David Loin, Donald Rumsfeld, Osama Bin Laden discussed on Mark Mason
After 20 years. One question many Americans have had as they watch things unfold there recently is. How did we get to this point? So help answer that question. I'm joined now by David Loin, BBC Foreign correspondent and author of the Long War, The Inside Story of America and Afghanistan since 9 11, David, Thanks so much for coming on with us Now I want to start by going back to Afghanistan pre 9 11 because I think understanding that Is really important if we're to understand where that country is likely headed now, with the Taliban having retaking control 20 years later the line. I think that's a really interesting question. And I mean you mentioned the timing. Much like when I When I set the 20th anniversary of 9 11 is my outdated for the book. Hadn't expected the Taliban be back in power in Kabul by on 9, 11 and 2021. So, um, it's been a shock. It's been the surprising thing to me that Who watch Afghanistan that many of the of the reasons why this became America's longest war and why it became such a difficult war. That's that right at the beginning, Um, you know, back in 2000 and one when you mentioned Al Qaeda work very significantly in control really in Afghanistan In the last two years of the Taliban Will. The Taliban came in five years? Previously 1996 at the end of the terrible civil war. And When when, by the time of 2000 and one and the twin towers coming down. And the attacks on 9 11 Al Qaeda effectively in control. It was striking people who travel there. I travel there During those years I went to Kandahar and met more. Um, on one occasion, the leader of the Taliban very briefly. We want to meet Western journalists, but I, but at least he acknowledged me when I was The defence, um, that the Taliban were more marginalized by Al Qaeda. This has really become a state that was, you know, a crucible of international international terrorism. And it was understandable that that will happen. But it was how the war happened, which right at the beginning, but I think led to it being America's longest war. And the first thing that happened with the decision by secretary thanks from the Rumsfeld to have a light footprint. He called it no American boots on the ground beyond Special operators who are effectively only stopping. Um, uh, airstrikes and very heavy air power, and it was very striking out a lot of time about frontline in October, November 2000 and one just watching the the airplanes coming in in waves and bombing the Taliban front lines and, um, the people on the ground who were doing the ground fighting. We're not then American soldiers they work. Militias led by warlords who are the very people that the Taliban and defeated five years previously, and it was in standing those people up in order to The war for us in 2001, but in a sense, But beginning the first spark of corruption the field in Afghanistan those individuals in 2002 As immune nation began to try and emerge paradigm try and kind of sense with what had happened and those individuals were the most powerful people and we have the most muscle. They're the most money, but the CIA million And they were the people who really began. The The corruption that in Afghanistan, which led ultimately, 20 years later to the army, being completely hollowed out, so it collapsed. All right, so we go into Afghanistan following the September 11th attacks that period between the start of our mission there and the ramp up to the war in Iraq. Were we making progress and successfully doing what we set out to do and how much does our decision to invade Iraq change things on the ground in Afghanistan? I mean, I would say yes up to a point We succeeded. We succeeded in bringing down the Taliban government, which was the main plan he didn't succeed in killing some of the Martin And one of the reasons for that was because of this, I think because of this problem, uh, wrong stuff, not willing to put American boots into harm's way. The work 1000 US brain. Under the command of Major general then Major General Jim Mattis. Relation Cook became secretary. Marina Airfield at Kandahar were 3.5 1000 more us brings on board ship close by and they were pumped up and well motivated after 9 11 to go and take out a form and whatnot and They've been given the chance. I think I think history might have been different because they were kept out of the battle was quite matters Human on the line to Centcom. In Florida to try and bring his poison because Donald Rumsfeld desire only to use local militias and some pretty drug out. Those local militias stood up in The battle of Tora core in December. 2001 and Osama bin Laden escaped, of course not to be killed. I found an adult about it in Pakistan 10 years later, so I think there were there were problems even in terms of the of the of the war itself right at the beginning. And I think Iraq obviously with the destruction from then General Tommy Franks, who was the commander or commander of US forces. The Afghan campaign was asked by the White House to come up with a plan the war in Iraq even before carbon fallen at the end of 2001 so Which I write about in the book. So block was a distraction right from the very beginning. I'm joined by David Loin, BBC correspondent and author of the new book, The Long War, The Inside Story of America and Afghanistan since 9 11 now following our intervention in Iraq, and you write this in your book, Afghanistan is viewed as that other war becomes, in a sense, the forgotten war that is It's all the decisions made to implement. A surgeon 20 tend to try to get things back on track there what was happening on the ground in Afghanistan then and based on your extensive conversations for the book with military leadership from that time period? What was their take on how things were progressing? Did they feel like it was a futile effort or or the confident they could get the job done? Well, you know that that period you're right, but really, really instant period performed. Jimmy In 2000 and six and 2009 10 and you mentioned military commanders fine in this book is a serious of interviews with the all of the commodity commodity during the main combat period of the Afghan war. And they're rather extraordinary individuals. It was a privilege to spend time with them and to and to do these interviews. People like General David Petraeus and support General David Claimant meal and so on really extraordinary individuals who get to that level and I think they saw After 5 2006 when, uh there were many more combat troops and many more from NATO nations as well, um, from from that period in Afghanistan from Allied nations. Would come in really for the peacebuilding operation, not a war fighting operation, and they were a bit surprised by the scale of the war that they had to fight. And so it was during those years that they really began to One pop. And then you have President Obama coming in in 2000 and nine, which is the crucial Yeah, the decision making in the Iraq war and everything that happened, uh, in the Afghan war, everything that happened. In the first eight years step in the end of 2000 and one Everything that happened after was setting 2009, but it's really two important, Yes. President Obama came in as you'll remember wanting to close down Iraq where she saw the bad boys necessary war of choice and to turn Afghanistan into what was called the Good war. This was the war that there might be one And that the weapon that was used with counter uncertainty. That counterinsurgency involved a lot of troops. Um, and the question was how many troops were the United States and its allies willing to put in And during 2009. The decisions took the home. Yeah. To decide. Um General Stan McChrystal. When commanding in Afghanistan wanted at the top end 80,000 for robust counterinsurgency. He got 30,000, but less than half of what he wanted, And that was That was all the way through when General put in their troop requisitions and they come back. Yeah, tough down by the White House. They come back the plans would be limited. They've been rewritten in some way that Restricted the capacity of military commanders to do the job that they thought they were doing in order to achieve the talk that may be set by the civilian leadership. Um And the other thing that happened in 2009, which was really significant in the years that followed what there was also an except, um, timetable drawn into the number of troops, so it wasn't just troop numbers of troops that we're going to go in. It was the timetable under which thing withdrawal, So as soon as they were on the ground, the surge troops were effectively on my way out, and the Taliban knew that. And as he said, You know, they were the people who.