tv Democracy Now LINKTV December 16, 2021 8:00am-9:01am PST
12/16/21 12/16/21 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> with omicron,e are on t ed of a cliff. amy: as the coronavirus variant omicron spreads across the road at an unprecedented rate, a group of vaccine experts has just released a list of over 100
companies in africa, asia, and latin america with the potential to produce mrna vaccines. they say it is one of the most viable solutions to fight vaccine and equity around the world and combat the spread of covid, including omicron. into afghanistan, which faces a looming humanitarian catastrophe after the taliban seized power in the united and other western donors cut off financial aid. >> estimated 98% of afghansre t getting enough food. despitthe economic crisis, the conflict, and drought has made the average family can barely cope. amy: we will also speak with new yorker staff writer and colombia journalism school dean steve coll. his new investigation is headlined "the secret history of the u.s. diplomatic failure in afghanistan: a trove of unreleased documents reveals a dispiriting record of misjudgment, hubris, and delusion that led to the fall of the western-backed government."
all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. an unprecedented december storm system spawned tornadoes and brought hurricane force winds to a swath of the sickly united states wednesday with 100 million u.s. residents facing weather alerts. the systems bond massive dust storms in colorado and kansas, one hundred mile-per-hour winds in nebraska and iowa, and for the first time on record, december tornadoes in minnesota. the extreme weather came as several states recorded monthly record high temperatures for december. it came less than a week after another storm stemeft 90 people dead and devastated parts of kentucky and other states.
on thursday, president biden toward kentucky, which was devastated by tornadoelast week. the united kingdom is that a daily record for coronavirus cases with nearly 79,000 infections reported on wednesday. england's chief medical officer chris whitty said the country is suffering two epidemics simultaneously -- a wave of cases from the delta coronavirus variant, plus an unprecedented surge from the fast-spreading omicron variant. >> this is a serious threat. how big a threat, there are several things we don't know, but all things we know are bad. the principal one being the speed of which this is moving, moving at an absolute phenomenal pace. a south africa has reported a record number of daily infections fueled by omicron's spread. a relatively muted rise in hospitalizations and deaths. it is raising hopes that omicron is producing more mild disease. canada has warned residents to
avoid nonessential travel through the christmas and new year's holidays. meanwhile, german police in dresden said wednesday they thwarted a plot by an anti-vaccination group to assassinate the governor of saxony state, who has backed new lockdowns to battle a surge of coronavirus cases. the u.s. senate has approved a military spending bill known as the national that will see the pentagon received $770 billion. just three republicans and eight members of the democratic caucus voted against the ndaa, which includes $25 billion more in pentagon funding than requested by president biden. progressives slammed the senate for passing a record-shattering pentagon budget without approving the build back better act to fund social programs and battle the climate emergency. congressional progressive caucus chair pramila jayapal noted the u.s. is spending more than the military budgets of the next 11
countries combined. she tweeted -- "don't tell me we can't afford to fight poverty, cancel student debt, pass paid leave, and defeat the climate crisis." on wednesday, democrats said they may delay a vote on the build back better act until the new year as west virginia democratic senator joe manchin signaled he will oppose an extension of the expanded child tax credit. unless the senate acts soon, families will no longer receive monthly payments of up to $300 per child. the center for budget priorities warns ending t credit would plunge millions of u.s. children ck into poverty. calls are growing for democrats to pass legislation protecting voting rights at a federal level without delay. while conservative democratic senators kyrsten sinema of arizona and joe manchin of west virginia support the freedom to vote act and the john lewis voting rights advancement act, they have both come out against doing away with the filibuster in order to allow democrats to
pass either bill without a 60-vote majority. democrats are still hoping they can find a workaround by persuading their colleagues to agree to a talking filibuster or a filibuster exception for the crucial legislation. in related news, family members of dr. martin luther king jr. and other prominent activists are planning a series of actions across the country around mlk day in january to increase pressure on congress and president biden. around voting rights. activists and a number of democratic lawmakers are urging president biden to reconsider his decision to restart federal student loan payments in february. the loans were suspended for nearly two years due to the pandemic. on tuesday, a reporter asked white house press secretary jen psaki about biden's campaign pledge to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower. >> what is the message to those people who feel he has yet to follow through on that promi?
>> when congress is at a bill, he is happy to sign it. they have not fit him a bill. amy: a growing number of democratic lawmakers are calling on the administration to cancel up to $50,000 in debt. california congressmember ro khanna said failing act on student loans could harm democrats in the midterms, tweeted wednesday -- "resuming student loan payments could hurt our economic recovery and the effectiveness of the american rescue plan. canceling student loan debt for the working and middle class isn't just the right thing to do, it's good policy." physicians for human rights warns a decade of conflict has led to the systematic deterioration of the healthcare system in northern syria. in a new report, phr found years of attacks, neglect, and lack of coordination has led to profound health dispaties and inequities in access to care, effectively denying people's right to medicine. hardest hit have been women, girls, and people with disabilities. rights groups warn only one border crossing remains open
between turkey and rebel-held parts of northern syria. and if the u.n. security council fails to re-authorize the crossing in january, some 6.8 million people who rely on humanirian assistance could be cut off entirely. in mexico city, protesters gathered outside the national institute of migration tuesday demanding andrés manuel lópez obrador's government stop criminalizing immigration. the protest came less than a week after a truck carrying more than 160 migrants overturned in southern mexico, killing 55 people and injuring scores of others. advocates for the asylum-seekers blamed the biden administration and mexico's government for a crackdown on migrant caravans that's driven asylum seekers to take increasingly dangerous measures to reach the u.s. border. this is mexican immigration activist irineo mujica. >> migration has always existed. the thing is the ways lópez
obrador has moved to contain it hurts. the blood is felt. it is felt in our lives. it does not reflect the balance of mexico. it does not reflect the balance of our society. this really hurts everyone. amy: here in new york, mayor-elect eric adams on wednesday introduced keechant sewell as his next police commissioner. she's set to become the first woman to ever lead the new york police department and its 35,000 officers. meanwhile, two high-ranking nypd officials were placed on modified duty tuesday for submitting false covid-19 vaccination cards in an apparent bid to circumvent the city's vaccine mandate. nypd internal affairs is reportedly investigating the officers and has stripped them of their guns and badges. a warning to our audience, these next story contain contained description of police violence. in minneapolis, former police
officer derek chauvin pleaded guilty wednesday to a federal charge of violating george floyd's civil rights. chauvin had previously pleaded not guilty but changed his plea after he was found guilty of floyd's murder in a closely-watched trial last spring. as part of his plea deal, chauvin also pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of a black 14-year-old during a 2017 arrest. chauvin grabbed the teen by the throat, hit him repeatedly in the head with a flashlight, and pressed his knee into the boy's neck while he was prone, handcuffed, and not resisting. in texas, the county of williamson announced a settlement of $5illion in the 2019 wrongful death of javier ambler. the 40-year-old black man died after being repeatedly tasered by police during a traffic stop. as the officers attacked him, ambler told them, "i have congestive heart failure" and "i can't breathe." the reality tv show "live pd"
caught the killing on camera but later destroyed the footage. "live pd," as well as the similar show "cops," went on to get canceled following public outrage over their glorification of police brutality. a warning to our audience, this story contains reference to sexual violence. the sex-trafficking trial of jeffrey epstein associate ghislaine maxwell continues in new york. over the past two weeks, the court has heard damning testimony about how maxwell for years recruited, groomed, and herself sexually abused young girls. four survivors testified, with one woman describing in detail how maxwell and epstein first spotted her at summer camp when she was 14 and lured her in with the promise of a mentorship. maxwell acted like an older sister, the woman identified just as "jane" told jurors. she also said maxwell at times participated in the sexual assaults. prosecutors also called former staffers of epstein and maxwell to the stand, including a
housekeeper and driver who testified epstein sometimes received three "massages" received three massages per day. he also testified that he picked "jane" up from school and her home and drove her to epstein's palm beach estate. the defense begins its case today. and pioneering black feminist author and social critic bell hooks has died at the age of 69. born gloria jean watkins, she wrote more than 40 books and became a leading voice on feminism, justice, race, and discrimination. her 1981 book "ain't i a woman? black women and feminism," which took its title from a speech by the abolitionist sojourner truth, helped popularize the notion of intersectional feminism. in 1997, democracy now! spoke with bell hooks following the death of another trailblazer, education activist paulo freire. >> in our culture, so often people teach beliefs, values,
ideas that have no relationship to how they live their lives. each of the many times i saw him, i saw him exemplify again and again a unity between theory and practice. that has inspired me both as an intellectual and as a teacher to want to have that kind of unity, to believe and to know it is not a drink or fantasy but that you can teach by being in the world as much as you can by the books you write. amy: bell hooks was also a long time educator and was a distinguished professor at berea college in her home state of kentucky at the time of her passing. in 2000, she published the book "all about love: new visions." bell hooks wrote -- "it is essential to our struggle for self-determination that we speak of love. for love is the necessary foundation enabling us to survive the wars, the hardships,
the sickness, and the dying with our spirits intact. it is love that allows us to survive whole." tune in to democracy now! on friday as we cover bell hook's life and work in depth and hear from her in her own words. you can also go to democracynow.org to see that full conversation we had with her. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. when we come back, we will talk about vaccine equity around the world. stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
amy: "there's something about that name," played by jordan baize, recorded by his sister, whitney brown. they were in the wreckage of his house in kentucky. he was playing under an open sky because the roof had been blown off. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i am amy goodman with my co-host nermeen shaikh. hi, nermeen. nermeen: hi, amy. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. amy: the new coronavirus variant omicron is spreading across the world at an unprecedented rate.
the world health organization warns cases of the heavily mutated variant have been confirmed in 77 countries, and likely many others that have yet to detect it. with international infections climbing, the biden administration is facing renewed demands to follow through on his now seven-month-old pledge to ensure companies waive intellectual property protections on coronavirus vaccines and share them with the world. a group of vaccine experts has just released a list of over 100 companies in africa, asia, and latin america with the potential to produce mrna vaccines to fight covid-19. they say it is one of the most viable solutions to fight vaccine inequity around the world and combat the spread of coronavirus variants, including omicron. for more, we're joined by achal prabhala, coordinator of the accessibsa project, which campaigns for access to
medicines in india, brazil, and south africa. he's the co-author of this new report. welcome back. can you lay out this new list you have compiled that shows the production of mrna vaccines is possible outside the u.s. and europe? what are these 100 companies around the world >> tnk you, amy. it is nice to be back. i want to sathe backop to our report is omicron. what omicron mns as we still figure out how infectious it is, how seris the affectiona causes i at we know alrea are a f things. we know all existing doue dose vaccines work ls well ainst omicron, which means tho who have had twooses of izer or moderna need a booster. we also kn it is highly transmissible and it
inevitly goingo lead to a surge in cases. what thateans forxisting vacces and equity, which is prty deep- niger s less an 2% of its population vaccated comred to southern eupe where the percentage is in the 80's. it means vcine inequity becomes worse. why? because everyone noweeds more vaccines. our reportn mrna becse they are rarkable tecology that we have not yefully understood, meaning they are not biology-based. they do not require cells to be grown and it needs to be made faster and therefore by more companies than could make before 2020. we worked on finding companies that have the facilities and the quality standards and be the
technical requirements to make mrna vaccis. we found to our astonishment they are at least 120 companies across africa, asia, and latin america o could produci llions o doses of these vaines. which in the situation whe income and partially, at a precipice, is really the only way by which we can get millions more vaccines into the world in the next three to six months. nermeen: we will get to details about those companies, but if you could talk first about your own vaccination experience. you are in india. you receive the astrazeneca vaccine almost six months ago. what are your concerns now? you and your family all received astrazeneca. what are your concerns about what will happen in january 2022? >> i am really concerned about us. i am concerned about the ones i
love and the ones you love, nermeen. it iecause of january 1, 22, clock will reset. i was vaccinated s months ago with twooses of trazeneca. i amne of theucky people that liv in a poor country and yetome januy 1, i wilave become vaccinaed for tvel if i've not had a booster -- which they have no plan of giving to people my age and does not have the supplies eveif it wanted to -- i am deemed unvaccated. other than tt, the astrazeneca vaccine has 2% coverage -- 10% coverage against omicron. my sister is physically dibled and requirereal about nursing re. she coulnot affo to self-isolate.
this is an astonishing situation for a rge proportionf the world, whi has onl recei twdoses of a a does no have immedie prospects of a booster when january hits anwhen omicron spreads fred around the world. we will have reset t clock, eventually. we will all be back to where we were generally first, 2021 at the beginning of this year. unvaccinated, vulnerable, and afid. which is a terrible situation to go through cycles like this is not how we planned to rest t pandemic n how we will. as bad as it seems today, it will get worse unless something dramatically changes with vaccine supply, we are condemned to repeat this cycle of surges and infections which have not only caused a huge dramatic effect on people's lives, but also the economy and people's
livelihoods. nermeen: said earlier these 100 companies, over 100 companies you have identified that could manufacture these mrna vaccines, could produce millions of doses. could you say specifically how many doses could be produced and it what period of time if you have estimates, and what kind of impact that would have globally, she pointed out, and massive company, the largest in africa, nigeria, has only 2% its population vaccinated? what kind of impact with e rad producon of thes vaccin have? >> nermeen, this isuite simple to explain. if the mrna technology that izer a biontech and moderna have developed and deployed were to bshared with any numb of
these 0 companies around the world, we could vaccinate the wod in as close to six nths from now. this is simply a fact. it is not theoretical it is basein fact a model of existing partnerships that companielike moderna have with very similar manufacturers, except they're located elsewhere. what we are asking for is for the same model that moderna and pfizerote works to be of limited with amany companies as possible acrosshe world so they can all start making vaccines in the entities required. we need something like 2500 square feet of space. you need a very small investment in order to create hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines. if we brought these companies together, and provided in the technology and the licenses they require -- something that pfizer , biontech, and moderna
literally hold in their hands -- and if they did that, we would be able to vaccinate the world as and as effectivelas possible. but further, we wld have additional protection if it turns out the omicron variant requires a reform related vaccine, let's sa then we are all back to zero. we are all starting again. in that case the mrna technology is the best in order to adapt to a population. it is faster and easier to do it with a mrna vaccine. getting a lot of companies around the world prepared not just to withstand the current moment but future, to better withstand. amy: achal prabhala, explain what is going on. you have moderna and pfizer based in the united states, biontech based in germany, pouring billions into the development of the moderna
vaccine, and you have the chairman of moderna saying very clearly, we will not go after any company that wants to reproduce our mrna vaccines. so what exactly is the issue here? you have the u.s. because they forgot about a money to the research can demand this of moderna. with pfizer, they promised to buy billions of dollars worth of vaccines. in both of these cases, so much done with public money and the chair of moderna sent any company can do this. what is holding up these 100 companies from doing it? actually, the explicit sharing of the formula? >> that's ght. it was through public money. a billion dollars in money from u.s. taxpayers through the company to moderna. severabillions of dollars after that next rangeor buyin
back vaccines at high prices. so ese e very mh the peoples vaccines, distress of their private property. when the modna c says, anyonean make the moderna vacine, he's been ait dingenuous. this is like givingeople the pieces of a le box witut an structn manual tmake som complited muzzle insi, "you figure it out." e way vaccines work and do it and regulations were, they need tbe made with authorization d a licee. moderna and pfizer or biontech need t autrize companies to make their vacci. they need to share the instruction maal as toow to do it. th need to share with them some degree of assistance in terms of the supply chain, the different things you need to reduce the vaccine. this is not as complicated as it sounds. it is a sml degree of assistance. they could even earn revenue off
of it. nobody gets the pfizer or moderna and india. they would get back to share what we paid for them. it is a solution that works for everyone. the problem is what it does is it loses their stranehold on these vaccinest the moment. itndercuts the massive tens of billions of dollars profit and revenues they can earn up selling to poor countries in the next couple of years once they're done with rich countries. and it seems they don't want that to happen and will do as much as they cannot have it happen, which is why we are asking the u.s. and german governme to say, look, and it a phase of this, it is time to use ergency laws that exist that you can use that you have the moral and the goal power to put into effect, and end this pandemic and bring us out of this incredible cycle of hell. nermeen: could you respond to
some of the early concerns about these vaccines being manufactured in countries outside europe and north america, the u.s.? and concerns about how these vaccines could be administered outside these countries -- first, concerns about the fact they have to be capped at massively subzero temperatures and what countries have the capacity to do that for large numbers of mrna vaccines? transporting these vaccines. and then lastly, the question of maintaining quality control, where these vaccines are being produced. could you talk about that, the quality issue and the fact some of these companies that you identified are already producing drugs that are being used in europe and north america? >> all very good questions, neeen. firstly, mrn technology is
radly evolving. we are still going to have ccines that only need normal refrigeration. even the oginal refrigerati markfor the pfer and moderna have been revise they don't need as stringent refrigeration as we thout initiay. in terms of polit it indicates people have suspected even with india, ality standards in india or countriesn south africa are lat america, they have regulations. however, the companies we have chosenave allade and it exact similarroduct to a vaccine t not only -- they have eorted it to the united stes, european union, and e who which in the process had to examine their facilitiesnd certifyhem for having the highest inrnationa quality standards of what th call good manufacturing practices. these are companies that are
already making things through injections and absolutely, certainly capable of doing that again with mrnaaccines and really solving a pandemic not just for the countries in which they are based, but for you, for everyone, for all of us if only they were allowed to. amy: what is the most important thing that president biden here in the united states could dto ma this happen? >> president biden can bri moderna to the white house, sit them across the table, so we have laws tt can force you to do what we are asking you to do but weould ratr you just do itnstead. then lett go and take credit for vaccinating the world. amy: achal prabhala, thank you for being with us, coordinator of the accessibsa project, which campaigns for access to medicines in india, brazil, and south africa. next up, we look at what
afghanistan faces, this looming humanitarian catastrophe after the taliban seized power in the u.s. and other donors cut off financial aid. we will speak to new yorker staff writer steve coll, his new piece, "the secret history of the u.s. diplomatic failure in afghanistan: a trove of unreleased documents reveals a dispiriting record of misjudgment, hubris, and delusion that led to the fall of the western-backed government." stay with us. ♪♪ [music break]
and we begin by looking first at how we got here. a damning new report in "the new york or" magazine looks at the failures in u.s. diplomacy that led to the taliban's seizure of power in august. it includes american officials who took part in negotiations during the trump and biden administrations. it is headlined "the secret history of the u.s. diplomatic failure in afghanistan: a trove of unreleased documents reveals a dispiriting record of misjudgment, hubris, and delusion that led to the fall of the western-backed government." forore, we're joined by e of the co-authors, steve coll, staff writer for "the new york or" magazine. he is dean of columbia journalism school and author of many books, including the pulitzer-prize winning "ghost wars: the secret history of the cia, afghanistan and bin laden, from the soviet invasion to
september 10, 2001." welcome back. why don't you lay out your most significant findings that surprised you most. let's be clear with these negotiations, this wasn't negotiations that included the afghan government. it was negotiations between the united states and the taliban. >> amy, thank you for having me back. let's start with the big picture. the united states there in the trump administration entered into direct talks with the taliban in the stated purse of the talksas twofold. one, to find a way for the united states to withdraw from the war and secondly to end the war in which afghans were primarily suffering. what we have discovered i think by taking a really close look at this record is that in the end, the peace talks were not about
peace. they were about america leaving. at eve intersection where u.s.-based a choice between car ties in a reduction in violence, a cease-fire, some kind of political settlement, among afghans, between the taliban and the kabul government, rather than insisting upon that, instead built an exit ramp to leave itself. and we all saw the result last august. the record is full of detailed conversations, both within the negotiating room between the white house and the kabul government led by present donnie. there's a lot of conversation in detail. the essence of it -- i have been reporting in general and around afanistan for a long time. i was still shocked by the
degree of citizen that the united states often brought to this endeavor to seek teeth, rticularly during the trump years. nermeen: steve coll, you mentioned at the time afghans were the ones who were primarily suffering. just to specify what you write in the piece is that since 2015, fewer than 12 american soldiers died every year while at the same time, 8000 afghan security personnel were dying annually. and according to the u.n., several thousand afghan civilians were being killed every year. could you explain what you understand about who was pushing for prioritizing the u.s., in particular come and talk about the role of -- what was his role
and background and what was -- what a visually happen as the result of negotiations that he was leading? >> the first part of the question is i think the record suggests that president trump wasn't closely involved in these negotiations as we have often seen about his presidency come he did not really understand afghanistan. he has done some things that we were able to document and import meetings that he had a best cursory understand even at the leadership of afghanistan. he designated this to secretary pompeo. best indications i think are evidence provide that he was probably making the most important high-level decisions in washington. you ask about the special envoy who pompeo appointed to carry out these negotiations with the taliban.
he is an afghan born american who earned a doctoral degree at the university of chicago in political science and served in several republican a ministrations prior to the trump years. he was the u.s. ambassador to afghanistan in the early 2000' after the fall of the taliban government. he is deeply experienced in the region, but he had been out of government for quite some time when he came back into this role. he is a very complicated figure. we tried to give you all of him in this piece. i think he started out believing that he could negotiate peace and was ambitious about that. but at important intersections come he faced all these choices. as an envoy of the trumpet administration. we going to prioritize the united states interest in his withdrawal or are we going to slow this process down or take a different approach in order to
prioritize peace among afghans? i'm afraid whether record shows is that perhaps under pressure from secretary pompeo but in full complicity, the ambassador prioritized the u.s. withdrawal and ignored taliban violations of the agreements they had reached and put pressure on the government in kabul to do things he did not want to do. as you pointed out in the intro and important for listeners to understand, there are three parties to this were broadly speaking when the peace negotiations began. the united states, the taliban, and the islamic republic of afghanistan, the formal name of the kabul constitutional government. the islamic republic was never at the table in these negotiations. the u.s. negotiated an effect on his behalf. we can see resulted not exactly secure the republic's interest.
nermeen: explain why the kabul government was not involved in these negotiations. ashraf ghani, according to your peace and generally reported, he felt sidelined in these negotiations and it seemed some instances, as you documents, the u.s. appeared to be more consistent in getting this government to compromise rather than putting operable pressure on the desk comparable pressure on the taliban. >> to this point about the kabul government being sidelined, you're right. the reason it was is because the taliban insisted on it. they absolutely refused to sit at the table with representatives of their opposition and afghanistan, as they saw it. they refused even speak the name of the republic the document
they side with the unit states. the united states would along with us on the theory that if the u.s. could reach its own agreement with the taliban about withdrawal and the taliban providing counterterrorism guarantees to the united states, that little to make conversation, an agreement would be that would be the basis for opening up negotiations between the taliban and afghan government. was that theory plausible? should anyone have tested that? of course they should have tested the theory but what happened was the taliban made clear pretty quickly that they were not interested in having those negotiations with ashraf ghani's government. they did not to sit at the table with them. they did not to share power. you can read the record. the question you might ask is, if you were negotiating this, at what point would you have recognized the taliban simply were not going to compromise and then come to terms with that reality? the answer is there were many
points along the way where i think many of your listeners, if they were bargaining in this setting, would've said, ok, that's enough. nearly, this other side does not want to come along. then you have to go down a different path. none of those sources are great either, but at least you're dealing with reality. that is one of the dispiriting parts of this history. amy: i want to go to any interview with the associated press earlier this week i'll stop it is former afghan president hamid karzai saying kabul had not fallen to the taliban in august. he had invited them in. >> it was request to come in and protect so the city does not fall into chaos, unwanted elements who would loot. it was an automatic process subsequent to that. amy: so that is hamid karzai. people should understand the
taliban were inside the palace. hamid karzai's compound is essentially attached to the palace. they are adjacent to each other. when the taliban walked out of a conversation in the palace, his point is well taken. every time we keep repeating seized power, they entered a power vacuum. can you talk about hamid karzai 's position right now? >> well, it is complicated. i don't know enough about it, to describe his circumstances, but he did not leave the country. he has not left the country since the taliban formed the return government. i don't know whether he wants to leave or not. he has not left. as to his comments yesterday to the associated press, let's bear in mind, he says he invited the taliban and he had no authority.
he was a former president. he had been appointed -- what happened in the last 24 hours is really interesting and complicated. and i don't feel like i sorted it out entirely. i can describe some things with confidence another things look a bit muddy. but what was happening was the united states, ashraf ghani, former and current politicians who were not part of ashraf ghani's government but were in kabul such as hamid karzai and others, they were trying to figure out under norma's time pressure whether there was some way to hand over the city and the country, in effect, to the taliban in a more orderly way that would occur without an agreement. hamid karzai was supposed to fly out of kabul down to cutter to
talk about this. he had been appointed to do so along with 12 other people, by president bonnie. he never got off the ground because the taliban essentially swept into the capital and took over before those talks could even begin. some a confused situation. i do think that president karzai today, former president karzai is in a complicated position, which is hard to evaluate from the outside. nermeen: steve, you mentioned earlier the many points during these negotiations at which the taliban seemed to prevail when it was not a good idea to allow them to prevail. one of those points come as you write about time is their insistence on the release of 5000 political prisoners. could you explain when that happened, how the ashraf ghani government was forced to concede this, and what its effects were?
immediate effects? >> in my experience on the work of this history, was perhaps the most dispiriting of this series of dispiriting episodes. it is very hard to look back on it with anything other than a sense of being appalled about it. the short story is the united states and the taliban, after conducting these negotiations, sign an agreement in figure 2020. the trumpet administration and the taliban signed this agreement. it, -- is that as soon as th was signed -- basically, it's basic revisions was the was that it would withdraw, 2021 and the taliban said he would protect the united states against terrorism. they signed this agreement but there were other provisions. the most important was that the taliban would begin negotiating seriously a peace agreement with
ashraf ghani's government within 10 days. the taliban said, we are not really ready to get started. you need to release 5000 prisoners of ours before we will talk to the afghan government. united states signed up to say -- they did not hold these prisoners. they belong to the government of ashraf ghani. the united states that, well, we cannot release the but we will work to facilitate the release. at that point, the trump administration embarked on a pressure campaign on ashraf ghani's government to release all of these 5000 prisoners. the envoy, the made a negotiator for the u.s., what he said to ghani, as our investigation shows was, look, you're not going to have to all 5000. find 1000 or 2000, release those low-risk risk prisoners and i will get the taliban to come
along. ghani says, i don't really like this but i will do the work. he identifies 1000 prisoners, releases 1000. the taliban says, sorry, we need 5000. by the way, here's a list of the specific 5000 and we don't want any other 5000 other than these. back and forth they go. the taliban never yielded. the trump administration increased its pressure month after month on the ghani administration. the list of the 5000 included a cole dozen who had committed basically mders, american, australian, u.n. personnel come included hundreds of people the afghan government had convicted of very serious crimes. ghani certainly did not want to let that last 500 or so ago. but the americans kept telling him, if you'll just do this, let
all 5000 on the taliban list go, then those negotiations, those peace negotiations we are all here to advance, they really will begin and there will be a reduction of violence, maybe even a full cease fire. the afghan people have been suffering from continual wars. taking more than 10,000 civilian and military and police casualties every year. those are killed in action, not just wounded. suffering. here is this promise, if you'll just release these 5000, we will get those peace negotiations going and a reduction in violence will follow. so ashraf ghani capitulated, released all 5000 using traditional assembly to endorse the decision. and what happened? there was no reduction in violence. the talks sort of began in that delegation, arrivedo negoate, but nothing happened. the taliban refused to negotiate
about anything. they just sat there for a doing nothing. meanwhile, the war intensified. the violence got worse. people blame the afghans for their contributions to this disaster. we all know the islamic republic government was deeply flawed in many respects, but when you look at the pressure the united states put on its junior partner, it's suppose that ally to undertake this prisoner release on the basis of promises that turned out to be completely false, it is hard not to sympathize with the anger afghans feel about that esode. amy: we will talk about the humanitarian crisis in a moment. steve coll, thank you for being with us, staff writer for "the new yorker" magazine and dean at the colombia journalism school. we will link to your piece "the
secret history of the u.s. diplomatic failure in afghanistan: a trove of unreleased documents reveals a dispiriting record of misjudgment, hubris, and delusion that led to the fall of the western-backed government." author of the pulitzer-prize winning "ghost wars: the sect history of the cia, afghanistan and bin laden, from thsoviet invasion to september 10, 2001" and most recently "directorate , s: the c.i.a. and america's secret wars in afghanistan and pakistan." this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. as we look at the growing alarm over limited communitarian catastrophe in afghanistan since the taliban seized power in august. the united states and other donors have cut off financial aid. the united nations warns nearly 23 million people in afghanistan, more than half the population, face potentially life-threatening food shortages this winter, with nearly 9 million already on the brink of famine. for more, we are joined by pashtana durrani, an activist
and executive director of the educational non-profit learn afghanistan. she's now a visiting fellow at the women's center at wellesley college. if you could start off by talking about the humanitarian crisis that afghanistan is in the midst and is facing even further this winter and what you believe needs to be done and what has caused it. >> thank you, nermeen, for having me. first of all, let me start with the very specific example. last night i was up until 11:00 a.m. for one reason, because the regional hospital, all the other provinces, hospitals and clinics have closed down for the pediatrics ward. i kept on getting pictures --
the government doesn't have the money. the government or regime, whatever you want to call it. each fed has two to three children. run 70 children that are there with her children who are starving. this is just across kandahar. only for those were able to go to the hospital. starving not only the children but the mothers. nermeen: explain how widespread that is. you say this is happening in kinda hard. what about in the rest of the country, rural areas as well as cities? we got news two weeks ago the public clinic had slowed -- closed down. people are leaving crossing the border and going to pakistan to
get checkups. there was another woman who was not able to get aess to heah care just because she was from afghanistan and she did not have proper documentation. that the second case we heard about. people waiting in lines for food in holland but the food is short. the world food program is not reaching out to them. there is no food available. there is no [indiscernible] it is not reaching the people of afghanistan. nermeen: explain to whom this aid is going, who is sending the aid, and what are you calling for? who should international aid agencies, the u.s. government, who should they be working with in afghanistan now? >> the first thing, when it
comes to aid, get understanding aid that goes to afghanistan, two thirds of it goes into what the international community calls hardship because they're working in a hardship country or conflict zone. we need to stop doing that. nobody needs that. we don't need other people serving in afghanistan. [indiscernible] they need protection. the international aid organizations, it is just -- with a have to take pictures. for me it is my country people are starving in it. public education is paralyzed. women are not working. girls are not going to school. people do not have food on the table. these are very important but
dangerous times to live in. most importantly, where is the humanity? the international organization [indiscernible] two thirds of it is being used [indiscernible] you have to understand afghan people [indiscernible] the international community is going in but with -- [indiscernible] how do you talk to them? nermeen: end e before we,
there have been reports of widespread extrajudicial killing across the country, including hanging, beheading, pub displays of corpses. could you explain what you know of that and the fact your own cousin was murdered by the taliban? >> he is one of the relatives in helmond. he was murdered a few weeks ago. this is the first one where the media got its attention. extrajudicial killings are happening all over afghanistan and nobody is talking about it. no one is even reporting it. most importantly, when it comes to that, nobody even wants to go there because right now it is not important. right now people are starving. amy: the idea the u.s. spent millions of dollars -- billions
on this war, now u.s. pulls out and cuts off money to afghanistan when it is not at war with afghanistan. your final comment? >> what made them at work in the first place? the people are still ruling most of how can they forgive them? how did they decipher the past 20 years [indiscernible] now somehow that is not important? [indiscernible] use that to get into afghanistan. right women and children are not starving, how are they justifying it right now? now that the same people ruling the country?