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JOHN HUMPHRYS: Good afternoon. It's
been another difficult week, no obvious progress either in the war or on
the diplomatic front. I'll be talking to the man who's been appointed
by President Bush as his special envoy to Afghanistan and asking him how
Washington sees the future for the country. I'll also be talking to the
leader of the Conservative Party, Iain Duncan Smith. Are the Tories TOO
uncritical? We'll be reporting on the plight of the starving in Afghanistan
and asking if we in this country may end up paying higher taxes because
of the war. That's after the news read by Darren Jordan.
HUMPHRYS: The big bombers went into
Afghanistan last week ... the B52's and as we've just heard they were in
action again overnight.... the biggest raids so far. It's now a month
since the attacks began and in this programme we'll be looking at the diplomatic,
the political and the economic effects of the war so far. But first ...
the military scene. Here's Peter Snow with his analysis.
PETER SNOW: And I'm joined by Air Marshal
Sir Tim Garden again. Now there's still a sense this weekend, after four
weeks of this war, that the allies are holding back a bit, biding their
time, waiting for more intelligence information and not giving way to pressure
from public opinion or from their impatient allies on the ground. But they
have stepped things up in two important areas. B52 bombers have been dropping
bombs in support of the Northern Alliance by making attacks on the Taliban
front-lines and areas up in North and North-East of the country, not intensively
enough to satisfy their allies on the ground and not yet enough to make
the Taliban withdraw or desert. More detail on those raids in a moment.
The other shift of emphasis is on the ground. We don't know where it
happened but one American helicopter crashed in Afghanistan, apparently
the weather was bad, somewhere in the middle of the country during an operation
by special forces. They sent in another helicopter to rescue the crew
and a strike aircraft to destroy the downed helicopter. Now the Taliban
say they shot down two helicopters; the Americans deny it. But whatever
the truth is, we now have clear evidence of American forces exposed to
risk on the ground in Afghanistan. And we know for sure that American Special
Forces are somewhere up here in the North and North-East of the country
accompanying the forces of the Northern Alliance in their fight with the
Taliban - and the Pentagon says it would like to increase the number of
these men three or four-fold over the next few weeks. The trouble is, even
with the help they're getting so far, the Northern Alliance still haven't
scored any major successes.
Now, we've no way of knowing, but one other operation which special forces
- perhaps even that crashed helicopter - may have been involved in, is
taking place somewhere here in the middle of Afghanistan in Oruzgan province.
This is where another important anti-Taliban southerner, Hamid Karzai
is said to be trying to organise resistance to the Taliban. The Taliban
say they've already captured some of his supporters and are pursuing him
hard, but Karzai's brother in Pakistan says he's heard from Karzai that
he's perfectly safe.
Some heartening news for the allied coalition this week has been that
Turkey will be sending ninety troops, Special Forces, to aid the Northern
Alliance and the Czech Republic will be sending some three hundred troops,
half of them experts in chemical warfare. And the Pentagon has announced
that it's going to deploy this curious unmanned aircraft, it's called the
Global Hawk, over Afghanistan. It can detect very small objects and the
weakest of radio signals over a very wide area. Now Air Marshal, what good
can an aircraft like Global Hawk be with the winter coming on?
AIR MARSHAL SIR TIM GARDEN: Well it's a very new aircraft with
all the latest technology and still in the development phase. It can stay
above the country for thirty-six hours at a time and as the winter comes
on, the detection of infra-red contrast is so much better and what we will
see is signs of where human habitation is in caves, under the snow, and
things like that.
SNOW: So the winter won't defeat
the intelligence operation?
GARDEN: No, the winter will actually
make it easier in many ways, to see tracks when you do the photographs
and to see where people are living.
SNOW: Now in this morning's press,
there's a huge amount of speculation that we could be about to see a huge
invasion, or attack at least, on Mazar-e-Sharif from the north here, on
perhaps the northern parts of Afghanistan, a huge allied component perhaps,
but using the Northern Alliance. Do you think that's credible and possible?
GARDEN: No I think what we're seeing
is that Mazar-e- Sharif is the target for now, but there aren't huge allied
forces there and if you remember in the Gulf War, it took about five months
to assemble a large allied force and I think the time-scales are not going
to be that different these days.
SNOW: What about the Northern Alliance.
Could they take Mazar-e-Sharif?
GARDEN: If they have sufficient
help from the US Air Forces, yes.
SNOW: Okay. Well the Americans
say they are now into Phase Three of their air campaign in Afghanistan.
First, they hit the Taliban's air defences, that was Phase One, the radars
and so on, then they went for air-strips and command posts all over country.
In Phase Three, they say that eighty per cent of their effort is directed
to bombing the Taliban's front-line troops up here, where they're facing
the Northern Alliance.
Early in this last week, up here in Tajikistan, General Tommy Franks,
who's the American Commander in the area, met the Northern Alliance's Commander,
General Mohamed Fahim and he agreed to give the Northern Alliance much
more overt support. Now here's a closer look at the battleground up in
the north, where the Northern Alliance say they urgently need help if they're
to take Mazar-e-Sharif and the capital, Kabul. Two other important towns,
Kondoz and Taloqan - hold key positions on the major roads in the north
of the country. And the Northern Alliance, very roughly, control the area
within this dotted line, a large circle south of Mazar-e-Sharif, a bit
of country up here, and the area around Taloqan and north east of Kabul,
like that, we can put the Northern Alliance tanks and soldiers, we've coloured
them yellow here on our map and there they are, that's their position there
and they're putting particular pressure on Taloqan as well as threatening
Mazar and Kabul.
The Americans now have Special Forces accompanying the Northern Alliance,
of course the Americans would like to increase the number of those forces,
they are advising them, sending back targeting information to the American
Air Force and they're dropping ammunition and other weapons supplies by
parachute and helicopter to the Northern Alliance already. They say they'd
like to do more on the ground, but in one place where they tried to reinforce
the Northern Alliance, the Pentagon tell us they ran into ground fire that
was too heavy.
This last week, we've seen them send the B52s to bomb Taliban positions
in three areas in particular. First, here at Dara-i-Suf, south of Mazar-e-
Sharif. Now each B52 drops a devastating load of bombs the Americans call
them long sticks of bombs, it's more generally described as carpet-bombing
and it may have had some effect in this area here. The Northern Alliance
claim that they've gained ground in the last day or two, although thought
they suffered some earlier reverses, but this can't be verified independently.
Now up here around Taloqan, also the B52s carpet bombing Taliban positions
in the hills around the city of Taloqan, denying the Northern Alliance
access to Taloqan.
The airfield of Bagram also down there, just north of Kabul, there's also
B52 operations there and again, it's the Americans bombing the Taliban
positions around the airfield of Bagram. Bagram being on the frontline
between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban protecting Kabul. But this
has not resulted yet in the Northern Alliance gaining any ground here and
claims that they've won hundreds of deserters from the Taliban here and
elsewhere have not been verified by anybody else.
So are the Americans doing enough to help the people they say they're
committed to helping? Well the air effort is less intense than it was in
the Gulf War ten years ago. That's partly accounted for by the fact of
course that the carrier- based strike aircraft have to travel much further
here than they had to in Iraq. Then there were thousands of sorties a day,
now there are less than a hundred. And in the Gulf War, B52s were staging
a hundred raids or more, with five-hundred, six-hundred raids a day. Now
they're flying about ten raids a day. Now Air Marshal, couldn't these air
operations be stepped up much more heavily.
GARDEN: Well part of it is the
number of targets you've got and it's very difficult from the Gulf War
where you had formal armoured formations to attack. These attacks which
are not carpet bombing, they are just sticks of bombs coming from B52s,
really are devastating to those that are underneath. They are not as precise
as precision weapons, but the psychological effect is enormous and the
reports out of the Gulf War at the end of it, from Iraqi prisoners of war,
show that continual bombardment by B52s, really did sap their will to fight
and I think, over a period of time, the loss of sleep, the feeling of danger,
really does undermine the morale, it also boosts of course the morale of
the Northern Alliance.
SNOW: So give us a quick idea what
we could expect in the next few weeks. You don't think we'd expect a huge
land invasion, but you think we can expect much more activity by the Northern
GARDEN: Yes, I mean, I think those
zones that you were showing earlier can be joined up so that the north
becomes an area that the Northern Alliance controls, if Bagram airfield
can be secured in a way that it's not overlooked by the Taliban, that really
is the north of the country ready to start building through the winter
in order to look at Kabul, perhaps in the spring.
SNOW: Air Marshal Sir Tim Garden,
thank you very much. Back to you John.
HUMPHRYS: Thanks Peter.
Iain Duncan Smith caught
it in the neck this week from the government because of what he said about
the war. Mr Duncan-Smith, the Leader of the Opposition was called "a completely
stupid choice as Party leader" not that he had been critical of the action
that's been taken. What he said was that the government had failed to
get its message across very well. But that was enough to trigger the
attack. In every other respect, Mr Duncan-Smith could hardly have been
more supportive. TOO supportive, well there are rumblings in his party
that he aligned himself so closely with Tony Blair right from the beginning
that the only role he can play now is a more or less silently supportive
one. Mr Duncan-Smith is on the line.
Good afternoon Mr Duncan-Smith.
IAIN DUNCAN-SMITH: Good afternoon John.
HUMPHRYS: Is there a danger do you think
that your policy is counter-productive - that's to say nobody takes any
notice of you when you support the government and when you offer mild criticism
they drop on you like a ton of bricks?
DUNCAN-SMITH: No, I think that our attitude
here as the opposition is an important and valuable one. Our role is to
make sure that we support the government as long as we believe that they're
right and carrying out the right action.. I believe they are and I believe
the Prime Minister has been, in supporting the Americans and making sure
that we do everything to bring al-Qaeda, Bin Laden and others to justice.
And I also recognise that there is a need to deal with Taliban, because
it's Taliban who are shielding al- Qaeda and the third and most important
factor which is the delivery of humanitarian aid into Afghanistan, I also
recognise that you can't really deliver that in the quantity you require
until you've dealt with Taliban. So the government is right. As regards
to whether or not I should back them, well, I think it's right not to play
silly political games. We have a very, very important crisis on our hands
and I don't think the British people would forgive us quite rightly if
we sought to make short-term political capital out of something which is
a much longer term problem. I will of course make observations that I
think are relevant privately and if necessary publicly, but I don't think
that I will heed those who say I should take short-term attacks on the
government. I don't intend to do that.
HUMPHRYS: So, you're saying that
at the moment as far as you're concerned, even though many people are saying
they need to push harder, you're saying that everything they're doing is
DUNCAN-SMITH: No. I said that their purpose
and their principles and objectives are correct. As I observed in the
week, my observation was simply that the government needed to do more on
the home front to make sure that the British people understood that the
war aims, particularly the aim of dealing with Taliban is critical to actually
bringing bin Laden and al Qaeda to justice, and that there is a logical
military process to that which I support. That was simply what I was saying
at the time, but what I do say to those who get frustrated, we have plenty
of other issues on which quite rightly to deal with the government and
we are, issues from the Health Service and public services generally -
their problem over Railtrack and various other crises they've got themselves
into, and difficulties with the economy. We'll attack and be a normal
opposition on all of those, but what we will do on this particular crisis
and the objectives over Afghanistan is to be as supportive as we possibly
can to make sure that the British people get a loyal opposition when they
HUMPHRYS: So you're not even prepared
to say that you think that maybe they should push a little harder, and
I mention that because we've heard a number of people as I'm saying, including
Henry Kissinger who has been in London this week, saying it would be wrong
to believe there is an unlimited period of time, so clearly he feels that
there's rather more urgency about this than the United States and we seem
to be displaying. Do you share any sense of unease about that?
DUNCAN-SMITH: No, I don't. I mean I listened
to - I read rather Henry Kissinger's speech and I talked to him afterwards,
and I'm in agreement that the Allies must make as best progress as they
can as quickly as they can because there are limits to how they can conduct
themselves through the winter. I accept all of that. I don't believe
however for one moment is that the military chiefs or the politicians on
either side of the Atlantic in government are actually dragging their feet
for any particular purpose. The truth is what we have to do, and I think
we're seeing it now with the B-52's, is a gradual tightening of the noose
around Taliban and of course bin Laden, and that takes time. The pressure
of those bombing raids will grow and eventually that, plus ground troops,
will put the final pressure on I believe to break the Taliban, and I pointed
out during the week that attacking Kosovo was much the same process. It's
only when the enemy recognise that ground troops are about to be deployed
or are being deployed that they finally begin to suffer the breakdown that
is essentially there as a result of the bombing - they can't communicate,
they can't reinforce, their equipment that they're hiding has to come into
the open, and that means it's open to air attack, and that can be taken
out. Those sort of things happen once ground troops are on the ground
and of course I urge the governments obviously to get on with that as quickly
as possible, but clearly I don't believe that anyone is dragging their
feet for the sake of it.
HUMPHRYS: Well, exactly. You say
you urge them to get on with that as quickly as possible. You may have
heard on of your own MPs, Nicholas Soames this morning saying that they
really must press on with this now, because if something isn't done before
the winter and the Taliban are able to survive more or less, I say more
or less - we don't know precisely how damaged they've been - but more or
less undamaged throughout the winter period, then that's going to give
them a) a colossal propaganda advantage and b) an opportunity to regroup
and all the other things that go with that.
DUNCAN-SMITH: Yes, but I do think that
everybody should recognise this is a potentially long process. We are
dealing with a country a long, long way away from either Britain or America,
and therefore building up the right number of ground troops in the area
to mount that assault is going to take time. I think Sir Timothy made
the point quite graphically that even doing that in the Gulf, the Gulf
War was difficult enough and took time, and I think therefore you have
to understand that this is going to take time. But, and I do genuinely
believe this, that the purpose and resolve of the governments concerned
is very, very clear, and I want to make absolutely certain that obviously
the British people understand that the objective is to get rid of Taliban,
because Taliban will stop us getting to al-Qaeda and bin-Laden. That means
ultimately the deployment of ground troops and whatever that takes, so
we need to be certain that that is going to happen
HUMPHRYS: But when we talk about
the Gulf War, as you say Tim Garden talked about that himself. What we
saw there was a build up, a massive build up of ground troops over quite
a long period of time and then when the time was right, they went in. Obviously
a very different position in Afghanistan. But we are not seeing a build
up of ground troops as we speak and it would, if we were going to do that,
take very long time indeed and we'd have to have the support of neighbouring
countries that we don't have. So, where is this invasion going to come
from, have you given that a lot of thought?
DUNCAN-SMITH: Well I have, but John I have
to tell you as somebody who has served myself, I would be very reluctant
to let the press know exactly what scale of build up is going on because
that will send signals to Taliban that may turn out in the end to be disruptive.
There may well and I believe probably, some fairly substantial build up
going on in the countries surrounding Afghanistan and my concern therefore
is that we shouldn't immediately assume that that is not taking place.
I believe that there are sufficient forces being built up and I think
already the governments, particularly President Bush has made it absolutely
clear that they are committed where necessary to the deployment of ground
troops. So we may see some early smaller deployments but I believe that
ultimately, if necessary, there will be very sufficient ground troop deployments.
HUMPHRYS: But we would know, wouldn't
we, if there were this great build up going on. They'd have to come from
somewhere, they'd be seen leaving their bases, we'd know because we have
correspondents all over the place. We'd know whether they were in neighbouring
countries, which is the only place they could be, as an effective invasion
force. We'd know if all that was going on, wouldn't we?
DUNCAN-SMITH: Well may be, I'm not sure
that that is the case. I mean I don't think the media should always assume
that that know everything.
HUMPHRYS: I grant you that.
DUNCAN-SMITH: The reality is that there
are good reasons why it would suit the allies purpose to keep some of these
deployments fairly quiet, so that if and when any assault takes place,
the element of surprise, which is absolutely critical. Those who've studied
warfare know that surprise is hugely important, that element is maintained
and therefore Taliban are left guessing as to when, where or exactly what
time or what scale will the deployment of ground troops will be. So the
reality is that I think the allies would want to keep that fairly quiet.
HUMPHRYS: And you're quite clear
in your own mind that that is what is needed. Some sort of - you're not
going to say where, you're not going to say when, you don't know obviously,
none of us knows, but that some sort of serious ground invasion is going
to be needed at some stage?
DUNCAN-SMITH: I hope that it wouldn't be
needed but we need to prepare for that eventuality and if necessary to
deploy ground troops. The reality is that the present bombing of the Taliban
by the way is not carpet bombing, it's quite specific bombing of their
front line, carpet bombing is just taking out a large area and flattening
it. That will have a dramatic effect I believe on their soldiers, as Sir
Timothy said, day after day, if you are being bombed by that weight of
bombs, then your morale does tend to suffer, particularly if you are not
in very well prepared positions. So that will have an effect and at the
right moment and this is critical, you don't deploy ground troops until
it's clear that the morale of the enemy is lowered, that their ability
to respond is lowered, their communications are broken and they can't reinforce.
That sort of effect is when you deploy ground troops because they have
the most effect for the minimum number of casualties and I am very much
in favour of keeping that point clear. It is important that if we deploy
them and when we deploy them, that they have maximum effect and I believe
that is very much the plan at the moment.
HUMPHRYS: Just have a quick word
about the diplomacy here. It does seem to be going a bit pear shaped doesn't
it. I mean we saw Tony Blair going to the Middle East, standing alongside
a known supporter of terrorism being made to look a bit silly and having
to listen to the sort of things he didn't want to hear. Was that damaging
in your view?
DUNCAN-SMITH: Well I don't suppose the
Prime Minister would have liked the headlines very much when he came back
and clearly it was, as always, these things often are a gamble that we
could have gained more than we'd have lost in the sense that it might have
brought Syria closer to the sense that they now have to end their involvement
with these extremist terrorist groups and that there may have been some
way of bringing them in. Clearly that hasn't necessarily worked, but I
think nonetheless we need not to lose sight of one important point, that
building of the coalition is about support for the effort in Afghanistan
and that therefore the mission dictates the coalition, not the other way
round. And I think as long as that remains clear then all of these meetings
should be set in context, which is if they succeed, then that's excellent,
if they don't, they don't however damage our military mission. That is
absolutely vital to get rid of Taliban, to bring al-Qaeda to justice and
ultimately to get the right amount of humanitarian aid into Afghanistan.
That mission, or those aims dictate the coalition, not the other way round.
HUMPHRYS: Your Foreign Secretary..former
Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind said...our former Foreign Secretary Malcolm
Rifkind said it had been very unwise, do you not share that or are you
being very cautious and very support again here?
DUNCAN-SMITH: Well I don't want to get
involved in you know hindsight here, I think that whilst of course, you
know we would have wanted there to have been a successful visit, if a visit
took place and that clearly that wasn't necessarily successful, it doesn't
mean to say that fundamentally it was wrong to try and bring Syria in.
The reality is that it was always going to be difficult, Syria is far too
heavily involved with some of these extremist terrorist groups and so we
recognise that. But the important thing is as I said earlier on not to
lose sight of what this is all about, which is essentially bringing al-Qaeda
and Bin Laden to justice and to do that, we need to deal with them in Afghanistan
and deal with Taliban. That's the mission and that mission dictates the
coalition and whatever else takes place, is peripheral to that.
HUMPHRYS: Iain Duncan-Smith, thanks
very much indeed.
HUMPHRYS: There's talk in the papers
this morning of a big operation being planned to establish a bridgehead
in Afghanistan to get aid delivered before winter really sets in. And there
have been many calls for a pause in the bombing to allow the aid agencies
to do their work. Ministers here and in Washington have said that won't
happen. Terry Dignan looks at how much aid is getting in and how much more
TERRY DIGNAN: In Afghanistan thousands
are fleeing to refugee camps. Few people have suffered more than these.
The Afghans have had to cope with civil war, drought and a regime shunned
by the outside world. Now, as the United States bombs the Taliban, Afghans
are on the move, frightened and hungry. While many in Britain argue against
any let-up in the bombing, others warn there's an urgent need to re-think
GLENYS KINNOCK MEP: The humanitarian crisis is
clearly very serious and I think reaching disaster proportions both inside
Afghanistan and on the border areas and, of course, that is exacerbated
by the prospect of the winter months and the difficulties that that would
entail in terms of being able to deliver the amounts of food that would
MAJOR ERIC JOYCE MP: Stopping the bombing now would
enable the al-Qaeda and bin Laden to regroup and the Taliban to regroup
and that would have obvious implications for the medium to long term, for
the people of Afghanistan and for indeed the people of the developed nations
who may be attacked by them.
DIGNAN: This Birmingham-based charity
is buying food for Afghanistan, thanks partly to money raised from selling
donated clothes. Before September the eleventh more than five million Afghans
relied on the United Nations' World Food Programme. Islamic Relief staff
in Afghanistan report the numbers needing aid are growing. Many people
are trying to escape the bombing even though they have little food to sustain
SAKANDAR ALI: There's been a, a massive
population movement out of the cities. There is no communication systems
in Kandahar city. Again there is no electricity or running water. And generally
people are fleeing. People are afraid, people have seen death.
DIGNAN: Aid agencies like Islamic
Relief argue that millions of Afghans face disease and starvation because
supplies of food have been disrupted by the bombing campaign. Those living
in remote mountainous areas are said to be most at risk - in just two weeks
time the winter snows could cut them off from the outside world. All this
is testing the Government's resolve over its support for the bombing campaign
ALI: Potentially, most
of them will not have enough, because if at the moment we are only sending
in nineteen per cent of what's actually needed, even if we multiply that,
it's certainly still not going to be enough.
DOMINIC NUTT: The bombing and the military
campaign following the September eleventh atrocity has exacerbated the
situation hugely. We cannot easily get lorries into the country to deliver
DIGNAN: The World Food Programme
says Afghanistan needs fifty-two thousand metric tonnes of food aid per
month - that would have meant sending in about one-thousand, seven hundred
tonnes per day in October. Our Government says progress is being made towards
this target. During the week to the twenty-ninth of October, the World
Food Programme dispatched a daily average of one-thousand, four-hundred
and thirty tonnes. But according to Christian Aid, using Food Programme
figures, the average delivery for the whole of October came to just seven-hundred-and-sixty-three
tonnes per day. The charity claims that so great is the accumulated shortfall
that in the next fortnight before winter sets in Afghanistan will need
an average daily delivery of nine-thousand, seven-hundred-and-one tonnes.
As freezing conditions approach, there's little hope of reaching this figure.
KINNOCK: I've looked at the figures
very carefully and seen what the World Food Programme and others are saying,
and it does appear to me that although we are delivering food now, it doesn't
seem to me that we can anticipate meeting the kind of targets that we would
need to meet to get to the people particularly in the more remote areas.
DIGNAN: The United Nations' is
buying more trucks to carry aid into Afghanistan. But the biggest problem
is distributing food to rural areas of the country. While our Government
blames the Taliban, some non-governmental organisations - NGOs - blame
the bombing. The UN's World Food Programme, which is responsible for getting
most of the food into Afghanistan say it's far from easy operating in a
country at war.
CATHERINE BERTINI: First, we don't have any communications
with our staff and, and we have a difficulty in reaching the staff in order
to arrange, arrange programmes for delivery inside Afghanistan. Second
we have very few vehicles inside Afghanistan, and that harms the delivery
also. Third, our NGO partners have the same kind of communications problems
and so without some improved communication we're, we are quite limited.
NUTT: Eighty- five per
cent of Afghans live in rural communities, often unconnected by roads or
any, any form of communication. So it's very very difficult then to drive
lorries at the best of times into the mountains on very, very sketchy mountain
tracks when there, when there are bombs flying around, there's land mines
around, planes flying overhead.
DIGNAN: Time is running out says
the World Food Programme because a hundred-thousand families living in
remote mountainous areas of central and northern Afghanistan could be cut
off when the snows come. The aid agencies say these highland regions need
to stockpile thousands of sacks of food to see people through the winter.
ALI: It must be utmost
priority for us to ensure enough food stocks are sent in to take people
through the winter months, because a lot of these areas will be cut off
during the winter as a result of snow.
NUTT: And from that moment
on you can guess that there will be many villages where there's hunger.
There will be starvation, there will be death and we might be looking at
ghost villages come the spring.
DIGNAN: The United States was much
criticised for dropping food from aircraft. Yet the World Food Programme
is now considering air drops. It's just about the most expensive way of
providing aid - and there's no guarantee it will reach those who most need
BERTINI: If I give you a bag of
food I know it's getting to you but if I drop it from an airplane I, I
do not know who is going to pick it up but I have to target the drops so
that I'm reaching the areas where I know the people are most at risk. So
it is not the first choice or even the third choice option. It's really
the option when if nothing else works.
DIGNAN: At Islamic Relief more
piles of donated clothing are being sorted to raise money for Afghanistan.
Some of these aid agencies are also pushing the demand for a let-up in
the military campaign.
Islamic Relief - and other charities active
in Afghanistan like Oxfam and Christian Aid - want a pause in the bombing
so that more food can be delivered. They believe public opinion is moving
in their favour. Indeed, even amongst those in the Labour Party who support
the war aims there are fears the bombing campaign is impeding the aid effort.
KERRY POLLARD MP: I believe the bombing has to
stop because we're coming up to Ramadan, we're coming up to the winter,
there is not enough food in Afghanistan already and if the passes close
down because of the winter, then no food can get in and people will starve.
KINNOCK: If we don't provide some
kind of period of safety then we won't get food to people and you will
see, many people starving and, and facing enormous need in terrible circumstances
in isolation and without any help from anyone.
DIGNAN: But military experts believe
the Taliban's fighting capability may have been badly hurt by the bombing
campaign. So a pause might be to their advantage.
AIR VICE-MARSHAL TONY MASON: A bombing pause would give the Taliban
the opportunity to repair defences, to move reinforcements around, to re-supply,
to repair air defences, perhaps to reconnect commander control communications,
and it would also of course give the individuals or units of the Bin Laden
organisation an opportunity to move around too, totally freely. Perhaps
to escape, to go into different parts, to lose themselves in different
parts of the country.
DIGNAN: On Friday protestors gathered
at the Department for International Development to plead with the Government
to urge the United States to bring food, not bombs, to Afghanistan. The
minister in charge here, Clare Short, says a pause in the bombing would
be a grave error. Even though the UN now believes that the bombing is an
impediment to supplying food, Clare Short insists the air campaign must
continue. Indeed, she and others in the Labour Party argue that what the
aid agencies, the NGOs, fail to recognise, is that defeating the Taliban
is essential if the Afghan people are to have any hope for the future.
JOYCE: The issue is whether or
not the humanitarian aid in the medium to long-term would be aided and
assisted by a cease to the bombing campaign. I don't believe it would be
and I think the position of the, some of the NGOs is very short-sighted
and may reflect their own interest rather than the humanitarian interest
of the people of Afghanistan.
DIGNAN: The World Food Programme
has just announced another rise in the amount of aid delivered to Afghanistan.
And despite the fears of charities in this country it remains doggedly
optimistic. But another problem is looming - a lack of cash.
BERTINI: The current situation
is that the World Food Programme is about sixty per cent resourced for
the food for the next six months and it is critical that we receive additional
assistance so that we can move, not only move food into the region but
purchase food in the region so that we can get it there even more quickly.
DIGNAN: With millions of Afghans
needing food, a human catastrophe is in the making. Our Government believes
it's in the long-term interests of Afghanistan's people to continue the
bombing to defeat the Taliban. But ministers know that the coalition may
be blamed if the threat of starvation becomes a reality.
HUMPHRYS: Terry Dignan on what
may be a terrible winter ahead for the people of Afghanistan.
JOHN HUMPHRYS: After the winter ... after
the war... what then? Who's going to run that benighted country? It's
an enormous problem and it's not one that can be put on the back burner
until the war is over. How do you fight a war without being clear on what
should replace the government that you're trying to destroy? Richard Haass
is the special envoy appointed by President Bush to find an answer to that
question. The official position is that the United States doesn't care
what sort of government ends up running the country - just so long as it
does not harbour terrorists. When I spoke to Mr Haass from our studio
in Washington I asked him if that means they'd be happy to give the Taliban,
as it were, a second chance.
RICHARD HAASS: Well the President has laid
out several times a set of demands to the Taliban and includes handing
over, not simply Mr Bin Laden, but all those who have been directly connected
with the events of September 11th and other terrorism. They have got
to close down the terrorist training camps and essentially they've got
to make sure that Afghanistan never again becomes a country that harbours,
or in any way aids or abets terrorism. Those offers have been on the table
and, as you and everyone else watching this knows, that opportunity has
never been taken up by the Taliban leadership.
HUMPHRYS: And if it's not taken
up and the war continues and the Taliban are driven out of power, can you
see any way in which they would return to the new government of Afghanistan?
HAASS: I don't see any role for
the most senior Taliban people. I think they are illegitimate or discredited
but I would not rule out the possibility that rank and file Afghans, particularly
people of the Pashtun descendent, that these people who have associated
themselves with the Taliban leadership, I would not rule out that they
might have a potential place in the future of Afghanistan. But, I think
this question of who has a political future and who doesn't is really something
for the Afghans themselves to sort out.
HUMPHRYS: But you couldn't rule
out the Taliban since they represent the largest ethnic grouping in the
HAASS: Well, I would quarrel with
the word that they represent anybody. There has been no legitimacy in
their take over of power, there has never been an election or anything
approximating it. All I am saying is that I do not see a role for the
top level but I would not preclude the possibility that if you want to
call it, the rank and file, that there is a place for them in the future
of Afghanistan, if the future government of Afghanistan so decides.
HUMPHRYS: What about the Northern
Alliance. I think it's fair to say many of us are confused about your attitude
towards the Northern Alliance. Would we expect to see them forming a large
part of the new government?
HAASS: I think it's fair to say
that the Northern Alliance need to be a part of a future government of
Afghanistan but that they cannot be the future government of Afghanistan.
Clearly, there has got to be a broad-based representative government,
and that means that you have got to have a government that represents Pashtuns,
which roughly are forty per cent or so of the country, you have got to
have people who represent the entire geographical breadth of Afghanistan.
So, yes, there has got to be an important place for the United Front or
the Northern Alliance but that can't be the totality of it.
HUMPHRYS: It's presumably, in your
power, in the power of the United States forces, to enable the Northern
Alliance to seize power, more or less as we speak, or at least some time
in the near future. It seems clear that you are not doing that?
HAASS: It's our policy to help
bring about a broad-based government. Politically we've been working with
people around the former King, the so-called Rome Group. We have been
working with the Northern Alliance. We have been trying to reach out to
Pashtuns throughout the country and I think what we can do, is essentially
encourage them to come together, that is exactly what our policy is. We
are also working very closely with the neighbours of Afghanistan, with
countries such as Pakistan. We have had very interesting talks with Iran,
we have had talks with Uzbekistan and others, again with the
Russians. Again talking about how countries that neighbour on Afghanistan
or have influence on Afghanistan, how they can play a role in helping to
forge some sort of an alternative political entity to the current regime.
Obviously, though our military actions will have a role and my own prediction
is, my own sense is, that as there is continued military progress, that
will more than anything set the stage for tremendous political progress
HUMPHRYS: But if you had the ability,
at some stage in the near future to launch an attack or enable the Northern
Alliance to launch an attack that would enable them then to take power,
you wouldn't do that would you?
HAASS: The United States is trying
to get rid of the Taliban leadership. We are trying to root out the al-Qaeda
terrorist network. We obviously want to see a change politically in Afghanistan.
The Northern Alliance is the heart or the core, right now, of the opposition
that is armed. Obviously, there is a possibility that they will take over
various population and urban centres in Afghanistan. That is something
that, ultimately, we would welcome. It is important, though, that if and
when it is done and I really do think it is a question of WHEN this happens,
that when they take over major population centres, that they do so in
the name of some larger political entity that essentially gives way. So,
it's not simply a narrow Northern Alliance or United Front victory but
it's really a victory for an alternative political future for Afghanistan
and that is something we very much want to see.
HUMPHRYS: The problem with establishing
the sort of larger political entity that you talk about is that all of
Afghanistan's neighbours, each of them wants something different?
HAASS: I think that's perhaps somewhat
more true of the past than the present. Right now, as we speak here today,
the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Mr Brahimi, has
been travelling around the region. I, myself, from here in Washington
have been having lots of contacts with representatives of various governments.
We have had other American diplomats and indeed, diplomats of Britain
and other countries going around the world. All I can say is that, so
far, we have encountered, as have others, a growing awareness that people
have to perhaps move beyond their own narrow national agendas and begin
to work together. Everybody understands that the sort of Afghanistan we've
seen for the last five or six years is in the interests of no one. It's
not in the interests of the Afghan people. It's not in the interests of
any of the neighbours. It's generating millions of refugees which are an
economic and a political strain. It has become a base for terrorism which
again helps no one. So, my own sense of it is that, even though historically
there has been an awful lot of competition or divergence between and among
the neighbours of Afghanistan, that we are beginning to see something of
a realisation, potentially even a coming together, where they will put
aside some of their own particular preferences in order to work what everyone
agrees is necessary which is a stable Afghanistan that doesn't promote
terrorism, doesn't export drugs and doesn't export people by the millions.
So I think it's quite possible that there may be a greater potential or
even a greater reality of co operation today than has heretofore been the
HUMPHRYS: But you're a seasoned
diplomat, you know that when push comes to shove, national interest always
HAASS: National interest is obviously
powerful and I am a realist. I am not going to deny that and I am not
going to essentially say the lion is going to lay down with the lamb.
But I do think that the countries around Afghanistan realise today that
their national interest cannot be realised if they pursue it a hundred
per cent. Sometimes as a government you have to compromise your preferences
in order to get something that is largely in your interest. And what I
am trying to suggest here is I think there is some understanding on the
part of Afghanistan's neighbours as well as other countries that have a
stake there that if they pursue their own goals a hundred per cent and
they try to put into place a people they are entirely comfortable with,
that those choices will be unacceptable to others and we will never see
anything like the stability we all want to see. So, I'm not saying it
is going to be easy. I'm not saying it is automatic or inevitable. We
have got a lot of experience in Afghanistan and that ought to teach us
all to be somewhat modest but I do think there has been some change here,
in the attitudes of the neighbouring countries and, perhaps, even in the
Afghans themselves. People, for example, in the Northern Alliance don't
want to have a repeat of the sort of behaviour that we saw in the early
1990s that effectively paved the way for the Taliban. So, I'd would like
to think that, yes while people still have their own narrow or national
interest, there also is some understanding that they've got to put those,
to some extent aside if they are going to get an outcome that is by and
large in their interest.
HUMPHRYS: So the United States
is prepared to say to Russia that wants one outcome, to Pakistan that wants
another, hands off?
HAASS: I wouldn't put it that way.
What I'd say is the United States is going to continue to consult with
all these countries from Iran to Pakistan to Russia to India to the other
immediate neighbours of Afghanistan and we are also going to continue to
work with the United Nations and others. What we are going to basically
do is argue that if what we want, and I think we all do, if what we want
is a stable Afghanistan that essentially protects the bottom line interests
of all of us, there has to be some compromise and there has to be some
co-operation. So, we are not saying "hands off". We are not saying do
not protect your bottom line or basic national interest. What we are saying
approach this reasonably, approach this realistically and if everyone tries
to realise his maximum interest, we are going to have a situation that's
going to fail. And all I'm trying to suggest is that, based on our consultations
thus far with all of these countries, so far at least, we discern a greater
understanding that there is going to have to be greater flexibility and
compromise this time around if we are to avoid some of the mistakes of
HUMPHRYS: None of these things
that we're talking about is going to happen unless the United States is
prepared to launch a very serious ground invasion. The impression here,
seems to be at the moment that there isn't the appetite for that?
HAASS: I'm not comfortable getting
into the details of military operations or what particular approach we
are going to take. I'd simply remind people that the President has said
the United States will be there as long as it takes and do whatever it
takes to get the outcome we want. This is not one of those situations
where we have a lot of potential to compromise - to the contrary - we have
seen the price that Americans and, indeed the entire world has paid, because
of Osama Bin Laden, because of al-Qaeda, because of the Taliban regime's
support for this terrorist network. So, without getting into the particular
operational choices, I would simply say that we are prepared to do what
is necessary and to see it through so we bring about the sort of outcome
that we require there.
HUMPHRYS: Richard Haass, many thanks.
HAASS: Thank you.
JOHN HUMPHRYS: I was talking to Mr. Haass
a little earlier.
Last week the American economy
was hit by some of the worst economic news for over a decade - huge job
losses, the slowing down of economic growth and consumer confidence. Britain
hasn't been so badly affected but more evidence is expected this week showing
economic slowdown here too. Today the CBI will unveil details of a survey
of British business at the start of its annual conference. Paul Wilenius
reports on the growing concerns for the British economy.
PAUL WILENIUS: Britain's resilient shoppers
are fighting on a new type of front line. And up to now they've been winning.
By hunting down pre-Christmas bargains, they've been helping the economy.
But the noise of battles in a distant lands is starting to echo through
the nation's High Streets and Malls. And the fear is, it might keep the
This month in his pre-Budget Report Gordon Brown will give his first detailed
assessment of the impact of September the eleventh, on the British economy,
and also his public spending and tax plans. But the signs aren't good,
as there is growing evidence that the shock-waves from the terrorist attacks
is beginning to be felt in the UK.
The steep downturn in
the American economy and in Europe, looks certain to affect Britain, already
anxious about the impact of the war. Although the US economy was slowing
before the attacks, now consumer spending is dropping fast, manufacturing
is falling sharply, and almost half-a-million Americans lost their jobs
DIGBY JONES: If you are in manufacturing
exporting, if you are looking across the Atlantic to your market, then
it is very difficult indeed, in fact a lot of business is saying they have
a big problem there. And then in specific sectors, such as airlines, such
as in aeronautical sector, they are having very, very specific problems
indeed. Now all of that's coming through in our survey which is that it
is very, very difficult, but it is not across the piste completely disastrous
WILENIUS: Britain's economy has
already taken a heavy knock, according to a CBI industry survey which will
be released later today. The British Airways gleaming flagship, Concorde,
will return to service this week. But the future of British businesses
like manufacturing is less certain. Even the normally resilient service
sector including advertising, PR, tourism, and banking is suffering. And
house prices are slipping.
DOUGLAS McWILLIAMS: In the UK the initial effects
were relatively little, we had strong retail data for September and it's
only now that we're starting to see confidence declining and we're starting
to see some evidence that businesses are stopping spending, but up until
now the net impact on the UK, okay the situation wasn't all that great,
but the net impact on the UK has been fairly minor. I think in the next
six to nine months' we're going to see it intensify.
WILENIUS: The airlines hit hardest
by September the eleventh, are those which rely heavily on business customers,
like British Airways. But the cut-price operators are still finding lots
of passengers looking for cheap flights and have so far suffered less.
Many companies dependent on consumer confidence, are still holding their
own. Sales have held up and for some profits are healthy. But there are
growing fears there could be difficult times ahead.
JONES: God bless 'em, the consumers
of Britain are still out there, in a way saving the economy right now,
and, and that is one of the most important factors as we move into the
Christmas season. I think this is probably the most important Christmas
in that respect for many, many years.
McWILLIAMS: Consumer confidence has been
very buoyant but it started to fray a bit at the edges, the latest data
shows it's starting to drop now and it's likely to drop further.
WILENIUS: What does this all mean
for the Treasury's public finance plans? Even before the war on terrorism,
there were fears that if public spending kept on increasing at the same
rate beyond the year two-thousand-and-three, then Gordon Brown might have
to put up taxes anyway. But now with growing demands for more money for
defence and home security, this will put him under even greater pressure.
ANDREW DILNOT: If we were to move in the
future away from a world where defence spending was falling as a share
of national income, to a world where it wasn't only stable, but rising,
then that would be a new call on resources that otherwise might have gone
to health, education, transport, and I think that makes what was already
a very difficult set of choices for the government, beyond two-thousand-and-three,
potentially more difficult still.
WILENIUS: The heightened security
around airports like Heathrow has added to the mounting cost of protecting
Britain's citizens from terrorists. But the extra bill for immigration,
the security services, and emergency planning, on top of the cost of fighting
the war, is growing fast. So are the demands for more cash from the Treasury.
BRUCE GEORGE MP: Either money will have to be transferred
from existing budgets or an addition, some additional monies will have
to be found because the first obligation of any government is to defend
itself. And although there are many other enormous demands on an inadequate
budget to provide safety and security is in my view the highest demand
on on spending.
JOHN McFALL MP: I've no doubt that there
will be upward pressure on public spending both in the defence field and
in the Home Office field in the defence for the support of the forces in
this terrorism which as Geoff Hoon, the Prime Minister and others have
said, could go on for a very long time.
WILENIUS: For airlines like governments,
tight control of business and finances is vital. Voters have been promised
big increases in spending on health and education. But with new bills coming
in for defence, foot and mouth, security and Railtrack, Gordon Brown has
less money than he hoped for. Yet continuing with these large public spending
rises, even after two-thousand-and-three, is important for many in his
FRANK DOBSON MP: It will certainly be necessary
to continue to spend an increasing amount on health and on education if
we're producing from the medical schools far more doctors than we've produced
in the past and that will be the case by then, then their, their wages
will have to be paid. So there will have to be increases in spending.
McFALL: I think it's sacrosanct
that we maintain the commitments that we've given to spend on public services
so I don't think there is any resigning from that. Whether the Chancellor
can do that over the economic cycle from the resources he has at the moment,
or whether he has to think on tax increases is another matter. That won't
face us until two-thousand-and-three but I am very firm on the belief that
we have to maintain our level of spending.
DILNOT: I think by the end of this
three-year period, the government will have just about got to the level
where borrowing is as high as they can tolerate. So if they want to see
spending on health, on education, on transport and maybe now even defence,
rising as a share of national income, then they're going to have to look
to tax increases.
WILENIUS: To win over the support
of voters like these at this Shopping Centre in Essex, Gordon Brown made
a firm promise not to put up the basic income tax rate. Although his room
for manouevre on stealth and business taxes is limited, he hasn't ruled
out dropping new changes to National Insurance, tax allowances or even
other less visible taxes, on an unsuspecting public or business.
McWILLIAMS: He's going to have to raise
taxes and it seems to me that the way the numbers are going there's going
to be a lot of pressure for him to raise taxes, maybe even before two-thousand-and-three
but certainly definitely after two-thousand-and-three.
JONES: It is important of course
that if he comes back for taxes he doesn't come to business for them, because
in the last four years he's taken twenty-two-billion pounds more out of
business than in the four previous years. And business needs all the help
it can get right now and to come back for more taxes just would not be
in any way helpful to enhancing both productivity and the efficiency of
WILENIUS: For any government,
there's never a good time to put up taxes. But in the midst of war, it
could be easier to persuade the British public to swallow this bitter pill.
DILNOT: We do tend to see tax increases
during time of conflict, and there's I think little doubt that when there
is some kind of conflict going on, the community as a whole tends to feel
happier about paying more. So it's possible that we might see this as
an opportunity to raise some tax that might come in useful in the future.
McFALL: Well a number of seasoned
commentators have indicated that any government that finds itself in the
middle of a war, doesn't usually have a big hurdle to overcome to emphasise
to the electorate that this has to be paid for, so I suppose there is a
case at the moment for saying that we can come out with such a statement.
WILENIUS: This week Concorde, much
loved by top bosses, will finally take to the skies again. But the fear
is with business facing a downturn, now could be the worst time to take
money out of the economy by putting up taxes. And business leaders are
already calling on the Bank of England to put more money in, to give the
economy a boost.
JONES: It is important everything
is done to keep that consumer spending, and in that respect we are calling
on the monetary policy committee at the Bank of England to cut by a half
a percent the interest rate next Thursday and it is important that they
recognise the seriousness of the situation, that across every sector, across
those exporting, across those who are supplying within the economy in Britain,
into those who are supplying the high street, it is important that we keep
the wind in the sails of the economy now - not looking at it in a couple
of months time and thinking I wish we had.
WILENIUS: On Wednesday Tony Blair
will fly on a special mission to Washington on Concorde to consult with
President George Bush, on his difficult trip last week to the Middle East,
and the war. Both men will also consider the worsening economic news starting
to sweep across the West. Everyone will be waiting to see if that meeting
can do anything to lift anxious spirits back home.
HUMPHRYS: Paul Wilenius reporting
there. And that's it for this week, until the same time next week. Don't
forget about our web-site, on the On The Record site. Good afternoon.