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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

9/11 Also Brought Change to Afghanistan

Aired September 11, 2002 - 14:44   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We reflect this day on the ways in which this country, Americans, and all of us have been changed by the past year. We ought not forget the stunning change that has gone on in Afghanistan, half a world away.
All of us, every one of us is more familiar with Afghanistan now than we were a year ago. Christiane Amanpour has made her way to Kabul -- we last we saw you, you were at Bagram -- to talk about an Afghanistan that has been changed -- Christiane, it is good to see you again.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, thank you. We were up at Bagram Air Base just a while ago where they held their memorial for the victims of September 11, and what was so striking up there was -- really, in all of the deployments that I have covered, I have been used to hearing servicemen and women saying, you know, We are just doing our job, ma'am, we want to go home as soon as it is done.

But here, as they listened to the memorial service and reflected on what they were doing here, I was struck by how profoundly moved and engaged they are in this mission. Obviously, we know why, because this was an attack on the United States, but they spoke in terms, historical terms, of really trying to get this right, trying to build this place up again, not just fight the remnants of al Qaeda, but build up this country again, give it a chance to be a real, proper nation and never again to threaten the United States.

BROWN: Well, they could have picked an easier spot than Afghanistan as a country that never really had, or at least in recent times, has never really had a central army, it is a country of many warlords. Trying to get the central government and a central security authority in place has proven to be a very difficult task, hasn't it?

AMANPOUR: Well, yes and no. I mean, the central government, particularly President Karzai, is much more popular than I suppose most people believe.

What is happening is that this central government, which certainly around the areas that we have traveled, people are desperate for some kind of central authority and security that finally reshapes this country after 23 years of devastation and war. But of course, on the fringes, there are people, as any kind of peacetime situation, the warlords are feeling threatened, their money base, their power base, their military base is under threat, and they are trying to challenge the central government. This poses a challenge to the United States forces as well, and this is part of this ongoing struggle to pacify those warlords as well as to go after the remnants of al Qaeda and Taliban which do still exist here.

BROWN: You talked this morning with an officer, and I forget his name. It was a while ago, and he talked about having to go out and meet with one of those warlords to say, Calm down or we'll help you calm down.

AMANPOUR: Well, exactly. In fact, that was General McNeill, who is the force commander here, the commander of all the U.S. and coalition forces here.

And I was asking him, well, what about this warlord who is on the roads and set up checkpoints not far from Kabul? After all, this mission is also about sustaining the central government, and he is posing a threat not only to you, the U.S., but also to the central government here.

And he said, well, we did go out, I did go to negotiate with him over this last week, and that man's checkpoints are going to be taken down by him, or we will take them down, and that is a very encouraging sign, because certainly many people around this country, they do want to see the United States forces, the other coalition forces that are in this country, they want to see them take on the warlords because, as I say, the majority of the people in this country are -- I mean, unbelievably grateful that the U.S. has come and attempted to give them a fresh chance, and they want to see that work, and they don't want to see these warlords challenge the current sort of state of peace they have for the first time in nearly three decades.

BROWN: Christiane, thank you very much. Christiane Amanpour in Kabul.

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