smaller islands in the Canary Islands. It has some tourism, not as much as the larger

islands but it has a lot of bananas. And a lot of the banana plantations have been destroyed, along with hundreds of homes.

There's a tale of a man, who has been trying to save some of the plantations but there have been stories about people, who built up quite a

nice business, planting plantations. There were also greenhouse crops growing.

And all of this has been -- not all of this but in the area around the volcano it has been pretty much wiped out. The whole relentless march of

the volcano, the lava coming out, sometimes cooling down a bit as it picks up surface material of broken homes it has destroyed.

And then there's a fresh wave of lava. This was a later, fresh wave that pushed the lava into the sea and, along the way, it has just been really

hurting the banana plantations in its way, meaning a lot of lost livelihoods for some of the 6,000 people who have been evacuated on that

island out of 80,000 people who live there -- Max.

FOSTER: This could go on and on as well, isn't it?

Al, thank you very much indeed.

Still to come tonight, Britney Spears' battle for control over her life picks up again in just a few hours. What the judge is considering today --

coming up.





FOSTER: In just a few hours, Britney Spears' conservatorship case returns to court. A judge will consider multiple petitions filed since the last

hearing, one of them from the pop star's father, asking to end the legal arrangement that has controlled so much of Britney Spears' life for more

than a decade.

CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas is in Los Angeles for us.

And her supporters are out in force as usual.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi. We are just about an 1.5 hours away from the beginning of a court hearing that could change Britney's life as

we know it. I am standing here in front of the Los Angeles County superior courthouse in front of, you know, the Free Britney movement.

You know, a grassroots movement of a group of fans that love Britney Spears and want to see her have a free life, control of her finances, control of

her medical decisions. Take a listen for what more you can expect.



MELAS (voice-over): A court hearing that could change her life. Today, a judge is expected to rule on whether Britney Spears' 13-year

conservatorship can come to an end. This comes after Spears' father, Jamie Spears, filed a petition earlier this month to terminate the court ordered

conservatorship, saying in August that he intends to step aside.

Jamie has been the conservator of his daughter's estate since 2008. But there have been a whirlwind of petitions filed since, the latest coming

from the pop star's new attorney, Matthew Rosengart, filed on Monday, asking the judge to, if nothing else, remove Spears' father from any

control of her fairs immediately.

The singer's attorney also calling for investigation into allegations that her father and a company he hired secretly placed a recording device in her

home and monitored her cell phone, as claimed by The New York Times.

A lawyer for Jamie would not comment on these allegations but said in a previous statement to CNN, quote, all of his actions were well within the

parameters of the authority conferred upon him by the court. His actions were done with the knowledge and consent of Britney, her court-appointed

attorney and-or the court.

This summer, during two emotional testimonies, Britney made bombshell claims.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said the conservatorship was abusive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said she's been given lithium against her will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said she is not allowed to remove her IUD contraceptive.

MELAS (voice-over): And during July testimony, she said she wants to charge her father with conservatorship abuse. A lawyer for Jamie Spears

said in his statement that he quote, "loves his daughter unwaveringly."

PROTESTERS: Free Britney now. Free Britney now.

MELAS: The proceedings have drawn a massive following both online and in- person at the Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse.

Fans who call themselves the Free Britney Movement have been protesting for the removal of her father and the termination of the conservatorship for

months and promised to show up in full effect to see if Spears finally gets her freedom.


MELAS (voice-over): It is unclear where the Grammy Award winner will appear virtually this time and give the court and her fans another chance

to hear from her.


MELAS: There are multiple outcomes as to what could happened. The judge could rule to remove the conservatorship once and for all. But there's the

chance her father, Jamie Spears, could be suspended.

And perhaps a man by the name of John Zabel, a certified public accountant, would take his place. As you can hear, there's a rally going on in front of

me, on the streets in front of the Los Angeles County superior courthouse as we speak, where they're saying, you know, the conservatorship has to go.

And her fans are passionate and they want this to be over.

FOSTER: In terms of how this is being received in America, obviously everyone's massively engaged in this case.

How much sympathy is there, how much understanding is there for her father's side?

Because, from the outsider's point of view, it seems like all of the sympathy is with Britney.

MELAS: When it comes to the court of public opinion here in the United States, it seems as though -- I would say it is safe to say everybody is

behind America's sweetheart, Britney Spears.

They feel like, you know, there are plenty of male members of Hollywood, who have made front pages for their misconduct and behavior and you don't

see them under conservatorship. . So why should Britney be under a conservatorship?

If she is making millions of dollars going on tour, a judge on the "X Factor," that's what they're saying, that maybe Britney might need help but

not a conservatorship.

When it comes to her father, there's not much sympathy for him at all. We haven't seen him sit down for an interview, respond at all to what his

daughter had to say specifically. There are a lot of allegations. A new report in "The New York Times" the other day, saying her father allegedly

put illegal recording devices in her home.

That's something the judge could talk about today. There's a lot on the table. As for whether or not Britney is finally going to walk free, it is

the hope of so many. But there's a chance it might not happen today.

FOSTER: OK. Chloe, thank you. Updates on this, of course, from Chloe throughout the day.

Thank you for watching tonight. Do stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.