July 12, 2007

Jawad Interview Transcript, Part 1

Whenever I have a great interview subject on CQ Radio, I get e-mails asking for transcripts. That process takes a little bit of time; my transcriber likes to make sure it gets done correctly, and of course she can't start until the show is complete. However, in the case of my interview with Ambassador Said T. Jawad of Afghanistan, many people have an interest in amplifying the remarks made by the Ambassador. One enterprising blogger, Jeff Kouba of the re-launched Peace Like A River, took on the job himself. He's transcribed the first half of the interview -- and here's a taste:

CQ: Some critics in our country who are opposed to intervention in this region say that long lasting democracy is really not a possibility for Afghanistan, for Iraq, or other nations in that region, and that we should be directing our efforts in different directions. Some of my readers have asked, first off, do you find that criticism [inaudible], and secondly, how would you respond to those critics?

Ambassador Jawad: If democracy means having the peace of mind of going to bed without fearing the secret police, if democracy means having an opportunity to send your daughter to school, if democracy means the possibility of having a decent medical treatment, and being able to express your mind, this is what every human being deserves and demands.

What we are doing in Afghanistan is what of course the Afghan people demand. They would like to have security. They would like to have their village to be connected to the next city so they can prosper economically, so they can sell their products to the markets. All of these measures are the nation of human beings. We all demand freedom. We all hate dictatorship. I don't think that anywhere in the world anybody is either trying or it is possible to impose democracy... Democracy is not imposed, it is a value of a human being. What is being imposed is dictatorship. What you are doing in Afghanistan is trying to prevent others to impose dictatorship and despotism to the Afghan people. [The Taliban are] are teaching people what kind of clothes to wear, schools to go, and this is what you're trying to do, is to end despotism and dictatorship. You're not imposing democracy, you're preventing others from imposing dictatorship on the Afghan people, and to the region, and if they get their way, to the world.

CQ: So you don't see, and the Afghan people don't see, the American effort and the Western effort in Afghanistan as some sort of an imperial effort to colonize Afghanistan in a certain direction?

Ambassador Jawad: Certainly not. You and I, Afghans and Americans, were partners in fighting the Soviets. Our biggest complaint was that you left us when the Soviets were gone. So we were asking for your engagement, we were demanding that. There is so much extremism introduced in the small nation of Afghanistan, that we as Afghans would not be able to save our country without your assistance. It took 9/11 for you to come back to assist us, and we appreciate this very much and we have to work together to prevent another 9/11. That would be a disaster for us, for you, for humanity. But definitely the engagement of the international community in Afghanistan is very much welcome. Of course there are frustrations. When the military operations are conducted in a way that civilians die, or when the expectation of the Afghan people are not met, but there is certainly not resentment. The hope of the Afghan people is to rebuild their country through the partnership of the international community.

I think this may have been the most interesting comment from Ambassador Jawad. "Cultural imperialism" is a frequent criticism of the United States, and often used as an accusation of why terrorists hate us. As you can see here and hear later in the interview as well, Ambassador Jawad rejects the notion entirely and speaks about his gratitude for international assistance -- and reminds us that it came rather late.

Be sure to check out all of Jeff's transcription. I'll have my own up at Heading Right soon, but I thank Jeff for volunteering his time to make sure that everyone has a chance to take in Ambassador Jawad's wise counsel.


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Comments (3)

Posted by Michael Smith | July 12, 2007 8:05 AM

It's refreshing to hear Jawad acknowledge the fact that our presence in Afghanistan is not for "imperialistic" purposes. However, his insistence that "every human being deserves and demands" peace and freedom is delusional, just as delusional as Bush's claim that "every human heart yearns for liberty".

By what infernal evasion do these people continue to deny the blatantly obvious, blow-up-in-your-face fact that a large number of Muslims do not want peace and freedom and are willing to kill us in the name of a war to impose Islamic religious dictatorship!!

We have absolutely no hope of prevailing against the jihadists as long as people cling to the wishful thinking that the jihadists don't exist.

Posted by Stephen | July 12, 2007 9:18 AM

The "they hate us"/"we lost the goodwill of the world" is the biggest canard out there. Well, one of them.

Some pundits sometimes take this on, including Captain Ed, and could do so more frequently.

The terrorists and Islamists are nihilists. They have butchered for every and any reason possible. Furthermore, they have repeatedly taken part in the most base parts of our culture, the very parts they claim to cause their hate - and as if strip joints and booze are more than an iota of the wonderful music, art and culture the Western world has and will continue to produce.

To wit: the 9/11 terrorists spent their last nights boozing, whoring and gambling.

Posted by brentano | July 12, 2007 2:41 PM

Good points Stephen.

It is telling that Nietzsche was very careful to point out that he reserved a degree of respect and admiration for Islam, but held all other religion in contempt.

Similarly, Pope Benedict XVI in his Regensberg speech was to some extent drawing a parallel between Islam and modern anti-cognitive movements (such as post-modernism and moral relativism), the defining feature being a belief that reality is not fundamentally founded in reason, but is subject to the act of will. Indeed, both Islam and Nietzsche appear to hold that the intellect is subservient to the will.

We can't survive when large factions of civilization believe that reality is entirely malleable.