Interview with Jeremy Scahill Questions “War on Terror”

Euronews asks Jeremy Scahill about his new film, “Dirty Wars,” which has been nominated for an Academy Award.

Scahill was also recently interviewed at Democracy Now!

“AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, this report that just came out from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that more people have been killed in drone strikes in the six months after President Obama gave his speech—


AMY GOODMAN: —saying they’re reforming or changing drone policy, than the six months before?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. I mean, this—it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. I mean, you know, the drone czar, or the assassination czar, John Brennan, who now is the head of the CIA, you know, he worked very hard to create something called the “disposition matrix,” which basically is a program that’s going to be used to determine who should be assassinated, who should we try to abduct, who should we try to render, who should we—which terror suspects should we leave it up to local authorities in Yemen or Pakistan to try to deal with. And basically what Obama and his team have done in his second administration is to create an infrastructure for whoever happens to come into office next, whether they’re a Democrat or Republican, and they have ensured that this policy of pre-emptive war—that’s really what we’re talking about here. It’s—these are pre-emptive, pre-crime strikes, where the idea that we should even view terrorism as a law enforcement activity or terrorism as a crime is completely thrown away by the constitutional lawyer president. And so, what I think one of the major legacies of Obama is going to be on this front is that he has tried to put a stamp of legitimacy on what most countries around the world would claim—you know, plainly view as a global assassination program run by the empire, run by the most powerful nation on Earth.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about the situation in Afghanistan and the most recent drone strikes there, the impact on the continuing controversy over the status of forces agreement, what’s going to—how the United States will stay in Afghanistan.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. I mean, well, as you know, I mean, the U.S. has propped up corrupt warlords, narcotraffickers, gangsters, for the past 12 years in Afghanistan. And, you know, the Taliban still control a large swath of territory, and they will, in perpetuity. And I think—I mean, the question I think a lot of military families in the U.S. and in NATO countries have to ask is sort of what—what was the purpose of the past, you know, 12 years? I think a lot of nations understand the initial incursion into Afghanistan, under the argument that you’re going to dismantle the al-Qaeda network that was responsible for 9/11. But what do you tell the families of—you know, of soldiers that are going to be killed in the year leading up to the so-called withdrawal? I think what we’re going to see in Afghanistan is an asymmetric war that’s going to continue on, where the United States continues to have special operations teams, there’s going to be a very large CIA paramilitary presence, and I think that they’re going to try to present the veneer that it’s an Afghanization of the occupation, but in reality the U.S. strike forces will not be far away.

There was this recent drone strike in Pakistan on the eve of negotiations between Tehreek-e-Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, and the Pakistani government, and the U.S. killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban. And it enraged—I was just speaking to a Pakistani diplomat in London. I mean, they believe that the United States intentionally did that to undermine any kind of a negotiated solution with the Taliban. And it’s counterproductive even to U.S. interests. Even if you take the most conventional interpretation of what American national interests are, to have that kind of instability in that region, especially when Pakistan is a nuclear power, is antithetical to the idea that this is a national security policy. I mean, the only way that this is resolved is by negotiating with the Taliban. And the U.S. seems to be giving—paying lip service to that, while then bumping off the people that they’re supposed to be negotiating with.

The last thing I’ll say about this, when I met with Mullah Zaeef, who was in the Taliban government and actually wrote a fascinating autobiography called My Life with the Taliban—he was put in Guantánamo for six years, and then he was released, and he now lives sort of in a default form of house arrest in Kabul. When Rick Rowley and I met with him, he was saying to us, “When I was in Guantánamo, the Americans kept telling me, ‘The Taliban is finished. There’s no more Taliban. All of you—all of your people have been killed or are in prison.” And then he’s like, “Then I come back to Afghanistan, and I find that there are actually more people in the Taliban than when I was originally snatched and taken to Guantánamo.” And the point he made is, “If you kill those of us who grew up, you know, in the ’60s and ’70s, who speak English and understand the outside world, if you kill all of us, you’re not going to have anyone to negotiate with, because this younger generation, that you’ve produced as a result of your global war, are far more militant than we were, and they don’t care about diplomacy at all.” And I actually think he has a really valid point there . . .”

See the whole interview

8 Responses

  1. Good thing Scahill is more articulate in the promo video and his movie than he was in that Goodman interview. Not that any degree of articulate exposition of the corruption and idiocy at the heart of that Forever War crap will ever even begin to overcome the flood of Apologiae and recitation of shibboleths and that stupid aggressive complacence and arrogance that lies at the heart of the Empire. And of course the wonderful effects of all that self-catalyzing aggregation of Money, flooding around the gates of the Imperial Capital and its outposts…

    But of course we all need to remember that according to the Serious Voices, this is all wise and legal and somehow meaningful. Not to mention profitable, and a whole lot of fun, for most of the Players in the Game.

    How can ordinary people who pay for, and suffer the depredations of all this crap ,ever overturn the “system,” or demand, and GET, a redirection of all that wealth and energy? How can we ordinary people ever defeat this kind of idiotic self-perpetuating and growing corruption? When do the most of us start to realize that there really is an existential threat to us and our families and friends?

    For context:

    “Retired Generals Hired By Defense Contractors”
    link to

    “Generals, Admirals Live Large on Taxpayer Dollar”
    link to

    “Generals Live Like Kings”
    link to

    “Petraeus scandal puts four-star general lifestyle under scrutiny”
    link to

    And it’s not like all this crap we are paying so dearly for is actually in any way making the world a better place… Except, seemingly, for those who persevere in the Game of becoming general or admiral…

    It grows like a cancer, quietly, out of sight, until it eventually kills the patient.

    Speaking of cancer, in the meantime THIS is what’s going on vis-a-vis the Actual Warriors and their survivors:

    “Adjudicating VA’s Most Complex Disability Claims: Ensuring Quality, Accuracy and Consistency on Complicated Issues”
    link to


    • Well, there is the question whose answer requires a dark science of reform, in this era of domestic policing of dissenters and control of mass media and elections by economic concentrations, in turn controlled by right-wing bully boys.
      How indeed do we replace the right-wing oligarchy with public debate and free elections?

      Not by the means which established the nation, which required public debate and the lack of an effective secret police. Even to suggest an answer now is to be blacklisted and monitored. Not by merely commenting on the internet, which can only hope to raise the consciousness of the few already motivated to learn. Little do comments matter where the number in opposition does not matter. The right wing scorns dissent with confidence that it can never lead to internal change without a free press and free elections.

      So the advocates of internal reform and those of internal violence are likely both wrong: there will be no change until the empty suit of armor is toppled by its external enemies, either militarily or economically, a result toward which we hurtle with unprecedented speed, only due to the unusual folly of our right wing in foreign policy. The US recycles itself.

      • John,
        when you blame the “right wing,”
        do you intend to include right-wingers like Obama ?
        He IS President, you know.

  2. Unfortunately, America crossed its constitutional Rubicon long ago in the Mekong Delta. And all these other wars and drone attacks are merely endgames toward a tragic denouement as our current commander-in-chief helms the ship of state from one foreign policy debacle to another since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
    I served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam. It was during that war when the CIA instituted its infamous Phoenix Program, a brutal and clandestine operation, of targeted assassinations against the VC infrastructure of cadres and guerrillas fighting against us in South Vietnam.
    President Barack Obama’s drone program is a high-tech and updated Phoenix Program in the age of the internet using the latest weapons, drones, created during the robotic revolution in warfare.
    It’s a smart though cynical political maneuver by him given how Americans have become so weary of the long wao on terror a decade after two ill-conceived and poorly prosecuted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    But just as in the Phoenix Program, each innocent civilian killed in one of these drone attacks becomes a recruiting poster for the Taliban. We are losing the hearts and minds just as surely we did in the Vietnam War.
    But as Breaker Morant said in that classic war film about the Boer War in South Africa, the first modern guerrilla war, to young Georgie when guards were leading him away to his death by firing squad, “This is what comes from empire building.”

  3. The iron fist is getting a pretty bad reputation. Back in the 18th and 19th centuries it seemed that European arms would send the natives fleeing allowing outsiders to take over, permanently in the United States.

    But now all the modern weaponry and an unlimited fund of dollars can’t subdue the ragged Taliban who are poised to come right back after more than a decade of taking all the punishment the U.S. military can dish out.

    They have, of course, paid far more in lives than have we, yet we have squandered hundreds of billions of dollars, proof, if ever there was any, that the U.S. has money to burn…or at least good credit to burn.

    So why aren’t we drastically cutting back the armed might that seems so helpless to accomplish what the military is supposed to accomplish? Enter drones and special ops to the rescue? That’s not sustainable politically or morally…so here we go with the helpless giant scenario again.

    The cynic would say that winning or losing doesn’t matter, it’s the big sales of weaponry that count, not whether they are effective, and this of course only helps the transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to the already wealthy.

    Elect me president – my first act would be the conversion of all U.S. battle fleets to hospital fleets, on call worldwide 24/7, with state-of-the-art medevac ready for any emergency. Then watch the estimation of the U.S. rise in world public opinion.

  4. Scahill says: “And the point he made is, “If you kill those of us who grew up, you know, in the ’60s and ’70s, who speak English and understand the outside world, if you kill all of us, you’re not going to have anyone to negotiate with, because this younger generation, that you’ve produced as a result of your global war, are far more militant than we were, and they don’t care about diplomacy at all.”

    Creating a generation of anti-US fighters was the whole point. Perpetuate the war and then there’s no other choice. Guaranteed business for the military industrial complex for 100+ years. A simple business move.

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